Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On My Way

I'm off on my Rustler Tour today--first stop, Portland, Oregon.

Since I'm running around doing last minute stuff, I will keep this short.

The sun is just peeking over the eastern hills as I write this, and Bernice, the Yorkie, who always seems to know when I'm going somewhere, has been sticking to me like gum on a shoe. If she had her way, I'd be a hermit! :) Knowing all the critters will be taken care of by the 'ranch hands', Jenni, Larry and Mary Ann, I can concentrate on business (and fun) without worrying.

I still have to get my suitcases downstairs and find my laptop--I think somebody hid it. :) We seem to have gremlins around here.

Hope I'll be seeing you somewhere along the way, Pardners.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's a Wrap

Today, and it seems like a wholesale miracle, I will finish "The Bridegroom". I'm of two minds about this, as I explained yesterday. Naturally, I get very deeply involved in my books, and my characters are Real People to me. So while I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment, I'm also a little blue.

I leave on my Rustler tour tomorrow, and that is REALLY going to be fun. I love meeting my readers, doing interviews, traveling from one city to another. (There's a bit of the gypsy in me.) At least, I love it For A While--when it's time to come home, I'm always more than ready. The dogs will throw a big party in my honor when I return--lots of barking, wiggling, cuddles and kisses. The cats will say, nonverbally of course, "Oh, you again." And wait until it's dark before they snuggle up against me, no longer able to hide the scandalous fact that they're glad I'm home. :)

In the meantime, it's back to Stone Creek.

If you love this book half as much as I do, we're golden.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good-byes and Hellos

I will soon be finished with "The Bridegroom", and I must confess, that makes me a little blue. I just hate saying good-bye to characters I've grown to love and admire; after all, Lydia and Gideon and I have been through thick and thin together.

Sure, there will be the revision period. There will be several more swipes through the manuscript as the publishing process gets underway, in fact. But, dern it, it won't be quite the same. Sending in a book produces a sort of 'empty nest syndrome' in me--it's as if I've raised a crop of boisterous, beloved children, and now they're going out into the world to make it on their own.

The space around the computer is always a little quiet after they go.

But, then, I'll be starting a NEW story right after my tour--"The Christmas Bride", a gift hardcover targeted for the holiday season of 2009. It's a great story--the hero is Lincoln Creed, ancestor of Logan, Dylan and Tyler---

OK, I can do this. :) I can let Gideon and Lydia go, because Lincoln and Juliana are already waiting in the wings, eager to tell their story. After that, it will be Ashley and Jack, a modern Stone Creek story to be published as a Silhouette Special Edition called "Ashley's Christmas." And after THAT---the Texas McKettricks!

Thanks for listening. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shrinking Mary Lincoln and Other Experiments of a Mad Scientist

I shrunk Mary Todd Lincoln this morning--on shrink plastic, of course. I'm working on a Lincoln series of ATCs, for my personal collection. Next comes the Lincoln dog--one of many but the only one I know about--and he had the imaginative name of Fido. (All the vogue in the 1860s). And heck, at least it wasn't Rover. (I guess this rambling is where the 'mad' part comes in. :))

You might hear the word 'experiment' a lot from me, in coming days. Writing my Morning Pages (God bless you, Julia Cameron) is really stimulating some valuable new insights--for instance, if I approach something new as an experiment, instead of taking my usual make-or-break, do-or-die approach, I discover an amazing freedom in the effort. It becomes an adventure, not a chore, and if it's a bust--oh, well. I've learned something, haven't I?

An example of this is my current crop of ATCs, the ones I'm making to bring on the road. I painted a beautiful blue background on 12 cards, and then carefully cut out 12 oval shaped pictures of Baby Me on my dad's horse, Peanuts. Lookin' good! Then I glued those ovals onto the cards and--miracle of miracles, given my extreme case of Firefly Syndrome--actually left them alone overnight so the glue could dry! This morning, I sprayed them with a light coat of my very favorite glaze, a product called Triple Thick. (Michael's, in the glue section.) And guess what? The paint seeped through, and ruined the pictures. Now, normally, this would really chapped my hide--alas, I am only too easily frustrated by things like this--but today, with my new mind-set in operation, I said to myself, "Bummer. Next time, I'll glaze the cards before I put the pictures on." Not a major victory--UNLESS you happen to be someone who knows me. :)

Update: yesterday, I was concerned that I might not get my chapter written, what with an important meeting to go to, in the middle of the day. Well, I DID get it done--I had 10 pages down before I even dressed to go out to lunch. I even got my walk in! And I had the whole thing wrapped by 5:30.


And I'm attributing most of this progress to writing Morning Pages.

Have you tried it yet? :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walking in My World

One of the benefits of my new walking regime--yesterday, I did TWO stints of three laps around the pasture--is the ideas it prompts. I don't take my iPod along, just a water bottle and an open mind. I want to be present, in my body, during these walks, and not off somewhere in the Civil War or the Revolution. :) On the first lap, I noticed my beautiful Japanese maple trees--their leaves are turning, and they are the most beautiful rusty crimson. I got to thinking, as I walked, about pressing some, and using them on ATCs. (I relate a LOT of things to ATCs. :)) So I picked 12 extra-pretty ones when I'd completed the rounds, and now they're tucked neatly between two boards, carefully protected by parchment paper, being pressed. I think that takes a long time, so I've decided not to fiddle with them (my besetting sin, or one of them anyway, is fiddling with things before they're: ready, dry, etc.) until after I get home from touring to promote "The Rustler". Even then, they might not be ready, but checking them out will be one of the small, ordinary pleasures that add so much joy to life.

I have a meeting today, and that will make writing Chapter 15 a little more challenging. I fretted (and fiddled) over this for a while, then decided enough was enough--I WILL write that chapter, no matter what.

This book is basically writing itself, and as I've said on previous blogs, I just love it. I feel a little guilty for picking on poor Gideon :), but darn, it's so much fun. And I can't leave the whole job to Lydia, now can I???

I hope there will be time for a walk--it's going to rain but that won't stop me--and an hour or two to work on the ATCs I'm making especially to take on the tour, in hopes of trading with some of you.

Have you seen the Creed video? If you click on the link in my letter on the main page, you'll see My Boys. Warning: they are SERIOUSLY hunky cowboys. My favorite kind of man!

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Yes, I'm still losing weight--very slowly. Perhaps a pound every few weeks. I'm actually happy with my current weight, but need to firm up (hence the laps around the pasture) and since I plan to quit smoking soon, I want a little "wiggle room" in case of added pounds. :)

The title of this blog, however, is a reference to the fun I continue to have with shrink plastic. Currently, I'm transferring photographs onto the stuff, shrinking them, and making ATC series (es?). It took a while to master this--you have to lighten the photograph first, and if you want to retain the wonderful, translucent quality, put white paper on the back. The theme of the project underway is my trip to Santa Fe last June, with my dear friends, Cindy, Annie and Althea.

Next on the day's schedule is three laps around the pasture, and after that, Chapter 14 of "The Bridegroom". I know I've said this before, but I LOVE THIS BOOK. It's a marriage-of-convenience story, and Gideon (poor sexy darling) is doing his best to be honorable and leave virginal Lydia intact for her "real" husband. Lydia is equally determined to seduce him. Which makes the book incredibly fun to write! (And, I hope, fun to read.) You'll get that opportunity in August of 2009, in budget-friendly paperback.

I'd better go. I've got to make things a lot more uncomfortable for Gideon :) and, besides, I have things to shrink. (Like my butt, and more photographs.)

Are any of you making an ATC to swap with me at a book signing? I certainly hope so. I'm making a special edition of cards, with Baby Me on a horse, just for this trip. Any takers?

Make it a good day--and that starts with a good attitude.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Quite a Weekend

In fact, I'm still catching up with myself! (That's why this blog is late getting posted.)

I mostly wrote this weekend, completing chapters 11 and 12 of "The Bridegroom", and I had a great time doing it, too. Sometimes, I wrote in the morning--sometimes in the evening--and sometimes very late, with the dogs snoring on the bed behind me. :)

Soon, I won't be writing in my bedroom anymore--hallelujah--but in my spiffy new office downstairs. While I'm on tour for "The Rustler", and if the flooring gods are favorably inclined, the space will be painted and a new vinyl floor laid. (Yes. Vinyl. I have DOGS. And, often, horse manure on my shoes. :))

I did a few artist trading cards, and received my first batch of trades in Saturday's mail. (I keep them in a special notebook, and have one for my own cards, too.) What a kick it is to see other people's work--so clever and innovative! I'm bringing some of my own cards on the road with me, and if you're planning to attend a book-signing or other event, bring along a card of your own, and we'll swap. (While supplies last.) The only ATC rule is that they have to be 2 1/2 by 3 1/2. (And this goes without saying, with a fine bunch of folks like you, but I'm going to say it anyway: no porn, no politics, and no hate.) Be sure to sign and date your card, and don't be intimidated. I'm not nearly as good at art as I am at writing. :)

Let's trade!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Friday Slows

I seem to have a case of go-slow this morning, which is why I'm so late getting to this blog. Took my time with the journaling today, and did three laps around the pasture, to get the old circulation going. And now I'm ready to write Chapter 10 of "The Bridegroom".

I am so loving this book. I wish I could have you right here, reading over my shoulder, in fact.

Writing is a magical process for me. Of course, as with every book, I had a general idea of what would happen when I started this new story, but a lot of what happens comes as a real surprise, too. I positively love watching the characters grow and change, love getting to know them. I find the secondary characters fascinating; it's wonderful when they step right up and show me who they are, remind me that, like Gideon and Lydia, they have full lives, too. They have secrets and fears and qualities that set them apart from every other human being on earth, just as you and I do.

I'll be working this weekend--I want to finish the book before I leave on tour at the end of the month, if I can--but maybe 'working' isn't the proper word, because this is so much fun.

I'll "see" you on Monday. In the meantime, be kind to yourself.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Times Like These....

It is a good thing to be an avid student of American history.

The term "Miracle at Philadelphia" is not an exaggeration. Rarely, in the entire recorded history of the world, has there ever been such a gathering of intellect and vision--Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and the rest of that brilliant, argumentative crew--in one place, at one very crucial time. These brave men had to meet in secret to hammer out the groundwork for our system of government, for Franklin's assertion that if they all didn't hang together, they would surely hang seperately, was absolutely true.

Still darker days were ahead--the odds against Washington's undersupplied, undertrained, mostly ignorant army were astronomical. There was never enough of anything--food, blankets, boots, weaponry, ammunition. And yet, under the unwavering guidance of General Washington, they persisted. They put one foot in front of the other. Victory, against the greatest and best-supplied army in the world was virtually impossible. Cannons were brought from Ticonderoga, through the Berkshire mountains, in the depths of winter--by a jovial, overweight bookseller named Henry Knox. That was impossible, too, but it happened.

Surviving the winter at Valley Forge. Again, impossible.

Let's leap ahead about 87 years, to the Civil War. The country was literally broken in two. Mending it? Impossible. And yet here we are.

Ditto, the Great Depression, the first and second world wars, and September 11, 2001.

And yet, here we are.

Our nation seems so troubled. Some of us feel almost hopeless, facing such challenges. But we are NOT hopeless. We have come through so many other trials--much worse than what we're experiencing now.

My point? Don't panic. Support your candidate--whichever one that is--generations of good people have sacrificed their lives to assure you that privilege. Believe in what we stand for--something so far above our mistakes, it's almost celestial.

And remember, please--none of this is new. America, may God bless her and the hope she represents to every nation on earth, has ALWAYS been full of lively disagreement--right from that precious beginning in Philadelphia.

We are at liberty to disagree with each other, and fiercely.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Morning Pages

Many of you, especially the aspiring writers, are probably familiar with Julia Cameron's wonderful book, "The Artist's Way". If you're not, and you are engaged in ANY kind of creative endeavor--and when you think about it, EVERY life well lived calls for creativity--you should pick up a copy.

One of Cameron's time-honored methods for stimulating the flow of words (or paintings, or any other worthwhile thing) is an exercise she calls Morning Pages. You simply hand-write three pages of stuff--stream of consciousness, no judging, whatever is on your mind. (Some people do their pages on a computer. It's generally agreed that this is less effective than putting pen to paper, but, hey, whatever works.) It is, like all journaling, a great way to get things out of your head and onto paper, where you can see them and get some perspective. Believe me, I speak from experience here--solutions present themselves, nebulous thoughts solidify, and mysteries are solved.

I wrote Morning Pages for YEARS--and then, for some reason I can't immediately call to mind, I stopped. Bad idea! Recently, after picking up another of Cameron's books, "Walking in This World" on CD, to listen to in the truck while I was running errands, I was re-inspired. I bought a regular, 8 1/2 by 11 spiral notebook and started writing my Pages again. Now, I wouldn't give up this exercise for anything--it helps me so much.

Writers, you see, tend to spend a lot of time in their heads. It's a great place to be--most of the time--I mean, my particular head is full of Creeds and McKettricks and Yarbros and O'Ballivans--and historical figures, too, like Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and George Washington. It would be hard to find better company. Still, there are a lot of interesting people and things on the OUTSIDE, too. :) And I don't want to miss them. Morning Pages helped me see that I need to touch down in my body a lot more often--and so did feeding horses for two weeks while the Canadian Wrangler was away.

As you might guess from the above title, Cameron also recommends walking to stimulate creativity. That struck me as a good idea--so I started adding WALK to my to-do list. This morning, setting out for a few laps around the pasture, I saw that the horses were all gathered at the fence, wanting their breakfast. The Canadian Wrangler is back, and I figured he'd be along soon, so I took a lap. When I came back around, still no CW. So I decided to fill the feed pans and put out the hay--God knows, the Wrangler has enough to do around here anyhow. I fed some horses. I was in my body, not my head, a cowgirl in blue jeans and dirty shoes, doing what a cowgirl does. And it felt so good.

Walking, it turns out, does stimulate ideas. I can hardly wait to get back to Stone Creek and join up with Gideon and Lydia and the rest of the crew. (Given what they were doing when I last saw them, leaving the room was the only polite response. :))

At the end of the day, I plan on taking another couple of turns around the pasture. And if the CW is busy elsewhere, I might just feed the horses again. Because I can. Because I'm blessed to HAVE horses, and legs that will carry me, and arms strong enough to fill a wheelbarrow with hay and spread it around on my own little patch of ground.

I'm discovering some things about myself--I need to be outside more. Outside of my head AND outside of my house. I need to walk and be around horses and pine trees and all the rest of it. I need to spend more time under a blue sky--or a rainy one--or a snowy one.

Would I have come to this conclusion without Morning Pages? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

I'm not taking the chance.

Tomorrow morning, early, after taking the dogs out and then bringing them in again, and then letting them out again---well, you get the picture--I'll be sitting down, opening my notebook, and writing my pages. It's exciting to think what I might come up with next! Sometimes, it's just ordinary stuff--what I need to pick up at Walmart, some petty annoyance, things like that--and that's okay, too. Remember, when it comes to Morning Pages, there is only one rule: write three full pages, in longhand if possible. They're for your eyes only, so say whatever you want to. Unlike fancy bound journals, it's easy to tear them up and toss them out if that's what you want to do. If I remember correctly, Cameron does not recommend going back and rereading them, and I rarely did that before. Don't do it now, either. Things that come to mind and need remembering go on my to-do list, or into another journal. This happens a lot, too--I get snatches of dialogue, plot twists, and lots of things I want to do artistically. (Heck, I have an ART journal, too. It's a sketchbook, and I am forever scribbling, sketching, and gluing in images that strike my fancy for some reason.)

Maybe you'd like to try some Morning Pages yourself. You don't have to become a journaling-junkie, like me. :) Give it a week. I think you'll be surprised by the insights you'll have. Things that have always seemed impossible begin to see possible after all. If you're stuck, this is your best shot at getting UNstuck.

And now--off to Stone Creek.

Make it a good day. I'll be right here tomorrow, and I hope you will be, too.

See you then.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Canadian Wrangler is Back!

I expected to be a little relieved not to have to go out to the barn first thing this morning to greet the horses, fill their pans with their sweet-feed supplement, and make sure the shy members of the band--April and Traveler--got something to eat. Instead, I'm feeling a little blue. So I'll go out later, after I've done some pages, and say howdy--maybe brush one or more of the critters, too. Gotta have me some of that horse-magic, every day. :)

I'm going full-speed on "The Bridegroom", the fourth Stone Creek novel, Gideon and Lydia's story. (You may remember our hero and heroine from Book 3, "A Wanted Man"--they were kids then. Now, they're all grown up. And it's really fun checking in with Wyatt and Sarah ("The Rustler"), too. I'm sure Sam and Maddie ("The Man from Stone Creek") will put in an appearance soon, as well. I guess you could call this a Stone Creek Reunion! While Gideon and Lydia are dealing with some very serious issues, I'm loving every minute I spend with them.

I am a lucky woman, getting paid to do this. :)

I've got some art projects going, too, as always. I'm finally getting the hang of using shrink plastic--the inkjet kind. I made twelve copies of my favorite photo of Dad, his horse Peanuts, and me (I was 2, so Dad would have been 28), and shrunk them down in the oven this morning, between journal entries. The batch came out well, and I'll be putting them on ATCs as a tribute edition to my favorite cowboy of all time. I sure do miss my daddy, and there's something very healing in doing these pieces. Most ATC editions are 9 cards--I usually make 12. These will go to family members, most likely, but if they turn out well, I'm going to offer #1 as part of a monthly prize drawing on the website. Stay tuned.

It's ridiculously late (for me), and I'm still in my pajamas. Someone is here to do computer stuff. Better get saddled up for another day's ride, before the herd scatters.

Make it a good day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

1 Horse, 1 Woman, 1 Rodeo

With the Canadian Wrangler up north on vacation (he gets back tonight), I've been feeding horses twice a day and, as I've said, it's been ever so good for me. Nothing like horse-energy, and getting hay in your hair, (and let's not even talk about what's on my shoes) to get you back in touch with the real world.

Saturday morning, I got a reminder of why it's important to shut the barn door. :) You guessed it--there was an escape. April, my gentlest horse, a sweet little Arabian mare, trotted right under that roll-up door, past the tractor, along the breezeway, through the tack room and right out the door made for humans! I was in hot pursuit the whole time, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. April was on the lam!

She wouldn't have gone far--about mid-way down the fence line, she stopped to graze and lord it over the other horses, who were plenty annoyed that she was out and they weren't. Since she's low "man" on the totem pole, as far as my little band is concerned, it was kind of nice to see her with the upper hand for once. I went back for a halter and lead rope, but she was having none of that. When all else fails, a pan of sweet feed will work. I went back for that, and she suckered for the oldest trick in the book. While she was munching, I slipped the halter over her head, let her eat a little more, and then led her back to the gate.

Well, the other horses were all clustered there--reminded me a little of reporters after some exciting thing happens--if they'd had microphones, they'd have been sticking them in her face. "What was it LIKE out there?" "Why did you fall for the old sweet-feed gambit?" (As if they wouldn't.) Etc.

In short, every time I tried to lead her through that gate--tricky, since I didn't want a mass break for the open country and that was a real possibility--she spooked. Hence, our own little rodeo. Finally, the rest of the band got bored and went off to eat the hay I'd put out for them earlier. Thank heaven.

I finally got April through the gate, slipped the halter off, and patted her on the neck.

"Good girl," I said. "You showed 'em a thing or two, didn't you?"

Friday, September 12, 2008


I returned late last night from Seattle--I had such a great time over there! The big event was dinner with a crew from my wonderful publishers, Harlequin's HQN imprint. We had a lovely time at Daniel's Broiler--I highly recommend the place if you're in the market for a good Seattle restaurant. My choice was the lobster salad. :) Dee--lish--IOUS!

I stayed at the Hotel Max--and that was quite the experience. This is a boutique hotel, I guess you'd call it, and the theme is 80s Rockstars, mostly--if not all--Seattle bands. Every door has a full-length black-and-white of someone from a grunge group, and there are eye charts at the end of each hallway. This produces a weird effect--I compared it to being caught inside Kurt Cobane's head. :)

Lest you think I'm panning this hotel, NOT SO. The service is sensational, and there is a great Sushi restaurant attached, called the Red Fin. Since I believe it's a very good thing to cut loose once in a while and do something different, I'm going on record as saying I had a great time at the Max.

I visited my favorite stores--Coldwater Creek and Chico's--and spent a few hours at the famed Pike Place Market, too. I was, once again, blown away by the variety of flowers on sale there--such colors. Although I love my country life, the one thing I envy about big cities is the availability of fresh flowers. (Guess I could grow some. I need one more thing to feed and water like I need a hole in the head.)

The dogs and cats were very glad to see me last night--lots of cuddling went on around here. This morning, my horses were waiting at the fence, glad to see me, but more interested in being fed.

Situation, normal.

It's good to get away. It's even better to come home again.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

To Seattle Today, But First...

There are horses to feed! :)

I've decided not to take my laptop along, but will do my best to blog on the hotel's business center computer--that worked in London.

I have a business dinner tonight, and I'm REALLY looking forward to connecting with three of my Harlequin buddies. Business or no business, they are always a fun bunch.

If all goes well, I'll be prowling the downtown Seattle Coldwater Creek in a few short hours. :) (If you're there, and you see a woman with flecks of hay in her hair, that will be me!)

Yesterday I received a cover for DYLAN, the second book in the trilogy that will start in February 09. (To paraphrase the signs I used to see at Shakey's Pizza, "If #2 has arrived, can #1 be far behind?") Ladies and gentlemen, let me go on official record here as saying that this cover is not only the best one I've ever had, it's the best one I've ever SEEN! I'd just love to show it to you right now--and will see that it is posted on the website ASAP, along with the others. Brace yourself for a major (and delicious) dose of Montana Cowboy, at his finest.

Be well, be happy and be grateful.

I'll be back to this blog by Thursday morning at the very latest.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's the Small Things...

For instance: I have been sick for days, locked in low gear. I've even complained about it on this blog--like you need THAT--and here's what I discovered. I was dehydrated. I've started drinking a LOT more water, and I already feel better.

As you may have guessed, I am extremely ambitious. I like to do BIG things. The problem with that, of course, (which should have been obvious to me all along, as it probably is to you) is that the whole system of things seems to be geared toward starting small and growing. The entire universe apparently came from an impossibly dense ball of something, no larger than a tennis ball! Oaks rise from acorns; they're seedlings at first, but they slowly send their roots down deep into the good Earth, and take their time spreading out their branches. Books are written a single word at a time. A painting begins with one stroke of a pencil or brush...

You can see where I'm going with this, I'm sure. And just in case you think I'm preaching, I'm not--not to you, anyway. But I've got plenty to say to myself! Instead of looking at the enormous whole of some task or project, I'm trying to see the small steps I can take, today, to head in that direction.

As an artist, I tend to be drawn to big canvases. But it's my ATCs, little 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 cards, that actually get done--and often inspire ideas for a larger piece.

And now--I have horses to feed. They're certainly not small things, but I'm including them here anyway. :) I LOVE going out to the barn in the early morning, love the way they wait for me as I approach, nickering for their special sweet-feed supplement, served in round plastic pans. One, usually Traveler or April, the newest and shyest members of the herd, usually comes up to me for a nuzzle and some ear-scratching.

Life is so very good. And I'm going to pay more attention to the little things, because that's where the real action is.

I'm off to Seattle tomorrow for a meeting, and I will try to blog. If that's not possible for some reason, I'll be back on September 12.

And now--gotta go. The horses are waiting, and none too patiently. :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Feeding Horses & Other Worthy Enterprises

The sun is just about to rise, and I'm looking forward to heading out to the barn to feed the horses and have a morning chat with them. Horse energy is a very special thing and, of course, different from dog or cat energy.

I took off to have a haircut yesterday (badly needed) and so I have some catching up to do today. I did manage to write ten pages--but I have yet to get Gideon to that wedding! He and I are trying to figure out how to go about it. :)

I've been fighting off a cold or a case of the flu for weeks--yesterday, it almost tackled me. I outran it though, and hope to do so again today. Obviously, the horses have to be fed, whether I feel like doing it or not. And that chapter must be written, if I'm to have the book done before I leave on my "Rustler" tour September 30, which is my goal. It's certainly going to be a challenge--this is my FOURTH full-length book this year, after all--but I'm asking for extra Grace to get it done.

What would I do without Grace?

Perish the thought.

Have a great weekend, ladies and gentlemen. I definitely intend to--though it might involve hot toddies or Nyquil. :)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Linda Strikes Gold!

I went out to feed the horses this morning--turned out, the Canadian Wrangler had already done it, and this two hours before he's supposed to get on an airplane. (That's dedication, ladies and gentlemen.) Anyway, since I was out and about, I decided to poke around in the shop, looking for my massive collection of rubber stamps, etc.

Well, what to my wondering eyes should appear? (I'm doing Christmas ATCs, bear with me). I found a photo album my mother kept for me as I was growing up--a treasure--and it's been missing for YEARS. Just plain missing in action. I caught a flash of something red in the top of a box, and there it was!!!! I'm telling you, this cowgirl all but danced and shouted "Hallelujah!"

Now I can scan all those pictures, report cards, and other things--including a yellowed clipping from a movie magazine. I asked Michael Landon (I ADORED him, and still do) a question, and "he" answered (yeah, right), but I was convinced at the time. I wanted to know--badly enough to write a letter, no less--whether he was 25 or 26. And how often he visited his children. I was heartbroken over his divorce from the first wife (as far as I know), Dodie. I've often wondered what ever happened to her. :) I hope she remarried, and is very happy.

It's hard when heroes disappoint, whether you're 12 or 60. That's why I'll never disappoint you. You can count on my heroes doing the right thing. If that makes them predictable, so be it.

Now, I've got to catch up with Gideon. He's planning to steal a bride (along with her two great-aunts and a housekeeper), five minutes before she says "I do" to the Wrong Man.

This, I've got to see.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Return of the Barn Goddess

I seem to be locked in low gear today, even though I got up at the regular time (around 5) and did all the usual things--dogs out, dogs in, dogs out again, etc. Coffee perking. Journaling and Morning Pages. To-do list done. Now to do the things ON that list. :)

I finally wrestled Chapter 1 of "The Bridegroom", Stone Creek #4, Gideon's story, into the shape I wanted. So today, I'll polish it and go on to draft Chapter 2. I've been working this job for a lot of years, and it STILL surprises me that Chapter 1 nearly always presents a special challenge--i.e., everybody on stage and headed in the right direction.

Larry, aka the Canadian Wrangler, is off to visit family in B.C. tomorrow, so I'm back in the horse-feedin' game, since the other ranch hand, Jodi, is still helping her family bring in this year's hay crop. (I told you we was country.) I went out this morning and helped out, to make sure I knew just how the crew (horses) wants things done. :) I've been so busy lately that I haven't spent any time with the horses, and it felt real good to be out there in the barn and pasture again. Even though it's early, there's a tinge of fall in the air--I love fall.

On the art front, I've been making ATCs like crazy. I'm working on an Advent Calendar now, with a card for each of the 24 days. I'll put backs on them, when they're finished, and ribbon loops so I can hang them on a table tree, one every day. (I'm still a kid when it comes to Christmas.) I'll be at the National Finals Rodeo for some of those days, but I can hang up a gob of them when I get home.

Now, I'm starting to ramble. Best get in the saddle before the herd scatters.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My Weekend

My weekend was a personal artfest! I collaged. I painted journal pages. I recorded ideas in my sketchbook, so all those things I want to try wouldn't get away from me. I visited BOTH Michael's and Spokane Art Supply. I printed images on shrink plastic and shrunk them. :) (Tres cool!)

Lesson learned re: shrink plastic: don't darken the ink, as the heat makes the colors MORE intense. With polymer clay transfers, which are reversed and printed on t-shirt paper, the opposite is true.

I feel restored, ready--no, EAGER--to dive back into "The Bridegroom". Although my art would seem like a time-waster to the average observer, I find it sparks all kinds of ideas, perhaps because it gives the part of my brain where words live a good rest. I have a notebook brimming with material for the Texas McKettricks, a three-book series of contemporary westerns I will begin writing about the time my Montana Creeds series hits the stands. And almost all of these ideas came to mind after I'd been gluing or cutting or painting or whatever.

As I've mentioned, art is a form of prayer for me, too. And it's training me to be a beginner, not such a perfectionist. (Hello. Most of my art is terrible. Of COURSE. Because I'm either totally new to the materials, or I have been away from them for a long time.) When I first lived in Scottsdale, I had a beautful studio, and I did a lot of art--collage, acrylics, some polymer clay. Then I moved to the horse property outside of Cave Creek, and there was no place for stacks of canvases, jars of paint, etc. I tried a couple of times, but it made such a colossal mess, I finally just gave up. (And invited another bout of depression, because I needed that outlet.) Now, thank heaven, I will again have a studio, where I can make all the messes I want!

My perfectionistic side says, "If you can't do it right the first time, why do it at all?"

Stupid perfectionistic side.

When I started writing books, I wasn't very good at that, either. (Oh, I had a certain degree of natural talent all right, but talent isn't worth the proverbial hill of beans if you don't develop it.) How did I learn to write? By WRITING. And then writing some more. By allowing myself to be bad at it until I developed the necessary skills and experience to create something people would want to read. (Thank you.)

Once, years ago, when I had just moved, I came across an old manuscript I'd written while I was learning--I can't remember the title, if it ever had one, or even what the story was about. My friend Debbie Macomber was visiting, and I read parts of that terrible book to her. We laughed till we literally cried. (I wish I'd kept that bad manuscript. I could have read passages aloud to aspiring writers, when I speak at book signings, workshops, etc., and given them all kinds of new hope!)

As for art, it's nice to be a beginner at something. Nobody really expects me to do it well--least of all, me!

Still, the perfectionist has its place in the scheme of things. It demands the best possible writing I can manage at any given time, and that's good. (I just wish it would shut up about the art. :))

And that's how it is, this fine, sunny morning, in Spokane, Washington. I hope things are well with you, too, wherever you may be. I hope you'll get out some old dream, shake off the dust, and give it another shot. Let yourself be terrible at it until you've learned enough, through the process, to do it well.

Be blessed, this day and always.