Monday, December 31, 2007

My Kind of New Year's Eve

The quiet kind!

Tonight, I'll be dressed for a party--in pajamas. Guests include my dogs and cats. Refreshments: one cup of eggnog.

For me, New Year's is a reflective time. I like to think about goals for the coming year, and consider all the blessings and challenges of the one just past.

2007 was the year I became one of those people who say, "When Dad died..." Frankly, I'm still getting used to a world with no Skip Lael in it--never going to happen, probably. Dad was 81, though, and he'd lived his life to the fullest. His death was a natural passage, hard for all of us to bear, but not a tragedy. And sometimes, especially when I'm with the horses, or admiring the cherished saddle my 'little' brother, Jerry, tracked down and gave me for Christmas, I know Dad's near.

On another front--my career--2007 was a marvel. I hit places on the bestseller lists that I'd only dreamed about before. My publisher is excellent, and my readers--well, you're the most loyal crew, and I'm so grateful.

2007 saw the building of my barn, and the staff house next door is well under way. The horses came home--that was a very big thing for me. They were safe and well taken care of in the stable where they stayed--around here, we called it boarding school--but I missed them sorely. My heart catches when I look out and see them in the snowy pasture, so beautiful and majestic.

And there were mundane goals, too. I'd gotten behind with the doctor and dentist, and made up my mind to take better care of myself. I achieved that.

What are my goals for 2008? Well, first and foremost, I want to pour even more of my heart and soul into my books. I want them to be my gift to you.

I want to lose some weight and quit smoking.

I want to go back to the big rodeo in December.

Most of all, I want to remember to be grateful for all my blessings, known and unknown. We often think of our known blessings--but what about all the times God stepped in, in His mysterious way, and prevented something we had no clue was about to happen?

I enter 2008 as a grateful woman, and an inspired one. I know a lot of you are carrying tremendous burdens, like Shirley and Jim Morse, and facing them bravely. I may never get the chance to tell you in person, but I can say it here. I admire you. To me, you're the real heros and heroines.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I don't normally blog on Sundays, as most of you know. Today, though, I received an email from a reader named Shirley. She's thirty, and her husband, Jim, is dying of brain cancer. I was struck to the heart by her bravery--she said she likes to read my blog because it reminds her that life goes on, and the joy lies in ordinary blessings. What courage!

This blog is for you, Shirley, and your Jim. You inspire me, and I wanted to share that inspiration with the rest of our group.

We're walking with you, sweetheart. Every last one of us.

May God hold you both in the warm palm of His mighty hand.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Still MORE snow

I guess the charm of all this snow could wear off--sometime. :)

For now, it seems magical, maybe because I'm one of those lucky people who don't commute by automobile. Just a hike to the barn, that's all I need to worry about at present.

I was keying in some changes to my October paperback romance, "The Rustler", this morning, and the fuel guy had the unmitigated gall--at least in Sadie's opinion it was gall--to pull in and refill the tank. She barked and barked, in her snug bed in front of the living room fireplace, alerting the entire household to imminent propane delivery. Silly dog. Unlike Yorkie Bernice, who will fling her small body at any intrusion, yapping her fool head off, Sadie prefers to simply sit tight and bay.

Anybody who says animals don't have distinct personalities isn't spending much time with furry folks. :)

Buck, my beloved old horse, is a staid kind of guy, laid back unless trouble comes.

Coco is the leader of the band, and she makes sure every other horse in the stable knows it.

Skye, aka the spotted horse, is beautiful--and vain about her looks.

April is shy and sweet.

Traveler, though gentle, is also stubborn.

ChaCha, my long-haired kitty, is regal and quite officious, willing to show affection only when there are no human witnesses around. :)

And Jitterbug, her sister, is a blabbermouth. Talk, talk and more talk, that's her M.O.

All these critters have one thing in common, beyond four legs apiece and fur.

They are deeply, permanently and completely--LOVED.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Badge, the Goat, and the Coffee Cup

My good friend, Debbie Macomber, gave me a terrific gift this year--a U.S. Marshal's badge. (My dad was a town marshal--very different from the U.S. variety) I thought it was a very good replica, but I should have known better. When I emailed Deb to thank her for this thoughtful present, an acknowledgement of how much I love and miss my dad, she replied that it was authentic.

Daughter Wendy and her fiance, Jeremy, donated a goat in my name. I love gifts like that--I really DO have mostly everything, and it's nice to know someone in need got something that will make their lives easier. Apparently, a goat produces a gallon of milk per day, and this family will be able to make cheese to sell at the market.

Niece/assistant Jenni presented me with another winner--a John Wayne coffee cup. It's sitting here on my desk now. There's a picture of Duke on the outside, and inside is my favorite quote from him. "Courage is being scared to death--but saddling up anyway." Ain't that the truth? Only a damn fool is never scared--it's how you deal with the fear that matters.

I got another late start this morning--went to the casino last night, and I'm up a thousand dollars--so I'd better get off this blog, push up my sleeves, and get some work done. As my dad always said, "We're burnin' daylight!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Snow, snow...

And more snow!

The draw is beautiful, and the flakes are coming down fast and furious. Larry is feeding the horses this morning, but I'll be slogging out to the barn later in the day. Horse care is hard work sometimes, but it's a chance to be with them, and enjoy their very special energy, so I love it.

Today, I'll be back to work on "Logan's Return", and reading through the manuscript of my October mass market western romance, "The Rustler."

In the meantime, the first Mojo Sheepshanks book, "Deadly Gamble", hits the stores today. It was out before, in trade paperback, but now it's regular paperback. If you haven't met Mojo, you're in for laughter, adventure and LOTS of romance. The second Mojo book, "Deadly Deceptions", hits the stores at the end of February--and it will be a regular paperback original, too. "The Rustler" will be as well.

In England and Canada, today is Boxing Day. I think that's a nice custom. Plus, it's a day to recover from Christmas. :) As I understand it, the tradition began with the moneyed classes boxing up their clothes and toys to make room for the new stuff and pass the pleasure on to the less fortunate.

Isn't that a lovely idea?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Gift

What do you get for the woman who quite literally has everything? That's a dilemma my friends and family face every year, I think, and may I say, they always do a remarkable job anyhow.

This year, I really felt that I'd had all the Christmas anybody could ask for, at the NFR in Las Vegas. My brother, Jerry, and cousin, Steve, along with his wife, Deb, had such a good time there, thanks mostly to the generosity of Steve Miller. Seeing them so happy, and enjoying the experience so much, meant more to me than anything that would fit under a tree. I truly believed that.

And then, yesterday, Jerry arrived here, with Mom, his wife Anna, and their three magnificent children, Jerome, Chyanne and Sydney. They were all being very mysterious--I was to stay in the kitchen, no matter what. No looking from side to side, even. The kids were sworn to silence. I wondered, what on earth?

When Jerry finally came into the kitchen, after much ado at the front door and in the living room, and put an arm around my shoulders, I still had no clue. With Jerry still supporting me--and it was a darn good thing, as it turned out--I stepped into the living room and there, by the tree, was my dad's old saddle. I couldn't believe it! I have many pictures of it, on Dad's beloved horse, Peanuts. Dad and I used to ride together, even when I was little--I have pictures of myself as a two-year-old, sitting up there like I was Annie Oakley. His name--Skip Lael--is etched into the leather.

Well, I just burst into tears. As I've already said, I could not believe my own eyes. I knew it had to be that same saddle, and yet--how could it be? It seemed like a miracle!

Jerry tracked that saddle down, recovered it, and even built a sturdy stand for it. It's hard to say which I treasure more--the love and effort it took to do what he did--or the saddle itself, and the memories it brings back.

Talk about your magical Christmases!

I'm going to stop writing now--wish you a very Merry Christmas and all blessings of the sacred season--and head on downstairs to admire that saddle in the glow of the tree lights. Maybe I'll even forgive Jerry for burying my transistor radio in the backyard when he was ten. :)

Thank you doesn't seem like enough, Jerry. The gift goes way beyond the saddle itself.

And I guess I've gotten along pretty well without that radio. :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas....

Well, the day before, anyhow. :)

As I write this, the sun has yet to rise, and my mind is turning toward horse-feeding. The tree is decorated, and there are wrapped presents tucked beneath it--and a few UNwrapped ones, as well, from me to me--a tooled leather make-up bag, stars and stripes boots, and two fantastic purses--3 out of 4 Montana Silversmith designs, by chance. I never got my cards set out, never mind writing my Christmas letter. There was just too much going on--or that's the excuse I make to myself, alas. Around now, a lot of my sentences seem to begin with, "NEXT year, I will...."

Shop earlier.
Decorate earlier.
Get my Christmas letter written and my cards mailed out.

I think I said the same things LAST year. Why does Christmas always sneak up on me? After all, it's on the calendar, clearly marked as December 25. What IS my problem? :)

Christmas will come anyway, of course. Thank heavens. For all the trees and the presents and the parties and the foo-fal-ah, Christmas is an event of the heart. Christmas is the quiet knowledge that God loved us enough to come down here, in Person, and show us how to live. Love Him, love each other. It all boils down to that. Why do we get so caught up in crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's? In the process, we forget the important part, keeping track of all the ways we fall short and all the ways others do. We're so busy trying to follow rules, most of which we've invented ourselves, that we never Get It. We become Puritans, living in mortal fear that somebody, somewhere, is having a good time. Heaven forbid! This is Serious Business, living on Planet Earth.

Isn't it?

Or is it a journey, a day trip, one we could mostly enjoy if we just relaxed a little and stopped trying to muscle God aside so we could run the show ourselves. (You don't have to look past the 6 O'Clock news to see how THAT'S working out for us.)

Christmas--and every other day of the year--is about Grace. It's about Love. It's about Trust--believing that God knows what He's doing, however things may appear from down here in the thick of the ant-hill.

He knows. He loves. He forgives. He is the Granter of second--and thousanth--chances.

That's Christmas enough for this cowgirl.

Have a blessed one. And try to lighten up a little, will you? :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tough Enough to Wear Pink

It's Saturday, but here I am. I wanted to tell you about 'pink' night at the National Finals Rodeo. Practically every competitor wore a pink shirt--and one man, the head of Wrangler, actually dyed his mustache pink! One cowboy wore pink chaps (this is pronounced 'shaps', by the way). Why all the pink? Because of breast cancer awareness.

