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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 1943

A brief time out for my partner in writing. He reads all my books. He critiques them from a male point of view. Helps me with guns and any scene needing masculine type action. He is their publisher and supports my writing by saying he believes in what I am doing. He is part of what makes it possible for me to be living my dream and writing books.

He is also incidentally or not-- my life-mate. I married this man almost 50 years ago. We share two wonderful children, two children-in-laws, and four grandchildren not to mention the cattle and sheep ranch where we live today.

We've certainly had our ups and downs, but we are best friends today. We mostly like the same things. He's creative and has his own work where we each let the other be. We laugh a lot together. We also can yell at each other and then an hour later joke about what we had argued about. 

Today is his 71st birthday, and I just want to say I appreciate all he's given me through those years as a partner who is always interesting if sometimes challenging. Hey, who wants boring!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A time to consider

Where it comes to reading reviews of my work, I have mixed feelings. There are times I'd think I'll never read a review again as they can be encouraging or devastating and like so many things in life-- the most negative is what I normally remember the longest.

An example of long memories: when I was in high school, not sure what year this was, one of my classes involved working for the high school health teacher and counselor. It meant typing, taking dictation, carrying around notes, and doing errands.  It was, of course, also for grades as well as work experience.

This particular day, I walked into the Junior High on one of those chores and two of my brother's friends were with him as they saw me. One said, "Hey, Trueax, your sister is as ugly as you are." I pretended not to hear because what can you say to such a comment!

Now the irony is my brother was not remotely ugly, but that's not why I (and many like me) would remember such a comment. It's because someone is saying I was ugly. If i was a celebrity, I would never read comments under any article about me as some get the most joy out of tearing apart someone else.

Reviews for any creative work definitely fall into a place that anonymous can strike. How seriously should one take the words of a stranger where it comes to your painting, writing or any creative effort? Is it beneficial to read them? Might it help your work-- or hinder it?

Recently I realized I hadn't visited Good Reads for quite awhile (this is a place well known for snarky reviews for indie authors). I browsed through to see if my books had new reviews. One had several new ones. 

Basically the complaint for this book came down to it being paced too slow. Evidently romance readers don't want slow growth of characters. It seems they want a plot to have something exciting every scene. (actually I thought this book did have exciting things going on but they were neither sexual nor violent so maybe they didn't count. If my books were regarded as literary works, the depth of development of characters, the slow pace as the story unfolds would be a plus. When they are romances, not enough is happening.

Recently I visited one of the romance writing sites that I had joined, I looked at the books that were out there and being promoted. I felt like there is no way I fit into that at all. One was about a serial killer where the first third person point of view was a young woman who was about to be murdered. The blurb indicated one of the detectives will end up at the killer's mercy-- doubtless she will be saved by the hero since she was a heroine. A lot was though-- definitely happening.

The thing is that's not the kind of book I want to read or write. I keep reminding myself-- writing is the joy. To thine own voice be true... but sometimes it can get depressing and I'd be pretending if I didn't address that now and again. Are we successful in our creative life if other people think we failed but we feel good about what we wrote or painted? Does what someone else think play into how good something is? I can think of films, the arty type, that didn't do well at all at the box office. Did that make them a failure?

Another writing site (this one at LinkedIn) had one author pose the question-- is selling important to you in writing? A well known writer had said it's writing that matters the most-- not the selling. But she happens to be a successful author. 

Of course, all writers want to sell. Unfortunately it's not in their control whether critics or readers like the kinds of books they write. I can though, after a lifetime of writing, say that to me the most important thing is the writing. Whether I bring books out or let them stay on my computer, I will always be writing something new. I'll write more about the story I am currently working on, but it may never be ePublished as it's the last of the Oregon series. It's the series I have been debating whether to bring it out. It doesn't delete the worth of writing its final story-- Love Waits.

I have held off on those books because they relate to Oregon and are dear to my heart. If others tore them apart or rejected buying them, it might hurt more than with other books which I love but with which I don't have such a lengthy history. I mean if I put something out, it means I believe in it. I have no reason to do it otherwise.

J.D. Salinger went years without bringing more books out after his classic, Catcher in the Rye. Most believe it was because he hated the critics part of having his work torn apart. It's not too hard to see how he felt-- even if mine is not being torn apart by professional critics.

When I first got into ePublishing, I pretty well knew my books weren't likely to be immediately well-received. I thought of cycles in books and what readers want. I would put mine out and they'd be there someday for a reader to find who wanted my kind of writing. It's harder to let myself do that then I thought it would be. 

Once upon a time we had a tea rose outside our bedroom window with a coastal type pine behind it. One freeze saw the apparent end of the tea rose, but the hardier root stalk came up with something new-- a red climbing rose. So we let it go. One year we realized it was climbing into the pine tree above it. We have let it be and this year it is nearly to the top of that 30' pine. They look so gorgeous together, so unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected is the blessing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

is he an alpha, beta or... gamma???

One key thing about romances and westerns, well sci fi too, is they are built around archetypes more than what might be found in say literary fiction. In short, the hero represents more than a hero. Joseph Campbell and his Hero's Journey is really speaking to the archetype of all great mythology. While a more literary work might wander around, a romance will have a form behind it, and it's not impossible to find what it is for someone who is interested in such.

Now, as much as i think I have read most of what is out there on writing, I come across something that's been around and I had missed-- the gamma hero. I knew there were alpha and beta heroes. But gamma heroes? I'd never heard of them, but the following article is from 1997.

To be honest, I hadn't actually thought of my heroes in those terms. I do think of the hero's journey with each book, the gate keeper experience, the adventure and then the return, but the type... not so much that.

