Friday, February 29, 2008

Dateline: Spokane

Today, some minor revisions to the outline I did for "Taming Dylan". Have I mentioned that I have the best editor in all universes? Since it's Friday, I plan to spend most of the day doing more of my art work. I'm really getting into these Artist Trading Cards--I like working in miniature.

I went back to Weight Watchers last night. This is the only plan that really works for me. Thank heaven, I only gained back about half the weight I lost, so that's something in the debit column! So add some shopping to that short list of things I plan to do today--gotta stock up on fresh vegetables (thank heaven, I LOVE vegetables--that's important on WW.)

My friend Josanne Lovick is having meetings with the Hallmark people about a possible TV movie of "The Man from Stone Creek". Keep your fingers crossed! Josanne made "The Last Chance Cafe" for Lifetime, and did a great job. There are some other projects in the works, too, but still too early to talk about them. Exciting!

On a more mundane level, I was at the casino last night--first time in weeks--before Weight Watchers. I managed to come out with some money left, which is about the most positive thing I can say about it. I always enjoy seeing certain friends there--Nancy, who works in the Chinese restaurant, and Shirley, who plays some of the same machines I do.

Tomorrow, I have an autographing at Walden Books in the Spokane Valley Mall. 12-2. If you live in the area, come by and say howdy. Good chance to pick up the latest Mojo adventure, "Deadly Deceptions."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My heroes have always been...

Cowboys! My dad, in particular. I'm currently incorporating a picture taken of Dad and me on his horse Peanuts, circa 1951, into Art Trading Cards and collages. Perhaps it is a way of dealing with grief, but I seem to be fixated on that picture. I had it put on a coffee mug. I have a mousepad with that image on it, too. And I wear a pendant I made from it every day of my life.

I miss you, Dad. With you there, I wasn't afraid to try much of anything. Your arms were always strong. Your advice was always wise. Even now, when I am faced with a decision, I ask myself, "What would Dad do?"

Lest you think I am wallowing in sorrow, let me say straight out that I'm NOT. I know I will see my dad again, on the other side of that river, and he'll be riding old Peanuts, his all-time favorite horse. Yes, there are tears, but they are healing ones. You see, I am so grateful that Skip Lael was my father. He left a legacy of grit and honesty and persistence that I do my best to live up to from day to day.

My mother, Hazel Bleecker Lael, is still very much with us, and I would be remiss if I didn't give her equal credit. She was a story-reading mother, a book-loving mother. If I or my brother or sisters was sick in the night, she heard that plaintive "Mom!" and always came. She has a beautiful smile that lights up a room, and when it comes to wit, she's quicker on the draw than anybody I've ever known--closely followed by my sister, Sally. Mom made the best chocolate chip cookies in three counties. She sewed Halloween costumes and herded us to Sunday School. She filled Christmas stockings with things so carefully chosen that I remember many of them to this day. When I went to camp, I was always homesick. As I unpacked swim suits and shorts in whatever cabin I was assigned to that year, I came across little surprises she'd tucked into my suitcase--Hershey bars, notes, and often a dollar bill or two. Mom understood my need to write and bought me countless notebooks, which I filled with long-hand schlock worthy of Jo March's early years. (Rodrigo, Rodrigo--save me, Rodrigo!)

Mom introduced me to characters who became lifelong companions of the imagination--the March sisters, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, the Girl of the Limberlost, the inimitable Scarlet O'Hara. When my brother, who grew up to be the fine man who tracked down Dad's saddle (the same on in the picture I described earlier), teased me about kissing Michael Landon's picture, she told him to leave me alone. (Of course he didn't, but he was ten after all.)

Who would I be without my mom and dad?

Certainly not the person I am, for better and for worse and mostly for somewhere in between those two.

Skip and Hazel's girl, Lindy. That's who I am.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sneaky Stuff

This flu is sneaky stuff. It's easy to think you're over it, then find out you're not. So if you have it, or even think you're getting it, be careful. REST.

Plans for today are pretty low-key. Work on an outline, and do some art--that's about it for this cowgirl.

