Monday, November 24, 2014

MAY YOU FIND THE QUIET JOY




Turkey and trimmings
Heart of our family
And Pumpkin pie
Nip of wood smoke in the air
Keeping the traditions    
Smiling faces, hugs and love
Grandma’s house
In the kitchen preparations
Viewing the happy circle around the Table
Invoking memories of those gone but never forgotten
New generation of little ones added
Giving heartfelt thanks for the riches in my life—my family and friends


Giving thanks has always been a time of reflection. Taking stock of the good in my life.  It has never been about money or pricey accouterments. It isn't relegated to one day in the year but it's practiced throughout the year and especially when things seem bad.  That's the time I really look for the positives. Negatives are always easy to find and if I look at only negatives it will rob me of inner peace and contentment. So I refocus my heart and simplify my eye to see the things that really matter.

For me, Thanksgiving is so much more than a feast upon the table. It's a reality check.

I realize I have all the important things like my faith, family and good friends, a job that provides food and place to live, and while I may creak and hurt sometimes I am alive and breathing.

Heartfelt thanksgiving is celebrating the simple things and finding contentment in those riches. Contentment breeds quiet joy. 

May you find the quiet joy. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

My guest today is a cowboy loving romance author, Victoria Vane (aka Emery Lee). Slow hand is the first in her western romance series, Hot Cowboy Nights. 
  • Did you try other genres before you hit with this one?
Although many readers still haven’t heard of me, SLOW HAND, the first book in a hot contemporary Western series, is actually my fourteenth published novel. My debut in 2010 was THE HIGHEST STAKES (writing as Emery Lee), a work of romantic historical fiction set in the world of 18th century horseracing. I followed up with a sequel called FORTUNES’S SON, set in the gambling world. In 2012 I made the decision to switch gears and write steamy romance. When A BREACH OF PROMISE found an enthusiastic audience, I decided to stay the course. Over the next two years I published eight more hot historicals (The Devil DeVere series and THE SHEIKH RETOLD). But after three years of writing with critical acclaim but only modest success, I have decided to take a leap- three centuries to be exact!
  • Why this genre instead of another? What excites you about this genre?
I decide to try contemporary romance, as it’s the most popular genre. And since most romance readers gravitate to certain kinds of heroes, I started looking at what readers like best. I then considered which kinds of heroes I was most attracted to. The answer was a no brainer for me- cowboys. I've loved them my entire life. I’d just never thought to write about them, but as a lifelong horse lover, it only made sense.
I’m most excited about this adventure as I think I bring a new twist to the genre. While cowboy romances are certainly nothing new to readers, each of my stories has a unique tone and theme. In all four books (SLOW HAND, ROUGH RIDER, SHARP SHOOTER and SILVER TONGUE) my heroes are modern day cowboys facing very real and relatable struggles. Wade (SLOW HAND) is burning the candle at both ends between a rural law practice and a struggling family ranch. His brother Dirk (ROUGH RIDER) is a former bull rider, rancher and wounded vet. Reid (SHARP SHOOTER) is also a vet, a marine and back-country hunting guide. Keith (SILVER TONGUE) is a Native American struggling between two vastly different worlds.

These stories are all hot and sexy but still have well developed plots and emotional depth.

Although this new endeavor marks a distinct departure from historical romance, readers will find that my trademarks still remain—well researched, scorching hot, emotionally compelling, character-driven stories. 
  • How much do current events play into your writing?
Very much! That’s what I feel makes this series unique. I am a true research geek so most of my story ideas have sprung from things that I read. In setting my series in contemporary Montana and Wyoming, I began following various local newspaper and my stories grew out of news reports that I read.

In SLOW HAND, the two Knowlton brothers are divided over the family ranch. Wade, is increasingly resentful that his law practice is the only thing that’s keeping the ranch afloat, while his brother, Dirk, a wounded vet (ROUGH RIDER) feels the ranch is all he has left. They face the same economic struggles that all ranches are dealing with.

SHARP SHOOTER is truly unique as is features a former marine scout sniper/hunting guide from Wyoming and a wolf biologist as the heroine. At the core of the story is the wolf conservation controversy.