Okay, so definitions roughly, for those who don't do links and as best I understand them:
alpha: handsome, sexy, strong, leadership material, hell-bent-for-leather kind of guy-- not a lot of complexity but the kind of guy people look to in a time of trouble
beta: your best friend, unassuming, not necessarily handsome or tall, maybe even physically with some weaknesses
gamma: some say a mix of alpha and beta but I see them more as wounded heroes. They stand back; do not seek out leadership but clearly look like they should be leaders

After reading that article, I looked at my already written heroes to see where they fit. In the contemporaries, I have six clear alphas (if I count the four paranormals, I have three more). These are men who will go after what they want-- once they know what it is. They are natural leaders and strong. The kind of guy who stands up for right and where others know they can count on them. 

Yes, alpha males do exist, and they are not bullies who clearly aren't even heroes. Alphas don't need to be bullies to get their way. Alphas though are not the wounded hero. In a book of mine, they will be going through a lot-- sometimes thanks to who they love, but they will remain alphas.

That leaves me four contemporary gammas as I just have not written beta heroes. Betas are great, nothing wrong with them, but they say if you want to do a love story with a beta hero, he has to be facing heroic struggles to make it interesting enough to hold the readers' attention. The alpha isn't going through a lot of internal wrangling with himself, but he's going to create his own dramas by pushing past the obstacles in his way-- including any put there by the heroine. 

John Wayne usually played the typical alpha hero. Mel Gibson is the gamma and for beta, think Tom Hanks.

It has been said that the best husbands are betas, but I don't believe that is necessary. What I do believe is an alpha requires a woman who has her own life, or she'll be forever upset that he's off fighting dragons. Gammas would be tough to make it work because the guy is so complex and has been through hell already. The woman who falls in love with him better be prepared to fight his demons as well as the enemy outside. Once he fights past all that, he could be just fine-- but a lot of women give up before they get there.

I am not sure where the anti-hero fits into this. I guess he's a gamma but one who you can't really be sure is going to be a hero until the last reel has been run.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


One of the biggest issues when I got to Storm in the Canyon was how to make the monsters seem threatening and real-- or whether to make them seem threatening and real. I have to admit I had some reluctance in dealing with monsters, just as I had had the first time I wrote about such a being. You know the-- if I make them real, hope they don't notice me-- kind of reluctance. 

When creating a monster (fictionally speaking) you have to decide-- my own creation or one someone else already described. There are many fictional monsters. I opted to have mine come from Native American mythology. Do a search and you will find some great sites online that go into all the monsters, witches, gods and ghosts in the Native American stories.

In any paranormal/fantasy, you decide the rules of your universe-- which may not fit into that from another writer's universe. I decided the spirit realm, which meant spirit guides, angels and demons had one level it could operate on. There were rules in place and spirits only risked breaking them at a high cost. 

Demons could influence, tempt, provide energy, but they could not do more than that. That meant spirit guides were in the same boat. They could provide energy and give tips through the small still voices (except for those rare humans who could see and converse with them). They had access to the Akashic records and could travel where they would to get information. In the end though, their powers to fight earthly evil were limited.For good or ill, each hoped to reach humans through the inner voice, where they had mixed results. 

When I needed names for demons, I looked for traditional names in various religions especially Christianity. The spirit guides, who had generally had human lives at one time, I named as I pleased.

Then came these Native American mythological monsters, which had supernatural powers but were physical beings with limitations on what they could do. There was no code of behavior for them other than their own. As with the humans, they could be killed although not as easily.

In the varying traditions, there are a lot of these monsters and gods, some of which you can discern from where their origin came out of nature and others clearly were imaginary. Besides doing a lot of research, I have been fortunate enough to hear some of these stories from storytellers. 

One such storyteller, Lelooska, lived in Washington, had built a big longhouse where people could pay to come and watch the dances and the retelling of the stories by himself and his family, much as it might have been back in the times where it was often the center of a culture, a way to hold onto their history and identity as a people.

Lelooska was Native American but not from any of the Pacific Northwest tribes. Theirs were the stories he learned, received permission, and chose to use. He was very impressive as a figure with his robes and the masks they used which were carved from wood. The foundation and the stories live on though he has since died. Lelooska Foundation

Pacific Northwest masks are in many museums and impressive. To see them used by the storyteller, the dancers, the music, and with the night air beyond, a bonfire in the center of the longhouse, it created an unforgettable experience. The audience sat on benches and became much like at one time the people would have been.

Often Native American monsters served a purpose to frighten children into obeying. There is some of that in every religion-- at least on fundamentalist levels. The masks are impressive and scary. You see the same in petroglyphs where some of the characters are heroes or animals and some are clearly monster figures.

I had seen the following Columbia River petroglyph many times, even have a little rubber stamp of it but had no idea until I researched it that there are bird monsters and one is an owl. Now it might not be what this drawing depicts... or then again... Petroglyphs always leave you guessing. There are plenty of stories to excite the imagination if you get into reading the mythologies.

Humankind has always wanted to know why something happened, to find rhyme and reason to tragedy. Monsters can provide such a reason that doesn't relate to man making a mistake or something that can get us all but more something that is haphazard, and it is luck that might protect us from running into. 

Sorting through all the Native American monsters was certainly interesting. There are many of diverse types. I ruled out water monsters as this story takes place in the country around Billings Montana. Yes, there are rivers but nothing that really suits the idea of a water dragon. I also didn't want any that went after children. That left cannibals, monster bears, ogres, fairylike beings, and even a werewolf type character who might've been impacted by French mythologies but still made a great monster.

There were many similar types spread across the continent where the names would change but the descriptions sounded the same. I narrowed it down to eight types for Storm in the Canyon. I even gave them some of their own scenes where they got a point of view. It allowed me to give them a purpose. The problem is their purpose is at odds to what humans want. Obviously they feel totally justified in their position...

It was fun to look for possible images at the royalty free sites where I had subscriptions for a time. I bought a few that didn't work at all but hey, maybe some later book ;)... okay probably not unless I get into writing comedies (unlikely), but the following does sort of represent the size difference between say the Pains (fairy like beings) and Stonecoats (stone giants and cannibals)-- both of whom are in Storm in the Canyon but don't look much like this image-- in my imagination anyway.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

the heroes of Storm in the Canyon

Because Storm in the Canyon is Book 3 in a trilogy, it stands alone but actually ended up with three heroes. Each had proven himself in the earlier books but once again are called upon to face danger for a greater good. There is however one new romance for a hero who first showed up in The Dark of the Moon.

What makes a hero has been discussed here earlier. We all pretty well know that real life heroes don't come in tidy packages that are easily recognizable even though we are trained through films to think they do. I like to write about heroes who stand tall when the going gets rough. I've had some of them officers of the law. Heroes in a book of mine are likely to go through a tough time which will test their mettle. They will fall in love with a woman where it's not a given that it will work out-- or wouldn't be if it wasn't a romance.

Paranormal romances again change the rules as they don't have to have a romance that works out-- at least not in one book. They do have heroes who are facing the bad, who don't stick their heads in the sand or run. They are the ones out there on the front line when there is trouble. 

Most of the time romances have one hero and heroine but a trilogy rather changes things.  As this story moves closer to why this all has been happening, a new hero is dominant. 

He is Dirk Langston who has been a warrior for light for some years. He learned the skills of the Druid, including shapeshifting because it made it easier for him to fight the dark side. Now he has a new struggle to overcome. It's not just the battle, but accepting what he's become to do what he has. And it's also when a woman comes into his life who he cannot have but wants.

The hero of the first in the trilogy is Cole Morgan. By the third book, has accepted who he truly is. He is ready to be a warrior though it wasn't his choice for his life. He has a son and a wife he dearly loves. He would give up his own life to keep them safe. That might come to be.

Pace Emerson now runs Myra's Box Z from where all the trouble is originating. He isn't a man ever to run from trouble. As a Druid by birth, he can see and talk to the other side. He can throw energy and always has stood up for the right.

 These three men are strong, willing to fight even when it's against the unknown. Storm in the Canyon pits them against very much the unknown but with their women at their sides.

There are two other heroes in this book-- a two year old boy and a geologist/sorcerer but since they don't get a romance-- yet, no pictures.

Yeah, I know all the men are without shirts. That isn't because I love men without a shirt... It's just coincidence... Honest ;)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the heroines of Storm in the Canyon

Arthur Abbott: 'Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.' from the film, The Holiday

Aren't we all supposed to be the heroines of our own life? Aren't we supposed to be living our own story and not someone else's? When writing a romance, a heroine will be key to the book. Who is she? What is her need? What has she done? What is she yet to do? What is getting in her way?

Of all the heroines out there, and because there are many types of women, there are many choices, I generally choose to write about strong, well-grounded women. I am not fond of even reading stories where the heroines are sitting around waiting for a hero to save their bacon. In real life, those women will sit an entire lifetime waiting for something that may never come. Or mistake someone who is pushy for a hero as he takes them for all they have-- economically and emotionally. Better are strong women who choose to have a healthy relationship, if it comes along, but don't need it.

What I like in a heroine is a woman who has enough strength to let others grow their own abilities. She doesn't need to prove anything because she has worked through her own issues. If she's got  weaknesses, and she will, she is aware of them if not always of their causes. When she decides to fix her problems, she will do it directly and without fooling around.

To be honest, I am not fond of superwomen either because they tend to be either unrealistic or enablers to maintain power over others. What I want in a heroine is, what I also like in friends, strong women who know their own mind, understand consequences and will come through in a crunch. They don't go seeking trouble, but they won't hide their heads in the sand to avoid seeing it.

So in Storm in the Canyon I have three of those women. Jessica is a lawyer, won her happily ever after in When Fates Conspire. She is not a deep woman spiritually, but she enjoys nature, her husband, little son, and she supports other women. In her mid 30s, she has a life she enjoys, works for others when she can. When the disaster awaiting in Diablo Canyon makes itself clear, she is willing to put that life on the line for what she knows is right.

Myra has experienced loss, but it has not caused her to lose hope. She is in her mid-50s, of Cheyenne heritage and running a big ranch where in The Dark of the Moon, she found a life-mate to help her. She remembers the old stories of her people and understands something is going on beyond her power alone, but she will be part of working to make things right. She believes in balance, and loving in the moment as she well understands how rapidly life can be lost.

Finally in Storm in the Canyon, there is Racine, Myra's spirit guide in The Dark of the Moon, who has been asked to make the transition to a human body with some special powers in order to help the humans in their fight to end Diablo Canyon's power. She is in her 20s-- by earth years. As a spirit guide, she had not felt she had a lot of success in helping others-- even after doing it for a thousand years. She is surprised to find as a human she has carried over some of those insecurities which she must learn to surmount if she wants to succeed this time when so much depends on it. When the battle is over, she will go back to being a spirit...

Storm in the Canyon has no graphic sex because writing a novella, even a long one at 45,000 words, just doesn't leave room for more than suggestions of what is coming. This one with some of the characters being the Native American mythical monsters had to move right along. It could so easily have been much longer, but I felt the crisp writing suited this story and wanted it part of the broader story of Diablo Canyon

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Storm in the Canyon

Each book in the Diablo Canyon Trilogy had a sense of something growing. By the time of Storm in the Canyon, two years have passed from the time of The Dark of the Moon. Now, three powerful women of different generations will be matched with three powerful men, all with their own secrets, their own destinies. The spirit and human world are faced with a third world—one mankind has long tried to suppress.  Diablo Canyon has drawn power to itself through natural events, and is now being used by timeless beings with their desire to retake power.

Storm in the Canyon is the story of the relationship between man and woman as well as humans and the ‘other’ side. Facing the deadliest of foes, nature and spirit must come together to win the day or see the world change as a new power takes over. 

eBook Novella, 45,000 words, will be available on Amazon June 17th

Snippet from when the humans face their first confrontation with what had previously only been known in mythology from Native American tribes:

Quarter mile ahead, Myra saw the bluff that marked the turnoff to her ranch road, five cows moving restlessly, shifting their big bodies in the back of the stock trailer. With a storm building, she felt anxious to get them down to the corrals and out of the truck.
She thought then about how odd the Lathams had been about the cattle. They had stalled on letting her have them back. What was that about? Had Wes or his son been cutting their barbed wire to cause trouble? If so, what would he gain by it?
It wasn’t as though the Damons might not try to bribe someone to cause grief. But why would Wes go along with it? He’d been a good neighbor ever since he had bought the ranch ten years earlier. It didn’t make any sense for him deliberately to stir up trouble. Neighbors helped each other, were there for brandings, and times where extra hands were needed. In time of injury or illness, they supported each other. Making an enemy of your neighbor was foolishness.
The obstacle in the middle of the road at first made no sense to her. It was at the turnoff to the ranch and looked like an enormous bear, a bear with only patches of fur. There had been stories from her childhood of a naked bear monster. The stories connected to Devil’s Tower with the bear trying to kill frightened girls as the tower grew taller thereby saving their lives. The bear’s claws formed the grooves in the tower still visible today.
She blinked twice sure what was coming toward her had to be imagination stirred up by those childhood myths. It didn’t go away. It was now only about twenty feet from her truck. She couldn’t back up fast enough to avoid it and sat praying it was a mirage.
Then she saw the dust from their road and knew the truck coming hell bent for leather had to be Pace. She couldn’t let that bear attack him. She honked her horn loudly, holding it down, to alert Pace to what she was seeing.
He had to have seen it, but he kept coming without any attempt to brake until he careened right into the bear, sending it momentarily sprawling and causing his own truck to slam to an abrupt stop. Pace leaped out, with the 30.06 up to his shoulder, as he shot the bear. It didn’t drop.
“God,” she screamed, “please not him, don’t take him.”
It was then she became aware another vehicle had come to an abrupt halt and a beautiful woman was running toward the bear. Was she out of her mind? The woman was screaming something she couldn’t understand, but the bear responded by turning toward her.
The woman leaped in the air, faster and higher than any human should have been able and slammed out with her right leg, hard against the side of the bear’s head causing it to stagger back. The bear turned toward the woman as she danced away smiling and again landed a kick to the bear’s head.
Myra saw what she was trying to do. She was drawing it away from her and Pace-- proving an annoyance-- if she wasn’t actually hurting it. It danced up onto its hind feet, batting at her. She nimbly avoided its paws as she landed another hard kick.
The fourth vehicle to come to an abrupt halt had the man she recognized as Dirk Langston leaping from it. He also had a rifle at his shoulder. “Girl, get away from it!” he yelled. The woman looked toward him, and this time leaped away from the bear.
Dirk began firing as she realized Pace was also doing. The bear yowled with pain, dropping to all fours. It seemed confused as to whom it should attack. Turning from enemy to enemy, more bullets struck it. Slowly it collapsed to the roadway and lay in a heap that seemed to dissolve before her eyes.
Myra got out of her truck running to Pace. A wave of gratitude surged through her-- so strong, she nearly fainted as she saw him stalking toward her, strong and not harmed. In an instant, he had her in his arms. “Are you all right?” he asked as she tightened her arms around him.
Not letting go of her, he turned to look at Dirk “What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know.” They then looked at the woman who had moved back to her car and was standing beside a tall thin man leaning against the hood. The man seemed the only one uninvolved and to not have a care.
“And who the hell are you?” Dirk asked them, but neither answered.
The woman looked strangely familiar to Myra, even as she knew she’d never met her. She had the kind of dramatic, striking beauty, with dark, gleaming red hair that she’d have remembered. Had she imagined what the woman had just done? No woman could have done that, no normal woman. But then no normal bear had attacked them.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Dark of the Moon

Myra Farrell was in Book 1 in the Diablo Canyon Trilogy but only as seen through the eyes of the heroine.. She now takes on her own story as she deals with what happened to her family and the difficulty of holding onto her ranch.

The Dark of the Moon carries the unfolding story of Diablo Canyon to the next level. While there is the supernatural in it, there are also very real physical dangers. Everything is escalating. What is behind that?

Myra needs a champion. She needs to find joy again in life. And just maybe she needs to again be joined with her family. Pace Emerson might just bring her all three.

Snippet here is phone conversation while Pace is out on the range as he reports to the man who had paid to have him sent to Billings: 

