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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blog Hop

And something new came up. I am participating in what they call a blog hop which means a group of writing blogs agree to promote a new book by the sponsoring author, who in this case is Charlene Raddon. They then promote her book on their day while she puts up what they wrote regarding their book. Sounds like fun, doesn't it. I guess I'll find out as I have had zero experience in this area but have heard of these online events. The following is the promotion for it on Charlene's blog--


Join the party

The Promote Your Book/Promote Mine Blog Hop will run from May 31 to June 23. Visit every blog, leave a comment at each one, and you will qualify for the drawing at the end of the Hop for a $45 gift card from B&N or Amazon, your choice, and a free copy of the eBook, The Scent of Roses. Watch for giveaways at individual blogs as well. You can keep track of the event at our Facebook page,

Thursday, May 30, 2013

sorting, sorting and more sorting

 It's been stormy in the Pacific Northwest with squalls coming through combined with breaks with a bit of sunshine. Nothing that inspires a person to be outside for more than quick walks. I got into sorting 'stuff' and that's pretty well been encompassing my week. This is a little late for spring cleaning and it's not that. It's trying to discard and organize. Some of this came because I found a cool deal online for four sundresses, which I love when it's warm enough, and when they came, that led to organizing my closet, putting out summery clothes (if warm weather gets here)... and somewhere in there I decided I also needed to go through our old VHS tapes.

In the cleaning out the anteroom to the garage, Farm boss came across two boxes of romance novels which I hadn't seen for years, barely remembered I had ever bought, have no idea why they were there or for how many years. That led to sorting them. These are books from late 1980s into 1990s when I was reading a lot of this to try and get a feel for what the romance genre required.

Which means, I've been scanning through a LOT of books all at once, all from authors who were popular then but some don't still have books out there while a few do. I am keeping a few and more will be set up to hopefully sell as boxes maybe on eBay. That was what I was going to do with others I'd gone through over a year ago and have yet to try to sell. It takes photographing their covers and offering them in groups of say 20. No bookstore will take books from that far back unless they are by authors who are still publishing (learned that years ago when I thought I could read the books and resell them when done).

Anyway it's been interesting to see an affirmation of what I had written before-- the plots get circulated and recirculated. Yes, readers of romances today do want fresh approaches (but not too fresh). The plots are used again and again by new writers. I do not think original plots are particularly desired which is a bit of a bummer if you like to write original stories.

What I have wondered, as I've been skimming through them, is do my plots fit any of these categories? I do feel they are hybrids between a true romance and say a Mary Alice Monroe. Is there a market for that?

It was interesting to see some of the names of writers that don't appear to still be selling books and yet had published over 40. They were doing something right in terms of drawing readers. Can I fit any of that while still telling my own story? That's my issue to think about for now.

Between fence problems involving the sheep, the fox wars (more on that continuing saga for my Saturday blog on Rainy Day Thoughts), trying to learn how to do discussion videos, watching our granddaughter run in an end of the season meet, I've been sorting, sorting and re-sorting and my house is a mess-- full of boxes of this or that. The farmhouse doesn't have enough storage space or maybe it has too much!

On creating my own videos, I updated my YouTube site (actually they said do it now or they'd be doing it soon) as they suggested offering a less than one minute video to explain what my channel there is about-- creating and nature. I also spent more time (when emotionally I had the energy) working on what it will take to do one for a specific book keeping the video to around 2 minutes.

What I am beginning to think is I won't be able to interest people to check these out unless I come up with something more to intrigue which might mean combining scenery (if we ever get dried out up here) or even images from the books. I am not remotely sure how to do any of that and this gets old fast trying to figure it out especially since I am still not sure it'll sell my 'hybrid' romances.

Anyway here's the video I did for my book Desert Inferno. I am thinking the book videos should start with the location, the setting, the motivation behind the story, and have limited about the plots and characters as that's all available at Amazon. The video is really about interesting someone enough to look at the sample and the blurb.

