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Posts tagged ‘Flames of Renewal’

Flames A-Z: Takoda Family

If you haven’t noticed, families are a big thing in this series. Really all my stories, but in the Flames series(and spin0ffs), they are particularly interwoven. There are all kind of different families, too. The Rileys are a large, Irish-Catholic, very close-knit family. The Brookes are a much smaller unit, but just as close. The Davis family is not very close at all. The Young family is mostly estranged from each other(other than Mark and Maura, though things look better with their father by the end of Flames of Restoration).

We meet the Takodas in Flames of Renewal(book 2). This family is a little different. When we meet them, it’s just Teresa, her teenage son Christopher, and her granddaughter, Avery. This is very much a case of me not being very nice to my characters in their back story.

Joseph Takoda was a high school teacher in Pittsburgh, Pa. He worked at an inner city school, volunteered at a youth center, tried to help kids in his neighborhood basically any way he could. He met Teresa Caridi at the local library where she worked. She was pretty impressed with what she saw:

“I met Joseph when I was twenty-four when I finally came back to Pennsylvania and had a job at a library in Pittsburgh. Worked on teaching some adults to read. And we had a special program for the kids in that neighborhood. Joseph came in one night while I worked with this group of kids.” Her hand shook slightly. “I’m sure you don’t want to hear our whole love story.”
“It’s okay, Teresa,” he said, reaching over and taking her hand. “You know mine and Sarah’s. I want to know everything about you I missed the last thirty years.”
“He knew those kids’ names. Each and every one of them. That’s the first thing I noticed about him. He got right down on their level and actually talked to them. I found out later he taught at one of the high schools and also volunteered at a youth center. He knew all these kids or older siblings.”
“He sounds like he was a good man.”
“He was. One of the best. We dated for two years. Then, he asked me to marry him.” She laughed and took another sip of her wine. “He didn’t really propose, I guess. He asked if I’d like to marry him. The next day we went and picked out a ring together. We married in front of a judge a month later. That may be the only thing I’ve ever done that really upset my parents. They got over it though. They really liked him too.”
James wasn’t sure what to say. “I think I might have liked to meet him.”

Teresa is from Crystal Glen. She lived there until her best friend, Sarah Brooke, died in a fire along with Sarah’s son. She did some traveling before settling in Pittsburgh. She had a nice life, for the most part, with Joseph and their two kids until her husband was killed on his way to the youth center to volunteer his time tutoring kids.

Their oldest child, Samantha, was born a few years into the marriage. She was always a handful for them, but it wasn’t until her early teen years that it became more than just some behavior issues. She took off after her father was killed and didn’t come home again.

She moved over to him to see what pictures he looked at. At least it was one of the few they had where Samantha actually smiled. “Our last family vacation before…before Joseph was killed. Chris was just eight. Sam was almost fifteen.”
“She was a beautiful girl,” he said, looking down at the other picture. “You can see the fire in her eyes.”
“She burned so hot. And then nothing. Then, those flames would leap up again. We woke almost every morning wondering what version of her we’d see that day. So smart, but it was like we lived on a rollercoaster.”
He set the pictures back down and turned to her, putting his arms around her. “I’m sorry, Teresa. It had to be hard to lose her.”
“Like I said, we’d already lost her. We tried to get her help. She saw a therapist. We got her into a program when we found drugs in her room. God.”
He ran a hand up and down her back. “I didn’t know things then,” she continued. “Didn’t realize she was self-medicating. Didn’t think there was anything wrong, she just had an intense personality. I should have done more. Then, Joseph was dead, and I-I couldn’t cope. Everything fell apart. And I couldn’t-”

Chris was born after Samantha had started school. Not close in age or really in personality, either. Christopher was the laidback child, and later, the one who always wanted to please.

Teresa nodded and turned to the teenage boy leaning against the wall. “Chris.”
He smiled, and she couldn’t believe how much he looked like his father. It sent a pang of grief through her heart even after more than six years.
“We’ll be fine, Mom. Go on to your class. If she has an attack, we’ll call you. I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’s been calming down better.”
“I know, Chris. I just worry. Okay, I’m going now. I’ll see you in a few hours. What do you want for dinner, pizza or burgers?”
He laughed. “Pizza’s fine, Mom, but we really should get groceries soon. We’ve been in the house a month. We can’t just subsist on take-out and drive throughs.”
It was her turn to laugh. “Chris, you’re a teenager. You’re supposed to want to live on that stuff.”
He shrugged a shoulder. “What can I say? I’m a weird one.”
She couldn’t help it, she threw her arms around him. “I’m thankful for you every day, you know that, right?”
“Go on, Mom.”
He acted like he didn’t care, but she could see the flush rise to his face. “All right, I’m going. I’ll see you later.”

