29 October 2012


Holy moley, October is nearly over already! As part of the Swag-a-bration Celebration of Readers with Champagne Book Group, I'm running a little contest--you could win an Awesome Box O' Desert Swag OR if you're outside the US/Canada, a $15 Champagne Book Group Gift Certificate!

Here's how it works: Answer Las Preguntas Locas (The Crazy Questions) on my Facebook Fan Page with a MESSAGE. Don't let your test anxiety kick in; these are fun, loopy, silly--and the answers will be easily found on my Fan Page or Website.

One of my demented cats-- either Fritzgerald the Tombstone Brothel Baby or Gato the Ancient Whiner, depending on which one of them deigns to participate-- will chomp a name at random from those who post correct answers. Sorry, special requests to rub catnip on your name cannot be accommodated because it makes Gato barf and Fritz tear up the furniture.  Again, send your answers as a MESSAGE on my Facebook Fan Page (look for the "Message" button in the right upper corner next to the "Like" button--and feel free to like the page if you haven't already!) 

What's in the Awesome Box O' Desert Swag? Take a look:

(clockwise from top):  a Welsh Dragon Temporary Tatt-oo, Pink Champagne Bath Beads, Arizona stickers, Native Animal Totems Notecards, an autographed book marker by yours truly, a sampling of yummy dichos (more than just one of course, taco-shaped Mexican cinnamony cookies; like a fortune cookie, but with Spanish sayings--and yes, translation in English on the other side)a Mexican Tile magnet, a piƱa colada flavored saguaro lollipop, and an Apache Tears worry stone-- all inside a Champagne Books Totebag!
Sadly, postage limits the Awesome Box winner to the US & Canada, but do not despair if you don't reside in either country: if your name is selected, you will will a $15 gift certificate to Champagne Book Group, which is good for any and all of my books there as well as sci-fi/fantasy books through BURST and erotica through Carnal Passions!
Las Preguntas Locas will be posted October 29th and the contest will close at the 12th stroke of midnight October 31, 2012. (Which makes it technically the morning of Nov. 1) The winner will be chomped at random and announced here plus on Facebook/Twitter by noon November 1.

So come and play: Facebook Fan Page!

17 October 2012

Scouting Locations, Rhan Dwy (Part Two)

Today's Word Search Word is in THIS blog post! 
Download the entire list here.

Sex on the beach. Conjures images of Caribbean sunsets, white sands, and that classic scene in From Here to Eternity with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, doesn't it?

But most beaches I've been to aren't exactly isolated from public view. And then there's a little problem of wind: no one enjoys being sand-blasted, especially not...there. Ow. So while sex on the beach is a romantic notion, in my mind it existed in all practicality better as a drink.

Then I went to San Diego for a few days. Driving to the tip of Point Loma, the peninsula that cups around the western side of San Diego Bay, we came to Cabrillo Point Park. There is a New England-style lighthouse perched atop the cliff; its light warned ships coming across the Pacific Ocean of the hidden rocks at the entrance of the bay.  All along the Pacific side are tidal pools
Cabrillo Point lighthouse
amid the rocks, often shrouded in sea mist until mid-afternoon.

It wasn't far from Cabrillo's lighthouse that I found the perfect isolated beach for my main characters to have as their special place in Out of Forgotten Ashes

Evan Jones and his Mexican wide, Reyna Montoya Svenson had honeymooned in San Diego in 1884 when Point Loma was largely unsettled.

Looking aouth at Cabrillo Point from the Pacific Side
Sailing around Cabrillo Point and heading north along the cliffs, Evan and Reyna found a secluded cove with a beach that could have looked like this:

No one is going to sneak up on you from the land side here. And it's sheltered from the wind, so no sand would blow into your...eyes. I could see my characters in the scene from Book Two, sitting side by side in sadness and sorrow in the late afternoon sun, talking intently of the hurt they faced, wondering if their future would ever be joyful again.  

Scouting locations can truly inspire scenes in a story, adding depth of emotion and rich detail. Being where your characters walk is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing.

15 October 2012

Scouting Locations, Rhan Un (Part One)

There are writers out there who can compose wonderful descriptions of places they've never been. I'm not one of them. I need to go where my characters have been or where the heated action takes place. Actually, the opposite often happens: the location inspires my creativity to concoct a scene or an entire story in that setting.

My first novel, Dragon & Hawk hatched from a trip with my son's grade school class to Bisbee and Tombstone. Learning that 300 Welsh miners were recruited in the 1870s to come to the Arizona Territory set my imagination off and running. What did they think of such an isolated place full of dangerous creatures and Apaches who were none too thrilled with invading neighbors? Surely they had to be amazed at the relative barrenness of the land compared to the verdant and lush Welsh countryside. And however did they survive the summer heat? 

Researching documents, letters, and newspapers gave delicious details about their lives. Repeated trips to Bisbee, Tombstone, and the surrounding areas during special events provided me with opportunities to capture sights, sounds, and smells to help readers feel the dust and heat.

My current Work In Progess (WIP) is a short story for an anthology composed by a number of Champagne Authors. Each story will deal with travel in some way and will also have a romantic component. Well, what's more romantic than an ancient castle in a faraway land?
This is Caerphilly Castle in about 1880-- and this is a photo I took there in 2008--->
Caerphilly was painstakingly restored by the fourth marquess of Bute from 1928 to 1939, copying original fallen stones like puzzle pieces to refit the walls and battlements. The leaning southeast tower was left unchanged.

It's a sad place with an air of incredible loss about it. Built by the Earl of Glamorgan in 1268-71 to defend his lands against Llywelen ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd (the last native Prince of Wales), Caerphilly Castle seems a monument to the greed and duplicity of the Marcher Lords. Their petty squabbles and inability to unite under Llywelen cost Wales dearly: English occupation and rule for the next seven centuries with near eradication of the Welsh language.

Feel the cold wind bite one's cheeks as it whisks the water surrounding the castle. The grass is four shades of green carpet across rolling hills. The stones are sharp in places, chipped and notched at the parapets for crossbows. One smells moss and peat with an occasional whiff of baking bread.

This is where my characters came from, this land of castles surrounded by water. Imagine then going from this to the arid, sun-scorched Arizona desert.Bit of a shock, wouldn't you say?

I can't get the true feel of a place from looking at photos on a website. I have to go, walk on the paths, close my eyes and listen to what my characters might hear so I can transport my readers into that time and locale.

Besides, it gives me a great excuse to travel. Stay tuned for Rhan Dwy/Part Two...

08 October 2012

Ah, Enjoying a Lazy Day

I don't get lazy days very often. I don't think many people do any more. But it is so lovely to have one, isn't it?

"Missed again, dang it!"
Yesterday was such a day. The weather is finally turning into autumn, though we always have one late October 100 degree fry-day. I messed around on the computer, working on this and that. Took my cats outside for their usual unsuccessful lizard safari and enjoyed listening to the birds yammer on--probably laughing at FritzCat the Hapless Hunter totally biffing a pounce. 

That's not to say I wasn't thinking about writing. In fact, a plot for a wee ghostie story materialized in my imagination. I'm polishing the article and blog post I'll submit to Romancing the West in a day or so that will be posted in November. I find tons of ideas sprout when I don't have a time crunch pressing against me.

It surprised me when I looked up at the clock and it was ten p.m. I hadn't actually accomplished much on paper or in the house but it still felt like the conclusion of a successful span of hours.

So here it is Monday and back to the hectic grind of rushing here and there to meet expectations and deadlines. I thrive on being busy--but must admit I treasure a lazy day once in a while.

03 October 2012

The Very First Swagabration. Ever. Cool.

October is Par-tay Month at Champagne Book Group--and YOU'RE invited!

It's a "Swagabration"--offering tons of author and Champagne "swag" to celebrate and reward our readers. There will be events going on all through October, so check back often!

WORD SEARCH: check the Champagne Book Group Blog for when the contest launches but you'll be searching for different words in different authors' blog posts--including here! (But not today...)

TWITTER: #swagbration for clues on how to win each week!

FACEBOOK: Watch for contests on Champagne Book Club

LIVE CHATS: Dates and time will be posted, but the chat room is on Champagne Book Group's website. Just click here: Chat Room

There will be lovely weekly prizes awarded and the SUPER GRAND PRIZE is a Kobo e-reader from Champagne's publisher loaded with great reads from their authors!

Come and play, and who knows? You may win some Desert Swag from yours truly!