The photo at the top is a teaser regarding the chronicles of us and the fox family-- come back Saturday to Rainy Day Thoughts for more.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A video as something more

Now I cannot begin to say that I am going to go all arty on creating videos that promote writing. Although my husband/publisher/Farm Boss might if he finds it a rewarding hobby with the few hours he has available for such. I won't be holding my breath on that.

What I began to see was the potential for videos beyond selling my own books. They can promote an idea or emotional goal which is what I always want from my books but a video can do that apart from them. Too cool.

What began to inspire me for where this can go was watching the following video about Southern artists in particular based around Charleston, South Carolina. They are a mix of poets and writers as they discuss the place they live, how it's different from other places, and how it impacts their work. It was so cool and I hope that readers here will take the time to watch it. It was very inspiring regarding creativity and place.

What I was thinking was about the potential for taking a geographic area like say where I live that does have its unique imprint. Let the land around you, the historic energy, the people who are unique to this place, let it all impact what you create. I think I do this with my books based always in places I know and love, places I have spent a lot of time. I have not, however, sat down and put that process to words as well as I felt that video did for Charleston and that part of the South.

Through the years, particularly when we belonged to Netflix, I really enjoyed documentaries but most were the length of a movie. The link above was more a tidbit, a taste to get people probably to appreciate their area but also to think more about their own and what it contributes to their work.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

marketing with a video

 So as an indie writer, you need word of mouth. How do you get it? One way is to have you, the writer and the books, seen as many places as possible-- hence those contests and reviews. Another is to have the work discussed in places a reader might come across not specifically looking for a book but find one. That's where YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter might come in.

What the experts in promotion say is you have to create a brand. Your brand as an indie artist/writer will not be the publisher/gallery behind your work. It will be you and the work. The work might get attention many ways by being the right work at the right time but how about you?

One possibility is creating a video where you talk about the work or your philosophy behind it. For me, this presents a problem-- I have always hated to see myself talking in any video. I don't like my voice in any recording. Still I believe in my books and in romance writing. I am open to doing what I can to promote that; so...

To get some ideas on how to approach this, I watched videos by authors and other creative people. My favorite is where Mary Alice Monroe fly fishes and discusses her book based on a river being about healing and teaching. I liked how she became part of the environment she was discussing. Although her video was doubtless done by a professional, I think amateurs can learn from seeing perfection-- gotta have a goal, right?

Incidentally I like her book, Time is a River, and had read it before I came across the video.

Finally if I hoped to do this, I had to start somewhere, get my own feet into the stream. The easiest place to instantly see the mistakes was with the webcam. This would be my first time to use it to create a video. Lots of things went wrong like I'd screw up what I was saying as I had no script, wanted this to be like a conversation not a lecture. The phone would ring. I'd hear a sheep needing something. The cat would bang the screen.

The first thing I learned I already knew-- it's not that easy. I had to quit stopping if I made an error-- it is a conversation, right, which means I can make some mistakes in how I phrase something. Maybe not in a more professional looking one.

After I'd done it for awhile one day, I realized none looked like I was having fun. It has to look like fun, like something I care about because if I don't, why should anyone else? I gave it up for the day.

Here's what I think so far regarding promotional videos. Keep it under four minutes unless an expert in the field. Look for general principles and then talk about them rather than writing out a text that will look boring when read. I talk a lot with my hands which I probably have to watch in the video as that could be distracting.

For me, working with the webcam was best because it allowed for instant feedback. It worked or it didn't. I consider all of this practice for doing a more sophisticated one which I plan to do back along the creek when the weather warms up (rain rain rain which the pastures love but no good for video making outdoors).

To begin I hoped to use music in the background but a webcam mic isn't sophisticated enough to get the voice and the music and it ruined both. The music could be added later or I might see if we have microphones around here that could plug into the webcam or computer and do a better job. For now I am more concerned with learning how to do my end of it and will worry about the techie end later-- if forced.

