Thursday, June 30, 2005

What I do

I write Morning Pages, every day, ala Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". Few things have had a more powerfully positive affect on my life. My notebook is my portable therapist.
Here's what you do.
You buy a thick, cheap notebook. (It's important that it be cheap, because if you get something fancy, you're going to start thinking your grandchildren will read it and it needs to be perfect.)
You commit to writing three pages, in long-hand, every morning of your life. (Hint: you won't do it every morning because you aren't perfect, and you don't need to be. Nobody, least of all God, expects it, so let go of that one. It's a lie you've written into the script.)
Next, no judging. You write what comes out of your head, and you're as honest as you can be. It's a stream-of-consciousness thing, and at first, there will be a lot of garbage. That's a good thing. Allow it. Revel in it. Celebrate it! You've done something wonderful. You've gotten the garbage out of your head and onto the page, where you can get some perspective. Many of the movies playing in Bijou You, a multi-screen cinaplex, are unconscious. Once you are aware of them, they are on their way out.)
At least at first, don't reread your entries. That can keep you beating the same old drums, the ones that underscore the soundtrack--yes, there's a soundtrack--of some of your worst movies. (More on drum-beating and soundtracks tomorrow.)
Write it down. All of it, even the ugly stuff. Especially the ugly stuff.
Perspective is a marvelous thing, and there's only one way to get it.
By next week, I'll have an email address, specifically for replying to the entries in this blog. We're going to push up our sleeves, and journal our way out of Bijou You, into the Real World.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mind Movies

If you follow this blog, you're a reader.
If you're a reader, you have a highly developed imagination.
This is a GOOD thing, for the most part, but there are perils to be considered.
Watch out for those mind movies!
The ones you make up in your head, starring you.
These are often disaster flicks, minor and major, with casts of thousands--(somebody always refuses to follow the script, have you noticed? Smile here)--with titles like, (Insert your name), LOSES HER JOB. DIES IN FIERY CRASH. GAINS WEIGHT. IS DESTINED TO BECOME A BAG-LADY.
The titles are endless. The sets are convincing, and the costumes are authentic. But it's still a movie.
Meanwhile, the Ultimate Reality Show is going on all around you.
Don't miss it!
Don't sit in that little theatre in your head, making up dark stories, most of which are probably a variation on the chicken-little, the-sky-is-falling theme. And don't give in to the temptation to work up better movies for yourself.
Get out there and play your role. Be on stage. You'll have to ad-lib, since there's no script, but hey, you're up to that. You've got a great imagination, and you're quick on your feet, after dancing in all those one-woman, or one-man, productions.
When you need a break, dive into a good book. That's what they're for--they're refuges for busy minds and spirits. It's your personal Bijou I'm asking you to avoid.
Come on out. Join the fun.
There's all the drama you could want. The occasional cliff-hanger, too. It's an adventure film, after all. It's all good--if you remember you're playing a part.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Drama Anonymous

What are the symptoms?
Analysis paralysis.
Ongoing frustration.
I can't speak for you, but I'm jumping out of THAT trap.
It's one thing to write books.
It's another to write scripts for my life and live them out.
I'm letting go.
I'm letting God.
How about you?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Never Look Back

Well, it's time to shift gears. This weekend, visiting Barnes and Noble, at Desert Ridge mall, near my house, what should my eyes fall upon but copies of "Never Look Back", in paperback! I did not expect to see the book for several more days.

For those of you who read the first Clare and Tony mystery/romance, "Don't Look Now", and missed the second, "Never Look Back", when it came out in trade paperback, here's your chance. More lively adventures of Clare Westbrook, smart-ass attorney at law, and Tony Sonterra, homicide cop delicious. Not a dull moment with these two, I promise. Someone is always trying to kill one or both of them, and in the meantime, they're trying hard to work out their relationship, which is an up and down proposition to say the least!

The third and final book in the series, aptly titled "One Last Look", will be released in trade paperback in January of 06. For now, if you haven't met Clare and Tony, start with "Don't Look Now" and "Never Look Back". Can I promise that you'll love the books? No. But I CAN promise you won't be bored.

More tomorrow.

I'm thinking of organizing a new 12-Step program. Drama Anonymous. Any potentional members out there?

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mary Ann and the TV Blackout

I promised to tell the story, and here it is!
On Thursday morning, I went to Channel 3, Phoenix, to appear on GOOD DAY ARIZONA, with Tara, Scott and Dan. I was accompanied by my usual entourage--it was niece Jenni's birthday, so we'd made plans to hit the Hard Rock Cafe for a celebration lunch afterwards. Even my mom was along!
Well, I got situated on the set, to prepare for the big interview about McKettrick's Choice, and my family clustered in a corner to watch the show. Lights, camera, action! Tara and I had a great chat about the book, the characters, and my scholarship program. THEN, all of the sudden, the set went dark! What had happened? Well, Mary Ann had leaned on the control panel by accident. Her elbow came to rest on the one button in the whole room that would shut off the lights!
We're still laughing about it, here at Springwater Station.
I've given my dear cousin a new nickname: Blackout Bleecker!
In true western tradition, she's been a very good sport. Any day now, I plan to quit ribbing her about it. But not just yet.
It's too much fun!

Friday, June 24, 2005

People and critters all fine!

The Cave Creek Complex fire is moving north, now, and Springwater Station is no longer in its path. My good friend, Susan Yarina, and her husband, Joe, were ready to trailer my horses out of here, to safe ground but, luckily, that won't be necessary. Joe and Susan are two fine examples of the western spirit--pitch in and help in the pinch, and worry about the clean-up later. Thanks for being there, Susan and Joe.

Wildfires are a fact of life in the summer desert, with temperatures well above 100 degrees most days, and lots of thunder and lightning, excellent for the environment, but tough on people and animals. A lot of folks lost their homes to this one, but it was heartening to see how people pulled together to help. That western spirit again. Horse-lovers came and went in a steady stream, hauling the equine population to safety. The sheriff's deputies were on the job to make sure there was no looting, and no going back for grandma's sugar bowl. The firefighters, called "Hotshots", for obvious reasons, take bravery and commitment to duty to a whole new level.

Thank you for your good thoughts.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you how Mary Ann, my cousin/housekeeper/best friend, blacked out the whole set while I was on TV yesterday!

You're gonna laugh.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


There's a big fire burning a few miles from here, and it's been pretty scary. The hills on the other side of Carefree and Cave Creek are ablaze, and last night, I could see the flames from the courtyard gate. Easy to evacuate the dogs and cats, but the horses are another matter. Banjo, the youngest, has never been in a trailer, and he'd throw a fit for sure.
Everybody hold good thoughts!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Man from Stone Creek

I'm in the last stages of finishing up my next historical romance, called The Man from Stone Creek. It's a stand-alone book--meaning it's not part of a series--and I am madly in love with the hero. His name is Sam O'Ballivan, and he's an Arizona Ranger, posing as a schoolmaster. The heroine, Maddie Chancelor, is a hardworking store keeper and post mistress in the small, fictional Arizona Territory town (Haven) where the story takes place. The time is 1903.
Have I intrigued you?
I hope so. You'll meet these characters, along with their friends and enemies, around this time next year, and you'll be hearing a lot about them in the meantime.
I often hear that I don't write fast enough, and believe me, I take that as a compliment. Fact is, though, that by the time a new book hits the stores, I'm usually down the road by a book or two. Once I finish Stone Creek, I'll be starting the first book in a new series of romantic suspense novels, also to be published by HQN.
For those of you who missed the second Clare and Tony book, Never Look Back, when it came out in trade-sized paperback, it will be on sale soon, around the first of July. It will be followed in January of 06 by the final book in the series, One Last Look.
On Thursday, I'm appearing on Good Day Arizona, a mid-morning show out of Phoenix, Channel 3, I believe. I hope you'll watch if you get that station.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good morning, everybody

It's another beautiful, sunny day at Springwater Station.
Daughter Wendy is still recovering from the blow to her head. Mama is still recovering from seeing her baby get hurt. I swear, it would have been a lot easier to get whacked myself!
(To the Universe: this is NOT a request for another Ab-Lounger attack!)
What can we do when things just won't go right?
Well, all I know to do is what Holt and Lorelei do in McKettrick's Choice. Keep going.
I'm seeing the book everywhere, and it's selling well. That makes me so happy, and so grateful.
I love to think it might be helping people over the bumps in the road.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Expect the unexpected

Cowgirl Rule #432
I spent most of last night at the emergency room, with my daughter, Wendy. She's been visiting from LA, and was all set to hit the trail for home when she was attacked by a piece of exercise equipment. Now, I realize that would be funny, if it hadn't knocked her to her knees. She had to have a cat scan, and her poor mama about had a meltdown. She'll be fine, after a few days of rest and pain meds. When a loved one is hurt, it sure puts things into perspective, doesn't it?
So, since I slept in two-hour increments, this blog is probably incoherent, and I'm hitting the bunkhouse a little early.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I just returned from Prescott, AZ, where I appeared on TV with Lew and Tonya. It was a fantastic experience, and I really enjoyed visiting the high country. Alas, the property I was looking for didn't catch my eye, so I'll be checking out the Flagstaff area next. Looking for land--lotsa land, under starry skies above--with plenty of grass and water for the equine branch of the family, and a big, safe yard for my dogs to play in.
School tonight. Did I tell you I went back to college? I'm enrolled at the University of Phoenix, and I'm loving it. I got an A in my first class, and now I'm midway through the second, hoping for the same, and working hard to achieve it. My major is Criminal Justice--I come from a family of cops, as you know, so I'm interested in law enforcement. I expect the training to help a lot with my new romantic suspense series, and I also intend to volunteer, after graduation, as a victim's advocate.
McKettrick's Choice is doing very well--it debuted at #26 on the New York Times extended bestseller list. Every time I see it in a store, I get a little thrill, to think of all of you out there reading it. I can feel our hearts touching.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Haunted hotels

