Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Blog

Late start. I slept like a dead woman last night. Wrote in the morning, and of course Sadie and Bear spent the day at the vet's. Both are well, and happy to be home. Sadie has a cone, since she had a wart removed on one leg, and can't be allowed to chew off her bandages, and Bernice had a tooth pulled, so she's on pain pills and antibiotics. I'm just a dog-mom, doing her best for her babies. One of the many things I'm grateful for is the excellent care my pets get at the Latah Creek Animal Hospital, from Dr. Bauer and his caring staff.

Speaking of caring, I've been getting such wonderful, consoling emails since my last e-newsletter went out. It touches my heart, the way you all share your own stories and lend such encouragement. It just proves what I've always said--we're not just writer and reader, we're friends. Thank you so much.

I should be do something noble today. But I think I'll go to the casino instead. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quiet House

Sadie and Bernice are spending the day at the veterinarian's office, so it's pretty darned quiet around here. Sadie is having a wart removed, and Bernice, the orginal bad-breath Yorkie, is having her teeth cleaned. They'll be ready to be picked up around four, and the hours in between will be lonnnnnnnng. Dog energy is like horse energy--when the animals are away from home for some reason, it upsets the balance.

The sky is cloudy, though they're predicting a high of 92 for Spokane. Looks to me like we might get a goose-drowner of a rain storm. As much as I love sunny weather, we could use the water.

In the meantime, I have writing to do. My heroine, Olivia O'Ballivan, just found a reindeer standing at the base of her driveway, and of course it must be dealt with, the situation, I mean. A reindeer in Arizona? Who ever heard of that??? ("Christmas at Stone Creek", Silhouette Special Edition, December of 09).

So I'm off to modern-day Stone Creek. I'll try not to obsess about the dogs.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Other Writers, Listen Up

You're probably way ahead of me on this, but just in case you aren't, I've discovered a WONDERFUL research source on the internet:

It's great! All sorts of focused information on the Civil War, which as many of you know, I'm studying in depth.

Would you believe I'm listed, and there's information about my hometown, Northport, WA, that even I didn't know.

Whoop-de-do! Stuff like this really makes me happy!

Now, back to work.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Plotting Day

I'm taking what Jayne Ann Krentz calls a plotting day. I have outlines for the new books, and I've even got half a chapter of one of them done. But the Qwest man is here about my internet connection and the phone service in the apartment over the barn, which does not make for quiet, introspective writing time. (Mainly because the dogs bark at everyone.) In the afternoon, a man will come to measure for my new front doors. And I'm in the market for a saddle that will fit April's back and my butt, so there's that.

Doesn't sound like plotting, does it? :)

All I can say is, I'm a multi-tasker, like most of you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Settling In

The nip of fall is definitely in the air, though we could, of course, have some more hot weather before the season actually turns. All my life, I've loved autumn best--starting school, new clothes and piles of paper and boxes of pencils, the changing leaves, and that still-distant (to a child, anyway) promise of the approaching holidays. The horses are starting to grow thicker coats. We've put salt licks out for the deer.

For me, the new year really starts in September, not in January. Kind of an internal clock kind of thing.

I love new starts. I'm settling in to write "A McKettrick Christmas" and "Christmas at Stone Creek". One is historical, one contemporary, and they are about the same length. I'm going to try writing them simultaneously. I've never written more than one book at a time, even short ones like these, so it's something of an experiment. You'll know how it's going by tuning in to my blog regularly. Anyway, that's why I titled today's entry as I did--that wonderful, snuggly, settling-in to do something you really, really love. You know the feeling.

When it comes to Christmas, I'm still a kid. I get excited, thinking about warm fires on the hearth and snow...

To work. I'm digressing, which is a sure sign I should shut up.

I'm sorry this will be up late. I can't seem to get it to post.

This may be a job for super-Chris.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Jewelry Commercial

If you want to see some first-class old-fashioned Western jewelry, go to:

The Lynn Brown collection is gorgeous, and I'm planning to offer some of her pieces on this website as reader prizes, so watch that monthly contest!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Three Magic Words

I often get lovely insights during my morning journalling sessions, and today was a humdinger.