I like the idea of doing a video along our creek because nature is an important part of my life and books. When I begin to discuss the first historical, I can't use the backdrop from where it's set since it's Arizona and I don't plan to be there again for maybe a year. However, nature is a factor in me; so my home here in Oregon should also work.

As I worked on this, I thought probably I should do one of these for each of my books to discuss why I wrote them and why I think they have value. For now I'll settle for learning how to discuss the philosophy behind them all. I thought it might be interesting though to discuss say sexuality in fiction or why historical or how to create an original story-- although not sure original stories are that popular-- so forewarned on that one.

My husband/publisher got interested in the technical end of this and bought some software that would enable something fancier. I hope he has interest in doing that because I do not. It's enough for me to learn how to talk about both the books and my motivations, possibly various aspects of writing. I do not want to make videos that get more complicated. However, I'd love it if he did.

One thing I do believe-- every place an indie can put mention of their writing, where someone might then go looking for their books, that's a place to put a footprint. Will any of it sell a book, who knows! For now I will settle for just getting comfortable with making videos. I am not there yet.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Marketing again... and again and again

Probably I write 1/3 of the posts here on the subject of marketing/promoting. It's much on my mind, especially right now, as I try to decide when/whether to bring out the first of what will be six historical romances. As I more or less map out the sixth (still unwritten) in my head, I am also thinking how the heck do I get any of them seen by readers who are most likely to enjoy them? The truth is you can write a masterpiece (not saying mine are) but if you can't get them seen, they go nowhere. It's like Cinderella sitting at home waiting for a prince if she does nothing to get herself seen.

When I got into ePublishing in December 2011, I knew marketing would be the problem. For awhile I thought I had a solution with Amazon's Select program where you give away books as a way to introduce yourself to new readers. I would say that spectacularly didn't work. While I gave away thousands of books, the sales didn't do enough to keep me visible on Amazon's product lists. I had readers say they'd just wait for the book to be free as that's all they were taking. Free books didn't lead to many reviews; so I got out of Select and won't put the historicals into that system.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've read my whining regarding hating marketing something most creative people do not want to be doing. But, if you do your own work, paint, sculpt, photograph, write, create music, and want your work seen, you know about the problems of marketing/promoting.

To get something seen in the world is a business and has its own skill set. Because of this issue and my own uncertainty on how to resolve it, I've put off releasing the first historical since it was readied last September. I've thought through various options for how to proceed while I have written more books.

One possibility is I could submit the historicals to publishing houses. I never have. At this point, I don't want to go through a publishing house even if I could get the books accepted. There are a couple of reasons. The main one is I don't see how they can do a better job marketing. They could pay for ads. They do for the big writers but would they a first timer? Unlikely. Their reputation might sell books, but the ones most likely for that (Harlequin) wouldn't accept manuscripts to even consider the length of mine. I am not willing to chop the meat out of mine to fit their length requirements.

If I found a publishing house that did accept a book, they would also put it onto eBooks, and I'd get a fraction of what I get by being my own publisher. The books might make it into bookstores for awhile, but they move through there pretty fast from what I've seen. Yes, I'd get the prestige of having a book accepted but what do I care about that?

So I am back to the problem-- how do I put out my first historical and get it seen before it falls into Amazon's black hole?

Some writers (likewise painters, sculptors, etc.) enter contests. That are a few pluses if the contest is by a respected group as you might also get a bit of a critique even if the work didn't win. On the other hand, who follows the results of these contests except those in the groups? A win there is something that would look good on a webpage if the webpage reaches very many people. How much faith a reader puts into buying a book based on having won a contest would probably be proportionate to what they felt about the group putting it on. Was the contest won solely by ability or by popularity, i.e. networking? I have no idea as I've never entered one nor have I ever bought a book based on its having won a contest. If the contest had as a reward a certain amount of free promotion then that might be of value, but I don't think most offer more than the initial release of the results-- and release to whom?

