Friday, March 31, 2006


It's Friday! It's the last day of the month! And I've drawn not one, but TWO names from the fish bowl!

KimW and Wendy will both receive signed copies of WED UNDER WESTERN SKIES. Please send your address to me at and I'll mail your book out to you.

I'm mailing five copies of HIS SECONDHAND WIFE to the RWA office today for the final judging. Whoo hoo! Also my critique bud who moved to Chicago is arriving this afternoon for a week's stay, so I won't be getting much sleep for a while. I have a batch of assorted scones in the freezer for tomorrow morning.

Congrats to the winners!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lion or lamb?

Rain rain rain rain rain in Nebraska today, and boy do we need it! We could do without the tornado warnings, though, which are as much a sign of spring as daffodils and robins, though not nearly as welcome.

I saw a robin in my back yard the other day, and took it as my own personal sign. We do live near a huge recreational area and lake and also along a main creek called the Papio so we see many varieties of birds all year. On Monday I saw sea gulls! Now that's unheard of except that they migrate of course, and we're near water and trees. A few years ago I saw a huge blue heron sitting in a tree, and it was one of the oddest things I'd ever seen. I had to go look it up in a bird book. Those just aren't Midwestern birds, but it's delightful to spot unlikely species enroute.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Answering "what does the RITA pin look like?"

I looked all over the RWA site the other day for a picture of the RITA statue, but coulnd't find one. I had this tiny little b&w drawing on my monitor and scanned it so you could get an idea what the pin looks like. It's a miniature version of the award statue. Finalists pins are in silver and winners are gold.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Terrific Tuesday!

A terrific day indeed. I got flowers fom my agent, rec'd my finalist packet via FedEx and now have my second official RITA finalist pin, but I also wrote 15 really good pages -- including a yummy kiss.

I'm enjoying reading your comments about what hooks you into a story.

What are you reading this week?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And what is it about a book that grabs you right off and doesn't let you put it down? Beginning premise? Characters? Emotional impact?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Back to work....

My New York editor called me this morning to congratulate me on the RITA nomination. She was on vacation last week so I left her a message on Friday. She said the London office is delighted too. She really loved the book and was pleased it got recognition.

I've been getting emails trickling in as authors hear the news, so it stretches out the fun. Now I have to get serious and work. I have a deadline, and hey -- all of you want more new books!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Carolyn & Cheryl

As promised, here is a photo of me with my dear friend Charolyn Davidson.

Guess how I celebrated?

Okay, so I went shoe shopping. Are you familiar with DSW? We have one here in an upscale new shopping center called Village Point. There are more pair of shoes in one building than you've ever seen in your life!! And -- get ready -- I didn't buy from the clearance racks! I know, my Scotch grandmother would have a fit of apoplexy, but this was a special occasion.

I have two new pair and two more picked out for next time, including a gold pair to wear to an awards ceremony.
Can't wait for tomorrow - it's Sunday and I can wear new shoes!

Friday, March 24, 2006


I got one of the most exciting calls of the year this morning!!

HIS SECONDHAND WIFE is a RITA finalist! For anyone who isn't familiar, the RITA award is the Oscar of Romance Writers of America. It's named after Rita Clay Estrada, the woman who founded the organization. I called my agent, but my editor is on vacation, so I had to leave her a message.

A nomination like this is a great spirit booster! Whoo hoo!

Advance Copies!

I got my author copies of WED UNDER WESTERN SKIES this week.

I want to give one away!

As usual, each blog post is one entry to win.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Help women receive free breast cancer screenings

Click the pink ribbon to fund mammograms for underprivileged women.
You can click every day if you like!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Let it Snow!

It's the first day of Spring, but it's WINTER in the Heartland! We have a snow day, with no school and interstate closings all over Nebraska. The neighborhood kids are building their first snow fort of the year and having a great time of it.

It's a good afternoon to be inside with a cup of coffee and my favorite decorating magazine. I did work this AM, but that's difficult with the family home and the household a buzz.

Baby, it cold outside!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Get $5 off a $15 Purchase at

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Proceed to checkout. The exclusive members-only coupon code MARCH15 will automatically appear in the coupon code box located at the bottom left of your shopping cart. Press "APPLY DISCOUNT."
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Tip: If coupon code box is blank, enter coupon code MARCH15, using all capital letters, and press "APPLY DISCOUNT."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thinking of writing a book?

Writing a book is hard work and getting it published is no guarantee. If you’re thinking you can write better than the author who wrote the last book you read so you’re going to be published tomorrow, think again. If you’ve never written before I’m pretty sure that you don’t write as well as the author whose book you just finished. I wrote four books before I learned how to write to sell and finally sold one.

Some people think their book deserves to get published because they had such a wonderful idea or because their mother loves it. They spent a whole two months working on it. I’ve actually had people say to me, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, so I’m going to do it when I get a few free weekends.” That’s like saying, “I’ve always wanted to play pro football, so I’m going to scrimmage with Tom Brady on my next summer vacation.”

Writing is an art. Art takes training, sacrifice and dedication. Of course writing involves talent, but much of writing is learnable, and the learnable parts require study and self-evaluation. To write well enough to sell in today’s tough market, you must learn the craft.

There are a million books out there to help you learn to write, so how do you choose? The books that writers find valuable are as varied as the writers themselves. I started at the library and read everything my local branch had on fiction writing, then I expanded to monthly periodicals and purchasing how-to books.

If this is going to be more than a hobby, you’ll need to learn the business. If you want your work published, you must commit to both the craft and to learning about publishing.

First you need to figure out what genre you’re writing in. Genre is a marketing tool used to distinguish types of stories. Go to a bookstore and compare which books are the most like yours to figure out where your books will be shelved. There’s so much to learn. How do you get help deciphering all this stuff?

Find a national support organization for your genre. Browse their websites. There are national groups such as Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Western Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime. You might find a local statewide writers' organization.

Remember: You are not looking for a writing group. You are looking for an organization designed for advocacy and information. Most have membership fees on national or local levels, and you must consider this an investment in your career. Dues are tax deductible. Membership provides you with market updates, editor and agent information, submission guidelines, online mailing lists, conference information, writers groups and critique groups, just to name a few benefits.

I wouldn’t have been published when I was if I hadn’t found Heartland Writers Group and learned the techniques of writing with the support and encouragement of fellow writers.

Here are more reasons to join a local chapter:
* Market updates
* Contests
* Local writing retreats
* Monthly support meetings
* Critique groups
* Online support and brainstorming
* Teaching programs by professional writers
* Research help and tips
* Yearly goal setting program
* Conference information
* Editor and agent tips
* Submission guidelines
* Recognition for writing achievements
* Other people who have as many characters in their heads as you
and therefore don’t find you a bit odd

My favorite books:

How To:

* Techniques of The Selling Writer, Dwight V. Swain
University of Oklahoma Press: Norman ISBN # 0-8061-1191-7
* Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass, Writer’s Digest, ISBN # 0-89879-995-3
* The Complete Writer’s Guide to heroes & Heroines, Tami Cowden, ISBN #1-58065-024-4
* Building Believable Characters, Marc McCutcheon, Writer’s Digest
ISBN # 0-89879-683-0
* Creating Characters, How To Build Story People, Dwight V. Swain, Writer’s Digest
ISBN #0-89879-417-X


* Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
* Random House Dictionary of the English Language, unabridged edition
* Roget’s International Thesaurus


* Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, Henriette Anne Klauser, ISBN # 0-06-254490-X

Thursday, March 16, 2006

EXCERPT: First Kiss

She set down her cup, grateful for the change of topic. “I can make my own way.”
Jack lowered his mug. He wasn’t three feet away from her, and in the glow of the lamps, eyes as dark as his coffee met hers. Her attention wavered to the pronounced bow of his upper lip beneath his mustache, the fullness of his lower lip, the crisp lines of his chin and cheeks.
He was studying her, as well, and she wondered what he noticed, if he found her features half as fascinating.
“I appreciate your independence,” he said. “I do. But it wouldn’t set easy with me if I didn’t see you home safely. Your father might think less of me if I didn’t.”
So his attention was for her father’s sake? “My father has allowed me to travel freely since I was…well, for a long time.
“I’m not questioning his judgment. I’m just telling you why I can’t let you go alone. Perhaps if it was daylight.”
Obviously there was no dissuading him.
“Kin me’n Bitsy ride on Miss Renlow’s wagon with her, Pa?”
“That would be up to Miss Renlow.” He stood and rewrapped the remaining two biscuits.
She nodded at Daniel.
He grinned and went to the box he’d placed in the corner and scooped up the kitten.
“You know you have to set him loose to do his business,” Jack told him.
Daniel shot out the door quick as lightning.
Charmaine picked up their cups and Daniel’s milk glass. “Thank you for the refreshments.”
He nodded.
“I can wash those up while the water’s hot.”
“No need. I’ll do them in the morning with our breakfast dishes.”
She walked toward the door and he followed. The night was still and quiet. Daniel’s voice came from the field nearby, where he was coaxing the kitten. “Do you have much stock?”
“A milk cow, a few hens and my horses. I think I’ll get a couple of calves to fatten.”
She picked up her gloves and apron where she’d left them on a crate and started toward her wagon. “Daddy might have a few to sell.”
“You sound like a little girl when you call him that.”
Charmaine clutched her apron to herself, unsure whether or not to be embarrassed. “I’m certainly not a little girl.”
“No, you’re not.”
Now embarrassment tinged her neck and cheeks with warmth. “You say it like I’m long in the tooth.”
His deep full laughter surprised her, but it started a glow in her chest, as well. “And you say that like you’re a horse,” he replied.
“It’s true I’m perhaps a smidgeon past first bloom.” The admission cost her.
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“Because you don’t notice at all?”
“I notice.”
She’d lost track of what they were talking about. They stood beside the wagon, now, but she forgot to turn and climb the wheel to the seat. Jack stood so close, she could see the reflection of the moonlight in his eyes.
She didn’t know who moved first. Neither did she know if he’d been moving to assist her, but she stepped forward at the same time he did. His arms came around her to steady her, and she grabbed hold of his shirt where it tucked into his trousers at his side, as though she was falling.
Instead, she used it as leverage to pull herself up at the same instant he leaned forward, and their lips met in a warm, almost frantic crush. The brush of his mustache against her upper lip was a silky delight she hadn’t expected, his mouth a warm inviting haven she was delighted to learn.
She barely knew him. She knew his kiss was a little bit wild, more than a little bit heart stopping. She’d kissed Wayne on several occasions, but it had been nothing like this…nothing.
Charmaine untrapped the arm holding her folded apron, letting the bundle fall to the ground. Never had she experienced the desire to affix herself to a man and never let go. Never had she wished she was more educated on intimate matters between men and women so she’d know exactly what was happening and what could happen. Never had she been aware of this sharp rush of joy or felt a prickling of tears behind her eyes because of the confusing emotions.
Jack’s arms were strong, his chest hard, but she fit against him as though she was made to be there.
Before she could change her mind, before the moment was lost, she reached up and cupped his cheek, felt the rasp of his beard against her palm, and threaded a hand into his silky hair.
Jack inhaled, drew away for a much-needed breath, and she prayed he wouldn’t end the rapturous moment.
As though he heard her greedy prayer, he instead captured the back of her head, realigned their mouths, and ran his tongue over her lips until she understood and opened them. At the sensation of his tongue on hers, her heart tripped and her entire being recognized the rightness of it. Of course, she thought. Yes, of course!
She wanted this heat and excitement in her life. She hadn’t realized until just that moment that she’d been craving this.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Almost A Bride Review

Once Upon a Romance has posted the first review for ALMOST A BRIDE. I'm really pleased with what Connie had to say.

ALMOST A BRIDE was so much fun to write because it swept me back to Copper Creek, Colorado where Luke and Annie (SWEET ANNIE) and Noah and Kate (HIS SECONDHAND WIFE) were waiting for a visit. Charmaine Renlow and her cousin Annie have always been the best of friends. For a brief time Charmaine thought perhaps Luke was interested in her, but it wasn't to happen. Instead Annie promised her the next too-good-to-be-true man who came along. So Charmaine's been waiting...and waiting. And at last love finds her in the most unexpected way, and not with the man she has set her cap for either!

I will post an excerpt on my webpage soon and I'll be sure to invite you to read it.