Monday, April 30, 2007

The Dogs Insist!

I thought I could slip out to my lovely studio office to answer email and write this blog, but Sadie and Bernice had other ideas. So, it was back to the house to get them. Guess next time, I'll just bring them out with me in the first place.

I had a lovely, lazy weekend. Just Sadie and Bernice and me--and a succession of books. The lake is conducive to reading--and taking naps. When I first arrive, I usually just sleep for a while--why fight the inevitable? The place is so peaceful, so quiet, and there's something soothing about all that water.

I've been working on the prologue to "The Rustler". I love this part of the process, where the story, setting and characters start to come alive in my mind. I've had to take a lot of notes, too, because other stories are taking shape, other characters are moving in. Like Logan Creed, who is a distant cousin to the McKettricks.

I'll be doing my writing in the house today, at the laptop. But Sadie seems to like the new dog bed I bought especially for the office. Bernice is over by the french doors, ostensibly pouting.

It is pretty comical, how much of my life is dictated by my dogs. :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

You Have to be Smarter....

Than the polymer clay you're working with. Yesterday, I used the wrong side of a blade, intending to slice clay, and sliced my finger instead. Nothing serious, but typing with a band-aid on is a little tricky! I have a newfound respect for tools--just glad it wasn't a grinder or a power saw. Lesson learned: pay attention. I'm always daydreaming about some story I want to write.

Injury not withstanding, yesterday was a great day. My dad, Skip Lael, came to visit and see the progress on the barn, along with his friend, Jon Millard, who took some wonderful pictures. Later in the day, great nephew, Lucas Readman, came to visit. His parents and dog, Brody, tagged along. He was a month old on the 8th of April, Lucas, I mean, not the dog, :), and he is one handsome heartbreaker of a fella. Look out, girls. Here comes blue-eyed trouble!

Yesterday was also the day I found out that "McKettrick's Heart" is STILL on the NYT bestseller list! #11 this time. I've had one book from the trilogy on that list for TWELVE WEEKS.

My good friend, and one of my favorite authors, Debbie Macomber, will be at Auntie's Book Store this Saturday, April 28, from 2:30 to 3:30, signing her new book. I will get there if I can, but may not be able to get away. If any of you can make it, please tell Debbie I said howdy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

At the Lake

The girls (Sadie and Bernice) and I are at the lake, in my wonderful studio office. The things with dogs is, if they're in the house, they want to be out here, and vice versa.

It is so peaceful here. This morning, as I sat journaling at my table and looking out over the lake, the view was quietly spectacular. With the houses on the far shore, the whole scene resembled a watercolor come to life. I'm here to settle in and work on my new western, "The Rustler". It's an exciting project, and I'm thrilled to be pushing up my sleeves and starting something fresh.

Special congratulations go out to my friend, Karen Anderson, who just sold her first book! Karen is an animal communicator and a fascinating person. (I'm after her to nag Sadie into eating less and Bernice to stop peeing on the carpets.)

Tomorrow, I'll be back at the main house, though just briefly. There is a lot of construction, etc. going on there, which makes work pretty impossible. We're renovating a downstairs bathroom, and the wallpaper is being torn off my bedroom walls, in preparation for painting. New hardwood floors are going in soon. And the barn-building goes on. And on.

It's true what they say about renovation, that once you start, it's a neverending story. Now, I'm thinking of doubling the size of the barn and adding a wing onto the house...

Stop me before I renovate again. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Did I Say I Loved Mondays?

I do, normally. Even cold and foggy ones like this.

I had a productive weekend. On Friday, I did a TV interview at the Northtown (Spokane) Barnes and Noble. For those of you who live within range, it will be shown on KHQ-6, in a segment called "Six Questions", either this Thursday or next.

Saturday dawned rainy and cold, but folks turned out for my signing at the same store. A special hello to Dave and Sue, Linda, and Teresa, reader friends who braved that weather to say howdy.

Monday is starting to look better. :) I get to start "The Rustler" today.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In a World...

Where bad things happen to innocent people, it's all too easy be afraid. Certainly, this most recent national tragedy is unspeakable. But if we forfeit our courage in the face of such evil, we serve the purposes of the perpetrator, not the victims. Let us mourn these lost lives, and support the friends and families with our whole hearts. Also, though, let's not be distracted from our own ordinary joys and blessings, the precious moments that will never come again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Headed for the Lake

I'm expecting a furniture delivery, and want to get all set up to write my new western, "The Rustler" in my snazzy lakeview office.

The barn is really taking shape! It's so exciting to see it going up, day by day.

"McKettrick's Heart" is still going strong--#7 for the second time, and in its third week on the NYT bestseller list. Thank you, one and all, for your part in making so many dreams come true.

On the hobby front, I've been doing some beading and messing around with polymer clay. (You have to throw away a lot of clay, while you're learning, just as new writers have to throw away a lot of pages!) It's certainly better than going a round with the frog or Cleopatra. :)

More renovations planned for the main house. (Another reason Sadie and Bernice and I will be at the lake, probably for the majority of the summer.)

May you be blessed, this day and every day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beautiful Day in Spokane

Today, the draw is bathed in sunlight, and the sky is the same blue as the treasured periwinkle sugar bowl my mother gave me years ago--a premium from a bag of flour or a box of tea. That was back in the day when the prize in the bottom of a Cracker Jax box was something you really wanted--a plastic keychain, for instance.

The barn is beginning to look like--a barn! We're taking pictures right along, and will post them on the website soon. The best day of all will be the homecoming--Buck, Coco, Skye and Banjo being unloaded from their trailer, introduced to their new home for the first time. They each have a wonderful stall, and there are almost ten acres to roam in. We left a few pine trees for shade and scratching against.

Although it's only Wednesday, it feels like Friday to me. I guess because I was off yesterday for a routine medical procedure. I'm doing some tweaking and polishing on "Deadly Deceptions", the next Mojo book (Jan 08) today, and clearing the decks to begin "The Rustler" on Monday. I plan to move to the lake to write that one, as I've probably already told you.

Have a lovely Wednesday. It's always been one of my favorite days. (But, then, I'm pretty crazy about all the others, too--including the much-maligned Monday!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

In Memorium

I'm sad to report that my good friend Larry Webster lost his battle with cancer early Saturday morning. I want to thank all of you for your prayers during the first bout--he had some precious extra time with wife Vicki and sons, Kyle and Brent, and that was a profound blessing. It was inspiring to see the way his friends and extended family stepped up and helped to carry a great many physical and emotional burdens. I knew, but didn't mention it on the blog, because there are few things more personal and private than the process of dying.

Larry was a talented country western singer and guitar player, a chiropractor, and a long-haul truck driver. He was funny and smart, and if there was a job to be done--any kind of job--he pushed up his sleeves and went to work. Once, with my cousin Steve, he spent three hours under my kitchen sink, repairing a pipe and installing a faucet. He and Vicki came all the way from Washington State to move my mother into her first apartment in Scottsdale, and helped enormously with the move from Arizona, too.

Larry was a true cowboy, the real deal, and that's the highest compliment I can pay him.

He was a great Johnny Cash fan and sorry he never got to meet him. I'll bet he's met him now. They're probably sitting around strumming guitars, singing "I Walk the Line."

Larry certainly walked the line.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Fought the Frog

And the frog won. The prince never did show up, princes being unreliable in general. Oh, well. I put the major portion of the recent jackpots in the bank, anyhow. Take that, frog.

I wrote the outline for "The Rustler" yesterday, and I can't tell you how anxious I am to begin writing that book. First, I need to spiff up the next Mojo book, just a little, and then Sadie, Bear and I will probably move out to the lake for the duration of the new story. Not a bad gig.

Today, a routine doctor visit and lunch with my mother. Looking forward to seeing Mom, as it's been nose-to-the-grindstone around here, while I was finishing up "The McKettrick Way". I'm thrilled with the way this new Silhouette Special Edition (Dec. 07) turned out.