Reviews are another way some indie writers go. They submit the books to various online sites that do reviews. I might give that a try, but the question I have there is similar to the contests-- how many people read or buy books based on those reviews? Who even knows they exist? Are they mostly read by other writers and wantabe writers? Now that is a market but not really large enough to keep a book afloat.

Personally more troublesome is I have read the reviews, looked at the books and don't see my books fitting well into those getting the highest ratings. Clearly I am on a different wavelength-- not better (nor do I think worse), just different.

It might come back to this thing I read earlier-- romance readers and reviewers are looking for new versions of what's already been out there. They want good writing, exciting characters, different settings, but basically similar plots. Although I am writing historical romances, I don't see them as having the plots that fit the existing niches. Still I might give it a try although I am still arguing with myself over it.

There are millions of readers online and buying eBooks, but they more likely to find their books by reading reviews in newspapers or by word of mouth. An indie book is not getting a review by a newspaper; so that leaves word of mouth. There are indie writers who have found ways and gotten seen by the mainstream. I think the main thing is to have the work showing up a lot of places that aren't limited to writers because much as I enjoy talking to other writers, seeing their work, I am not their main market either. I've written about a few ideas I've come across. Another is in the next blog.

It's rhododendron time in the sun in my part of the Pacific Northwest. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

another heartbreaking tragedy :(

Although I had written a blog for tomorrow on writing, after seeing the damage done to  Oklahoma by the monster tornado, I have no heart for using it. Nothing seems important in comparison. What I want to figure out now is to what agencies would be best to donate. I feel so sorry for the losses and words just don't cut it in such a situation.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Making Memories

Creativity and process are part of life and in so many areas besides writing or what are considered the fine arts. Creativity is in cooking, decorating, even living. How someone gets from A to Z with a creative work is something Diane Widler Wenzel illustrates in her exhibit at Oregon's Albany Public Library (2450 14th Ave. S.E.) which will be running through June.

Diane has been a friend of mine since college and her creativity and art work has been stimulating and always of interest. Going on a trip with her and her husband, watching her begin a work, take it home to finish, seeing it lead to something else has always inspired me.

This exhibit of 33 paintings not only shows the work spanning through her life but has signs to explain how she thinks about it.

Her exhibit is on the second floor. It's an extensive show going from one end of the second floor to the other. She put a lot of energy and thought into writing signs that describe her process and how she gets from A to Z. So if you happen to be in the Albany, Oregon area, it will be there through June.

More of Diane's thinking on the creative process at Color Bridges.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

the nature of warriors

Before I begin writing a story, a lot of time is spent mulling over plot and characters in my head. It is when I begin to think about who goes with the two main characters. I work out the difficulties they will face and come up with subplots. For me it all happens before I begin typing. Once in awhile I might write a vignette to help me think about the mood of the piece-- the snippet often won't ever make it into the book.

In the historical story I am currently planning, its two lead characters will be different than any I've written-- both are warriors in different fields. I've written about heroes who had been in the military and about lawmen but never a career military officer. To add to the difference, my heroine will also be in a business that required secrecy and involved danger. She will be able to shoot and react as well as a man when required.

Two warriors. And me not a warrior. Well, I've been listening to documentaries, reading things, to get the feel for what that means. Music is a factor also and the following video is about warriors over a period of generations. There are no images-- just words about a desire for peace while one straps on a gun to do their part to bring that about. I have to get the feel for a world in which I have never lived in order to tell the story that has come to me this time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

covers that tell the story

One of the books I put out I dearly love but always knew it'd be a hard sell to readers as it is a romance that covers a subject that sometimes is covered in romances but never quite like mine. When I first begin writing I thought being original would be good... guess what-- it's not. Readers want the plots they have read and liked over the years. They want it a thousand times but with different characters. If you don't believe me, check out the popular romances. So to be original which might seem would be good-- is not. Anyway it doesn't matter because as I've said a zillion times-- we write what we can write and the stories that come to us. 