Thus the slogan, "Tough Enough to Wear Pink". Nobody, my friends, is tougher than a bull or bronc rider. But there they were, wearing cotton-candy colors. It did my heart good to see that kind of caring and support for such an important cause.

And some people wonder why I love cowboys.

Go figure.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Behind the Chutes

A real highpoint for me, as an animal lover, was the behind-the-scenes tour I received, conducted by Cindy, who is in charge of protecting animals at the NFR and many other rodeos, and Dr. Doug Corey, a veterinarian with a lot of rodeo experience. The two of them work together to make sure horses, bulls, calves, etc. are treated well.

The broncs were all big and sturdy, and exuding health. The same could be said of the bulls--one of them took a dislike to me as I passed, lowered his head, and started pawing the ground. Cindy said brightly, "Just keep walking." Sure, there was a fence, but that guy didn't look like he'd have any trouble charging right through it. :) Maybe he knew my daddy was a bull-rider, back in the day! Interestingly, the broncs are lead-trained, which makes sense because there has to be some way to get them in and out of the horse trailer.

There is a wide-spread myth that animals are cruelly prodded to make them buck. This is NOT TRUE. Rodeo stockmen breed horses that love to buck to OTHER horses that love to buck. I've been around livestock a lot in my life, and I can tell you, these animals are probably in better health than I am.

Calf-roping troubles a lot of people, so I'd like to say a word or two about that as well. I asked Dr. Corey if it hurt them. He reminded me that calves are sturdy--this is not like roping a dog or a human being. They get right up as soon as they're been roped and tied, unharmed. Also, they are calves for a very short time, obviously. Precautions are taken, just the same. Dr. Corey told me that sometimes you'll see a calf carried out of the arena on a stretcher, but this usually doesn't mean they're hurt. It's meant to forestall any problems they might have later. For every calf roped in a rodeo, there are a thousand out there on the range--this is the only way to catch them. (They don't come when you call them.:)) Why catch them in the first place? Because they need shots and a thousand other things done.

Rodeo grew, of course, out of the way cowboys worked on the range back in the old days. It's a controversial subject, and there's no way of getting around that. It is also a way of keeping history alive. To me, it is simply not the same as the barbaric dog and cock-fighting, in which animals are pitted against each other to fight to the death. That IS against the law, and it ought to be. The broncs and bulls and especially the roping and barrel-racing horses are athletes--you don't need to watch them long to see how proud they are of their performance.

In any case, my intent is not to sway you one way or the other, but just to tell you how I see it.

One night during the rodeo, the announcer said the bull about to be released from the chute was a veteran, and this would be his last ride. He'd never been ridden to the buzzer (eight seconds), even one time, in all his career. In this case, the crowd was rooting for the bull--he had a perfect record, after all. (Bulls and broncs are alotted to riders by a lottery process. That's why cowboys talk about the bull or bronc they "drew".) Well, he held his own. Sent that cowboy sailing in about three seconds. Perfect record, 100 percent. There's an inate respect between animal and rider. (Anybody who DOESN'T respect a ton of horns and hot blood is a damn fool.)

Suffice it to say, cowboys and cowgirls are the LAST people who would stand by and tolerate cruelty to an animal--or any other living creature. Over and over, I was struck by their kindness, their generosity, their honor, and their love of the sport.

To change the subject, it's almost Christmas. I'm not ready, but then, I never am. Christmas comes anyhow, thank heavens. I'll be out there shopping today, along with all the other last-minute Lewies.

Be blessed--I'll be back on Monday, if not sooner. There's one more thing I want to tell you about. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My Glamorous Life

This morning, before the sun was up, I was out feeding my horses--in my pajamas. This is a pretty fancy set-up--10 acre pasture fenced Kentucky style, with white rail fences, big main house and brand new barn. But there ain't nothin' glamorous about hauling hay. And you know what? I love it, though I admit I could do without the stall shoveling!

I promised to tell you about the two luncheons at the NFR--the first one I attended was The Heart of the West Awards, meant to honor those for-real cowboys and cowgirls, some celebrities, some champions, and many regular folks, who support the Western Wishes program. ( WW is like Make a Wish, except it's western--they send seriously ill children to rodeos, etc., where they get to hang out with their favorite cowboys, like Ty Murray, and singers like Reba McIntyre. It's a terrific cause. There wasn't a dry eye in the place as we watched film clips of children in cowboy hats and wheelchairs, meeting their heros and heroines.

The second big charity event was the Justin Crisis Luncheon, sponsored by the folks who make Justin boots. It should be noted that the Michael Gaughn family, owners of the South Point Hotel, donate not only the huge space required for this glam affair, but the food, too. All the profits go to help injured or ill rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. The Wrangler people, and a lot of others, helped out, too. There was a fashion show and lots--like over 200--of drawing prizes. Next year, I'll not only attend these wonderful luncheons, but participate.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about my behind-the-scenes tour at the Thomas and Mack Arena, where the rodeo is held. Since I'm concerned about the welfare of animals in all situations, this was a highpoint for me.

Are you ready for Christmas? I'm not, but, hey. It's all good. After I'd seen those kids who were granted Western Wishes, I had to say, as the Horse Whisperer, Monty Roberts did, at the same event, I don't have any problems. Never had, never will.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rodeo Report 2

The 10th was a very big day. I met Steve Miller, my gracious host, for breakfast, and he brought along two female rodeo champions, Mary Ann and Kim. Mary Ann is a fourth generation buckle winner in the roping event, and Kim has been world champion--catch your breath--EIGHT TIMES. These two women opened up a whole new vista for me--professional women's rodeo. It doesn't get near the play in the press--and I think that's a shame. I intend to see the championships next year, and don't be surprised if a few rodeo gals turn up as heroines in my books.

After breakfast, we all went over to Cowboy Christmas, where I was a guest on the Flint Rasmussen Show. Flint is a former rodeo clown--talk about dangerous work--and one of the most engaging talk show hosts I've ever met. We had a load of fun up there on that stage, and was it ever fun to share the Tonight-Show style setup with Stran, a handsome and good-hearted rodeo champ, singer Tracy Byrd, and an up and coming young singer named Luke Bryan. This cowgirl had WAY too much fun, and the view, of course, was superlative. :)

My wonderful publisher, Harlequin, sent copies of the McKettrick books, and after the show, we gave them away, signed, at the Montana Silversmiths booth. That drew quite a crowd--I so enjoyed talking to veteran readers of my books and a whole new bunch as well.

I'm skipping around a little here, but I'll get it all in, I promise. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the Justine Crisis Luncheon--an event to raise money for cowboys who are hurt or sick--and the equally wonderful Western Wishes foundation. Western folks do a lot of good work--there's a great deal of truth in the image of cowboys and cowgirls pushing up their sleeves and wading in to help in times of trouble.

Gotta go feed the horses. I'm sure they're listening for the truck to drive up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rodeo Report 1

I promised a report on the rodeo, and this cowgirl delivers on a promise--though it may take some time! On top of horse work--man, do they look beautiful out there in that snowy pasture--and starting the new book, "The Montana Creeds: Logan's Return", I'm getting to this blog later every day, it seems.

Jenni and I arrived in Las Vegas late the night of the 7th, caught a cab, and checked into the marvelous South Point Hotel, which is the center of all things rodeo. Fantastic place! It has it's own arena, with accommodations for 1400 horses, a bowling alley, a bingo hall, and a multi-screen movie house. No gambling that night--we were too tired from all the familiar hassles of traveling.

On December 8, I finally got together with the wonderful Steve Miller, of Montana Silversmiths, who made all this possible. (Steve is my ex-husband's first cousin--I knew him slightly, years ago, but we hadn't crossed paths in a long, long time.) In addition to his organizational genius, Steve is an accomplished sculptor. There's a full-page ad for his work in this month's issue of "Cowboys and Indians", the one with Trisha Yearwood on the cover. Steve's wife, Terry, is one of the loveliest women I've ever met.

I made my first visit to Cowboy Christmas, the big rodeo-associated gift show, that day and bought myself a pile of jeans. I visited a few of my favorite booths, too, but didn't spend as much this year as last. Guess I'm getting more conservative as I get older. NOT. :)

Judy Wagner, also of MSS, called to say she'd left something for me at the bell desk. Well, when I got there, I was bowled over! Here was the most fantastic western purse, just crammed with blue jewelry boxes!! Stunning stuff, all from the Montana Silversmiths collection.

There's more. A lot more. Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back from the Barn

Another morning feeding horses, which is why I'm late starting this blog. We have a little snow, and more coming on.

It's nice in the barn--if you don't mind the smell. When the horses hear the truck drive up, they know Room Service has arrived and start nickering and carrying on. I head on in and flip the lights on. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Breakfast is served."

Each horse gets a scoop of Equine Senior, a supplement to make sure their bones stay strong, etc., and then I start lobbing grass-hay into feeders. When they've had an hour or so to eat--right about now--I'll go back out and turn them loose for the day. Mucking out stalls is harder--LOTS harder--but I have Mary Ann to help me and, frankly, since my job is so sedentary, it's good for me to do some physical work.

I'm starting book one of the Montana Creeds series this morning--"Logan's Return". If you read "The McKettrick Way", you know who Logan is. :) If you haven't, I won't spoil it for you by telling.

I've been hearing a lot lately about the things Santa can't say. "Ho, ho, ho," for instance. What a wheelbarrow load THAT is. Ho-ho-ho is an old-fashioned way of denoting laughter--not a slur on the honor of womanhood. And then there's "Merry Christmas". None of us are supposed to say that, either, apparently. My feelings on that are not exactly politically correct. Freedom of religion is a right in this country--unless you're a Christian. Now don't go getting me wrong; I have infinite respect for other people and their right to worship as they please. I just want the same courtesy in return. And don't even get me started on taking "In God We Trust" off the money.

