Friday, November 21, 2014


Today I am singing the joys of anticipation on several fronts.  First of all I just received the release date for my first mystery novel, Blues at 11.  It will be released world wide by The Wild Rose Press on January 16, 2015. That’s less than two months away and I am eager to finally hold that book in my hands. It's a momentous moment in my writing career for several reasons. It signals my switch from writing romance to mystery.  Not that I will ever stop writing romance. I always like a good romance in my mystery novels, but this one follows the mystery pattern with lots of clues, plenty of action, and of course, several dead bodies discovered along the way.

Like so many of my books, it features someone from the world of television news, which I also can’t get away from, because I keep finding that it’s easier to write about a world you know than one that is totally unfamiliar. After 35 years bouncing from TV newsroom to TV newsroom, I learned a lot about the business and about newsroom personnel in general.
So what would happen if you were an anchorwoman who found yourself accused of murder and the media itself gets on the bandwagon to pin the rap on you? Suddenly you might find out you don’t have so many friends in the biz and not only that, but there are plenty of old rivals who will might come out of the woodwork now that there is the scent of blood. And I don’t mean the victim’s!  That’s the premise of Blues and it’s a book I spent years working on. Enjoyable years because it’s a humorous mystery. Here’s the blurb:

But my second level of anticipation has to do with this weekend, and it’s an event that my mystery heroine, Kimberly de la Garza would enjoy, I’m sure.  Brilliant, Cartier in the 20th Century  just opened at the Denver Art Museum, and I have tickets for tomorrow morning. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this ever since it was announced, and I don’t think this will be the only time I go to see it.  According to the DAM, it’s a “world exclusive exhibition … featuring stunning jewelry, timepieces, and precious objects created between 1900 and 1975.” It highlights Cartier’s rise to pre eminence, and the pieces featured in the pictures are stunning. Jewelry designed for royalty and Hollywood stars like the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace are among those that will be on display.  I will be doing a blog on this visit in the future, believe me. And hopefully that can include pictures. The museum will allow personal pictures, but it won’t allow big tote bags. I have a feeling the museum guards will be constantly pulling me back from standing too close as they had to do in the Picasso show a couple of years ago.
So today, I am drinking a champagne toast in a vintage glass as I anticipate a great weekend and a great event still to come in 2015. And the Brilliant show is not the only exciting event this weekend. My friends and I will also be paying another visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly glass show, which closes next week. We visited several weeks ago and enjoyed it during the day time and pledged to return after dark. The pictures I've seen of the show at night are amazing and we will be bundling up tomorrow night and making another trip through.  More to come on this too!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Celebrate Your Own Backyard

As a writer I am always looking for new ideas and sometimes I find them hiding in my own backyard. Of course I have a beautiful backyard to explore.  It's called the Rocky Mountains and they are mere minutes from my driveway.  Yes, it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to cross the first hump of mountains outside Denver and be in the foothill splendor of the Rockies.

One of the great joys of this area is driving up to the mountains to see the Aspen leaves turning gold in the fall, and this year was as spectacular as always.  I have to admit my favorite year was when I drove my Mustang convertible and made the trip with the top down. This year worked well, though, since my brother drove.

He took us along the Peak to Peak highway between Boulder and Estes Park, which has some amazing views of Long's Peak as well as the entire mountain range. I had driven it before, but the colors made this drive very special.

 But the big difference this year was that I got to take roads I had never been on before, even though they are right in my backyard. We drove into Rocky Mountain National Park, along Trail Ridge Road, which had me feeling like we were on top of the world. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, and it sure felt like it!

First as we neared the top, there was the odd view of trees clinging to survival as we neared timberline. I remember one of my California friends being amazed at the concept of timberline  and the whole idea that there were places in Colorado where trees can't grow because of the altitude and conditions. These trees actually reminded me of the Northwest along the western coast where they are so wind blown by the ocean that only half of them seems to be surviving. I think I felt as enthralled as my friend who was seeing this part of the country for the first time.

