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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three things

After watching a particularly violent film (we liked it), that night my dreams were full of images of action. At one point in a dream I was told-- there are three levels in a book that a writer has to understand-- action, characters, meaning. When I woke, I thought about how this fits into my books and is equally true of movies I watch.

The action is the plot. It is what will happen to get the story from the beginning to the end. It won't be every action necessarily but every important action. Characters are self-evident-- who are these people? Finally comes the hard one-- meaning or theme. Does every book or movie have a deeper meaning? Maybe some are just action and characters or even with very superficial characters, just action.

So taking one of my books and in this case because it happens to be one I just did some more editing to make it tighter, Hidden Pearl--

Action: a murder, photography, building a relationship, solving the mystery of a disappearance and suicide/murder, avoiding the clutches of a cult leader, finding friendship, choosing to enter danger for a higher purpose, wrestling with emotional issues, and small events along the way.

Characters: Hero is half Navajo, half Scottish from a split home, carries baggage from childhood even though he is now a big success as a builder/architect. Heroine is photojournalist from a successful family, very into her career. Cult leader is more complex than meets the eye as he has goals which don't all appear obvious in the beginning. Best friend is Irish in heritage, photographer, married to a cop in an over 20 year gay marriage. Other characters are those in the cult, and the hero's friends. Oregon and its beauty, the city of Portland all are characters in this story as it goes down the valley and into the mountains for part of its action.

Meaning: What makes something a cult? When is it worth risking your life for a higher goal? When you carry around baggage from a childhood, when is it time to let it go? Relationships are built on what?

Before or while I am writing them, all of my books will have deeper meaning-- sometimes a similar life lesson illustrated in different ways. For me much as I love writing about romance, I consider it to be a vehicle for deeper truths that will be sandwiched in between action and character development.

Right now, I am trying to decide what the meaning of the fourth Oregon historical would be as I begin to get a feel for the action and have the characters in mind, but that higher meaning is illusive-- although since I haven't begun writing, it might become obvious once I start next month as I finish up the research for it.

Taking this to a movie, I looked at the film we watched the other night which got mixed reviews despite being based on a true story and with a stellar cast. I sometimes like action films with what seems like no meaning-- just going along for the ride. This one, at first look, could have been one of those.

Gangster Squad stars Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, and Emma Stone-- all enough reason to watch it. Their characters were cop, cop, gangster, and kind of moll who falls in love with cop. Some of the critical reviews were that the characters were thinly developed. I didn't agree but definitely the main thing was the action-- bringing down the gangster Mickey Cohen before he could take over LA. (There are those today who have figured out how to do it without gangster tactics.)

So lots of action, beautiful characters, but what was the theme? One possible is when you are fighting a war for existence that becomes the meaning. Everything else is sublimated to that greater cause for a period of time. Hence a WWII movie doesn't have to have secondary meanings beyond surviving the action. This one though had a meaning beyond that-- All it takes for bad to succeed is for good to do nothing.

Except, how do you define that? Isn't that the justification for terrorism and operating outside the law for a higher goal. This film [had key scenes and its release date changed after the Aurora, Colorado shooting].  I think the questions it raises about how good succeeds will challenge a viewer who stops to think. All the time we are cheering the 'good' guys who are using bad guy tactics, we have to think-- there might be those encouraged to do exactly that when we won't be cheering.

Because the film was [loosely based] on something that actually happened in 1949 but was kept secret for many years, it makes the whole thing dicey in an era where we know we have big problems but what justifies ignoring the law and using something unlawful to fight something unlawful-- and in the case of the film-- violence to fight violence?

I personally believe that we have to work within the law. But, what if the law has been distorted? Then we have to get enough voters to change it. The Wild West answer still makes me uncomfortable even though I enjoyed the movie. How about the tools his granddaughter said her grandfather actually used-- brain not brawn but not under a legal umbrella?

I ran into that in the book I mentioned above, Hidden Pearl, which was the objection a reviewer had to the action. The lead character did do something that was illegal to achieve a higher aim. That made at least one reader uncomfortable. He was trying to acquire enough evidence to catch a murderer-- did that justify his action? Some would say no.

Understanding the meaning, the life lesson behind a book or movie, is important-- it's not always comfortable.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

being organized...

