Here’s an excellent article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch regarding the blandness of writerly voices from those who ONLY write by the rules. The takeaway: follow all the rules all the time and you may write passable-to-good books–but never great ones.
Here’s an excellent article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch regarding the blandness of writerly voices from those who ONLY write by the rules. The takeaway: follow all the rules all the time and you may write passable-to-good books–but never great ones.
So I’m reading away on the first in series of a new-to-me thriller author, enjoying the story line and the protagonist (tortured male assassin–one of my favorite kind of characters. Cliché, I know, but I still love ’em) and I come to the line “The smell of cordite hung heavy in the air” (or something like that). As I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post, there just might be something wrong with that.
Back when I was a newbie to the crime genre, I read as many crime novels as I could find, and it didn’t matter what year they were published. Often, I’d come across the cordite reference and I wondered, “what the heck is cordite?” So I looked it up. Turns out, cordite was a propellant much like gunpowder, used mainly in the UK.
Notice the past tense.
That’s because cordite is no longer around and it hasn’t been used since WWII. Now, I’m not trying to be all snarky about accuracy in books, since I’ve made mistakes in my own fiction (like using the word clip for magazine. Got called on that one a couple of times.) But the author claims to have several experts read their work for accuracy and it makes me wonder how “expert” those folks really are. This author is independently published, but I’ve read a few books by traditionally published, well-known thriller authors who used the same reference in fairly recent books. Aren’t they supposed to have fact-checkers? Or at least a good editor?
I’ve also read books where the character flipped the safety off on a Glock. A Glock doesn’t have an external safety . After reading the most recent book with that reference I gave the author the benefit of the doubt since guns weren’t their forte, and because it didn’t throw me too far out of the story. I do that with most of the books I read. Being an author myself, I realize how hard it is to make sure unfamiliar subjects are accurate, and the best you can do is research and try very hard to get it right. If the rest of the book is compelling, then a mistake here and there isn’t a deal breaker, at least for me.
The one thing that does make me throw the book across the room, though, and I’ve touched on this before, is when a male writer tries to write a female and either makes her a one-dimensional, convenient character, or puts lipstick on a dude and calls it good.
But, then again, being female is one subject where I have plenty of experience 🙂
How about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt when you notice a mistake, or do you throw the book across the room? Better yet, do you tell them?
Here’s an excellent post for folks thinking about self-publishing (and a good read for those of us who have done so, but haven’t yet achieved fame and fortune 🙂 )
I’m ecstatic to announce that The Body Market is now available for pre-order on Amazon at the SPECIAL PRE-ORDER price of $ .99 (iBooks, BN, KOBO coming soon) After release day (January 8) the price goes up to $3.99, so get yours today 😀
Holy crap is getting a book ready for publication a LOT of work. Like anything painful, you forget in the interim how much hard work each book takes. Fun, yes, but a helluva lot of details. Not only do you have to keep track of the twisty plot and sub-plots, and all those pesky character details, but once all the writing’s done, there’s an effing checklist you have to go over (and over) in order to get your ducks in a row to publish.
Especially when you’re attempting a pre-order. As we all pretty well know by now, I am NOT a patient woman. Waiting for much of anything drives me to drink (short drive) and I will do anything, ANYTHING to keep from having to do so. The microwave is my best friend and I’m known for finishing dinner waaaay before anyone else at the table. (Okay, that may be a holdover from when I worked in the restaurant industry. There’s only so much time to take a break so you can stuff food into your mouth during a busy shift.) So why the hell did I decide to do a pre-order?
I have no idea. It sounded like fun at the time.
Ah, the halcyon days when I thought all I had to do to when I wrote The End was to make sure the book was edited, dream up a description and a suitable cover, format it so it would work in Smashword’s meatgrinder, do a couple of blog posts, and voila! Published book!
Now? Not so much. As they say, the more you know, the more you know.