And then we reached the top...


We were driving along a road that made us feel like we were on top of the world as we crossed over the Continental Divide.  Actually at times as we drove near the edges, I felt like we might just slide off all the way down the 12000 feet to the bottom (okay, maybe not 12000 feet, but it sure felt like we could go a long way!)  This road is not open year round -- high snows close it in the fall and keep it closed until late spring.

This highway has been around in various unpaved and paved form since the 1920s, but the byway itself was once traveled by Native American tribes as they crossed the mountains between their homelands and hunting grounds.

And, of course, as we drove I concocted a story about a city woman unfamiliar with the territory getting lost up in this wilderness and everyone had a different idea about what might happen to her. By the time we got down from our trip to the top of the Continental Divide, we had come up with plenty of ideas. Of course, mine involved a romance between the woman and a sexy guy she runs across in those rugged Rockies. As so many of our trips do, this one also inspired us to come down and look for facts about the area, and gave us all a greater appreciation for living in Colorado.

So here's a toast (with champagne from the Brown Palace, another wonderful Colorado landmark) to those places in your backyard that you might want to visit and explore... and come up with new story ideas.  And do it before it's too late. Trail Ridge Road was closed this week -- due to high snow.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Promotion Blues

Promotion is often a dirty word for writers and I am one of those who has to admit that I constantly shirk my promotion duties. We don't like to advertise ourselves or our books, and somehow we hope readers find them anyway.

This week I a putting together a promotional giveaway for the Colorado Romance Writers annual Readers' Tea and that sort of promotion I love to do because I get to buy lots of fun little items to go in the gift bag - chocolate, wine, pens, pencils, books and other goodies.  Last year my sister and sister-in-law spent hours making plastic canvas bookmarks. They came out great, but then I realized the thickness of the plastic made it hard to actually use the marks in books. Ooops. No more of those.

Promotion has always been a problem for me, even when I was producing daily newscasts. In addition to putting together the newscast, producers often have to write those clever little teases that the anchors must read just before they go to commercial.  You know, the ones that end with, "stay tuned," or begin with, "coming up next." Some of our producers would start thinking of how they were going to tease a story from the moment they first knew it was going to be in the newscast. I was never very good at that and as a result I waited until the last minute to write those teases. Mine went something like, "Weather is next, will it rain tomorrow?" And then the little tag line under the visual would read something like  "Sunny Saturday?"

You get the picture.  Well, now I find that I have to promote or tease MYSELF as a writer. I need to promote my books. Luckily I don't have to come up with lots of daily clever little blurbs, but I do need to have a Facebook page, a web page, a Pinterest page, a blog, and so many other things I can't even count them all.  I'm not good at it, but I am trying.  And with Facebook, I not only should have a personal page, but a reader fan page I'm told. Oh, and that doesn't include having a Twitter account. So much promotion, so little time to write.

This week I finally spent some time trying to update my webpages and Facebook pages. And I find I enjoy Pinterest. I have more fun seeing what others are doing and how they organize their pages. And I found myself coming up with new ways to use some of the wonderful pictures I've run across or re-pinning from other people.

So here's a toast to today's promotion -- and the links to my various sites, just to show that I can do some promotion, even if it is very simple and done at the last minute... just like old times in the newsroom.