A little groundwork, first. We Laels, you see, are a stubborn bunch. (And that's putting it kindly.) It's our first instinct--and this goes back for generations--to dig in our heels and put up our dukes. We are tough and resilent, and those things are good, but it's pretty exhausting to resist everything. :) We were probably hell on the British army in the 1770's, and we fought on both sides during the Civil War. Oh, yeah, we're fighters, all right, we love our independence and will literally defend it to the death. We ALSO love peace, and true justice. But sometimes getting one of us to do something, even if it's the best thing, is like trying to load a wild Mustang into a trailer. Never mind that the whole surrounding countryside is on fire and somebody's trying to haul us to safety. We want getting into that trailer to be OUR idea, and if it isn't, the job will take, as a character on Gunsmoke used to say, the better part of the day.

I guess I've made my point. Lael cousins, raise your right hand, ideally fisted, and shout, HUZZAH! (And by God, I love every stubborn one of you!)

So here are the three magic words I received this morning:

ALLOW. (You can't change other people, the world, or many circumstances resulting from their decisions and actions. Simply allow things to be the way they are.)

ACCEPT. (God is still in His heaven. If things aren't exactly the way you would like them to be, accept that the Big Guy knows what He's doing. See word #1.)

APPRECIATE. (Ultimately, everything works out for the best. Try to be grateful for the myriad blessings all around you. If things are hard right now--(see word #2), trust that there's a reason, and good things will come out of current struggles, if you just believe.)

I'll leave you to ponder this Saturday blog. I wasn't only writing it for you, you see, but for myself, too.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On the Move

I'm at the lake again, but soon off to the book store and a few other places. Sadie and Bernice are happy at the other house, by all reports, but I still miss them and will be glad to see their pesky little fur-faces again tomorrow.

I'm almost convalescent, recovering from writing "The Rustler" and, at the same time, gearing up for new projects I plan to begin on Monday morning. I do my best, with every single book I write, but "The Rustler" is special. I poured my heart and soul into it, with no holding back, something I have not always been brave enough to do.

I did a little painting last night, but not much. Ended up just vegging, mostly, after a buying frenzy at Michael's.

I'm looking for a birth order book at Barnes and Noble today--that's important in the development of characters, and I've already begun planning the cast and crew of my big (BIG) Civil War series.

More on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Drive-by Blogging

Here I am at the main house--Sadie and Bernice wanted to come back, so I brought them. I'll be going back out to the lake, dogless. Sometimes they just don't settle in out there, and this is one of those times. They miss their big yard, the other dogs, the kitties, and my staff/family. (The other dogs are Mary Ann's Fergie and Katie.)

I am practically a convalescent, after finishing that book. I didn't know how tired I was until I stopped. I hit a physical wall, upon arrival at the lake yesterday, took a long nap as soon as I'd unloaded and put away the groceries. I got up, watched some TV, had some dinner, and went straight back to bed. I was so wound up, I had a really hard time getting to sleep--and then I was up and down all night with symptoms you're much happier not knowing about.

So, I'm going back. Taking another stab at this relaxation thing. It's a challenge, but I think I can do it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Well, except for some revisions in the read-through stage, "The Rustler" is finished. That last chapter is action-packed, I'm here to tell you, and WHAT a last chapter! Writing it was like being one of those guys in the old western movies, hanging on to a runaway stagecoach by the rear axel! They made it look so easy. :)

I'm taking the rest of the week off and going to the lake to paint, drink wine, read other people's books, and otherwise mess around, as I told you the other day. It may already be too cold to swim, but if I can get the pool warm enough, I'll be in it.

This really feels like a Friday-blog. I guess when you finish a big project, you feel as if it ought to be Friday.

One thing I won't be doing is going to the casino. The machines are tight right now--you can't get a bonus-spin to save your life. The prince is apparently on vacation, or off saving a damsel. Oh, well.

