Saturday, August 31, 2013

Arizona Sunset


What appealed to me about writing this book, set in Arizona Territory 1883, was the way I could relate to the life of Abigail, my heroine. She was trying to do the right thing but feeling trapped by expectations and the conventions of her time. She felt she had no options. And it's not as though she was altogether wrong. Just think about it, that the year my mother was born, 1912, was the first year women in Oregon could vote. Arizona became a state that year but it took fighting for women's right to vote which was won before the year ended. There were cultural constraints on Abigail's life. How does a woman deal with that kind of situation?

Well, she took a risk, a big one. She started off to solve a problem and then ended up with an option which at first seemed temporary but ended up more complex than she had ever dreamed. Freedom comes with a price.

Setting this story in southern Arizona with a great bulk of it in the San Rafael Valley was another plus in the writing. I knew the area well from going there many times over many years. I've always thought I'd love to live there, but it wasn't ever possible. Through my characters I got my chance.
 
Arizona Sunset is available from Amazon for Kindle. 

For the first month the Kindle version will be $3.99 but with October, it'll go to the price I intend for it to stay-- $4.99. Pricing a book is always a tricky issue because you don't want to ask too much, but you also don't want to undersell its value. It's one of those questions with which writers and likely publishers wrestle. I am compromising by having an introductory price. I won't have future sales, as that seems unfair to  buyers who bought it its full price; so if it looks interesting, buy it in September.

For anyone who doesn't have a Kindle, these books can be read on computers and Amazon has a free Kindle app to enable that.

Its paperback is created and available also-- Arizona Sunset. Getting them to coordinate and be there the same day was trickier than it looked. Up until last night I didn't know if it would work but looks good. I will be writing more about CreateSpace and how that works next week as I think they do a great job for the indie writers.


Arizona Sunset has a trailer which is at YouTube (there is a link to a more extended one at the back of the book-- which readers should only view when the book is finished):




The following are a few photos of the region I love so much to share just a bit of why. It is as rugged and beautiful today as it was when my story was set. It wasn't a land ever held by weak people. It still has risks for those who foolishly underestimate it. Danger is part of its beauty and what I hope I have managed to partially capture with my book-- Arizona Sunset






Friday, August 30, 2013

a little history


My history with eBooks goes back to December 2011 when, with some trepidation, I brought out the first contemporary romance. Actually it goes back nine months earlier as that's when I began fine tuning books I had written over a lifetime-- plus creating covers. I had ten contemporary romances, the last of which was out the end of June 2012.

Some of those books made it into the top rankings (33, I think was the highest) of western or suspense contemporary romances but that was a lot due to having free days once in awhile. That used to increase Amazon rankings.It took me awhile to get the message that when a book would have say 1500 free takes over two days, then sell maybe 10, it wasn't working out to be a good idea.

Worse, people would tell me that a book looked good-- but they were going to wait for it to be free. I think that worked better for those who had a series of interconnected books where the first book would lead to sales of the others. Mine, although I had some sharing characters, were stand alone books and not series.

Learning as I went, I continually worked to improve covers, extended one book's length when I had to re-title it since the original title (one I liked) led readers to expect erotica-- and it wasn't.  I also wrote a novella to finish out 2012 (Christmas story connected directly to From Here to There), while I continued to debate what to do with my historicals.

One thing I learned from this-- the only free books will go to friends or someone who might review the book. No more thousands at a time. Even if I still thought it was smart, I learned Amazon changed their system of ratings and free books didn't increase rankings-- only sales get your books into the upper echelons where they can be seen by more readers. It might seem writers want sales for the money, but it's important as a way to get rankings where books can be seen in searches.

Free books had another drawback as it began to create a mentality among Kindle readers that all they wanted was free. It's pretty obvious a writer cannot make a living at writing (not that many do) if they don't sell books. Like duh! But worse, you can give away thousands and still find your book disappearing into Amazon's black hole without regular sales. That's just the way the cookie crumbles-- or something like that.

Original concept to be cover for Sam and Abigail before I found out how disdainfully readers viewed artist painted covers. I still like it a lot-- but reality is a writer has to please the potential reader more than themselves. Readers saw a cover a writer painted as being amateur which meant by that reckoning that the book would be also.

So while I worked on covers that would appeal to readers while staying true to the stories, I debated what to do with the historicals. In January-February 2013, I wrote a second Arizona historical romance which follows Arizona Sunset three years later, some shared characters but a new romance. At that point, I was still undecided on bringing out those or the Oregon historicals due to marketing issues.  Writing is something I will always be doing. I am currently researching the fourth Oregon historical romance. Publishing however, that is a choice-- one I had a hard time making where it came to the historicals.

The dithering is over.  Arizona Sunset comes out August 31 on Kindle and hopefully the same day as a paperback. I added that hopefully because we ran into a small glitch with Amazon-- so much to learn and so little time. Adding to the complications is that work here on the ranch has been incredibly busy not to mention my getting a sinus infection which eventually led to the doctor and a prescription for an antibiotic--generic form of augmentin--which is nearly guaranteed to upset your whole system if it manages to cure the sinus problem.

More about Arizona Sunset tomorrow when it is officially published. The following video is on my motivations behind a book that is dear to my heart for a lot of reasons.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

from 'Come Home to Me'



Opening scene from Peggy Henderson's time travel historical romance-- 

 “Didn’t I warn you that girl was trouble? Now look at the mess you’re in. First degree murder, Jake. You’re facing the death penalty.”
Jake Owens held the phone to his head, staring through the acrylic shield that separated him from the man glaring at him from the other side. He clutched at the phone until his knuckles turned white, and ground his teeth. He leaned forward, his nose almost touching the acrylic.  The bright orange color of the jumpsuit he wore, marking him as a convict, reflected off the clear material.
“I only told Mama you got into a little trouble with the law before I flew out here. I sure as hell can’t tell her the truth.”
“I didn’t kill anyone, Tom,” Jake said, his tone clipped and harsh. He glared at his brother, his gaze unwavering. At least he didn’t think he’d killed anyone. He couldn’t be absolutely sure, though.
“The evidence says otherwise,” Tom said, his face just as hard. “I was at your arraignment yesterday, Jake. I heard what that lawyer said. You killed a clerk while robbing a liquor store.”
“And I’m tellin’ you I didn’t do it. That bitch set me up.” Jake’s voice grew loud and adamant, and he stood up from his seat.  He leaned heavily on his right arm, his hand flat on the table, while the other gripped the phone. He wanted to leap through that barrier and wrap his hands around Tom’s neck, choke and shake some sense into him, and make him see the truth. Dammit! His own brother didn’t believe him. But what else was new.
“I don’t know how or if I’m gonna be able to raise that bail money, Jake. I know Mama and Daddy would sell the ranch to get you out of here, but I’m not gonna let them lose everything they’ve worked for their entire lives. Just because you had to go running off to the big city, because we weren’t good enough for you anymore.”
Jake cursed under his breath. He was tired of this argument. He’d left the family’s ranch in Montana more than six months ago, sick of slaving from morning til night wrangling horses and steers, just so a bunch of city folk could get their jollies and pretend to live in the old west. He wanted out. He didn’t know what he wanted, but of one thing he was certain: his future didn’t include busting his butt on a Montana dude ranch for the rest of his life, catering to rich vacationers pretending to be cowboys. He was twenty-four years old, and even with his college degree in American History, had nothing to show for his life but calloused hands, several broken bones over the years, and a sore back. Surely there had to be another life out there for him, somewhere.
“I warned you not to go off with her,” Tom said, his eyes blazing in anger. Jake’s mind snapped back to the present. “But you refused to listen. That’s always been the trouble with you. Chasing skirts and having a good time. When are you gonna grow up and start using that brain in your head rather than the one between your legs?”
When that pretty little blonde filly from California had shown up to spend a week riding trail and playing cowgirl, Jake had seen his chance to get away. She was from Los Angeles, a world vastly different than his simple country upbringing in a small Montana ranching community.
Sandra. Jake was in lust with her the minute he set eyes on her. All the other hands ogled her, too. She drove him crazy in her tight jeans, and over the course of her weeklong stay on the ranch, fed his desires with wild abandon, and pleasured him in ways he’d never even imagined possible.
When she asked him to come with her to the big city, he hadn’t thought twice about it. Finally, he’d found his ticket out of a dull and uneventful life, and Jake seized his chance. Tom, his older brother by four years, tried to talk him out of it when Jake announced he was leaving the ranch for good. He’d stuffed as many belongings as he could fit into his black duffel bag, and hurried out the front door to Sandra waiting in her red Mustang Convertible. His luck had finally shifted. That 300 horsepower car was the only thing remotely reminiscent of an equine he wanted to be associated with from hereon out.
Jake remembered his mother standing on the porch, a look of disbelief on her face, the tears shimmering in her eyes. He’d chosen to ignore it. His father’s face was set in a grim line, his disappointment clearly written on his face. He’d turned away and walked back into the house without a single word. Jake steeled his heart. The only one who had physically tried to stop him was Tom. He’d grabbed him by the shirt collar, and bared his teeth at him, a dark scowl on his face.
“What are you doing, boy?” he’d said. “You’re killing Mama and Daddy. After all they’ve done for you, suddenly we’re not good enough for you anymore? You’re just gonna up and run away with that --” he’d pointed his finger in the direction of the Mustang – “that city girl who you don’t even know?”
Jake could tell his brother wanted to use some choice unflattering words in his description of Sandra, but kept his thoughts to himself. Tom was always the calm and reasonable one, much more restrained and levelheaded.  Jake clenched his jaw.
“Time’s up.”
Jake flinched at the sound of the warden’s stiff voice behind him. He relaxed his stance, and stood up straight, pushing the chair he’d sat in further back with the heel of his foot. In a way he was glad the conversation with his brother was over.
“Your lawyer’s here to see you,” the warden said. “Say your good-byes to your visitor.”
“I’ll see what I can do about that bail, Jake,” Tom said into the receiver on his side of the plexiglass.
“Sure,” Jake said listlessly. “Gotta go. Tell Mama and Daddy I’m doing fine.” He didn’t wait for a reply, and hung the phone on the receiver. He turned and held his hands out to the warden, who wordlessly clipped the handcuffs around his wrists.
“Why is my public defender here to see me?” Jake turned to the warden, who ushered him out of the visitor room. “Yesterday at the arraignment, he acted as if the case was already lost.”
“Don’t know.” The warden shrugged in complete disinterest. He stuck a piece of chewing gum into his mouth, and the way his jaw moved up and down and in circles reminded Jake of a steer chewing on its afternoon cud. He led Jake down several corridors to what looked like another interrogation room, opened the door, and motioned for Jake to step in. Without following him inside, the warden closed the door behind him.
Jake looked around the sterile room.  He moved toward the plain table in the center of the windowless cubicle. A man in an expensive-looking business suit stood from where he sat facing Jake. This wasn’t the man who had represented him yesterday at his arraignment. With a bright smile, the lawyer reached over the table, extending his hand. Jake leaned over the nondescript chair he stood next to.
“Jake Owens, it’s good to meet you,” he said brightly. Jake stared at the man. He had to lift both hands to shake the lawyer’s because of the handcuffs. The man’s grip was firm when he took Jake’s hand in his, and shook his arm up and down. The chains on the handcuffs rattled in response. Releasing his hand, the lawyer made a motion with a flick of his wrist for Jake to sit.
“You ain’t my lawyer.” Jake’s eyes narrowed, and he remained standing.
“Your public defender relinquished your case to me,” the man said. His cheerfulness grated on Jake’s nerves. “Have a seat, Jake. We have a lot to talk about.”
Jake’s lips curled in a mock smile. “What’s to talk about? I’m being accused of armed robbery and murder. The evidence says I did it.”
The lawyer eased back in his chair, looking up at him. He pressed the tips of his fingers together, creating a tent shape with his hands in front of him. His icy blue eyes stared directly into his soul. As if some invisible force compelled him, Jake sat on the chair behind him.
“Well, did you do it?” the lawyer asked, raising his bushy gray eyebrows. The top of his head was covered with a thick mop of salt and pepper colored hair that matched the expensive gray suit he wore. His tie was an electric blue that enhanced the color of his eyes. He leaned back in his chair, apparently in no hurry for Jake to reply.
“No, I --” The lawyer’s eyebrows rose even higher, cutting Jake’s words off as if he’d been gagged. The man’s stare became more intense.  Jake clenched his jaw, and inhaled a deep breath. “Hell, I don’t know,” he said coldly, and looked past the man to study the whitewashed brick wall behind him, just to avoid looking into the old man’s eyes.
“Your blood tests revealed cocaine in your system and a blood alcohol level of 0.20,” the lawyer said casually. “What do you have to say to that?”
Jake already knew what his blood tests revealed. He hadn’t been able to convince anyone yet that he hadn’t touched any drugs. Sandra had often coaxed him to try it, and he’d adamantly refused each time. One thing he was not going to do was poison his body with drugs.
True, he’d gone with her to her all-night drinking parties, and gotten drunk more than he’d ever gotten drunk in college, in an effort to please Sandra. An occasional beer with supper at home, or a couple of times when he’d been invited to a keg party at school, had been the extent of his alcohol consumption. He preferred to be sober when he was in the company of a girl. Sandra had introduced him to more exotic versions of alcohol than he could possibly remember. Doubt etched his mind. Could she have persuaded him to take drugs while he was drunk? He swore under his breath.
Anger consumed him, and his heart rate increased as the rage in him boiled. The blood vessels throbbed at his temples. Anger at his weakness where Sandra was concerned raged in him, but more so because his brother had been right. Sandra had turned out to be nothing but trouble. His life had spiraled downhill the minute he got to Los Angeles.  Through his association with her, he’d gotten involved with the wrong people, and now he was paying the ultimate price.
“I don’t know what happened that night,” Jake grumbled, glancing back at the lawyer. “I don’t remember how cocaine got in me. I sure as hell don’t remember sniffing the stuff.”
“You were found passed out in the driver’s seat of a Ford Mustang that witnesses saw speeding away from the liquor store. The murder weapon was in your lap, your hand prints all over it.”
Jake knew all that. Shit. Why did the lawyer have to rehash everything that he’d already been told over and over again?
“Yeah, well, all I can think of is that that bit . . . Sandra set me up.” Jake vowed he was done with women. They were all conniving and manipulative, especially since his latest flame had turned out to be nothing but a whore and a lying bitch.
The lawyer sat up straight, and leaned forward. Damn! Those icy blue eyes were downright frightening. Why the hell did the guy have to stare at him like that? It was as if he knew exactly what was going on inside Jake’s head.
“You have experience with horses and cattle, don’t you?” the lawyer asked.
Jake coughed in surprise. He cocked an eyebrow. Where the hell did that question come from all of a sudden?
“Yeah, and if I never have to see another cow or horse in my lifetime, it won’t be soon enough.”
“You also have experience with shooting guns? Rifles? A colt?”
Now that question made more sense. He was being asked if he had the know-how to fire that murder weapon.
“Yeah, I’ve gone big game hunting with my pa and brother since I was a little kid, and later on did some trick shooting to entertain the city slickers who came to my parents’ ranch.”
“You’ve led cattle drives through Montana? Showed inexperienced people the ropes? You’re familiar with the history of the westward movement along the Oregon and California Trails?”
Jake rolled his eyes. He ran a hand over his face. “Yeah, I done all that stuff.” He rested his arms on the table and leaned forward.  “Look, I don’t see what any of that has to do with my case right now.”
The lawyer’s stare became more intense. “How would you like to make your troubles disappear?”

Monday, August 26, 2013

Peggy Henderson author of the Yellowstone Series



 When you start publishing your books, you meet other authors-- sometimes rather distantly-- but you get a feeling for their work and something about them. One writer I found particularly of interest was Peggy Henderson. Yes, she's a good writer. I've read some of her books (will read more whenever I get the time to read for pleasure), but it was also because she was writing about one of my favorite areas-- Yellowstone. I found her knowledge and love of that land inspiring for how she captured its heart and history as she created a series of five books with each standing alone and yet linked. I am happy today to have her on my blog as a guest author where she relates a bit about her work for not only you to discover her books but to learn more about the craft and art of writing from someone who is out there doing it-- and doing it well.



Thank you, Rain, for having me on your blog today. These were great interview questions!

Yellowstone and that part of Wyoming and Montana has clearly inspired your books. How and when did you first discover that country?


The first time I’ve been to Yellowstone was the year my then future husband introduced me to camping. We went on a road trip after our high school graduation. I immediately fell in love with the beauty of the area. Here we have an ecosystem that is, for the most part, intact  much the way it was hundreds of years ago, and who wouldn’t be in awe at the beautiful landscape and thermal features.

Do your family, friends, hobbies or work find their way into your stories?

I think every author writes some aspects of their life into their stories. Yes, I modeled my first heroine, Aimee Donovan, after a close friend of mine (I never told her, and she just recently read the book, so whether she recognized herself or not, I don’t know). One of the most frequent questions I used to get asked was, “Are you a nurse?” because Aimee is a nurse. No, I’m not a nurse, but my background is in biological sciences and veterinary medicine, so I brought a lot of knowledge from that into my first book.

When a reader finishes one of your books, what is the thing you most hope they take away with them?

I hope the reader will have that feel-good feeling after finishing one of my books, after witnessing love blossom and develop between two people who were destined to be together. I also hope that readers will take away a better appreciation for the beauty of nature and have a little deeper respect for it, and maybe learn a little about the history of the places and people I write about.  
Something I hadn’t foreseen when I wrote these books was how much readers appreciated all the scenery descriptions and how I used Yellowstone as the backdrop for the books. I’ve received tons of emails from readers, saying I had inspired them to want to go see Yellowstone now, after reading the books. That really surprised me at first, but in a good way, and I hope that all of my readers get to see and experience the beauty of the park for themselves.

Do you see your characters as you write about them, imagine them looking like say a movie star or some specific person? If so, can you share one example?

I’m a very visual person. I write my characters much better when I have a picture of what they look like. I very rarely go to the movies, so I don’t even know most of the movie stars and actors out there these days. For Daniel Osborne and Aimee Donovan, I had a clear image in my mind of who they were. No, I won’t share any examples. It’s been an ongoing personal challenge for my editor to try and figure out “who Daniel is.” She’s been trying to get me to tell her for a year now, and she’s been very persistent, but that’s a closely guarded secret. I think it’s better that readers can picture the characters in their minds, using their own imaginations.
 
You write adventure, historical stories, which means danger-- How do you make a decision on killing off a character?

Well, if a certain character is in the way of something that the leading character needs, the best, or easiest way to deal with that is to kill them off, right?
Because I write historical stories, and due to the setting of these stories, there has to be death and danger. Let’s face it, the lives of mountain men was gory, difficult at best, and brutal. Of course I romanticize that in the books. Who wants to read a romance that has nothing but gore and brutality in it?
It’s easy to kill off the bad guys in a story, not so easy when it has to be one of the good guys. There was a character in Yellowstone Redemption who, the more I wrote him, the more I liked him. I kept telling myself, “Oh, this isn’t good.” So, although I felt bad about killing him off, he had to die.

Have you ever written a book, had it do well, but later wished you could change something significant?

I sometimes wish I could have started Yellowstone Heart Song at a different point then where it starts in its published version. In my first draft, there are five chapters before the hero and heroine even meet, and the way it was written would have given away too much later on. As far as changing something significant after publication, no I haven’t wanted to do that for any of my books. I’m pretty happy with the way each of my books plays out.

How do you choose a book title?

Usually, the titles come to me before I even write the story. Each title says a little bit about the main theme or subject matter of the book. Heart Song was the most difficult book to name, maybe because it was my first. I must have had a dozen titles before that “A-HA” moment struck me.

Of all your books to date, do you have a favorite?

Absolutely. My favorite book to date is Yellowstone Redemption. I was sort of at a loss what to write after I finished Heart Song. I never intended for this to become a series. Heart Song was written as a stand-alone. I finally thought, “Eh, a sequel might be nice.” After the initial brainstorming, and when Chase Russell came to life in my head, that book practically wrote itself. I had my first draft finished in six weeks. I wish all my books would write that fast and easily.



What interested you most about writing a romance?

Well, I guess the romance, the slow build up of a relationship between two people who might be complete opposites, but are perfect for each other. I’ve read a lot of romance. One of the things that always annoys me is when the hero and heroine get together and jump into bed much too soon. I prefer a slow romantic build-up, let the characters discover their attraction to one another without physically acting on it within the first few chapters. As a reader, I’m completely uninterested in the rest of the story when that happens.

Since you write your stories going back to the days of the Mountain Men, would you have liked to live then? Ever been to a rendezvous such they have in many states where people reenact those times?

I don’t think I have the fortitude to live like the mountain men did. They were a special breed of men, and . . . no, I would not have wanted to live back in those days. 
I am dying to go to a rendezvous! I’ve missed several of them by days when we go on vacation. There are no reenactments anywhere close to where I live. The closest I’ve come has been the Battle of the Little Bighorn Reenactment in Hardin, Montana. That was awesome.

Are your next books already germinating in your head or do you take a break between starting books?

I’m always thinking up my next book. Usually by the time I’m two-thirds done with one book, I’ve started taking notes and jotting down ideas on the next one.

Do you have any advice for those who might be interested in writing but have not yet given it a try?

Read a lot, then write a lot. It doesn’t matter what you write, just practice. It does make it easier if you “write what you know.” Find someone who is willing to critique your work honestly. Don’t ask friends or relatives to read your work and give their opinion. You want someone unbiased, and I don’t think a friend or family member (unless it’s my mother) will give you an unbiased opinion.
Writing is a tough business. Publishing is even tougher. It requires lots of hours, patience, and perseverance. 

Peggy will return on Wednesday with a snippet from one of her books. :) In the meantime, here are links to take you to more about each of her books-- 
I am guesting today on Peggy's blog-- Peggy L. Henderson

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Historicals and the truth... errrr....

One of the fascinating things involved in the writing of historical romances is sorting  out what exactly was the truth of a time out of the past. You are setting (generally) fictional people into a time but what was that time actually like?

So take the Old West. How much of its reality was tempered by the pop fiction even in its own time. Pulp writers turned out these little books that told a story that didn't actually exist but sold well for the people who weren't living where they had any way to know what happened to be. Pulp fiction played to the emotions of the readers.

This is also true regarding stories of the Native Americans where they can be portrayed as heroes or demons depending on the novel or even history book. That's the fascination but also the pothole awaiting a writer who wishes to cast their story during a time they aren't living, don't actually know the truth of, and have to base their 'facts' on what they read or are told.

