Thursday, March 26, 2009

Texas BlueBonnets. This native flower screams spring to me, although to be honest, I've never had the pleasure of viewing them when they are in full bloom. I've heard stories, been sent pictures and videos from Texas friends but have never been to Texas for the sheer breathtaking beauty of BlueBonnet season.

Its always been a strange quirk of mine to have this connection to Texas. A New York girl born and raised, I have no idea why I'm so drawn to this state so very far away from our East Coast. But ever since I was a little girl I've had a thing for Texas. Celebrating my 40th birthday by finally visiting San Antonio and the Hill Country area was a dream come true.

When I write stories set in Texas, on the ranches, with cowboys and cowgirls or those that fall in love with them, I feel as if I'm right there. I smell the air, hear the sounds and live the life that for some reason is so deep in my soul. Other writing friends have this connection with places like England or Ireland, countries far away that they have no idea why such a place speaks to them but it does.

Do you have a strange connection to a place or time that seems to make no sense to you? Do you generally feel drawn to write about those places?

I'll be visiting Texas for the third time this May, going back to celebrate my 45th birthday on a dude ranch in Bandera, Texas and then onto San Antonio for the annual Merritt Conference with my buddies in the San Antonio Romance Authors. I hope each of you at some point in your life gets to visit the "home" of your heart. Its a feeling like no other. As John Denver once sang, "Coming home to a place I've never been before." That's the feeling I get when I'm in Texas.

Happy Spring everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

That picture is of my beautiful girl, Tasha. We lost her on March 12 at age 14. Anyone who has lost a family pet knows the grief that still consumes my family's heart. My older two sons, Ian and Brennan were 4 and 5 when we got this puppy, my youngest son, CJ hadn't even been born yet. She was every family's dream of the perfect dog.

Not that she was perfect. Not by a long shot. She was way too smart for her own good and got into more antics and trouble then we ever could have dreamed up.

Pets play such an enormously important role in our lives, or at least most of our lives that its only natural that in our writing we occasionallly include pets for our heroes or heroines. But just like when you put children in a book you have to be careful to make sure that the pet plays a backstage role, and not overshadows the storyline. The other tough thing is to remember you put them in there. What do I mean by that? Well, if you put a cat in the heroine's life in Chapter one and never come back to the cat again, the reader is left wondering why the pet was there in the first place.

Its for that reason, I don't often have them in my books. I never can quite figure out the right role for them to play without it feeling forced. In my book, "Beauty and the Geek" my hero, Louie has a huge striped grey cat named "Google". The whole reason that Google showed up in that book is because a very large striped beast of a cat showed up in my life that same month and took hold of my heart. My cat's name is Tom Cat or Tommy for short (yes I"m very original). He demanded to have a part in my book. What happened eventually is Google was able to show the reader the side of our heroine that was at first hard to uncover. But even then I struggled to make sure he was dropped into the story in a few more places. I tended to forget about him as time went by in my book.

On a final note, whether you put animals in your book or not, they simply make sitting at your desk pounding out scenes much more enjoyable by their very presence in our life. Tasha will be missed for years to come. Rest in peace my beautiful girl, you've left a very big hole in this author's heart.


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Writing friends. Is there anything better? This picture was taken a year ago when I was in Houston visiting good friends, (from left to right) Bev Oz, Allie Standifer, Me, and Betty Hanawa. You may have read some of our books; we did two anthologies together for the holidays - "Tales from Christmas Town," and "Love from Christmas Town", for 2006 and 2007, respectively.

I know its not the holiday season, but our anthologies were such fun to write together, I keep you get a chance to pick one up someday. But this isn't about my books (well, its always about my books now isnt it - lol), but rather about the value of writing buddies or critique partners. There simply is no more unique friendship then the one shared by two writers. Who but your writing buddy understands when you say "I had no idea that character was going to do that". They don't look at you like you've lost your mind.

A good writing friend is honest without hurting your feelings. She loves you enough to not let you do something dumb like include a scene that is pointless no matter how snappy the dialogue or how amazing you described the sunset.

I tend to bounce ideas off my buddy Jo Barrett (another TWRP author check out her titles at, and I know her so well that her silence usually tells me more than her words. If I share an idea for a scene and she doesn't say much, I know its probably not a good idea. When she loves something she talks a mile a minute and can brainstorm like crazy all the possibilities.

I know not everyone can meet face to face with a writing buddy. In fact, I've never lived near any of my writing friends. Heck, I went all the way to Houston to be with these ladies and Jo is in NC so that's a bit of a drive from Upstate New York. But the internet solves all that. If you aren't part of a writing group or a critique group you may want to consider one. I know at The Wild Rose Press there is a critique matchmaking group called The Rose Trellis that helps writers find each other.

This June I"m releasing another anthology with some writing friends. Stacy Dawn and Cindy Pape both TWRP authors joined forces with me to bring you "Return to Wayback", part of the popular series in the Yellow Rose line at This book features three siblings, Free, Grey and Dusty all part of the rodeo circuit - one barrel racer, one bull rider and one bronc buster. I hope you'll pick it up and enjoy the work we put into it.

If you haven't thought about a critique partner or writing buddy before I urge you to take the chance; it could be one of the most rewarding friendships of your life.

Thanks for stopping by.