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Saturday, June 27, 2015

one of those months-- and it's not over yet

This was one of those months and by month, I mean June, which is a month I generally look forward to its arrival. And, I am not even talking about what went wrong in the nation. Just my own little corner. 

We had summery days, the Solstice, nights that don't begin until 9:30, flowers-- what's not to like? Well in terms of its weather there was nothing not to like. It was lovely (although we could use more rain), but in terms of other things... Well, it wasn't bad exactly (I am saying that because it's not yet over and don't want it to prove to me it is bad). It was filled with inconveniences that were unplanned. Let me count the ways.

Minor glitch-- coffeemaker's automatic feature stopped working, which meant it might or might not make the coffee and it might or might not keep it warm beyond a few seconds. Replacing it solved that problem for awhile. We do seem to go through coffeemakers pretty fast. 

In our area, June is the month ranchers get in their winter's supply of hay. That meant almost every grower, who we know, had some glitch in their equipment, including us. Our loader tractor needed to be repaired after which Ranch Boss made the annual drives down to the fields with the hay trailer to load the 800 lb. bales, bring them back here where they are stacked and await time to move them into the barns. The tractor in the field did the job but had steering that left a lot to be desired. 

There is a rush attached to this kind of farm event, and this year, it came at a very inconvenient time-- two of our grandchildren arrived just as it did for a two week visit at our small ranch or with their cousins.

Acquiring the grandchildren required driving an 8+ hours round trip, which at our ages is not fun but having them here at least once every summer, that is important to us. We had a few plans for their visit, some of which fell through, but still it was good overall for us, and we hope for them. 

A few days after their arrival, I walked into the main bathroom, the one they use, to find water flowing from the toilet water closet and reaching the hall. Ranch Boss was not there as he was picking up another hay load-- water water everywhere. I won't go in to the details, but a disastrous crack in that water closet meant there was no fixing it. That meant, as soon as the hay was in, removing said toilet, going to town, picking out a new one (they are pretty neat these days), and Ranch Boss installing it.

Back to the grandkid visit-- one local cousin got sick and that reworked when they would spend two nights with them. About the time we were going to pick them up, I wasn't feeling well, so they stayed there an extra night. 

Ranch Boss is also Techie Boss, and he had to get all his lab equipment from town where it had been more or less being stored since he no longer had a project there. That put the hay trailer into use again and required several loads. That was bad timing with wanting quality time with grandkids, but no choice again as the area it had been stored was being re-rented.

Hay and techie movement was complicated by our farm gate's automatic opener turning un-automatic. The first one of these had lasted 10 years. This one not even two, and I think we've replaced it one more time than he does. At any rate, instead of a remote opening the gate, it's currently closed with a chain and someone has to get out of the truck to open the gate and close it after passing through. This gate is the one that keeps the sheep from the highway; so it's not an option to use anytime we drive out. 

I won't even get into the problems that arrived with the last book being published June 21st. Let's just say we learned some things about that, which will hopefully save the problems recurring.

The next in the Arizona historical series  (of which I have written two with one to go) has been getting some reworking in my head as I get to know the next hero and the characters from the third story. I do this all the hard way as I sit out under the trees, look up at the birds and work out plots and characters. 

One change from it was when I realized I had to change the family's surname. For the third one, easy-- for the two already out, the work was all done by Word with me checking to make sure it didn't mix something up. I do love Word with how easy such changes are-- except of course, when it's not. 

I will say that it's convenient to write three of these books, before any come out. I had a great deal of freedom for everything except the first hero-- he had appeared in another book as to what he looked like and his age; but he was using a false name in that one, which he revealed in the first of this series. He had a good reason for the alias. So needing to change the surname was possible. I also discovered this family relates to a family in one of my contemporaries. has nothing on me ;)

Despite the complications that made our grandchildren's time here maybe less fun for them, we enjoyed their visit-- even made it one day to the Coast Aquarium in Newport.

If the drive again to take them home (another 8+ hours) wasn't so much fun (there are sooooo many big trucks on the freeway), it was rewarding to see the joy on their mother's face when they returned, and she got them safely back in the nest after a little vacation on both sides. 

