Descriptions for heat levels in book list

------holding hands, perhaps a gentle kiss
♥♥ ---- more kisses but no tongue-- no foreplay
♥♥♥ ---kissing, tongue, caressing, foreplay & pillow talk
♥♥♥♥ --all of above, full sexual experience including climax
♥♥♥♥♥ -all of above including coarser language and sex more frequent

Thursday, January 31, 2013

nighttime dreams

 digital painting based on photos

For me, dreams can lead to books or give insights to life. The dream I had the other night would make a good short story, I think (with all on my plate, I won't be the one writing it). Mostly I think my dreams relate to my daily life and when I think about them a bit, I can see how. The following is the recent one.

The boy was exceedingly handsome and a senior in high school. He was developing himself into the person he was yet to be. He had a problem. He was gay, and he lived in a world that didn't accept that as a valid lifestyle. He hadn't acted out on what he knew he was, but he saw it as an issue in his life.

Pizzas seemed to be part of this dream off and on with various toppings and ordered from different places as he or other characters would order and eat one.

The young man had a mentor who was as handsome as he. This man knew of the boy's true nature. I think he also was gay. The youth talked to him about what he saw. He felt that he could hide who he was and never know love. The man said that's not true. He could live secretly and have many lovers, both men and women, but what he would never know is one true love. However, if he revealed his true self, he might still not find that one true love and he would pay a high price in his community.

The day came when the youth learned he was Valedictorian of his school. A very attractive young woman was Salutatorian and she and he sat on some chairs as they were being told how the ceremony would go when they graduated. The mentor stood not far from the boy, and I would assume he was telling him without words to hide his nature and live life as fully as possible while part of who he was would remain hidden from most of the world. He would sacrifice one thing for another. 

When the dream ended, the young man had made his decision and his Valedictorian speech would reveal it. The answer wasn't given in the dream, but I felt that he would stand up, throw out the approved speech and tell the audience that he was gay and why it mattered that he speak his truth. Although I never saw him do it, I felt I saw into his heart for his intention.

When I was awake and thinking about what this meant, I saw it as applying to my life and to us all. We can live the truth that satisfies everybody around us. We can be who they want and while it might not be as extreme as sexual gender, it could be lifestyle, career, how we dress, our religion or a multitude of things. We all have had that choice from youth, but we have it now today no matter what our age. 

Do we want to live our truth openly when it might upset those around us? Will we be rewarded by revealing ourselves? I do not think we always are, and definitely speaking our truth isn't always appreciated. It isn't easy either as whatever the real us might be, it often isn't what culture, family or friends want it to be.

I wouldn't say the dream revealed what should be done either as this boy did have a choice. He could live either way-- but one way was truer to his nature than the other. One had the potential for a fuller life. But there were no guarantees of that. The guarantee was that he could live true to himself or live out a lie. It was his choice. It is the one we all make-- most likely many times in a lifetime.

 Tarot card is from my Gilded Tarot deck...yes, I have more than one such deck-- and yes, I sometimes do readings from them :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

escape to another world

Currently I am very involved in writing. My goal is a story the length of my other historicals which range from 120,000 to 140,000 words. For a writer like myself, never published in paper, I couldn't even get an agent to read a manuscript that length. Publishing houses draw a limit at 100,000 for their slush piles (uninvited queries and manuscripts) and prefer less. But this is generally what I feel is needed to fully tell such a story. Once I get into a book like this, I want to stay with these people and fully develop the plots with all the nuances possible. This one follows a prior Arizona story by about two years. The hero and heroine began as secondary characters that I realized would merit their own story.

Old Tucson

The challenge, when you create a new book, is choosing which characters go along with the main protagonists. For a book this length, you need good secondary characters and some secondary plot-lines. You have this historic period you are setting them into-- which might be your own but in my case is southern Arizona and beginning in the winter of 1886. 

Whether today or yesterday, you find out what their community would be like. What were the political issues back then and did they impact their lives? Who do they talk over their problems assuming they are the type to reveal their thinking to anyone? Who will present barriers to their life? What challenges do they choose and which ones are forced upon them by someone else or nature? What are the fun things that just happen, which you didn't plan, but come out of these characters' interactions?

As you are writing, at a certain point, this world will seem as real as your own. It is as though you have reached into a pool and pulled from it characters that at a certain point become fully fleshed. What began as an idea has become a world as real as your own and it's where the magic lies in writing. It is both the challenge and the joy of it.

