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.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Free the Cone-heads!

As I write this, Sadie is sitting beside my chair, looking up at me from the center of the plastic cone she's been wearing for the last two weeks. Today is stitch-removal day! In a few minutes, we'll be headed down the hill to the vet's office. We're both looking forward to the restoration of regular beagle-dog status!

I continue to recover from my dental surgery, and the bug that attacked immediately afterward. I spent all of yesterday snoozing, with Bernice and Sadie tucked in on both sides, as they always do if I'm sick. Of course it's instinctive behavior--a pack member is down--but it feels good just the same.

Later today, it's pre-op for my foot surgery. Tomorrow, I'll try to get on more cheerful ground!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Glamorous Life of the Writer

Oh, the glamor of it all! Yesterday, I had dental surgery. I'm on pain pills, and have this gob of stuff stuck to my lower gums.

There is dog hair all over every garment I own.

Sadie gets her stitches out tomorrow--no more cone-head beagle! In the meantime, she uses the cone to bash into the backs of my legs to get my attention. :)

I'm writing this blog in my pajamas, with my hair sticking out in every direction.

The glamor just never stops.


Monday, September 10, 2007


Isn't it wonderful when you reconnect with someone from your past? Last month, while doing a signing at the wonderful Barnes and Noble store in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, I noticed a familiar face. Lo and behold, it was my good friend, Cheri--I hadn't seen her in an embarrassing number of years. Her lovely smile was still the same.

Back in the old days, neither Cheri nor I had the proverbial two nickels to rub together. We met at our daughters' dance school in Bremerton, Washington, when they were hardly more than toddlers. We haunted the main library in Bremerton--checked out piles of books and discussed them in depth, and often when one of us returned a book, the other would be waiting to check it out. We devoured Taylor Caldwell, Velda Johnston, Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, and the wonderful Janice Holt Giles. Beyond books, we were a two-woman support system. I was new in town, and not particularly happily married, and I knew no one--until Cheri.

Somehow, busy with children, divorces and all manner of other things, we lost touch. You can only imagine my delight when I saw her standing there at the book store, smiling at me.

Now, Cheri lives in Spokane. Yesterday, we went to lunch together, and did some catching up. We talked and talked--in, of all places, the bar at Northern Quest Casino. (That's another story. I didn't come home with a jackpot, but I played all afternoon on a hundred bucks. :)) It will take many more lunches before we truly catch up on all those intervening years, but in the meantime, what a joy this is to me!

Cheri, I'm so glad you're back in my life. I missed you.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ordinary Things

It's nice and cool in Spokane--fall is definitely in the air. It's time to put on a pot of bean soup, and I've even thought of lighting the fireplace. :) Like my mother, I am fond of a nice, crackling fire--one of the dozen-million things I love about this time of year.

Plans for today are pretty ordinary. I plan to finish Chapter 2 of "A McKettrick Christmas," get a haircut, and ride April around the property. Although I've been extremely lucky at the casino lately, I'm a little burned out on that. I want to enjoy the scenery.

I love my hairdresser, Lisa, but I am notorious for waiting too long to get a trim and a touch-up. I simply HATE sitting in that chair. Unless I'm headlong into a book, I'm no sitter. I have to be moving. In fact, my family and staff always have to remind me to sit down and eat, instead of standing at the kitchen counter or walking around gnawing on something. On the other hand, once my hair is back in control--I have a lot of it, and it has a mind of its own--I feel so much better.

Have a good weekend. I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dog beds and Hear All Creatures

My talented sister, Sally, and I are designing a line of specialty dog beds, with a western theme. We're picturing ourselves on QVC. :) (Hey, you've got to think big!) Once we're up and running with the project, you'll see the line on my website. I'll be making regular donations from the profits to the Humane Society of the United States and another favorite charity of mine, Habitat for Horses.