So now, in addition to stuff like work with my (awesome) editor, create a cover, write the description and tagline, and format the eBook, I get to:
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something incredibly important, but there’s the gist of it. I knew when I went indie that I’d be responsible for everything–in fact, that’s why I became an indie. I love the whole hands-on aspect of self-publishing and I find the challenge invigorating. But, there are days I wish my fairy godmother would come down out of the ether, whisk me away to some Zen-like retreat, and hand me a glass of wine as she murmurs in my ear, “There, there, Dear. Don’t you worry your little head. Leave the details to me…”
If you’d like to pre-order The Body Market (Leine Basso Thriller #3), click here. I’d be ever so grateful. The description is below:
A retired assassin is called in when a celebration south of the border turns into a nightmare.
Former assassin Leine Basso is hired by a wealthy Beverly Hills power couple to find their missing daughter, Elise, who was last seen partying with her boyfriend at a club in Tijuana. At first, police believe the two teenagers are the victims of a carjacking. But when Leine finds their missing vehicle with the boyfriend’s mutilated body stuffed inside the trunk, and is then warned away by the local cartel, she knows if Elise isn’t already dead, she will be soon, or worse.
In the dangerous world of organized crime, there’s always a worse.
As time runs out, Leine races to uncover the real reason behind Elise Bennett’s disappearance and learns powerful interests are willing to go to great lengths to keep her from the truth.
***The Body Market is the 3rd book in the Leine Basso Thriller series, but can be read as a stand alone.
Welcome back to Awesome Authors! My guest today is the lovely epic fantasy author Yvonne Hertzberger. Yvonne and I met a couple of years back as minions of the inimitable death star blog known as Indies Unlimited. She shared her gruel with me which should tell you something about her–Yvonne has got to be the nicest person on the planet, bar none. I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative word from her about anyone. And THAT’S rare, especially online where people tend to hide behind their anonymity. Since I’m firmly in the “mean people suck” camp, knowing Yvonne has been quite a breath of fresh air. Here’s her bio:
(From the author): Yvonne Hertzberger lives in Stratford, Ontario with her spouse, Mark. She calls herself a late bloomer as she began writing at the ripe age of 56. Her Fantasy/ Magic Realism trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received and she is working on a new novel not related to the trilogy. She loves to sing, garden and spend time with like-minded people and family.
DV: Welcome, Yvonne! Thank you for being here today 🙂 Tell us a bit about yourself.
YH: I was born in Holland, a ten minute bike ride outside of Gouda – you know, where they make that famous cheese – at home in a house with a thatched roof. The property was across a narrow street from a canal. You can’t get much more Dutch than that. 😀 I was able to go back and see that house in 1974 and met the couple that bought it from my father in 1950 before we emigrated to Canada.
Now I live with my other half in a tiny brick cottage built in 1883, in Stratford, Ontario. He has his office at the back of the house and I have my writing nook at the front, because he likes music and I need silence to write. It’s perfect.
I love to sing and belong to the Stratford Concert Choir, which gets invited to sing in England and other venues in Europe. Unfortunately I can’t afford to go with them but I hope some of the luster rubs off on me anyway. I also love to garden and of course read.
YH: That was almost a fluke. I was seeing a therapist for a bit who wanted me to journal. When I told him that wasn’t really my cup of tea he challenged me to “Write anything. Just write”. I banged out a couple of short stories and began what I thought would be another. However my characters made it very plain they weren’t finished with it. It ended up becoming a trilogy and I ended up calling myself a writer.
DV: Your books are part of a series called Earth’s Pendulum—currently a trilogy (Back from Chaos, Through Kestrel’s Eyes, The Dreamt Child). Do you envision more books in the series or are you contemplating a different path?
YH: That’s an interesting question, mostly because I don’t know the answer. I have a couple of ideas that could expand the series, one of which is a prequel, but at the moment it isn’t calling to me. So, until it does I’ll follow my muse in a different direction.
DV: Tell us about your latest book, The Dreamt Child. What was your favorite part about writing it?
YH: The third book [The Dreamt Child] was both easier and harder to write. My world had already been created and some of the characters were back. But I knew this would complete the story and so I had to make sure that I didn’t go way off track.
One of the returning characters was Merrist. In the second book [Through Kestrel’s Eyes] he was less important but in this one he became a major protagonist, along with the seer Liannis. So he had to change and grow quite a bit. Characters are, I think, my strong point, so it was fun having him go from a devoted, immature hired man, loving Liannis but not expecting to be involved with her, to her equal and partner in all aspects. The boy had to become a man.