Avery is Samantha’s daughter. Teresa didn’t know her, although Samantha had sent her a picture just after she was born. Not until she was almost six years old, and Teresa learned that her daughter was dead. Avery had a rough beginning to life, has a tendency to panic, especially when things don’t follow routine, and barely even talks when Teresa first gets her.

She shook her head. “If I would have paid more attention, she wouldn’t have run away barely a month after he died. I tried to find her, but I couldn’t. A year later, I got a letter from her with a picture of Avery. I hired a private investigator, but I couldn’t pay him for long. There were a couple calls over the years, but I never saw her again. I should have done more. That little girl shouldn’t have had to spend the first five years of her life living on the streets.”


A to Z: Z is for Zachary Brooke


For the last post of this challenge, I was going to write about fire zones, but I changed my mind. For this one, we get a little glimpse of Kayla’s father(and James’ brother). Zachary Brooke never got his own story(though I wouldn’t be adverse to going back in time and playing with that idea). He met his wife, Angela, about the same time his older brother was getting married. Less than a year apart, James and Zachary did almost everything at the same time. They went to the fire academy at the same time, joined the department at the same time. He married within months of his brother, and found out his wife was pregnant right around the time his nephew was born.

Going into the fire service was about the only way they were similar, though. James was tall and dark, whereas Zachary was smaller and light. James had dark brown hair, nearly black, and green eyes. Zach has blond hair and blue eyes. James always referred to him as the golden boy, not just for those looks, but also because trouble never seemed to stick to him. Zachary was always a bit impulsive and reckless(which he seemed to pass on to his daughter) and ran into situations without thinking. James was always there to back him up, which was probably a good part of the reason trouble never seemed to find him.

And a little snippet(this is from near the end of James’ story, Flames of Renewal, so if you haven’t figured out that will end happily ever after, you might want to skip this):

She leaned down and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You should get some rest. I know the others want to see you though. Do you want me to send Zach in?”
“That’s fine,” he murmured, his eyes refusing to stay open. “Will you stay with me?”
“The doctor only wants one person at a time in here, but I’ll be in the waiting room when you’re up for more company.”
He didn’t have the strength to tell her that wasn’t what he’d meant. He felt her press another kiss to his face then she was gone. He had drifted off again though before his brother came into the room. He was woken by his strong voice telling about the time he’d followed Zach to a rundown house, and Zach had kept him from falling through the second floor to-
“I remember that incident quite differently,” he interrupted, his mouth twisting into a wry smile.
Zachary chuckled. “I thought a lie might pull you out of it.”
He glanced toward the door. “Is Teresa still out there?”
Zachary nodded. “We’ve already done one circuit through here. She even brought Avery in to see you for a couple minutes. Then, her parents took the girl to their house for the night.”
James shifted on the bed. “How long was I out of it this time?”
“A couple hours. You lost quite a bit of blood. You need to rest up so you can get some strength back.”
He glanced toward the door again. At least this time he could keep his eyes open. He wanted to see Teresa again, but he needed to take care of something else first. “Is Dad out there?”
Zachary shook his head. “He was for a little bit, but he went home. Said he didn’t want to sit around here waiting for you to get your lazy ass up.”
James laughed. He doubted those had been his exact words. “Can you call him and ask if he remembers what he did with Mom’s ring?”
He saw his brother’s eyes narrow. “You said you didn’t want it. She left it to you, but you didn’t want it.”
It would have been Sarah’s if she’d lived long enough. He couldn’t feel the guilt for that. Not when so much love filled him now. “I didn’t want it then. I do now.”

A to Z: I is for Investigator James Brooke


A little different post today. I was going to write about interior attack, but decided instead to give a little look into one of my characters from the Flames series.

I actually didn’t know how much influence James was going to have on the story when I started writing Flames of Redemption. I knew he was Kayla’s(my Main character) uncle, and he was going to be training her to be a fire investigator. I didn’t know he was going to have his own story to tell. Especially since when I started writing his story, Flames of Renewal, he’s the oldest main character I’ve ever written, being in his early 50s. I’m actually started the first round of revisions on this story now.

Some information on James:

Name: James Brooke

Age: 52

Parents: Robert & Carol Brooke

Siblings: Brother – Zachary

Occupation: Fire Investigator

Background: Following in their father’s footsteps, both James and Zachary went into the fire service. When he was still a rookie, James met Sarah Rafferty. Two years into their marriage, her and their young son died in a fire. With them, James lost his heart for fighting fires. He still did the job, but his passion for it was gone. Until he got into the investigation side, and he found a new calling. Even though he tried to bury the memories of his family, he never could move on from the loss.