And I'm hearing we'll be having a sunny Saturday. I'll toast that too! The last weekend of September.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Toast to Fall

Fall has arrived in Colorado. It seems a bit early, but it is definitely here. We had a covering of snow on the patio this morning and this whole week has been cool with the promise of more to come.  I have to admit I've always loved Fall. It's my favorite time of the year.  Why? Well, I came up with a bunch of reasons I've always loved it:

Growing up:
   -- Going back to school with new clothes, and new shoes
   -- Getting fresh school supplies (I got to replace the ratty notebook I'd marked up the year before and I always managed to get me a new notebook for my writing) 
   -- The feeling of crispness in the air as I walked home from school
   -- jumping in the pile of leaves my dad and brother raked up (I didn't appreciate the piles when I got older and had to rake
 In college:
   -- meeting new classmates, new dorm mates and new roommates
   -- playing football on the lawn in front of the dorm
   -- going to football games (& sneaking in a little bottle of rum for those cold days -- we were the ones yelling for the guy selling cold sodas even though we were wearing gloves and it might be snowing)
    -- walks to the park where I could sit in the crisp afternoon air and write
Later years:
  -- going on vacation (I always took vacation in the fall because I liked to see the leaves change or visit the beach when no one was around
  --  sitting on the beach or in the park while on vacation and writing
  -- going to baseball playoff games and an occasional World Series
  -- football brunches on Sunday

While I write every season,  I always seem to come up with fresh ideas in the Fall.  So here is a toast to fall and to new ideas and new beginnings.

The final thing I love about Fall is that it is when my birthday hits so I have just finished one year and I have a whole new year ahead. So here is a double toast to Fall.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Toast to a Great Cover

Today there is real cause for a pause for a taste of the bubbly!

Here’s why -- for a writer there is nothing quite like release day when you finally see your book, your baby, put out there for the whole world to see. Whether it is in a bookstore, or online at the Amazon and BN stores or your publisher’s online page, just seeing that book available widely for others to read always brings a tear of joy to my eyes and I’ve heard so many other authors say the same thing.
Before that wonderful date though, there are other great steps along the way – getting that call or email offering a contract, seeing the signed contract come back to you, seeing the manuscript sent back to you with edit marks for you to work on, then seeing the galleys where you actual work is placed into book form.

Then comes the “cover reveal.”  That is always a source of great pride because the cover is the first thing the public will see. It’s always been a source of great joy to me because I have been pretty lucky with my covers. Designing a cover starts with a great artist, even if there is a production team involved. This week I had that great moment.  I got the final cover back for my next book, BLUES AT 11.

The artist is Debbie Taylor from The Wild Rose Press and everyone who has seen it and read snippets of my book from my critique partner to my family say it’s spot on.  A toast to Debbie! And a toast to the entire production team at The Wild Rose Press for giving me another winning cover.
Here’s the blurb for Blues – 

Kimberly Delagarza is a familiar face in Los Angeles where she can be seen nightly on the evening news. She drives a fancy car, lives in a house on the beach, and wears designer clothes. But now the TV anchorwoman is being accused of murder.
No one believes she didn't kill her louse of an ex-boyfriend after he dumped her. Her next picture may be on a wanted poster, and her next home may be the Big House, with a wardrobe consisting of orange jumpsuits.
And the only man who can help her is someone she once wronged

This was a book I truly enjoyed writing because it allowed me to go back to my days in the crazy world of television news. While the people and situations are straight out of my head, it gave me a great opportunity to have my characters say and do all the things I always wanted to see said and done!
So here’s a toast to Blues, to talented folks at the Wild Rose Press and to the wonderful people in the TV news profession.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tracking Down a New Story

To be a writer is to be constantly on the lookout--for new ideas to incorporate into stories, for new friends who might provide new insight, for old methods that you might decide to give a try in new ways.  As writers we should always be examining the world around us and looking for fresh ways to tell a story and learning about new trends. But we should also be looking for where that next great new idea might come from.  It might even come from strangers on a train!

No, I’m not talking about the Hitchcock thriller where a  meets a stranger on the train who developed a plot to trade murders. But recently a day long train trip out of Denver's newly remodeled Union Station introduced me to some new friends from all around the country. We exchanged stories, then sang along as we travelled and finally they helped me plot a murder mystery as we spent six long minutes in the near total darkness of Colorado’s Moffatt Tunnel. Talk about eerie, but yes, the idea was to come out of the tunnel with a body in our midst!

We didn't get to an end of the story -- just the idea for the first body and then lots of suspects that we kept meeting along the way, the tourist group who was travelling together, but didn't really know each other, the seasoned tour guide who was volunteer and worked many of these train rides, or perhaps the nasty family who left all their trash on our table--maybe as a payback for all the noise we'd been making? The whole process reminded me it’s a never ending process to be a writer.

There is always something new to discover, to use, to tell others about in a story. As a writer and teacher I find I am always learning. Whether it is taking new classes or teaching new classes the learning process always goes on, no matter what I’m doing. To keep that never ending process going, I suggest a few simple steps you can take at just about any time:
1. Take a free class on something you’ve always wanted to learn
2. Watch for writing seminars or talks given by local writing groups
3. Look online for blogs that specialize in writing methods or trends
4. Buy or check out from the library a new book on writing
5. Watch for local one day or two day writing conferences

Some of these seem like simple things, but how often do we discount them? However, free classes from your library or recreational center might include things like photography or knitting or even local history. Ever thought  of writing a Steam Punk story? The local history museum might be a good place to start. I found myself daydreaming about historical stories in a visit to the state history museum last week. A class on pottery at the local recreational center might give you some ideas for an amateur sleuth who works out a mystery based around pottery.
Writing seminars are always good for new inspiration. Even if you find the material something you already know you might find some new ideas for character building or it might spring loose something you’ve always wanted to try.

The same goes for blogs on writing. Have you ever considered a method, but worried about trying something new, whether it be digital publishing or how to use Twitter to promote your books? Maybe you can find a blog that details a writer’s experience and learn some new information you can put to use.

New books on writing come out all the time and can be very useful, but sometimes going back through those old books you read years ago can be helpful too. Remembering the old enthusiasm or trying something you experimented with years ago can provide fresh incentive on a story.

 And mostly I like to look for local writing conferences or day long sessions with local writing groups. Even if you don’t belong to the group, usually visitors are welcome and sometimes these groups will bring in people from out of town who can provide plenty of writing knowledge. Not to mention how much fun it can be just to socialize and talk to other writers about their projects. Going to a group with people you’ve never met can also be stimulating for your own writing. You can also learn some of the new trends in various genres you might want to consider trying. I attended an all day session given by Colorado Romance Writers last weekend and learned secrets of writing steamy scenes from a bestselling erotica writer. 

Why do I suggest the never ending learning process? Well, it’s simple. You never know where the next great idea will come from.  It might even come from new and old friends aboard a train ride through the Rocky Mountains! My friends have already decided to start planning a trip down the California coast on the train.

And of course, we ended our train trip in grand fashion with a tour of Grand Junction's wineries and a great champagne tasting that had us all ready for a new adventure and looking for new ways to come up with story ideas.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writers Rock!

I am a firm believer in the power of writers.  Together we can come up with so many different plots, characters, ideas for saving the world, ideas for ending the world and just plain fun stories. There is something exhilarating about spending a few hours with writers or reader just chatting. I'm convinced that people who read regularly and the writers who provide books for them have a way of looking at the world that is just plain fun.

If I sound bubbly it's because I just spent a fun weekend at RomCon14 last week. This was the fourth time I attended the convention and it never fails to energize me. As a writer it makes me feel good about what I do as I chat with readers who always have interesting questions, observations and ideas for writers.

My first session was as a teacher, presenting a class for RomCon U on characters. A great question I got from a student was what to do about characters who start out as secondary people and then seem to take over the story.  My character Freeda Ferguson attempted to do that to my heroine in my new book, Dead Man's Rules.  She was such a fun, fresh person I couldn't help but give her a story of her own, which I am doing in Dead Man's Treasure. And that was what I advised to my questioner.  Go with it and give him his lead and see what sort of story journey he takes you on. She said readers are already interested in him, so I predicted good things should come as a result.