I particularly recommend such activity in a time such as ours where when you read what is going on in the world, you want to curl up in a hole. I am a believer in being informed and involved in the political choices being attempted or done. Our awareness is critical if we want to remain anything resembling a democracy.

For those who don't know, we are a Republic. We elect leaders to run our system. We vote for them based on believing they follow our own goals and priorities. These are the ones we expect to fight to make this country a good one for us all. When we lose the ability to elect leaders like that, this system is doomed because a lot of what happens once it gets to those leaders too often isn't democracy at all.

This can be very depressing to think about-- whichever political side you take. My opinion is we need to pay attention, be aware of what is happening because what they do does impact our real world. How can we expect to keep a nation that runs on the will of the people if the people can be so easily dissuaded from paying attention? But, the key to a personal, satisfying life, is to do what we can and then let it go. It's a balancing act because how to let it go is the problem.

It is in times like this where I heartily recommend writing fiction whether that be full length manuscripts, novellas, novelettes or short stories. Create your own world and if that's sci fi, fantasy, romance, adventure, pop or great lit, it doesn't matter. 

The ticket is finding somewhere fascinating for you to go with your characters and escaping for awhile from the world in which we actually live. Give your fantasy world some interesting prime characters which might be male and female, mother and offspring, friends, enemies, whatever intrigues you. Then start writing the events as they unfold. Consider if that worked. If it didn't, start over. Whatever the case, you want your mind caught up in their world and not your own as a way to get a break.


Sabino Canyon and another way to escape for awhile-- nature

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Going with the flow


A long week-end in Central Oregon with the family was a relaxing time. It was a welcome break to drive over the snowy Cascades (route plotted thanks to the highway cams). It was icy whichever way we went, but the reward was in not only warm family time but blue skies and snow.

We had reservations in Sunriver for a large house we've rented before that has a hot tub, three king-sized bedrooms, each with their own bathroom as well another bath and a half, a very nice kid area with four bunk beds, large sofa, wii, and their own big screen TV. Summer renters have 12 bikes they can borrow and passes for swimming pools and tennis courts.

Our winter activities ranged from cooking, followed by eating, walks, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, shopping, photography, drives, museum visiting, games, football playoffs, the Inauguration, and just hanging out.  We flowed in different directions with everybody doing what pleased them most which makes it particularly nice when you have so many age groups-- from just over 5 to almost 70.

Although I don't play games often anymore, the kids convinced me to try Cranium and I was impressed enough that I want to buy it. It's creative, funny, and makes you think. It works for kids and adults although the five-year old felt a bit out of it. At the rate he's developing, it won't take him long to be actively involved.

I enjoy the time with the kids and grandkids, but I was glad also for the time to think more about the story I had begun before I left the ranch. I had written 20,000 words and sometimes it's hard to leave something when you are getting a feel for it; but this time I think a break enriched what will come next. I did a lot of mental planning that I feel quite good about. A friend asked, do you take notes so you won't forget the ideas. I never need that as it's like I see what's coming; and for me, it becomes as real as having watched it in a movie.

Oregon High Desert Museum-- Butterfly and Hummingbird room

We came home to livestock well-tended by the substitute Farm Boss. In the house at first we thought the cats were all okay but then began to wonder if BB, our eldest, was on his way out. He didn't want to eat, only wanted to sleep. We thought if he is, we will let this be as long as he's in no discomfort. We are not sure of his age since he came to us as a stray; but if the veterinarian who first examined him (2001) was right, he's probably 16 or 17. Whatever the case, unless he shows symptoms of something, we will let nature take its course.

When his time does come I will miss my beautiful black hunk. Because of how he came into my life, he's been very special to me. But when you have pets, you have to accept eventually losing them as part of the price. He's had a great life with us although I know he'd rather die in Arizona and be buried there. We actually thought he might die after the long drive down but he was rejuvenated by his desert.


I may never get to see him do this again (as he did this December when in Tucson), and I admit I get teary at the thought. I equally though feel so blessed I ever had him part of my life so whether his life with us continues or ends soon, I know I am the lucky one. Whatever happens, it's part of the flow of life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Cascade Mountains

The Three Sisters

One of the greatest things about being in Central Oregon is the many gorgeous views of some volcanic peaks in the Cascades Mountain range. In winter, when they are more snow covered, to see them at the western horizon, they are simply awesome. They are not only beautiful, but recreationally rich with many opportunities for hiking, fishing, canoeing, mountain climbing, hunting, wildflowers, camping, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, with a rich history as well reason for active geologic interest.

