Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

a worthy cause

Usually, I write something original for Saturdays related to what matters to me. Well, this does matter to me. It is a special blog for a worthy cause. You can preorder, best-selling author, Amelia Adams' next historical romance, and in the process help a child get a permanent home by being adopted by her grandparents. Her parents were killed in a tragic accident two years earlier. The hopeful grandparents are the sister and brother-in-law of the author, and she decided to donate the proceeds from her first sales of the eBook. Just think-- preorder or buy the book the day it comes out and you will enjoy reading while you also help a worthy cause. It's hard to understand why that adoption could have a cost attached-- but so goes the nature of our world today.

Below is the link to preorder the book, which comes out the 3rd. If you've never done a preorder, it will show up on your device the day it's published, and that's when Amazon takes your money.


Georgia Baker has worked at the Brody Hotel for several months now with only her employers knowing her secret - she's almost completely deaf. It doesn't stop her from doing her job, though, as she has learned how to read lips, and she gets along quite well.

Pinkerton detective Chet Larsen has come to Topeka on a special case - a train carrying a king's ransom in gold is coming through town, and his sources tell him it's going to get robbed. His duty is to stop that robbery if he's able, possibly saving lives in the process.

When the pretty waitress at the hotel stumbles onto additional information in the case, he realizes that her help might be just what he needs for his job . . . and her love might be just what he needs in his life.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Guest Author: Eve Culley

Today's guest author, Eve Culley writes amusing and clever children's books, aimed at ages 7-12 years old. I have to say her covers would have me liking the books without needing to read a single word. 

Her first is Adventures in Barn Town where the residents are friendly and there is mischief and mystery around every corner. The story is written from a feline narrative by a life-long resident, Ol’ Stripe (Deputy of Barn Town) as he shares with the reader the highlights of life in Barn Town – a barn situated on a large farm. 

After trudging through a vicious storm as a kitten and claiming the barn’s territory as his safe haven and his new home, Deputy Stripe is caught off-guard when trying to shoo away a trespasser, Stinky, a skunk who is quite territorial himself. 

When a group of humans finally moves into the Village House, however, and move their many animal companions into Barn Town, the noise, smell and attitudes of the animals take some getting used to. From a coup, led by the rooster, Cogburn, followed by committee meetings to decide Cogburn’s fate, Deputy Stripe does all he can to keep his ears and eyes open in order to maintain peace and order, with a hilarious outcome.

One reviewer said about the book, "Author Eve Culley's Adventures in Barn Town is a delightful story! The author had me laughing at the antics of her characters! Eve has a way of making the animals come to life and will entertain younger readers and listeners. Ol' Stripe's adventures are a fun escape and will keep you smiling!"

Further Adventures in Barn Town, the second book in the Barn Town series came out September 11, 2017. It is a clever book of hilarious anecdotes. It is told in a feline narrative by a life-long resident. Ol’ Stripe (Deputy of Barn Town) shares with the reader the highlights of life in Barn Town – a barn situated on a large farm. Deputy Stripe does all he can to keep his eyes and ears open in order to maintain peace and order, with a hilarious outcome.

About the author, Eve Culley:

In the middle of the 1970’s and 80’s, my husband and I were missionaries working in the United States. We worked in different church print shops where Bibles, New Testaments, and individual books of the Bible were printed in different languages and shipped to different countries around the world. We traveled across the U.S. to other churches and businesses to raise money for paper, ink and shipping cost for the Bibles. To gather the necessary money needed, a lot of travel was required and as we traveled I would tell stories to our two young sons of adventure, heroes, and villains.

As our sons grew into adulthood the stories to them became less and less until they stopped. When our grandchildren would visit, the stories were requested again until those stories, too, were a thing of the past. But the storytelling refused to die and go away. Instead, a hunger grew in me to put my stories on paper and books grew out of them. I write, of course, adventures for children to read, believe in and take life lessons from them.

Story-telling is as much a part of me as breathing is to my body. I have found that I tell stories, put them on paper to make room for the other stories that are building and will need to be told soon. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017


My fascination lately has been with simplified living, tiny homes, and RV living. Although we have a vacation trailer, I can't imagine getting everything I value in my home/homes into it. How would I store the books? How about the art? My gosh, the art would have to go, and how could I get rid of paintings I love so much? How about the Navajo rugs, the Hopi pottery, the rocks my parents collected that take up so much space? 