More tomorrow, from the lake.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today's the Day...

I think! I think I'm going to be finished with "The Rustler" today, but there are so many strings to tie up, I can't be sure. Might need another chapter, or an epilogue. We shall see.

What a deeply moving experience it was to write yesterday's chapter. It was the darkest-hour-is-just-before-dawn chapter. When it was finished, I felt wrung out, and I went downstairs, sat at the table in cousin Mary Ann's apartment, and cried. I have really come to love these people--Sarah and Wyatt, little Owen, Doc, a prostitute named Kitty. I will be working with them through the publication stages, which are extensive, but it just isn't the same as when you're actually participating in the creation of the story. I say 'participating', because Sarah and Wyatt and all the rest are so real to me that I can't be entirely sure who's creating whom. It's almost as if they are the writers, and I am the story!

Many of you have asked for more McKettrick books. Good news! I'm starting "A McKettrick Christmas" next week, and it stars a grown-up Lizzie, Holt and Lorelei's daughter. It will be out in gift-hardcover next fall sometime. And I'm doing another Special Edition story, too, also a Christmas tale, full of love and magic. It's called "Christmas at Stone Creek", and features one of Sam and Maddie's descendents, Olivia O'Ballivan, and several of the characters you'll meet this December, in "The McKettrick Way". (Silhouette Special Edition.)

I guess I'd better head for Stone Creek. The place is sizzling like cold water dumped onto a hot fry-grill, and I don't want to miss a moment!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Plans! I've got Plans!

I'm almost finished with "The Rustler", and I LOVE this book. I can hardly wait to share it with you. It was a strong emotional experience, writing it, and I hope you will have an equally gratifying time when you read it.

Added to the plans for the Civil War Tours I've told you about, I've decided to attend a polymer clay conference in Baltimore in February, called Synergy (?), and I'm hoping my two sisters, Sally and Pam, will go with me. (Read your email, girls.) WOW. I am so excited about this--I'm a complete newbie with polymer clay (Pam is much more accomplished) but I simply love it. All that kneading and blending of colors is theraputic for me, and you should SEE some of the things these artists make. You can read about the conference on the website for the National Polymer Clay Guild. (

I've decided on something else, too. Once I finish "The Rustler" and send it off to Super Editor, I'm heading for the lake. No surprise, there, I know. But I'm stopping at the art supply place first, and buying the BIGGEST canvas I can stuff into the back of my Avalanche and a CRATE of paints, and a GALLON of gesso, and I'm going to splash color onto that canvas like a wild woman! Who CARES if I don't end up with a painting I want to hang on the wall? It's the act of painting I'm so excited about.

So. It's off to Stone Creek for me.

I've got Plans. Big plans.

Friday, August 17, 2007


There was a distinct, crisp chill in the air when Sadie and I took the elevator down to the first floor and went outside. Fall is definitely coming.

Fall has always been my favorite season, at least here in the Northwest. In Arizona, I could hardly tell the difference between seasons, except, of course, for summer. Yikes. I remember hiking back from the barn one day, when my horse-head pool was still just a big hole in the dirt, the temperature at 114, thinking, "Why did I ever leave Washington state?" Not that Arizona doesn't have its singular charms, because it does. I've never seen the like of the sunsets, for instance, and I have many close and cherished friends there.

I won't be taking this weekend off to go to the lake, but please don't feel sorry for me on that account. Things are happening too fast in Stone Creek--I don't dare let the reins slacken. I expect to have the book finished the middle of next week. There will be a short vacation--picture me lounging at the lakehouse, with somebody else's book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. There'll be some polymer clay work, and I'll be cutting and glueing for my vision boards, too.

Have a lovely weekend. Somebody in Spokane, Washington, thinks a lot of you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stone Creek, 1907

Well, I get to be travel-free for a few months, anyhow. The older I get, the more I'm like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There's just no place like home--or, in my case, homes.

