Thursday, July 30, 2009

Night Blog

It's a little after seven, and I have retired to my lovely hotel room here in Oklahoma City for a quiet evening of writing and resting.

I normally get up very early, but this morning was an exception. I slept in, I was so comfortable, and nearly missed the delivery of my room service breakfast. I did a radio interview at 8:45 this morning, and then my friend Carol Smith (from Nancy Berland Public Relations) drove me to Norman, where I did a TV interview at Riverwind Casino. (YES!) It was fun, but I didn't win.

On the way back, we stopped by a Super Target and I bought coffee, a mug, etc. They never give you enough coffee in hotels. :) I also managed a stop at Coldwater Creek, which is one of my favorites.

I hope to see my aunt Arlee and cousin Becky tomorrow--they live in Ada and love horses even more than I do.

And so, to Blue River, to see what Tate and Libby are up to.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tweets and Twitters and Facebooks

My goodness, life is complicated for the technically challenged. Every day, in-box is jammed with invitations to be somebody's friend, somewhere. Some of the names are familiar--my brother's, for instance--but many are strangers. All I need to do is upload a picture, design a background, install a soundtrack...

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little...

Until this trilogy is finished, I probably won't be facebooking (is that a verb?) or tweeting.

I'm still in Cheyenne--my book signing is tonight at 6, at Barnes and Noble. I hope you'll come by if you're close enough. Tomorrow, I head on to Oklahoma City, another of my favorite places to visit.

I'll spend the day writing--fine by me. I'm loving this story, although it has been one heck of a steer to rope and wrestle to the ground, to put it in rodeo terminology. Ever the optimist, I figure this means it's extra special good.

Tweet on, twitterers. I'll catch up with you later.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Early Morning TV

I arrived at KWGN Channel 5 at six this morning, made up and ready to talk books. It's always fun to visit a news room--I get a particular kick out of the weather person standing in front of a blank blue or green screen, showing where the high-pressure areas are, and so forth. It took me a long time to realize that the commentator can see the temperatures, etc., on the monitor. :) Duh.

I chatted with Ann Lauricello, who has interviewed me before. She's a gracious professional and makes the whole experience very easy.

After the interview, my friend Debbie Korrell and I stopped off at the Village Inn for breakfast. I'll be shooting the breeze with Dave Chaffen on KGAB AM 650 at 9:07--how's that for precise? Once that's done, I'll be working on "Tate" and taking the occasional shopping break. :)

Cheyenne is calming down, since Frontier Days officially ended yesterday. One of the promoters told me they have two weeks off before they start planning for 2010, and I don't doubt it. It's mind-boggling to think of all the work that goes into this famous rodeo.

It's a good one, folks. If you've never been to Cheyenne Frontier Days, you ought to give it a try.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dateline: Cheyenne Frontier Days

This is not only the first chance I've had to write this blog, my friends, it is the first chance I've had to get online. I wanted to send off a few words to you about my experiences before getting back to work on "Tate".

I attended the rodeo yesterday--it is one of the most famous in the world--"The Daddy of Them All"--and a lot of the riders' names I heard were names I recognized from the National Finals in Vegas.

The weather was perfect--at least in the morning. Partly cloudly, partly sunny, and not too hot.

In the early afternoon, my friends from Barnes and Noble, Linda and Joann, set me up in a tent-type place to sign books. It was a lot of fun, and I saw some special friends--most notably Kim Gates and her handsome family of cowboys. Little Landon (he's four and as handsome a cowboy as you've ever run cross) and I have a lot of fun visiting. We met up in Denver, at a book signing, and have stayed in touch.

I sold quite a few books and met some readers, old and new, but one thing about this business--it will keep you humble if your head starts to swell. A popular band was supposed to play as soon as I was finished, so a lot of couples in western clothes crowded into the place, drinking beer and politely waiting for me to leave. :) One guy asked me where the ATM was--I'd spotted it earlier and pointed with a grin--and a very nice lady even went so far as to explain her disappointment that I was there and not the band. They had charted their vacation online, she said, and this was their anniversary, and they expected to find a band and some dancing and instead they got me. I wished her a happy anniversary and told her the band would start up soon, but she looked uncertain. :)

Now lest you think anything about that gets me down, you're so wrong. I smile every time I think about it--makes a much better story and besides, it's the truth.

Here's another truth. I was dead-tired from travel the day before, etc., and a pounding rainstorm started up, so I skipped the Kenny Chesney concert. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I had free seats, and I skipped it. Kenny's on my iPod, after all, and anyway, the older I get, the less star-struck I am, and the less I like huge, noisy crowds.

I came back here to this lovely hotel and had a nice dinner and went to bed early.

It was heaven.

On Tuesday, July 28, "The Bridegroom" comes out. I'll be doing a special launch signing at Barnes and Noble, here in Cheyenne, starting at 6 pm. If you happen to be riding this part of the trail, I'd love to see you there.

Today is a pretty quiet day. I plan to spend most of it right here in the hotel, working on "Tate". I'm bubbling with new ideas--in fact, I've got way more ideas than time, actually, so I'd better get saddled up and onto the range.

More tomorrow. Hopefully, it will amount to more than my staying in the hotel all day.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tomato Report

My deck garden continues to delight me--but I must confess that my Tomato Tree doesn't look like the ones on the infomercials. :) (Not yet, anyway.) It's still relatively early, so the tomatoes are small, though plentiful, and those that have ripened have immediately been eaten--by me. There have been some green peppers (2) and several yellow squashes, which are delicious.

I have a special journal set aside for gardening notes--things I want to remember next year--things I've learned. Things that worked, things that didn't.

My zinnias are just gorgeous--I plan to raise a lot more of them in the future. I love cut flowers, and zinnias last and last--and last.

I continue to work on "Tate", and I'll be heading out on my tour for "The Bridegroom" on Friday.

Busy, busy, busy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Bridegroom

I've been so busy writing "Tate"--what an experience this book has been!--that I haven't given a lot of thought to the release of my new book, The Bridegroom. It will be in book stores everywhere next Tuesday, July 28.

If you've read The Man from Stone Creek, A Wanted Man, and The Rustler, you'll recognize Gideon Yarbro, Rowdy and Wyatt's younger brother, but fair warning: he is all grown up and definitely a man, not a boy. If you've never read any of the Stone Creek books, you might try this one. It's full of action, adventure and, of course, romance of the sizzing variety.

Wait until you see this cover. It is absolutely wonderful.

Today, I'm working hard to wrap up the new book. It has sure been a challenge, but cowgirls never give up. Plus, it's a great story with great characters. I'm loving it, even if I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't change to the title....

At times, it seems the perfect title would be: The Neverending Story.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Little Visitors

This morning, about to upend a pot of dead marigolds (it's a long, sad story) into the compost bin, I spied, spied I (okay, sometimes I just can't help playing with words like that) the merest flash of movement. I've been hoping for earthworms--it's a composting thing--although not the Giant Palouse Earthworm that has been on the local news lately. Instead, the little visitor turned out to be the smallest frog I have ever seen.

As for the Giant Palouse, well, this critter is supposedly three feet long and spits at its prey. They showed a sample of the thing in a huge zip-lock bag, and we are talkin' ugly here, folks. Supposedly, there are real scientists involved here, the Palouse valley being, among other things, the home of Washington State University, but I've got to tell you, I'm skeptical. It sounds like a snipe-hunt to me.

However, if I should open my compost bin some fine summer morning and come face-to-snout with the Giant Palouse, well...

I guess toes up in front of the compost-bin is as good a way for a gardener to go as any.


Make it a good day. Heck, haul off and make it a good WEEK.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Sacred Ordinary

The sky is blue-gold, the trees a rich green--and everything, backlit with July sunshine, seems to have a halo. Few things are lovelier than a horse standing in a pasture, rimmed in light.

Or a hummingbird, almost beak to nose with a Yorkie. :)

I am afraid I overlook the sacred far too often, just because it is ordinary.

Here are just some of the things that are sacred to me:

The devotion and trust I see in my dogs' eyes whenever we look at each other.

Seeds. They're ALL magical, just like the beans Jack planted in the fable. I still can't get over it. In the short span of a season, a corn-stalk grows from a single kernel, loaded with MORE corn, and that, obviously, is just one example.

The healing process. It is the natural inclination of a body to heal when injured or ill. Amazing.

The moon and all its mystery. Call me flaky, but when the moon is full, things get crazy. :)

And those are only a FEW of my favorite things...

I'm taking tomorrow off from this blog, but I'll be back by Monday. At the latest. (Something might happen that I HAVE to tell you about immediately.)


Be kind. You never know what sorrows and struggles people are hiding behind a brave smile.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Great Escape

Last night, after dinner, I was writing away in my downstairs office--the door was open to the yard, so the dogs and cats could go in and out. I had been busy for a while when I got one of those twinges all moms know so well--it was way too quiet.

I went outside to investigate. No dogs. No cats.

It's a big yard, so I went around the corner nearest my office, thinking they might be sniffing the perimeters, one of their favorite things to do, and the driveway gate was wide open.

I don't know why I didn't panic--these animals are the only reason I have an 8 foot fence enclosing my back yard. I adore them. I called their names, and Bernice immediately trotted into sight up on the main driveway, her tiny body rimmed in the golden light of a setting sun. She was so pleased with herself, stubby little tail twitching. I started toward her, called "Where's Sadie?" (As if the Yorkie would reply.)

Larry, the Canadian Wrangler, replied. He said, "Right here." The two of them came into sight then, man and beagle. Sadie, like Bernice, was wagging her tail and smiling, so delighted that she'd been on an adventure. They'd gone to visit Mary Ann and Larry, next door--we often drop by for coffee and a chat, so they know the way. Thank heaven they weren't hurt or lost--ChaCha, the cat, had not gone far from the gate, and Jitterbug, her sister, was inside the whole time. She missed the whole break-out. :) (This cat, we swear, travels between dimensions. We've all had the experience of searching high and low for her, with no luck, and then seen her simply appear again, clearly amused by all the fuss.)

A visiting service man left the gate open. The Wrangler will make sure THAT never happens again. All's well that ends well, after all.

One more story before I go--Bernice (the Yorkie) likes to lay on the deck at the top of the steps, in the cooler hours of the morning and early evening. Of course my container garden is mostly on the deck, and the zinnias seem to attract hummingbirds...anyway, a flurry of movement attracted my attention, and I looked out to see Bernice and a tiny bird, virtually face to face. The hummingbird hovered not more than a foot in front of Bernice's nose--she stayed absolutely still--it really looked as though they were sizing each other up, but there was no fear on either side. Just curiosity. What are you? they both seemed to wonder. Naturally, by the time I grabbed my camera, the moment was over.

It was priceless.

Miracles are everywhere.

Be blessed. Be brave. Everything will be okay.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Houston, We Have Tomatoes!

There they were, this morning, nestled right up against the thick stalk of my potted tomato plant, red and lovely--and delicious! (Yes, I ate them. I couldn't resist!) The plant itself is huge and lush--the fruits are fairly small, though. I'm wondering if this is normal, when the harvesting first begins, or if I planted a cherry variety instead of full-sized. You'd think I'd know--I was raised on garden vegetables, after all--but that was a long (long) time ago. All this is new to me, for all practical intents and purposes.

Everything is thriving, except my zuchini. Something wrong there--they get just so big, and then they shrivel. I have all kinds of notes for next year's gardening--do's and don'ts--do plant marigolds around other plants. They will keep the bugs away. Don't put so many bedding plants into the same planter--when they expand, they need the space. Do plant herbs in separate pots. Don't overwater. (This may be what's wrong with my squash.)

This is the pattern, I guess, with new things we're just learning about--gardening, in my case--and things we've been doing for a long time--writing. I've learned a lot from "Tate"; as I've said, this is probably my best book so far. It is also my most challenging.

My friends are all heading out to the big Romance Writers of America conference in Washington, D.C. soon. I will miss seeing them, but it's lovely to be able to stay home and write, too.

The rain is past. It's a beautiful morning.

Be blessed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weather and Zinnias

I have been known to complain about storms (insert smile here), but the rain we're getting now is truly a blessing. It's a fire-on-the-hearth, soup-bubbling-on-the-stove kind of day, cozy and cool.

I have transplanted some of my zinnias into the flowerbed, and they are already blooming. Zinnias are hardy, and very colorful. I cut three of the potted ones this morning and put them in a small vase--they are so beautiful. It amazes me that something so complex can come from a tiny seed, and in a matter of mere weeks. Looking at them reminds me that miracles are not rare at all--they are, in fact, so commonplace that we often don't even notice them.

How many times have I passed a bed of flowers in my life, and never stopped to appreciate the colors, the textures, the sheer variety? Not to mention the ability to perpetuate themselves indefinitely.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

In some ways, all the flowers that have ever been on Earth, or ever will be, are here right now. Ditto every other living thing with the power to reproduce.

Most amazing of all? Some people actually believe this is accidental. Perhaps they ought to take a much closer look at a zinnia....

Friday, July 10, 2009

The White Rabbit and Me

"I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!" That is the refrain that runs through my head almost constantly, these days--I write and write. I LOVE this book. And yet I wonder sometimes if I will EVER finish it. It is my most challenging book so far, I do believe, and yet I suspect it is also one of my very best.

We are having the most amazingly beautiful summer here in Spokane. Thanks to my modest foray into the world of gardening (and memories of last winter's blizzard), I'm appreciating every sunny day, every rainy day, and every day that falls somewhere in between. There is something so calming about tending plants, watering, and fertilizing and weeding--before dinner, I like to sit on the deck among my lovely plants sip a glass of wine.

I haven't had much time for art, regretably, but I do manage to fit in something most days--even if it's only preparing a background for a future piece or an ATC. I've begun trading cards with my great-niece (by marriage), Karmen. She's a lovely, bright, capable girl, and a very talented artist. It's so much fun to swap with Karmen--her cards are GREAT--and that's just one more reason I love this hobby. Karmen is 12. ATCs are fun for all ages. In fact, I'd like to trade cards with my other nieces and nephew--Chyanne, Sydney and Jerome. (Anna, I will drop some blank cards in the mail for the kids. Next time we get together, I'll be ready to trade.)

I faithfully TIVO an arts-and-crafts show called "That's Clever"--Sadie, Bernice, Cha-Cha, Jitterbug and I usually watch it in bed at night--and I learn something from just about every segment. The other day, a man used parts of one of those net bags you get with onions or garlic (and lots of other things) at the grocery store to create texture on a canvas. He used gel medium, but it works with gesso, too, and modeling paste. I used gesso--putting a thick coat on an 8x8 wooden support and then laying the netting in the gesso. I waited maybe 20 minutes, then carefully peeled away the netting. Supercool texture this morning! I'm letting it dry for at least another day before adding any paint. I swear, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning when I try something new like this--while the dogs are out doing their business in the yard, I sneak into my studio to see how last night's experiment turned out. :)

Since I haven't been smoking, food tastes better, and I've been trying out some of my herbs in different ways. Last night, I ate yellow squash for supper--literally fresh from the vine and grown by me. It was delicious!

Well, I'd better go back down the rabbit hole and see what my characters are up to.

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Such is my fixation

I have begun to order plants--and planters--for next year. This gardening bug seems to be here to stay.

The plants are roses--three of the lovely, deep red Veterans Honor rose, a great favorite of my dad's. My stepmother sent me one of these roses last fall, but alas, it did not survive that wicked December weather. I tried hard to resurrect it, but it's not going to happen. Come fall (or spring, depending on the planting instructions), I will try again. I also ordered English roses in pink and yellow, along with several varieties bred to thrive in containers. I love English roses because they are so fat and thick--they look like my beloved peonies, only they bloom a lot longer.

I'm composting now and, as you know if you've been following this blog, learning to cook with some of the herbs I'm growing. I planted the tea and coffee seeds I mentioned yesterday--and will now eagerly anticipate the day they sprout! I was thrilled when my zinnia seeds popped up, and now they are actually blooming--they are not the same variety Dad used to grow, but they are very beautiful. I may still transplant them into the flower bed, now that they are strong enough to stand up to the sprinkler system.

Such is my fixation with gardening.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Seeds and Sprouts

I actually have a yellow crookneck squash almost ready to harvest, and my Swiss chard is growing before my very eyes. There will soon be tomatoes aplenty, along with zuchinni and eggplant and green peppers. I have a regular herb garden growing right on the deck--it's great fun to make tea or add dill to fresh fish and rosemary to chicken. (Now that I'm Not Smoking--okay, I can't resist boring you with updates once in a while--food is much more appealing. I'm trying my best to eat fresh, whole foods and to experiment more.)

I bought some tea and coffee seeds online--no, I'm not starting a plantation on my deck. :) I just thought it would be interesting to raise a coffee or tea plant--it's certainly different. The tea seeds are large, dark brown, and flat on one side. The instructions say to soak them in water for 24 hours and plant them with the flat side down. I have the pot ready and can hardly wait until late this afternoon, when I'll pass the 24 hour mark.

The coffee seeds look like pale coffee beans, and they also had to soak. According to the instructions, germination takes 6 to 8 weeks, but, hey, I can wait. :)

It's time to water the crops and get back to the book.

More tomorrow.

Monday, July 06, 2009

One Lazy Blogger

Today, I'm a lazy blogger.

Or maybe that's a tired blogger.

Or both. In any case, I slept in, I'm still in my p.j.'s, and I'm writing on my laptop. That's probably more information than you wanted or needed, right there.

I've been working all weekend, and at very odd hours, too. I think this book (The Texas McKettricks: Tate) may be the most challenging story I've ever written--and quite possibly, the best.

Don't worry--Independence Day did not go entirely uncelebrated around here. Mary Ann and Larry invited me down for a nice supper of cold chicken and all the good fixin's that go along with that. Our weather was beautiful, right through the Fourth--then along came the rain, cooling things down and blessing the dry ground. I faithfully water my patio garden, but the plants LOVE a good rain just the same.

And so do I.

Within reason.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Blog Challenged

Maybe it's the glorious weather. Maybe it's "Tate" and the rest of the Texas McKettricks. Maybe it's that I'm not you-know-whatting anymore. Yesterday I missed the blog entirely, and today I'm late, so there you have it. Blog-challenged. Not exactly breaking news, but you see, when I miss a post, my sister Sally gets concerned. She decides I'm in trouble and immediately begins mounting a rescue effort. :) So for her sake, and for any of you who might have so much free time that you engage in similar worries (smile here), I'm just fine.

This morning, I woke up at 4:30, which is usual for me, and took the dogs outside, brought them upstairs for their breakfast, and then sat at my table staring into space. The dogs always settle down on their cushy beds and go back to sleep once they've chowed down--and it looked like a fine idea to me. (The sleeping, not the chowing down.) So back upstairs I went to my own cushy bed and slept nearly four more hours. Luxury.

I'll be writing tonight, but that's okay. I'll be in good company--dogs and cats and McKettricks!

I'll be back on Monday. Enjoy your Independence Day and be safe.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Bridegroom

Yesterday I received copies of my August book, "The Bridegroom", and once again, I was blown away by the great cover. (Harlequin's art department, and the fabulous Margie Miller, are the very best.) Margie was also responsible for the Creed covers, which I adore.

The same day I leave on my tour, July 24, this installment of the historical Stone Creek series (Gideon's story) will hit the stores. Even though I've had 80-plus books released over the course of my long career, the thrill is as big as ever.

In the meantime, though, things are poppin' down there in Blue River, Texas, where the new crew of McKettricks hang their hats. Who knows what Tate and Libby will be up to today. Just when I think I know what those two are about to do, off they go in a whole new direction. All my characters are unpredictable, but the McKettricks work harder at it than most. :)