Next, came an opportunity to create a character for a story in the Build A Villain  workshop. I got the opportunity to team with fellow TWRP (The Wild Rose Press) author J. L. Wilson on coming up with a devilish fun bad girl with few redeeming values but with a way with men.  We also developed a woman who was equal to the challenge of vanquishing our villain in a darn good plot. All in all, the creative spirit that came to life as readers and writers participated in the creative process was fun to experience. Everyone had ideas and everyone contributed. One person would come up with an idea and then the next would add, and so on.

But the day of creativity was just getting going.  Later I got the chance to learn to crochet. (more on that at a later time) Then came an evening of  book signing, where I had the opportunity to sit next to the great Heather Graham. What an opportunity! Naturally I had to pick her brain and pose the same question I have often been asked when I teach my classes on characters. Where do you get them?  As the best selling author of more than 100 books, she is a great person to query. And her answer was so simple. People. Like so many other writers she is an observer. She pays attention to the folks around her. She said she often used to watch her children and their friends and figure out who might end up with who, based on their personalities. What a great idea. While I often watch people too, I found I might have a new way to people watch -- thinking about personalities that match and those that don't, putting couples together.

And that got me to thinking about my own characters too. I'm going to be watching them a lot more carefully. Who will end up with who? And why?  It will be a lot of fun to find out.

So today, I am giving a toast to the writers and readers from RomCon 2014.  Thanks for the fun and thanks for the inspiration!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Power of Positive Rewards

I have always believed in the positive power of rewards – especially when it comes to giving them to myself. In the old days when I could afford it I would treat myself to weekend getaways. I would spend the days sitting by the pool, walking on the beach or shopping  and the evening at a baseball game, the movies or at a great dining spot.
These days I am living a much simpler life. My week days are not nearly as hectic since I spend most of the time writing or working on online class lectures while the weekends sometimes turn into total chaos with everyone in the family wanting to go in different directions.
Now I am finding simple ways to spend my weekdays of retirement – like a trip to the library to research my latest story, or a trip to the book store to see what is new on the shelves. And I still try to find time to reward myself, like with a trip to the Denver Art Museum to see its current show, Modern Masters, a showing of artwork ranging from Van Gogh to Andy Warhol. How great to reward myself for working at my writing the rest of the time. I always enjoy the works of the French Impressionists and I don’t think I’d actually ever seen a Salvadore Dali up close before. I have to admit,  though, that looking at a huge wall of a Jackson Pollock drip painting reminded me of my brain, constantly going in different directions. The overall effect was overwhelming even as it was exhilarating.
It was a wonderful, restful way to spend the morning, and I breathed a sigh of contentment as I walked away. How great to spend time amidst so much creativity. I don’t know if I really understand art as such. I know I can’t even handle a paint brush to paint a wall, let alone create a sketch or something as magnificent as these works, but I do appreciate the individual creativity it takes to come up with ideas and then to transform those ideas into something artistic. And I know the courage it takes to share your vision with someone else and hope they understand the creativity if not the actual vision.
After the show, I took myself to lunch, and found my mind starting to click with creative ideas of my  book I am working on, and I also came up with the idea for this blog. The champagne and dessert weren't such bad rewards either!
own. Suddenly I came up with several new ideas for the
Rewarding yourself with creativity and beauty, even if is sometimes not entirely understood can be its own reward. For certain it is never a waste. It can stimulate your brain and open up new avenues of creativity, even as it soothes the soul.
So here's a tip of the champagne glass to positive rewards!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Celebrating a Spooky Story

by Rebecca Grace

It’s always fun to celebrate and as this month comes to a close I have something wonderful to celebrate – the world wide release of my new book, Dead Man’s Rules.  This is one of those books whose inner story grabbed hold of me while I was still in college and never let go.  I wrote the original version of it when I was in my early twenties on in pencil on notebook paper and then finished it typing on my first manual portable typewriter.  I revised it on my first Selectric typewriter and kept reworking it until I finally finished it many years later on my computer.

But even as I finished it, I knew tragic love stories set in the 50s and 60s weren’t going to sell, so I ended up updating it to the present and telling it through a modern heroine’s eyes.

I’ve told the story of how I came up with Dead Man over and over – it was one of those strange ghost-type stories you hear in high school or college-some mysterious building being haunted, some mysterious person being killed.  And that was how I first came up with the story of Marco Gonzales. There was supposed to be a bloody handprint on a wall left by a dying man – at least the story went that he died. And he was supposed to haunt this old building.  The building was real enough and my college friends and I set off to see it.

We had to do it in daytime, since back in my college days, girls didn’t get to be out of the dorm past ten and it took at least a couple of hours to drive out there. That was just as well. The final drive to the old building was over dirt roads and the building was boarded up. I remember being impressed with my first view of the building I later turned into the Palladium dance hall. It was an old company store that was two stories high and stood all by itself. It was boarded up and we had to climb through a broken door to get inside. And then we had to climb a rickety set of stairs up to the second floor. All the windows were boarded up and we had brought no flashlight so we had to do this all in near darkness, with the only light from broken pieces of wood in the windows.

But somehow we found the right room and somehow we found the hand print. It actually existed—just like we’d been told. Like Cere Medina in Dead Man, I wasn’t that impressed with what we were seeing. But it was there. And it was spooky, even if it was faint. There were splotches around it, which could have been more blood. We didn’t even know if it had been made from a bloody hand. It could have been made from a greasy hand. But we all wanted to believe the story that it had been blood and it had been made by a dying man. There was nothing written under it (yes, writers must have creative license for a good story.) But it was eerie and we were all very quiet as we looked at it. All laughter stopped, all joking stopped. All I could hear was the eerie sound of the wind whistling through the boarded up windows.  

We saw no ghost or anything else scary, but I remembered being afraid of being locked inside that room. After a few moments of silence we made our way downstairs and regained our voices. On the way back to town during the long drive we all came up with stories about how the handprint had been made. One of the guys figured it had been made by someone who had not paid a gambling debt. Someone else thought it was a fight over a woman. My story was Marco’s love story, or at least the start of the story was. It eventually evolved into the foundation for Dead Man’s Rules.

That wasn’t the only time I visited that location or the handprint. Years later I took my parents and younger brother up there and saw it again. It was still just as spooky and only made me want more to write my story about the handprint on the wall.

While the building still stands in the mountains of southern Colorado near the New Mexico state line, it is impossible to get close to now.  It’s on private, fenced in property, though I supposed a bunch of kids on a late night outing might still try to do it at times.

I don’t know if the hand print is still visible, but the building itself is still spooky. And if the man who made that handprint haunts the place, he’s all alone these days.
So here's a toast to spooky stories and visits to (possibly) haunted houses! And another to Dead Man's Rules and its World Wide release.  (see below for a blurb and excerpt)
Buy Links:
The Wild Rose Press:
A woman on a mission, a man with secrets to hide...
When tabloid reporter Cere Medina decides to dig into the mysterious cold case death of Marco Gonzales, she hopes it will save her career. Instead, she unearths enough secrets to make a small town explode. Not to mention putting her on the wrong side of the town's fascinating sheriff.

Sheriff Rafe Tafoya doesn't need anyone digging up the past. He's come back to his hometown of Rio Rojo, New Mexico seeking peace and quiet. But Cere's arrival puts his town—and his heart—in danger.

Behind it all lurks the ghostly presence of Marco, who has everyone playing by a dead man's rules...
Cere caught hold of his arm. “Maybe you should take me to the Palladium, Sheriff. I’d like to see the bloody hand print for myself.”
Damn, she was persistent. Rafe shook his head, again hoping to discourage her. “I chase people out. I don’t give tours. Enjoy your vacation.”
“I didn’t come for vacation.” Her eyes flashed with irritation. “I want to do a story on the handprint. I need to.”
His stomach knotted, as his breakfast churned in his stomach. He didn’t ask why she needed to do the story. He knew. Ego.
Reaching down, Cere pulled a reporter’s notebook from her bag. “If you won’t do an interview, do you know anyone who might talk to me?”
Why had he wondered what she might think about him? Or hope that she might be interested in him? She was only after her damn story. Acid boiled in his stomach. This woman would pry until eventually she might uncover some ugly truths. And she would spill it all out on national television. She could hurt a good many people, people he knew and loved. 
Rafe gritted his teeth as he forced an answer, hoping for one final chance at dissuading her. “No one will talk to you. My advice is to let it go. Relax. Take your vacation.”
He might as well have struck her. Her chin snapped up and her body grew rigid. He drew back at the determination he saw grow in her bright eyes.
“Don’t try to tell me what I should do. It’s time someone found out who murdered Marco Gonzales. Yes, I said,murdered, Sheriff. If you don’t want to help me investigate his death, I’ll do it on my own.”




Friday, February 28, 2014

Celebrating a Week of Writing

Celebrating any little victory can be important for writers. I've touched on that before and it's always good to celebrate with a group of writers.  Today I am drinking a toast to my Heart of Denver Romance Writers group and its monthly book in a week challenge. This sort of writing challenge can be done by any group wanting to dedicate a full week to their writing. The Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA also does such a challenge every couple of months.

It's a good practice to fall into and you can even do it on your own, though I like the idea of a group participating.  What purpose does one week of steady writing serve, you might ask? There are five good reasons I always participate when I can:

1. It helps me to be accountable. We set a goal at the beginning of the week and then try to meet it. For some it might be as lofty as writing 10,000 words.  Or it can be as small as 350 words a day.
Either way, there is a goal there, and if you work to achieve it, it furthers your writing. Even if you don't you will probably end up with more words written than you might otherwise have completed.

2. It makes me schedule a time to write. Sometimes days can be so hectic, but if there is a goal set and we want to reach our goals, we need to make the time to get the work done. And setting that goal makes me want to achieve it. And you only achieve it by sitting down and writing.

3. It makes me turn off my inner editor. Sometimes my writing slows down because I get caught up in a few paragraphs, trying to make them perfect before moving on. When you are participating in something like Book in a week (or in NaNoWriMo) there is no time for editing. You simply have to sit down and put the words on paper. Maybe they aren't as graceful as you wanted, but you're moving your story forward and getting something accomplished. The editing can come later.

4. It does good to see how the others are doing. I'll admit I can be very competitive and when I feel good about my 785 words written and I see someone else or a couple of other people double that, well, then the next day I am going to try as hard as possible to match them and their output.  I want to write more!

5. There is a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the week. It feels good to look back and see how much got done, and often I have propelled myself past a knotty part of the story that was perhaps slowing me down. Writing fast can push me through that and suddenly I am on to the next part of the story and moving forward again.

So, even if you don't have a group to work with, try the book in a week challenge. Set a total word goal for yourself for the next week and then see how much you can get done.  And then drink that glass of champagne and celebrate.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Valentine's Day

Happy  Valentine’s Day!  Today we are celebrating romance. But let’s go beyond that. Let’s   As long as people love romance, there will be readers and luckily, there will also be writers. Who doesn’t love a good story with a happy or sometimes a bittersweet ending? 
celebrate and toast those special people who read and write romance novels.

Romance novels and novels and novelists come in all shapes and sizes.  I would love to run a list of them all, but it would be too numerous.  In danger of missing some of my favorite fellow writers, I am not going to list them all either. 
From the first time I picked up Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in my teens I was hooked. My best friend and I went through Sense and Sensibility and then Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. We always had a library book or two in our locker with our textbooks and they were usually romances. I spent summers walking to the library in the eastern Colorado heat every single week just so I search out a new romance. Then I picked up a Harlequin Romance and I got hooked even more.  And now I'm still reading romance, in all shapes and sizes, in print or on my Kindle and Ipad. I listen to romances on audio. As long as there was a good love story involved I've always enjoyed the story.

But I also found I loved writing romance. By the time I was out of high school I had written my own romance short story involving a kidnapping, a small town girl, and a rock and roll idol! I still have that story floating around in the basement somewhere though the penciled manuscript has probably faded and I doubt I could read my writing.
It wasn’t until years later that I began writing romances in earnest and trying to get published.  But I also had a day job that was pretty demanding and after a couple of rejections I stopped submitting and focused on writing TV news scripts. I saved the romance writing for evenings and weekends, and I didn’t submit again for a very long time.

Now, with a number of suspense books on the market and a mystery to come, I find I still haven’t lost the taste for reading and writing romance. There are still plenty of great stories out there and  I keep finding new authors every day. And I personally keep coming up with my own stories as well.
But I couldn’t celebrate Valentines Day without a tribute to one of my all time favorite love, Home Fires Burning.  That was the story of a young girl who met the man of her dreams when she was ten and knew from the moment she saw him that he was meant to be her husband. My mother told us the story over and over about the handsome cowboy who came to work at her family’s Colorado ranch when she was young and how she spent years trying to get his attention. It took her growing up before he even noticed her, and then a world war came between them and when he finally came home, she had been sent to California to live with a brother. But she wasn't going to be denied -- she caught the first train home and they eloped to New Mexico. Eventually they got to spend 48 happy years together. 
stories—that of my parents whose story I sort of stole and used as the beginning of my book,

And to me that is romance. I love to read those stories and write those stories where true love wins out in the end. Whether there is a family conflict involved, or a murder to solve or the love is between a poor woman and a royal or a shapeshifter or a vampire and the girl or guy next door, a great romance is always a joy to read.
So here’s a toast to the romance readers out there and to the many writers who make those stories come alive! Who are your favorite writers and what are your favorite romance novels?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebrating Success

Today I am celebrating my first great success of the new year.  Earlier this week, my latest book, Dead Man’s Rules became available on Amazon for Kindle.  The print version will be released in a few months, but Dead Man is now out there and available  and that is exciting news.

Dead Man is a book I began many years ago and then totally rewrote and then re-edited and finally turned into a series. It’s the story about a bloody hand print made left on a wall of an old dance hall by a dying man. Who was he? How did he die and does his ghost still haunt the dance hall?  Those are the questions my reporter heroine, Cere Medina sets out to answer in book one of the series.

After years of work on that story, I feel like I have good reason to celebrate, but it got me to thinking about celebrating as a writer in general and how often we forget to acknowledge our success, even the small ones.

Today I read a blog from a fellow writer who mentioned that we need to celebrate our successes.  I am in total agreement. There is nothing quite like finishing a book and knowing it is done. Oh, yes, it might need lots of editing, but when you write that final paragraph, those final words, wow, does it feel good. Your story is over.

That is a victory we all need to celebrate. How many people say they want to write a book, but they just don’t have the time?  How many have a great idea but just don’t know where to start? How many start, but then they get bogged down in the middle?  Each of these sentence probably has thousands of groups of people in them.  For the writers who do finish that book, you need to remember to celebrate that victory of getting to the end.

But there are other things to celebrate as well.  As I wrote in a comment to that blog today, I have taken to celebrating when I get a chapter done. For years now, when I finish a chapter, I give myself a round of applause. Yes, literally and out loud. Suddenly I’ll begin clapping and if there is anyone around they look at me as though I’m crazy. I’ve gotten strange looks at Starbucks, believe me. But why not?  Finishing a chapter, finishing a scene can be a reason to celebrate – especially when it’s been a tough scene you’ve been agonizing over.

 So celebrate. Clap for yourself when you finish a tough scene. Celebrate those successes. You’ve earned it!