New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Sonoran Christmas

This week-end was time to write the blurb for Sonoran Christmas. Blurb writing is its own special challenge. The wrong words will cause readers to not bother reading the sample. The right words tell the reader what they can expect and include warnings on any difficult issues. There are subjects that some will always avoid, and a good blurb alerts the reader if such things are in the book.

The cover is often another challenge with a new book. The wrong cover will have the reader never looking further-- and that includes me. In this one, because the hero and heroine are older (he's 65 and she's 60) finding models was out of the question. Sometimes I come across those in their late 30s or early 40s but even that's not the norm-- and especially not in period costuming.

Then, there is the fact is I know how virile and handsome men can be at 65 (think Sam Elliot and frankly, Ranch Boss still at 73), and I'd rather my readers use their own experiences than trying to find one face to nail down him or how lovely a 60 year-old woman can be. 

While I considered ways around people on the cover, I came across the perfect image to give a touch of the magical to the desert in winter.

Here's the blurb for Sonoran Christmas:


1905-- Frederica Windsor steps off the train in Tucson, Arizona and into a world, unlike any she’d known—where the Old West has yet to be tamed. She has come to find why her daughter mysteriously left Boston. She does not expect she is about to launch herself into an adventure with a man who seems to have come from the pages of one of the dime novels she’s been reading.

Jeremiah Taggert finds this Bostonian lady temptingly beautiful but has no intention of taking it further. He had lived a reckless, outlaw life before recognizing that world was gone forever, and those who denied it were going to be strung up, shot or in a prison cell. With his three sons settled in Tucson, he wants to be close enough to help in their lives, as a way to make up for the years he’d not been much of a father.

Together Jeremiah and Frederica are about to find something they felt had passed them by. The problem will be surviving an enemy with a long reach. Leaving Tucson and heading south toward the border and the Circle O ranch, the flavor and beauty of the desert become part of their story as it takes them to a family Christmas, with danger on its way.

At 29,000 words, Sonoran Christmas brings back some characters from-- Arizona Sunset; Tucson Moon; Arizona Dawn; Rose’s Gift; Echoes from the Past; Lands of Fire; and Bound for the Hills. The novella has no sex, but there is gun violence.


It will be out on Thursday (if all goes as planned) and 99¢ until 2017. I currently have all the novellas at that price but that will change January 1. I don't see much difference in sales for offering my books cheaper. And Amazon makes it very unappealing as they take 70% of prices under $2.99. If a cheaper price led to more sales, I might see it differently, but it doesn't, at least for my books. Red Hawk Christmas was out at that price and got its only sales from the newsletter response-- since then, even with good reviews, it hasn't had any. 

Marketing is a very mysterious part of publishing and mostly it leaves me scratching my head. I want to though share what I experience here as a way to help writers who may just be starting out. Of course, their experience might be totally different. So much is subjective-- without the firm rules many of us might like. Art just ain't that way ;)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Christmas Caring II

Last year, the first Christmas Caring began when Kirsten Osbourne told writers of a project where they could submit short stories for a Christmas anthology. They did not have to be romances. All proceeds would go to a Texas charity, which she knew did good work. 

The catch was the stories, 4000 words or less, had to be submitted by the end of that week-end in order to get it out in time for Christmas book buying. Amazingly, with 24 short stories, the anthology was out early in December. I wrote about my experience in a December 2015 blog: [Blue Mountain Christmas]. 

The anthology is still out there-- short stories don't get old. Surprising to me, when I put out my first Christmas novella (another out next week), they also sell year round.

For 2016, the announcement was made in August that there would be a second charity anthology with the proceeds going to a different charity-- Legacy Initiative of Utah. A September date was given for when short stories, of under 5000 words, had to be submitted. We would be informed if our stories were accepted. 

I've written in this blog about how I had one idea that led to a quickly written short story, which I equally quickly realized I wanted to be longer. I set it aside and worked on another idea for a contemporary short story of a 58 year old woman who made a huge change in her life. Writing went well, and I submitted Red Rock Christmas in plenty of time to beat the deadline. But then, I heard nothing back as to whether it was accepted. 

The more I thought about the middle-aged woman's journey, the more I realized it not only had the potential to be a novella but also the first of a new series of women starting over. Because I had no idea if my short story would even be in the anthology, I asked Kirsten if I could expand it and bring it out separately-- same heroine but with more information. She said since the contract for the short story was not exclusive, it would be fine. 

So I wrote a novella and titled it Red Hawk Christmas for the name of the heroine's RV and to keep it separate from the short story. The novella went 22,900 words and was published in late October when I still didn't know about the short story. 

Only this week did I learn that Red Rock Christmas is in the anthology. In some ways though, a short story is a different art form than the novella or full novel. Even having read Red Hawk Christmas, I think the short story could be enjoyed for that creative difference.

This time the anthology has 19 stories with a lot of very different looks at Christmas-- some sounding quite funny. Just to whet your appetite for buying Christmas Caring II, here are the titles, authors, and the order in which they appear in the book:   

A Christmas Masquerade by Kari Trumbo; All I Want for Christmas is a Zombie
by Steve Pantazis; A Matter of Kin by Jenna Eatough; Today I Am Santa Claus
by Martin L. Shoemaker; All the Swears by Alyson Peterson; Wings for Christmas by Kevin L Nielsen; Golden Moments by Linda Carroll-Bradd; A Bride for Christmas by Carra Copelin; Just in Time for Christmas by Annie Boone; Christmas Angels by C.S. Martin; Kaitlyn’s Christmas by CJ Samuels; Fireballs for Christmas by Lorena Dove; Merry Molasses Mayhem by Danni Roan; The Christmas Doll by Kay P. Dawson; Holly Jolly Courtship by Jacquie Rogers; His Christmas Rose by Peggy L. Henderson; Red Rock Christmas by Rain Trueax; 
A Cowboy's Christmas by Amanda McIntyre; Magical Memories by Kirsten Osbourne.

