Tuesday, May 31, 2005


And I did sleep last night, very soundly. :)
And I feel like Dorothy, going to sleep in a black and white world, and waking up in a full-color one!
I have a vision for McKettrick's Choice, and it's a beauty.
I see each volume as a little point of light, a link in a great web of light, sparking from heart to heart. For a little while, as you read, we are connected, heart to heart. You and me--all of us!
For what IS a romance novel, if not a celebration of Love? What is a romance novel, if not a tribute to being a woman, and to being a man, and to all the good things that happen when they connect in a healthy, vital way?
So many of you have sent wonderful e-mails, thanking me for the stories I write. I look at them all, and I get tears in my eyes. THANK YOU, for reading them. Thank YOU for taking the time to write an email. Your kind words quite literally touch my heart, and it is my greatest hope that, in McKettrick's Choice and ALL my books, I might have the priviledge of touching yours in return.
May God bless you richly.
May you know, too, that whatever name you call the Gardener, you are a rose.

Monday, May 30, 2005

I'm so excited!

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, bright and early, McKETTRICK'S CHOICE will turn up in book stores all over the US and Canada. I don't know how I'm going to get to sleep tonight! At last, at last, at last.
If you've read the other McKettrick books, you'll be reunited with Holt, the oldest brother, and have the pleasure of meeting Lorelei, his lady. If you haven't read the other stories, don't worry, because this one stands on its own. It's big, it's powerful, and it's passionate, full of action and love, adventure and humor. It's the kind of book I love--the kind you can settle down with for a while, step inside, and go along for the ride. It's quite a journey, the kind that satisfies on the deepest level of the heart, and I'd be willing to bet a lot of you will want to revisit Holt and Lorelei on a fairly regular basis. If it leaves you with a yen for more McKettricks, you'll find them in "High Country Bride" (Rafe and Emmeline), "Shotgun Bride", (Kade and Mandy), and "Secondhand Bride", (Jeb and Chloe). And if that still doesn't do the trick, well, sit tight, because there will be a whole crew of modern McKettricks coming down the trail before you know it.
On Wednesday morning, I'm leaving for New York, to sign books at BEA (Book Expo America), so there won't be a blog for a few days. Not to worry--when I get back, I'll bring you up to speed. On the first, which is Thursday, I'll be doing a national media tour, which means this cowgirl's face will be popping up on TV all over the USA. Yee-haw! This is certainly better than the unscheduled rodeo!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day

You all have strict orders from me to drive safely, eat lots of watermelon and hot dogs, and get yourselves ready to read a good book!
It's a fine and natural thing to remember those who have gone before.
I'm thinking today of my Grandma Wiley. She wasn't a blood grandmother, but she certainly filled the role, just the same.
She had spirit, I'm here to tell you.
Grandma was raised outside of Coffeyville, Kansas--I hope I spelled that right--and used to tell me about the day the Dalton brothers tried to rob the bank. They were a bad bunch of hombres, those Daltons. Nothing glamorous about them. Their plans went awry, because some of the locals got wind of the plan ahead of time, and they were laying for the outlaws when they rode in. With rifles and no sense of humor. Shot them dead, those ranchers and townspeople--Grandma heard the shots, clear out on the farm--strapped the bodies to boards, and propped them up along the sidewalk on the main street of town. Grandma's father was ahead of his time, and he said "no child of mine is going to look at something like that", but a lot of people took in the grisley spectacle. Maybe they thought their children would be scared straight, but my money is on Great Grandpa. Talk about a lifetime of bad dreams. (There's a scene in McKettrick's Choice, coming Tuesday, based on this.)
I'll tell you more about Grandma, too. She used a real wood-powered cookstove, and it appears in every western I write. It's always in the same corner of the kitchen. As a small child, I thought the thing was magic. The best pies, cakes and biscuits you ever tasted came out of that stove.
And once, back in Coffeyville, a man rode up to the gate and her (Grandma's) father went down to greet him, as was customary in those days. After a brief conversation, the rider proceeded to the barn, where he fed, groomed and watered his horse, then bedded down for the night. When Great Grandpa got back to the house, everybody was curious. Most folks would have come inside for supper and some visiting, but the rider had refused, albeit politely. He was trying to keep a low profile, I guess. Probably a good thing, since his name was Jessie James.

Friday, May 27, 2005


...in a time bearing a strange and sweet resemblance to NOW, there was a rose, slumbering in the shadow of a wall, dreaming. Sometimes, those dreams were scary, but they were always marked by a mysterious yearning. The rose, you see, did not know it was a rose. It thought, in the confusion of slumber, that it had once been a weed, torn asunder and scattered upon hard and unyielding ground, where it could not take root. But sometimes, it heard a Voice, or thought it did. "Wake up!" the Voice said. It was gentle, but it was insistent, too. "Rose!" It said. "Wake up!" Occasionally, a nail-scarred hand shook the stem upon which the rosebud dreamed, but the bud contracted. Even in its sleep, it knew about pruning shears. "It hurts to grow," it protested. "Go away," it said. But the Gardener wouldn't give up.
The rose felt a quickening inside. A stirring. At first, there was pain, because waking up, like breaking up, is hard to do. But the Voice would not be silenced. "I love you," It said.
If I wake up, the rosebud thought, I will have to bloom.
"It is the nature of a rose to bloom," the Voice replied.
The rose became aware of its roots, formerly cramped, now spreading slowly in the Soil of Grace. The rose felt the warmth of the Sunlight, too. And the Sunlight was unfailing, unrelenting, unfathomable Love. It opened its eyes, though, rummy at first, and saw the smiling face of the Gardener.
"You are beautiful," the Gardener said. "In all of creation, there is only one rose like you."
"What do I do now?" the rose asked. "I have aphids. Brown spots. And some of my leaves are withered."
"Now," said the Gardener, "you bloom."
"Is there a to-do list?" asked the rose, for it was earnest, and conscientious, and wanted to bloom correctly.
The Gardener smiled. "Yes," He said. "Feel your roots spreading in the Soil of Grace. Feel the Sunlight of Love, warming you and filling all the dark and empty places. And when the night comes again, rest in the peaceful knowledge that darkness, too, is part of the cycle."
"What if I get it wrong?" asked the rose.
"How can you get it wrong?" the Gardener asked. "All you have to do is be a rose."