The weather has turned quite hot here-- like nearing 100ºF, which for our region is hotter than our usual, but the concern will be the potential of thunderstorms and fire danger. That though goes with the territory with country living. For the most part, we can decompress after Ranch Boss gets in that last trailer load of that equipment from town to here. Of course, there are still a few days left in June for something more to breakdown. *fingers crossed and knock on wood*

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bonus blog just because

Wow, yesterday I watched, for the first time in many weeks, MSNBC for news. The incitement to resent the South and for blacks to add up everything that ever was done wrong to them was the strongest message from the Chris Hayes' hour. I didn't watch Fox but am guessing the same thing in reverse is going on there. And, we wonder why we are polarized! How you see any of this likely will be much impacted by where you get your news.

Hayes had on a guest professor who had been infuriated when a woman caller to his radio show had said she believed the Confederate flag should come down, but that she was still proud of her ancestors. He tore into her and compared her to a German today saying they were proud of their Nazi ancestors-- as if every soldier who fought for the German military in WWII was a Nazi and a perpetrator of the Holocaust. All guilty by being German during those years.

I felt frustrated watching this man as he was presented as learned, and Hayes chose to have him on for that reason and because he'd attacked that woman for defending her own relatives. 

The thing is, from what I have read (and I am a Northerner and never would want to own slaves), there was more to the Civil War than slavery. Only about 10% of Southerners, at that time, owned slaves. Even big plantations didn't all use slave labor. But that doesn't suit the current agenda of those who want us once again into a race war or at least a time of intense resentment of one race, group or the other. When such things happen, I always wonder who benefits from such divisions.

Civil War historians agree (the ones I've read) that there is complexity to what got this nation into that war. The South seceded over the probability that the North would eventually declare their slavery laws were illegal. Yes, pressure was building, but it wasn't yet a fact when the South seceded. I am sure many soldiers in the North, those not conscripted, went to war over slavery as it's the emotional hook you also find at the onset to many wars-- Remember the Maine. Tales of horror had been told by escaping slaves. Newspapers were raging against the practice. Most famously, the tragic, but fictional, Uncle Tom's Cabin convinced many in the North that violence was the only alternative to end this 'evil' practice. 

Emotional though it might have been to many, slavery wasn't the only issue that led Lincoln to fight the war. He most strongly did not want the Union to be broken. With more future states still territories, it's not hard to see his concern went beyond the South of the time. He took the view that the southern states did not have the right to secede-- hence this was a rebellion. 
While many still debate the ultimate causes of the Civil War, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson writes that, "The Civil War started because of uncompromising differences between the free and slave states over the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states. When Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860 as the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories, seven slave states in the deep South seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The incoming Lincoln administration and most of the Northern people refused to recognize the legitimacy of secession. They feared that it would discredit democracy and create a fatal precedent that would eventually fragment the no-longer United States into several small, squabbling countries." from Causes of Civil War
The oldest book I have in my library is History of the Administration of President Lincoln: including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. It was compiled by Henry J. Raymond and published in 1864 while the war was still ongoing. In this book, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued September 22, 1862 to take effect January 1, 1863 which hence freed all slaves in the rebel states-- nearly two years after the war had officially begun in April 1961. 

For economic reasons, it is believed by many that the South would have also eventually given up slavery, with so few actual slave owners. Keep in mind that it was legal in the North until it proved unprofitable. Do we also get rid of all mention of Northerners who owned slaves like Washington or Jefferson? Jefferson even amazingly had a black woman as his mistress and mother of some of his children, who he also did not free in his will. Some hero.

The Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression as you see it called, if you are in Southern bookstores) was a brutal time in our country where over 600,000 men were killed (from injuries and illnesses) and many more maimed. The war was fought by just over 2 million on the Northern side and 1 million on the Southern. It and its aftermath bitterly divided our country for many years to come, and the resentments on both sides are still easily stirred up. Some believe if Lincoln had not been assassinated, the aftermath might've gone better as the weakness of his successor, Andrew Johnson, and Northern carpetbaggers and sharecropping systems did little to help the country truly heal-- not to mention unfair laws in Northern states, like Oregon's, which was adamantly pro-North and yet passed laws where no black was allowed to own property. That one lasted in my state until 1912. Hypocrisy, thy name is too often man.

Some are not satisfied with the Confederate flag being removed from public buildings (where it seems it should have never been), but they want the film 'Gone with the Wind' unavailable to see because it promotes the idea the war was not about slavery but about state's rights. It also gives stereotypes of black life under slavery. 