 So check it out with the link below; and if you haven't already read the first of these charity anthologies, the link for the first one is also below. With Christmas such a busy season, this is the perfect time for short stories to help get into a Christmas mood-- and help others while you do it. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016


This has to be the most chaotic holiday season we will see in many years *fingers crossed*. The election has led to so many bad feelings at a time when everyone is already stressed with trying to meet 'holiday' expectations.

Our Thanksgiving was good as we drove east of the Cascades to a home we had rented Sunriver, one with enough room for our kids, grandkids, and us. Our daughter and daughter-in-law did the planning and cooking for the dinners-- which was just fine with me.

To have all of us under one roof is something you can't appreciate fully until they all move out into the world, and what was 'we' ends up us and then with miles between and different interests. Next year our granddaughter will be starting college *sigh* -- where does time go?

Over the years, we have rented homes at Sunriver many times as it has miles of trails, an ice skating rink, the Deschutes River nearby, lots of shops and restaurants, but best of all the houses are nestled into the pines with some on golf courses, even though as of yet, none of us golf. It does give a high degree of privacy. It is also a place with enough homes with the ability to sleep ten.

This was a time of mixed generations. Our kids are into middle-age but look younger. The oldest of the grandkids is a young woman with the grandsons catching up fast.  And Ranch Boss and I are firmly into old age where for so many years our look was more undefined. 

Middle age can stretch a lot of years. I am not sure where it has to stop; but when I see myself in the mirror or a photo, I think I am a type, like an aging Olivia de Havilland-- a nice sweet looking (generally) old lady with long silver hair. Not dying my hair is a choice, but the old part is the cycle of life. 

It feels weird to be old and not because I feel young. It's because it's something very new after years of not that much different. Some, of course, is the weight I've gained, but it's not all that. I think some is also because when I am writing a lot, as I have been this year, I forget what I look like, don't really care. When I come up for air, I look in a mirror and wonder-- who the heck is that woman???

Writing at Sunriver wasn't as fruitful as I had expected in finishing my second Christmas novella for this year. I cannot type well on the laptop. I am used to a large monitor and though it has a nice sized one, hitting the wrong keys constantly had it changing text size. There was no desk, as there would be in many hotel rooms, but rarely is found in home rentals; so I typed on the hassock in front of a big stuffed chair in the master bedroom. Hard on my back and very inaccurate for how I hit the keys. If I rent a house again there, I'll bring my little portable desk and wireless ergonomic keyboard.  

Because I had worked the ending for the book, I typed the last chapter on Monday after getting home Sunday. I have some editing to do, a cover to create, but it's off to the first of three beta readers with a goal of next week for its publishing.

Meanwhile, my suggestion for readers here is to try to turn off the political thinking for awhile. We are on our way to Christmas, and it's a time to be thinking about a joyous season, a time of love, of beauty, of giving. 

I do get how many people are upset and say they aren't willing to let this election go; but frankly, we only hurt ourselves when we hold onto anger or fear. Now is a time to join organizations, which are ready to fight for each American's rights and give our own angst a vacation. This is true not for the sake of others but for ourselves.  There will be a time to act, to write letters, to demonstrate, to make the argument why something is the wrong thing to do. It's not yet. It's when this new government gets in power and begins to move in directions we feel are detrimental. Now though would be a good time to encourage more to run for office with the viewpoints we share with them-- 2018 will be coming faster than we think.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

more on writing

These memes were all created in Stencil from their images and selection of quotes. Fun to play there also when I need a break
Writing a book is somewhat the same as anything I write. Write. That's the secret of being a writer-- the one huge secret. Write. Write when you are excited by your ideas. Write when you are not. I write usually a scene at a time and then stop, check out the newspapers, go to Facebook, write a Tweet for Twitter, check emails, and then go back to the next scene. All the time I am doing other things, my mind is on what comes next for my characters. I argue through various scenarios while doing something that doesn't require thinking-- like playing spider solitaire or Mahjong online. The break lets me consider if where they are heading works. 

If it's been long between my writing, say a visit to town was in between, I usually reread that last scene. Writers are never not writing. The pen to the paper or fingers to the keyboard is often the end result of hours of consideration and sometimes jotting down notes as reminders.  I spent a week-end debating how I could get my characters, in this current work, to where I wanted them to go. All of a sudden there it was. Breaks, long or short, do help. 

All writers are different, but generally speaking I don't like to write more than 2000 words in a day just to be sure my characters are not rushing ahead and missing something. 

Currently, I have two works in progress but that is unusual for me. It happened  a bit serendipitously as writing often does. I was trying for a short story in August and the first possibility (historical) clearly needed to be a longer story. So did the second possibility (women starting over). In the meantime, I had already begun a longer book in the paranormal series

Most Americans will relate to how I wanted a break from stress and Christmas novellas were the perfect antidote to escape into another world. I finished the historical novella (with edits to come) and will get back to the more stressful paranormal after Thanksgiving holiday is over. After that, the historical novella will be Book 8 in the Arizona historical romance series-- and there is a ninth historical for that series, which I plan to write in January.

Writing begets writing.