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, December 31, 2013

end of a year

The end of a year, even though it's purely a bookkeeping feature of human life, always seems a good time to evaluate what's gone well and not so much. Often rather than looking back, I have looked ahead for what I want in the coming year.  Some years I used to write a kind of focus statement with the elements I hoped for in the coming twelve months-- trying to keep them all things under my control. I haven't done that for a few years; maybe because I have a feel for it now and don't really need to write anything down. It's engrained.

Where it comes to the work I do and love, writing, this last year was a great one (ignoring consequences). In January I had just come back from being in Tucson, Arizona, and a book clamored to be written that would follow one I had written 20 years earlier but not yet published.


The new book flowed and within a month and a half, I had its rough draft. As I've mentioned many times, that's the start, not the end. Once I had its basics, I waited a bit and began editing it. Editing it. Editing it again. I like time between edits where I can look at it hopefully freshly. I double checked for dates being right, being sure any historical points were accurate, and created a trailer from images I'd been collecting. I was quite happy that the book that historically speaking came three years before it was not yet out as it allowed me to be sure the two books would mesh regarding those little details.

While that was going on, I was also collecting research materials for the fourth Oregon historical which I thought I'd begin writing during the summer. Actually I did but the clip I wrote won't even make the book as the research brought up new ideas, and my characters began to evolve as I got to know them better. That literally happens in my head with only taking notes to get details down.

To help me with that phase, I edited the third Oregon historical where the hero for the fourth has a part. More and more I knew what generally was going to happen with the fourth one in the series-- but wanted a trip to the country in which its based. That didn't happen due to a ton of real life circumstances getting in the way. Real life has a way of doing that.

Toward the end of the summer, I knew I needed an insight into that unwritten hero that I didn't have. He is a warrior. What did I know about warriors especially those in the United States Cavalry? So that's when I began researching George Custer as he was in the same time period, experienced similar wars although in different regions. That got me so interested in Custer that I not only read every biography out there on him or his wife, Elizabeth, but wrote several blogs here on them with what I'd learned. That might seem a divergence from my planned path but it really was part of it even though it put off writing more than the first chapter of that book.

Late summer is when I had decided to bring out the first Arizona historical. Marketing has become one of those things I have had to do to get the word out and hopefully build up some interest in the book. Marketing takes a lot of time, but I have learned a lot through my three years of doing it.

Traveling to the regions of my book helped for the feel. I've been in the region many times but it is good to have it fresh. I also visited four museums to assure my story is historically accurate. I have one minor point I've yet to find the right info but I haven't given up on finding it.

In the midst of that we brought out some of my books in paperback. So far that has meant five but probably more will come. That work has gone to my publisher, Farm Boss, who does it through our company Seven Oaks and CreateSpace. All I had to do was write a back cover blurb and make sure the combination with front, spline and back looked right.

Just before the end of November when I brought out the last Arizona book, I had a dream that led to writing a novella about as fast as I've ever written any book. I had 27,000 words in four days-- the right length to tell its story. When you get a dream with the bones for your story, the writing can fly. It will take editing before I bring it out the first of February. It's not a typical romance; so I have to think long and hard about how I can market it. I did though create a trailer as soon as I finished-- having images in my head can help with editing.

So here I am end of the year, Arizona Sunset and Tucson Moon are both out and their reception has been okay, not hot but not totally disappointing. In December I became dissatisfied with the cover I had originally created for Tucson Moon and redid it to something that goes better with the first one and I think is better balanced. I've redone covers quite a few times, but this was the fasted redo as when I had to look at the original cover every day where I had it alongside my blog, I got tired of it fast.

As one of the dicey elements to eBook publishing on Amazon, someone took eleven of my books with a purchase and request for refund the same day. Amazon makes it easy to get refunds without asking for a reason, but this was obviously not related to being dissatisfied with the books, rather seeing a way to get them for free. Those two things have gone into making the decision to not bring out the Oregon historicals as eBooks early in 2014 if at all. I might start them as paperbacks with the possibility that Oregon bookstores would be open to them as historical romances set in the period between 1852-68.

In the midst of marketing, the forum where I participate at the Meet Our Authors  decided to do a short story anthology. I had two ideas for mine with one of them seeming better for another Arizona novella . The second idea led to writing my first short story which will be in a western romance writers' anthology coming out probably in mid-March as is currently planned. 

Amazingly at the end of the year I began to think about one of my books that had hardly sold any copies. I had someone offer to read it while I redid its cover and edited it once again. New cover, sharper editing and maybe a promotional burst for Moon Dust come the first of January. I think the new cover does a better job depicting the story. This is a book that has a lot of hard truths in it and maybe that's been what has made it hard to sell to romance readers. Who knows but I believe in the story and creativity has you always willing to look at whether there is a better way to tell it.