It was almost noon before Pace finally found a place the cell phone had bars. He got off Joe to walk around a little and stretch his muscles, the forty head he’d been gathering would meander toward the ranch buildings. These older animals knew the drill.
“Morgan?” he asked when the voice said hello. “Emerson here.”
“Why the hell haven’t I heard from you before this?”
“And I hope your day has been a good one too,” Pace said grinning at the man’s irritated tone.
“Look I didn’t pay the big bucks to waste time with polite niceties or the run around. What are you doing? Where the hell are you?”
“On the Box Z and rounding up Myra Farrell’s cattle. We start branding and castrating tomorrow. Wanta come around for some fun.”
He heard Cole’s low growl. “Does this relate to my brothers and the Damons? Because if it doesn’t, you’re fired.”
Pace laughed. “You’re an impatient bastard.”
“So what have you learned? Dirk said you’re the best. He’s never steered me wrong before. I came on a little hard. Just I am feeling real pressure about this. I need answers.”
“If I’d had step-brothers try to kill me, I’d be feeling it too.”
There was a hesitation. “It’s not that. I don’t know what it is. But I am thinking of coming to Billings myself.”
“If I recall, your wife is pregnant and not that far off from the baby coming. Let me handle this.”
“What if it…” He sucked in a breath. “I need to come there. I’ll bring Jessica, keep her close. There are good doctors in Billings if it comes down to it. I shouldn’t have to stay long though. Hell, tell me what you know.”
“How familiar are you with the Box Z?”
“Only vaguely. Big spread, nice piece of land, thirty or so miles south of Billings, owned by a widow?”
Pace smiled. Didn’t know much. Right! “Yeah, that’s the one. There is something here the Damons want.”
“I can’t see there being a lot of money on that land, fiefdom though it is. No big mines around there—or not that I know of.”
“It doesn’t take a big mine to have it make a fortune for some minerals that are in short supply.”
“Whoa, you think that’s what this is about?”
“When I heard what was going on, before I came out, I did some research. There is a canyon to the south, a fairly long one, that looks like it could have mineral potential. I agree with your assessment. The Box Z is a nice ranch, but not worth what the Damons seem willing to do to get it. From what I can tell they are putting a lot into acquiring it. The question is why.”
“Lowlifes. Willing to scare a nice old lady off her place. Sounds about right for my brothers. I still don’t know why the Damons hired them other than Jackson and I’ve had a few run-ins where he came out the loser.”
Pace laughed as he lit a cigarette balancing the phone on his shoulder. “You ever see Myra Farrell?”
“No, why would I?”
“Well, she’s a beautiful woman-- not any little old widow women to take advantage of. It could even be old man Damon has his sights on her. He’s been divorced three times and currently not attached.”
“He’d do that much just to get a woman?”
“I don’t rule out anything in my business. I think he’d be out of luck if that was his idea.” He considered a moment as he smoked. “Still, she’s had a lot of losses, knocked her back. I’m not particularly experienced with women. I see her with a lot of character. There’s nothing immoral about finding a man who would offer her an easier life and to keep her ranch.” Even saying the words made him feel a surge of jealousy. He was no man for a woman like her but thinking of another having her already bothered him.
“Losses?” Again a silence. “I feel like I should know her, but no reason I would. All right, so you’re working cattle for four or five days. Then what?”
“There’s been a peculiar set of predator kills out here. I need to look into that. Did you know… that is are you familiar with? Ah never mind.”
“Listen here, cowboy,” Morgan said steel in his voice. “I already am being asked to trust that you going out there to work cattle will eventually get me what I want and what I am paying Dirk to get. So whatever you know, related or not, spit it out.”
Pace took a long drag on his cigarette, leaning against his saddle as he stared toward the distant mountains. “Whatever this thing is, it’s killing her cattle, full grown animals, not calves. I've only seen the picked over remains, but Myra said it seems to drain the blood from the animal… and only eats the soft parts.”
“All right. I agree that is weird.”
“More so even—no tracks left that can be identified. If I find a fresh kill, I’ll see if I can find more than they did.”
“Would this be dangerous to the ranch buildings… to Mrs. Farrell?”
Pace could hear the worry in Cole’s voice. Strange for a man who claimed he didn’t know her.
“So far it’s just been cattle. I will know more when if I can see a fresh kill.”
“If it’s a grizzly, you got a big enough gun to bring it down?”
“I have a 30.30. What made you think grizzly?” He knew it had been on his mind also.
“It’s big enough to take down a full sized animal. Any kind of predator can form unusual patterns of killing. Sometimes there’s been a reason for it. A physical one. The boars can be forced out of the mountains by other bears. I’ve seen it before. Watch yourself and get a bigger gun.”
Pace grinned as he smoked the last of his cigarette. “I’ll let you know when I can be in Billings unless you want to come out and help Toby and me.” He laughed.
“Toby?” Again a strange sound to Cole’s voice.
“He’s Mrs. Farrell’s hired man.  A nice enough kid but needs someone calling the shots to get anything done. Right now he’s not thrilled it’s me.”
“Okay, call me when you’ll be there. I’ll meet you. And on the castrating. I have done it and don’t need more blood all over me at the moment.”
Good humor finally showed in his voice. “Actually I might have a gun you should use if you go after that predator. Just in case. You know you bringing the cattle in closer to the ranch likely will bring whatever has been killing them along with them. Watch yourself.”


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When Fates Conspire

I have mentioned before how my novella, When Fates Conspire, came directly from a dream. The plot, visual images, what had to happen, the way the spirit guides interacted, even answers to questions were in the dream-- even some bits of the dialogue. So in discussing the newest paranormal to come out next week, Book 3 in the Diablo Canyon Trilogy, I thought I'd begin with snippets from the first two books. 

To set this scene up, it is a discussions between spirit beings. Two guides (Remus to Lauren and Justus to Clayton) are meeting with Black Wolf, great great grandfather to the two main male characters in the novella.

The two guides, each of whom have their own human history, have brought into the spirit realm their personalities, and they often bicker over what should be done. My 'truth' for this book is that in the spirit realm you can keep growing and learning, but you don't leave behind the personality you were developing on earth.  Black Wolf is not a regular type guide but rather one of those who try, from the other side, to help their own biological family as they can.

In this scene Remus and Justus are curious to learn more about confusing unfolding events. The point of the interaction is to carry forth the story but also depict the differing responsibilities and varying levels of competence in the spirit realm.

Snippet from When Fates Conspire:

“Cole is my great great grandson.”
“Do the two know each other?” Justus asked wondering if he had missed that also.
Black Wolf shook his head. “After the Little Bighorn, the tribes were forced to go many directions. Cheyenne, even the few remaining Dogmen such as myself, disappeared into the mountains. Most of the people were sent to reservations.  I had two wives. One I lost track of for many years. The life as we had known it was over when Custer was killed. He ended us more effectively than if he had survived that day.”
“Just out of idle curiosity, is Custer living again, in the spirit like you, or maybe a guide of some sort?” Remus asked again curious as to how people progressed to enlightenment.
Black Wolf laughed. “Such questions are for the spiritually immature. I thought you were a mature guide.”
“Well, I was curious as to how he became who he was. I mean he’s this very famous or maybe infamous man. People don’t agree on who he was. I might know if I met him,” he defended himself knowing that wasn’t very spiritually mature as a need either.
“Ask someone else then.”
“Back to the issue at hand,” Justus reminded them, “Your family went many directions and lost track. I understand that. Hence you have two great great grandsons who don’t know each other but are much alike I am guessing?”
“More than two, but two of immediate concern. Why would you assume they are alike?” Black Wolf asked with another of those knowing smiles.
“You have been communicating with them since birth, keeping them aware of their Cheyenne heritage; so it would make sense.”
“I would say they are both good men but equally doomed.”
Remus felt a chill.