Merrist has one peg leg. He lost the leg as a result of a battle injury in the second book. So one of my favourite scenes deals with what happens when he is caught by the bad guys and they take away his wooden leg and throw him in a dungeon-like cell. They taunt him with it and hang it where he can see it but not reach it, making it swing and clack against the wall. His fear that they will break it and leave him helpless makes him even more endearing.
DV: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? How long does it take you to finish a novel?
YH: When I began I was a total pantser. My characters led me around pretty much by the nose for the first book. With each book that became more balanced by a plan of where I needed to go. I still let my characters show me where they want to go but have a beginning, a few key scenes and an end in mind. Each book seems to become more planned and less spontaneous.
DV: Interesting. I’ve found that to be true, as well. What are you working on now?
YH: The story I am presently working on is quite different from the trilogy. The setting is much more primitive. It has fewer characters and looks like it will be a stand-alone. The idea for it came to me in a dream. That’s quite unusual for someone who rarely remembers her dreams. Since I remember it so vividly I decided there must be a reason. It will be a grittier story but still a cross between Magic Realism and Fantasy, just as the trilogy is, depending on how you define those. Because I want to stay somewhat close to the dream, and also want to make it even better than my previous work, it is proving to be challenging.
DV: Ooh. That sounds intriguing! Dream books are such a gift.
Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Yvonne Hertzberger.
YH: Oh, boy. It’s not terribly exciting, I’m afraid. My books are much more interesting than I am. After shower, coffee and a bite to eat I spend most of the morning catching up on e-mails and networking. I love the friends I’ve made on-line and the way we support each other on this writing journey. It’s also nice to see some personal tidbits, too. On the days that I get some real writing done it usually happens in the afternoon. I don’t sit for hours at a time but tend to take frequent breaks, getting a coffee, looking for a snack, picking beans in my garden. But I still view these things, not so much as diversions or distractions, as thinking time. Mark and I watch the news over dinner and most evenings are spent watching TV, spending time with a few close friends, or, if I’m lucky, playing with my sixteen month old grandson. When he’s around nothing else gets done and I don’t care. He lights up my life.
YH: I am much more optimistic about this than I used to be. Recent changes lead me to believe that self-published authors will gain respectability, and that the largest trad publishing houses, in contrast, will lose it. The result will be a greater balance. We will begin to see more Indie books reviewed by major publications. The other part of this is that Indie writers will find themselves under pressure to get their work properly edited and formatted before publishing, so that the dross that has contributed to the stigma against self-publishing will drastically diminish. I have no idea if that will help me, personally, but it is good for the industry in general.
DV: 🙂 What made you decide to go indie rather than traditional?
YH: When I was close to finishing my first book I researched what it takes to become published. I learned that I would have more chance of winning a major lottery. Someone suggested I look into self-publishing “companies”. In spite of my research I still got caught by a vanity “assisted publisher”. While I will never see the return of the money they got from me it was still a good learning experience. Since I had never studied creative writing this was where I learned much of my craft. Since then I have reclaimed my rights and self-published. Knowing what I know now I have no desire to be trad published. I am a bit of a control freak. There is no way I will give that up when I will still be expected to do all of the “other” work myself anyway, such as editing, promoting and marketing. I may never become a “best seller” but I know that what I put out there is true to what it ought to be and is the best I am capable of.
DV: Good for you! (I also find painful/expensive learning experiences particularly effective…) What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?
YH: The worst advice was given to me twice, by two separate, well-respected trad published authors. They told me my dialogue ought to be written the way we speak today. My story takes place in a pseudo-medieval society. I chose to make my dialogue more formal and a little old-fashioned sounding. I believe that it will work fifty or a hundred years from now as it stands. Had I taken that advice it would be obsolete in less than twenty as speech patterns evolve and change so quickly.
The best advice was by one of those same authors. He told me to rewrite the section he had read and critiqued in the first person. I think that was a good strategy for the second book.
DV: What advice would you give to new writers?