In 1980, when in Portland, I'd see the smoke from one to the north in Washington that had blown its top. It's a modern city, Portland, and yet when you see smoke rising from a mountain you have always seen with one shape, a mountain you always knew was a volcano, but that now has been reshaped by a massive, shocking explosion, suddenly you don't feel so modern nor so far from primitive forces.

When you understand their volcanic reality, you look at these peaks differently. You understand more that the forces behind making one go from dormant to active are little known. Some of the warning signs can be observed with science; but in the end, it does what it does. For all the humans, who want to think they can control everything, volcanoes are a reminder that they don't.

I often think how this area must have seemed to the peoples who lived here when the volcanoes were all more active. They sometimes spewed lava for miles not to count the ash and all the cinder cones and fumaroles that cropped up. The largest such example of awesome power in our Cascades would be the volcano that left behind Crater Lake-- Mount Mazama literally blew its top leaving behind the beautiful crater that today is one of Oregon's scenic wonders.


 The Native Americans created legends about the exploding mountains and the purposes behind their explosions. I used one of those in my second Oregon historical romance. 


Mt. Washington

Can you imagine what it was like to be here back when you had to run to get away from danger, and there might have been smoke rising but then suddenly there was a massive explosion. Not much warning before the whole world around you changed. All the places you gathered roots or berries, hunted, they were gone and in their place this angry giant. To me, it's an awesome thought-- and could happen again-- although we will hope not soon. They do keep tabs on the South Sister in the photo above as there is a bulge developing-- Magma causing Oregon uplift.

Three-fingered Jack

There is one more geologic mystery of sorts-- although some think they know the answer. The Metolius River emerges from the ground fully formed (although there are springs that add to its size as it flows north. The water stays the same temperature year round (cold very cold). It is a place we have camped with our families over many years and where we still stop when we have time on our way back from Eastern or Central Oregon. If there be such things as vortexes (energy high spots), it's definitely one, a place for beauty, meditation, healing, hiking, and fishing (catch and release).


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Central Oregon


A quiet morning, not too early or late, the perfect time for photos with long shadows and sunlight. Feel how cold the Central Oregon air is and still enough to get wonderful reflections. It's about 22º. The air is crisp and clean with the smell of pine in the air. We are on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, where the hills grow steeper. Off and on Mount Bachelor and other volcanic peaks can be seen.

The campground is closed for the winter but there have been others here before, not just 4-wheel drive vehicles but rabbits, ducks and some odd little animal with four legs and a tail it drags. Rat maybe?

Walking across the snow is crunchy, sometimes you'll fall through, but it's only about 8" so not a big deal. Under the pine trees are beds of needles. Where the pines have protected the ground, the going is easier.

Ice rims the edges of the Deschutes River. It and snow mask the true edge, but the river runs free. It'll take more than this to freeze across it. Time over here in the winter is precious. Why don't I want to do it more often?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

researching


Basically for the last two months I've gone back and forth between researching and working out plots/characters in my head until last week when I began writing. Writing a contemporary story involves some research but historicals like this one  a lot more (even when I think I know an era and area pretty well). When I write a story based in the past, I do not regard them as historical novels. An historical novel must stay exactly with what happened as best as can be determined. A romance, set in an historical period, has more latitude and should not be taken as a history book by those looking for such. 

What I like to do is figure out general language, but I don't put the character's dialogue into cant or some kind of historical jargon that today's reader is scratching their head figuring out. I don't favor reading such books unless they were written back then. I definitely don't want to write them. I do though like to have a good idea of what the food would be like, how the people lived, the political climate, colloquial expressions, and roughly what was going on in their world before I set my fictional characters into it. 

Although I knew a lot about Tucson, there was more I needed to know especially since this book would be more set in the town with more political aspects because my hero, a deputy United States Marshal, was in more of a political position.


For research, I found several good books on Tucson's history, lots of information online, as well as one book on United States Marshals of early Arizona and New Mexico. The one thing you learn fast, when you research history, is there is often as much fiction as fact in any history. You pick and choose what you want/need from the mix.



When I spent time in the Arizona Historical Museum in Tucson, I took some great photos of old photos (asked permission first). This story will follow one set two years earlier. The first one was easier because it happened mostly in the out of beyond as well as Tombstone with Tucson only the beginning and ending. I researched but didn't have to know as much.