Right now, at this point in my life, there are few things I enjoy more than writing fiction, creating characters, working out a plot, doing the research for the setting, dealing with motivations for actions and on it goes. It's challenging but so much fun.

There is, however, another side to writing books especially if you use characters in more than one book or set them into the past-- logistics. And there are few things I hate more than working out numbers.

When I first decided to bring my contemporary romances out for eReaders, I had to figure out when each book had happened compared to the others because of a few shared characters. I had written these stories for the fun of it, but I hadn't thought about dates where this or that had to happen if the books were to fit together.

In working that out I even had to change one secondary character's name as there was simply no way that person could have been in that book given the other books and what he had been doing in them where he also was a secondary character let alone the one where he was the hero. If that sounds confusing, it is.

I just thought that had been complicated until I got to the historicals. Once again I'd written loose and for fun. I am one of those writers who keeps my notes on pieces of paper, which gives you a pretty good idea what my writing area looks like when I am in the midst of a project. It's even worse when the book is finished as then-- where did that paper go?

I've heard of software that writers use to avoid those chaotic searches for something somewhere. If I was anal at all, this would be a LOT easier. I have thought about buying some of these systems but would I use them? I had PageFour (which I'd read good things about) for a trial period-- and didn't use it at all during that free trial. Would I have if I had purchased it?

One night, as the time to put out the historicals grew closer, I lay trying to think how many years were between this or that baby's birth-- nothing complicates this more than adding babies to the mix. Historicals are complicated also by real physical dates that cannot be maneuvered around.

The next morning (because I know he's good at numbers), I pulled my publisher (also known as FarmBoss and husband) into the struggle to make the dates hold up. He could hardly believe how casually I had taken the whole thing even though I did know the approximate ages of everybody. I would say he had a bit of an irked look as he got out paper and pen and began trying to make sense of what I was telling him.

I loved doing it--- not. With his help though I did get the dates along with the unmovable historic dates into a Word doc and now have a timeline for the Arizona historicals. On another day I'll tackle the Oregon ones where there are more dates, more people and it stretches over a longer time span.Because it's further off from being ePublished, I am in no hurry.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

trilliums and lying in green grass

Nighttime dreams have been an important part of my creative life. I dream in colors with vivid imagery and often stories that unroll like watching a movie. Most would never make a book, but once in awhile I am left with some words that I mull over later.

"'Trilliums and lying in green grass' is the title for your book" was said in one of those dreams. I could maybe see that as the title for a book of poetry but romance-- not so much. It made a good title for a blog, except what did it mean-- if anything?

I remember being a small child and walking with my parents on the old wagon roads that led to the back of our farm in the foothills of the Cascades. In the spring, there would be fields of beautiful trilliums in the logged off areas. The rule was enjoy but don't pick because picking them destroys them and there will never be another growing in that spot. 

Sounds like parental overkill, because after a little research, I learned it doesn't actually kill a trillium to pick it but it does set it back and damage it for years to come as the plant stores needed energy through its leaves. Parental mythology or not, it made its point. I have never picked a trillium.

They come out white and turn darker and darker pink until they are burgundy just before they begin to shrivel up.  Ants spread their seed. At maturity, the base and core of the trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Their seeds have a fleshy organ that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary after they take it to their nest, where they eat that fleshy organ and put the seeds in their garbage, where they germinate in a rich growing medium. 

So what could Trilliums and Lying in Green Grass possibly mean as a book title? Both were part of my life as a child. I did a lot of lying in green grass back in those days and saw a lot of trilliums. Should I ever write a memoir (unlikely) it'd make a good title.

Possibly the words together mean to not hold life too tightly, not to try to take away things that are beautiful from their natural setting as it won't work? Both have to be done out in nature as it is only when outside that you can lie in grass. 

I think the title is more for a book of poetry than one of romance although there is the attraction of the ant to the plant as a way to reproduce... that's sort of like romance... right?

In this case, all it is is an excuse to use these lovely photos of Coast Range trilliums from this spring. I didn't know until reading up on it that trilliums are a genus of about 40-50 species of spring ephemeral perennials native to the temperate regions of North America and Asia. 