Lastly, SILVER TONGUE takes up another controversial issue - wild mustangs. Most of America is unaware that we currently have almost 50,000 of them stockpiled in government holding facilities which means there are almost twice as many “wild horses” living in captivity than out on the range!
  • What inspired this series or characters?
My characters were very much inspired by real people. Nikki from SLOW HAND shares many experiences from my personal life, while her sister Shelby is an amalgamation of my two sisters. Wade was named after my first cowboy crush! 
  • Do you people watch when you’re out and about? Does this help with creating your own characters.
Yes. Much of my research is people watching. In writing my cowboy characters I tried to tune in closely to both slang and body language. I had a bit of trouble getting a handle on my Native American character in SILVER TONGUE so I turned to films. I've watch about a half dozen movies with genuine NA actors in an effort to nail down this character.
Victoria, thank you for taking time from your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. Wishing you the best with this new endeavor! It's a pleasure to have you visit. 
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Sia. I appreciate the chance to talk about my new contemporary series.

                                                                                                                                                                  


In rural Montana…

Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.

Even the lawyers wear boots…


Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds—until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can't resist a cowboy with a slow hand…



                                                                                                                                                          

Victoria Vane is a multiple award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her books have received more than twenty reviewer awards and nominations including the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.


Monday, November 17, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS—THE SUN IS SHINING AND ALL IS GOOD IN MY WORLD





The sun is bright and a layer of white blankets the fields and laces the trees. Here and there are flashes of vibrant blues, reds, and mottled golden browns of the birds in trees and shrubs. A huge flock of geese are flying high in the
sunlight as they move to southern wetlands. A large redheaded woodpecker is swinging on the bird feeder. In the pasture shaggy coated horses huddle together, their breath a puff of fog floating about their heads. Steam rises off their coats as the sunlight melts the snow and ice. Chardeen is curled up in a thick network of branches in a nearby tree catnapping in the sun.

In the distance a flash of hunter orange as a hunter weaves in and out around the trees on the adjoining property. This morning there have only been a few shots echoing in the hills. I know at least one bright hunter orange spot is my son moving along our fence lines before dropping out of sight over the hill. So far nothing for him. He’s not a patient hunter and I have to remind him hunting is not like an Xbox game. Real time is a lot of quiet watching and careful moving with the occasional opportunity. Jake is 19 and has only been hunting about 3 years and some years there are deer everywhere and other years they’re few and far between and it all depends upon the pattern of other hunters moving in the surrounding hills as to where the deer will end up. Ah, he’ll learn.

Not a lot of snow, thankfully, maybe a couple of inches or so, but it’s cold. Very cold—single digits, which is unusual for us this time of the year. Normally we’re in the upper 40’s in November. Gee, thanks Canada. Sure wish y’all would learn to keep your door shut and the cold up there.

I've been doing a lot of reading of late. I've read some really good books but I’ll tell you about them in a later post.


So, what’s happening in your neck of the woods this morning?

Friday, November 14, 2014

SALLY ORR—A FASCINATION FOR THE 'GREATER' REGENCY-ERA (hint: it's not the Dukes)



My guest is romance author, Sally Orr. She debuts with a different sort of regency hero—a smart man of vision but not smart enough to stay out of trouble, lol! I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Today I’d like to tell you why I find the greater Regency-era exciting.

My books are not technically a Regency romance. Instead, they would fall under the Regency-era. The formal Regency is when Prince George ruled by proxy because his father, George III, was unable to govern (1811-1820). So the expected Regency romance should take place during these years. However, if you look up Regency-era on Wikipedia, it is defined as a distinct time in British culture and civilization (1795-1837). This era is before the railroads covered the country and before Victoria took the throne.

I find this era exciting, because it falls within the industrial revolution (1760-1840). A time of progress in transportation, steam power, chemicals, gas lighting, manufacture, and standards of living.

So you see I have strayed from the dogma of a Regency Romance. Romances that are usually characterized by having titled characters, like a duke. Regency romances celebrate a time of simple living, balls, carriages, and proper manners. I can easily see the allure of this time period and a duke as a hero, a wealthy, powerful individual with a grand estate. Most of us can imagine finding true love with a man like that, so it’s no surprise that they are the most popular heroes in romance. They are so popular, in fact, that in our modern romance world we have created thousands of dukes. In our fictional London, a large percentage of the people on the streets are dukes. When in reality, a tall, handsome, single, Regency duke (complete with seductive chuckles), is about as rare as rocking horse poo.

If I had the choice to fall in love with either a Regency duke or a man who would invent/discover something significant that laid the foundation of our modern world, I’d choose the inventor. 

Why? If I wrote Medieval romance, I'd choose a duke as a hero, a man who earned the title for service to his king and country. However, very few dukedoms were awarded for merit during the Regency. Arthur Wellesley earned the title of first Duke of Wellington and some others, but most Regency dukes inherited their wealth and title. That does not mean that they are unable to be alluring or seductive heroes—they are. The actions of these heroes in Regency romances are definitely swoon-worthy. 