“That’s unfair,” Justus said with instant regret on his face. “Sorry, should not have used that word.”
“Why did Clay hold off on getting involved with Lauren?” Remus asked. “I know he could have moved toward her much earlier. It now appears he wanted to. Why didn’t he?”
Black Wolf’s laugh was beginning to annoy Remus. “Women. What do women matter to a man’s destiny?”
“Even soul mates?”
“That only makes it worse.” Black Wolf leaned back and took a puff on his pipe. “I admit; it has concerned me. Perhaps especially given the choice my other descendent made.”
With good reason, Remus was thinking as he tried to put the scenario together.
“But a woman is not to block a man from doing his duty. As for Lauren. She’s a good woman. I put no barriers up, taught no lessons, other than treat your mate well, but from what I observed, Clayton wanted her but also to spare her pain. He has always sensed his life this time will not be a long one.”
“I thought we had free will,” Remus argued.
“Don’t dispute the point with me,” Black Wolf laughed again. “It took me a long while to understand the Cheyenne had had their time in the sun. Was that fair?” He looked now at Justus. “Fair is a word hard to describe—for even what is. As to Clayton’s involvement with Lauren, it was not easy to fight. They had had lifetime after lifetime where they struggled to be together but never had a happily ever after. The Apache years are a good example.”
“I know the answer to that now. It was her fault,” Justus inserted.
Remus had his turn to laugh. “Ridiculous. They made a mutual choice that went against the tribe. He took her when he had no right. They paid a high price.”
Black Wolf nodded. “Men fail. It is in our nature as humans. Even Crazy Horse, with all his spiritual power, he took a woman to which he had no right. He paid a high price when he lost his designation as a Shirt Wearer.”
“It does happen.” Remus would not speak on his own failings. It would have only been a distraction.
Black Wolf gave him an amused smile. “That is all true. We should not argue over the foolishness of men.” His smile softened. “I had my own days as a hot-headed, young male. When life is finished, the question must always be-- will Maheo be proud of what we did. That’s the only real goal. Not some silly woman or…”
“Or what?”
“A woman can be the end of a man,” Black Wolf finished, rising and looking down at them. “I have said all I will. My goals are not your goals. I want my descendents to be strong and worthy of being called men.  I want them to do their duty. A long, happy life, well that’s beside the point.” With that, he was gone.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

what makes a novel considered a literary work?

  Photo taken 2 weeks after breaking my nose. I am not sure if it's different, but it's okay, well, still a little sore if bumped. I am treating it quite carefully as I sure don't want to bump into something and break it again.
What makes writing considered to be literary is a question worth considering. Even though it's not exactly a genre as such, you can find which books are considered literary in a bookstore as they won't be with genre books. They are in a section called literature (where incidentally you will find chick lit and pop fiction but not romance). Are these books there because they are better written? I don't really think so having read literary and those from many genres. But there is a snob appeal to the literary work which lends itself to being chosen by book clubs where a romance would not be.

So I went looking for some general rules on what might deem a work to be literary.

First in any book come two main things-- characters and plot. In a 'literary work,' the characters will be emphasized with in depth portraits, complex personalities, sometimes unlikeable personalities-- that never get better. If one or both are terminally ill, even better shot at being considered literary. 

In short if you are reading about obnoxious people, those who fool themselves as to who they really are, where the story is heading toward tragedy, it likely is what has been considered a literary work. If you spent 90,000 words reading about someone who is a miser, likes to cheat others and will die in the end, you can be pretty sure it's not a romance.

As for plot, a literary work could have but does not have to have a plot. It's about the characters and their thinking, their motivations because a literary work wants the reader to be emotionally involved... Well, all writers want the reader emotionally involved. Even a Tom Clancy where you may know little about his hero's inner thinking, you should care about his saving the world from whatever diabolical plot has most recently been hatched.

Literary novels are regarded as being elegantly written, sometimes lyrical, layered words and  meanings. Lots of fancy words. Funny how a romance novel is ridiculed for fancy words, but it likely depends on what fancy words we are talking about.

Literary fiction is often serious, frequently showing the more depressing side of human life. If you want a happy ending, literary fiction guarantees you none-- but there might be one. If you want justice in what happens, skip literary fiction as you might not even be sure what happened (Life of Pi being one example-- and yeah, I liked that book but exactly what did happen?). A lot of literary novels involve coming of age stories told, of course, by someone years later as they recall their childhood and some significant event. If the one telling the story is dead, even better.

"Literary genres might be characterized as the 'tyranny of the subject'" because of the focus on the "subject, the self, psychology," suggests Samuel R. Delaney.

Those who read literary fiction not only don't demand action and constant events. They glory in a book taking forever to get anywhere. I think it makes them feel superior as readers that they will stick with it. "Literary fiction, by its nature, allows itself to dawdle, to linger on stray beauties even at the risk of losing its way," said Terrence Rafferty.
"Maybe in true literary fiction there is not a story and the focus is entirely style. If this is the case then I am beginning to think that I don't like true literary fiction very much at all. Nothing happens. The characters spend the entire book smugly making clever jokes to themselves for the reader to admire from a distance. There is usually much evidence of literary knowledge, and this is paraded at every opportunity, so that readers with a similar education can smirk knowingly and feel included in some special smug club. I sometimes come across books like this, and after a few pages I throw them down - and once, after being particularly annoyed, threw one particular book right across the room. It landed cover side down and was completely undamaged. Now that, it occurs to me, is probably something you can't do with a Kindle." Clare Dudman
So who knows. But even well-known authors don't routinely like genre requirements. John Updike lamented, "the category of 'literary fiction' has sprung up recently to torment people like me who just set out to write books, and if anybody wanted to read them, terrific, the more the merrier. But now, no, I'm a genre writer of a sort. I write literary fiction, which is like spy fiction or chick lit".