Navajo ponies for Comanche Warriors by Frank McCarthy, a gifted artist telling the story of the West through his paintings. Disclaimer: I have one his prints in our Tucson home. I like western art as much as western books

Here's a good example of how history can be turned to suit what we want to believe:


Obviously some of the facts stated in the article are facts but are they the only facts? This link would differ:
 

We've all heard how the Native Americans were the great environmentalists but-- seriously? Do those saying that know of practices like driving a buffalo herd off a bluff and taking what they could use from the carnage below?  Or moving villages regularly for sanitary reasons? On the other hand-- the idea of dirty Indians when the whites who came from Europe rarely bathed while the native peoples regularly did. Or calling the natives savages when they had more elaborate and often fairer systems of government than often the Europeans?

So what do we want to believe? In a lot of ways that's the essence of writing any historical novel. Find out all that was said-- both sides. Sort through it for what rings truest to the writer and reader. Of course, that's the real problem because the truth of even what is happening today is not that easy to come by.

I think it's interesting to write historical romances, or I wouldn't have done it over the years; but I don't kid myself that what I write might be the exact truth. It's one of them.

What I will claim, for the characters I write and for my favorite historical romances, is this. The characters who are set into that time, they will react like humans do and they will ring true even today for their reactions. What is different is their upbringing, environment, and the circumstances into which they are set.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

*sigh* a sinus infection and...

Since I have been wrestling with a sinus infection this last week, my enthusiasm for anything has been pretty low. What I have accomplished is bordering on zero unless you count keeping water boiling for steam, checking out various sinus remedies and lying low to get rid of this irritant which I lay to the woodsmoke from fires in Southern Oregon as well as dusty air from all the farm work going on in the main valley. Our air won't be clear until sometime in September probably as that's the soonest we can expect real rains in my part of the Pacific Northwest.


I have done another editing for the book, Tucson Moon, that follows Arizona Sunset and will come out before Christmas also with Kindle and paperback versions. It has its own romance with some of the same characters only three years later.

While waiting to get the proof of the paperback version, I didn't feel like starting any big projects. I have done more work on creating cover, back cover, and spline for the paperbacks we hope to bring out eventually. We also bought 10 ISBNs which will not cover all my books but is a start.

Once the proof arrives, and it looks good (the first one had a flaw that was my own fault in the profile page), then we can set a date for the Kindle and paperback to be released-- hopefully the same time. It was interesting to see my first book in print but not really the thrill that some talk about. For me the thrill came with the first eBook because then for the first time my books were available for people to read. They were what took the effort to get shaped up and ready to be out there. The paperback was more of an accomplishment for my husband who is my publisher and thank goodness as the whole process would have me going crazy.

Writing a book basically is one step in a long, long process. My husband mentioned how many boxes of paper are up in our attic of various stages of my books. The only ones that interest me in looking at would be two short stories I wrote probably before I was twenty. The rest I'd just as soon burn as now the books are on computers, jump drives and memory cards. Which are a lot more permanent to my mind than those sheets of bond, finely typed paper in boxes which aren't very accessible even to me.

For anyone interested in creating their own paperback, I am very high on the process with CreateSpace, how they look it over, what they produce. They even had warned us on that image in the first Proof not being of good enough quality, but we didn't 'get it' until we saw it on the book. We now have a PDF file which would enable us to print these books other places but I don't think any would do a more professional job (from what we saw on the first proof) at such a reasonable price. I don't expect to sell a lot of paperbacks but I see the value as I mentioned in an earlier blog of this as one more part of the whole process-- rather like framing a painting as the last step.

While feeling so rocky, I did one more thing in creating a long trailer that will have a link in the back of both the Kindle and the paperback for readers, after finishing the books, to see images that inspired the words. I had roughly done one before but this is a final version with the correct cover. The trailer on YouTube will be out right ahead of the publication dates.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

small things


now and then 
sometimes
the world
turns
and I notice
or not

certainty
uncertainty
some of both
and I decide
or not

look closely
as small things
don't advertise
unless...
you notice

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Arizona Sunset


Titling a book is one of the interesting challenges to writing it. Once in awhile the title is obvious and comes easily. Twice I've titled one I had published and changed it after it had come out because of readers not liking the original, it proving to be misleading as to the story's essence, or my own decision that it wasn't going deep enough and I suddenly realized I knew what would.

One of those changes was minor tweaking, the other changed the whole feel of what the story was about to my original intent. I've had a few books that haven't sold particularly well, might do better with a different title, but I am glued to their titles because of what they say about the deeper meaning of the book. I am convinced (optimist that I am) that someday their titles will touch the right readers and they will be glad I kept them.

What I always want with a title is that in the fewest possible words it take a reader to the deepest level of the story. It's about the bones, the structure and has to hit that button with minimal words.

This is the case with the final title I oped for the historical romance coming out this month. Originally I wrote this book over twenty years ago. The plot has stayed consistent and likewise the characters even as I have improved my writing skills. Through the years it has had couple of working titles. None quite said what I wanted.

Yes, it's a love story, an historical, and a western; but the message is about how we can think we are at the end, where there seem to be no options and then something opens up and changes not only how we see that but what we can do. It is about not closing ourselves off to these changes. It is about how life can throw us surprises but it's how we deal with them that makes the difference. It is also about cycles.

Sunsets are apt metaphors for cycles as they appear to be the end each day. A sunset can be something that simply ends the day with nothing special or can be incredibly beautiful. They aren't the end even as they appear to be each day as what comes next is the darkness of night. Arizona is famous for their sunsets and with just cause.

Arizona in the title came because the story and characters are set in Southern Arizona.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Paperback as well as eBook?

It seems when you become an entrepreneur, which is what you are when you create a book and opt to bring it out yourself, the questions about what comes next never end.

What had been holding up bringing out Arizona Sunset, which has been finished for some time, had been the question of whether we should also do a paperback version. I went back and forth as to the value or not of doing this. Asking western romance authors at MOA, I got some good advice which decided me on the paper versions and maybe not just the historicals yet to be published but also my contemporaries already out as eBooks.

Farm Boss is my publisher with Seven Oaks Publishing, and he's the one who has been working on the process of creating a paperback through CreateSpace which has the advantage of being connected to Amazon as well as the writer's cost only being the books you yourself buy. There are rules that go along with it for instance the price you put on the book for Amazon has to be the price a bookstore is supposed to sell it. I am not sure how special, occasional sales work into this.


The cover above is what I originally intended for the eBook but it had to be reversed once we decided on the paperback for the spline to work with the cover and it being easier to combine with the sunset and rock rather than her skirt. Details but they are the kind of thing with which you will wrestle if you put out a paperback.

The drawback obviously is not money since there is no real cost involved if you can do your own work. CreateSpace does offer the service for those who want that for a fee but they then reserve some rights. Better to work it out myself. We also bought our own ISBN (ten of them as the package is cheaper which means we will have ten paperbacks sooner than later). After getting the prototype, there is no further cost unless I want to give some away or try to take them to some indie bookstores to see if they have interest in selling them on consignment. However,  I've gone through the hassle of that when I stepped in to help a group of women in my rural community with selling the cookbook they had self-published. It's a lot of work is what I learned. Even though I did get most of their books sold, I vowed I'd not do such a thing again. Never say never though.

The following is a good article on why eBook writers should also do a paperback.


Unfortunately it, and I've seen reference to this other places, brought up another question-- what about audio books...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

to be or not to be that was the question


Since last summer I talked about the debate I was having with myself. Should I bring the historical novels out as eBooks? I've gone back and forth with differing answers. For any writer, there are options-- more than ever before. 

I could have submitted them to a publishing house to see if I could find interest except why would I do that? I know a lot of writers want publishing contracts but these days, unless it's a huge house with a guaranteed number of sales for everything it brings out, what is the advantage for the writer other than ego? 

Well one advantage could be they would do the promotions-- except not likely a lot of it for a first time author. They also might get books into stores I cannot but those books stay a very short time before being replaced by new books; so sales that route aren't apt to be many unless I was out pushing the books. 

Some think books have to be better if they come out through a big publishing house. Those are not people paying much attention to what actually does come that way with less editing than ever and more expectation the author will do it or not get accepted.

From experience (years back), I know that the publishing houses expect a writer to hit certain buttons. They want the cookie cutter books and rarely take a risk on something different. 

Given the lengths of my historical romances-- from 115,000 to just over 130,000-- it would be rare to get any of them to even look at mine as they want 100,000 words or thereabouts. So, I'd have to slash the heck out of them and probably would still not fit the cookie cutter niche; so not going to happen.

There was all along the option of holding onto them while I built up a brand using my contemporary romances already out there. I have done some of that since I put out my last contemporary a year ago. During that time, I've put myself into a lot of the media where they say an independent writer must be, but it hasn't led to gang buster sales or even being sure the books are being seen by their potential readers.

They say you should figure out who your potential reader is. I know a few things about them. One they cannot be wanting a masterpiece but should be someone looking for a good read, some excitement in their stories but nothing depressing to the point it leaves them feeling more down than before they read the book. They save that for non-fiction!

They should enjoy reading for pleasure and not see it all having to be literary or something that they can brag about to their friend as being more intellectual than what their friend was reading. Let's face it, what one reads can be a status symbol. The only status one might claim for reading my books is they buy from indie authors to encourage independent writing. Hey, that's some status, isn't it? No?

My reader can't be prudish about sex in a book. On the other hand, they cannot want it to be the whole book. They have to not be afraid of romances but be open to those that are a little different. They have to be okay with the book not following a set formula that often is found in romances. They should like a story where the characters and situation carry the events to logical ends.

If they read a lot of other kinds of books, they should be someone open to one that is a mix of genres... And they cannot be embarrassed to be found reading a romance. 

What, you say that kind of reader doesn't exist? Oh maybe that's my problem ;)

Anyway I am bringing the historicals out-- more coming on that.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

motivations for writing a book

Recently I heard a group discussing why they chose to write historicals instead of contemporary stories and their reasons were interesting and diverse. To many it related to escapism and sometimes wishing they had lived in a different time. Basically for a short time, they wanted to move away from the world in which they lived, the problems they had to regularly deal with and instead be in a fantasy world for just a little while. There is something to be said for that as when you write a book, you do move for awhile into a different world.


I didn't say much in the conversation other than that I've gone between writing historicals and contemporaries. I like writing each for different reasons. I am always exploring a subject that I find fascinating. Whether people lived a hundred years ago or today, a lot of the problems are the same for what we want in life. I've written stories of the ramifications of abuse in pioneer times and modern. More options for treatment are available today but does it change what can happen and what must be overcome for a happy life?.

They also mentioned in that discussion that some of them felt they were their heroines. I don't think of myself as any of my heroines with only one exception, and it wasn't a contemporary. I am not sure from where my heroines come. I think though it relates to the situation they are facing. I have the dilemma and then I think of what kind of woman could get into that situation and how would she approach it. That's what begins a book like Moon Dust.

Moon Dust doesn't deal with a pleasant subject but something that does impact a lot of lives. It's about healing and the ramifications of abuse. It's about life but it is also a romance which means it's got a bit of the fairy tale quality to it-- modern setting or not.

So more discussion of it in the video--



Moon Dust discussion from Rain Trueax on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Using our dreams


If you are one of those people who dream vivid dreams, it can be useful in your writing of a book or short story. I've had it help me with more than one of mine. The issue is how exactly can our dream worlds be used?

To start it helps to have a dream journal alongside your bed. I cannot count the times I've had a dream that seemed likely to be book material but after breakfast I have no idea what it was about. Write it down even if you are sure you won't forget.

If you sleep with someone, telling them the dream is helpful also. I don't know why just remembering it isn't enough but for me it isn't. Once I have verbalized it, I hold it better.

Often dreams are filled with symbolisms which may not work for the plot of a book but might be useful to flesh out a character. I've used some of my dreams as a dream in the book when the symbolisms fit the storyline. I've also made up dreams that enriched the foreshadowing of what's coming.

It's interesting to wonder about what makes a dream happen especially movie dreams. I've had some where I know I can't use them as they aren't in my genre, but they are worth writing down for a possible future where that changes. If nothing else, they are as much fun as watching a movie but where I have some control over the outcome as I find I can do lucid dreaming to take a dream where I want it to go.

When dreams aren't about writing in a book or creating a character, they can have value for our personal lives based on what our subconscious might be trying to tell us. I go to a dream site for ideas on what a color might mean or perhaps an insect that is not normally found in my life.

My favorite site for that is Dream Moods. 

So for instance when I had the dream where you could tell when someone was a bad person by the translucent color red on their throat, which not all people could see, I looked it up. The color red represents, "an indication of raw energy, force, vigor, intense passion, aggression, power, courage, impulsiveness and passion." That makes it a logical color for the warning but what about it being on the throat?

Although the dream dictionary didn't give me the answer to that, my own interpretation is perhaps it relates to not trusting what others say or their words. It wasn't my throat but someone else's. We know we need to be wary of what we trust in the news or from leaders. That dream might not have related to any possible story (unless I get into writing horror which I don't see happening) but to my own life.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Her Dark Angel

Sometimes a book gets its start from a dream as I mention below here. I'll discuss more about how I think we can use dreams in the next blog.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lammas and Sky Daughter

Lammas, August 1, is the Celtic festival of the harvest. It was an element in one of my books although in the video below I don't discuss that so much as other aspects of Sky Daughter. It so happens that I also just redid the cover for the book. I had never been happy with the woman on the cover but just hadn't found the right one.

Maggie needed to have strength but even more strength she hadn't yet tapped into. She needed to look like a woman dealing with a lot of difficult things as well as figuring out who she was-- not just who she had been but who she would become. I think this cover finally says what it needed to depict. Covers are tough that way.

The video is discussing some of the dominant energies behind the writing of Sky Daughter, the things the story is about beyond, of course, a love story.