Friday, November 30, 2012

New Cover Art!

I recently published a revised edition of my second Western, Promise Me. I had a new cover designed by Kim Killion, because even though I always loved the cover designed by the graphic artist for Wild Rose Press, (the original publisher), I felt like I needed a fresh start.

So I began the search for my hero, Sam. Samuel Calhoun is a complicated man, because he's living a lie. While pretending to be a business owner in the frontier town of Willow Creek, Montana, he's actually on a mission for the Secret Service.

Finding the right image for Sam was a challenge. Kim had a lot of great, and I mean GREAT photos of cowboys. But, the problem is-- Sam doesn't ride the range, rope or brand cattle. He owns a lumber company. He dresses more like the guys in the movie, Wyatt Earp, than those John Wayne films.

I finally realized that I had the perfect shot, Sam in his cowboy hat and black frock-coat. It was from the steampunk photo shoot I'd arranged a few months ago. If you think finding a non-cowboy Western image is challenging, try finding an image for a Western steampunk romance.

I didn't give up, I just arranged for my favorite model, Shane Rice, to be part of a photo-shoot in Spokane. I even sent a box of "wardrobe" to make sure my characters had the appropriate clothing. I ended up with some great shots for my upcoming steampunk book, but I was even more excited to see the final product for the cover of Promise Me.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cowboy Dreams!

I've had a very tough job this past week, as I worked with the cover artist who is designing the artwork for my re-release of Beneath a Silver Moon, my first Western romance. I managed to get the rights back from Dorchester Publishing, and will be releasing it as a digital book for the first time.

Editing the book was tough enough, because I had to work from the original Word file, the changes my editor Kate Seaver made were all on paper. (Now my editors make changes and correction as digital files and we send them back and forth).

But the cover... that was something else. I was very lucky to see Shane Rice at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention when he was named runner up to the Mr. Romance title. Even better was his "costume" for the posing segment, (I know it sounds hilarious, but if you had a chance to be there, it was awesome!) He was Wyatt Earp. And I knew I'd found my hero.

I was also lucky to have a friend who is a graphic designer and wanted to try creating a cover. She does costume and graphic design for the HBO series, True Blood, and I've worked with her on other projects.

I contacted Shane, gave him some ideas of what I wanted, and his agent set up a photo shoot.
Then I was sent a link to choose some photos. This is where the process paused for a while. Choosing a good image from over a hundred amazing shots was really difficult. I finally narrowed it down to a couple. This is one we didn't end up using but I'm saving it for something else. Maybe a trading card.

And this one, well I bought it for promotion... and it might end up in a book trailer video.

If you are interested in seeing more images of Shane, you can contact his agent JD Dewitt at

I'm participating in the Long and Short Reviews Anniversary Celebration! You have found the right button!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Romantic Times Convention - April 2011

It's been a few years since I attended this convention, and I really looked forward to all the fun and parties. I was a finalist in the first Romantic Times (RT) "New Voice" contest with Dorchester publishing, and I sold my first book in Orlando on the dance floor at one of the parties. I have very good memories of all the RT's I've attended.

This year I was attending as both a library employee and an author, so I often felt like I was pulled in two directions. My co-worker Jerene came with me along with my good friend and critique partner, Sheryl. Jerene was an RT "virgin" and I knew she was in for a few surprises.

I was so happy that RT was in LA, because it meant a very short trip compared to Florida or Kansas, where I've traveled before.

After flying, arriving, checking in and getting settled, Jerene and I headed for the bar... to wait for Sheryl to arrive. We met some nice ladies, nodded... and one looked at my name a bit closer.
She then introduced herself, and it turns out she's my editor for Promise Me, my latest book release. I'd never met Helen before, we just had a "cyber" relationship. She was so young! (She just edits old), and it was delightful to actually get to talk to her.

RT is all serious writing/publishing during the day and party fun at night. The first evening party was hosted by Ellora's Cave, and we were invited to the exotic world of Bollywood! The decorations were fabulous, and the dancers who entertained us made me feel like I'd stepped into one of my favorite Bollywood features.

Because I was presenting a workshop on creating author events on Thursday, I didn't get to attend any of the writing workshops that day, but Sheryl attended a workshop, "Self-Publishing: The Seven Secrets to E-Book Self-Publishing Success" with Mike Coker, founder of Smashwords. She was so enthusiastic, I asked her to write a blog about it.

I did get to attend the Samhain Steampunk Tea and grabbed some cool steampunk swag, enjoyed refreshments and discovered that Samhain is planning a lot steampunk releases. My e-reader will be, um... steaming HOT!

Thursday night was the Venetian Masquerade Faery Ball,with a Faery Court, a dinner, beautiful costumes and lots of fun.