By the end of 1885, terms were being worked out for the surrender of Geronimo for what would be the last time. The outlaws still ran rampant in the back country, Tucson was a small town but growing fast thanks to the railroad coming in 1880 which was the beginning of a big change for the Old Pueblo. The mix of cultures, the ethnic difficulties, the tenor of the times all made for an interesting setting and very enjoyable research. 

Once you know the world in which they will live, that's when you can set your characters which is where I am now with my writing.

All photos from Arizona Historical Museum

Friday, January 18, 2013

Covers again-- From Here to There


To say the least I never thought I'd be posting on another cover that had to get changed right now. I thought I had figured out covers; and the one From Here to There had, although complex and not the norm for romance covers, seemed to suit the book.

This particular book has now had more covers than any of my others, I think. When I began (summer of 2011 before I was ready to put out the books), it was with digital painting. I wasn't happy with the first and did a second before I actually ePublished. That was when I learned readers of indie books tended to see my digital paintings as amateur offerings.



It does not pay to get your feelings hurt if you want to put out any creative work; so I rethought my concept. I selected one of my own photos from the area (book is set in Montana on a ranch). It was up for awhile but didn't really work for me even if readers didn't object. At least they didn't take the time to write how much they hated it if they did.


This was about the time I learned about buying images and when I did that, I set two models into one of my Montana photos and thought-- voila.  By then I had gotten into Select and was giving away copies. When I did get comments, it appeared readers thought it was ugly. 


About here is where I learned two things. One I had no idea what readers really wanted and two, I was very stubborn about doing this myself. It wasn't just the cost-- although that's a factor. It was because I knew I could do it and wanted it as part of my overall offering.


So I tried again to get the flavor of this book onto a cover. This time I used two equal images which is admittedly unusual on these covers; but this book is about two love stories. There is first of all the couple today who have realized they began a marriage with no idea what a marriage was all about, and there was the woman's aunt, now deceased, who had left the journal of her own love story for her niece to read. Two images and I had it made. Who could find fault with that?


When the first negative review appeared regarding the cover, it was about the same time I had made the change; so I thought maybe it was the old cover the reader had hated. Recently along came another negative review of the book's cover, and this time there could be no doubt it was this cover.

Stubborn I might be but I do take into account what I read on reviews. It does me a favor when I get such a comment because doubtless there are other readers who simply won't read the book at all because of a cover that doesn't work for them. 

This time though I was pretty much sick of using people on the cover. In December 2012, I had written a Christmas novella which was set a few years later on this ranch. I had used no people on its cover-- A Montana Christmas.

So I went back to an earlier idea-- the land. This book, From Here to There, is about several things. One is the love story of two couples. Two is the mythology of the old and today's West. Third is the love of the land. I found a photo that expressed my own feelings about this part of the West. 

I think probably the phases it has gone through have been good for me because in the end the book has to be about what I feel is most important in it. I can hope it works for the reader but when a story like this one (which is an adult romance) is not just about love between two people but also love of the land, then a cover of the land should work.

Hopefully it will find readers who feel likewise. It has a trailer which I don't think I will change because the trailer has a chance to say it all about the book, not limiting itself to one image (plus, the cover I have at the end has never actually been used on the book-- which means it has had seven covers. 

Will the one at the top be its last? Who knows. I am open to what comes along where it comes to these covers. I might see something that stimulates some other part of the book in my eyes. For now, it is what it is and I like it. In the end though it's what readers think that matters the most for book covers. They are the ones who decide/or not to purchase a book of mine. I should put up all the covers inside maybe. 

Actually I do have a link to an extended trailer at the end of From Here to There because of my great love for that country. It's not on YouTube and only available to purchasers as often trailers that go on too long tell too much of the story which isn't a problem to someone who already read the book. This is its YouTube trailer:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

adrenaline rushes or not

After an interesting conversation with a creative friend, I woke up thinking about what we had discussed, actually have discussed many times over the years. She says she operates best in a pressure mode when it can even mean she has a deadline that she is in danger of not meeting.  I've heard this kind of thing from other creative people where they feel without a job or some sort of forced deadline, like say a showing of their work, they won't get as much done.


Me, I operate best when I am way ahead of any deadline. I am creative and function best when I create my own deadlines and they are loose. My friend admittedly is an adrenaline junkie (so is Farm Boss) and they both get a lot done, but I don't react well with adrenaline rushes. It makes me feel pressured and upset.