I'll be working straight through the weekend on "The Rustler"---it's practically writing itself. I just show up in Stone Creek and record the action as it unfolds around me. I get so caught up in the story that I forget I'm really in Spokane, and it's 2007, not 1907.

Glimmers of later travels begin to shine in the distance, though. I'm going on two (count 'em) TWO Civil War tours next year, one in June and one in September. The June tour is 6 days long and hits all the major battlefields, the September one follows in the illustrious footsteps of Stonewall Jackson. I can hardly wait!

It looks as though I'll be going to New York in early December for some meetings, then I'll head straight for Las Vegas and this year's National Finals Rodeo. (Truth: I hang out at the western trade shows instead of the rodeo, but I might take in one event this year.)

Meanwhile, though, it's Stone Creek, 1907.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Still Miss Someone

I still miss my dad.

My stepmother, Edith, sent me one of the cardigan sweaters Dad used to wear. She could hardly have given me a more precious gift. When I need a hug, I put it on, and it's as though Dad is right there. I take that sweater along in my suitcase whenever I go anywhere. If you ever see me wearing a man's green cardigan, you'll know--I need a hug.

Yesterday's mail brought a note from Edith, and some recent pictures of Dad--beaming in every one--that I will cherish. She enclosed a copy of a poem she found after the memorial services, inside an envelope taped to the inside of 'his' cupboard door. He'd clipped it from a magazine or newspaper and left it there for her to find.

This is how it goes:


When I come to the end of the day
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared...
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone,
It is all a part of the Maker's plan
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds...
Miss me, but let me go.
(Author Unknown)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Last Tuesday, I rushed off to the doctor's office, only to find I had the wrong day! Well, today, of course, is the day. I'll be late to Stone Creek--hope Sarah and Wyatt understand--but I WILL be there.

I've been getting a lot of surprises from these characters. Their story is deeply emotional for me, and sometimes it's difficult to go through all their feelings with them. But I do. It's a rewarding experience. I'm hoping you will be as moved by this book ("The Rustler") as I am. It will be in stores in October of 08, as a mass market original paperback. I know that's a long time to wait, but in the meantime, as I'm writing new stories, I'll be telling you all about the new stuff.

The next new book is "The McKettrick Way", coming from Silhouette Special Edition in December.

I've been asked how to access the blog archives for 2007. I don't know--but I'll find out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Romance Novel TV

I'll have a new segment on sometime this week.


Home Sweet Home

After a wonderfully relaxing and fun weekend at the lake--Sister Sally and husband Jim came through on Saturday night, along with five friends who had accompanied them to Sturgis. (I am now the proud owner of a Sturgis shirt and beer glass.) We had a brief but delightful visit, as they were all ready to fire up the Harleys and head south to Salem, Oregon on Sunday morning. Linnea, Darrell and their son, Tony, all live in Fort Bragg, California, so they had farther to go. I'm not sure where Mike and Jerry live. When Sally called to confirm that they'd be passing through Spokane, I threw a turkey in the oven and filled the cooler with beer. It was great to hear those big bikes rolling into the driveway!

On Sunday, after the crew was gone, I worked on a vision board for my projected Civil War series. The center shows the haunting face and frightened eyes of a young Confederate soldier. I put him in the middle, because I want to remember as I'm constructing these books that it was the boys, then as now, who did the real fighting. I suspect the generals on both sides, many of whom had gone to West Point together, saw the war as a big chess game. Most were friends during and after the conflict as well, and even exchanged gifts between battles.

Naively, I had thought I would only need one vision board for the whole project. (I'll explain vision boards in a moment, for those of you who have questions.) It soon became apparent that this was a Confederate board, and focusing mainly on ONE general---Thomas Jonathon Jackson, better known as Stonewall. (During the first battle of the war, First Manassas if you were Confederate, Bull Run if you were Union, the Confederates were taking a beating. A Union victory at this point probably would have ended the war. Jackson and his men alone held the line, and someone remarked, "There stands Jackson, like a stone wall." Well, the name stuck, of course.)