On Friday, I had to help get things organized for the Steampunk social that Cindy Holby, Suzanne Lazear, Kathryn Smith and I were sponsoring. Since this was so much fun, I'm going to blog about it in a separate post! (There are a lot of great costume photos).

The highlight of Friday was seeing author Dean Koontz. Sheryl and I managed to get two of the very limited tickets they gave out for this program, and the biggest surprise of all, Dean Koontz is funny, no -- Dean Koontz is HILAROUS. His stories of being a "big, whoopee-de-do" author had the crowd in stitches, and needless to say, made those of us in the lower selling ranks feel good. You can be major best-selling author, but that can still mean you don't get dinner on the road. The crowd was a bit restless when it came time to get books signed, but I know what they were feeling -- since he doesn't fly and really doesn't like doing booksignings, this was a rare sighting of an elusive author.

Friday night was the Vampire Ball, featuring Zombie Dancers from Planet 9, the show that Heather Graham and her co-horts create especially for this event. There was a great song at the end that my roomies and I kept repeating, the chorus is: "Bitch, Whore, Tramp, Slut" and as we sat around the room drinking wine, we considered all the times that phrase would just encapsulate all the emotions you are feeling!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Costa Rica -- Baby!

I just got back from another trip to Costa Rica, and I have to say -- even though I've been there four times, I just never get tired of visiting.

We visited two places this time, both on the Pacific side. We flew into the Liberia airport, spent the night in a small hotel and then picked up our rental car the next morning. Last year we flew into San Jose, and I really prefer this smaller airport. Everything seems easier and more manageable. We keep hoping that the "new" airport here will be finished soon, (we've been coming since 2007, and it's still under construction). This time the cab driver told us there are "Americanos" working on it, so maybe it will go faster.

Our drive to Nosara took us through some beautiful farm country, with lots of cattle ranches. The Costa Rican cowboys were out on their horses -- mending fences, herding their cattle. It was a lovely drive.

When we turned off the road for Nosara, we hit dirt. Really -- dirt road to the town. Our first stop to call the agent who would take us to our house was at the Cafe de Paris. A real French bakery in the middle of Costa Rica. We stopped there every day for bread, rolls and pastries.

Our little house was great, and we enjoyed the location within walking distance to Guiones Beach.

There were lots of surfers out and we found some beautiful shells. Watching the sunset on an ocean beach is always a treat for me!

We did an amazing number of things in our week in Nosara, including a fishing trip (my husband caught a Blue Marlin), ziplining high in the canopy, kayaking and swimming every day. And we had our quiet days too, with long walks on the beach, relaxing in the sun and enjoying our private pool.

If you are headed to Costa Rica, I recommend renting a house. We've found great places on, always had a wonderful time, swam at gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and seen howler monkeys, iguanas, tropical birds, pizotes, porpoises, sea turtles and even had a strange encounter with a gorilla.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Emerald City - Days 1 and 2

October 1-3 was the Emerald City Romance Writers Conference, which is one of the biggest writing conferences on the West Coast. With 250 attendees and a ton of published authors, it's a great opportunity to attend workshops, meet other writers, chat with published authors and pitch to agents and editors.

My weekend began early though -- as I host an event for authors and regional library staff that I've cheekily titled, "Read-Dating with Romance Authors". Librarians and other staff members have the opportunity to sit down and talk with the "pros" about the various sub-genres, their work and trends in romance. Every fifteen minutes the librarians move to a different table.

There were gift bags, swag (promotional items), great fabric bags and books from Harlequin, magazines from Romantic Times Book Reviews, Romance Sells and giveaways from Romance Writer's of America. The authors attending donated books, snacks and other great stuff.

Barbara Vey of Publisher's Weekly, (Beyond Her Book) visited with us and even wrote about it on her blog the next day.

It was a great event, and I couldn't do it without all the fabulous authors and my special helpers, Mary Buckham and Pat White!

At the conference, Alyssa Day gave a wonderful keynote speech on Friday night. She brought the crowd from laughter to tears. Her analogy to "Cinderella" was priceless.

Cherry Adair awarded the participants in the "Write the Damned Book" challenge. It was wonderful to see so many women lined up. Cherry motivates a lot of writers with the challenge every year.

Then we heard from the editors and agents about what they were looking for, what excites them and where they see the market going.

Market Report: Contemporary romance is back, and pretty much everyone is looking for it.
Paranormal continues to be hot, but those present were looking for something different from vampires and werewolves, such as witches and different types of creatures. None of the editors were looking for Steampunk, but all of the agents were interested in finding out more. (Great news for me!) At least two people mentioned fantasy romance and Meredith Bernstein thinks it's time time for some type of story that involves the degradation of the planet, climate change and ecology.

Agents present:
Meredith Bernstein, looking for mainstream women's fiction, (Eat, Pray, Love), thrillers, suspense, literary fiction, Young Adult and romance with a twist. Came to the conference hoping to meet the next NY Times bestselling author.

Michelle Grajkowski (Three Seas), all of the same types of books that Meredith mentioned.

Emmanuelle Morgen (Judith Ehrlich Literary Agency), high concept women's fiction, paranormal thrillers, historical fiction, urban fantasy, all types of romance, Young Adult, esp. would like to see a contemporary romance set in a small town.

Marcy Posner (Folio Literary Agency), middle grade and young adult fiction, women's fiction, paranormal romance, historical fiction, mystery.
Editors present: Rose Hilliard, St. Martin's Press, all sub-genres of romance, (except Steampunk), women's fiction, Young Adult and humor.

Alex Logan (Grand Central), thrillers and women's fiction, contemporary romance.

Tessa Woodward (Harper Collins), dark paranormals, sexy historicals, fun contemporaries. Definitely not Westerns!

Since none of the editors present were especially interested in Steampunk, when I traded my appointment cards, (I had conflicts with programs I was going to present) I only took agent appointments. I really would love to sign with an agent, so I can focus on the writing and promotion and leave the selling to someone else.

I've learned not to put a lot of emotion into this pitching experience. I've had too many requests and too many rejections that say, "just not right for me"... so if I find someone I'd like to work with and they ask for a submission, I'll send the Steampunk partial to them.

And then I'll continue to write, because really -- that's the important thing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cowboys in Winthrop Washington

One of my favorite places to visit is Winthrop, which is on the other side of the Cascade Mountains from where I live. Not only is it a lovely drive but once you get there, the mountains and scenic areas are breathtaking.

We stayed at the Sun Mountain Lodge, which is located above the Methow Valley. There's lots to do there, swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding. I even visited the spa and had a relaxing massage and body scrub. And just lazing around the pool is great in this warm sunshine.

But one of the reasons we love Winthrop so much is because it's a real Western town. They've renovated it to be as origional as possible. The main street is fun, because it's not a ghost town, it's a living town with a real Western theme.

We also discovered a wonderful local museum. My family knows when I travel -- the only thing I love more than visiting a library is visiting a museum. My husband indulged me and this visit was as good as several weeks of reading research books. I took a lot of photos, because when you have such great reference material it often helps to set a scene when writing.

This office has already "shown up" in my
Novella. And I'm sure this cabin will be
a perfect setting for a story.

But of course a vacation can't be all studying and research. Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the sunset.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

First Lady Fashions

In June, I was asked to participate in a panel at the American Library Association Conference.
This is sort of a big deal in the Library world, and I was excited about being on the panel... and having the chance to visit Washington, D.C. again. With my friend and co-worker, Chapple... again. So back to the East coast, and of course --

It was stinkin' hot. Walking down the street and the sweat drips down your back hot. My hair curls all by itself hot. Well, that was one advantage, I never had to break out the curling iron.

Since I'd been in DC last year for the RWA Conference, (where I was named Librarian of the Year, just in case I need to remind you,) I decided to target a few things to see on this trip. Especially since when you're attending a conference, you don't always get to see as much as you'd like. There's that pesky conference thing always interfering with your free time.

So, I decided to visit the American History Museum, (part of the Smithsonian). After dropping my suitcases off at the hotel, I got directions and discovered I wouldn't even need to use my Metro card. The museum was just down the street.

I love museums as much as I love libraries, and if you know me -- that's saying a lot because I have BIG LOVE for libraries. When you give a former American History teacher a museum filled with very cool stuff from the history of these good old United States, I'm one happy camper.

And the very first exhibit I head toward is "Inauguration Gowns of the First Ladies" -- because if there's fashion, I want to be around it! This exhibit was pretty crowded, but if you moved along in the line, you had the chance to see a fashion history of the US.

This dress was worn my Mary Todd Lincoln, and everyone exclaimed over her tiny waist. Hello people -- women were tiny then and the wore CORSETS, rearranging their insides so their outside would be fashionable.

This Victorian beauty wanted her butt to look really big, so she wore a bustle. Of all the fashions throughout the ages, this is the one that really makes me shake my head. Maybe because the Victorians were all button-ed up from head to toe, this was their version of sexy.

This is Mamie Eisenhower's dress, and who knew she was such a hot number, wearing red and all? I love this fifties style, and I have a red dress I wear once in a while for costume events that's very similar to this.

Then there's our newest First Lady, who has changed the way we wear sweater sets and slim skirts. Michele Obama was one hot Mama is this gown dripping crystals.

There was one other dress in the museum that caught my eye. Many of you will recognize as being worn by a woman I consider the first lady of comedy. I actually remember the night Carol Burnett wore this dress as Scarlett O'Hara in what is a classic funny skit from her show.

I'll post about the fabulous machine room, (including STEAM machines - to the delight of my Steampunk lovin' heart) next week. So come on back and see some photos, including a machine actually designed by Tesla.