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The contest is over and the winners of Robyn Carr’s Sunrise Point are Maureen and Danielle B. Thanks for all your comments!

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Though I live about thirty-five minutes from San Francisco, I actually don’t get into the city all that often. My weekday schedule is kind of insane, and the last thing I want to do on the weekends is drive up to the city, three kids and husband in tow, to go do something far away when there’s plenty of parks, playdates, and pools with walking distance.

But last Friday, I was in the city not once, but twice on the same day–first to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at SF MoMA (it was mesmerizing), and then to attend a farewell dinner for one of my good friends who’s moving away to take a position at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I considered it a huge treat because I’d had a really productive week, which culminated in me turning in my completed mansuscript for Long Simmering Spring, Star Harbor #3 (Cole’s story).

Now SF MoMA is in SoMA, the south of Market area that, at this point, consists of tech startups, museums, warehouses and hip restaurants. But dinner was at the center of one of the coolest parts of the city–the Mission. Now, at this time of year, the Mission becomes famous for hosting a very popular Halloween street party (much like its next-door neighborhood, the Castro). And it just happens to be where Theo Grayson, hero of Blaze Of Winter, is living before he returns to Star Harbor.

Inspired by both my city trip and the Halloween holiday, I wrote a scene from Theo’s point of view that takes place about a month before the beginning of Blaze Of Winter, in the time-frame of Deep Autumn Heat.

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San Francisco

“Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.”

Theo Grayson finished his set of crunches and stood up. His large loft seemed emptier than usual, despite the loud laughter and cheering coming from the open window. He walked over to the window overlooking 21st Street. Arms on the sill, he leaned out. Two stories below was a mass of humanity.

The sidewalks were jam-packed with bodies, and people were beginning to spill out onto the street.  It was the same story all the way down to Valencia. Halloween in the Mission was one of the great perks of living in San Francisco. Just one of the many things he’d miss if he were back in Star Harbor.

Though he wouldn’t miss the weather. It was chilly—about fifty-five degrees—but scantily-clad beauties were out in full force. One woman walked by in a glittery push-up bra and some skimpy shorts—a sight he’d never see in Star Harbor this time of year.

“Come on down, honey,” someone yelled. “We want to see the rest of you.” When he saw a buff guy waving madly, Theo realized he was the object of the man’s attention. Some women joined in the fun, hooting and hollering. Theo had forgotten that he wasn’t wearing a shirt. Realizing the way he must look—a big guy with a bare chest…and maybe nothing on underneath—he simply smiled down at the throngs, shook his head, and shut the window.

He gave a heavy sigh. His brother Cole was right—Theo needed to get out of town, return to his roots, and get started on his latest novel.  He wasn’t making any progress by staying in SF.  He’d hit a brick wall, and none of his usual tricks to jumpstart his writing were working.

Even tonight—on Halloween of all nights—he’d chosen to skip a friend’s party because he had a glimmer of an idea for his book. But when he’d sat down to write, the idea had disappeared. He’d been at it for hours before he’d given up and decided to work out. His Jack Sparrow costume hung in his closet, unworn. He’d thought he was so clever—the author of swashbuckling adventure stories dressing as a pirate for Halloween. He’d hoped the costume would provide him with some writing inspiration. Instead, it had just made him depressed that he hadn’t written a sentence. He couldn’t bear to put it on.

Pathetic.

He had thought he was wasting his time in SF. Now, he was certain. He needed to return to Massachusetts. To the crisp autumn air and the gorgeous fall foliage, the briny waters of the Cape and the smell of wood-burning fires. God, he missed it, no more so than when he was alone and feeling sorry for himself. This was the kick in the pants he needed to get back in the right mindset. And now he needed a game plan to get out of SF and back to Star Harbor.

First things first. He’d map out a timeline for his departure, arrange to rent out his apartment, book his flights…the list quickly grew exponentially.

He glanced over at the costume in his closet. Forget about pretend pirates. Soon, he’d be face-to-face with the real thing.

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Let me know what you think of my bonus material and I’ll see what I can dig up for the release of Long Simmering Spring this coming May! I have a few deleted scenes you might enjoy…..

Also, I’m happy to be doing another giveaway! I have two copies of Robyn Carr’s excellent Sunrise Point that I’m giving away to two random commenters. Just leave a comment  below letting me know about a time when you thought about making a change. U.S. entries only, please, since I’ll be shipping books. Also, winners must be members of my mailing list (sign up here). Contest ends October 6 at 9pm Pacific time.

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