Now for a brief explanation of vision boards. They are like the treasure maps used as an aid in visualizing some goal. Basically, they're a big collage. I use large pieces of black poster board from Michael's and glue on pictures and words from magazines, etc. It really stimulates the imagination on a very deep level, and keeps the person in perspective.

I entitled this blog "Home Sweet Home" and then talked about bikers and the Civil War. :)
I'm glad to be back at the main house, as much as I enjoyed the lake, and all geared up to head for Stone Creek right after breakfast.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Middle of the Book

Well, I've had a great writing week. As I've been telling you, hell's a-poppin' in good ole Stone Creek. I can't hardly wait to get there, but I'm taking the weekend off to veg around out at the lake. It's my reward for working hard all week.

When I first bought the lake house, the plan was to work there. Problem is, I don't work. I take one look at the water, and all the stress drains out of me, and I take a nap! I read, I journal, or play with the dogs, or work with polymer clay. Everything but writing! So now, at least for the duration of this book, it will be a reward and a refuge.

As of today, I'll have 200 manuscript pages. Half the book. I do plan to print them out and read through them at the lake, just to make sure I'm keeping everything straight. For me, writing a new book is rather like a train climbing a mountain. At first, it's a pretty steep haul up the grade, but when I reach the peak, it's all down hill. With the second half of a book, it's hard to keep up. I write at breakneck speed and have to be very careful to tie up all the loose ends. Fortunately, Joan Marlow-Golan, my super-editor, catches what I miss.

Although I'm always glad to wrap up a book, since mentally I already have one foot in the next one, it's a little sad, too. It's like sending a beloved child off to college, hoping they'll do well in the world.

More on Monday, unless I'm just bursting with things to tell you over the weekend.

Make it a good one.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Since I went to the doctor yesterday--turned out I had the wrong day marked on my calendar, but I DID get my wonderful new glasses--I arrived late in Stone Creek.

All hell was breaking loose when I got there--turns out Stone Creek isn't the quiet little town Rowdy said it was, when he asked Wyatt to take over as marshal while he and Sam O'Ballivan were off chasing outlaws. I had to hit the ground running, because Wyatt and Sarah were already up to their eyeballs in trouble! I'm not a fast gun like Wyatt, but I can do my part, all right.

In any case, I had to write after supper to get my page quota done, and I was up late. So I woke up late. Sadie had already gone downstairs, without the use of the elevator, to ask Mary Ann to let her outside.

At least, there was coffee.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wintry Thoughts

I'll be late getting to Stone Creek today, because I have to go to the doctor--something minor. Not to worry.

Mercy, it's been hot lately. I'm starting to look forward to fall, and the cooler weather. Memories of last winter's snow draping the draw are becoming more persistent. This winter, I plan to spend more time at the lake. I didn't see the phenom last year, but the lake freezes over, I'm told, and the jet-skiiers and fishermen are replaced by skaters. Snow collects in drifts on the ice, and then the wind comes along and sends the powdery stuff into an elegant ballet of swirls and billows.

Nature. How wondrous it is! I often see the sunrise, and it always takes my breath away. I raise my coffee cup and say, "Good one, God!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Assignation

I have an assignation in Stone Creek, circa 1907, later this morning. Things are heating up between Sarah and Wyatt, for sure. And some heavy duty bad-guys are coming on the scene, too. Here's Wyatt, filling in as marshal for Rowdy, who is away on business, along with Sam O'Ballivan. What does Wyatt Yarbro know about being a lawman??? He's an outlaw, for pity's sake. But now there's Sarah, and a battered old dog he calls Pitiful, badly in need of a friend.

As for Sarah, well, she'd rather Wyatt Yarbro had never come to town at all. He makes her uncomfortable, and complicates her already-complicated life. On the other hand, when he kisses her unexpectedly, she's surprised to find the floor still under her feet when it's over.

You'll meet some great secondary characters in this book, too.