YH: Read voraciously, both in your chosen genre and in other genres. Learn all the “rules” so that you can choose when and how to break them and can do so with awareness and intent. Join support and information sites such as Indies Unlimited and The Book Designer. They are chock full of information and can become a wonderful place to receive support and make friends.
DV: If you could time travel (backward or forward), where would you go and why?
YH: Assuming that I will know then what I know now I would begin singing much sooner – say forty years sooner. My father told me I couldn’t sing worth a lick and it undermined my confidence to the point it paralyzed me. I love it so much and have discovered, to my joy, that he was wrong, so very wrong. Had I pursued it at that time I believe I’d be singing on stage on a regular basis.
DV: I’m so sorry, Yvonne. Parents can have such a huge impact on us—young or old. I’m glad you’ve found your voice 🙂 . Thank you for stopping by today–I enjoyed our talk!
YH: Thank you so much for inviting me for this chat. Each time I do one I find out something I hadn’t thought of before. They can be revealing in ways you’d never expect.
DV: And now for an excerpt from The Dreamt Child
Still, he was a healer and could not let the man die. And he might need the man’s assistance later if he wanted to escape. By the time he had thought all this through he had already begun sending healing energy into the man’s leg to remove the festering and the pain. When he sensed that the wound was clean, and the man pain-free, he forced himself to stop. But he knew that, given time and energy, he could heal the man completely and help him walk again. Just not yet. He needed to rest.
The man groaned and opened his eyes before Merrist finally removed his hands. “Wha?”
Merrist reached for the bucket and held it so the man could drink, which he did with great gulps until Merrist pulled the bucket away and took another long draught himself, noting when he stopped that there was not much left. “Can you eat?” Merrist pulled the bowl within the man’s reach. “I’ll help you.” He broke off a chunk of bread and dipped it into the water to soften it. “Here.”
The man managed three bites, then lowered his head to the floor and tuned away. “No more.”
“Are you in pain?”
At that the man turned back to him, a slow look of surprise crossing his face. “Nah, it be gone.”
“Good, I have healed the wound and removed the pain. You will regain your strength, now.”
The look of surprise turned to awe, then puzzlement and lastly, disbelief. “Tha’ be na’ possible.”
“Yet, it is so.” Merrist waited for that to sink in then added, “I am a healer. I have examined your wound and I can restore your leg so you will walk again.”
The man roused himself so that he could reach his wound and began to probe it with great care, sending Merrist suspicious glances several times as he did so. “Where be th’ cut?”
“I healed it.”
The man pulled up the blood crusted leg of his trousers so that he could examine his leg more closely. Finding no cut and not even a scab he lowered himself back down, his energy spent, and gave Merrist a long, probing look. “You ha’ done this?”
“An’ ye say ye c’n make me walk?”
“I can, though it will be difficult.”
“Wha’ sort o’ magic be this? Be it ev’l?”
“No, it is a gift from Earth. She has made me a healer.”
The man looked at Merrist again, as though trying to make up his mind. After several moments he said, “Then make me walk. If ye’ be false I lose nought.”
“I will, but I must ask something in return.”
When the man did not answer, his face darkening again with suspicion, Merrist added. “When I heal it weakens me. I need food and drink. Will you make certain that I drink the rest of the water and eat some of that bread and cheese?”
The man looked at the bowl. “I c’n do tha’.”
You can find out more about Yvonne by clicking on the links below:
Here’s a dandy post on Anne R. Allen’s blog by Ruth Harris explaining types of editors and why you need one.
Today on Awesome Authors I get to interview the lovely and talented Polly Iyer. As fellow suspense authors, Polly and I have crossed paths through the years and tend to be members of many of the same groups/forums. In that time if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Polly, you definitely know where you stand with her–and believe me, in this biz that’s tres refreshing 😀
Here’s her bio (from the author): Polly Iyer is the author of six suspense novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and two books–soon to be a third–in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games and Goddess of the Moon. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After living in Rome, Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she now makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. She spends her time thinking of ways to make life difficult for her characters. Learn more about her at PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.
D: Hi Polly! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.