Moon Dust is the story of a marriage on the brink of divorce. Its hero is a high school principal confronting what is very typically a problem in schools today and sadly was when I wrote the story over 15 years ago. It also deals with the ramifications of childhood abuse on adults. That isn't so unusual when it's a heroine but in this book's case, it's the hero.

I don't know why people have wrongly tended to think sexual abuse of males as children isn't as serious a crime. I think that is changing. Sexual abuse of children is a crime of control and it's not less disastrous for the impact on an adult when it's a male than a female. I did a lot of research for the book, reading case histories, coming to understand what might be the telltale clues.

Then I set my story into the problems this high school principal was facing with violence in the schools. It's kind of a difficult subject every direction but I think I handled it tastefully and believably while keeping the story romantic. Still it's not surprising it's been a hard go for readers.

What I needed was a cover that depicted the story in a way that at least leads potential readers to look at the blurb and read the sample. It's what a cover is all about-- like fishing bait on a hook. The bait interests them and hopefully the hook is the blurb and free sample of the first chapter. Cover though comes first and I've tried a lot of them. The current cover is back from an earlier one but with a new background and font. Will it help sales? whoever knows with eBooks. You really never know what leads to them or means you get none.

I'd like to see this book do well not only because of the healing information that I think is within for individuals but for our culture; but also because it then leads into reading Second Chance which I think is also a book that has more than a romance as a reason to read the story.

So, once again new cover and maybe... just maybe... it'll be the last one as this really is Susan's story as she wrestles with first the loss of her marriage and leaving a man she still loves and then the truth of why he has been as he is. Finally as she has to fight to save him.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

covers covers everywhere and not a ... never mind

I know. I know. I've written about this all before; but this business of book covers is still mystifying me. As I get closer to putting out the first historical, I'd like to have all historical covers have a similar look. It seems more important for them than it did for my contemporaries. I thought I had it figured out as basically I had already created all of them... That's always good for a -- wait 'til you see this idea.

Along came reading criticisms of using too many images of Jimmy Thomas-- who puts out a lot of the images that are on indie romance covers (two of mine and more would be on the historicals). He is on them because he looks like the heroes and he provides reasonably priced, creative images with emotional impact and artistically framed. Why is it that bad to see him on so many covers? Was it okay for Clark Gable to play more than one hero? Ryan Gosling? on the other hand-- is it bad to see him on all of them? Well was it okay to see Clark Gable play a lot of heroes which he wasn't? It's called-- use your imagination.

Anyway I wrestled with the subject of covers in the middle of the other night, and it dawned on me that for about six months, one of my books, Second Chance, had been without a person on the cover, had been a little artier, AND hadn't sold a single book during that time. Was the problem that the cover moved away from the romance genre? I got lots of compliments on it... except compliments don't sell books.

Now an owl on the cover was very apropos for what the book is about. Second Chance takes two characters from an earlier book, Moon Dust, and brings them together in a romance set eight years later. The hero runs a wildlife rehabilitation center. So an owl on the cover is a winner, right?

Wrong apparently. It didn't tell enough of what the book was about. If you write sci-fi, your cover has to depict it. I wasn't writing a non-fiction book about wildlife rehab centers even though I did have some of my own experiences with them in the book. It was a romance. It was about a young man who had done all he could to rehabilitate himself from early mistakes. It was about a woman who was dealing with a broken marriage and raising a daughter with an ex husband at odds over how to do that. Second chances all around.

So I went back to its original cover. Basically it's more true to the story probably as this is a guy, 28, who works as a short haul truck drive to support his real love-- the rehab center as it gets its feet under it. He is a hunk. Will the cover stay this way? Maybe and maybe not. It is one plus with writing ePublished books. It's up to me.

The middle of the night when I told Farm Boss what I was thinking, after we both had awakened at the wrong time, he said, you really are a disturbed woman to have something like this fretting you in the middle of the night. I said, no, I was a lucky woman that I have something that excites and interests me this much at my age-- and that I can do something about.