My hero preference is a reflection of the fact that I'm a nerd girl whose taste in heroes is a little different.

Three years ago, my husband and I took our old Airstream to Las Vegas. One day we toured the Hoover dam. I distinctly remember turning the corner in the visitor center and coming face-to-face with a handsome Regency-era portrait of a man wearing a cravat—Michael Faraday. Now Michael Faraday is my muse, whether scientist or writer. My favorite quote is his response to a young man who asked him the best way to succeed as a man of science. Michael replied, “Work, finish, publish.” Simple, yes, but you have to do all three to meet your goal. Michael’s portrait was at the Hoover dam because he invented the dynamo (the bases for power generators) in his basement laboratory at the Royal Institute of Great Britain on London’s Albemarle Street in 1831-2. 

So if I had to choose my favorite hero, I’d choose someone like Michael. In fact, there are many fabulous Regency romances with these types of heroes. Lisa Kleypas’ Simon Hunt from her first Wallflower book, Secrets of a Summer Night, comes to mind. My hero in The Rake’s Handbook: Including Field Guide, wants to build a foundry to manufacture small steam engines. It is these engines that will in the next couple of decades revolutionize the production of small consumer goods. So in my opinion, heroes like this add a bit more excitement and relevance to my enjoyment of the love story.

  • Are any of your favorite heroes inventors or scientists or discoverers?


                                                                                                

The definitive guide to seduction…

The Rake’s Handbook was written on a dare, and soon took the ton by storm. Now its author, Ross Thornbury, is publicly reviled by the ladies—who are, of course, forbidden to read the handbook—but privately revered by the gentlemen. Unfortunately, Ross’s notoriety is working against him and he flees London painfully aware of the shortcomings of his own jaded heart.

Spirited young widow Elinor Colton lives next to Ross’s country estate. She’s appalled not only by his rakish reputation, but also by his progressive industrial plans. Elinor is sure she is immune to Ross’s seductive ways. But he keeps coming around…impressing her with his vision for England’s future and stunning her with his smiles.

How does one resist the man who wrote the manual on love?

Buy Links

                                                                                                                     


Sally Orr worked for thirty years in medical research, specializing in the discovery of gene function. After joining an English history message board, she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery. As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, it's not surprising that her first book is a Regency romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nerdy books and not enough old English cars. Author WebsiteFacebookGoodreads

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG—GETTING THE PATTERN STRAIGHT



  
I've been looking at a manuscript I wrote as the first part of a series several years ago. I really like this story. The quality doesn't fall into the, oh my god, how awful category—those stories are long ago in a galaxy far away, um, that would be in a hidden box. It’s full of old manuscripts written through the years and won’t see the light of day anytime soon. 

I digress. This story has good bones but could be told in a better way. I knew that four years ago, when started editing it. There are two editions both a bit different than the other the original and #2 is from my first pass of edits. It still wasn't quite right. Editing is not my favorite part of writing.

To make it what it needs to be will take some pretty ruthless work. The third file of this story has pieces spread out everywhere. It's kind of like having all the pieces of the fabric for a quilt but no pattern handy to reassemble it so it looks like a quilt and not a stack of bright colors. It's daunting. There are pieces mixed in that aren't necessary in creating the quilt.  


In writing I need to know many things that my reader doesn't. To complicate things more the story starts in the wrong place—cut about 5 chapters and you have the true beginning. I also know the plot needs tweaking. I have the main story and a couple of sub-plots. I need a clearer picture of where I want this story to go. Need to get rid of those things that don't move the story forward and add other scenes that will.


When I look at the mess of pieces it overwhelms me. Where the hell do I start?

I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Just as with creating a quilt (which I've done) or any art form  you first have to have a pattern. The base pattern has to be a clear picture in your mind. The shape and scope of it. That clarity determines what sort of accents and in what material and textures are needed to compliment the pattern. Make it pop.



So, I have my answer. I need to start with the pattern (plot). Get a clearer picture of it in my mind and then set out the pieces (chapters and scenes) that fit the pattern and baste them together. I need to decide, once that's done, what will add better texture to the story. Adding more layers of emotion and motivations. Add the contrasts of environment and description to match the picture in my head.

Easy-peasy right? Pfft. Not hardly.

It’s still in pieces and I don’t kid myself about the time involved to take this story from okay to great. Even after I have the pattern clear and the pieces and accents where I want them I know there will be several more editing passes after the beta reads.


But that’s for the future. Right now my focus is on getting the pattern straight. I’ll worry about the rest later.






Bear with me folks, I had a severe allergic reaction Monday evening and I'm still weak and wimpy. I will get around to visit but it will be in ;-) bits and pieces. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS: MORNING BREAKS ACROSS THE LAND






The sun is peeking over the black hills. Golden fingers of sunshine crawl across the fields flicking aside blue and purple shadows as it flows west. Sparkles of light dance in the tall frosted grass. The sun caresses the long stalks releasing subtle splinters of color. Black silhouette of trees sway in the wind as if inviting the sun to move along. The remaining leaves sigh and wave against the deep purple and magenta of the sky. 

As I sip my coffee, bundled up against the cold, I watch the leaves flame gold and orange in the morning light. So bright against the shadows of the tree limbs. Crows and ravens arrow east across the morning sky to seek the warmth of the sun. They dip and sway in the slender rays of sunshine, calling strident good morning.

A vivid flash of red in the branches of a tree catches my eye. A family of cardinals have found the sun, chattering and fluffing feathers to take in the warmth. Blue Jays are swinging below on the bird feeders as they grab sunflower seeds. The squirrel above isn't too happy having to wait for its turn at the feeders. Its broadcasting its displeasure for all to hear. The cardinals will await the sun before dropping to the ground to break their fast.

I can’t help but smile as I watch a couple of cats chase the leaves that blow across the field. They’ll get down to serious hunting in a bit but first the fun of chasing the leaves. 

My horses are standing under the community tree waiting the warmth of the sun to reach them. Sassy nickers a good morning and saunters over to the fence
Doctari in the sunshine
Patiently waiting for a cookie
with hopes of a cookie but I didn't bring any out. I’m too lazy, um, cozy snuggled in my chair with a cat on my lap to want to move. She arches her neck over the fence, nostrils flaring—she has hopes I have one or two hidden. If there wasn't a fence she’d be on the patio with me, snuffling my body for hidden goodies. “Later, me darlin’ Sassy, later.” She tosses her head and goes back to the herd.

Morning has broken. The sunshine is warm on my face. The land is shimmering in the morning sunshine. My coffee is about gone and my hands are cold. Time to go back inside and start my day.

I take a deep breath scenting the rich smells of damp earth, fallen leaves, the bite of morning chill and sunshine. It's good to be alive.

It’s going to be a great day!


The community tree.
    

Monday, October 27, 2014

MONDAY MUSINGS: GOLDEN FALL A TIME OF WORK AND FUN



It is fall, and while I decry the passing of summer and the diminishing light there is a beauty to fall I've always loved. The bright blue skies, the crisp snap of cool, the bright colors to the trees, the rich scents of the woods, and the sound of the huge flocks of geese flying south. The smell of wood smoke in the air. I love the golden sunshine bathing everything in warmth and beauty. Liquid gold.


Fall is also a busy time because we're preparing the house and fields for winter cold. Gathering wood, filling the propane tank, weatherizing windows and doors as well as the Dane houses. Stocking up on hay and feed. I planted more tulips for spring color. Be nice to look out my window in my office and see the bright colors while working next spring. Dan was out mowing the lawn for what he thinks should be the last time of the season--we'll see. I know there will be at least one more time to mulch the leaves that have fallen in yard. 

Fall has been a little strange this year. For one, it's the last week of October and we still have green leaves on many of the oaks. I noticed yesterday that they're starting to pick up small sections of their red coloring of fall. Still warm enough to go barefoot and be in shirt sleeves although the nights and early mornings are jacket weather. We've had the AC kick on several times in the afternoon. Last year we had a brilliant display of color that peaked by October 15th and that last week of October the front yard was full of leaves. Not this year. We've also spent some time doing fun things which is just as necessary as doing the fall chores. 

CANDLES
HANDMADE SOAP
This past weekend we went to a fall festival. It was good to get out among people and enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having. A friend of mine holds this fall festival. She's a natural health practioner, grows organic gardens and cultivates many herbs she uses in her practice. Through her, I have met many other small organic farmers and ranchers in our area as well 
JEWELRY
as a ton of crafters. Festival is on her huge place. Lots of vendors from all over Missouri with their wares, live music, good food, lots of laughter and good times. 

BREADS ETC
YUMMY PRODUCE
There were hayrides, mushroom harvest walks (by an
expert in the field), herb walks, soap and candle making demos, canning and cheese making.

In the evening there are bonfires, s'mores, coffee, beer and wine, conversation and of course music. Quite a few good musicians with everything from rock to country.


We had a good time.