Because of such censorship, for years, you have not been able to see a Disney film, 'Song of the South,' and the Uncle Remus tales became equally hard to find based on censorship. That film inspired anger from the moment it came out in 1946. I had seen it as a small child. We took our children when they were small to what was likely its last such public viewing. It was an old black man telling these folk stories of the animals, and their tricks on each other. Viewing it didn't convince me or my children that life in the South was all beautiful then or now. It was a lovely film but a fantasy-- one of Disney's first to have real people mixed with cartoons to tell Uncle Remus' stories. You aren't going to buy a DVD of it on Amazon or in any store. It long ago was censored out of existence.

When something horrible happens, as it did in Charleston, we seem always as a people to react to it with extreme measures, often not hitting on the real issue, but almost always spewing hate. Hate is like a boomerang for how what you send out comes back. The Charleston murders came during a time where racial resentments were already being stirred up-- not saying without good reason. A lot has been going on of which many of us were not aware until the last year. It had been building though.

If these vicious murders had come in a vacuum, this renewed attack on the Secession or Rebellion (depending on who you are and how you see it) might not be the cultural issue it now is. We've had shootings in churches and killers like this one; but this time, it happened in the midst of a massive swelling of rage and upset. Did the latest killings have anything at all to do with the Civil War, Confederate flag, Gone with the Wind, or reenactments of Civil War battles? Who cares-- it's a cause!

Here comes true-confession time. On a personal level, I'm particularly concerned regarding this because of the censorship element. Shockingly to me, it has erupted prior to my bringing out in September my third Oregon historical, which takes some of this on-- without thinking it'd be something so controversial in our times. 

Three years or so ago, when I wrote the third one, I knew the history of the Civil War and what that meant in Oregon culturally. Going Home begins in 1865 just as the war had ended. It got into the political climate in Oregon and the extreme resentment toward anyone who had fought for the South, all while Oregon voted in place laws that were very unfair to minorities.

Add to it that Going Home has a mix of ethnic and cultural characters. There are those who will resent that I wrote black, Chinese, Jewish, and Native Americans as secondary characters as well as a hero who actually fought for the South. Horrors! The argument goes that writers have no right to cover other ethnicities when they aren't one of them (incidentally, I also had nobody who fought for the South in my ancestry). 

Well, all the time, I write about women I am not, don't want to be. With the men I write about-- I not only am not a man, have never been one, don't want to be married to those guys, but to add to it, I never wanted to be a man. I like being female way too much. Writing characters comes from looking around, gathering information, and using imagination!

Admittedly, I am seeing this all as a writer and one who likes to read books where history has not been sugarcoated to please one group or another. That's getting harder to do. Yes, I see the danger in using literature as a way to get political points across or to block them. But censorship has its own dangers.

Finally, be real careful where you get your news and be aware what it's doing when stirring up more angst and resentment. To be fair, I thought Maddow was more balanced,  but I only saw her first half... She had one very powerful segment though where she discussed how the Supreme Court decision regarding housing had surprised her and how important it was.
Here's the thing (and I agree with her and the Supremes regarding this)-- the more we segregate ourselves by one method or another, the more it is possible for groups to turn us against the 'other'. When we know the other, they prove not nearly so scary or evil. So that court decision might help-- but not right away. 

Even when it's your pet issue, do you really want censorship when you've raged against it in the past? It's censorship whether it's what you wanted not seen or what someone else wanted not seen. Same end result-- ideas are suppressed because they threaten or even worse, might make someone think beyond the approved message!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

thoughts to consider

Let me count the ways bringing out a new book can go wrong. I'll start with using pre-release, something we'd never done before. It turned out that the version that got okayed had also saved the mistakes that had been edited out... So the first readers got the redline-- this isn't right-- along with what was right. Fortunately, a reader who liked the book let me know, and we corrected it-- that would be a day after it had been released... There were already about 130 sales or so, which means that many readers may be upset and some write a review saying how sloppy this was and so typical of indie writers. 

It is the kind of thing that no writer/editor/publisher wants to have happen, but alas life is what it is and things go wrong. One way to avoid ever having something go wrong is to do nothing.

In this case, I think it happened due to a combination of not having the full understanding of the last step in the pre-release but more because of it being an incredibly busy time here at the farm with getting in hay, having a toilet fail and needing to replace it, grandkids visiting, and moving the lab equipment from town to the farm. Put that together and it's not hard to see how a mistake could happen with the best of intentions.

When such things go wrong, it's a choice of whether to stew over it, blame someone, get all upset, or just laugh and think-- hey that's life; and it's not that huge in terms of life importance. 