Before I get myself in so deep I need a shovel, let me just say, "Ho, ho, ho, and Merry CHRISTmas!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back from the Rodeo

Well, my Canadian wrangler, Mary Ann's husband, Larry, is bunged up, so I'm back in the barn goddess business. This morning, bright and early, with the land blanketed in pristine snow, I headed for the barn to feed the crew--Coco, Skye, Buck, Banjo, Traveler and April. When they'd had time to munch their morning hay and a scoop each of Equine Senior, I went back and let them out to roam the 10 acre pasture. (Traveler came shooting out of that door like a bullet--best to stand back. :)) Later on, I'll be mucking out stalls and refeeding and all, with some help from Mary Ann, who is my first cousin as well as my housekeeper and right-hand woman, and that's hard work. Still, if you're gonna have horses, you've got to be able to do all the work yourself, even if you're lucky enough to have some good ranch hands around.

I've got so much to tell you about the National Finals Rodeo that it will take several days to cover it all, probably. Steve Miller and the crew from Montana Silversmiths ( did so much to make it an exciting experience, that I hardly know where to start. For now, suffice it to say, they treated me like a reining rodeo queen--and several members of my family, too. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough to cover all these people did!

When I arrived, Judy Wagner, of MSS, called to say there was something waiting for me at the guest services desk. I went down to investigate :) and there was this beautiful western handbag, completely STUFFED with fabulous MSS jewelry! I'm telling you, this was one happy cowgirl!!

But since it's Sunday, and I have horses to look after, I'll save stories for the coming days.

It was fun in Vegas, but it's even better to be home.

Stay tuned for the highlights!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Yeehaw! Let's Rodeo!

I'm off to Las Vegas this afternoon--much restored after a few badly needed days at home.

I've learned some lessons about pacing myself--learned them the hard way, as Laels are wont to do--and one of them was that I can't carry my mammoth laptop without a serious energy drain. So here's Plan A about blogging from Vegas: use the business center. Plan B is simply to write in my journal, as I do every day, and then catch you up on all the excitement when I get back home.

I return the sixteenth, and I'll hit the ground running, between last-minute Christmas doings and all, but I'm really chomping at the bit to get started on Logan Creed's book, first in the new contemporary western trilogy, to be published in early 2009. Did I tell you the Creeds are distant (kissin') cousins to the McKettricks? Wait till I tell you all about these wild Montana cowboys!

Vegas ought to be quite an inspiration, with all those cowboys walking around in their goin'-to-the-rodeo Wranglers, pressed white shirts, and Sunday best hats. For some reason, when a cowboy dresses up, he likes to wear a white shirt, and if it's real important, there might just be a crease ironed into those jeans.

Speaking of bits, we don't use them on the Triple L. Bitless bridles, all the way.

Right now, I'd better get off this blog and switch out my New York suitcases for my Las Vegas suitcases.

I'll be thinking about you. If no blogs show up, you can count on one the morning of December 17.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cousin Steve

My "cousin", Steve Wiley, and his wife Debi, are off to Las Vegas for the rodeo finals today--they spent the night and just left to catch their plane. Steve is a rodeo fanatic, so it's a sure thing he'll have a great time. I get in on Friday night, and I'm sure looking forward to hearing about their adventures in the meantime. My brother, Jerry, gets in on the 9th.
Now, I put the word cousin in quotation marks above because Steve and I aren't really blood relations. But we grew up together, a whole flock of us, riding horses on the Wiley ranch outside of Northport and we think of each other as related, period. The Laels and the Wileys go back four generations, counting the current one. It was Steve's grandmother, Florence Wiley, who told me all those wonderful stories about the wild west--the day the Dalton brothers tried to rob the bank in Coffeyville, Kansas, the time Jesse James bedded down in the family barn. Gramma was an angel, with sparkling, warm brown eyes and a tender heart. No matter how many people showed up at the ranch table, she managed to feed them all supper. Since money wasn't plentiful, I often wonder how she did that.
Gramma's own parents had a very romantic story. Her father fought in the Civil War, Union side, and his best friend went with him. The friend died in battle, and made Gramma's father promise to take care of his wife and child if he got home safe. Great-Grampa Heritage did get home, and he married the young widow, raised her child as his own, and together, they built a family. The old rifle he carried into battle is still in the family.
Hmmmm. There could be a story in that....

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Change of Plan

I bet you're out there wondering, where's that blog for the first day in New York?

Well, I can't blog from New York, because....I'm still in Spokane. Did you ever have one of those trips where everything went wrong from the very first and somehow you just knew it wasn't going to happen? I had a day like that yesterday. I got up at three a.m., rushed around the house grabbing things I hadn't packed because I was working on "A Stone Creek Christmas" until around 7:30 pm the night before. Still, I managed to get as far as the airport, with my niece/assistant Jenni, only to find that the first leg of our flight had been cancelled--and the second was in considerable doubt, due to weather conditions across the country (and flight crews who must have slept in.)

To make a long story short, we all decided to take another run at this whole thing in the New Year. My publishers, editor and agent were all wonderfully understanding---sometimes a cowgirl just hits the wall.

I'm still going to the rodeo, leaving on Friday afternoon. I'll blog from Las Vegas. In the meantime, we'll just chat here every morning.

Okay with you?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday? Really?

Time is passing pretty fast these days.

I told you about "A Stone Creek Christmas", and how into it I am. Well, yesterday, I wrote 2 chapters--a double shift! And I didn't even get tired. Once I'd finished, I went downstairs and signed two hundred and fifty book plates to be sent ahead to the rodeo people in Las Vegas. My fabulous publisher, Harlequin, has ponied up (pun intended) copies of my books to put in the giveaway bags, and since I couldn't autograph them, due to distance logistics, my super PR person, Nancy Berland, had the book plates made. (I sure do wish I really looked like that picture of me!)

I'm leaving REAL early on Monday morning, headed to New York, so the blog probably won't be up until that evening.

I most likely won't put in a double shift today, as I have some other things to do to get ready for the trip, but this story is so much fun, there's no way to tell if I'll be able to stop at the usual 20 page mark or not. :)

Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The McKettrick Way

The book is doing great, right out of the chute, as they say in rodeo! I'm so pleased.

I'm already getting letters asking if I'll be telling the story of the intriguing cowboy who appears at the very end. The answer is: YES! Since I don't want to give away too much, as some of you are still reading, that's all I want to say for now.

I'm nearly finished with "A Stone Creek Christmas", next year's Silhouette Special Edition, scheduled for December, and this book is a real kick. I'm having SO much fun with Olivia O'Ballivan, Tanner Quinn (be still my beating heart, what a hunk!) and Tanner's engaging young daughter, Sophie. There are some very special animal characters, too, of course--a lonely pony, a talking dog, and a lost reindeer.

We've made the selections for the 2007 scholarship winners, and they'll be announced soon. If you won, my congratulations. You had some very tough competition! If you didn't, don't despair. We'll be starting a whole new round soon.

And now back to Stone Creek....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Can't Help It....

I've GOT to brag! I just learned that "The McKettrick Way" is the #1 series romance at Borders and Waldenbooks! Pardon me while I jump up in the air and kick my heels together, shouting a rousing, "Whoopee!"

The snow lingers, and is it ever beautiful. We're expecting more tonight--hopefully not before my emergency hair appointment. :) (Like Dolly Parton, I don't worry about being a dumb blonde, because I'm not dumb and I'm not blonde, either.) Why does my appointment qualify as an emergency? Well, I'm heading out for New York early the morning of the 3rd, and hair looks--well--like I've been too busy writing books and messing with horses to get it done. :)

I'm so looking forward to this trip, even though it means a long absence--almost two weeks--from home. I'm meeting up with the Harlequin folks, having lunch with the movers and shakers from Barnes and Noble, and spending time with my beloved editor, Joan, and my agent's agent, Irene Goodman. I plan to hit the MacKenzie-Childs store on 57th Street, and Kate's Paperie, too. These are two of my very favorite places. After a few days in the City, this cowgirl heads for Las Vegas, where I'll be a guest at the National Finals Rodeo, courtesy of Steve Miller and the bunch at Montana Silversmiths. You HAVE checked out their website, haven't you?

This trip, I'm taking my laptop. Barring technical snafus, I'll be blogging regularly--my way of bringing all of you along. So pack up your saddle bags, wranglers, we're going to ride!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Power of Questions

The snow I've been waiting for came in the night, blanketing the draw like a heavenly benediction, trimming the trees in flawless lace. I think it's still coming down, in tiny flakes, but it's still too dark to see.

I guess because we're getting close to the end of another year, I'm starting to think about the shape of 2008. Usually, I set goals--last year, very simple ones. Get to the doctor and the dentist more regularly, for example. And I met that goal.

I've used affirmations quite successfully in my life, but the truth is, and you and I both know this already--they don't always work. You can say, "I wear a size ten", for instance, until you're blue in the face. And your deeper mind will say, "Yeah, right." Lately, I've been focusing more on questions than statements. "How can I wear a size ten?" There's a lot of power in that; instead of coming up with reasons why you DON'T wear a ten, so forget about it, the mind starts looking around for answers. The mental ways and means committee meets. NLP people call this faculty of the human brain the 'reticular activation system'--meaning that the brain notices things related to the question you've put to it. You SEE things because you're looking for them.

You've had the experience. When you're pregnant, practically everybody else seems to be pregnant, too. Buy a red Chevrolet in a specific model, and every time you turn around, you see one just like yours. The cars and the pregnant women were always there, but because you're interested, your brain brings them into clear focus.

I've thought and journaled about my big question for 2008, and here it is.

How can I make every book a profound gift to my readers?

What's YOUR question?

Monday, November 26, 2007

One Thing Led to Another

As many of you know, I usually blog early in the morning, right after I've finished my journaling, and before I start the day's writing quota. Today, I had some documents to sign, which required a trip to the other end of town, and once that was finished...well, it just made sense to go to Target, Hallmark and Michael's, since I was already in the neighborhood!

(Actually, I've been working very hard on "A Stone Creek Christmas", and a day off probably did me good.)

The weather folks are predicting snow for tonight, and it sure looks as though it might happen--the sky has that heavy-bellied, gray look. I love that first real snow--especially if I wake up to a wonderland of white.

Traveler arrived on Saturday, and is he ever a wonderful horse. A paint, just like I always wanted, small of stature so I can mount him without a ladder. I rode him almost as soon as he came out of the trailer, and he's smooth and gentle.

