Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why did I choose Indianola?

I'm working steadily to finish what I thought would be a novella set in Indianola, Texas in 1875, but I have 50,000 words already and I'm no where near the end of my story so....could this be another full length novel? As a pantser I won't know until I reach the end but it's looking that way.
I chose the town because I wanted a ghost town. Ghost towns have a fascination unlike real or fictional towns in that they possess mystery. Why did the town die? I wanted that part of the town to be a real element in the story. At the time I went searching for a setting, I had no idea how that history would play into my story but wow - I'm so excited about this one.

Indianola rivaled Galveston back in the day and was known as "the" port for shipping and for newly arrived immigrants. It was perfectly situated with easy access. In fact, it was the county seat at the time, but nature had other plans. A very distructive hurricane swept through in on Sept 16, 1875. Folks managed to rebuild, but another hurricane in 1886 sealed her fate and the post office was officially closed in 1887.

After reading some of the town's history, I told my mom about my selected location and she got all excited. She actually had a book on the town's history because she's huge into geneaology and that's the port where my forefathers entered the US for the first time. Having the book made my research go a lot smoother. Yes, there's plenty of info on the Internet, but not the wonderful tidbits offered by Indianola: The Mother of Western Texas by Brownson Malsch.

Even more fascinating is the culmination of the Sutton/Taylor feud. The trial of Bill Taylor was in progress when the hurricane hit so the town was full of visitors seeking a bit of excitement. I started my story in August and I'm now at the point where the hurricane hits. Can't wait to see how my hero and heroine react, how they survive. So many lost their lives to nature's destructive forces.

I'm planning a trip to the actual site sometime in March. I'll post pictures later.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's all about the dance

This has been a strange week and I apologize for going so long without a post. We lost a friend, a young man who fought for our country. Though he died here in the states, I still consider his death a casualty of war in a way. It's funny though how we deal with grief differently. Two nights after his passing, we consoled his best friend. A group of young folks gathered at her home and when we got there, they were dancing. Her circle of friends were doing all they could to lift her spirits. So - we danced with them. Every other song we danced and in between we cried and spoke of memories, the good kind that sealed his essence in our hearts.

That was Friday.

Today, I've been reminiscing about my own life and trying to recall where I was when I was his age. I have students who come to my class during lunch, and today, they wanted to dance. So they did line dances and urged me to join in. Of course, I don't know the new ones but I learned the Wobble. They got a kick out of my attempts and so did I, but I tried to tell them about the line dances we did when I was their age. The main two were the Cotton Eyed Joe and the Schottische. Later, we also added the Freeze.  But we danced the Freeze to a song by a different title so tonight I spent the better part of an hour trying to remember the song. Very appropriate that it was titled "I Still Remember" by Dan Hartman. I was very dissappointed to discover it wasn't available on itunes. But I did find it on youtube.

This post is for those that need to remember. To remember to live, to love and to laugh. Miss you, Mike.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm booked for life!

Hubby just got through building my seventh bookshelf. OMG, it's absolutely gorious. Covered all in cedar planks, it smells divine as well. So the first picture looks just like a door to a closet and that's what it is. We covered the entire room with the knotty pine including the ceiling and it has a warm, cozy feel to it. You can also see shelves to the side (yep, more book shelves!)

A writer can never have too many books. I'm addicted to rummaging through Half Price Books for any type of resource book. I have books on Indians, Texas Rangers, vikings, astrology, how to read dreams, language dictionaries, rigging a sailboat, medicinal plants, etc. Have I read them all? Well, no. I've read parts of them all and I figure I'll have tons of time when I retire.
Sure, the Internet is great for research but you'd be amazed at what you still can't find by going to the web. In that respect, ebooks haven't totally taken over - yet. As much as I love my kindle, using bound books for research is still a lot easier in my opinion.

So yeah, I'm excited to have my seventh bookshelf. As you can see, I still have room to add more books. And yes the other six bookshelves are equally filled. Of course not all are research books. I do have a few of these shelves committed to my favorite authors.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Excerpt from On Timeless Wings of Gold