Yet, there is this appeal at the idea of simplified living especially with a trailer and being able to boondock (live off the grid) with solar panels. For me, I like to stay connected in terms of the Internet and be able to write using my computer. I bought a fold-able desk to use next time out. We use HotSpots to connect wherever there is enough cell signal (some places there is not). 

I hear about some who desire to live in planned, senior communities and to me that sounds like hell on earth. Yet, how would I feel about not owning anything but a trailer and truck? I don't know, but those who do it fascinate me, and I watch some of them on YouTubes to learn how they live. 

That video is on a YouTube channel by a guy I check up on every now and again, Cheap RV Living, where he posts RVer interviews and what he's learned about how to make it work when you don't live a life like everyone else. He's done some good interviews with women who have chosen this life for assorted reasons. 

Well, actually, on YouTube channels, there are quite a few women sharing their lives that way. Most are positive, but I've seen a few like the next link. 

We have done trailer and van camping over many years and have had a few scary events also. Be aware is my advice. What she did is what we have done-- leave, even in the middle of the night, when it doesn't feel safe.

Still, most is good. It's not all about old folks these days. Some might be forced out of a stick and brick home, but there are those who want no mortgage or just the freedom to travel. Full time RVing is not new as I remember when our kids were young and a magazine called Trailer Life had a regular feature on those where their rigs were their homes.

While I don't see myself doing it at this point, I find the cable shows and videos fun to watch. I used to be a fan of the home remodeling shows, but now it's more tiny living or YouTube for those who have put aside the regular life for one that is unconventional. I am interested in why they made the choice and how they expect to live. I am interested in how it might change a person to live this way. 

I've thought of it always as something I could do if the economy turns disastrous. It's not for me right now other than as a voyeur.

Some of that and my own experiences with trailering inspired me to write a novella that I first called Red Hawk Christmas but more recently changed to Diana's Journey. It might actually end up with a yet different title, as it's hard to get across a book that isn't really a romance as such and yet is about a romantic journey that a woman makes not to find 'the' man, but to find herself when life has changed for her. 

It was intended to be first in a series of women starting over, with not all involving an RV; but I got sidetracked by the paranormal books and so that put that series on a back-burner for someday. (It also is the one that got a very negative review that literally killed its sales-- reviews can do that.). Still, I like the story and was able to share a lot of my own experiences where I've camped and spent time in the West.

I think it's had a problem with not being a romance and yet it kind of is. Cross genre books have this problem.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guest Author: Sheila Hollinghead

One nice feature of cutting back on how many blogs I post has been being able to invite other authors to post here. Some don't write anything like I do, which gives my readers a chance to see the diversity out there among romance authors. I consider that a win/win.

Sheila Hollinghead, an army brat, was born in Nuremberg, Germany. When she was ten, her father was stationed in Toul, France where she discovered a treasure trove of books hiding in the furnace room. The house was rumored to be the former headquarters of the Nazi Party with bullet holes decorating the foyer as evidence. The books she found, sci-fi, mysteries, fantasy, and the classics, opened her mind to the power of story.
Raised on army bases, she lived many places, none “home” until she returned to south Alabama. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and two cats near the farms where her ancestors struggled to scratch a living from the ground.
She agrees with Emily Dickinson who said, "I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine."

Hollinghead is active in her community, heading up her local food bank with the help of her husband. She also participates in meals-on-wheels and WinGS (Women in God's Service) who visit the sick and shut-ins.

Her newest book, Abby and Joshua, will be out September 30th but is available for preorder now at Amazon.   Special Announcement: On the day of release, Sheila Hollinghead will be giving away six Down to the River swag packs. Items include six paperback copies of all three novellas in one book, Down to the River. Also included will be magnets with pictures of horses, cowboy hat chains, bracelets, and other great prizes. Two of the six winners will also receive coffee mugs. For more details, visit Sheila’s Facebook Author Page on September 30th.

Amazon Link, Abby and Joshua:

Description for Abby and Joshua:  
Sometimes the force of a tornado pulls us from the mire, but other times, the soft breath of a cowboy is all that is required.
 A good-looking, young cowboy keeps showing up at Abby Harrington's door ... even at the most inopportune times. Abby is older than he is, not to mention heavily pregnant and with a brood of children. Besides, she is still legally married and distrustful of men.

Why, then, does she slowly respond to the cowboy's friendship?

The return of her man from her past thrusts Abby into a life-threatening situation. Will she have the strength, knowledge, and faith needed to survive?

The soft breath of a cowboy gives her everything she needs.

Excerpt from Abby and Joshua:

Mrs. Franklin entered her room with a young lady. “I’d brought Miss Williams by to meet you.”

Abby’s heart sank. Miss Williams couldn’t have been more than twenty and had a vibrant beauty. Her aqua-colored eyes contrasted with her dark, glossy hair, mostly pulled sedately back in a bun. Sprigs of curly hair framed her perfect face. Rosy cheeks and naturally pink lips made her a picture of health and vitality. Abby touched her own lips, remembering how pale they’d appeared only a minute before when she’d seen herself in the mirror.

She became aware the two ladies awaited her response. “How do you do, Miss Williams? Please let me know if my children do not attend properly to their lessons.”

“Oh, I’ve met your children! They’ll do fine, I’m sure. And such beautiful children! Your daughter looks so much like you.”

“Thank you,” she said automatically. She wasn’t sure Miss Williams spoke the truth. Susie looked a lot like George as did Tait. Wade favored her the most.

“I’m so sorry you’re confined to bed. I’ll come back to visit when I can,” Miss Williams said.
Abby smiled and nodded. “Your company would be a pleasure.”

“I must hurry back to the children now. We begin our first lesson today. It was so nice to meet you, Mrs. Harrington.” Miss Williams gave a smile, revealing straight white teeth and hurried away.
Mrs. Franklin fetched the breakfast tray and set it across Abby’s knees. “Now, what would you like to talk about?”

“Are you from around here?” Abby asked.

“About ten miles south, as the crow flies. My husband and I had a small place, big enough for the two of us. God never blessed us with children. My husband passed last year, and I moved into town. When I saw this place needed a cook, I knew the Lord truly answers prayer. So, here I am!” She beamed at Abby and without prompting continued. “When I heard children lived here and a baby, with another on the way, my joy could not be contained. I love the wee ones so!”

A nod and smile was all that was needed for Mrs. Franklin to prattle on. Abby ate her breakfast, one of the best meals she’d ever tasted, and thought of Joshua. Miss Williams would be perfect for him. She was beautiful, and young, and most importantly, not encumbered with a bushel of children. Why would Abby even think for a moment he’d be interested in her?

Any attention he’d shown was simple pity. Her husband had run off with the housekeeper, and gossip was rampant on the ranch. He’d merely felt sorry for her and tried to be kind. Obviously, he was a God-fearing man.

Anyway, if she did like him, as she admitted she did, she’d only want his happiness at heart. Miss Williams would make him far happier than she ever could. And once he got a look at her, he’d never give Abby a second glance.

 Sheila Hollinghead Links:


Saturday, September 16, 2017

making a video

One of the things about the internet is how it brings us in touch with so many people, from all around the world, those we'd likely never meet any other way. It seems relatively safe too-- other than insults being easier to throw around. The thing is the anonymity has a price attached-- lack of real connection. 

Oh, we can choose to meet in a real place, those we only knew through typed words and a few shared pictures. I've done that now with maybe 20 or so. Some came off meeting first in chat rooms. Some came later through Facebook connections. But many 'friends' remain typed words and a photograph (which might not even be them). 

For someone like me, who lives in a community where there aren't many like-minded folks nearby, the internet has become a way to connect with others, who are more like-minded. They can feel like friends, but we can't say-- hey, let's visit some antique stores today. Or how about lunch? The internet becomes a place to interact but yet... are we?

One way I tried to get past the feeling of unreality was to set up a blog I called Videos and Discussions. My idea was I'd create short blogs where I talked about my writing-- or whatever topic came to mind. Others would give me their links about their creative work and I'd post them as a place to get a little more real, to hear each other's voices, see how we look when talking, and then share those ideas that we would share over coffee if we lived closer. While I've done quite a few short talks there, it didn't end up having others want to share theirs-- or hasn't yet.

Then, I forgot about making the videos until last week-end when I thought it must have been a while. A while turned out to have been since 2015. On the weekend, I decided to do one regarding my recent work. I'd learned a thing or two about what makes a paranormal and that gave me a theme.

Back when I first began making videos, I knew I wanted them to feel like talking with a friend-- the thing I wasn't getting much of. Still, I wanted them to have some cohesion. With a friend, I could drift off this way or that, as could they. With a video, I have only four minutes (about the longest I expect people to stay with it). 

To get my cohesion, I don't do an outline or write down key points. I turn on the webcam and just start talking. I turn it off, watch it, and try it again-- with no intention of keeping these. Eventually, after a couple dry runs, I have a good idea of where I am going and what will best illustrate my points.

Then is when I look to room lighting. I tape these in a corner of the living room where my desk and webcam set. I turn off some lights and put on others as I like a visual with more light on one side and limited light behind. Since I don't cut and splice, the final video will be one take-- which means phone calls, husband walking through room, all can lead to a-- start over. 

I'll admit it. I want to look as good as possible for a video; so I put on the kind of makeup I only wear when heading to town. I also choose a top that doesn't change the lighting. I notice I have a lot of tan t-shirts, and they show up often in the videos I've done. 

When I sit back down, I start talking with the points in my head, which means if I do it more than once, it will vary. I haven't ever spliced one; but if I did any outside, that would likely have to happen.

If when I watch, it doesn't work, I try again-- although I don't keep doing and doing it as that seems to me it'd get stale. Monday, with two interruptions, the one below was the third try. I'd done the dry runs the day before as I fleshed out my ideas. Outlines might be more effective, but for me, this works best to stay loose.  I have no idea where the 15 came from on the video but it wasn't the takes this time. They all got erased except the final one.

Next step is post it to YouTube on my channel, which also has book trailers and nature videos that we've made. YouTube's computer chooses the thumbprint, with three options-- never good ones when I'm talking. Vimeo, which I have also used, lets the creator choose the thumbprint. Nice Vimeo. But I have to say YouTube is so easy to use that I generally go for it. 

So take a look at the one I made Monday, then come back for why I am posting this topic.


What I am hoping is my original idea for the link above could still happen-- not just with other writers, but photographers, painters, sculptors, cooks, quilters, etc. etc. I still think this is a way to make ourselves more real to each other when we don't have an opportunity to meet for real. And if we someday do, then that's still nice to share our creative work with others, those from around the world. 

There is another plus to making these. I think it can help us focus on what we are trying to accomplish when we talk about our work, when we make ourselves become cohesive in what we hope to accomplish. 

If you give it a try, get me the link. I'd love for Videos and Discussions to fulfill the purpose for which I had originally hoped-- a nest of creativity where the work is shared and encouraged. Besides bringing us together, the internet can do that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Guest Author: Charlene Raddon

Thanks to Rain for hosting me. I’m thrilled to talk about my latest release, Divine Gamble. This book has been a labor of love. Back when I was writing for Kensington Books, I sent a proposal for Divine Gamble to my editor. He rejected it and asked for a story about a widow with a couple of kids and a drifter. That’s how To Have and To Hold came into being. But I loved Divine Gamble, so I dragged it out now and then and worked on it, always laying it aside because something else demanded my attention. Finally, my chance to finish the book came this year, and I’m excited to say it is published and doing well.

DIVINE GAMBLE,  a gritty, sensual American historical western romance.

As a girl, Maisy Macoubrie witnessed the murder of her beloved father. She's been running from the killer for fourteen years. If only she could provide a safe home for her and her son… but she'll never get rich dealing faro in saloons, with a cold-blooded killer on her trail.

The Preacher never meant to become a gunman. Sometimes life deals a man a hard hand. Always alone, always hunted, he dreams of all he’s been denied—peace, family, love.

The moment Maisy and The Preacher meet, their lives change once more. United in battle against a powerful enemy, they fight side by side, but can they beat the odds they face? Is love worth the biggest gamble man has ever known?



The air shifted, and a breeze fanned the back of her neck. Someone had entered the saloon. Seeing Marshal Jake Harker look behind her and frown, she stuffed the bank draft into her pocket. The hair on her neck rose. She turned slowly, expecting to see death staring her in the eye.

A new stranger, built like a freight wagon, stood just inside. Small eyes squinted out from under bushy brows. Dirt and grime smeared his square, pugnacious jaw. He reminded her of Quasimodo, minus the hunchback, but with an ugly scar angled from the corner of his nose, and down across a fat-lipped, down-turned mouth, exposing a jagged tooth. Her father had played Quasimodo once on a beer-soaked stage in Wichita, frightening a five-year-old Maisy near to death. Did he seem familiar to her because he reminded her of that unnerving experience?

The newcomer gave her a bold once-over. He took what looked like a photograph out of his pocket, glanced at it, at Maisy, and, wearing a grisly smile, started toward her. Something behind Maisy caught his attention, and he stopped. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Harker staring at the stranger. The Quasimodo look alike cursed under his breath, spun about and left.

Maisy laid one hand over her heart and pressed the other to her lips as if that would keep her from falling apart. The man had gone but might be waiting for her when she left at quitting time. He must have seen Harker's badge and figured now wasn't the time to grab her. Maisy's heart raced. She closed her eyes and reminded herself of the other times she'd survived Gold's henchmen. She would survive this time, too.

A sudden urge to leave town assailed her. But the stage had left. The ore train from Telluride wouldn't arrive until morning. Why had she ever thought she'd be safe in a dead-end canyon like Pandora occupied? Yes, she had friends here, but she couldn't risk endangering them.

She discreetly closed her bag to hide the card box inside. "Snake eyes! I forgot my card box. Would you keep an eye on things, Jake, while I go back to the boarding house for it?" 

"Let Delilah do it. I'd better go with you. You never know what gun-happy drunk might—"

She forced a laugh. "I'm a big girl, Marshal. I've been walking dark streets, storm or no storm, all by myself for a long time now, and I have my Deringer in my reticule. I don't need anyone holding my hand. Besides, Delilah's busy."
"Still, I think..."

"Don't be silly. I'll take Hock. He won't let anything happen to me."

As if comprehending her words, the dog rose and swiped a wet tongue over the back of her clenched hand.

"All right." Harker bent to pet the dog. "I think he'll make you a good guard dog. He knows you saved him. Get back here soon, though."

"I only need ten minutes, I promise. I'll take the back way, and no one will even see me." Slinging her cloak around her shoulders, she took up the bag and headed for the rear door of the saloon, the dog at her heels. The rest of her faro gear would have to remain here. Replacing it all would be expensive, but, if she took it, Harker would know she didn't plan to return and demand to know why.

Every instinct screamed for her to leave Pandora now. But she had to hang onto her wits, had to make plans. One choice would mean a steep and dangerous trek over a trail that zigzagged up the cliff and over the mountain. No, the train remained her best bet. She could only hope she'd be safe in her room until departure time. At least she had her reticule, the bank draft Harker had given her, and her Derringer. She'd managed before; she could do it again.
She had to.

An avid reader, Charlene Raddon never planned to be a writer. A vivid dream changed that. She dragged out a portable typewriter and began to put her dream on paper. Originally published by Kensington Books, Charlene is now an Indie author. All her books have received high accolades, contest wins, and awards. When not writing, she designs historical book covers at her site, where she specializes in westerns.

Charlene’s website:

Saturday, September 09, 2017

covers and titles

With my work in progress having taken a hit due to outside forces (let me count the upsets we've faced as citizens of our country and of the earth), I've been writing but doing more with re-creating book covers. Writing a first rough draft requires control over a period of days (for me), and this summer has had limited time for that. Stuff happens, and that is a fact of life.

Having control over the covers is one of the pluses I receive for being an indie writer. I can do them myself, buy them already made, or hire someone to make them. Amazon offers a create your cover app that lets you use their tools to create one. For some writers, the choice is impacted by finances; but in my case, I like doing covers and have done them from the start using my photos, digital techniques, and purchased, royalty free images. I've had successes and failures-- and likely that will continue to be true.

Currently, after redoing the cover for Arizona Sunset, first in the Arizona historicals, I became interested in doing them for my novellas. I had the fourth in that Arizona historical series that had a banner in the middle. That is what I wanted as a way to set the novellas apart from the full length novels.

As part of the process, Sonoran Christmas, also got a new title-- Frederica's Heart. It's eighth in the Arizona historical romances. Sometimes, when a book is written, I am caught up in writing it and miss the deeper message. That was the case with that novella. It was set during the Christmas season, but it wasn't really about that as much as two people who had given up on finding true love and then... well, that's why people read the book.

The cover started out to be simple with a landscape. Next, I tried the couple, but nothing quite worked until I decided to go with the energy-- her fine culture and his gun. This was also their conflict, of course. Neither was quite who the other thought-- that's pretty typical of any intimate relationships in my experience.

In creating a title or cover, the problem is always how to get across what the book is about. In the next one, the novella follows a longer book, From Here to There. The couple's marriage started off a little badly-- with the bride asking for an annulment before the reception. The book moves from Boston to Montana and ranch living is at its heart along with the romance. 

A Montana Christmas continues the story of that family and takes that couple into what is effectively a long epilogue (novella at 27,000 words) about family and can it be healed when things have gone so wrong? Christmas was the right season, and I know a thing or two about ranch living, having lived on a small one for nearly 40 years. If you are interested in family dynamics and what ranch life is really like, you might enjoy this book. It isn't a new romance, although a new one is possible from some of its characters in the future.

The cover I had for A Montana Christmas was okay, but I like better this one that mixes the hope she feels with the work that never ends on a ranch. I used a purchased image for her, with photos I'd taken to create a painterly app for Montana ranch life.