It then seemed a good time to post a few of the positive thinking pages I've found and saved that friends had put out. These are simple thoughts but good reminders.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


As I think I've probably mentioned before, my second Oregon historical, Where Dreams Go, will be available June 21 for both eBooks and paperbacks. This time I know the exact date for the eBook because for the first time we did a pre-release. The paperback might be dicier as if I want it to not be ahead of the eBook, it has to be estimated for how long it will take to go from approval of draft to published. For those who ordered the eBook, the iffyness of dates was made firm by pre-releasing. It will be delivered and available June 21, 2015.

This is a book that I wrote probably twenty years ago or more. It came about, as do many of my books, when I saw the potential in having a secondary character have their own story.

I've mentioned before that I like letting a book ruminate for some time before I type the first word. I do research during that time and play with ideas for what happens and which characters will be in the story. I don't ever say, as some authors do, that my characters take over from me. I will say what happens to them helps me see reactions and more actions as I get to knowing them better. I have a general plan but plenty of room for detours along the way. 

For Where Dreams Go, I did a cover back when it was going to have another title with no idea when it'd even be published. I do covers for all my books-- published or not. The first image, the one below, was when I was painting all my covers. It obviously never got used. While I like it, the hero actually looks wrong for the character, too old and he shouldn't have a mustache. Also these two look like they are experiencing more angst in their relationship than fits the book.

I got closer with another attempt. The Rose of Sharon is good imagery for a love story. All winter it looks like a shriveled stick with no hope of it ever blooming again, and then, there it is in all its glory--

But, there was a problem. While this book is about a woman who has given up on finding another love, it is also part of a series, and I couldn't come up with four flower titles that fit the four different romances. I did have one other good one for the couple in the third Oregon historical (cool digital painting for it also), but the first and fourth simply never found a symbolic flower that fit the story and sounded right for a title. Hence, I went looking for another message that would work for each. 

In Round the Bend, the theme is how we never know what is coming in life. We make assumptions, and plans, but they often are washed away by circumstances. The Trail itself was a sort of metaphor for that in our lives.

The second of the Oregon books is about our dreams, often the hidden goals we dare not voice. Through the characters' struggles, it illustrates good ways to fulfill a dream and ways that are self-defeating. 

When do we give up one dream for another? Is one dream for a lifetime realistic? Should dreams change as we do? Dreams help humans get through bad times, but they can be unrealistic or maybe we have given up too soon. Where Dreams Go was a perfect title for the book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

writing tips from Stephen King

For those interested in being a writer, of any genre, the link is to tips from author Stephen King. One cool thing about writers is many of them help other writers get better at their craft. 

Yes, craft can be taught but many things about writing are learning to listen within (whatever you call that) and from without. Every writer has to find their own voice. His suggestions could be helpful to those still looking to find theirs:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

some thoughts

I like creative quotes, inspiring words. I save those, which seem especially meaningful to my life. Here I am combining a few with photographs we have taken in places we love. Some we have been to many times-- others only once, but the memories are always there when it's a special place.

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed.
-- Etty Hillesum, author

Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.

--don Miguel Rulz, author

To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given the chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life.

--Bette Davis

The beginning is always today.

--Mary Wollstonecraft

The longest journey is the journey inward.

--Dag Hammarskjold

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

--Marcel Proust


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

working it out

 a Tucson sunset from last year

In previous posts, I've mentioned my difficulty in figuring out what to write here, when readers apparently are turned off with blogs about any aspects of romantic fiction. Well, I don't know they are turned off, but comments diminish or vanish when I write about it. Would this happen if it was instead a book I expected to fit in fine literature? chick lit? memoir? cultural expose? I have wondered if it's discomfort with romance novels.

The problem for me in writing about what might make readers happier is that when I am putting together a rough draft of a novel, it consumes my thinking. Because I wanted the recent rough draft done before the grandchildren arrive, it has been 20 pretty intensive days. Every day isn't a writing day; but when it has been, it's been 5-6000 words. When not writing, there are few times when I am not thinking-- how did that work or what comes next? Am I capturing these characters or have I gone off the rails?