Middle of the night recently, when I woke and knew Farm Boss also was, I asked if he wanted to talk a moment. Frankly I doubt he did, but he said he was awake enough to do it. I then asked what he thought about these two ways of operating. Was one preferable?  Did people who have deadlines and work up against them get more done? Was my more casual approach to deadlines actually meaning I wasn't working fully? Am I missing something by not being an adrenaline seeker?


His opinion was that studies show people are better off to work as I do and not as he does (which doesn't explain why he is so successful). He said to be way out there for what someone is doing has been proven to enable going over the work. with time to evaluate it, and a better product is created than the one rushed to a finish because it had to be.

Maybe so but is that adrenaline rush addictive, and it's why they do it-- not at all about the product but rather the process where they feel it's more exciting? They get a rush that they think makes them feel empowered.

I hear about those who have publishing deadlines and how they are pressuring themselves to meet them. Some say if they didn't have a job, they'd not do anything. I haven't had a career, but I have always stayed very active for what I do. I easily self motivate and even when I'm fiddling around, it's not as purposeless as it might seem. I have always felt very lucky that I had the time to pursue so many interests. None of them involved sitting around watching television all day.


My friend also finds it frustrating if she cannot take a project to resolution. That doesn't bother me. Yes, I do have a time when I call a work done, but where it comes to my books, every so often I look back over them; and if I see words that would be better than what I had chosen, a slight phrasing improvement, I will do it.

My organic reaction to my creative work reminds me of the carrot I ate the other day where I saw the green top growing before I cut it off and began scraping the carrot. Basically I was eating something alive. I see my books that way. They are alive and if I can come up with something to make them more alive, I will do it.

You'd think those kind of changes could never happen with a paper published author, but it can. I remember one of the successful romance authors taking a book she had written years before and expanding it to what she was then capable of writing. That's the thing. Not only is the work there to be expanded, but so are we. A writer who is always developing can always find better ways of doing things-- but then they have to decide if that impacted the energy, not necessarily bettering, of the original work.

The same thing is true of paintings but my fired clay sculptures-- once they are done, they are done even if I look at an arm and think it's a tad too long. Fired clay can only be destroyed, possibly different coating but it's done-- and the only option is create another one improving on whatever was seen as not quite up to snuff.



Geysers in Yellowstone Park from 2010. 
These provide about as good an example of creativity as I can imagine. The earth reaches out from the depths with blasts of pure energy-- much as this world originally experienced in its beginning.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Energy of the buffalo

After I wrote a blog on the topic of how we get our own energy, I got fascinated with how many photos I really have taken of buffalo herds. The answer was over 150 from '08 and '10. To me the fascination is their size, relationships to each other, how they move across a valley like a sea, they way they seem beyond anything more than themselves. Buffalo do isolate some of the males due to fights for supremacy, and you will see that lone buffalo off by himself.

They are part of the history of our country, and it's not hard to see why they are not roaming free everywhere today. You try telling a buffalo that an ordinary fence is supposed to limit their territory. People can sometimes walk up close to them (which I sure wouldn't do) and not get gored; but the next person trying it will be tossed in the air and only survive when they are lucky.

In Yellowstone they sometimes walk down the road, blocking all vehicles for however long they decide that's their road. There are times we've driven into the park, had gridlock happen with no clue what was delaying everybody until we finally saw a lone buffalo grazing alongside the road. Usually that happens on the road in from West Yellowstone before visitors realize buffalo are not unusual in the park.

The herds that run free in Yellowstone have their own problems of survival although it's not generally predators until they get old. Still I felt that predators are part of their story and added a couple of photos of wolves (at a distance as right now we don't have a telephoto capable of bringing them closer) and grizzlies (closer as we got lucky our last trip-- and I might add telephoto makes them look closer than they were).

The music I chose was from JewelBeat and seemed apropos given how important buffalo were to the mighty Plains tribes.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Junot Diaz

This was a fascinating video about writing and literature, great ideas if you follow it all the way. Whatever type of book one is trying to write, it's interesting to learn how other writers think-- especially those who have gotten literary awards like the Pulitzer Prize.

Diaz's thoughts on America and our political process, our need for a real conservative party, are equally fascinating. Well worth your hour as a lot of topics are covered as Bill Moyers plumbs the mind of a great thinker.


Junot Díaz on Moyers & Company


Finley -- January 11, 2012

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dreams mingled with reality

At this time of the year, I look for snow globes. We get very little snow where I live and on a practical level, I like it that way as snow gets in the way, means a need for more hay bales, frozen waterers, difficulty in getting to town, power outages, and potential floods when it melts.