It's always sad to bid good-bye to the previous characters, but Wyatt and Sarah are already waiting in the wings, ready to go on stage to entertain you.

Life is mighty good around here these days, with "McKettrick's Heart" on the New York Times list for a second big week, this time at #7.

Take that, frog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Well, the server was down yesterday, so that's why I'm publishing two blog entries today.

I finished "The McKettrick Way" and have submitted it to my editor, who loved it. Joan and I make a wonderful team, and I can't express how grateful I am to work with her, and to be a part of the dynamic HQN team. As of yesterday, when "McKettrick's Heart" took the #7 spot, I have had a book in the New York Times Bestseller list's top #15 for an unprecedented (for me) ten weeks!

Today, I plan to draft the working outline for "The Rustler", my next big western, to be published in the summer of 08. Once that's done, I'll probably go over to the casino (Mojo and I have more in common than you might think) and try my hand at the slots. Last time I was there, I hit two jackpots within fifteen minutes of each other. :)

I'm a very lucky woman. And not just because of the slot machines. Cleo and I are on the outs, and the prince has been a frog right along. So I'm on the scout for a new one.

I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Cash House

As many of you will know, the former home of Johnny Cash and wife, June Carter Cash, burned down on Tuesday. I was greatly saddened, for the Cashes were friends of mine, and I have visited that house on several occasions. I met other extraordinary people there, besides the Cashes, including Naomi Judd, Jane Seymour and George Jones. I was always welcomed warmly, and I cherish the memories.

June, smiling and arranging an enormous bouquet of flowers, sent to her in celebration of a CD release--by Garth Brooks. John, sitting in his favorite chair, often in his pajamas, booming out, "Come over here and hug my neck!" when I arrived. In point of fact, I got the worst case of flu of my life from giving John a hello kiss one time. As soon as I got back home, the bug hit me like a freight train, and I spent several hours on my bathroom floor. I joked afterwards that it was worth it--after all, I kissed Johnny Cash!

There were other visits, in other places--I attended John's last birthday bash, at their fabled place in Jamaica, Cinnamon Hill. Both John and June were funny, smart, generous to a fault, and unfailingly kind.

I'll miss the house in Hendersonville. But not nearly as much as I miss the wonderful people who lived there, once upon a time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Little Orphan Annie Was Right

The sun DID come out "tomorrow". The draw is awash in spring sunlight as I write this from my 'ivory tower'--the long needles of the pine trees glimmer with it, shifting and sparkling in a light April breeze.

I am SO close to finishing this book I've been working on--"The McKettrick Way", Silhouette Special Edition, December of this year. It's a McKettrick book, a follow-up to "Sierra's Homecoming" and it's very special to me. But, then, all my books are special to me. When people ask what my favorite is, I always reply, in complete honesty, that it's the one I'm working on right now. Why? Because I'm so fully engaged with the characters and setting. They become so real to me. If I met Jesse, Rance or Keegan on the street, for example, I would know them instantly.

Out on the front 10, they've poured footings for the pillars that will support the barn. Construction goes slowly, but having the fence in really helps to get the vision of what it will all look like in the very near future. Skye, Buck, Coco and Banjo are going to love having all that room to explore and just be horses. After all, that's their job. And they're very good at it--especially the eating part. :)

One chapter, after this one. I'm on the homestretch. It will be a big relief to send the last chunk to my wonderful, fabulous editor (who has, I'm sure, wings on her feet, secreted under sensible shoes), but I will also mourn a little. Despite revisions, galleys, the whole publishing process, when the manuscript goes in, it's as if my beloved children have all gone off to college at once.