With so much going on this week, I figured I'd just share a snippet from my latest. Enjoy an excerpt for On Timeless Wings of Gold:
“You said earlier, that when you escape you’d not come back no matter the cost. I know you have a plan.” Her mind raced with plans for leaving. She knew enough about survival to risk the inherent dangers, but where would she go?
          “You wear your thoughts for all to see. You’ll do naught to bring danger to this house. Do you ken?”
          She gave him an innocent shrug. “I can’t just do nothing. Escape isn’t so farfetched an idea, especially if we work together.”
          “Nay.” He jumped to his feet and grabbed hold of her arm. “I’ll hear no more talk of such.”
          “Unhand me, or I’ll lay you low like I did your Viking friend.”
          “I welcome your attempt to try.”
          She shivered. Apprehension warred with desire.
Desire? Where had that thought come from? She needed to be free from his hold, free from her budding awareness of him as a man.
          “Please take your hands from me,” she demanded again, her voice less steady. She couldn’t back down, and he wouldn’t back down. They were at an impasse, and it didn’t look like he was one for compromise.
          “Answer me, first.”
          She tried to pull away. “I won’t make promises I don’t intend to keep. I’m old enough to make decisions for myself, and I certainly don’t need some self-assured male with an ego problem to dictate to me. Now, drop your hands from my person, bud.”
          Tension mounted, sizzling into a more heated emotion. Slowly the anger faded from his face, replaced by a lustful smoldering. Instead of loosening his hold, his hands tightened, and he drew her closer, gentling his touch. “Nay. I think I like my hands upon your person.”
          His voice dropped to a low, mesmerizing pitch, a silky invitation designed to break through her resolve. She licked dry lips. When had she lost control of the situation?
          She didn’t dare knee him in the groin as she wanted, but she had to let this oaf know she could be as stubborn and determined as he. In a maneuver made difficult by the overlarge shirt she wore, she managed to elbow him in the stomach. Her actions proved unwise. Pain shot through her funny bone. The man’s stomach was as hard as the stone floor.
          “Ach, sweet angel. I should no’ care what happens to you, but I do. I’ve forced my will upon you, and ’tis no’ the way I meant for this morn to begin.” He dropped his hands.
          She rubbed her arms. He wanted to impose his will upon her but when thwarted would claim nonchalance with an I-don’t-care attitude. He didn’t like losing.
          “Ye’ll no’ be surprised when I do all I can to see you do no’ escape. You will no’ have an easy time of it, for I mean to have my way. Alas, I can think of no better way to pass the time. ’Twill be a fine game for the two of us to play. No’ friends, no’ lovers, no’ enemies, but adversaries, nonetheless. I look forward to the diversion.”

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday led by Mark Buckham and if you've never taken one of her workshops, you are missing out on great information. I came home and immediately rewrote my first chapter for the historical western I'm drafting. Got my hooks all in place and ready to wow my readers. (big grin).

As it was an all day workshop, we were asked to bring a treat for lunch. I spent half a day Friday baking bretzelies and as they were a huge hit, I had several ask for the recipe and information on the iron. This was a cookie my great grandmother made. She brought the recipe from Switzerland and used an iron that had to be placed in the coals, a very time-consuming process I imagine. My grandmother carried on the tradition but used an electric iron. The last one she bought came from a company in Wisconsin. The cookie is also known as a bratzeli, bricelet or cracknel. Of course she bought her iron in 1976, but I did find a company in Wisconsin that still sells them. You can check it out here.

My grandmother's recipe is very similar to the one that's printed on the iron I have.

Bretzeli Cookies

½ ib sweet cream butter (unsalted)
2 ¼  cups sugar
4 eggs slightly beaten
4 ¼ cups flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon (plus a few drops)
Pinch of salt added to eggs
Cream sugar and butter in rather large bowl. Add slightly beaten eggs with salt added. Add grated rind & lemon juice. Mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time, and mix well until forms a large ball. Cover & place in refrigerator overnight or at least for 3 to 4 hours.
Flour hands well before rolling dough into small balls, a tad larger than the size of a marble.  Flour hands often as necessary to avoid sticking to hands.
Preheat iron about 10 – 15 minutes & begin baking 4 balls at a time, placing one in each design section. Close iron and press handles together very slightly. Count to 21 (no more than 25 depending on iron) and about the rate your heart beats. Remove light, golden-brown cookies from iron with table knife or wooden spatula provided with iron. Repeat until all are baked.
Cool well then store in air-tight container. These Swiss cookies improve with age and will keep up to three weeks without tasting stale. Recipe makes 14 – 15 dozen cookies.
Trick: When I bake the cookies, I lay out two cookie sheets next to iron. When they come out hot, I place on one cookie sheet. As the cool, I move them to second cookie sheet to make room for the next batch on the first cookie sheet. When they completely cool, I stack them on the end of the second cookie sheet, still leaving room to the rotation of semi-cool cookies. I suggest you have a helper the first or second time you bake these. Mom and I used to make them together and I remember the fun we had. Now, I do them by myself and it takes about an hour to bake them all. Another trick is to make the balls small enough that they come out pretty. Mom always made them too big and we’d have to trim the edges to make them pretty.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

C is for conflict

When I say conflict, I imagine the first thing most writer's think about is the conflict between the hero and heroine or the conflict between an antagonist and the protagonist, but today, I'm talking about the a more personal conflict.

I have eleven books out now, which considering my schedule, is quite a feat. With two jobs and a family, squeezing in writing time has become a challenge but I'm addicted so.... I guess as long as I'm able, I'll continue to write.

But I've sorta come to a crossroads. With this new year, I'm conflicted about the direction I should take - both with the genre and with my career as a whole. Because of my hectic life, I elected to stay with one publisher. They've been great to me, publishing anything I send their way. Why would I want to change? Most writers publish with more than one publisher because it truly broadens their readership. In order to submit to another house, though, it means drafting the dreaded query letter and synopsis. All good things to consider.

And then there's the genre. I've dabbled in just about every genre except contemporary and yes, I do have a contemporary story floating around in my head. My heart lies with historical western, but my best sellers are in the sci-fi - fantasy realm.

I guess my true internal conflict is deciding what I want from my writing career. Do I want fame and riches? Or do I just want to write a damn good story and make those that like my type of story happy? I tend to lean toward the second as I've always done. I've never been one to really worry over sells and such, but heck, wouldn't it be nice to have both?