We saw these for the first time on a recent hike in the Coast Range. It is similar but blooms when the other trilliums are already turning pink. There are spots on the leaves that make it seem like a sort of hosta and the white of its petals reminded me of gardenias with their waxy quality.

It's not like every dream I have leads to some great writing... but this one did lead to being able to use some photos I like. Perhaps that's enough justification.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

hunting down adverbs

the lush season along the creek

Since finishing the last rough draft, I've been engaged in editing, editing and editing again my historic manuscripts. One of my main goals has been the hunt for the evil adverb. 

Now I do not personally see adverbs as that bad but oh my they are such a bad word in any recent discussion of writing style-- while, of course, ignoring all the great authors who did use them. They are a modifying word that help to explain an action and add meaning to a verb. They exist in English grammar. 

So you write 'she walked' and want to indicate the pace, an adverb does it 'she walked slowly' or rapidly... but could have just said strode or ambled. It can also be done without any of that and instead setting the scene. In a rage at what he had said, she walked across the patio determined to explain herself. The reader has no doubt that she's in a hurry and how she walked without any adverb.

Although I cannot say I have had a love affair with adverbs, I have gone through some of the stages of loss and grief regarding being told I should not use them in my own writing. First came denial-- come on, this cannot seriously be an issue. Then anger-- this is nuts. there is nothing bad about adverbs.  Bargaining -- if mine are used well, they are okay even if someone else's are not. I skipped over depression probably because I hadn't had a serious love affair with them-- but I finally did come to acceptance-- if this is what today's experts think and what I will find a manuscript downgraded because, I can deal with it.

I faced a truth that if critics are looking for a bean counting way to assess a literary effort, adverbs are an easy call. I've read several books on style that address this issue. Here are a few of the arguments against adverbs. They get in the way. They aren't pretty. You should show not tell. Or said another way:
The adjective is the enemy of the noun and the adverb the enemy of damn near everything else. Nouns and verbs are the guts of the language.                                            A.B. Gutherie
So, even disagreeing with the premise, I went looking through my own historical manuscripts (the ones I have yet to put out) to see how often I used these bad boys.

The way I did the search was using find for 'ly' words as they are the most commonly used-- rapidly, slowly, etceterly.  Looking for 'ly' words also found overuse of words like probably, clearly, really, or only. Some can be eliminated; but when you are writing one person's point of view, they don't know for sure what someone else is thinking; hence probably pops up. I looked for ways to say that without its use. 

One of the big names out there condemning the use of adverbs is Stephen King, who uses --ly words to illustrate why they are bad. 
I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's--GASP!!--too late.  Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
As I began my search, I did note that often the modifier I thought added something, actually didn't as the dialogue made clear how it would have been said. Whenever possible, I also got rid of he said/she said as dialogue is stronger when it flows right along-- if it's clear who is speaking.

This is not the fun work of writing. Where it comes to adverbs, I have argued a lot over the fact that they're not that useless. I've even found writers who back me up.

But in the end, it didn't hurt me to look for overuse of these modifiers. I suppose somewhere in my subconscious I either didn't like them either (to me too many adjectives become funny also), was taught this by the consulting writer I worked with fifteen or more years ago, or had read about their evils and put them out of my head. There were not a lot.

There are times I think removing an adverb just makes for a more wordy way to say what one simple word would accomplish. There are times an adverb truly isn't needed but just felt pleasurable to the writer (these are the ones that need to go). 

Overuse though of any word can become annoying to the reader, and it's a good reason to use the find tool. Search these bad boys out and do away with them especially really truly honestly leaving behind what is more essential to the sentence likely mostly.

I think this quote says best what I feel about adverbs.
 "At their best, adverbs spice up a verb or adjective. At their worst, they express a meaning already contained in it."        Roy Peter Clark in Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Sunday, April 21, 2013

wrapping it up-- or not


Many times I have written-- fiction books are always fiction. I know how much readers want to think otherwise about the great literary works-- ah so true to life. Except they are fiction made to convince readers they are true to life.

Recently I've written about romantic heroes-- realistic and otherwise. It seemed an apropos time to discuss how real life actually works out-- from a non-fiction book which attracted my interest for a lot of reasons. 