That doesn't mean I don't see the romance of such a setting with the snow gently falling-- especially on a cabin where it's cozy inside. Some years back I found a site that would put the snow to your own image. Here are two digital paintings of my dream cabin, the one I have stored in my heart for a someday lifetime which isn't likely to happen in this one.

snowy cabin
Make custom Glitter Graphics


It was thirteen years ago when I was reading one of those self-help books that used to appeal to me back then. It suggested a technique for getting what you want to become reality in your life. The idea was you write your ideal day from waking to sleeping. It could be one day on a perfect vacation, a dream home, whatever it took to make that day ideal. I did it. All these years later, it still sounds good to me.

Today, some of it is in my life, or has been, but that's not the important part for what I wrote as this is more about energy. It is recognizing the energy you want to be part of your life and when you do that, you can move on getting it. That might come in ways you didn't expect because often we get caught up in details and miss the bigger picture of what we are really seeking.

The following was the gist of what I wrote January 17, 2000. In January 2007, I expanded it a bit and created a lot of digital paintings to illustrate parts of it. So here it is (including one of those paintings) as maybe inspiration for how you might write about your own perfect day.

 *******************************

 I wake with the light and lie in bed a few moments as I remember my dream. It was vivid, full of color and life. I was loving a man, feeling his touch, his embrace, his kiss. The dream and reality blend together. Has my lover been with me before in a Western time when he was on the run, and we were having to stay apart because of the danger to both himself and me? Cannot know. I think of whether this could make a book and before I forget, jot down notes for later consideration.

 Rising, I dress in jeans and flannel shirt, thick socks and boots and pull on a winter coat to go outside for a few moments to embrace the morning. The air is crisp and clear. I see my breath in front of my face as I walk down to the barns. They are below the log home and there are two horses inside waiting for flakes of hay. I know the man has been here, but I like to go also.

Stretching my legs, I take off with a quick stride as I walk a couple of miles for exercise. My thoughts are full of plans but also enjoying the quiet of the morning. It feels good to walk along this dirt road, to hear the vast silence, see a little snow on the hills above me, a hawk soaring in the distance against a crystal blue sky.

Back in the house, I make fresh coffee, fix breakfast, click on the computer in the kitchen as I glance at the news, and decide on which of my projects to work. Possibilities are a sculpture, painting and book that is just being etched out. The painting or sculpture would head to a small gallery a few hundred miles away, and the book for a publisher. The work provides enough income to live simply.

This time, I choose the soul painting because my passion is high. I need time with color, light and motion. The dream is still restless within me. I am eager to see my painting take life, to watch it fill the canvas and become a statement about all I am experiencing as I learn more and more about Spirit and how it can fill my days and me with love.


The man returns. He is cold and fills the room with the smell of early morning, of juniper and grass. When he kisses me, I melt into him, feel the oneness I had never known until he came into my life. He sips his coffee, talking as I paint. He doesn’t need to see my work and is full of his own plans. We separate as he goes off for his day and I continue in mine.

A woman, who lives half a mile down the road, drops by and we drink tea and spend an hour discussing the latest problems in the gallery we both use and her own book. Later one of my kids calls and we talk about what is going on with their life. They are doing well and although we don’t live close, we exchange energy, and the love is always there as we give each other the freedom to live our own paths.

 By evening I am ready to start dinner. I cook light Italian, happy to think the man will be back to enjoy it. I pour a small glass of wine and sip as I chop vegetables and saute the chicken. I think how blessed I am to have this life, to be living the dream I only imagined for so many years.

When he returns, we have dinner by candlelight. The house is not large, only two bedrooms and the furniture not fancy but rustic, but the feeling is full of warmth and music. A fire is in the small fireplace and candles light the table. He tells me of what he did during the day, and we talk about the latest political situations. In the evening we sit and listen to music, cuddled in front of the fireplace. That doesn't last long as we stoke fires within ourselves and make love in front of the fire. This man is my soul mate.. He is the one I dreamed of and for this moment I have him with me... If only for the day... 