P: Thanks for having me, D.V. I started out as fashion illustrator when department stores actually employed people to draw their ads. I worked for Fairchild Publications out of New England, which included Women’s Wear Daily and W. Then I switched to commercial art when I moved to Atlanta and drew storyboards for television commercials. When my husband and I started an import/design business, I stopped drawing. I’m really not sure artists do what I did back then anymore. Computers have taken over that field. The import business led to a home furnishings store, along with a custom frame shop. So I still worked in the arts. Then the writing bug hit, and goodbye store. I promise this is my last career.
P: Threads took 13 years for me to write and publish. It’s about a woman’s worst nightmare.
D: You write in a few different genres, including mystery/suspense and erotica. How difficult is it to switch gears between the different genres? How do you handle writing under a pseudonym as well as your own name (e.g., marketing, fans, etc.)?
P: This is a tough one, because my erotic author persona is the forgotten stepchild. I started out paying attention to her, but after three books I really haven’t promoted her as much as I should. Actually, I kind of let her go. I do have another book half-finished, and I may start bringing her back. She doesn’t feel like me, so that’s a problem. Besides, she’s cuter and younger and makes me jealous.
D: LOL. Why did you decide to “go indie”? What was your road to publication like?
P: I wrote my first erotic romance because I thought it might be a way to break into publishing, though I’d never read the genre. I was right and found two great epublishers for my books while my agent tried to find publishers for a couple of my suspense novels. When that didn’t happen, I decided to publish them myself. It was a good decision, and I’ve never looked back. I now have six books on Amazon with a couple of others on the way.
D: What kind of marketing has worked best for you?
P: I’m really not sure I can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. I love Facebook for the camaraderie, but I try not to pimp my books unless I have a reason. I don’t like Twitter. I do it, but I don’t like it. Does it work? I have friends who swear by it. Of course, they have 40K followers. That would take too much time for me. Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor. That meant my books would be on all the platforms—B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.—libraries, and foreign wholesalers. I wish I could say that worked, but it didn’t. I gave it a year and feel now that I lost a good bit of revenue by doing that. I went back on Select. I made more on borrows in the first month than I made in any month with the distributor. I offered a couple of free books, and my sales have definitely increased. So that has worked for me better than all the social media, and I didn’t have to do much pushing my books or me down anyone’s throat.
D: I totally get not wanting to force books down people’s throat. Readers don’t like it.
What’s your process like? Do you sit down with an idea and just go with it, or do you plot the story, do character sketches, etc., or something in between?
P: I get an idea and just go with it. I don’t plot, but I know where I want to end up. The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really. I get into their heads as if I were them. I had wanted to be an actress when I was young, so maybe that’s my way of acting. All I know is it works. I edit as I go because as the story develops, earlier plot points have to be changed, and I’m afraid I’ll forget to do that. I don’t trust myself to do it later. Things come up in my stories that I know I never would have thought of if I’d plotted. I’ve written ten books that way and a few I haven’t finished, so it works for me.
D: As indies, we need to know about every facet of publishing from self-editing to marketing to formatting to cover design to accounting. Which of these do you tackle and which do you hire out, if any?
P: I mentioned self-editing, but when I’m finished, I turn it over to an editor who’s a writer and a grammarian, Ellis Vidler. She’s a critique partner and friend, so we keep in touch on a daily basis anyway, and we’re there for each other when needed. I also have another excellent critique partner, Maggie Toussaint. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do my own formatting for ebooks and for paperback. I also do all my own covers. After a career in the arts, it’s one way of keeping my tired old hands in the visually creative part of writing. Besides, it’s what I did, and I doubt I’d be happy with anyone else’s vision of my books.
D: What are you currently working on?
P: I’m working on the third book of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Backlash. This one has been especially difficult because I’m a stand-alone writer and love to develop the characters. That’s harder to do as a series progresses, which is why series get tired unless we can find something new to write about the characters. I’m almost finished. It’s also hard to keep the quality up to what readers of the first two books expect. I would hate to disappoint them.
D: Which writers have inspired you?
P: I’ve always been a reader of dark novels. I love Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, early Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Robert Crais. For lighter fare, I love some of the writers of the 70s like Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Leon Uris, and Judith Kranz. They wrote good stories I loved reading.
D: What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?
P: Worst? Write what you know. Why would I? Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know. Now if I were an ex-secret agent or an adventurer, maybe I would. But I’m not. I have a good imagination, and I use it. Best advice? Write what I want to write the way I want to write it. I can’t write to the market just to sell books. I don’t play safe, and that’s the way I like it.
D: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
P: Get readers who will tell you the truth to read your manuscripts. And get an editor. Join groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing business. Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know. I sure didn’t, not that I know everything now.
D: Where do you see yourself in five years?
P: Doing what I’m doing now. This is my most fun career because I can become so many other people.
D: Where do you think publishing is headed?
P: If publishers and Amazon can stop their silly power plays, the future of publishing should embrace both electronic and paper books. I’d like to see new respect to indie authors instead of the distinctions being made that separate us into two camps. I just went to a big conference and was barred from being on a panel because I wasn’t traditionally published. I saw first-time authors on the panels who had no portfolio of reviews and rankings. That should stop, and I hope it does.
D: My sentiments, exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Polly–good luck with Backlash!
P: Again, D.V., thanks for having me. Your questions were fun and made me think.
D: Here’s an excerpt from Polly’s book, Threads:
The artsy crowd packed the gallery’s opening night. Once inside, Alan grabbed two champagne flutes off the tray of a roaming waiter, giving him the eye and getting one back.
“Half the city’s here. Hey, check out that couple,” he whispered in Miranda’s ear. “I’ll tell you all about those two tomorrow. Scandalous. Clue―that’s not his wife. In fact,” Alan cupped his hand around her ear, “she’s not a she.”
“Huh? You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Oh, there’s Jeffrey. Mind if I go over and thank him for cluing us in on this?”
Miranda waved him on. “I’m a big girl, Alan. I can take care of myself.”
“Be right back.”
She stole another peek at the object of Alan’s gossip―sheesh, who’d’ve thought? After stopping to chat with a few acquaintances, she continued her stroll around the gallery, listening to varying reviews of the art.
The paintings, displayed on white walls with halogen spots, hung in three different abstract groups―figuratives, landscapes, and paintings the art world might describe as “what the fuck.” The artist had wielded his brush with thick, vibrant color, creating an impression of movement and energy. Miranda stood back, sipped her champagne, and squinted at each one. The portraits were easy to distinguish as were the landscapes, but she couldn’t for the life of her define the subject matter of the third category, and their titles didn’t help. Dream #1 was anything but dreamy. More like a nightmare.
“Well, what do you think?” a deep, slightly accented voice from behind her asked. “Do you like them?”
She turned to the tall, exotically handsome man who asked her opinion. He wore his dark brown hair long enough to partially cover a small diamond stud, and his smile revealed unnaturally white teeth. But his most riveting feature was his eyes―black and piercing and intensely focused on her. Heat rose on her face as those same eyes flashed with amusement at the obvious impact he had on her. She couldn’t help herself. The man could have been a movie-star idol.
“I haven’t had a chance to study them all,” she said, “but I like a few.”
“And the others?”
She stood back, deliberating, then faced him square on. “Suck.”
Gorgeous burst out laughing. People turned to see what happened. “I love it. A breath of fresh air.”
“Well, I mean, take that one.” She pointed to a large canvas with a black figure embracing a red figure. “Who are they supposed to be? Fred and Ginger?”
“The black figure is Medea.”
“What’s she doing? Is she―” Miranda stopped when she figured out the action in the painting. She shuddered. “Now I know I don’t like it. The artist―what’s his name, I forgot―must be a whack job.”
“Hmm, could be.”
“Where is he anyway? Point him out.”
A subtle bow accompanied his offered hand. “Stephen Baltraine, at your service,” he said with a playful smile. His gaze remained on her face, exactly where it had been throughout their conversation.
Miranda’s cheeks flamed. “My father always said anyone asking my opinion better be ready for it.” She forced a smile. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut until I know who I’m talking to.”
“I’m just glad you spoke softly.”
“I don’t suppose I could start over and say it’s fabulously frenetic and original, could I?”
He leaned into her. “Not a chance.