And a little excerpt from Flames of Renewal:

Zachary looked up from the book in his hands. “I didn’t know you were coming over, James.”
“I didn’t either. Just thought I’d stop by.” He glanced around the room, noted the scattered projects. A model airplane, half a train track. A birdhouse? He barely contained a chuckle. “Still looking for that hobby, Zach?”
“Angela thinks I need to find something I can do outside the house. Damn it, James, I never thought retirement would be so difficult.”
“It would be for you.”
“Speaking of, how are you doing?”
“What are you talking about? I’m not retired.”
It was Zachary’s turn to laugh. “Don’t I know it. You’ll probably never retire. Kayla’s just like you. Are you sure she’s my daughter?”
The corners of his lips turned up. “Trust me. She’s yours. She’s a damn carbon copy.” He saw the shadows pass through his brother’s eyes and almost wished he hadn’t said it. Being just like him is what had gotten her almost killed this past winter. She had inherited her father’s impulsiveness, and it tended to get her in trouble. “Zach, I’m sorry.”
He waved that away. “It’s not your fault. You’ve dragged both of us out of enough disasters.”
“I’ve never regretted a moment of it.”
Zachary smiled. “I know it. So, what are you doing here? I thought you had that class today.”
“I did. It’s over. I…” He trailed off and ran a hand over his head. “I just didn’t feel like going home.”
His brother’s eyes narrowed and James knew he worried. They all worried and watched him like he was going to have a nervous breakdown. He’d handled everything for thirty years. Why would he break down now? “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. How many times will I have to tell you people that?”
“Until you actually start acting fine. I know it was hard to lose Mom, and it probably brought some things back up for you.”
“Mom was suffering. She hadn’t been the same for over a year now. It was a blessing really.”
“It still hurts.”
James nodded. “It does. It’s not like losing Sarah and Kieran though. I’m fine, Zach, really.”
His brother relaxed, apparently satisfied for now. “So, how was this class?”


Sunday Summary: Rowing Through Camp

We’ve been camping over in Ohio since Friday afternoon. I did bring my computer, but other than after the kids went to bed and before they were up, I haven’t spent much time on it. Right now the girl is up, but she’s writing in her notepad. Have I ever mentioned how much she takes after me? 😉

Did get some words written on a little bonus scene for Flames of Renewal. I wrote it from James’ POV for in the story. But, I wanted to rewrite it from both Adrian & Kayla’s. Last night I was really glad we had the cabin. My dad and stepmom had just started a campfire at their RV site when it started to rain. We made it back to the cabin just before it really started to rain. It sounded like it was coming down pretty hard with some thunder and lightning as well. Glad we weren’t in a tent at least. Plus there was a coffee maker in the cabin, so I didn’t have to wait for my dad to get up to have my coffee(since I’m usually awake around 4 and he doesn’t get up until 6-7).


I did finish my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo this weekend…from an actual cabin. 🙂 Over 61k in less than a month. That finished one WiP(Stained by Ashes) and got me most of the way through Flames of Renewal. I’m on the climax so only a few more scenes left. And it’s not quite to 60k yet. I do tend to add more during revisions, so it will probably end up longer than that before anyone actually reads it.

We’ve gone swimming twice, spent a good bit of time at the playground, and even went to a festival at a nearby park. They had a lot of craft booths, Civil War & Native American reenactors(two of my big areas of interest) and food, of course. It’s been a pretty good time, but I will be glad to get home this afternoon and to my normal routine.

  • Flames of Renewal – Get to 56000 words – Made this one. About 450 past this. That doesn’t count the two bonus scenes I’ve written.
  • Flames of Redemption – I’d like to say to do all edits on this. But, that might be pushing things. So, I think I want to get through Ch 16 at least(which would be halfway). – I did make it through Ch 16 by Friday.
  • Flames of Retribution – Character Work – done. Will start working through plot points and such this week.
  • Rick & Leann – 500 words – I had this done by Tuesday, I think.
  • Read: Chasing Shadow(Tia Bach) & Because of You(Jessica Scott) – I enjoyed Chasing Shadows, and really like Because of You. I was also listening to The Bone Season(Samantha Shannon) and finished reading it this weekend(I like being able to switch between the two)
  • Crochet: Round Basket – I only finished one out of the three sizes. My yarn got all tangled up trying to do the second one, and I got frustrated. So, I’m not sure I’ll bother with the others.

Next week’s goals:

  • Flames of Renewal – Finish 1st draft
  • Flames of Redemption – Finish edits
  • Flames of Retribution – Finish plotting
  • Rick & Leann – 500 words
  • Read: Because of You(Jessica Scott) & Finding Perfect(Susan Mallery)
  • Knit: Leaf Lace Washcloth

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