*******************

It's not hard to see how my writing is influenced by not only my life but my dreams. I don't dream big dreams; but small or large, dreams aren't always attainable other than in dreams.  And dreams really are what often give us the energy we need for our daily lives. Some of my dreams come from things I see, books I read. Some out of the ether of life and who knows their source. It is what I am satisfied to call the mystery of life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Creating a brand

Last year I know I wrote about this because it's what I was told was important to a writer. Create a brand.  If someone writes eleven books as I have (and that doesn't include the five historicals that I am putting off publishing-- nor the ideas for future contemporaries), and if they are not in a series, aren't typical for the romance genre, how do you establish a brand? I recognize one when I see it-- the series all written in a small town named say Adeline (made that one up) or the name Louis L'Amour. 
 digital painting

If your books are in paper, out from a publishing house, they send you around to bookstores or events that relate. You sign books, give talks, and you become the brand to those who will now look for your next book because they know the kind of thing you are going to have in it-- even if it's not set in Adeline. If they liked what you say, they will buy your philosophy for those books, the influences that have inspired the writing.

For me, as an indie writer, who likes being an indie writer, how to do this has been an ongoing question. I guess I should say an off and on question as I tend to forget about it and then go -- uh oh I better do something. I do have a philosophy to my books, but I suspect they disappoint the most avid of romance readers as I'm not into producing angst nor flowery language. They also are not going to be found by the readers of pop fiction who might read many types of novels but gag at the thought of a romance.

That's why I do need to be the brand. I write these books with a knowledge of the life where they are placed. Always it's into some arena where I have experience. I place them in settings where I live or have spent a lot of time. I do know the type of people even if they aren't friends. Some of the books link together but even then they stand alone as something that could be read without the others.

When I looked around GoodReads, I saw where they have a place for videos. I suppose they expect them to all be from the books but would they really want eleven of them (which I do have on YouTube)? So instead I created something new about my last year and some of the influences in my life, some that became part of a book and some inspired the energy that I believe is at the heart of my books-- all of them.

With 2013, I might try to come up with other ways to brand-- short of the cowboy method, of course.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Photography

 Old Tucson, Arizona

Because I came across a discussion elsewhere and posted a comment regarding it, I thought I'd expand on it here. It's regarding photography and the use of someone else's images. I've been reading some people who are unhappy that their images have been taken without recompense.

I get how they feel, but the truth is if I go searching on Google for a photo of a certain subject, I will sometimes come across mine. The fact that I put my photos onto my blog means they can be taken by someone else who is ignorant of the copyright I put on the original page where it appeared.

This is a major issue for the Internet as bloggers who use someone else's image without permission can be sued-- and have been. Sometimes the fees can be high enough to shock. [a warning regarding use of images]

When I have seen images I want from a Google search, I have contacted the photographer and sometimes found they don't even own the image. It belongs to a newspaper. The people who might use my images with permission/or without have those images showing up as theirs unless they give credit (and those who ask permission always say they will do that).

A few times I have wanted to use something I owned, but the artwork and words were not mine. Tarot cards are one example. The fact that I owned the cards did not mean I owned the right to reproduce them elsewhere. I contacted the person who created them, explained how I wanted to use my scans and received permission. If they had asked a fee, I'd have not done it; but in that case I wasn't using them in a commercial way. If I had wanted to use one on say a book cover, I'd expect to pay something for the right.

Basically the safest thing to do is never use anybody else's image without permission and be sure whoever has it has that right.  I have been asked by the way about using mine and given permission almost always when it's a blog that I think is in sync with mine.

If you are though the photographer, and you put your images out on your blog, you are at risk because they will show up not just there. The answer is put them out small enough that they cannot be enlarged sufficiently to be used and put a watermark into them. That's no guarantee but it makes it a lot harder. If you reduce their size, they don't have the value allowing someone else to reproduce.

The truth is though that everything we put online-- words and photos-- can be taken and not always by someone who means ill by it. They may have just come across it on a Google search and thought it was fair game. Google has a notation alongside that it's not but how many read that?

And if you take photos certain places, it's not automatic that you can use them professionally. For instance when we visited the movie studio and tourist attraction Old Tucson, we asked if we could use the photos we took. They said yes. There are places we have been where the site itself is considered a creation of the owner and you cannot use the photos for business which means sell them or use them as I might on a book cover.

Same is true of images of people which is why it's safest to buy them from somewhere like CanStock where there is an agreement to protect you. Crowd scenes might work and not get you in trouble but a specific photo of someone, you better have it in writing that they allow you to use it. CanStock sells images royalty free and that's the ideal if you are wanting them for a book cover or any commercial use.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Three Weeks in December

Always I like to share with others the many ways that Tucson inspires me. It's nearly impossible as there are so many aspects to this diverse river valley-- that no longer has a flowing river (except after big storms and below the waste water treatment facility) but the riparian zone is still there as a reminder.  Washes come down out of the mountains with no water-- except after those storms.