I don't know how many of you have ever written a full-length novel, but it takes a lot for me to get from--
"Walking into the cool of the house from a morning spent in her yard was one of life’s small pleasures. Lily Jacobs put her oil paints, palette and brushes on their shelves, cleaned her fingers with turpentine, followed by soap and a rose lotion before pouring herself a cold lemonade." 
through 22 chapters, an epilogue, some 80,000+ words to finally type--
"The End"
In the midst of such marathon writing, I wake up thinking about what happens next. Would the hero really do that? What would her reaction be if he did? I eat breakfast with a quick perusal of the newspaper before I am back wrestling with secondary characters. While making a bed, I am wondering if the villain made sense. Yes, they have to make sense. Except for the intervention of fate or nature, everything that happens in one of my books has to come out of the personalities of the characters. Actions lead to reactions.

Curiously (at least for me) during such a time of intense writing, my dreams tend to be extremely mundane and often frustrating where I lose something and can't find it, or I go shopping and forget where I put the car. And on it goes all night until I wake up annoyed as to why I'd have let the kitten and puppy (which we've never had) loose and then became desperate in trying to get them back.

During the daytime, real life will interfere, through planned activities or a problem of some sort. Time has to be spent writing blurbs or promo pieces to get the next book seen. I do not plan many activities that take much time away from the real work-- which is that rough draft. 

The irony of this heavy duty writing is this one isn't going to be out until November 5th. But this is the way I like to paint too-- get it roughed in as fast as I can. With a book, I stay with the stream of consciousness that is helping me see what happens, to feel the nuances, and enjoy the whole experience of seeing another story come together. 

Because my part of the Pacific Northwest has been experiencing a heat wave (95ºF qualifies for that in the Oregon Coast Range), being outside is a nice break with the shade trees and a cold drink and a chance to connect with my husband. 

Some ask how all this writing works for my husband. Well, since he's also my editor and publisher, he is into it. He listens with interest to various scenarios, when I am not sure where something is going. We even argue over nuances of an event-- where I listen but do not always follow his advice. 

Since besides the cattle and sheep ranch, his life is wrapped up in working with start-up companies, where he is a technology consultant, he and I take turns listening to each other's problems. I find interesting his marketing or political problems-- right up until it comes to a techie issue and my eyes glaze over.

When we sit outside, watching the birds, enjoying the intense blue sky, sipping a glass of wine, having the cats rub around our feet, we might be discussing a possible murder and how to make it happen and immediately switch to something about a shady venture capitalist. It's kind of funny sounding, but it works and has been this way all our 50+ married years. 

This spring has seen me write one novella and two full-length novels, publish another novel with the next one due the 21st. It has been writing intensive. It will all change today when we have our grandchildren at the farm for two weeks. We have no firm plans for any activities as we more or less wing it and plan things they will like once they are here. As has been my practice, respecting their privacy, I don't write about them (even though I am exceedingly proud of them all).  

Anyway, much as I miss comments, I am going to stay with writing about my romance novels, because it's such a big part of my life. Creating characters and plots that inspire me is where I am. My blog has always been aimed at ideas and my ideas right now are-- is there a plot for that third brother that would inspire me enough to write his story? Currently, I don't know; and when I have the grandchildren here, I won't be finding out. I'll stick to things that are easier to come in and out of.

For those readers, where this kind of writing is a turn off, I do understand your not coming so often or even at all. I know when blogs change directions, they lose readers. I've experienced that in the blogs I read and those I used to read.  

But for others, who would like to write, but maybe haven't found their muse, I hope this blog will be a conduit to get them started.  I am hopeful it will find commenters who are eager to discuss their own creative work, whatever that might be and in whatever field. 

So I will keep this blog to two times a week-- Wednesday and Saturday. For those interested in the writing, snippets from my books are in [Rain Trueax] every Tuesday. That takes little time and is fun to look for scenes that might surprise the non-romance reader about what these books are really about-- relationships or all sorts and how people work them out-- or not. (I keep that blog to PG-13... I think).

Saturday, June 06, 2015

the muse through the years

What is a muse? The dictionary says: a woman or force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. I think it's something more than that.
Sometimes people, who do not write, ask from where the stories come. For me, the answer is the muse-- but maybe not quite as some think about the word. Maybe the muse is a real being (mine feels male to me) but how about this possibility? It's more than one thing down through a lifetime. 

 Oregon Trail map created by my daughter when she was at university

Being open to there being a muse, means paying attention to what's in your life, what's around you, and where it comes to creative work-- not making up your mind ahead of time what something must be. Maybe you are a poet or how about someone who can write dissertations on cultural issues. Maybe your natural bent would be fine literature, chick lit, sci fi, or all the other possibilities in various genres. The muse is what helps you figure that out.