My friend, Karen Anderson, a lifelong animal communicator, has written a book called "Hear All Creatures". It will be published by New River Press and available in September. In the meantime, you can read an excerpt and preorder if you wish at
Karen, I assure you, is the real deal.

Well, I'm due in storyland, so I'll wrap this up. I promised a report. Going back and forth between "Christmas at Stone Creek" and "A McKettrick Christmas" is working just fine, since one is contemporary and one is historical. On a previous blog, I gave the title of the Silhouette Special Edition as "A Stone Creek Christmas", but the above is the right title.

Have a yen for more McKettricks and an O'Ballivan or two? You'll get both in "The McKettrick Way", coming in December from Silhouette, along with a cantankerous ghost, a charming child, and a couple of animals you'll automatically love.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Since touting Wikipedia on this blog, I've had several credible emails warning me that the facts need to be cross-checked because anyone can post anything on this site. Therefore, while I still think it's a great resource, I have to advise caution.

The Legacy

My brother and I, as well as each of our two sisters, received a small legacy from my wonderful, hardworking father. We've all been deliberating on how to spend it in a way he would approve of--family vacation? Fancy sewing machines? (My sisters sew. I'll have to be put into Witness Protection if I even attempt to stitch a seam!) He worked so hard to put aside this money, and we all want something we can point to and say, "I have that because of Dad."

I decided on new, sturdy front doors for the main house, and a saddle. Do you know how difficult and time-consuming it is to buy two simple doors? I was fit to chew nails by the time I got through to the guy at Loew's. He was working very hard, bless his heart, and he was unfailingly pleasant, even though dealing with a half-mad, hungry woman who'd already written the first chapter of a new book that day and was in No Mood. It was as though we spoke different languages, but I ask you, how hard is it to work your way through, "This door, in this color", while standing next to the display model?

I don't expect to have nearly as much trouble with the saddle. :) But maybe I'm being naive. Saddle. Goes on the horse. Has to fit my backside and be comfortable for the other animal.

Anyway, I got to thinking about Dad's real legacy, which is much more than money. True grit. Persistence. A love of justice. Pride in being American, respect for the high price so many other people paid to allow us to make decisions (even annoying ones about doors) for ourselves and complain about the President to our heart's content. In my case, a devout love of horses in particular. (The love for dogs came from Mom, as did a quick wit, a passion for books and a good vocabulary.)

When the doors are installed, beautiful and weather-proof and planet-friendly, I will think of my dad each time I pass them, each time I turn the key in the lock, each time I go in or out. Yes, sir, my dad would like the idea of those doors, and as for the saddle, well, that goes without saying.

A cowboy, or cowgirl, places a very high value on good gear. It's second only to a good horse, and April surely is that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lots to Catch Up On

Well, I intended to write a blog yesterday, but I was goofing off over at the casino and never got around to it. :)

I want to thank all of you for the wonderful notes of condolence that have been coming in since the last newsletter went out. You continually touch my heart, and so many of you have similar stories of loss. I find enormous comfort in your kindness, and I am grateful to each and every one of you for taking the time to reach out.

I finally got to ride April! Wow, it was great, to be back on a horse again. The plan now is that one of my helpers will saddle her for me, every afternoon when I finish writing, and she and I will explore this wonderful, timbered place where we live. She had rough going at first, when it came to blending in with the outfit, but Skye, Coco, Banjo and Buck have finally accepted her. Were they ever jealous when she and I went by. She is the gentlest horse in the world, but has a mind of her own. She's so obedient that she doesn't need a bit, just a halter. But she didn't want to go where I wanted to go, so we're going to have to work out an arrangement.

Sadie had a wart removed, and it was benign, thank heaven. She's still a cone-head, though she got her bandages off today. When the sutures come out, the cone comes off.

Finally, I won big at the casino on Sunday evening. Hot dang, that was fun. Love those swirling lights and all the fuss. I won enough to buy another horse. Hmmmmmm....

Now, it's back to work. I hope you all had a marvelous weekend. I sure did.