Folks around here got a chuckle when I insisted on naming him for Robert E. Lee's horse, Traveller. Lee's Traveller was BIG, and gray, and my Traveler is little and pinto. Maybe I should call him Little Traveler.


I don't think the General would mind--do you?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Traveler and Other Blessings

Traveler's ETA is sometime this weekend. I'm sure looking forward to his arrival, though there will be the usual jockeying for position in the herd. Coco, the head mare, likes to make it known that she's in charge! You'd think, watching those old movies and TV shows, that the resident stallion runs the show--or at least a gelding. Not so in the horse world. It's the oldest mare, for sure.

The staff house has walls! It's wonderful to see a dream coming true. At the beginning of 2007, the barn and staff house were both visions, dreams. Now, they're real. It's amazing, really.

I plan to write today--I'm really into my new story, as I told you yesterday.

Thanksgiving was wonderful--low key. Regular dishes, easy clean up, good company. I roasted a turkey and mashed potatoes, but I confess the stuffing was Stove Top. And it was delicious!

Today's journal theme was learning to say no to myself. I've gotten awfully permissive lately. No, I'm not going to turn negative, but I figure it's about time I grew up.

A little.

Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy those leftovers. If you're like me, you like them better than the actual meal.

You'll notice I'm not out braving the stores on what is purported to be the biggest sale day of the year. There, you see? I've got a NO under my belt already, and I haven't even had breakfast yet!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving on the Triple L

I have so much to be grateful for this year. Yes, it was the year my beloved dad went over the river to rest among the trees, to paraphrase Stonewall Jackson's dying words. But I am still grateful--because his passing was graceful and relatively pain free, because he was such a wonderful father, because his smile and his mischievous blue eyes will live in my memory until I cross that river myself.

My wonderful, funny mother, Hazel, is in good health and happy in her snug apartment.

The critters are all snug and safe, well-fed and well-loved.

The ground is frosty, and it's nippy outside. I'm so in love with this new book--"A Stone Creek Christmas"--starring Olivia O'Ballivan, Brad's sister ("The McKettrick Way"), and Tanner Quinn--that I will probably write this morning. Yesterday, I got so involved that I was actually inside the story. I was exhausted when I finished, but full of joy. I went out to the barn afterward and hob-nobbed with the horses. After that, I walked over to see the staff house. The foundation is laid and now the walls are going up. It's beginning to look like a house!

So many things to be grateful for. May you be blessed, on this Thanksgiving Day and every day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We admitted we were powerless over horses....

Step one for the horse-addicted. A new member of the family, Traveler, will be arriving this weekend, God willin' and the creek don't rise. (Yes, I'm naming him for Robert E Lee's intrepid steed, Traveller. Just decided to go with one L. Those Civil War books I'm planning pop up in every area of my life!)

Today, after my writing, I'll be out in the barn, mucking stalls. With this sore foot, I haven't been able to get my barn boots on. :) Because the work I do--writing--is so mental and so sedentary, I need more horse-time, and more barn-time, and more fresh-air time. (Mostly fresh, anyway. It IS a barn, after all.)

Tomorrow when we all sit down to our turkey dinner, and I'll be giving thanks for a great many blessings. And all my faithful readers are right up there at the top of the list, along with family, freedom, critters, a career I love, good health, and too many other things to list here.

See you tomorrow. If you don't stop in for the blog, have a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving. In fact, have one even if you do. :)

My sincere love and gratitude to each and every one of you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bird in the Fridge

It's Thanksgiving week already--I can't believe it! We have a great deal to be thankful for around here, as you might imagine. A new barn for the horses and the staff house under construction, just to name a few. All the critters are thriving, as are the people. Since we're all pretty much pooped, we're spending a low-key holiday, roasting a small turkey and making as little fuss as we can.

The new book is out today, too. "The McKettrick Way" is on store shelves all across the country. It boggles my country-girl mind, trying to picture it. I remember way back in 1992, when "Daniel's Bride" came out. It was my first book to make the New York Times bestseller list, and it had the most beautiful cover. I stood in a mall, staring at the display, and almost had to take my driver's license out and check my own ID--that couldn't be MY name splashed across the front of that book in gold foil, could it???

Plans for today include a conference call and some work on "A Stone Creek Christmas", the Silhouette Special Edition that will come out this time next year. There's always the possibility of glimpsing a moose, some deer, or the wild turkeys--that always makes my day. And I'm going out to see the horses, too. They worry about me if I don't go out often, and with my foot surgery, I haven't been able to ride April much. I need to tell them about the new horse, too. He doesn't have a name, so I'm going to call him Traveler.

In the meantime, that turkey waits in the fridge. The leftovers are better than the main meal, don't you think?

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Snow of the Season

It snowed during the night--just a skiff--but as I write this, I'm looking out over the snowy draw and looking forward to more of the white stuff. We put salt licks out for the deer and moose, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them jumped the pasture fence to snarf up some hay. On the other hand, the wild turkeys chased a moose off the other day, so I don't know how brave they are. I DO know I wouldn't get between a cow and her calf for any reason!

I judged the last of the scholarship applications this weekend, and what a hard and fascinating job it was! I am both heartened and touched to realize how many of you are out there, trying to do great things, often against staggering odds, and I surely wish I could give all of you a leg-up. If you're a finalist, you'll hear about it soon. If you didn't win, I hope you'll enter again when we start the 2008 competition. All the information will be on the website, as usual.

Sadie-beagle is downstairs, barking her agreement! More likely, she's just lonely and wonders where everybody is. :) Or she wants an elevator ride! I'd better go check.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Horse????

Yep. I've got my eye on a little paint, located for me by my excellent brother, Jerry, who knows his horses. I don't even know the critter's name yet, but one look at his picture and I said to myself, "He's the one for me." Four of my horses, Buck, Banjo, Skye and Coco, are too green for me to ride. April is a cowgirl's dream. Now, when I go riding, somebody will be able to ride with me--twice the fun.

The new doors I ordered MONTHS ago arrived this morning, and wouldn't you know, when the crates came off--wrong doors. I have two choices here: immense frustration, or calm acceptance. I chose the latter, but I'm gritting my teeth a little! I guess this stuff just comes with construction and renovation.

Big things on the horizon, though. I'm going to New York in early December, to meet with the Harlequin crew and have lunch with some of the Barnes and Noble people. New York in December! I'm sure looking forward to seeing the City in its Christmas garb. On the way back from New York, I'll be stopping in Las Vegas to attend the National Finals Rodeo. The people at Montana Silversmiths are treating me like an honored guest, and who knows? I might have a little luck on the slot machines, too.

In the meantime, I'm going to polish "A McKettrick Christmas" and send it off to my beloved editor. As always, Joan's input made the story infinitely richer and better--I'll be able to present it to you with pride.

My mom spotted "The McKettrick Way" at Fred Meyer a day or so ago. I didn't think it was going to be out until next week sometime. If you're chompin' at the bit to read about Meg McKettrick and Brad O'Ballivan, you might want to check out your local Freddy's.

Back to work.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I THINK I'm Awake!

I'm a sleepyhead today--woke up late.

Almost done with the current writing project, and boy am I loving the story. This is my book, "A McKettrick Christmas", and next year at this time, you'll be reading it. (I hope.) The story features a grown-up Lizzie, Holt's daughter. I'm often asked if I'll be telling Katie's story--she's the late-in-life baby born to Angus and Concepcion. The answer is, yes. The next Christmas book will be Katie's.

Next on the writing docket is "A Stone Creek Christmas", the story of Olivia O'Ballivan, a descendent of Sam and Maddie and sister to Brad, the hero of "The McKettrick Way", which will hit stores next week. One year from now, this book will be offered as a Silhouette Special Edition.

Once I finish that book, I'll be writing a new western contemporary trilogy about the Creeds, Logan, Dylan and Tyler. Hunky cowboys, all, and distant relations to the McKettricks. They live in Montana, the Big Sky country, and I'm really looking forward to writing their stories.

I'll be choosing the finalists in the scholarship program this weekend. Talk about a tough job! I wish I could award one to everybody.

Well, with all this to do, I'd better get with it, hadn't I? As Dad and Angus McKettrick always said, "We're burnin' daylight!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That Train Keeps A-Rollin'

Have I ever mentioned that I live close to the railroad tracks? Well, not THAT close. But I hear the train going by at all hours of the day and night, and now that I'm used to it, I find it a comforting sound. When that lonesome whistle blows, distant and plaintive in the dark, I always think of a certain old friend, gone now. It's like a "Hello".

I've reached that place in my life where the "good-byes" are happening more frequently--and I sure miss my dad. If he were here, he'd say, "Don't be a sad-sack, Lindy." He was a great one for celebrating the present moment--friends, family and flowers, that was his motto. He truly celebrated every day of his life.

The air is bright, sunny, and COLD. The horses are already wearing their winter coat, shaggy and thick. Me, I wear a jacket I bought at Wal-mart. :) It's warm, and it works in the barn. :)

The art room is slowly--SLOWLY--coming together. I'm doing collage and polymer clay again, and loving it. My stuff is never going to hang in a gallery or be featured in a coffee-table book, but it feeds my soul, just as the animals do.

It's a good life. There are some good-byes, but there are plenty of howdies, too.

Put my name down in the column headed "Grateful".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunshine and Collage

We're enjoying beautiful, sunny weather in Spokane today. It's cold, but so clear and crisp outside! This is why I love eastern Washington state--we get our share of overcast weather, to be sure, but mostly, the sun shines. As I always say, here you can be up to your butt in snow and be dazzled by the glare. :)

I'm writing, of course, and organizing my new art room down at the end of the hall. It's off to Wal-mart for storage drawers, a trash bin, the usual stuff. Collage is messy work, and right now, that room literally looks as though a bomb went off in there.

Oh, but I am having fun trying out new techniques. I bought one of those Melt-Art pots at Michael's, along with an instruction video, and wow, the stuff you can make is amazing. I'm learning Photoshop,too--slowly but surely. Fortunately, there are some very good tutorial CD Roms out there. Most fascinating to me: I can take a photo and, using Photoshop, turn it into a sketch! Since my drawing skills aren't exactly whiz-bang, I plan to use my fancy art projector to flash the sketch onto canvas or art paper and trace it.

What an age we live in, Maynard G. Krebbs. (You have to be of a certain age to recognize that reference. Remember Dobie Gillis?)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Vigil Keepers

It's almost trite, because it's been true so long. Freedom isn't free. People have paid for it, for over two centuries now, with life and limb, heart and blood, hopes and dreams. The things we enjoy every day of our lives, folks, have been bought for us, by the brave ones.

The soldiers. While we're going about our normal, day to day lives, they're out there making sure we're safe.

During the Viet Nam conflict, there were factions in this country who blamed the GIs. They called them names, spit on them, burned flags in 'protest'. The incredible cowardice and ingratitude of this made me ashamed--never of my country, or of the soldiers--but to live within the same borders as people who had so little compassion and sensitivity, let alone gratitude.

Now, you see 'Support Our Troops' bumperstickers and magnets on so many vehicles. That heartens me. Whatever our feelings about the war itself, the soldiers are serving, giving up years out of their lives, often far away from their loved ones and the place they hope to come back to. Some of them won't make it back at all, others will bear the mark of conflict for the rest of their lives.

Count your blessings. You'll probably find you're pretty well off, all in all. You can protest. You can dis the President. You can even burn a flag. (But you'd better not let me see you doing it. :) ) You can go where you want to, vote as you please. You don't have to wait hours in a long line for a chance--no guarantee, just a chance--to buy bread. We have so many blessings, in fact, that we take them for granted.

When you see a soldier, thank him or her.

And while you're at it, thank the soldiers of other generations, too. If it hadn't been for the World War II vets, God only knows what Planet Earth would be like now. Hello? They saved the world!

So, to all those who serve, and those who have served:

THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart and the core of my soul, thank you.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Moose Visit

Yesterday, while I was writing away, word reached me that there was a moose in the front yard. I've seen several, since moving here, but it's a sight I never get tired of. I dashed down to look, and there was Bullwinkle, just across the driveway, nibbling at my red willow tree. Mooses, it seems, love red willow.

The horses were on high alert, heads high, ears forward. Only Banjo, the young colt, was fearless enough to venture forward to get a better look, and he soon changed his mind about making friends with the new kid on the block. Bernice, Yorkie extraordinaire, barked up a storm--"Mom! There's something in the yard and it's BIG!"--but wasn't eager to make its acquaintance either.

When I was a child, there wasn't a moose within 500 miles of Spokane. Now I understand there is a herd of about forty in the area. It is heartening to me to know their numbers are multiplying. Not that long ago, bald eagles, too, were almost gone. I see them often now, especially at the lake house. Magnificent.

I'll be in Ellensburg tomorrow, at Jerrol's Book Store, from 2-4. My brother, Jerry, his wife, Anna, and their three beautiful children, Jerome, Chyanne and Sydney, live nearby, so I'll get to see them. Definitely a perk! If you're in the neighborhood, stop by.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Our New Walmart

I admit it. I LOVE Walmart. For one thing, they sell a lot of my books. And I do mean A LOT. For another, they carry the chicken jerky strips my dogs love--a one-stop shop, with very few exceptions. Who cares? you may be asking. Is this a blog or a commercial for Walmart?

It's a blog, definitely. Up until yesterday, a Walmart run involved driving to the other end of Spokane, or out to the valley. Now, we have a brand new store right in Airway Heights, some ten minutes from here, and I'm jazzed! Last night, I bought 10 sets of Noma Christmas lights--the old-fashioned bubble lights we always had on our Christmas tree when I was a little girl. Noma packaged them in the old design--the nostalgia version--and I was sold.

You can tell Christmas is getting close. Every day, my mail box is stuffed with catalogs. I throw most of them away, but a few of them always grab me, which is why I'm on the She'll-Buy-Anything list. I've already got a few gifts stashed away, and I'm looking forward to decorating a tree. Since I will be in New York and Las Vegas during most of the first half of December, I need to get cracking.

Is Veteran's Day too early to put up a tree? :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Foggy Draw

Fog has settled in the draw this morning, and it's a beautiful sight. (Susan: the draw is behind the main house, the one on thirty acres, with the barn. :) )

Who is Susan, the rest of you ask, as you well might? Well, she's better known as Lisa Jackson, #1 New York Times best-selling author and one of my most cherished friends. I'm honored to say that she reads my blog, and last weekend in San Diego, she was teasing me about never knowing exactly which house I'm blogging from. Is it the lake? Or is it the horse place?

In case I haven't bragged, my good friend Debbie Macomber ALSO hit the #1 slot recently. Both these women are generous, hard-working professionals and EXCELLENT writers, and it's so good to see them getting the recognition they deserve.

I'm writing today, and when the page quota is fulfilled, I'll be in my new craft room, just down the hall. My wonderful staff converted a guest room for me--heaven on earth.

For now, though, there's a fire crackling on the hearth downstairs, and fresh coffee brewing. Sadie is barking for an elevator ride. So I'd better get on with it, though I might take some air freshener with me. :) Last night, I was taking Sadie down to the yard on a potty run, and she farted. No escape.

Oh, the glamorous life of a writer with two houses. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On a Break


Working hard on the current project. No real excuse there, since I ALWAYS work hard.

For those of you who live in the Ellensburg, Washington area, I'll be at Jerrol's Book Store this Saturday, November 10, from 2-4. I hope you'll stop by if you can. I'd love to say howdy and sign a book or two for you, and we're offering a really nice door prize.

The other day I was watching one of the craft shows I TIVO--"Crafters Coast to Coast" is my favorite--and a woman was doing something, I forget what, but she was an expert at it. She said, "I learned to do this right by doing it wrong about a million times." I'm having a heck of a time with some of my projects, but I was heartened by her words.

Only 999,995 attempts to go, and I'll get the necklace I'm making (it has a picture of Dad and me inside it, riding on his horse, Peanuts, circa 1951) to turn out the way I envision it. :) I think this is the 5th effort--I used resin this time, and it won't be cured for 72 hours! I'm an impatient soul, and it's all I can do not to fiddle.

Writing is that way, too, and just about everything else worth doing. I guess we have to be willing to do something badly for a long time before we earn the right to do it well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The LaJolla Writers Conference Report

Okay, I didn't take my laptop, and I'm glad I didn't, because as usual, I had way too much luggage in the first place. :)

So many great things happened that I wrote a prompt list in my journal, so I wouldn't forget to tell all.

#1 My daughter, Wendy, attended, and her fiance, Jeremy, was there part of the time too. Wendy and I had lots of talk-time, and attended classes together. We also hit the resort's gift shop at least half a dozen times. More than toothpaste and key chains at Paradise Point, San Diego, to be sure!

#2 I received an award, and it was totally unexpected. This year's Person of Letters is yours truly! I got a lovely little desk clock with an inscription, and felt so honored. Thanks to Antoinnette and everybody at the conference.

#3 I almost fell into the duck pond my first day there. Marauding ducks and gulls attacked my room service tray, and a styrofoam bowl ended up floating on the water. I couldn't have that--littering! So I tried to fish the bowl out with a long stick and came THIS close to going in! I count this as a 'great thing' because I stayed dry!

#4 We saw a skunk, up close and personal, and he DIDN'T spray! With the wild fire still burning around San Diego, they're seeing a lot of small animals in places they wouldn't normally be seen.

#5 The room key stopped working. I called Security on my cell phone, and they came and put new batteries in the lock. Did you know those things had batteries? I sure didn't. Blessing here: the staff at this hotel is one of the most competent and cheerful I've ever seen. They rode promptly to the rescue and we all had a good laugh and swapped some stories.

#6 I got to hear and meet David Morrell, creator of Rambo, and Stephen J. Cannell, who is a very successful adventure novelist, in addition to being the writer/creator of a lot of my old favorite TV shows, like "Adam-12" and "The Rockford Files". Mr. Cannell is dyslexic, and his story of perserverance was truly uplifting. I also ran into Lisa Jackson and sister NANCY Bush--I think I called her 'Natalie' in a previous blog. (She used to write as Natalie Bishop, which is what confused me, but honestly, it was a senior moment and there's no way around it. I've known these two for YEARS.) As usual, Susan (Lisa) and Nancy were delightful, and gave several excellent presentations.

#7 The quality of the attendee's writing simply blew me away. It was so much fun to hear them read parts of their stories aloud, and then all of us jump in for a discussion afterwards.

#8 No way I could close this blog without mentioning the hard work of Antoinnette Kuritz, her husband, Rich, and son Jared. Despite the fires, and some endangered property of their own, they were on the job 24/7 to make the conference even better than last years'. They are such pros, all three of them, and the gathering was a virtual paradise for writers. Nobody, but nobody, treats their faculty better than the Kurtizes. Thanks, guys!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bumper Cars

Do you ever get the feeling you're standing in the center of one of those bumper-car rides at a carnival, periodically blind-sided by a racing car? Maybe knocked down--or even run over??
Of course I'm referring to problems--the kinds of things that seem to come out of nowhere and upset whatever apple cart we've been filling up with dreams and blessings.

I know I've felt like that. But here's a little insight I've learned along the way. We are NOT at the mercy of runaway bumper cars, no matter how it may seem. There's a control room--our innermost thoughts and beliefs--and although we're not always awake at the switch, Someone Else is. It's called Grace.

When I get a lot of bumper cars crashing into me, it's always a sure sign that I need to 1) Stop, 2) Pray, 3) Expect an answer and proceed as though I've already gotten it. One of the best pieces of advice I've EVER heard is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail.

Of course, some bumper cars are unavoidable. They're the ones that are a vital part of your journey--into each life some rain must fall. (Or that life would dry up and die.) In this case, I ask for insight, for strength, for stronger faith, for the ability to keep going and keep believing.

I've never seen this fail. Give it a try.

As you know from yesterday's blog, I'm headed for Fire Central today--San Diego. I'll blog if I can. If I don't, you can expect a full description on Monday.

Or Tuesday. :) (One of my own bumper cars, you see, is a tendency to procrastinate.)

Over the coming weekend, I expect to: have a wonderful time with my beautiful and talented daughter, reconnect with old friends and make some new ones, encourage discouraged writers, and learn A LOT in the process. There are some big names attending the LaJolla Writers Conference--Steven J. Cannell, David Morrell, and my friends Lisa Jackson and Natalie Bush. When I get home, I'll be a better person and a better writer.