Its story is not how we want to think life happens. It's definitely not how it would in a romance or mystery, but it is what actually happens when murderers do sometimes get away with it and investigations are not tidily wrapped up by the last chapter. 

In 1994, I remember reading in the newspapers when this cowboy was shot. It seemed unexplainable then and the details were sketchy as to what even happened. The first article that I read indicated he was shot off his horse. Very cowboy like but not what happened.

The country in which the murder happened is a region where I have spent a lot of time. The writer does a good job of personalizing what happened and bringing forth anecdotes that make you feel you understand better not only the events but the nature of the people.

When we read of something like this, a young man cut down in the prime of life, deliberately murdered, it is upsetting. It's not how it's supposed to be. Then the uneasiness doubles down when the one who did it got away with it-- at least as far as the legal system is concerned. 

Tidy, rewarding endings too often do not belong to real life. And heroes don't always survive. We see that time and again. If I am going to take the time though to read about this kind of event and investigation, I want it to be in a book clearly labeled non-fiction. 

Rick Steber's determined research led to an interesting story about that part of Oregon, many character studies of those who could have held the gun that day, and of what can go wrong in an investigation. 

There were even psychics to add to the mix. When the only living witnesses are the killer, a horse and dog, psychics are a place some turn for answers. We always want answers, but this book won't give it to us. It will just tell us what can be known, and you can do your own deciding what did happen when one individual sighted down a rifle and deliberately killed another human being. Of all the possible explanations, the one I don't remotely believe is it was an accident. It was deliberate murder, but the question of why may never be answered.

The story was another reminder of why I enjoy writing romances. I get enough of these kind of tragedies in the newspaper and non-fiction. It isn't that I don't want to know they happen. It's just I like having a break from it to a world where it will work out-- even if it takes awhile.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

inspiration and the real deal

 Canstock image and I have no idea if this guy is a professional model,
 but I used his image for Judd in the trailer for 'Second Chance'

We all know that real-life heroes don't come in neat packages. They aren't all handsome, tall, muscular or whatever. But in books and movies, heroes often do come in those kind of packages-- which is part of why people often don't recognize serial killers as they shouldn't be good looking except they sometimes are. 

When I wrote my books, I had descriptions but didn't try to visualize the heroes or heroines. They were rather dreamlike in my mind. It wasn't until I got to the point of needing covers that I began to think-- wow, exactly what do they look like.

Now when I ePublish one of my romances, I use on the cover what romance readers expect. Some are professional models others just guys/gals who everyone has told they are good looking and could make some money. Sometimes you can tell which is which and sometimes not.

Using a model to depict a hero isn't a problem to me because I find men irresistible in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You tell me about any romance writer who doesn't, and I'll be surprised. Chick lit writers not necessarily but romance writers-- they all like men and you can tell from their books.

When I saw the link below on the Carhartt 2012 catalog, (my daughter-in-law is where I heard of it), I thought-- it was funny but also the real deal where it comes to guys who work hard and live a rugged outdoor life (hey I am married to one of them and he likes Carhartt because it holds up). 

Anyway just to go along with that earlier post-- inspiration... here's more with some humor. If you go there, be sure you go beyond the pictures and read the text. Not only funny but it's also true... to a point anyway. Isn't that enough?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

grabbing reader interest

When looking for a video, what should I have stumbled across but the following. It's about a Harlequin (big romance publishing line) photo shoot. It's how they did it and emphasizes how important covers are to selling a book even when it's from a name author and big publishing house with reputations all of their own.

One thing about covers is they have to fit the genre. When you write a particular type of book, you need to look at books in that genre. If you are not a writer with a lot of money or big publishing house behind you, you do the creating on a budget, but you recognize that what you see on the shelves is what you are competing against for reader attention. 

I think the writer with less money can learn from this kind of shoot-- even if their son who is equally handsome won't pose for them... no sour grapes at all... none... well maybe a little ;).

Sunday, April 14, 2013


image one I purchased from Cutcaster

When it comes to the books I've written, the ones I love to read, I am a romantic of the old fashioned sort. Sure sex is fine in them, but it's never the main thing. It's that emotional tugging at the heart and it's the energy that I want to take away from a good read. When I write, I look for the same feelings. My ideas often come from something I've seen or heard.