An example of how the muse has worked through my life is best told by my Oregon Trail book, Round the Bend, because this book has been with me all of my adult life and some of my youth. It began when my younger cousin and I going for walks during family gatherings and telling each other stories, trading off on who tells what parts. She eventually wanted me to be the one telling the story of Matt and Amy. At that point, for me, the muse was her.

Then came the years where I first put the words to tell this story to paper. Those were the years where I still had the gist of these two characters but I didn't have the skills to do the story justice. I did it anyway. The years of raising children distracted me from my books but gave me valuable lessons I would later bring to them. What I was learning through raising them, through my marriage, and my experiences with others was the muse for that period of time.

In the 1990s, I worked with a consulting writer, who I paid quite a lot of money to help me hone my craft. She didn't try to redirect my characters but to instead show me where my lack of skills were blocking what was possible. My teacher was the muse.

The story of Matt and Amy kept growing and changing, and I kept interested in what would best bring it to life. Round the Bend at one time was titled 'Taopi Tawote' which in Lakota means wound medicine. It fit because it's a story of healing-- except wouldn't readers think it was a story about Native Americans?  It's not.

Something more was at work as I came to a better understanding of the deeper meaning of this book. I think those are the years where the muse was beginning to get my attention on a spiritual level. The voice now was coming from inside me. I was beginning to connect with it on a level I never had, to hear it better, have it come through dreams, and coincidences. I began to understand what was being said-- finally, he probably thought. The more I wrote, the more I felt the muse was giving me insights I hadn't found other ways. Sometimes they seemed to come from out of nowhere.

The journey west in Round the Bend is a metaphor for our own journey through life, the journey of these characters as they change and grow through their experiences. The Oregon Trail headed west to the promised land, which we all hope to do in our own growth. There are pitfalls along the way-- some physical and some emotional. The title also illustrates how we don't know what's coming. We sometimes think we do; but if we are moving forward, not going in circles, we don't. 

So what I have come to believe is the muse comes to us many different ways based on our ability to access it. It can be a person, a teacher, our own experiences, and also that small still inner voice. I am not sure what the voice is, but it is there-- and in my life has been since childhood. I work now at being a better listener. Listening has helped me more times than I can count with my life but also my writing. 

Recently, I wrote that a writer needs to satisfy three things: themselves, readers and the characters. I was waking up one morning this week and thinking-- that wasn't quite right. The writer must satisfy themselves, readers and the muse ;), The muse, at least for me, is the voice for the characters. Be patient. Listen and it will come. If it doesn't, that might mean a new direction is in order.


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

bulletin board update

One of the things I have learned to love about writing is finding images that suit each story. Some will then end up in a book trailer, but most are to help me stay grounded in the physicality of my characters. Because anywhere I set a book I have been and have photos, my background photos only require looking through my files. The ones I have to buy are for the people, where often I set the model images into one of my photos or mix up several of them into one.

In the Arizona historical romances that I have been writing this spring, the stories follow three brothers. Well, I think it'll be all three. I had one to begin and realized only in writing it that one of the hero's brothers (we would call him intellectually challenged today) would make an interesting hero. 

So his story is the one I've been writing. It seems each of these Coburn heroes, except maybe the third, have been damaged in some way whether emotionally or physically. If I don't end up with a good story for the third brother, I'll not have a third book... That's one of the things that I enjoy about being an indie writer. I write what
comes to me not what is on a contract somewhere.

As important to me, as the characters are, is the setting. Nature is one of the characters in all of my books. What the weather will be, the moon cycles, how hot will it be, scents in the air, and then the home, if there is one. For the book on the computer right now, there are two homes-- both the kinds of homes I can imagine for myself. Even though both are in the Tucson area (imaginarily speaking that is), they represent very different ways of life.

For those of you interested in writing, I recommend finding a place for a bulletin board near where you will be creating your story. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, I think images help a writer stay grounded in the theme and characters. The images at the top of this board are already written historicals, some out and some yet to be out. The rest are characters and setting from the current work in progress. :) 

As happens a lot with me, while writing someone's story, I fall a little bit in love with them myself. This hero has a quality, perhaps helped by his limitations, that has really endeared him to me. It'll be hard to let it go when I finish. I am aiming this one to be out about November 5th. This whole year has been devoted to historicals. Maybe 2016 can be for contemporary or paranormals ;).