In 2014, I will write the fourth Oregon historical (after the Arizona novella which will go faster. Its title is Yaqui Moon). Writing is my 'one' thing (I'd say raising my kids was years back), and I feel lucky I have it now with them busy with their own nests. Telling such stories has been my life since childhood and seems it will be until my last thinking days. Whether the consequences work out to be rewarding, that's not the point. The writing always is.

So new year. New inspirations. Doubtless more surprises with what comes after the Oregon historical but as I look back over last year's 'one' thing, I feel good. When you are writing, ideas are always flowing. If you are wanting to write, haven't started yet, then I encourage you to start. In the starting, your genre will become obvious and you will have the fun of being immersed in your story as more and more ideas come to you.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

there are days...

Living a life of creative activities, pretty much from as young as I can remember, I've learned a few things in those many years that I rely on today.

One, despite its potential rewards on a lot of emotional levels, it isn't easy being a creative person. I think doing crafts might be more rewarding with less upset as you'd find something you liked, develop the skills, and could keep repeating it without constantly challenging yourself to find something new. Crafts are repeatable. Art not so much.


Writing could be a craft if a person was so inclined. Take a look at what is out there, selling well, figure out its structure and what elements were in it, develop your craft, and just turn out the books. I don't know if they'd sell better, can't say about that, but there'd be less pulling the book out from within, less revealing of yourself through work that was more manufactured and less personal. I think it'd be emotionally easier if you did fail to make sales.

Since I so often write about the upside of being a creative person, I figured it was only fair, at the end of the year to do one post on the down side before again the upside. So what do you do when you put your work out there, your heart of hearts and it fails?

My answer is ask yourself first one question. It comes from a scene in the comedy City Slickers where Curly is telling Billy Crystal's character about the one thing that matters most in life. He holds up his finger and says that one thing makes all the difference in a life and it's what he has learned over a lifetime. He dies before he can reveal what it is, but Crystal's character figures it out-- it's doing what you were meant to do. That's the one thing.

So when failure comes along, were you doing that one thing? Finding it can be the challenge of a lifetime for some and for others it's obvious from childhood. Doing the one thing doesn't guarantee rewards from others but you need to know for yourself. Are you doing that one thing for you?

If you are, comes something you must accept-- it won't always be rewarded by the world. In fact, the world might not even like really creative changes. Do they want a book that is different than all the others they have read? From the sounds of this study, they don't.


I have seen this often when readers are reviewing books. If the book had the elements they were expecting, followed the formula with maybe a few minor deviations and surprises, they are wowed. If not, they were disappointed. Naturally if you are trying to make a living at your one thing, you can't ignore what the public is willing to exchange their labor to buy. But if creativity really is your thing, you might have to support it other ways.  If it matters more to you to get the praise, maybe you haven't yet found your 'one' thing.

This comes down to another life principle. We can control our actions-- not their consequences. We might be pretty good at guessing what they'll be, but we really can't know. Sometimes we do what seems right, and the world spits in our face. We take a simple drive around the block and five minutes later we're dead. Go shopping and a stranger shoots us. Consequences aren't always under our control.


Bringing it back to writing as an example. You are doing your 'one' thing in writing the book. You take the next step, and this one is a doozy, as you put it out into the world. Nobody cares! You aren't writing the kind of stories they want. You can see someone else being rewarded with prizes and sales, and you're not getting any because what you did didn't meet the criteria of those who are controlling consequences-- in short everybody else.

The answer, at least mine is, keep doing the 'one' thing, but release the expectation it will be appreciated. It's the 'one' thing that is the joy and finding and doing it, that's what it is all about. The rest is either gravy or not but it doesn't have to stop you. There is always the next photograph, the next painting, the next play, the next book.

This doesn't mean ignoring the craft side of what you're doing. That's important to get the 'one' thing out there in a way others can at least understand it. Craft is the bones but creativity is the meat.

Not letting consequences get you down doesn't mean ignoring marketing either. It has no chance to be rewarded (or not) if it's not out there. Creative work, once it goes into the marketplace, is a product, forget the art talk then. It's a product that you are asking someone else to exchange their hard-earned dollars to trade for it. Creating is the art though.

Marketing, if you want it seen, is part of the deal with anything from grass-fed beef and lamb, to technology, to a new computer, to a play, music, or the book you put your lifeblood into.

But was marketing the 'one' thing? It actually could be for some people. They are the ones you need to get interested in your book and let them practice their 'one' thing to get your paintings into important galleries or your photography in a prestigious magazine. Never lose track of your own 'one' thing though.

When we are honestly doing creative work, it has to come from us and our hearts. We cannot mimic what someone else found successful. We tell our story with the best craft we can put out; but in the end, it may just not be what someone else values or needs.

I won't say it doesn't hurt when you've put a year's worth of work into something and it's just not valued by others, maybe they won't even give it a chance; but hey, it's consequences. And it shouldn't stop a person because it's not the 'one' thing. The 'one' thing is to keep on keeping on because that's where the joy is. Getting caught up in the consequences can be heartbreaking and cause a loss of focus. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and hope all who come here are enjoying this special time of the year. Google+ did something to one of my photos (image of wolf from CanStock and snowy photo from our farm) which I really liked and wanted to share. I gotta learn how to add snow as I totally love it-- in a snow globe or photo

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holding On To Heaven and Dark Night of the Moon by Keta Diablo


Today Keta Diablo is sharing two of her books, the second a sequel to the first. She is an exciting writer-- one who can quickly become addictive as she writes a wide diversity of stories.

Holding On To Heaven
Western Romance by Keta Diablo

Blurb
Brothers in love with the same woman—one the father to her child, the other her husband. Civil War has crumbled a nation, and the Dakota Sioux are on the warpath. While the blazing fires of revolt ravage the countryside, twins, Lauren and Sage McCain are ensnared amid the flames of destiny.

Family betrayal, heart-stopping danger and love, a love that crosses all boundaries and forges all cultures.

Setup and Excerpt
High-pitched shrieks reached Lauren's ears.  Warriors raced their painted ponies through the yard with bloody scalps dangling from their spears. The leader stood at the top of the porch steps, his obsidian eyes hard and cruel; his face impassive. Lauren came to her feet, head up, chin out, and faced him.

Dressed in caramel buckskin pants and high-top moccasins, he struck a terrifying pose. A dark blue vest covered his torso, adorned with beads in the shape of an oak tree and acorns. A breechcloth of the same fabric hung from his narrow waist and over his right shoulder, a pouch made of buckskin and porcupine quills danced beneath the glare of the sun. Three black and white feathers stuck out from behind his left ear, lying flat against his shiny, black hair. His dark eyes pierced her with a sinister glare.

She glanced to the rifle propped against his left shoulder, the one he used moments ago to kill Uncle Mason and Aunt Estelle. Their eyes locked again. She trembled beneath his bold perusal but he remained as still as a marble statue. With a flick of his wrist, he set his warriors into motion. Racing toward the outbuildings, they lit the torches in their hands, their bloodcurdling screams bringing Lauren to her knees.

The hostile looked down at her aunt and uncle before capturing her gaze again. Although terrified of the hatchet he lifted skyward, she stepped in front of her loved one's bodies. She would not surrender to their mutilation, not while she drew breath. A brief flicker of admiration passed through his eyes when he lowered the weapon and gave a brief nod.

 
Dark Night of the Moon
Wolf Shifter/Western
Sequel to Holding On To Heaven


Creed Gatlin flees to Arizona intent on wiping out the haunting memories of his brother’s wife. Presumed dead, Brand Gatlin resurfaces and the destinies of those he loves are altered forever.

In a land rife with war and danger, Sage travels to the village of her husband’s People where she’s reunited with the ancient healer, Crooked Back.  Devious plots are underfoot and peril lurks around every tree on the long journey back to
Full Circle. An unforgettable journey of war, violence, grief and finally, love.

Excerpt
Creed cut across his father’s land and headed south, the closest route to Full Circle. He hoped Lauren wouldn’t be at home when he visited his son today. And he hoped she would. Would he always feel this conflict, torn between love and hate, hope and despair? He longed to see her, yet seeing her delivered unbearable torment.

He couldn’t bypass the pond. To do so would take him miles out of his way. He braced himself for more anguished memories and urged his mount forward. He’d mulled over his options a thousand times in the last few months and the same answer surfaced. In the spring he’d leave Minnesota, journey far from home. He didn’t know his destination, but what did it matter? He’d become an outsider, a man in love with his brother’s wife, his dead brother’s wife. Creed laughed into the cold wind. Both he and Lauren were waiting on a ghost.

The dapple gray beneath him flattened his ears and flared his nostrils, alerting Creed to a foreign presence in the woods. Could be a renegade or a wounded beast. Hell, could be a whirling-dervish sent by Satan. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The horse came to a halt and tossed his head to the right. Creed followed his signal and spied something dark against the pearl-white ground. He pulled his rifle from the scabbard, cocked it and slowed the gray into a foot-dragging pace. He smelled the blood before he saw it. Once a man smells blood, tastes it on his tongue, inhales it, the coppery scent is stamped on his senses forever. He could thank the United States government for that.

Creed dismounted near the body, scanned the woods and prepared for an ambush. He’d heard of hostiles propping a body on the ground and lying in wait for a man to take a closer look. The noisy chatter of the forest told him everything seemed normal. He kept the rifle ready and walked forward.

His heartbeat picked up speed. A familiar wave of knowing washed over him. The hair, the slender body and graceful curves could only be.... “Lauren!” He dropped to a knee beside her and placed his fingers against her neck. Thank God, a faint pulse. A ribbon of crimson streaked her forehead and ran down her cheek. The blood, thickened by the cold, had ceased running long ago. Creed pulled her to his chest and rubbed her arms, hoping to bring warmth to her cold body.


Keta’s Bio
Keta Diablo lives in the Midwest part of the country on six acres of woodland. When she isn't writing or gardening she loves to commune with nature.

Keta is a multi-published author in both erotic romance and gay fiction. Her paranormal novel, Where The Rain Is Made, was nominated for a Bookie Award by Authors After Dark. Keta's books have received numerous Top Pick, Book of the Month, and Recommended Read awards from the top professional review sites.

You can find her on the net at the following places:
The Stuff of Myth and Men: http://thestuffofmythandmen.blogspot.com

Thanks so much for visiting Rain’s blog today to read about Holding On To Heaven and Dark Night of the Moon. Check out the Amazon links to read the reviews.

Wishes for a blessed New Year to all, Keta



 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Carol Spradling and The Highwayman's Grace


 Today's guest author is Carol Spradling, first with a bit about her and then her latest release, a time travel that sounds very interesting.

Author Bio:
As a youth, I loved reading Trixie Belden books. She was great—smart, witty, and surrounded by good-looking guys. What’s not to like? While in my teens, I discovered the answers to that question when I heard someone mention a romance novel she had read. Her shallow breathing and flushed face was enough to pique my interest. A trip to the bookstore was in order. I read with wide-eyed amazement. Trixie never spoke of such occurrences! 

Other than the obvious, I found myself trying to appreciate what my friend had enjoyed about this book. Yeah, there was the hot guy and beautiful woman, but the book as a whole frustrated me. Why did it take 380 pages for the couple to admit they loved each other? To me, this is where the story began. Much to my sadness, I found this to be the writing norm. 

That was several years ago, don't ask how many.  ;)  I still love a good romance, as well as the mountains of North Carolina.  This is the High Country, after all.  We have skiers in the winter and Kilt-wearing Scot descendants in the summer.  Now that the Forever Time Travel Romance is nearing a close, I'll have to start a new series with a local influence.  Hmm, has anyone every skied while wearing a kilt?

Until I get to a new book idea brewing, you have to hear about my latest release.  The Highwayman's Grace is the third book in my Forever Time Travel Romance Series.  The series is about 4 sisters.  Grace is the youngest and meekest of the four…or at least she was the meekest.  When her older sister forces the family time travel gift on her and then abandons her in the middle of nowhere, all she wants is revenge, until she meets highwayman Ethan Tanner.  Take a look. 


The Highwayman's Grace blurb:
Grace Blackstone never wanted to be a time traveler.  She also didn't want to be abandoned within reach of a notorious highwayman.  A chance meeting with the outlaw leaves her vulnerable to more than her new ability.  Having seen behind the wanted man's mask, Grace is confused to find another man claiming to be her rescuer.  
Highwayman Ethan Tanner has one goal in life, to destroy Bennett Brown.  He has faced gunmen, and braved the elements, but a young woman who seemingly appears out of nowhere terrifies him.
A rainy night brings Ethan and Grace together in more ways than one.  She will have to trust him with her secret, and he will have to trust her with his life, but are they willing to release their pasts in order to have a future together?

Excerpt:

"You are agreeable to this?" Ethan asked, wanting to know her honest opinion.  He tried to keep his tone flat, giving her a chance to revise her decision.
She walked toward him, looking as uncertain as he felt.  "I'm not sure I know a better option," she said.
"I hate to admit it," he offered, "but this might be the best way to keep you safe."  He reached his hand to her, hoping she saw his action as an open gesture, without concealed intent.  "As soon as I can find a way out of this," he tried to assure her, "I'll grant you your freedom.  I promise."
"I hate to intrude, but I am in a rush," the pastor interrupted.  The clergyman pointed to the lower section on the paper, and Ethan obediently signed the document.  Strangely enough, his hand didn't shake as he affixed his name above Grace's.
"Fine.  Fine."  The pastor sanded the wet ink, and then opened his Bible.
"Ethan Tanner, do you solemnly promise to take this woman, Grace Blackstone, as your wife, providing for her and protecting her all of your days while in the sight of God?"
The words weighed heavy on Ethan's shoulders.  All of your days.  He had just promised Grace he'd find a way to free her, now the pastor asked him to affirm to the contrary.  Deep red and purple abrasions encircled her throat next to the collar of the dress she wore.  He hadn't seen them before, but Addie assured him, these marks were not isolated incidents.  He'd swear an oath to both God and Grace, and hope that one pledge wasn't contingent on the other.
"I promise," he said. 
The minister turned to Grace.  "Grace Blackstone, do you promise to accept Ethan Tanner as your husband, abiding in his household and obeying his commands?"
Grace nodded slowly as though unsure.  She lifted her eyes to Ethan and her chin rose assertively.  "I promise."
Addie sniffled behind them, and Ethan cringed.  This had been an impromptu ceremony.  What would she have done with a year to prepare?
"You are husband and wife," Pastor Whitten proclaimed.  "May your life be filled with many children.  Now that this is done, I'll be on my way to the Clancy farm to discuss the details for tomorrow."  He touched the signatures with his fingertip, folded the paper, and then placed it inside his Bible.  Tucking everything under his arm, he waved to them in passing.  "Good day," he said, and then disappeared through the opened doorway.
Ethan stared awkwardly after the minister, not completely certain what to do next.  He supposed he should take his wife and sister home.  His wife.  When he started out this morning, he hadn't thought his day would end with a marriage ceremony.  He glanced over at his bride.  She was caught in Addie's tight embrace, being rocked from side to side. 
Lavender oil should soothe her abrasions, but he doubted her internal scars would heal as easily.  Other than give her time to forget what had happened to her, he didn't know how else to help her.  He looked to the bruised skin at the cuffs of her sleeve, feeling as responsible for her pain as if he'd personally clamped the constraints against her delicate skin.  He'd taken two vows tonight, and while he wasn't sure how, he planned to honor them both.  Whether successful or not, one thing was certain, no one would lay a hand to her again while he lived.  But more importantly, Bennett would pay for what he did to this woman…his wife.
See what I mean?  Grace and Ethan are a perfect match.  Wait until you see them in action.



Purchase and Contact links:

Carol




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paty Jager and a Christmas anthology

Author Pagy Jager is my guest author today as she discusses the making of a Christmas anthology. If you are looking for something to put you in a Christmas frame of mind, this is the real deal.



The Making of a Christmas Anthology

By Paty Jager



Mid-summer I was contacted by Debra Holland and asked if I’d be interested in participating in a historical western Christmas anthology. I like anthologies, and I like projects that can help with cross-promotion. My answer was yes. 


Debra said the story had to be set in her fictional town of Sweetwater Springs, Montana. Which meant reading her books and getting to know her town and characters. She also said we could use some of our characters or completely new ones. The other catch; all the stories happened on the same year at Christmas time. 


Debra, myself, and nine other authors are in the anthology. We set up a FB page just for us where we could discuss what our characters were doing, what their names were so we didn’t double up names, and ask questions about the town and people. All this chatting made the stories meld together as cohesive as we could.


I took the easy way. I brought in a new couple and also Zeke and Maeve Halsey from my Halsey Brothers Series. As Pinkerton agents they are hired by the main character to find his missing wife. She is in Sweetwater Springs living at Widow Murphy’s boarding house. My easy out; was keeping most of the scenes in the boarding house and they were the only boarders at the time of their visit. That way I only had to deal with one of Debra’s characters, although the heroine does have a run-in with the cranky store owner Mrs. Cobb in the beginning of the story. 


Other authors took on the daunting task of their characters attending the Christmas celebration at the new hotel and meeting more of the locals in Sweetwater Springs.

Reading the blurbs and the book, you’ll see that each one of us brought our own voice to our stories but the town and atmosphere is clearly Sweetwater Springs.






E. AYERSA CHRISTMAS FAR FROM HOME

Frank Coleman comes to Sweetwater Springs to ask Adie Reiner to be his wife, but things don't happen as planned. Frank has been devastated by the plight of the Crow Indians, and when he discovers the indifference and bigotry within the Reiner household towards the Indians, he leaves. But he doesn't leave alone. Adie and her sister come with him. Adie is determined to help those less fortunate. www.ayersbooks.com



LINDA CARROLL-BRADD - WISHES ON A STAR

Free-spirit Richelle Quaid is outspoken, confident and a little bit spoiled. She sets tongues wagging with her bloomers and bicycle but also catches the eye of visiting rancher Landon Howard. An incident with her bicycle causes his prize colt to bolt into the cold Montana night. As Richelle and Landon track the animal together, they can’t fight their growing attraction. Will a wish made on a star foretell their future?   www.lindacarroll-bradd.com



MJ FREDRICK - ABIGAIL'S CHRISTMAS ANGEL

US Marshal Benedict Traylor has avoided Abigail Sinclair, his best friend's widow, since his friend's death in the spring. Part of his reason is guilt over his role in Marcus's death. A bigger part is his guilt over the tenderness he feels for Abigail. But it's winter, and he knows she needs his help. When he arrives and finds her unconscious on the floor of her barn, his plan to stay only a little while flees. As he nurses her back to health, his affection for her blossoms anew. www.Mjfredrick.com



DEBRA HOLLAND – THE GIFT OF MUSIC

The holiday season brings renowned harpist Blythe Robbins to town to perform at the newly-opened hotel. Timid Blythe is drained from a grueling performance schedule and wants nothing more than to rest and do some soul-searching about her future. Peter Rockwell, shy scion of a prominent hotel family, seeks to gain his experience managing a hotel away from his overbearing family. Can two reserved people overcome their limitations and find love? drdebraholland.com



DEBRA HOLLAND - A FAMILY FOR IKE

Elderly hermit Chappie Henderson rescues newly orphaned Ike Tannerson and takes him to town to find a home. As Ike struggles to fit in with his new family, Chappie worries for the boy. But to help Ike, Chappie will need to emerge from his long solitude, something that seems impossible. drdebraholland.com



DEBRA HOLLAND - THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS

The town banker Caleb Livingston opens his new hotel, crowning the holidays with a lavish party for the whole town. Although his intention is to advertise his business, in the process, the banker learns that perhaps some things are more important than money. drdebraholland.com



PATY JAGER – A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER

Dr. Carson Raines has one wish for this Christmas; to find his missing wife. He enlists the help of a married couple who are Pinkerton Agents. They find his wife, Ida, living in Sweetwater Springs as a spinster. Ida is pleasantly surprised to run into one of the new boarders at Mrs. Murphy’s boarding house. He’s a handsome doctor who might be able to help her discover her missing past.  www.patyjager.net



JILL MARIE LANDIS - UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR

Spinster Violet Winters is determined to make the best of spending her first Christmas alone in Sweetwater Springs. When she slips and falls one icy cold evening, not only does Rory Townsend, a drifter nicknamed "Tumbleweed" come to her rescue, but the townsfolk rally to help too. Violet quickly discovers what it means to live in a close knit community and that it's never too late to give up on love and the surprises life has in store. www.jillmarielandis.com



TRISH MILBURN – A NEW HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Grace Mayfield leaves behind betrayal and heartache in Kentucky for a new life in Montana. She'll be satisfied with a stable, happy new home on her cousin's ranch cooking for the ranch hands. What she doesn't expect is to find true love with cowboy Andrew Kingston, especially when she's been failed by love before. www.trishmilburn.com


LINDA MCLAUGHLIN -  THE BEST PRESENT
Ten-year-old Allison Harcourt's life has been turned upside down since her father lost his job and her beloved grandmother died. She's not looking forward to Christmas, especially since she can't figure out how to finish the scarf she's making for her mother. An unexpected stop in Sweetwater Springs brings her and her parents to the boarding house of the widow Murphy. Sometimes sweet things can be found in the most unexpected places. www.lindamclaughlin.com



BEV PETTERSEN - THE CHRISTMAS CROSSING

 Ellie would love to leave her father’s peddling wagon. But spending Christmas Eve locked in the Sweetwater jail is the bossy Cal Barrett's idea, not hers. How can she possibly sit behind bars when snow melt threatens to wash away her beloved animals, and her dream of finding a home? However, with a little Christmas magic, two searching hearts discover they can bridge much more than a raging river. www.BevPettersen.com



TORI SCOTT – A PROMISE FOR CHRISTMAS

When Rachel Tanner loses her husband two months before Christmas, the holiday looks bleak for her and her young son, Cass. Then her husband's brother arrives in Sweetwater Springs to help Rachel make it through the winter, turning her life, and her heart, upside down.  http://toriscott.blogspot.com



CYNTHIA WOOLF - SUGARPLUM DREAMS

Julia Bosworth is a woman scorned. Determined to follow her dreams and not those of her mother, she comes to Sweetwater Springs, Montana to open a sweet shop. Little does she know that in Sweetwater Springs dreams really do come true and Christmas miracles happen.  www.cynthiawoolf.com


Buy Link:






Sunday, December 15, 2013

A pinch of Solstice, big helping of Christmas Eve with a little...

Last year right after Thanksgiving we were heading to Tucson, driving across the Nevada desert, when I got the idea of writing a Christmas novella. The whole thing fell together easily as it was about a family I had introduced in From Here to There (that book ended before Christmas and after a big snowstorm).


Taking these characters a couple of years forward with a slice of life story seemed a natural. When you are writing a story with characters you've previously created, half the work is done. I wanted to write something that emphasized the sharing aspect to Christmas but also brought out that, on a ranch, the work doesn't take a holiday. I also wanted a story that was modern in the problems families face today. It went together easily and was out before Christmas 2012. Surprisingly it's sold once in awhile through the year as some people like to read Christmas stories year round.


Because my characters in that story were not overly religious people, not to say they weren't believers but they were not strongly into a church, I had the chance to have them celebrate the Solstice along with Christmas. It might seem pagan to use the Solstice that way but it's part of the season and a lovely way to celebrate the gradual lengthening of the days. My kids all have Solstice celebrations to bring back the light. I encompassed some of that as a way to bring two families together.

It's not as though Christmas itself is a uniquely Christian celebration since it's well known Christ was not born at that time of the year, not with shepherds in the fields with their flocks. Most people understand the Christmas tree goes back to Celtic roots. The candles could be seen as part of Hanukkah or Saturnalia, the Roman celebration of light. Santa Claus is a myth of Scandinavian origin with Saint Nicholas. Now there's also Kwanzaa, as a celebration of family, culture, and community.


I've often thought it's an odd time of the year to have such a busy season when we basically have the longest nights, the most colds and sickness, so what do we do but run to stores, buy a lot of stuff, eat too much, and then collapse as soon as it's over. However, that's the Scrooge in me. Others say all of that is the very reason we need it in the darkest season as a celebration of color, music, rebirth, and joy. Maybe so. I know I have some Christmas songs that are my definite favorites (Bethlehem Morning one example-- my CD is Sandi Patti but check out that YouTube if you have time. That song brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it and brings back a ton of lovely memories as our church at that time had a pastor who could sing and boy could he sing that song).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

writing the sex scene


You're writing a romance or at least a book with romantic encounters. At some point the question of how physical will it get becomes an issue. It can be sweet and cozy or hot and torrid. Some writers choose to lead up to the big moment and then close the door on the reader. As a writer of a love story, what to do? How far to take it? Love scenes can be a total turnoff to some readers while others are disappointed if there aren't enough of them in the story.


For readers who are opposed to any detail at all, any sexuality would seem prurient, but to me it's not. Two people coming together in a physical way serves a very real purpose, but it can be challenging to write especially if the writer wants to avoid repeating her/himself. I mean let's face it, there is a de rigueur approach to it all and getting away from that to something unique takes some er uh research... soul searching... okay where it comes to me, being honest-- imagination.

I loved something I read some time back that one writer said her mother asked her, regarding her books, did she know about all the sex from experience? The writer said-- yes, and the time travel too. It's the perfect answer because reality is you don't have to shoot someone to be able to imagine what it would be like to then describe the act and emotional impact.

Once I know a sexual encounter will be there, as a writer, I consider it a serious concern that I present it in a good, healthy, vital way. I don't write about casual hook-ups mainly because the kind of characters I prefer don't do that. Generally speaking no romances do that. If you want casual hook-ups, head for chick lit.

When I write about a physical joining, I personally like to put in something about responsibility which means not only safe sex but understanding there is an emotional impact to such joinings. Nobody rapes anybody in my books and then calls it a romantic happening. My heroines don't say no when they mean yes. Mature sexual relationships should not be about playing power games. Sure there is a lot of immature sex out there. I don't need to have it in my books.

Once it is determined there is going to be a sex scene, then the question is how to write it in a way that won't bore readers with repetition and will make them feel good about what happened. For everything that happens in a book, it starts with the characters. What are their previous experiences? Their expectations? A good writer builds up the tension between these two as they come to know what they want but always there are reasons to delay it.

When I write such scenes, and most of my books have had them, I want the happening to seem inevitable to the reader by the time they get to it. I try to give the lovers a good experience as I think how might this really go down (pun intended). I don't like all the silly euphemisms that used to be the norm for romance books; so I stick to mostly descriptive phrases, but I also don't use pornographic terms because they don't make me comfortable even if in reality two lovers might say such things to each other.

So to write the scene, I put on some romantic music (something like Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini). I want these characters, who I always love in any of my books, to have a wonderful experience. Save the dysfunctional sex for therapy books or a novel of pain. Romances are about good coming together through all the obstacles. I also don't imply sex solves everything. It's part of a relationship but not all of it.

Writing it, I use just enough description to make clear what happens but not to the extent of going on and on. I've bought books by others where it might take twenty pages to describe one encounter. Reading such books, I skip the blow by blow (pun intended) but have counted how many pages. In one book, by a well-known author, if you had taken out those many detailed descriptions, you had a short story.

Some prefer no sex in a book that they read, but I like it. I like my characters to get a full experience of loving in all its aspects and part of that is learning how to please each other sexually. It often involves loosening up and becoming more open to their own bodies and emotional needs. Sometimes their coming together can be a lot of fun. It is a release for them, but, for me, it never comes easy to write. I want it to say all that is needed but not one word too many. I don't want to write anything I would have to apologize to anybody for having in that book.

I recently wrote a paranormal novella which I plan to bring out in February. And in it, although the couple did it, I didn't describe it because it seemed it'd get in the way of the main theme of the book. Each writer decides that for themselves. But one thing for readers who don't like the sex, they can skip it and come back for the pillow talk. Now that's where a lot of important things can get resolved... or not :)


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

author Peggy Henderson

Today's guest author is Peggy Henderson sharing information on her latest book release-- Ain't No Angel (Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series).



First a bit about Peggy:

I never thought I'd be a writer, much less publish a book some day. I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess life just had other plans for me. When my husband and I decided to start a family, vet school pretty much went out the window. I used to work with a vet who had three children while going through vet school. To this day, she is my hero. 


I live with my husband and two teenage sons in southern California. I have a Welsh pony and a miniature horse (down-sized from a barn of six horses). A crazy Labrador retriever who is a food vacuum, three cats, two parakeets, four bearded dragons (my compromise with my sons when they wanted a snake), and a small flock of chickens complete our menagerie of critters. I can’t imagine my life without my animals. My dream is to live in Montana some day.

Four years ago, I began writing a story that, for whatever reason, was stuck in my head for almost a year. I have been an avid romance reader for a long time, and the idea took hold to - why not? - write my own! What a simple idea, right?

It has been a long and difficult journey from my first sentence to a completed, and hopefully polished, manuscript. Today, I have a completed series of 5 books and a novella in what I called The Yellowstone Romance Series, two books in my new Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and I am currently working on the final book in a trilogy set in the Grand Tetons.

 

Blurb:


Delaney Goodman has been running from her painful past all her life.  Dreams of working with horses have long been replaced with the reality of doing anything to make ends meet.  About to hit rock bottom, she accepts a stranger’s proposition, even if it sounds too good to be true. She figures she has nothing, not even her dignity, to lose.  She awakens in an unfamiliar setting - and century - and quickly discovers that she will need more than her charm to complete the task assigned to her.

On the surface, Tyler Monroe has everything going for him -  good looks, the respect of his friends and neighbors, and a thriving horse ranch.  However, his past holds deep wounds with thick emotional scars. When a brazen, beautiful woman arrives in town, Tyler makes an impulsive decision that will cause him to question everything he knows.  

Tyler is unlike any man Laney has ever met.  Laney is exactly the kind of woman Tyler wants to avoid. As the attraction between them grows, questions arise that stretch the boundaries of trust for both.  The secrets that threaten to tear them apart could be exactly what Tyler and Laney need to bring them together.

Excerpt:
 Laney stood, and glanced in the mirror again. She ran her hand along the contours of the corset. The stiff contraption gave her an unnatural hourglass shape.


“There’s no way I’m wearing this thing every day,” she mumbled, and searched for the hooks or ties that would loosen the corset from around her ribcage. She turned sideways and peered into the mirror over her shoulder. The lacings were at the back. She reached her hand over her shoulder, then under, trying to get to the strings.
“Dammit. How am I supposed to get this thing off me?”

She turned in a circle, trying to see into the mirror while at the same time reach the lacings with her fingers. Laney growled loudly in frustration. She was tired, hungry, and she desperately needed to use the bathroom.

“I bet there isn’t even a bathroom,” she said out loud.

Exasperated, she moved away from the mirror. With a loud sigh, she let herself fall backwards onto the bed, sending up a small cloud of dust. Laney stared up at the ceiling. A loud knock sent her bolting upright again. Her eyes fell to the open door to her room. Tyler filled the frame, and their eyes met. His gaze traveled up and down her body, then he quickly turned his back to her.

“Thank God you’re here.” Laney scrambled from the bed and rushed to him from across the room.

“Eddie will have supper ready in about a half an hour.”

He stepped out into the hall, and Laney grabbed his arm before he had a chance to walk away.

 “Wait. I need your help, Tyler.”

Tyler’s muscles tensed underneath her hand, and he turned his head slightly to glance back at her.

“Please, I can’t undo this corset. Could you untie the lacing for me? I really need to change my clothes.” Laney peered up at him, and her mouth went dry. Tyler’s eyes roamed her face, every muscle along his jaw tense. For a split second, it seemed as if he was going to pull away from her and keep walking. She swallowed her apprehension.

You’re in the nineteenth century, Laney. People act differently here.
Had her behavior earlier when she’d come on to him out in the yard been a mistake? Had she been wrong in her assumption that she needed to play the role of a prostitute? The reverend had specifically told her that she was required to keep Tyler satisfied. Had she misinterpreted what he meant? How was she supposed to do that and behave like a prim and proper nineteenth century wife at the same time? Come to think of it, Tyler was probably expecting a virgin bride.

“I . . . I really feel uncomfortable standing here in just my underclothes, Tyler. I’d appreciate your help so I can change.” Was that the right tactic to use? Laney held her breath, waiting for his response.

“Turn around,” Tyler said, his jaw still tense, and his words clipped. She quickly did as he asked, holding her hands up to her chest for good measure.

Tyler’s fingers grazed her back when he lifted her hair and laid the long strands over her shoulder. Her heart hammered in her chest, and a chill raced down her spine. Why did he affect her like this? There was something so sensual about his slow and gentle movement, something so unexpectedly tender that it brought tears to her eyes. She’d asked him to remove her corset and he quietly complied, without any lewd remark or stare, or even a hint that he wanted to undress her fully and take advantage of the situation.

Tyler worked the lacings loose as if he had plenty of practice with this sort of thing, and she breathed freely once the confining contraption fell away from her sides. She clutched the corset tightly to her chest, even though she still wore a chemise underneath. A breeze swept through the room from the open window, and although it wasn’t cold, goose bumps covered her arms.

Laney stood still. She leaned forward slightly and held her head down. She ground her teeth in frustration. The skin along either side of her spine tingled, anticipating, longing for his touch. Now that he’d loosened the confining corset, she imagined his palms sliding along her shoulder, his lips pressing against the back of her neck.

“That oughta do it,” he grumbled. “You’d better get dressed before you catch a chill.”
Laney held her breath. She waited, then slowly turned.

“Thank you. I really appreciate . . .” Her voice trailed off. Tyler was already halfway down the hall, and headed for the front door.

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

Purchase links:


Follow Peggy on twitter: @ynpdreamer