This is going to be FUN!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Miscellaneous Tuesday

Well, I got to messing with my crafting--burned fingers are healed, for those concerned--and got to the blog page late.

The nonfiction book about Buck is on hold, but I'll keep you posted on that. Meanwhile, this just in--I'll be rewriting an older book, "Willow", over the course of the coming year. It's a dandy western, and I've always wanted to make it longer and stronger--go into more depth with all the primary and secondary characters. When I sold that book, there was a paper shortage on, and the publisher wanted things kept short. "Willow" will have a new title and a new cover, and I'll keep you up to speed on all the details as the project progresses. I promise, even if you've already read the story, even if you LOVED it, it will be bigger and better in every way.

I'm off to San Diego--yes, San Diego--on Thursday to participate in the annual LaJolla Writer's Conference, put on by my good friend, Antoinette Kuritz and her wonderful husband, Rich, and son, Jarod. It was fun last year, and I expect it to be great this year, too. Big added bonuses: my daughter Wendy will be attending, at least part of the time, and friends Lisa Jackson and Natalie Bush will be there, too. (I've been assured the fires will not stop these intrepid writers from gathering.)

I'll take my laptop and blog from the conference. More tomorrow--hopefully, on time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Craft Injuries

You have to be smarter than the hot glue. Alas, here I sit with two burned fingers, so this blog will probably be short. I have to keep dunking my hand in the bowl of cold water at my side. :) Undaunted, I WILL craft again.

And of course I will write, because that's my job. I have a new appreciation for my fingers--they are really quite useful, all things considered.

Fortunately, it wasn't my slot-machine hand. :)

Sadie is recovering beautifully from her surgery--hardly any limp at all and, thanks to her new dog diet--she's lost about 5 pounds--she's as spry as a puppy.

Gayle Mackie and Regina Winkler, if you read this, call me. I lost your cards.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catching Up

Well, I missed two blogs, and some of you were concerned, which I think is very sweet. Here's what happened: I finished "A McKettrick Christmas" sooner than expected, so I decided to goof off! I went to Walmart on Thursday, early, and by the time I got home, I was, as my mother says, too pooped to pop. Yesterday, Jen, Mary Ann and I went on a day-trip to Canada, with a stop-off in Northport to visit Auntie Marian. (She's Mary Ann's mother.) She was making soup for Soup and Games night at the church, and did that house ever smell delicious.

Boxes of art supplies have been rolling in--I'm on a real tear. I made a great necklace from an old photo of Dad and I on his horse, Peanuts. It must have been taken in 51, 52 at the latest; I was about two, and sitting that old horse like a pro. Anyway, I shrunk that photo down and cut it to fit a necklace setting I'd bought on eBay. I had several false starts before I got it right, but if there's one quality I can lay claim to, it's persistence. (A good trait everywhere but at the casino.) First try, the ink bled, so I painted the next attempt with a sealer. That didn't work, either, because the sealer was water-based. So then I took a different trail and used liquid polymer clay instead of sealer. That worked great, but the lines where I'd drawn the circle around the photo showed. So I ripped that one out, too. I finally succeeded, and poured a wonderful product called Diamond Glaze over the picture. It hardens to a beautiful transparency, and there are Dad, Peanuts and me, looking out of that locket.

I plan to do some more goofing off today. I got way behind on it when I was working on the last book. :)

Monday morning, though, I'll be back at the computer, dealing with Olivia O'Ballivan, direct descendant of Sam and Maddie, in "A Stone Creek Christmas." Olivia is an animal communicator, as well as a veterinarian, and the appearance of a reindeer named Rodney at the foot of her driveway starts a whole chain of events. A reindeer in Arizona???? Well, that's a stretch even for Olivia.

If you can goof off today, do it. It's refreshing. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Musings

Well, I got up late again, though I did get to spend some precious time with my journal. This is a form of prayer for me, and it never fails to get me on the right track.

The fires continue in the San Diego area, as you know. I encourage you all to pray along with me, and to contribute whatever you can to the appropriate charities. My contribution will be going to the Red Cross, because I think they do wonderful work, but there are certainly other good ones. And here's an experiment. Instead of sinking into the doldrums, let's all believe together that those who suffered losses will come out of this stronger and more blessed than ever. Yes, even in a disaster of this magnitude, there can be blessings. Clap your hands if you believe.

I am almost finished with "A McKettrick Christmas", and I've gotta tell you, I LOVE this book. I know, I know. I always say that. But it's still true. I poured my heart and soul into the story, and it seems like a part of me now. Maybe it always will.

Be blessed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back Home

I came home a day later than planned, which is why I didn't have a blog up yesterday.

My visit to Oregon was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed my gig at the Northwest Women's Show enormously--put a microphone in my hand and I turn into Oprah--but by far the best part was spending time with my lovely sister, Sally and her funny, fabulous family. I visted my niece, aka Miss Lang, at the wonderful little school where she teaches. I honestly did not know there were still schools that small--it was even smaller, I think, than the one I attended in Northport. I also dropped in on my other niece, Sam, at the shop where she works. What fun it was to see my nieces in such an adult context. Didn't get to hook up with nephew, Jesse, but next time. I did get some time with his beautiful little son, Jaden the Extraordinary.

Sally and I, along with sister Pam, are craft fanatics. We visited Craft Warehouse, in Salem, and I went absolutely crazy. I had to buy an extra suitcase to carry home the loot, and Sally STILL has to send three boxes!

My heart is very heavy over the fires in the San Diego area. So many people losing their homes, and all those displaced pets. I'm praying hard, and know all of you are, too.

As for the homefront, we're ready to begin the staff house on the adjoining property--the lumber has been delivered. We're all believing Mary Ann and husband Larry will be in by Christmas. I'll be giving you regular updates on that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cowgirl on the Road

I'm leaving in a little while to fly to Portland for the Northest Women's Show. Details of the appearance are on yesterday's blog--I hope you'll stop by and say howdy if you happen to be in the area.

There will be a lot of free time on this trip, so Sister Sally and I plan to hit some craft and fabric stores, and schoomze up a storm. All I've got to say about that is, "Wah-hoo!"

When I get back home, I'll have yarns to spin.

Have a truly wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Winner Is...

Last week, when I appeared at the Grand Re-Opening of the Liberty Lake Albertson's store, I held a drawing, offering a wonderful bracelet from as a prize. Lots of people signed up.

The winner is Gwen, of Deer Park, Washington! Congratulations, Gwen. Your bracelet is on its way.

I like giving away prizes. From now on, I'll hold a drawing at all my signings. There will be a great necklace set at the Northwest Women's Show in Portland this weekend--stop by and sign up. I'm there on Sunday, October 21, in the Author's Corner, arriving at 1:30 pm. I'll give a speech, do some Q&A and then sign books. See you there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News from the Triple L

Sadie is recovering rapidly--still snoozing away on the bed as I write this, along with Bear. I got up a while ago, expecting to take Sades down in the elevator for the customary backyard visit (Bear won't set foot in the elevator unless you drag her, and gets lots of good exercise running up and down stairs to keep up with the action. Hmmmm...maybe I should teach Sadie to push the down button herself and take Bear's route!)

I'm so into my new Christmas book. Writing it has taken longer than I thought it would--everything does these days, it seems--but I'm loving the story. I hope you will, too.

On the travel front, I'm off to Portland, Oregon this Thursday, to spend some quality sister-time with Sally Jean, do an interview and sign books at the show on Sunday. I'll post the time later--if you live in the area and can stop by, that would be great!

Collage and polymer clay are consuming all my spare time. Nice change from the casino. Not that I'm over it--I've won either four or five jackpots in the past six weeks or so.

The weather has definitely cooled off, and though the trees are mostly Douglas fir around here, there are some maples and oaks. And they are glorious! Everything from yellow to crimson, blazing in the sunlight. I think I'll plant a few maples down in the draw next spring. If the deer don't eat them, I'll have splashes of color to admire as I write, blog or sip wine on the back deck.

It's a rough life, but somebody has to do it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gadget Crazy

Well, friends, I have gone gadget crazy. Right 'round the bend. I'm an amatuer collage artist and polymer clay jewelry maker, as some of you know, and I've FINALLY learned how to use a scanner. I was enthralled all weekend long. Goll dang it, you can actually transfer any image you want onto a piece of polymer clay!

In the last little while, I have ordered: a Flip, one of those little deals that takes 30 minutes of video (goal: get some pictures of the horses and dogs up on this site), a digital recorder (goal: audio blog), super scanner extraordinaire (goal: oh, what the heck. I just want to scan!), computer and monitor dedicated just to art work and photography.

Good thing I won a big jackpot a week ago on Queen of the Nile! :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Up-to-the-Minute Sadie Report

Mary Ann and I just got back from picking Sadie up at the surgery center. She has a big purple polka dot bandage on her leg, and her fur was shaved to the hip, but she's fine. Her ligament was repaired, and in a few weeks, she'll be as good as new. She was so happy to see us there in the waiting room, but by all reports, she made a lot of new friends. (Sadie makes friends wherever she goes.) She's downstairs now, drugged up and snoozing on her bed.

We've made a real committment around here to getting her weight down. As I said yesterday, when you see those tiny little bones in the x-ray, you know they can't carry around so much dog without a lot of strain.

Bernadette is feeling better--thanks for all your prayers. Sadie benefited, too, and I know little Molly got the prayer-whammy she needed. As soon as I get any news about this sweet baby, I'll share it with you.

Thank you. It's good to know you're out there.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sadie Report

She'll be fine. We met with the surgeon this morning--cousin Mary Ann went along for moral support--and the doctor decided Say-Say needed surgery. She was able to get right in, and I'll be there to pick her up in the morning, when she's slept off the anesthetic. She was pleased to greet other dogs in the waiting room, especially the beagle! The doctor is an extremely nice man, and I had confidence in him immediately. He came highly recommended by Sadie and Bernice's regular vet, Dr. Steve Bauer, whose opinion I greatly respect, so I wasn't worried.