More coming up on covers-- and this time about the book that really has never sold much. The following video is for Second Chance.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reading as 'art'?

After writing about Zane Grey, a writer no elitist reader would admit reading, what should I come across but a review of the kind of book that is on the top literary lists. Of course, since the reviewer took my view of this particular book, I had to grab the link.

With the film coming out, I was reminded again how it's a book and set of films that I have always avoided for the reason to which the reviewer above spoke. Why spend time with depressing and unpleasant people and plots? Seriously I'd like to know as I do not get it. The only time I read something like it was in high school and college literature classes and then for my own good-- supposedly.

Leaving aside Gatsby, my own books, and heading instead toward what makes people choose to read books that are about icky people doing icky things? Why do they read what the critics of their time tell them is good and ignore what they might enjoy more?

Enrichment of the soul? How could Gatsby do that. It's a stupid plot if you just take the plot alone. It pushes sanctimonious thinking which must have worked since they keep making movies out of this ridiculous, manipulated story. Should it?

And as a writer, the plot device to make Gatsby pay for his excesses just seemed wrong. The author needed a tragedy but couldn't he have come up with a more believable method? What did it gain? Well it gave Fitzgerald an enduring classic in the eyes of most critics, a book most Americans have read (often forced in a class) and some have on a list to prove they are well-read.

Some of the books on lists of the greatest literary works deserve to be there on all levels but do we really need to read books that make us feel worse about humanity? When I want that, I want it to be non-fiction.

We just sold one of our young bulls to a local rancher which made my day considerably brighter. He had dropped by yesterday to ask if we had any as he has twelve cows and needed a bull. Fortunately he wanted one like we have of the smaller Hereford breed with smooth shoulders to cut down on having to pull calves. For big ranchers, they don't mind a season of pulling calves but someone like us, we are looking for easy calving, something that doesn't take the cow down from a hard birthing. 

The photo above is our old bull with one of his sweeties who he bred earlier this week :) The attention he gives a cow he has bred is worthy of a lesson to any would-be Lothario. He's there for her until she doesn't want him there anymore. Isn't she lovely and feminine, even make-up around her eyes; while he's the typical broad shouldered romantic hero ;)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Under the Tonto Rim

 "Dusk mantled the forest. A faint night wind arose, mournful and sweet. Lucy threaded her way back toward the clearing. And the peace of the wilderness seemed to have permeated her soul. She was just one little atom in a vast world of struggling humans, like a little pine sapling, lifting itself among millions of its kind toward the light. But that lifting was the great and the beautiful secret."                     from Under the Tonto Rim by Zane Grey

Having said how the books of Zane Grey inspired me toward life values and my own writing, I thought I'd go a bit farther with the why of it. Some say his view of life was too idyllic, not the way of the West as it was. His words often flow more like poetry than prose.  He is praised for the descriptions of the land but belittled for the idyllic view of the relationships between men and women.

When I read his words now (and I own all his westerns, some so old and battered that they are lucky to hold together), it takes me a little to get into them and then it happens as I fall into the flow of the words and images. Once again I begin to feel their energy as it inspires me regarding the land and relationships between humans.

Clearly they have influenced my own value set. The snippet from The Call of the Canyon speaks to a philosophy I have often espoused.
"Carley saw two forces in life-- the destructive and constructive. On the one side greed, selfishness, materialism: on the other generosity, sacrifice and idealism. Which of them built for the future? She saw men as wolves, sharks, snakes, vermin, and opposed to them men as lions and eagles. She saw women who did not inspire men to fare forth to seek, to imagine, to dream, to hope, to work, to fight. She began to have a glimmering of what a woman might be."
As I looked at his books more critically to write about them here, the first big thing I saw explains why he was such an influence on my writing. He didn't consider himself to be a western writer but to be a writer of historical romances. That explains why women were so important in his stories of the West.