I watch the "Carol Duval Show" pretty faithfully--TIVO it, along with "Crafters Coast to Coast" and "That's Clever". Yesterday, they ran a segment on the CDS that really interested me. Artist Trading Cards. These little works of art are about the size of a baseball card, and are usually collaged. I'd heard of them before, but seeing the segment re-inspired me to rummage through my stash. (A task in itself--I don't like to venture into my craft storage room without a big game rifle and Indiana Jones for back-up.) Sure enough, I had the blank cards. I'm going to make a few. Now, for somebody to trade with. :)

I had some success transferring photo-copied images onto polymer clay yesterday. This is a crap-shoot, governed by its own mysterious cosmic laws. In other words, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I'm devilishly persistent when doing something like this--when I'm 80, I'll probably still be giving you reports on the latest image transfer method.

I've been getting some very nice feedback on "Deadly Gamble" and "Deadly Deceptions". Mojo Sheepshanks rides again! Thanks so much for joining Mojo, Tucker and me on the latest ghost-hunt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Art Therapy

Nothing reduces my stress (or increases my housekeeper's stress :)) like art work. Of course I am being wildly optimistic by using the term 'art'. Is scribbling water-soluable oil crayon all over a canvas and then blending the colors art? Who knows. But it's a lot of fun.

Why do I need art therapy, you may ask? Don't you have a new book coming out TODAY?
("Deadly Deceptions", book 2 in the Mojo Sheepshanks series).

Yes, I do have a book coming out today, and that always excites me--and makes me tense, too. So if I pour resin, or cut and bake polymer clay, or glue things to a collage, I don't have to stand behind Wal-Mart waiting for the truck to come in and unload the new book. :)

I'm working on a large collage/mixed media/assemblage now--at this point, I just call it "the Lincoln piece". Trust me, it will never hang in a museum or make my great-grandchildren rich. It is the visual counterpart of the first of my Civil War books, tentatively titled, "North of Eden", a sort of tapestry to pin down some of the things going on in my head.

It's a wild place, the inside of my head.

More tomorrow. Therapy awaits.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good Morning, One and All

I am feeling SO much better now. And guess what? I finished "Logan's Return" last night. A little brush up before it zips off to Super-Editor, Joan Marlow Golan, and I'm ready to start book 2--Dylan's story.

You're gonna like those Creed cowboys, my friends.

I'm guest-blogging on today--click on the blue box in the lower left hand corner with Michelle B.'s lovely smiling face on it. I think the address is
I'll double-check to make sure. You want the 'Romance Buy the Book" section. You can also see my interview with Michelle there.

And "Deadly Deceptions", the second Mojo book, is in stores TODAY!! It's the Wal-Mart Read of the Month, so I've got to boogie over there later to check out the display. I'm sure people wonder, who IS that woman staring at the books??? (My mother has been known to waylay shoppers and give them the my-daughter-wrote-that pitch. Love ya, Mom.)

Make it a good day, ladies and gentlemen. It's the only one we've got!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Day by Day, in Every Way....

I am getting better and better.

At least, that's what I'm telling myself! I could snivel instead, but since I don't want to attract the results (thoughts ARE magnetic, you know, and more so when backed by emotion), I'll stick with that old saw from Dr. Emile Coue--I believe I spelled that correctly--a pioneer in the affirmations movement. I remember finding his tiny, musty book on a shelf in the Northport Library years and years ago, and being fascinated with the cases of his patients. I have used affirmations successfully ever since, though the rewards varied with my level of consistency--and the degree of emotion. Doesn't everything?

Early on in my writing career, when I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a Whole Book, I would visualize the completed manuscript. I still do this when I feel stuck--and I have 80-something books to prove it works.

Here's the thing about the flu, and everything else that gets us down. It's temporary. In the words of my Master, "This too shall pass."

Today, I'm choosing to be grateful. I'm choosing to trust.

Because, day by day, in every way, I'm getting better and better!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One Foot in the Stirrup

You're NOT going to believe this.
I got deathly sick the night before I was to leave for New York, and I didn't get to go. Is that a bummer, or what?
I am mostly recovered, but still not up to a long blog.
More tomorrow--I hope.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Day Before

It's the day before my big trip to NYC, and I'm excited. I'll be having lunch with some of the people from Barnes and Noble, meeting with my beloved editor and agent, as well as Leslee Borger and my friends at HQN.

I plan to blog on the road, but since I'm leaving VERY early tomorrow morning, and have a dinner to attend soon after I arrive, you probably won't see a blog until Tuesday. I guess it all depends on how the old energy level holds up--keyword: old.

Winter is starting to wear on me. I'm sure looking forward to spring. As of this morning, it was 60 degrees in New York--to a Spokanite, that's tropical. :)

I'll be in touch. Watch this space.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day Late, Dollar Short

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and I completely forgot to mention it on the blog. What kind of romance novelist forgets Valentine's Day???

I'm within a week of finishing "Logan's Return", so I have been focused on that, and working hard, but STILL.

Happy Valentine's Day, all you valentines out there.

We still have a lot of snow on the ground, but the sun is shining. I'm still yearning for spring, but I bring myself up short every once in a while and say, "Hey. Wait a second. It's BEAUTIFUL out there."

I'm planning to work through the weekend, unwrap my 4 new Steve Miller sculptures and display them proudly, (have you seen them yet? and head out for New York on Tuesday.

Haven't been to the casino lately. I secretly suspect they've screwed down the slot machines to pay for the new hotel they're building, but you didn't hear that from me. :)

Casino people: if you'd let the machines pay a darned bonus once in a while, you wouldn't have so many of them sitting idle. Crank 'em up a little, will you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Poetry on Horseback

This morning my friend Vicki Webster forwarded a video of Stacy Westfall, riding a beautiful black horse with no saddle or bridle. I immediately wanted to share this treasure with you.

Check out

And prepared to be amazed, humbled, and deeply moved.

The Early Bird...

Gets to let the dogs out, then in again, then make the coffee! I got up at four this morning, which is around my usual time--lately, though, I've been sleeping in till seven. :)

The house is very quiet--Bernice is at my feet, and Sadie is snoring on the bed. Even the sun isn't up yet, but we are.

I love this time of day. My mind is fresh, and I'm always inspired after my journal/prayer session at the kitchen table.

I'll be writing straight through the weekend, being nearly finished with the first book in the Montana Creeds series, "Logan's Return". The Creeds are distant cousins to the McKettricks, and many of you met Logan, very briefly, in "The McKettrick Way". On some level, I'm already rubbing my hands together in anticipation and thinking, "Bring on Dylan Creed!" He's the second brother, and Tyler is the third. These are Montana cowboys, from the soles of their beat-up boots to the brims of their hats, a bunch of hell-raisers, and all of them are mad at each other.

Since I seem to be mastering the blog-on-the-road thing, I'll be giving you daily accounts of my adventures in New York.

For today, though, there's writing to do. And maybe I can squeeze out an hour or two to mess around with polymer clay or resin or collage--any one of my three messy passions. The snow is still too deep for riding horseback, but, on the other hand, it might make for a softer landing. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Steve Miller

Today I'm going to tell you about Steve Miller, a good friend and a very talented western artist.

As you've no doubt noticed, we share the same last name. That's because Steve is my ex-husband Rick's first cousin. He lives in Montana, with his beautiful wife, Terry, and heads up the marketing department at Montana Silversmiths, the place where I buy a lot of great jewelry and purses :), but there's more to Steve than marketing, and that's for sure. Steve is a gifted sculptor and storyteller, and a genuine cowboy to boot. His event is team roping, and he's the guy who got Wendy and I a behind-the-scenes look at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this past December.

I think his work is truly spectacular, on a par with Remington and Russell, which is why I want to share it with you. At present, I own two of his pieces, "The Highest Price for Beef" and "When Beef was Wild", and there are more on the way. Steve does his pieces in clay and wax first, then has them cast in bronze, and the detail is enough to take your breath away. He has a great love of the Old West--and the new one, too--and it comes through in his sculptures and the stories that accompany each one. On top of that, the price truly fits a cowboy's (or cowgirl's) budget--around $200--as Steve told me, a cowboy has to be able to afford them after paying entry fees, gambling, and a couple of beers. :) You can have a look online at or in person at your local Western store.

Me, I'm stocking up. This guy is going to be famous. Don't say I didn't tell you ahead of time, so you could get in on the ground floor. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Even as We Speak.... is downloading a bunch of new books for my iPod. What an age we live in, to quote Maynard G. Krebbs. If you remember Krebbs, you are of a certain age.

As I have probably mentioned before, I am the original gadget queen, despite my propensity for spending a lot of my time in the Old West, following gunslingers and dance hall girls and gamblers and ranchers around. If it's new, I either have it, or have ordered it.

Apple's new Magic Air laptop, for instance. Good heavens, the thing will fit in a manilla envelope! Then there's the Kindle, a fascinating item from Amazon. For those of you who don't follow such things, the Kindle is a marvelous electronic book, capable of downloading thousands of printed books, without even hooking up to a computer! The topper has to be a gizmo called a Stamp Critter, though. The thing actually makes rubber stamps from ink jet printouts. Figuring it out is going to take some time (and help) though, because the machine doesn't come with illustrated instructions. Still, I'm determined to make it work. Just imagine Sadie stamps--Bernice stamps--Coco and Banjo and Buck and Traveler and April stamps--it boggles the mind.

Thank heaven for Chris Baber, my personal Geek Squad. He can make practically anything work.

For now, though, got to unboggle this mind and head for Stillwater Springs, Montana. Logan and Flannery are waiting for me there, no doubt impatiently. You see, we're three quarters of the way through "Logan's Return", and they're chomping at the old bit.

For those of you who live in the Spokane area, mark your calendars. (Hello, Dave and Sue Bula--hope you show up for a visit!) I'll be at the Waldenbooks in the Spokane Valley Mall Saturday, March 1, from 12 to 2 pm, signing "Deadly Deceptions", the new Mojo adventure. Also at Auntie's, downtown, on Tuesday, March 4, at 7:30. The Auntie's gigs are always an informal chat type of set-up--I'm hoping to see the familar faces and a few new ones.

Gosh, look at the time. I've got a train to catch! Here's one of the many things about traveling the landscape of the Imagination: you can wear a bathrobe without getting arrested.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Coming Home

Well, as you know if you've been following this blog, I had a fabulous time in California. All that sunshine and those china blue skies--and, even better, being with Wendy and Jeremy.

It appears that the writer's strike is almost at an end, and that's good news. Wendy was hard at work on her new script as soon as she got back from dropping me off at the airport--her agent and manager are eager to get it out there the moment the big wheels start turning again.

Sadie and Bernice were thrilled with my return, of course. The cats basically said, "You again?" :) Bernice was practically hysterical with joy. Sadie wriggled in, grinning, for an ear-ruffling, but I know what she was thinking. "Got food?"

We still have deep snow and cold weather, so I admit to missing the California climate, as well as my beautiful daughter and her fiance, Jeremy, who is every woman's dream son-in-law. I miss Bailey, aka Big Dog, and Quintan and Claudia, the cats. It's just too bad we can't be in two places at once--a typical Gemini wish.

It's back to work in earnest today, and some art work when I have my pages done.

I'll be traveling again soon--I leave for New York on the 19th for a luncheon with the wonderful folks at Barnes and Noble and an editorial meeting with my HQN team. Busy, busy.

Gotta master this writing on the road thing!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Morning

I'm out on the tiny balcony with Bailey, the grand-dog, watching the world go by.

This particular morning, I saw a young man of undetermined INS status, black garbage bag slung over one shoulder, going for one recyling can to the next, with a special metal stick--perhaps there is a magnet on the end--extracting aluminum cans from the bins and popping them into the bag. Surely not the happiest work in the world, but instead of pity, I felt admiration. He was clean and, like all Americans, from Somewhere Else. I could be all wet, but it struck me as an industrious thing to do. Sometimes you have to be new in the USA to see the place for what it is: a feast of plenty. Five will get you ten that this young man is saving most of the money he earns by turning in those cans, and I will go so far as to predict that in a decade or so, he'll be wearing custom-made suits.

Okay, so I have an imagination. But why not? In America, anything is possible, and that's one of the many reasons I love it.

This is my last day to visit here in the land of sunshine. I will be sad to leave Wendy and Jeremy, but happy to be greeted by my pets at home. I guess life is like that, isn't it?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Last Night

The many and varied members of Wendy's writers group came over for spaghetti, meatballs, red wine, and great talk. We had a wonderful time! Writers, of course, are great storytellers, and there were some wild ones. We even watched a few clips from the movie Wendy's friend Chip is making--very intriguing. The world is full of fascinating people!

Earlier in the day, Wendy and I met with Irene Webb, at a lovely Italian trattoria on Montana. Irene is a film agent, among her other talents, and is interested in pitching some of my books for movies! That was exciting!

This is our last full day together, as I will be going back to Spokane tomorrow. Good news/bad news. Wendy and I are very close, and being several states apart is difficult for us, and the good-byes are always hard. We've been making the most of our time together, that's for sure.

It's a strange thing about children. You carry them in your womb, nuture them to adulthood, and all the time, if you're doing a good job, you're teaching them NOT to need you. Sometimes I want to ask God, "What's up with that?"

Alas, I know the answer. They're not supposed to need us, not to survive and thrive, anyway. But my girl still needs her mom, for a sounding board, for encouragement, etc.