Chris-aka the Nazi Dog Nanny--has her all set up for a diet. Too much dog for those little legs to carry comfortably. Too many treats, that's Sadie's problem (i.e. her problem is MOI). More ear-scratching and tummy-rubs will help her through the withdrawal stages.

Buckaroo doesn't know he's going to have his own book yet. Sadie was in "Springwater Wedding", and Bernice appeared in all three Look books as herself. Now Buck is going to be a star, too. He'll be the talk of the barn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

All's Quiet on the 'Western Front

It looks as though this will be a quiet day. That's good, because things have been mighty hectic around here lately. As I write this, Sadie and Bernice are snoozing on the bed. Sadie's still got a hitch in her get-along, but she sees a specialist tomorrow morning.

Plans are underway to convert one of the guestrooms, temporarily, into an art studio and exercise room. I am so jazzed about that! As some of you know, I do collage and some polymer clay work. My first house in Scottsdale had a wonderful craft room, but here and at Springwater Station, it's been a matter of messing up the kitchen table, big-time.

Great news from my publisher. I'll be doing at least one nonfiction book, and probably several. The first will be about Buck, my beautiful rescue horse. The tentative title is "A Horse With Heart", and that certainly describes Buckeroo.

I had a wonderful time at the family reunion last week--it was hard without Dad there, but there was so much love and laughter that it was as though he was actually there. In fact, I'm sure he was, along with Aunt Lily andUncles Jack and Wes. Pam and I played a little at the Chewelah casino, and she and Sally and I had a nice visit at the lakehouse. Pam is the polymer clay maven, and she showed me some terrific stuff. I can't wait to try it.

Which brings me back to the art-room-to-be. Whoopee!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Molly/Bernadette/Sadie Report

Thank you all for your prayers.

Little Molly made it through the surgery, but there are still challenges ahead. Poor, brave little mite. I'll keep you posted.

Bernadette is home from the hospital but still pretty knocked out. As I understand it, they are controlling the pain, which was severe.

Sadie tore a ligament in her knee. How bad the tear is remains to be seen, but it's not life-threatening and it can be handled. She sees a surgeon on Thursday morning, and he'll determine whether the injury will heal on its own or require a little help from him. She's comfortable and, being Sadie, relentlessly good-natured.

Situations like this remind me how blessed we are, in this day and age, to have skilled surgeons, veterinarians, nurses and other health professionals. As I pray for the well-being and recovery of Molly, Bernadette and Sadie, I'll remember to say Thank You.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lake House Sisterly

My sisters Sally and Pam and I spent yesterday and last night here at the lake house, following the family reunion in Colville this weekend. We have had a marvelous time. We hit Walmart and Michael's, two of our favorite places, and had dinner at the Outback. After that, Pam, the polymer clay maven, showed me how to make some cool canes. While Sally sewed--she's not into clay, but can she sew!--I watched Pam work with an eagle eye. I did a background for a collage I've had in mind for a while--that's the hard part, waiting for that paint to cure so I can glue stuff on! When we get together to do something fun, we call it a Sisterly--a tradition started by our aunts.

On a more serious note, little Molly, the granddaughter of a good friend, is having surgery today. Please pray for this tiny spirit, not even a month old, trying so hard to live.

Sadie's gimpy, so she's going to the vet at four this afternoon. I'd appreciate prayers for her, too. I don't think it's serious, but she's not putting much weight on her hind leg.

It's a day for asking for prayers, I guess. Just heard my right-hand man, Chris, sent his wife to the hospital by ambulance this morning. He has to stay home, because he has a 91 year old mother in law with Alzheimer's, and she can't be left alone. Initial reports are that Bernadette is suffering from kidney stones.

Hoping for good news on all these fronts.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Major PS

My friend Cheri's little granddaughter, Molly Ann, born on September 22, is having surgery on Monday. I know I can count on all of you to say a prayer for this precious baby.

What a Day!

Yesterday was just fabulous! First, lunch at Luna with Sam and Janet and my new best friends, Gail and Regina, who are both associated with Spokanimal. We got on like the proverbial house afire!

It was on from there, through rainy streets, to the spiffy "new" Albertson's store in Liberty Lake. Jerry and Debbie, thank you for all you did to welcome me to the store. It was grand! The folks from Benjamin News came, too--Julie and the whole group made me feel like a big star. After a very successful signing--a lot of you turned out--we all went to Clinkerdagger's for a big dinner. The food was terrific, and the company even better.

Sam and Janet--what can I say? I love you both. It is ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with you. Have a safe trip home and hug the puppy for me.

In a little while, I'm off to collect Sister Pam, and we'll hook up with Sister Sally later. The Lael reunion is this weekend, and it will be bittersweet. First year without Dad. Brother Jerry, stepmother Edith, my sisters and I will be heading up to Northport to scatter his ashes on familiar ground. There will be a few tears, and a lot of laughter as we all share favorite memories.

Sally and Pam and I plan to have a 'sisterly' at the lake house on Sunday. We'll be shopping, eating, and messing around with polymer clay.

These are the things that count.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

No More Stitches!

So far, so good. The stitches are history, but I have to wear the surgical boot for another two weeks. THAT I can deal with. I was supposed to wait until tomorrow to have that bath I've been looking forward to, but, uh-oh, cowgirls don't always listen. You won't tell, right? :) I dried the foot carefully and smeared it with antibiotic cream, so I figure I'm good to go.

And a busy day it will be. First lunch, with Sam and Janet Smith and two women from the local Humane Society, then a break for a few hours, then the appearance at Albertson's in Liberty Lake. I'll be there from 3-6--they added an hour--and I surely hope you'll stop by if you're in that neck of the woods.

Sam is National Account Manager for Harlequin Books, but I've known him and Janet for years and years. They are the most delightful, intelligent, entertaining people! We had a good time at Prospector's in Airway Heights last night. Very cute waiter. We tried to recruit him as a cover model, but he's bent on teaching high school science.

Hope to see you later in the day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Houston, We Have Sunshine!

I don't know how long it will last, but I'm enjoying every sunny second of it.

I have a family reunion this weekend--nice to see the aunts, uncles and cousins, but my dad will be missing, so my feelings about this are bittersweet.

I sure have to hit the ground running tomorrow morning! Stitches out (halleljuah) at 7:30 AM, then on to the Albertson's store in Liberty Lake, where I'll do an interview, and later--between 3 and 5, sign books. I get to see my good friends, Sam and Janet Smith, and my sister Pam is in town for the reunion, so we'll hook up sometime on Friday.

I've been a little under the weather lately, but feel as if I'm on the upswing again. I sure won't miss having to nursemaid this foot of mine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Day in the Life

The morning started out as usual--dogs out, dogs in, dogs out again, dogs in again---you get the picture. After that, coffee and some quiet time with my journal. What was different about this morning was doing a radio interview by phone. I almost spaced it out--received a reminder email at 9:18 am, and the call was scheduled for 9:30. Phew!

Then a woman came to measure for new vinyl flooring in two of the bathrooms.

Work? Who, me?

I might just go over to the casino instead.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cuddle Weather

It's cold, and we're getting a lot of rain in Spokane. Sadie and Bernice, the two-dog pack, are sharing a fluffy dog bed downstairs by the fire, where Mary Ann (cousin and housekeeper) and her husband are living while they wait for the staff house to be built.

Sadie, Bear and I have a routine. When we wake up, Sadie immediately shakes her head, flapping her beagle ears, and that's the signal. "Get up, Mom. We're burning daylight!" So the three of us head down the hall, the cats trailing. Sadie and I get into the elevator--Bernice won't set foot inside it unless she's shanghaied--and descend two floors to the basement. Bernice, aka Bear, is so fast that she usually meets us as we get out. Backyard-time follows, while I drink coffee with Mary Ann. It's a nice way to start the day.

Of course my writing quota will take precedence, but this is a good day for curling up on the couch with a good book and a fire on the hearth, and I'll probably do that later. It's a good life.

The foot is healing up nicely, and I hardly use my crutches--don't tell the doctor--I'm just such a klutz that they're more hindrance than help. Stepmother Edith asked if it was my stirrup foot that went under the knife. Nope, it was the other one. I'll be back up on that horse of mine in no time.

Lots going on here. Guess I'd better get to work!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Chatter

So much for the sunshine. It rolled on out of here, and we're expecting something like five straight days of rain. Like most places, we need the water, so I won't be complaining overmuch.

Had my post-op check up yesterday, and everything's healing up right on schedule. One more week, and I get my stitches out. It happens on the same day I appear at the grand re-opening of the Albertson's store in Liberty Lake. I'll be hanging around from three to five in the afternoon, October 4, so if you live in the area, come on by and say hello. I'll be the one in the funny shoe. :) My good friends Sam and Janet Smith will be hanging out there with me--two of the nicest people I've ever known. Sam is part of the Harlequin sales force, and Janet is an accomplished stained glass artist.

We got off to a late start around here this morning, due to a late night at the casino. Sadie didn't go on the slot-machine junket, but she's snoring away on the foot of my bed like a buzz saw cutting through hard wood. I'm going off to roam this big place looking for a cup of hot coffee.

Talk to you on Monday. Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Old Horse, Old Tricks

I have a post-op appointment with my doctor this morning; unfortunately, I just get a new bandage. He isn't going to remove the stitches just yet. Except when it comes to taking a bath, this isn't a great problem. I manage to get around well enough, and there has been no significant pain from the first.

Confession: I've got a stubborn side. (I can just hear my friends and relatives chuckling, as if this were some great and stunning revelation.) I'm usually blessed with complete mobility, and when I'm not, I start wanting to do things just because I can't. Right now, for instance, I want to go shopping for that new saddle. While I've managed a couple of forays to the casino--and won enough to buy another horse--shopping involves too much walking. No Walmart. No Target. No tack store. Woe is me. :)

It's a real lesson in One Day at a Time, which has always been a challenge for me. Guess that's why I'm hobbled.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chili and Cornbread Memories

What a beautiful, sunny day we're having here in Spokane! This is the kind of weather I remember from childhood--the crisp snap in the air, the leaves beginning to change--though most of the trees around my house are pines or Douglas fur. We're seeing more deer--fawns following mama into the woods. When Joan and I were at the lakehouse last week, we actually saw a fawn in the back yard, almost close enough to touch.