Tucson is ringed by mountains. In the Catalinas, Mt. Lemmon is 9,157 feet with snow in winter and even skiing now and again. We had no time for it this time; but when you drive up there you travel through every climate zone from the desert to Canada with the appropriate trees. One time we drove down the backside (not the typical route down) and it was quite an experience on a winding, gravel road where we passed nobody on the whole drive down-- fortunately as it was narrow with steep sides.


Tucson is an incredibly creative area with tempting landscapes everywhere you look, the rich browns, olive greens, ochres, reds, purples, oranges, and golds. In the winter, the low lighting shadows everything richly, making it a photographer's dream. It has been interpreted by many artists through  brushes, canvas, cloth, paint, clay, and even etched into rock.

Arizona Historical Museum had a quilt show of totally gorgeous works depicting the desert and it's environs to tell Tucson's story.

It's also rich for an historian with the ancient peoples who left behind ruins and petroglyphs and then later comers with diverse Native American tribes, prospectors, miners, priests, ranchers and all those ready to make a profit without working for it. Indian wars, outlaws, corruption, heroics, even a big earthquake that redecorated one of Tucson's favorite little canyons.


With my visit to Old Tucson for photos of today's attempt to recreate the Old West for tourists and movie sets, then the Arizona Historical Museum full of old photos, stories, and information, I left the state happy with the photos and information I had gleaned for the book I am working on-- an 1886-87 historical romance sharing some characters with an earlier historical romance (not yet out).


I had a thought also on the drive back from Tucson that what I like better, as a description of what I write, would be to call them emotional adventures. On all levels they are about the adventure of life that centers around the emotional and sexual connection between two people. More on that at a future time.

For now, I created a video that attempts to capture a little of the Tucson mood and of what I experienced three weeks in December.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

on the road

On the road and nothing ever goes as expected-- other than it's a miserable drive for the cats and hard on us too. There can however be unexpected pleasures along the way-- not for the cats, of course.

One was this first sunrise of 2013 at 6:46am on the freeway between Needles and Barstow, California. This really is one of those stretches of highway that seem to go on forever as nothing much is happening alongside the road. For about a half an hour there was. That sunrise seemed to stretch across the whole horizon, not quite to alpenglow level but close.


In Tucson, the day before we drove out, we made a stop at Bookmans a favorite of ours since it opened in 1976. I'm guessing we were among its first customers. At first it was a small store off Campbell. We returned on all our following trips, which often were only a year apart. It moved and then expanded into new locations but didn't lose its energy.

In Tucson, Bookmans is the to-go place for used books, DVDs, CDs, and this time what I wanted-- audio books. We had learned on previous trips that audio books help pass the miles-- other than in heavy traffic.

We chose three from successful authors-- a western, a romance, and a novel I find hard to categorize. When we went to pay, the cashier rang it up and then looked at us with surprise. He said our whole order was free due to one of the things Bookmans does-- random free purchases. This one paid off for us with over $40 worth. It was like winning the lottery-- well a small lottery and one you didn't know you had entered as we hadn't known it was one of the store policies.

Anyway when driving a lot of miles such books do help to pass the time, and I will write more about these three and my feelings about them in another blog when I'm not typing on a laptop in a motel room.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a new year


Generally I love this time of the year when I rethink the year that passed and what I realistically (and sometimes unrealistically) want in the one to come. It's generally been a quiet time for me with Christmas past and lambing yet ahead. This year it's been anything but quiet as we've been in Tucson to do the necessary repairs on the house, clean, spruce, replace, and then do whatever hiking we can mix in with getting photos for future projects.

For the photos, it has been one of the most productive times I could imagine. The lighting has been perfect on the days I needed it and more blah on the work days. I might put together a slide show of some of the best shots as it truly was a lush time with the perfect angle of the sun and some magnificent sunsets.

My time here though has not done much for any planning I might make for the new year other than we will be driving north then, hoping the traffic, ice and snow won't be a problem (weather forecasts seem to change hourly). My thinking on last year and what will be in 2013 definitely has been on hold until I get back to the ranch where I think things will slow down for me at least.

To do any serious thinking, about how I've been doing with my previous year's plans, takes quiet time. While in Tucson, I have had more of my thinking wrapped around characters and plots with me not in the picture. January I hope to do some of both.