Although the women are strong, if not in the beginning, they become thus, I suspect feminists might hate the books which tend to see women as responsible for a lot of what goes wrong in a culture when they adopt materialism, immodest dress, and lack of responsibility in how they use their beauty. On the other hand, they are seen as what will inspire a man to his best. As he portrays them, they are either the downfall or the salvation of a culture; and they can make or ruin a man.

A book like Under the Tonto Rim has an Arizona hero who is a wild-bee hunter. The heroine has come to the valley as a welfare worker to help families learn better ways to live. She does this by living in a cabin tent at the home of one of the families. The hero is the typical romance hero-- tall, muscular, a woodsman and used to living wild. He needs some taming as she also has to come to value the wild. There is a bad guy, but it's really about the beauty of that area and the rural community.

In his stories, Grey wrote about community events that my father used to talk of seeing where his parents would attend community barn dances in South Dakota and the dancing went on until dawn. The children were put into the loft to sleep but they could watch their parents dancing below.

Grey writes of a culture that isn't seen most places any more. The value set though was part of many western communities in the time he wrote with his first book being published in 1903. He wrote 90 books many of which were published after his death in 1939.

Probably a fiction writer of today couldn't write as he did with his poetic phrasing, the condemnation of modern culture, his characterizations of minorities (and boy was he not politically correct even for his time), the desire to go back to nature, and have his level of financial success.

Writers have to fit their times, and his time was open to his style and way of thinking. People wanted to be inspired, to reach to higher values. Critics thought otherwise about his writing, and he wrote how that bothered him.
 "Those critics who crucify me do not guess the littlest part of my sincerity. They must be burned in a blaze. I cannot learn from them."
If his many fans back then had known how he truly [lived his life in terms of the other women], would they have turned on him? Well in those days private lives for celebrities (and he was a celebrity of his time) were more possible. The quotes from his writing reveal black periods which makes me wonder if he was undiagnosed bi-polar, something that wouldn't have been possible to understand in that era. 
"I will see this game of life out to its bitter end."
"I see so much more than I used to see. The effect has been to depress and sadden and hurt me terribly."
Knowing some of this now, the depression he must have suffered, it's amazing the positive feeling that his books project. Some say his wife, Dolly, was a big factor as she was his editor, promoter, mother figure, and perhaps even sometimes co-writer especially where it came to the women. I don't know though because if he had many lovers, he might've understood women better than one would suppose for a man who was supposed to be this great outdoorsman where fishing and hunting were his greatest treasure.

He wrote quite a few books where either a man or woman came to the West, engaged in hard labor and found their soul and deepest core strengthened. It was clearly a belief he had that hard work, nature, time on rivers and in mountains, those were all necessary to living fully. It appears that for him though one woman for a lifetime was not sufficient, and we can ask why, what drove him and how it was reflected in his books. I decided to order the biography, that is reviewed above, as I'd like to understand more about the life behind those books.

Photos all from my trips under the Mogollon Rim and on Tonto Creek

Sunday, May 5, 2013

western writers-- Zane Grey

"Love of man for woman - love of woman for man. 
That's the nature, the meaning, the best of life." 
Zane Grey

I would guess that every writer has writers who have influenced their goals for writing. Some who end up wanting to write the great American novel might have John Steinbeck; a mystery writer could look to Dashiell Hammett; for science fiction -- H.G. Wells; and fantasy -- J.R.R. Tolkien. Well for me, it was the western author, Zane Grey, who got very little credit from critics during his successful career of writing books about the American west, action, nature and love.

When Grey wrote about his heroes riding or walking across trails, you felt he'd been there and knew that land and not just the physical features but the emotional impact. He loved the romance of the West and it showed in his characters and the philosophy he espoused. Yes, for today he's not politically correct-- maybe wasn't for his own time; but he wrote about a world he did know and a lot of his novels, some of his best were set in the rim country of Arizona.
Luckily, in 1974, I decided I simply had to see the cabin he had built in Arizona under the Mogollon Rim. He used a lot of Arizona as the backdrop for his stories and was there often until 1929 when he got mad at the state for not bending bear hunting rules and said he'd not be back. He wasn't.