One of my early stories was about the world of rodeo, 'Luck of the Draw.' Really the luck of the draw is about life as well as the way these cowboys get their rides. I wrote it when I was the age of the heroine; and although I'd been to a lot of rodeos, I can't say I ever knew a rodeo rider that well. I got my inspiration from books, things I'd seen, and imagination as I thought about what would it be like to fall in love with one of these men.

The other day I came across a video which was created for a song about a rodeo man. It pretty well says it all about what it means to be on that circuit, to regularly pit your skills against an animal that isn't interested in making you look good. The song is very romantic. To me, so is the video.

And if rodeo is of interest to you, give the video I created a try also:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using theme music

When I need emotion in a certain section I am writing and don't feel enough of within me at the time, I use music to stir it up. Generally speaking, that will be soundtracks as words get in the way. I think a  person could use any sort of soundtrack that fit the emotion they needed. For me, I want the energy from the great westerns which can provide the feel of heroics, action, sacrifice, danger, and love.

Yes, most of my contemporary romances are not strictly speaking westerns except for Desert Inferno, From Here to There, Luck of the Draw, and A Montana Christmas, but here's the secret-- the rest are too. They are all westerns whether that western hero is a high school principal, a mechanic, or he's out riding the range. Westerns are about good versus evil. They are about someone standing up for what is right. They encompass a certain feeling, and it can be in any book-- or for that matter film. 

Yesterday, at least partly to avoid hearing complaining sheep, I chose to listen to soundtracks to Red River and Rio Grande. The latter will be particularly useful when I write the book about the cavalry in the John Day country. Yes, I need to research the actual life men lived in the military of that time-- but let's face it some of what we expect in our books is because of books we've already read and the films we've seen-- which are partly realistic and partly what we want to think.

Anyway my suggestions if you like western soundtracks (for writing to or just listening), is look for them from western films you might've enjoyed. Tombstone starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp has a great soundtrack as does Legend of the Fall. Likewise, Open Range, Monte Walsh/Crossfire Trail, Dances with Wolves, and any collection taken from the tons of great westerns they used to make. 

Amazon is a good source because they carry what stores wouldn't and western soundtracks are probably offbeat interests. I also like buying something like the opening theme from films like Picnic and Long Hot Summer (that one has lyrics) which are available for $.99.

When I use something like the entry theme to The Big Country or How the West was Won, it makes me feel my characters are striding through life and conquoring mountains (which frankly sometimes love also requires).

These themes are uplifting, and that's what I aim for with my books. Life has enough tragedy and terrible things happening. When I write or read, I don't want sadness or evil people succeeding. I want the good guy to win and love to triumph. Music can give a writer that or whatever other emotion they need for where they are in the story.

Music like from the one below does something else-- it puts me in a great mood ;)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Oregon Trail 1852

 image photoshopped from my photos, one taken at the 
Oregon Trail Museum in Baker City, Oregon

Before I began working on the manuscript based on Oregon after the Civil War, I had to do two things. One was look again at my earlier research, the other was read and that means edit again the two stories that came before it. This was important as a way to remind myself about these characters and keep the family real as the third story has a heroine who was daughter and sister in the other two.

The first of these books is based on the Oregon Trail in 1852. Even then, not all pioneers chose to travel with big trains. Some, for economic reasons, went by in small groups or by themselves-- the most likely ones to get attacked by Plains tribes. This story is, however, about one of the big wagon trains with a wagon master, scout and two hired men.

When I read it, for the purpose of keeping my ducks in a row for the third book, I felt fine with it. Like yeah, it works. When I finished the third, I began to rethink the first. Often frankly a writer's first romance isn't worth reading. They throw everything into it and when they finally have the ability to bring it out, a reader knows why it hadn't been accepted originally by publishing houses. Some of this can be true with books you never submitted anywhere and are bringing out on your own as an ePub.

My first story, because it's part of a series presents an additional problem. It's not just that it's difficult to make it as good as what I am currently writing, but that book absolutely has to be there. It is the opening to a series that requires the first even though any of them can be read independently. 

My concern was, that unless i got into it very critically, the first one could lose potential readers for the rest. The more i thought about it, the more I knew I had to go back and brutally slash some of my favorite scenes. It was just too long.

The thing with this first book is that I began it when I was younger than the heroine who is 18. It arose out of something a younger cousin and i used to do at family gatherings where we would go for walks and tell stories. We'd take our characters through a series of events taking turns describing what happened next. Matt and Amy came from those walks.

Some years went by; and when I'd have been a little older than my heroine, I began to type the story on an old, black, hit-those-keys-hard typewriter. That manuscript was rewritten more than a few times and was the one I later worked over with a consulting writer where I would send her sections in the mail and get back red-lined critiques, chewed up as badly as a school assignment. From a professional, that kind of help is costly but so valuable as she taught me things that have gone with me through every manuscript since.

It is the story of the trip west but also of two families of very different natures, of youth, innocence, thwarted passions, and love. The youthfulness of the main characters frankly made it difficult for me now that I am nearly 70 and looking at these characters from the perspective not of a girl but of an old woman. 

Although it's about young people, it's not a young adult romance, but it has the angst and desire that the young especially experience where everything is more than it might seem later based on hormones and inexperience. There is an innocence in the story which I think is part of that westward movement but also complicated getting it to fit into line with the next books.

When I originally wrote it, I did a lot of research on the trip west. When you do that, it's tempting to put it all out but that interferes with the story. There are moments I particularly have liked, but they had to go. I am thinking some might be kept as vignettes for the blog and a way to inspire interest in the journey. The vignettes though don't belong in the book. As I took out about 8000 words, I think I pared it down to what actually does... I hope.

old photo from the Oregon Trail Museum, Baker City, Oregon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Finishing and starting

It's kind of funny (funny odd not hilarious) or was for a bit. For over a year, I had two unfinished historical manuscripts. I just do not do that. When I write something, I finish it. The first incomplete tied into the Oregon stories. I  put it off when I realized more editing was required before submitting my contemporary romances to ePublishing. In the midst of that I got the idea for a story to follow my Arizona historical (confused yet?) and began that. The world interfered as well with the need for better covers. So, I let them both set.

When we drove to Tucson in November, instead of finishing either, I got the idea for a Christmas novella which I wrote while there and got out barely in time for Christmas. It also had characters from another book.

Back in Oregon in January, I was determined to get both of those unfinished novels into the rough draft category. I did the Arizona one first as it has been my intention to see the Arizona historicals ePubbed before the Oregon ones. 

As soon as I got that one done, I started on what was required to finish the Oregon historical. It was finished the last week of March. By finished, I mean rough draft as no book is done until it's been edited, edited and edited again. Still it was a good feeling when I got it to that stage as it meant I suddenly had nothing on my plate.

That was until I got the idea for a fourth Oregon historical. The hero for it was already in two of the other books as a secondary character. I realized, with the youngest of the Stevens sisters, I had the leads for a new story set during the Snake Indian War and involving the history of the John Day country. This is beautiful country, full of fossil beds, interesting rock formations, and a wide variety of terrains. 

On the history end, with all the gold mining, the rapid growth, rampant crime, the Chinese population, there was a lot to research even if I didn't include the main purpose for the story-- the Snake Conflict, 1864-68. 

Canyon City, bigger than Portland at that time (10,000 population) had some fascinating characters, not the least of whom was one of Oregon's most colorful poets, Cincinnatus Miller who wrote under the name Joaquin Miller. He led an interesting life in terms of women and experiences. Basing more of my story in Canyon City and Camp Watson, he could add some color because he was a judge there during those years-- before he ambled on for adventures elsewhere.

The hero was a cavalry officer in two earlier books and having him stick with that lets him be more involved in the actual Indian conflict. My idea for the heroine (the youngest of three sisters) would have her being a governess which was how I would get her to this unlikely place after a college education and travel to Europe all helped along by wealthy friends who took her under their wing. What if the wealthy family headed for Canyon City and the gold wealth to be had and brought her reluctantly along? Definite potential there.

Sometime I might write more in a blog about the process behind historical romances, but generally speaking I like to research a geographic area, time span, understand what was going on in the big picture, what could be possible personally (that is, of course, fictionally), and then set my characters into it.

The one thing I know for sure, interesting though this all is to me, I should wait a couple of months to get started on it as writing original novels makes for long, long days at the computer. Emotionally I've had enough burying myself in other people's problems-- for awhile.

When I do put out the first historical, I am thinking of doing paperback as well as eReader. That means I will need to design a backcover and probably an inside leaf. The eBook covers I have been creating are good enough for paper covers. I wouldn't use any system that forced the paper version to be over $10 (if you aren't careful, it can go way over, and you would never sell a single book), but CreateSpace seems to be good method as it appears it keeps the costs down. The books are printed only as you sell them through Amazon; or if you decide to take them to a store, as you buy them to put out on consignment. I am still thinking about the ramifications of this and reading other writers' experiences with CreateSpace.

 All photos from the John Day country. Writing another book based there is a wonderful excuse to spend a lot of time absorbing the energy of the place as it's one of those areas I've come to love very much.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

finding inspiration from nature

Often, my own writing inspires ideas for this blog. Although I'll be researching/tweaking/editing, I am finished with another rough draft and for a bit might have to depend on my own life for topics-- do I have an 'own life' right now? 

In order to be sure I still did, Sunday I was out at Finley, a nature preserve about twenty miles or so from our place. The birds were in high excitement with thousands of geese flying, landing and taking off. I don't know but many may be on their way north. What an exciting season.

In Finley, there are some regular residents. To just sit and listen to all the birds, to watch for the one moment something happens, that's why it's wonderful to go to such natural sites. And why it's so important they remain available for wild and migrating birds. It is a creative space that inspires me every time I am there.

The sounds of hundreds of birds landing and lifting off from the water, their wings beating the surface as they call cannot be duplicated. It has to be experienced. It must be thrilling for them also as they act together on some unheard (by us) signal.

We took quite a few videos and can't say any totally told the story of what it's like to be there. The following link is to a piece of that feeling: 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I am a writer

When you think about what being a writer means, the above (which I got from Facebook) says a lot of  it. Because for the last couple of years my main writing of fiction involved editing and rewriting, I had forgotten how all encompassing writing an original novel actually is. This winter I did a novella, followed it with the Arizona historical (which ended up 117,000 some words give or take when final editing is finished this summer) and now am into the Oregon one with it now a finished rough draft.

Perhaps if one stops at the minimum length for a novel, which is 60,000 words, this total absorption would be less so. You'd live with these characters less time and have less complexity to the novel. But if  you go for the longer lengths or into what are considered epic lengths of over 100,000 words, you live with them and their problems in a way that takes over your own life. That's just my warning-- be prepared for any author who has yet to write something that long and complex.

image from CanStock

I've shown these statistics before but basically here are averages for lengths of books: 

Novel-- over 40,000 words
novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
novelette 7500 to 17,500 words
short story -- under 7500 words 

Some would say that a novel must be 80,000-95,000 words and an epic or saga is over 100,000. It seems it's all a bit subjective but, one thing is true, where novellas and short stories can be looser in form, novels not so much. There are expectations for what the reader will find in the novel-- which I wrote about in an earlier blog.

The first full length, historical romance novel I ever wrote was140,000 words. It's the one I spent over a thousand dollars (and that was over fifteen years ago) working with a consulting writer on editing. Recently it got another look by me and it's still at 135,000 words and yes, that's epic, a length that most editors (at least back in the years when I submitted manuscripts) wouldn't even bother to read from an unpublished writer. The thing is it's a story not only of love but the trip west on a wagon train. Even though it centers on one couple and two families, that still makes for a lot of story.

Anyway the work that currently sucked me in is set in Oregon and involves the history of the state in 1865. While writing it, once in awhile I'd come up for air and realize there is no me. Instead of my life, I would find myself fretting over if my hero is reacting logically, would my heroine really do that, what about that villain, is he acting and reacting consistently to his character (yes, even villains should). And on it goes. It's especially bad in the middle of the night when it's all I can think about.

With the rough draft done, other than a few immediate tweaks (which have come to me in the night, I really need a break from writing (although I already have an idea for the book that would follow this one). I need to get back into my own life and find out what's going on. It turns out that my husband has been pulled into a technology project right now to the point he's not really here either. We are going through the paces of looking after the livestock and our place, but our imaginations are elsewhere. Bad timing-- as it might be best if we staggered our obsessions.