The mourning phase passes quickly, though, because "The Rustler" is waiting to be written. The characters are already whispering to me...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rainy Day

The peonies--(peonies are hands down my favorite flower in the world)--are greening up and developing shoots. Soon, I will be enjoying their bounteous beauty--pinks, maroons, reds--even some candystriped ones! I love everything about peonies, perhaps because their visits are always so brief. I fell in love with them years ago, when I lived in London, and used to buy them from a street vendor--always pink or white, gloriously fat and floppy. I called them 'floozy' flowers, because they were so showy, like an aging, good-natured madam dressed to attract commerce.

Sadie has a touch of arthritis, and the rain makes it worse, so I dosed her with half a dog aspirin this morning. No doubt, she'll spend a cushy day by the fire, grateful that no one around here is into fox hunting. :) (That would necessitate running, baying, etc., which is a lot of trouble for an overweight beagle who has been spoiled within an inch of her life.)

Work on the barn continues. Bernice always alerts us vociferously to the arrival of heavy equipment up front. (Also robins, weeds blowing in the wind, those pesky turkeys, quail, moose, and anything else that moves.)

The prince and I met up for a while on Saturday, out at the casino, but he was in frog mode. Such is the way of princes...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

#3 and the Frog Prince

The best news yet: "McKettrick's Heart", Keegan and Molly's story, debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List!! I am beyond excited--and want to say right here that most of the credit goes to Joan Marlow Golan, my fabulous editor, the Dream Team at HQN, the best sales reps in the business, and my agent, Irene Goodman. And, of course, to YOU.

Recently, I've been disenchanted with Cleopatra, my once-favorite slot machine. :) I took up with the Frog Prince, but I don't think the prince and I are going to last. He's more frog than prince, actually.

We're preparing for a quiet Easter around here--Sadie is actively campaigning for a ham dinner.

Whatever you celebrate--Easter, Passover--be blessed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Trouble with Renovations... that when you get one improvement made, it makes everything else look bad. :) Could this be a plot, even a conspiracy, by the construction industry?? (Just kidding.)

The hardwood floors look absolutely wonderful. The ones that haven't been done yet, not so much. My bedroom, for instance, has green (and dog weary) carpet. The wallpaper--well, don't even get me started on that. Just to make matters more complicated, I bought the most beautiful bedroom set I have ever seen. It will have to be stored in the room across the hall, until the floors and new wallpaper are in.

It never ends. And that's fine with me, because I've been living in hectic mode for so long, I don't know how to do "calm". My week at the lake proved that--I took one look at the water and decided to veg out, deadline notwithstanding. I read Nora Roberts and a biography of Billy the Kid.

Come to think of it, there are things I'd like to do to the lake house, too....

To paraphrase the Boston Strangler, Stop me before I renovate again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Changes of Plan

Well, i'm still at the main house. I had a very productive writing day yesterday, so decided to stay put, as I am so close to finishing this book. It seems the lake is more conducive to resting than working, at least in the middle of a manuscript. :)

As I worked, I was so caught up in the story--I see it unfolding in my head, rather like a movie--that when I looked up, I was startled to see snowflakes swirling outside! April 2, and it was snowing!

Well, I'd better get back to it.

More tomorrow.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Situation: Normal

Home again, at the main house, briefly. I have some mail to take care of, etc. Will write a chapter today, then head back out to the lake tonight.

The floors are finished, and are they ever beautiful. Looks like a basketball court--now to put hoops at each end of the downstairs hallway. The trouble with renovations is that they always highlight other projects that ought to be done. Maybe those people on TV would like to do a show here. :) Except for Bernice hanging off the cameraman's ankle, it should go smoothly.

The construction of the Actual Barn starts today. That is exciting, but also noisy, which is why I will be going back to my lake house. The fences are in and they just look fabulous. The pasture is almost ten acres, so my four hoodlums are going to have plenty of room to ramble.

Why did I title today's blog the way I did? Two people have to go to two different doctors. There's a chapter to write, and the barn area is filling with big machinery and workers even as I write this. Chaos is the name of the game around here. And I'm so used to it, it seems normal. Maybe that's why, when I first got to the lake, all I could do was stare at the water and think how very lucky I am.