That year, we camped in a campground on the road below and found out the road up to the cabin was closed due to washouts from floods which meant we'd have to walk about two miles. This was a time of small children but we opted to do it anyway.

Part way up a couple of young rangers came along with a pickup and asked where we were headed. They offered us a lift to the cabin which meant we rode in the back of their pickup.

Luckily the caretakers were there, and we got to go inside. I even bought several copies of his books, which I already owned, but it was because they had come from there. We were there again in 1978 but that time no caretakers to let us inside but we did walk around the house and porch.

In 1990, the Dude fire swept over that part of Arizona and destroyed the original cabin. They rebuilt a replica in Payson (photo below). I was in Payson in 2011 but didn't want to go into the replica although maybe someday I will. The photos of what it looks like inside weren't what I remember from when it was under the Tonto Rim.

In 2011, we were aiming to drive through Paradise Valley where historically there was a family feud that killed all by one of them before it was over. It's not an easy drive as the area is still fairly remote especially to drive in from the north and out to the south. Grey had been fascinated by the story, based one of his books loosely on it after talking to many in the valley who were old enough to remember when it happened (and many were still evidently hesitant to talk about it).

That trip, we stayed at Kohls Ranch Lodge where we'd been before and drove up to where the cabin had been. A big gate and no trespassing sign put up by the Zane Grey Foundation blocked us from walking around the old site. We did take photos of the area.

Kohls. on the banks of Tonto Creek, is a nice place to stay. The main lodge has the portrait below of Grey above its fireplace.

He was such an early inspiration to me and still I enjoy his books on several levels. He wrote about nature, about the ideal of western values. He had strong heroes, action, a fight for good against evil. Sometimes nature was a healer. His heroines were worthy of the men they would eventually choose as their mates. The books had a big influence on my life and I think still influence my writing-- although he never wrote of more than a few chaste kisses. If those kisses took the heroine's breath away as they did in the book below, you can just imagine what the marriage would be like ;).

This cover was one I photographed from my daughter's collection. Her husband's uncle left her his collection of hardback Zane Grey's with the dust covers in place. What a treasure for someone who valued his work. She has said she took a quote from this book for her life motto. It's a darned good one for mine also.

"I hope I have found myself, my work, my happiness -- 
under the light of the western skies."
Zane Grey

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring has sprung

Even where it comes to creativity, I have days where it just isn't working to write about the process. Currently my world is about editing which isn't so much a creative process but one of craft. I see it as very important to what any artist/writer does, but it doesn't inspire creative thoughts as much as other stages of the work.

So instead of more here on writing, how about pieces of my world?  We celebrated Beltane May 1st. The lambs are going crazy with their gang activities which is a lot of fun to watch but hard to photograph. I am at war with my cats, who are inside at night but have had limited outside privileges (fenced yard) during the day.

The problem is the colorful columbine are blooming. That should not be a problem-- except I have one cat who only cares about catching hummingbirds, and hummingbirds now will be low as they go into the columbine for nectar. It's a constant conflict which the cats could care less about but interrupts my work day as I try to alert the birds or stop the cats.

The main hummer killer has gotten two so far this season but both he had in his mouth in such a way (moss with one and grass with the other) that the hummers could be rescued and after recovering go on their way. One problem with hummingbirds is they are little kamikaze pilots as they dive bomb the cat to drive him off. They know no fear. That works well-- not.

So a few photos of my world-- minus the cats and the hummingbirds who aren't cooperating for photos.

I live in a very creative environment in all the ways I can imagine as right now I listen to the blackbird singing. Too bad lately I am spending my days looking at words on a computer screen... I know. I know... It's a choice.

The garden sculptures are cement, not mine. The one on the deck is mine and clay but not the kind that can go outside year round. Soon I hope to use the easel but currently I want to get the book ready to go.