I can't wait to introduce you to the folks in "The Rustler". In the meantime, if you haven't read "A Wanted Man", or even its predecessor, "The Man from Stone Creek", you might want to dive right in! The first is available now in hardcover (look for the amazing pink cover) and the second is in paperback.

I think I hear a train whistle in the distance...time to leave for Stone Creek.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sister Sally, Biker Chick

My sister Sally, husband, Jim, and five friends arrived at the lake yesterday--on Harleys! (Well, Sally and her friend Linnea came by plane, and I picked them up at the airport). But Jim and his guy friends arrived on bikes. It must have the neighbors in my quiet lakeside community talking! Before I left them to enjoy the pool and hot tub for the evening, I said, "Don't be surprised if the police stop by."

I was kidding, of course.

Provided Montana is passable, given a large wildfire blazing there, they'll be heading out today for Sturgis, South Dakota, to meet up with something like 30,000 other bikers. Sleeping in tents, hobknobbing, buying the requisite t-shirts to prove they've been to the Biker's Mecca. Did I mention that my sister is MUCH younger than I am?


Have fun, Sally girl. Trust me, in 10 years, it will be tent-schment-I-want-room-service.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My Magical Time Machine

Writing "The Rustler" is a real experience, deeply emotional. I had a tough time getting going on it, what with the normal rush of summer and Dad deciding to saddle up and ride for Heaven's brand. Now that the story is rolling, though, it's a pleasure to write. I just show up in Stone Creek, Arizona Territory, 1907, using my magical time-travel machine, and Sarah and Wyatt are always waiting for me. Sometimes impatiently. If Wyatt carried a watch, he'd take it out of his vest pocket, frown at it, and say, "We're burnin' daylight, here!" Sarah is only slightly more patient, and might fuss, "What took you so long?"

Upon my arrival, they show me what's happening that day. I get right into it. In fact, when it's time to take the dogs out or enjoy a coffee break, I'm usually surprised to find myself at my keyboard, in my 21st century Spokane home!

It must be hard work, because I'm really tired when quittin' time comes, but while I'm actually writing, it's like being in the story with all the characters. Walking the streets of Stone Creek. Counting the horses in front of saloons...

I'd better go. The time machine, my own version of Platform 9 and 3/4, leaves in approximately one hour.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Life at the Main House

It's pretty quiet around here. Cousin Mary Ann's grandchild is visiting, along with his parents, so the whole crew is out at the lake, splashing and sunning and catching up on all the visiting.

A day in the life of Linda: I get up early, most days, and immediately Sadie and I ride down to the lower floor in the elevator. (Bernice won't get into the elevator unless coerced. As in, bodily dragged.) Yorkies are speedy little critters, though, and by the time Sadie and I arrive, Bernice is usually there to greet us. We all go outside. The green grass is moist with dew and splashed with fresh sunshine. When the deeds have been done, we all go back upstairs, to the main floor, and I make coffee. While it's brewing, I putter around. Being an impatient sort, I usually pour a cup before the pot is actually ready. (This could be a metaphor for other things in my life.) Then begins one of my favorite times of the day. I journal, and the Lord and I have a little chat. Then it's breakfast, then the blog, then writing.

Lots of people are curious about how long I write each day--the answer is, between four and six hours, at the computer. (24/7 in my head.) On a good day, I can get twenty pages. I always start by revising the chapter I wrote the day before. That helps me pick up loose ends and polish as I go along. Because I am definitely a morning person, I'm not much good after about two in the afternoon, at least in terms of writing.

When the work is done, I relax. Pet the dogs. Admire the horses. Shop or make a run to the casino. Since I rise early, I also retire early. I'm usually tucked up in bed with two dogs and two cats by eight pm. I watch very little TV, at least here at the main house, and invariably listen to my iPod until I fall asleep. Right now, I'm focusing mostly on the Civil War, which is my passion, though I study the Revolution, too. You have to understand one to understand the other. I find it all fascinating, and it gives me great hope. This very young nation has survived a LOT.

Well, as a Confederate heroine might say, How I do run on.

More tomorrow. Make it a good day. The choice rests with you.