That's fine with me.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Morning

Another lovely, blue-skied day in California!

We decided not to go out for Mexican food last night, and ordered pizza instead. We were all in the mood for a quiet night--watched four episodes of "Vacation Home Search" on TV. On this program, if you haven't seen it, potential buyers look at 3 different homes, in some interesting region of the country, and the suspense builds as you wonder which one they'll choose at the end. Wendy, Jeremy and I all placed bets--I have been right ONCE! (They were actually willing to pay a million dollars for a house without a BATHTUB????)

Wendy and I had lunch at a restaurant called Coogie's yesterday--Jeremy was working--and my sweatshirt (the front reads: Be careful or you'll end up in my novel) drew comment everywhere. Californians are friendly folks.

Today, lots of stuff planned. A business lunch, a trip to Chico's, and Wendy's friends from her writer's group coming tonight for spaghetti and meatballs. She's been working every day--I've been goofing off. Guess at SOME point I must have set a good example!

More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Warm California Days

Again with the blue skies and the sunshine. I LOVE it.

I told you about our visit to Gladstone's last night--I am still full, hours later!

Plans for today include working on "Logan's Return", while Wendy writes away on her current script. With the writer's strike on, she can't sell yet, but she'll have a script ready when the time comes.

Wendy's big dog, Bailey, is lying by the patio doors. He's a shelter dog, and so sweet. Truly a member of the family, as are cats Quintan and Claudia--both black. Wendy has had Quintan, also a rescue animal, since her school days in New York. He's been back and forth across country several times, and surely freaked a few people out in airports--"We're flying with a black cat??????"

We'll be going out later for Mexican food. (Much later.) If I'm not too pooped, I'll write a report. In the meantime, words to write.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


We celebrated Wendy's 33rd birthday tonight at a wonderful seafood restaurant in Malibu called Gladstone's. Unbelievably wonderful place! At the end of the meal, our leftovers were wrapped in animal shapes of foil--a swan, a rabbit, a shark and a whale. (I FELT like a whale, after all that food.) The restaurant is right on the ocean, and because of a special lighting system, we could see the tide breaking on the lovely white sand.

Shopping foray included Border's, Urban Outfitter, and--yes--Michael's!

Tomorrow, we're planning to veg.

Hello from California

I finally managed to find this blog on my new computer! As I write this, I am sitting in my daughter's bedroom, which I have usurped like visiting royalty, with occasional visits from two grand-cats and a grand-dog. Life is good.

Today is Wendy's birthday, so we're going out to celebrate.

The weather in Santa Monica is certainly an improvement over Spokane! Blue skies, sunshine, only a mile or two to the ocean. It just doesn't get any better.

On Friday, I'll be meeting with a group of Wendy's writer friends--son-in-law-to-be Jeremy is making a spaghetti dinner. Fun to talk shop.

Now that I've figured this out, I'll write more. Next on the agenda--shopping. One of my favorite activities!

Friday, February 01, 2008


I like signs--have them all over the house. Not 'stop' signs, the other kind. For instance, there's a little board over the back door that reads, "Happy Trails to You." Two more arrived recently, and they seem to express the sentiments of a snow-bound woman. :) One reads, "Some days it's not even worth chewing through the restraints." (That one cracks me up.) The other says, "I have flying monkeys and I'm not afraid to use them!" (I'm nice enough, generally, but I have my witchy days, like anybody else.)

There's a big sign to be hung at the barn--it used to be over my gate in Cave Creek. "Springwater Station". My daddy made that sign with his own hands, and it's precious to me. Soon, it will be up, even though I call this place the Triple L.

I have a little brass sign, too. "Portobello Road". That brings back great memories of the time I spent in London--two and a half years, on and off.

And then there are the signs I make for myself--just a few words scrawled on an index card and taped up somewhere visible. Usually, these are Bible verses, or affirmations.

Writing this makes me think of that wonderful scene in the movie "Bruce Almighty", when Jim Carrey is praying, "Give me a sign!" and the truck in front of him is literally covered in them.

God has a sense of humor. There ARE signs everywhere. Especially in my house.

Since this IS one of the days when it's worth chewing through the restraints, I'd better get to work. :)

I'm traveling on Monday, if I can get out of the driveway. Will be visiting daughter Wendy in Santa Monica all next week. There's one sign I don't want to see when I get to the airport: Flight cancelled.

Make it a good one, ladies and gentlemen.