Way back, there used to be a big rummage sale in Northport in October, and the whole town looked forward to it. There was always chili and cornbread--50 cents for both, if I remember correctly--and people would wait in line to get in. The sale was held in an old storefront, and the stuff in the windows tantalyzed us for weeks before the big event. Several folks usually wanted the same item, and they were prepared to compete to get it, albeit good-naturedly. They plotted the snatching up of a particular vase or necklace or potato ricer ahead of time. Northport isn't exactly a metropolis, and all the items on offer were donated, but we all enjoyed buying each other's junk. :) I scored my first pair of western boots at that sale--for 5 cents--and wore them until my mother made me throw them away. ("They'll ruin your feet!") They were pretty bad, but when I wore them, it was easier to believe I was Annie Oakley. :) Today, I own many pairs of boots, snazzy and jazzy, but they don't have the same magic as the ones I bought for a nickel.

Now, of course, I understand that it wasn't the cracked plates and forlorn prom dresses that brought out the crowds--if any group in Northport could ever be large enough to qualify as a 'crowd'--it was the conviviality. The cornbread and chili. The chance for a whole community to gather, setting out early from lonely, far-flung farms, everybody in their best clothes and carrying a dollar or two in pocket and purse, to celebrate the change of seasons. To laugh and talk and proudly display our eagerly garnered treasures. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, I can tell you, it was a lot better than eBay, simply because it was personal. Face to face. Elbows bumping at the chili tables.

There was no internet, of course, and only three channels on the TV--plus a fuzzy one out of Canada--and it was forty miles to the nearest movie house or library (we had one, but it was only open on Tuesday afternoons and there were zero new books)--so the annual rummage sale was an EVENT, like the lighting of the Lion's Club Christmas tree in the center of town and the Labor Day picnic out at the park.

OK, so maybe I'm making it sound like a Norman Rockwell painting, but it really was wonderful. Today, a crowd is a big collection of strangers, cautiously polite at best, and anonymous. Back then, it was a gathering, people had names and faces and histories, and they interacted. They had a place to share their stories.

I miss that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I overdid it a little yesterday. So today, I'm going to have to slow down.

It's write, rest, write again.

More tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm Back

My foot is still in a surgical boot, and I need to use crutches most of the time to keep from putting too much weight on the newly pinned bone, but I'm in good shape. I had hardly any pain at all. Mostly, this makes me think about and appreciate how blessed I normally am, just to get around without any problem. I've been getting a lot of rest, and that has been good for me, too. Still, I'll be VERY glad to get back to normal. And speaking of that, I'm over my cold, too. Probably all that bedrest.

Plans for today include writing a chapter of the current book.

The draw is rolling with fog. The horses are fonder of their warm, snug stalls than they were in summer. That fall snap is definitely in the air.

Sadie and Bernice have kept a doggie-vigil, cuddling close whenever I sleep.

It's all good.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Here's How the Operation Went

Jenni and Mary Ann took me to the doctor's outpatient surgical center at noon yesterday, after Joan had been delivered to the airport.

The surgery was quick and painless--I was sedated, but only mildly so. So far, the incision etc. hasn't hurt any more than my dental surgery did. The difference is, I have to use crutches and keep my foot elevated most of the time before, which means this blog won't be long. :)

I have a new depth of consideration for people who are handicapped in any way. It is no small thing to need help to get around, and to have to think about every move you make. Depending on someone else for coffee, water and other vital nutrients is humbling.

I'll learn to use these crutches--they'll be part of my life for the next week or two. I've never had any experience with them before, which is probably yet another thing to be grateful for. The doctor knows his business. The nurses were kind and made the whole thing as easy as they could. And there are kind people here at home.

Color me thankful.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'll be leaving for the surgery center in about an hour. Frankly, I'm eager to go and get this over with. Joan and I had a lovely time, and she is now on her way to the airport. The visit was WAY too short.

We drove out to Lake Coeur d'Alene yesterday--how breathtakingly beautiful it is--and had lunch later at one of my favorite restaurants, Tomato Street. We returned to the lake house in the evening, ordered a veggie pizza, visited and sipped wine. A doe and her fawn paid a visit--a spiritual experience to see these animals almost near enough to touch.

Today's weather is cloudy and overcast.

If the pain pills work, I'll blog in the morning.

In the meantime, please think lots of good thoughts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Visitor

Joan and I had a lovely first evening at the lake house, although the rain storm I mentioned never did show up. We had deli salads for supper and glasses of wine, and talked books, books, and more books.

Today, we're going to visit the Coeur d'Alene area. I'll give you a report tomorrow--prior to heading in for my foot surgery.

I've laid in the second season of my favorite TV show, "Ghost Whisper", to watch as I recover. I was on the road so much, I missed most of it. Now, I have TIVO again, but I've got to be caught up before the new shows start.

More later.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Day!

My beloved editor, Joan Marlow Golan, she of the keen insights and gentle diplomacy, is arriving today for a short visit. We'll be staying out at the lake house, and the sky is dark and low-bellied, which means we might be in for a spectacular light show of a storm tonight!

Glancing out my window, I see our wild turkeys foraging along the fence line. And last night, returning from an outing (yes, it was the casino, no, I didn't win. It was a bloodbath, a massacre, Antietam and Gettysburg rolled into one), cousin Mary Ann, her husband, Larry, and I were treated to a visit from a doe with two young fawns in tow. We waited politely in the driveway until they'd skampered to safety, of course. In Arizona, Mary Ann and I once sat in the truck for some 20 minutes, watching mama and papa quails herding their sizable flock of chicks to one side. They are so cute, with those little topknots--the chicks were no taller than an inch or so, and they kept breaking off from the herd. Mama and Papa and a couple of aunts and uncles had to ride swing, as they say in the cattle biz.

My cold is almost gone. The stitches in my mouth come out on Wednesday, to be replaced with new ones on Thursday. Alas. I intend to enjoy my time with Joan, and think about tomorrow--well--tomorrow.

I'll blog from the lake in the morning. Thursday, too. Friday? Depends on how good the pain killers are. :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Plague and I

I promised not to complain again, but I need to whine. I'm sick, darn it.

It's minor. Just a common cold. It's left me with just enough energy to sit in this chair, at my computer, and work on my current story. Being a creative type, I could easily turn this bug into an excuse to lie about in bed and watch mindless TV--and most of it is mindless--or I can buck up and write a chapter. It's all about choices.

My brilliant daughter, a screenwriter on the verge of selling, and I spoke yesterday about that bane of any artist's existence: Resistance. We're both fans of Steven Pressfield's book, "War of Art". According to Pressfield, the moment a writer turns from amateur to pro is NOT when they make that first big sale, but when they making writing a real priority that must come before everything else. The pages get down--THEN you can go to Wal-mart, or the casino, or play around with a hobby. (I'm talking to myself, here, as well as to any of you who may be struggling in this area.)

Without a doubt, the most dedicated, hardworking writer I know is Nora Roberts. She gets those pages down, come hell or high water. And it sure is working for her, isn't it???


Friday, September 14, 2007

Weekend on a Snow-bound Train

That's where I'll be spending MY weekend--with Lizzie McKettrick and the man she's going to marry. Lizzie's in a big hurry to get home to the Triple M for Christmas, but one little thing got in her way. An avalanche. Few things interest me more than a McKettrick up against a big problem. They are innovative folk, those McKettricks.

My lovely editor, Joan Marlow Golan, who will soon be visiting for a couple of days, sent me the most marvelous book as a pre-hostess gift. It's called "Women and Horses", and it's full of lovely illustrations. We DO seem to have a special bond with horses, we women. I know my Buck goes ballistic if he even sees a cowboy hat--he was badly abused--but I used to ride him without a problem. Then my dad saw him act up in the breezeway one day, back in Arizona, and made me promise not to ride Buck again. Now, he's a pet. He's earned the right to retire in style.

We just haven't had enough construction around here. Now, we're starting a staff house. My cousin, Mary Ann, and her husband work for me, as does their daughter, Jenni. Jenni now lives in a small apartment over the barn. Mary Ann and Larry and their two dogs will live across the road--I'm sure they'll be glad to get out of my basement. (It's not really a basement--it has a fireplace and two sets of French doors, as well as a kitchenette, and measures approximately 2900 square feet.) Once the move is made, I plan to convert that area into the mother of all offices. I already have this killer Hooker desk, and my Lifetime Achievement Rita will occupy a place of honor on the mantel. The carpet will be replaced with hardwood, and of course I'll need oodles of book shelves. The Civil War collection alone would fill a box car.

I've mentioned that I'm going to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this December. Before that, I'll be in New York for some meetings and some power shopping. Now that I have a wireless card, I'll be able to blog from the road, and share the experience with all of you. I'll be touring the Southern states this winter, to promote "Deadly Deceptions", the new Mojo book, and the West in late September, early October, for "The Rustler", the new Stone Creek western. Both will be mass market paperbacks--easier on the budget.

I've ordered a digital recorder, too, as I plan to start an audio blog. Keep an eye on the website.

Now, where did I leave that snow-bound train? Oh, yes. It's midway between Flagstaff and Indian Rock....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Late Again

I'm sure holding up the show on that snowed-in train caught between Flagstaff and Indian Rock, that's for sure. Lizzie McKettrick will have an accounting when I get there, I promise you. :) (A McKettrick Christmas, hardcover, I'll let you know the release date.) Also, the first McKettrick books, High Country Bride, Shotgun Bride and Secondhand Bride will be re-released by Pocket Books in November of 08.

The bug is still holding on a little, but I did manage to slither out of its grasp for a few hours yesterday afternoon, after seeing my doctor for a pre-op visit. I went to the casino, of course, and came out $500 ahead. Yeehaw!

And speaking of casinos! I get to go to Las Vegas in December for the National Finals Rodeo. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am. The best seats in the house have Wranglers on them, if you know what I mean. I'll be playing slots and running with a cowboy crowd--my favorite kind of outfit.

Toward the end of October, my friend and publicist, Nancy Berland, is coming out from Oklahoma to get some video of me with the horses--on April--out at the lake house, etc. We'll have film up on the website soon after that. (Warning: I'm not as skinny as I look in my publicity pictures.)