Neal Stephenson, author of speculative fiction, has said there is a cultural distinction between literary and genre fiction, and it's to whom the author is accountable. He said that literary novelists are typically supported by patronage via employment at a university or similar institutions, with the continuation of such positions determined not by book sales but by critical acclaim by other established literary authors and critics. Genre fiction writers seek to support themselves by book sales and write to please a mass audience.

Literary fiction has prestige attached to writing-- and reading. It's the book a person will review for friends or have on the coffee table to be admired. Many readers of romance hide the fact. Mysteries, sci fi, fantasy, young adult, all are acceptable but not so romance novels. Unrealistic goes the argument. 

Except all fiction is fiction. It might express itself with confusing and arty terms. It might go somewhere or nowhere, but whatever the fiction work, an author created it whether to make it seem like life or to take you into space like Star Trek.  

I read all kinds of books and yes literary fiction also-- although not books full of horrible characters. I get enough of that from the newspaper. I took a photo of a couple of keepers from my shelves-- except maybe some of them are chick lit.

The one thing to remember about what makes it 'literature'... Jane Austen was not thought of highly in her own era. I suspect some of the romance writers of today will end up considered literary... whether the writers like it or not. And some books regarded as literary may end up seen as much ado about nothing to critics of the future.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What makes it a paranormal romance?

When finding the right labels or book tags, there is another category into which some fall-- paranormal. It is a fantasy, which can be roughly grounded in real life-- or not. Paranormals have many directions they can go.

When I wrote When Fates Conspire, the bones of the story came from a dream. I enriched it with experiences which fit the story; but it had to go a certain way. I did not attempt to make it fit a genre. It had to be what it was. I also did not expect it to lead to a trilogy. 

The others came to me as an explanation for the first book. It took me into a land of monsters, Druids, sorcerers, demons, and spirit guides.

To begin, I called my first one metaphysical because nothing in my book was not what I had been told could be or had been by other humans. The more standard designation, however seemed to be-- paranormal romance. The first might not have seemed so much a romance, but it was. The other two are more obviously romances, but I did wonder about the paranormal part. I am used to thinking paranormal means werewolves, vampires and other fantasy beings. Mine though did have fantasy beings-- or are monsters real?

It was in 2002, when I asked myself that question for the first time when I wrote Sky Daughter. There was something weird going on in that family, that community, but the question, of what, was open to being purely imagination or a real other worldly figure. As I got to the point in the story where I had to make a choice, I opted to make the monster real. That led to research into stories by those who claimed to have seen or been hurt by monster beings. Yes, there are books out there full of such stories.

In all of my books there is always an underlying theme in the story which can be taken allegorically-- a lot of books are like that. What happens illustrates a truth of life that may not be written out but can be seen if one is looking for it-- certainly created monsters can be that way. We can begin thinking a certain way and more and more create a new reality for ourselves which might or might not be true-- and sometimes ends up a monster in our lives. Once we realize what we are doing, we then have a choice on continuing that way or turning around. 

Basically as much as I understand paranormal as a genre, it does not have to be way out there but it can be. Humans with psychic abilities, space aliens, time travel, stories set in other worlds, certainly urban fiction all can be under the paranormal umbrella. 

Another term which I like even better for my books is speculative fiction which is defined as a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

A paranormal or speculative novel can have suspense, mystery, romance or even be historical. It leaves the writer with one obligation-- stay consistent within the world they created. You can mix it up with human relationships, witchcraft, monsters, the occult, but there is one firm rule for these books keep them consistent to their own truth and that world.

Sky Daughter because of the mix of subjects (suspense, romance, paranormal, nature, speculative, Wicca, family) has been a difficult book for which to find tags that help readers find it. I decided to put it on sale for the month of June to kind of celebrate the third book in the Diablo Canyon Trilogy being published June 17th. So if you haven't had a chance to read my books, haven't been sure you'd like them, wonder about speculative fiction, for 99¢ you can give it a try at little risk. And don't forget to check back June 17th for Storm in the Canyon. More coming on it next week.

Meanwhile, a snippet from Sky Daughter as Maggie realizes more and more that her grandmother had a dimension she had never known:

 She felt depressed and walked into the other room sitting on the edge of her bed and staring into space. What was she to do?
 Look in the book.
 She didn’t have to wonder what book. It wasn’t really her grandmother’s voice-- though it certainly seemed like it. She swallowed and walked over to the dresser, taking the box from under her lingerie. Now what?
She wondered if she had the right to open the book. Her grandmother’s note had specifically said it was intended for one in the Craft. She was not and never would be. And yet perhaps there was something within that could help her. Spells and incantations she didn’t need but wisdom she did.
She opened the box. On top was a piece of paper.      A pentagram, drawn with a fine, steady hand covered half of it. She recognized her grandmother’s fine handwriting at each point of the star-- Spirit, air, fire, water, earth. The other half of the paper had words.    
'When I enter into the sacred circle, the consecrated ground that is holy to Thou, I ask to always remember what through me flows. I wish to be a conduit of Divine will. Never to allow my own will to interfere with what which is meant to be.'
 She could almost hear her grandmother’s voice speaking the words. It brought tears to her eyes. She noticed then a photograph beneath the paper and saw herself, her mother and father. She looked to be about nine and then she remembered when it had been taken. Fourth of July and they had all gone for a picnic to the springs. The lunch had contained all of her favorite foods and the day one that still glowed in her memory. She turned the photograph over and saw her grandmother’s writing in pencil on the back.  
'Sharon, Reese and Maggie-- a day of spun gold with love they glowed.'
Love did glow. She could see it in their faces, in hers. She sighed. What was done was done. Gone forever, but she lived, and it was time to begin anew. She closed the box and put it back into the drawer. It would have to wait for another day.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Guest author-- Lacey Roberts

After attempting to describe what defines a genre like western romance, next up is erotica. You hear a lot about it, but how much do you know? If you are offended by discussions of sexuality, come back Thursday when I'll be onto the paranormal genre. Okay, don't like discussions of the supernatural either-- how about a Sunday discussion on what makes a book considered literary! ;)

On a personal note, I began reading erotica years ago. There sometimes were little corners in bookstores where the lights were dark, and I'd find a small section of it. There were some early authors I enjoyed, like Lolah Burford, where they had the erotica but with a lot of story alongside it. Then came Anne Rampling, who was really Anne Rice of the vampire and horror genre fame. Under a pseudonym, she put out several books she said were written for her husband (it didn't take long for it to be revealed they were by her). I still have one of those in a keeper shelf (safely away from where any grandkids can find it). More recently, I bought the Fifty Shades books just to see what others liked so much but to be honest have never been able to get into them enough to read one. I keep thinking I will, but the writing was such a turnoff that I simply found them boring.

Basically I don't know much about the erotica of today. Although I still read a book now and again, I don't have a lot of time for pleasure reading; so I asked an author of that genre, Lacey Roberts, to answer some questions on the basics of what it is. 

Would you tell us a little about yourself, Lacey?

I began writing romance with erotic overtones after being bombarded with ideas. I am married, have two adult aged children and I am retired which gives me plenty of free time to enjoy the things I love most- family, travel, our dogs and writing.  

I have two new books available, which I hope you enjoy, and another is in the planning. I can be contacted by emailing: 
I am always happy to answer your questions or just have a chat.

My website is:

Q: What do you like about writing Erotica?
A: I enjoy writing Erotica because you are not committed to a standard theme, you can let your imagination come to the fore. I like to be creative without boundaries and Erotica allows me to do that a little better than romance. I just have to be careful not to step over the line. 

Q: What makes erotica different from romance novels, where there also can be a lot of sex?
A: Readers of Erotica want to be sexually aroused by what they are reading (so they tell me in emails). There is not really anything 'sweet' and it can involve more than the hero and the heroine. Readers don't always want to have a hero and heroine ending up together which is what appeals to me. Erotica can encompass violence, paranormal, fantasy and other sub-genres the same as romance but in romance the sex is usually between the two main characters who inevitably end up together. It is much more predictable. With Erotica, you are never sure how it will end. Although some romance books do have fairly descriptive sexual scenes, they are not usually quite as graphic and 'different'. 

Q: In writing romance, there are certain rules that go with it-- is there with erotica?
A: I don't know if there are hard and fast rules but my rules are: There must be a valid story, not only sexual description. It doesn't have to be only sexual acts, describing a hot bath, hot shower, running ones hands over another when in public can be erotically arousing to readers. There are certain areas which are not acceptable eg: bestiality, which I would never, ever include.

Q: Do you think erotica is basically porn for women, or is there a difference?  
A: Honestly? Yes I do. In my opinion a book which arouses women, or men for that matter, is really a form of soft porn which brings about the same response. A major difference is - an erotic story is just that, a made up story about fictional characters. Porn pictures are of real people in sometimes demeaning situations.

Q:  Do you have favorite erotica authors who inspired you.
A: My favourites are: Eloisa James - A Kiss At Midnight
Shoshanna Evers - The Enslaved Trilogy
D.H. Lawrence - Lady Chatterly's Lover

Q: BDSM is and actually has been popular with a lot of couples and not just in reading-- what do you think is the appeal? 
A: I think people these days are more willing to explore other ways of fulfilling their sexual appetites. Traditionally it has been the male partner who takes command of the sexual act, with BDSM it can be the woman in charge if agreed to. It enables exploration of the body in more unconventional ways, pleasure can be found in all manner of ways. One comment which has arisen over the years when couples have divorced is "I became bored in the bedroom" It is no secret many men and woman look for an alternate sexual partner after being married for years. Maybe couples are turning to BDSM to prevent this from happening. Like anything else, routine becomes boring. The creativeness BDSM allows probably helps to prevent this boredom. 

Finally how about a sample from one of your books?

Snippet from Taming Gemma:
“I’m sorry, I was…” She stopped mid-sentence as Giles slipped up behind her. His hands slid around her chest and began fondling her breasts. She spun on her heels, propelling her arm forward, clenched fist connected hard with his nose. Giles stepped back sputtering as blood poured down the front of his pale grey Armani suit.

“How dare you!” she screamed. Gemma stomped towards the reception house. Her intention was to apologise to Lynette, and her new husband, before returning home.

“You will pay for that, you tease.” Giles shouted at her back.

She turned her head to unleash her retort. “Stay away from me and keep your filthy hands to yourself.”

In her anger, she failed to watch where she was going and ran headlong into a solid wall. It almost knocked her backwards onto her butt. Large hands locked on her arms in an attempt to steady her.

Gemma’s head had connected with a man’s very broad chest, she felt his well-toned muscles bunch under his suit. A very sensuous cologne wafted over her. She tilted her head back and gazed into the blackest eyes she had ever seen, they were like pools of pure onyx. His hands remained on her arms and he smiled down at her. This man was too handsome and sexy for his own good. A strange thrill raced down her spine.

Gemma pushed back to release herself. “Let me go,” she demanded. Liam immediately released his hold. “Men!” she ranted as she stormed away.

Liam gave Pete and Jack a confused look. “What did I do?”

“Guess you got in the way of an argument between her and her boyfriend.” Jack laughed.

“That’s Gemma Carmichael. She doesn’t have a boyfriend. Giles Fisher has been sniffing around for a while but she told him she wasn’t interested.” Pete elaborated.

Liam watched the petite woman as she stomped her way to the reception house. Her pale blue, gossamer dress floated over her sexy curves and, with the sunlight behind her, not much was left to his imagination.

Taming Gemma at Amazon: