Monday, April 14, 2014

Cover Reveal: UNDER STARRY SKIES

After many readers' requests for a sequel to RED FOX WOMAN, it will finally arrive in May. This time, the youngest Ashmore brother, Tydall, is featured. Below is the blurb from the back of the book.  And of course, here is a sneak preview of the awesome cover!

Hired as the town's school teacher, Maria O'Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered. 

Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life. 

When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he is the target of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she may be the target instead of the handsome rancher.

With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle's killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado's starry skies?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Excerpt from: KEY TO LOVE

Lucas stood inside Whitman’s Paper and Paint Store, surrounded by the pungent scents of vinyl wallpaper, turpentine, and paint, and wondered how he had allowed himself to be tricked into abandoning his work at the garage. Then he remembered it all had come about with Elise’s urge to redo the bedroom at the farm for Todd. 
          Actually, it had started with her persistent wheedling about the bare kitchen cupboards and the need to grocery shop. It had been an eye-opening experience in itself, and he finally admitted to himself he had discovered how the phrase “shop till you drop” came into existence. Woman pitted against marketable commodities. In less than forty-five minutes, she had filled a grocery cart with more food than could possibly fit into the cupboards and refrigerator and which barely fit into the trunk of the Trans Am, now parked outside.
          Though he had to give her credit, despite her unflagging obsession to use every minute to its advantage, she was as competent and efficient at managing details as she had professed. Over the past few days, she arranged to have the electricity at the cottage turned on and already had a contractor on the job, replacing the cottage’s slate roof. And lists. Lord, the woman could make lists. On anything. From napkins to the margins of a candy wrapper.

However, nothing had prepared him for Whitman’s Paint and Paper. It was like stepping onto another planet.
“What are we looking for again?” He watched her leaf through the pages of a pattern book with a speed that defied logic. She was standing before a long rectangular table in the back of the store with two dozen books piled haphazardly around her. Shelves circling the room held hundreds more. “Blue dogs?”
“No, white wallpaper with blue paw prints and with a corresponding blue border with dogs. I know it exists, I just don’t know where.” Her eyes never left the book she was working with. “It has to be in stock, too.”
“Run this by me again. How do I tell if it’s in stock, and what shade of blue?” Lucas rubbed his bleary eyes with the palms of his hands.
“Ah, French blue, something like this.” She paused only long enough to point to a flower so small the average person would need a magnifying glass. She flipped the page before he had a chance to commit it to memory. “Don’t worry about the stock, the store manager will check on it.”
Lucas scowled. Every pattern had begun to look like the next, melting into a haze of swirling tones. God, he needed an aspirin and a beer. If she kept this up, he’d be too dizzy to eat the hundred pounds of food jammed into the trunk.
“Can’t we do this tomorrow? I really need a break here.”

“No time,” she mumbled. “Pedmo is coming on Monday.”
“Monday?” A little bell of alarm went off in his head. “Since when?”
“Since the meeting. It must have slipped my mind.” She never raised her head.
“Maybe we should get someone to help us,” he suggested.
“I did.” She waved her hand toward a circular table where a thin man with fuzzy gray eyebrows was rummaging through a stack of books that would put a library to shame. “I snagged the manager on the way inside while you were rearranging groceries in the trunk.”
“You’re absolutely sure this wallpaper exists?” He squinted at her with a skeptical look, and she nodded, her fingers nimbly turning the pages of yet another book.
“Uh-huh, I saw it once when I was selecting paper for a day care center our agency was contracted to renovate.”
“Oh, terrific. There are at least five hundred books here, and we’ve been through what? Two dozen? I imagine you have someone lined up to hang the dang rolls?”
“Uh-huh, you and Fritz. But only if you’d stop talking and help me find it.”
“Me and Fritz?” His voice came out in a hysterical wail. “Get serious, Liz, I’ve never wallpapered a room in my life.” Hell, he couldn’t wrap a Christmas present unless it was packaged in a box with four crisp corners and there were yards of paper to waste.
“Neither has Fritz, but he’s watched my mother do it many times. I have to interview some nurses from Home Health in the morning, otherwise I’d help. Anyway, it’s just one wall and pasting a border around the ceiling. It’s a piece of cake.” Her hands continued flashing through the pages.
“Piece of cake? Are you sane? Unless Fritz has flashbacks, we’re doomed.” Lucas slumped down wearily onto a nearby chair and cupped his face in his hands.