I'm leaving for Prescott in an hour or so, to appear on TV, promoting McKettrick's Choice, and look at property. I'd love to have a get-away place, somewhere in the high country. I'm picturing plenty of grass and water for the horses, and a good yard where the dogs can play. Sadie's gotten so fat, we call her the Buddha Beagle.
Some of you are probably waiting for an update on the night at the haunted hotel. I wish I had something exciting to report, but the truth is, I slept like a rock and if there were any ghosts around, they didn't get my attention. In fact, there is some evidence that they came up here, to Springwater Station, to heckle Mary Ann, my cousin and housekeeper, who was here on dog-nanny duty. She barely got a wink of sleep for all the carrying on!
The Hotel San Carlos, in downtown Phoenix, is a wonderful old place, though, with marble floors in the lobby, and crystal chandeliers. It's very elegant, in a 40s sort of way, and in fact many movie stars of that era stayed there. To this day, there is a Spencer Tracy suite (he was one of my all-time favorites), a Cary Grant suite (need I say more? God outdid Himself the day He made that man), and a suite named for Marilyn Monroe, who was also a regular guest.
While I didn't see any ghosts, my daughter Wendy, niece Jenni, and I sat out by the pool and had the absolute best conversation about mythology and story.
It's all about story. I live and breathe story.
I'll be back Tuesday morning.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Today's my birthday--dah-dah-dah!

It's supposed to sound like the song, but I'm not sure it's translating!
How am I celebrating? Well, my daughter Wendy is visiting from California, and she and a niece and I are spending tonight in a HAUNTED HOTEL! The deal is, if you can stick it out the whole night, you get a free breakfast. I'll have bacon and eggs, please. Takes more than a spook to scare off THIS old cowgirl!
Don't worry--I'll post a full report by Tuesday morning, if not before.
Monday, I'm off to Prescott, to pitch McKettrick's Choice on TV. Being a card-carrying grand-stander, I'm up for that, and I never miss a chance to tell people about Holt and Lorelei.
You're buying the book. You're talking about it.
Thank you so much for that!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Late start!

Sorry for the late blog. I've been having one of those Murphy's Law kind of days, where everything that could go wrong, did.
What's a cowgirl to do, but hang in there, and hope the horse stops bucking?
I'm signing McKettrick's Choice tonight at 7:30, at Borders, on Camelback Road, here in Phoenix. If any of you are in the neighborhood, I'd sure like to see a friendly face or two.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Quiet day at Springwater Station

Thank heaven!
Today, I'm planning to enjoy being home. Just being.
I'm going to read through the manuscript of my next historical, The Man from Stone Creek, which is about three-quarters of the way done, and brainstorm the big finale. Tonight, I have school, and my homework is done, so I can breathe easy.
There are peonies on sale at my local Safeway. Few things stir my heart more than a fat, pink peony. Maybe I'll buy some today.
Early reports on McKettrick's Choice are very encouraging. I've seen your e-comments, and I appreciate them. Thank you for buying the book, and for sharing the adventures of Holt and Lorelei. Thanks for coming along for a wild stagecoach ride.
If I seem a little scattered today, it's only because I am.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Back from Book Expo America!

Phew! What a trip THAT was!
I got the star treatment all the way, from my wonderful new publisher, HQN, aka Harlequin. (They really ARE romance.)
I hit the ground running Wednesday night, dropped my bags off at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, and grabbed a taxi for a fabulous restaurant called Beacon, where I met with Leslee Borger and Dietrich Nelson, movers and shakers in Truth Be Told, the fabulous PR firm Harlequin hired to make me a star. :) My agent, Irene Goodman, was there, too, and a good time was had by all.
Up bright and early the next morning for a modern technological phenomenon called a Satellite Media Tour. Leslee picked me up in a town car, and I was in make up by six am! (Frankly, I never dreamed I could look that good.) Then I sat in a studio and chatted, via satellite, with TV and radio interviewers all over the country. I've never done that before, and it was a major kick! After that, I had the afternoon free, so I went back to the hotel, put on my jammies, and crashed. (Still getting over the bronchitis/pneumonia thing, so I had to conserve my energy.)
That night, a divine dinner at a place called Remi, with my divine editor, Joan Marlowe-Golan. A match made in heaven. Joan and I are truly sympatico, with the same shining vision for more and better books.
Friday was entirely free, so I shopped a little and rested a lot. In the evening, I went to dinner at the Lever House, with good friends from Harlequin. The place has a tube-like entrance--very cool--and I kept expecting to see a great Light and be met by loved ones who had gone on before. :)
On Saturday, I signed McKettrick's Choice at Book Expo, and the response was fabulous. We gave away 100 books in less than half an hour!
Saturday evening, a glam party, thrown by Harlequin, at the famous Supper Club. The kind of place where you think you might catch a glimspe of Cary Grant, or one of my other forties faves. Truly elegant.
Sunday morning, back on the plane, headed home.
Sadie and Bernice, my beloved dogs, threw a rousing welcome-back party.