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I'm feeling impassioned this morning.
I write about love. I write about romance. I write about strong people prevailing over circumstance. And I'm PROUD of it!
In this day and age, though romance novels represent almost half of all fiction sold, volume for volume, there is still a snide, psuedo-intellectual attitude out there. It's not 'literary' to write--or read--about love. Is that crazy, or what?
Violence is all right.
Torture is all right.
Murder and every kind of depravity are all right.
But romance is suspect? (And this determination is made, 99 percent of the time, by pompous asses who've never actually READ a romance. They just think it makes them look smart to pan them.)
Here's what I think--as if you hadn't already figured out that I'm on a real tear and I'm about to tell you. Romances are for women, by women. Ergo, they must be slight reading, with no redeeming social value at all! And it's intellectual to take that stand? I submit that it's more like sexism, and it's worse when women do it, because that's nothing but pandering--unless, and this is a BIG unless--they've actually read a book and honestly not liked it. That's different. But it's rarely the case.
Even Oprah, whom I admire in every other respect, seems to take this position, and that amazes me, because she's so smart and she's so generous and she's so all about empowering women. Well, DUH. You won't find many more powerful women than in today's romance novels!
Now, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but nonetheless, I want the world to know this: I WRITE ABOUT LOVE. I'M PROUD OF THAT. AND I NOT ONLY PLAN TO CONTINUE, I PLAN TO DO IT MORE AND MORE POWERFULLY.
There's a reason my heroines are strong.
I won't apologize for writing about love.
I won't apologize for who I am, what I weigh, the size of my jeans, or the way I voted, and I DEFINITELY won't apologize for being an American. Which is another subject, for another day.
Cowgirl UP!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fast Times at Springwater Station

One week ago today, we had our own rodeo, right here at Springwater Station. Nobody planned it except the horses, and no tickets were sold. We humans didn't get a choice about participating, either.
Here's what happened.
I had been at the last class of my Citizen's Academy course, at Scottsdale P.D. (This is a wonderful experience, and I would advise anybody to check their own police department's website for an opportunity to take part.) I was tired to the bone, and still getting over the bronchitis and almost-pneumonia that sidetracked me for weeks. Well, we--Mary Ann, my first cousin, housekeeper and general trail boss, Jenni, my niece and assistant, and I--pulled up in front of the barn, ready for that day to be OVER. (Mary Ann and her family live in an apartment above the stable. She likes to tell people I make her live in the barn, but actually, it's a pretty nice place.) Banjo, the colt, is raising hell, but we figure he's just wanting more hay.
Not so. The other three horses, it turns out, are on the loose!
Have you ever hunted horses in the dark?
Well, I plain didn't have an option here, did I? I had to handle it, because Mary Ann's husband, Larry, also known as the Canadian Wrangler, was off in Sedona playing golf with the Harlequin people.
I resorted, like any good cowgirl, to bribery. While Mary Ann was putting the gate back on one of the stalls--Skye had kicked it down during the Great Escape--I got a bucket and some feed and went down the driveway, shaking that bucket.
Well, here came the horses--right toward me. I saw Skye first--she's an Appaloosa, and shot out of the darkness like a gray ghost. Buck and Coco were right on her heels, and they were feeling frisky. I think Buck thought he was a Ponderosa horse, at large, and he was enjoying it.
Coco was kicking up her hind legs in every direction. I stood my ground, because horses won't deliberately step on anything, not because they're charitable, but because they're BIG, and falling is not something they want to risk. Still, it was unnerving, seeing them come at me like that.
They were ready to come in, have some feed, and settle down for the night. Like naughty kids, called in from a game of hide and seek. Buck and Skye followed me, wanting the feed in that bucket. Coco headed for the breezeway, which is the aisle between the stalls, and I yelled to Mary Ann, "Look out! Here comes Coco!"
Everybody equine ended up safely back in their stalls. Nobody human got trampled.
The lesson of this story?
Things happen. You deal with it in the moment and wonder whether or not you were up to it later!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hot Dog! I DID it!

I'm back! I actually managed to overcome my techno-phobia and get into this thing again.
So what have I been up to?
Well, right now, the focus of my attention is the release of McKettrick's Choice, by big western, starring Holt McKettrick, of "High Country Bride", "Shotgun Bride", and "Secondhand Bride" fame, and Lorelei Fellows, who is an entirely new character, and one of the bravest women I have ever encountered, in fiction or in real life. The book will be in stores on Tuesday, May 31, and I can hardly wait. The very next day, I jet off to New York to attend BEA--Book Expo America--to hobnob with booksellers, publishing professionals, and other writers. It's going to be glam, and I'm up for some of that.
During my blog absence, I had bronchitis, bordering on pneumonia. Fought my way back from that, like the true cowgirl I am.
Other interesting things: I completed the Citizen's Academy course at Scottsdale PD, and that was a marvelous experience. In fact, I got so inspired that I started college. Tonight, I'll complete my first class at University of Phoenix! My major is Criminal Justice, and my objectives are to 1) write better romantic thrillers and 2) serve as a volunteer victim's advocate after graduation. So much news! I'll have to save some of it for tomorrow.
It's so good to be back.