 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

PET PEEVES OF A WIFE, MOTHER. . . AND THE DESIGNATED MAID

As a wife, mother and designated maid, here are my favorite pet peeves family members seem oblivious to--and which drive me "straight to the moon."  

1. Unmade beds. Everyone should make his/her bed. [Note to husband: The last person out of the bed should make it.] Please don’t placate me with the excuse you didn’t have time. It takes two or three minutes! There is a saying, “Unmade bed, unmade head.” Start you day our right and end your day slipping between sheets and blankets that don’t look as if a herd of disgruntled buffalo organized a stampede through the room.

 2. The kitchen sink is not the dishwasher. There is no little elf or industrious dwarf who miraculously schleps the dishes from the sink and stacks them in the dishwasher. But I will tell you that there is a “Grumpy” dwarf if it’s not done. Oh, by the way, while we’re talking about dishes, please rinse your dishes and glasses when you’re finished eating or drinking.

3.  Learn to iron. At least, learn to iron your good “stepping-out” shirts, pants, and dresses. No, no, no, everything is not “wrinkle-free. ” Let’s heat up the iron and chase away the wrinkles on that cotton shirt, especially if you’re going on your first date, to an interview, or to church. It would be wise to make a good impression at all three of these places. You need to look in control and organized—like you care and certainly not like you slept in your clothes.

4. Take out the trash. Please don’t try to squash that last pizza box onto the top of the already overflowing waste paper can! This is the one time all men’s spatial perception flies out the window and heads for Mars. I’ve watched men crush pop cans in their bare hands to try to make the “little sucker” fit the last two-inch space in the trash can and spare them the task of taking the entire heap outside to the proper receptacle.

5.  Pick up your shoes and stash them out of the way. Anyone, who has ever stumbled over a size 13 shoe coming in the entranceway or better yet, waltzed into the bedroom in the dark and stumbled over a shoe worn by Big Foot, knows what I’m saying here. If women wanted to jump hurdles, they’d enter ABC’s television show, Wipeout.

[P.S. Changing the toilet paper roll won't make you brain dead.]

Now it’s your turn, ladies and gents, to add your favorite pet peeve.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where Do Writers Get Ideas?

Everyone wants to know where writers get their ideas. It’s a question every author who has a book signing or who gives a presentation is asked. Many times, you will hear writers (myself included) admit that they “truly don’t know” where they get them.

For a writer, ideas are like the ocean waves—sometimes they come crashing into our minds; sometimes they roll quietly in and then slip away, receding like a calm ripple; and sometimes they tumble around like a sneaky undertow before they pop up, surface and become a viable thought.

However, there are some truths about all writers:

Good writers are voracious readers, devouring anything they can get their hands on—from the back of a cereal box to a placemat at the restaurant to the directions for the new coffeemaker.

Writers are often asked how do you manage to read and write at the same time? Simple--just like a chef eats, but creates and cooks for his vocation, we read and write. It’s part of the job. Good writers exchange and read works of their fellow writers who create in a similar format. The short story writer will read short stories of masters like Jack London, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Louis L’Amour, Kurt Vonnegut,  Eudora Welty, or Alice Munroe. . .and the list goes on.

But don’t be fooled, good writers also read the masters and modern day writers of other genres as well. Why? To discover what is good and what is bad writing. To get ideas. To listen to new voices, to understand new styles, and to discover how characters, descriptions, setting, dialogue, and storylines are created by others.

I personally have found that most writers I know are receptive to new things, are often curious, and do not like to be idle.  They are observant of their environment, situationally aware of everything and everyone around them, and often embrace change, sometimes just for the newness of it. They are able to remember details and, like the cartoonist  who can capture the essence of person with a few  features unique to only that person, writers are also able to sort through detail and write images readers can see and relate to.

Monday, December 30, 2013

TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE

As the old year ends and a new one begins, I often look back and silently chide myself over the time I might have squandered and should have used more wisely.

The New Year is always a great time to say good-bye to all our yesterdays and give a hearty, forward-looking hello to a new start in a new year. It’s a feeling that invades our thinking and whispers, “Your slate is now wiped clean of all the troubles and missteps you’ve experienced. Let’s begin anew.”

So, how will you use this unbiased fellow we call TIME--who credits you every morning with 86,400 seconds in the day? (Or 31,536,000 seconds in the new year?)


Imagine a bank that credits your account with $86,400 each day. It carries no balance over from day to day, and every evening it deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use. What would you do? I believe everyone would agree we’d be foolish not to draw out every cent.

Each of us has such a bank. It’s called TIME. And every morning we are offered 86,400 seconds. Every night, TIME writes off, as a loss, whatever seconds, minutes or hours you have failed to invest in good purposes. There is no balance. There are no overdrafts. Each day TIME opens a new account. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

What am I really saying? I’m telling you the clock is running and you must live in the present of today’s deposits. Invest your time so you get the utmost in health, happiness and success. Make the most of today. Treasure and use wisely each moment in both work and play.

To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of one month, ask a returned soldier how he felt during his last four weeks of deployment 
To realize the value of one hour, ask lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed his plane flight, train or bus.
To realize the value of one second, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Treasure every moment you have. Remember, TIME waits for no one!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Humble Pines










'Twas daybreak in the forest
The winds blew crisp and cold, 
And snow lay in a white-washed 'guise
On oak trees, staunch and old.

The sky was blue, the drifts knee-deep
As snowflakes fluttered down,
While high above the hemlock sighed
A faint melodious sound.

Across the vale the star of night
Broke through the frigid morn,
And scattered rays of hope and peace. . .
Today, the Child was born.

Then firethorn threw shimmering beads
Amid the sun-kissed laurel;
Bright holly bushes shook their limbs
With shades of sparkling coral.

The birds sang on this blessed day
With wonderous trills and sounds,
The humble pines took time to pray
And bowed their branches down.

Monday, November 25, 2013

TALKING TURKEY: What I'm Thankful for as a Writer

     Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It's a special day when we don't have to go into a meltdown mode chasing down the perfect gifts for everyone on our Christmas list. The real gift is simply being able to gather family and friends together to eat, talk, share stories, and enjoy all those tempting dishes—like to-die-for corn bread stuffing, Aunt Jane’s pecan and pumpkin pies with mounds of whipped cream, and the ever-famous turkey baked to a golden brown in the oven or a deep fryer. It’s also a time when I think about why I’m thankful as a writer. Here are my top five:
  •  I’m thankful to be able to be born in a country where I am able to create and write freely without fears of censorship or retribution. I’m thankful for all our service people—the military, rescue squads, firemen, police and many, many more whose occupations are to protect our freedoms and who are dedicated to keeping us safe. We are, indeed, land of the free because of the brave.
  •  I’m thankful for all the fans who purchase our novels and those who make each day just a bit brighter by dropping an email or note in praise of our work. It gives me and other authors a reason to push forward and pursue our dreams.
  • I’m thankful for my spouse, my children, neighbors, friends, family, fellow writers, beta readers, and reviewers who act as sounding boards and who understand the writer’s craziness and the driving need to escape to a favorite spot and put ideas on a blank white screen.
  • I'm thankful for the editors, publishers, artists, and marketing, production and support personnel who take our lumpy claylike creation of words and help us sculpt those words into a smooth, finished work of art called a novel.
  • I'm thankful for all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes around us—like bright sunny days, scarlet sunsets, serene snowfalls, gentle rain, the smell of pine-tinged air, the warble of a song sparrow, the chirping of a cricket, the taste of summer’s first strawberries—and all the wondrous gifts our Heavenly Creator gives us each day to help us to be inspired.  
Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours!