Christina Cole Romance

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Endings and Beginnings

On Monday I spoke of synchronicity. I wrote that the universe seemed to be leading me in exciting new directions.  Later that day, I sat down in MLWR (my little writing room) and wrote a the set-up for a scene from The Sheriff Wore Skirts. In that scene, the main character, Caleb Bryant, ponders a fact of life:

Willow TreeCaleb leaned against the old willow tree and watched the waters of the nearby creek gurgling past. Not really much of a creek these days, although it had once been deep enough to swim in. Now it would barely come to the top of his boots if he stepped in.

Funny how things in life changed that way.

He shifted his gaze westward toward the glittering peaks of the Rockies, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the late afternoon sunlight. Some folks said even the mighty mountains would one day be gone, eroded away by the ravages of weather and time.

Caleb couldn’t imagine it. He’d once attended a fancy lecture in Denver and had heard some esteemed scholar with a string of letters attached to his name provide a scientific explanation. Water, the professor said, seeped into the cracks, froze, expanded, and broke the rocks down. Gravity then took over to carry the pieces down the slope.

When the spring rains came, more rocks were swept away. Some were even dissolved by the steady forces of nature.

The human eye might not see the changes happening, but they were going on all the same.

Changes were always going on in life, too. No matter how a man might wish things could stay the same once he got himself to a comfortable place, life didn’t work that way.


Caleb’s got it right. Changes are always happening in life.

Yesterday, I learned that my publisher — Secret Cravings — will be closing. What this means is that all  Secret Cravings and Sweet Cravings titles are coming down from Amazon and other booksellers, and rights to my stories — including those under contract for 2016 publication — will revert to me.  I can choose whether or not to re-publish the current titles and whether or not to release the upcoming additions to “The Sunset Series”.

In many ways, I think I was prepared for this. The writing/publishing industry has changed drastically in the last few years.  Although I was quite comfortable as an SCP author and hoped to publish many more stories through their imprint, I often found myself exhausted by efforts to keep up with marketing and promotional events and maintain a rigorous writing schedule in order to meet all deadlines.

At times, over the past year, I’ve considered other possibilities for my writing. Times are changing, and authors have to change, too. Accordingly, I choose to view this ending as a fortuitous beginning for my future.

What happens now?

My immediate plans are to take care of the business at hand — purchasing my cover art, putting files in order for possible re-publication, and making sure all legal issues are addressed.

I have many decisions to make involving not only the question of re-publishing my books but also questions involving this blog, my author page on Facebook, and my newly-formed “street team”.

What I don’t have yet is a definite plan…only a vague idea of where I want to go and how I’ll choose to get there. With a lot going on in my personal life, I’m choosing now to take a break from writing and publishing.  I will continue to post to this blog but not on a daily basis. I will also maintain my official author page at Facebook — Christina Cole’s Love Notes — and I will most like make daily posts there.

Of course, I will be keeping up with my friends and readers, although I will be “disbanding” Christina’s Corner. I want to thank each street team member for the love and kindness you’ve shown in the short time the group has been together.

At this time, I’m also choosing to set aside The Sheriff Wore Skirts. The book was scheduled for January release with Secret Cravings. That, of course, won’t happen now.  Instead of completing and publishing the book now, I will be exploring other avenues in my life.

I’m adopting the willow tree now as my symbol for the future. Willows bend; they don’t break. Endings bring opportunities to begin anew, and I’m looking forward to seeing where life leads me now.

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Back to School? Already?

the-3-rsIt’s only August! Mid-August, in fact. Yet already schools are open and students are boarding buses each morning, heading off to learn “readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmetic”. Although, to my mind, it’s still a bit too early — when I grew up, school never started until after Labor Day — I do look forward to the beginning of each new school year.

I’ve always loved walking into stores and seeing school supplies lined up. Oh, the notebooks, pencils, and pens! The colorful binders and folders!

Yes, I was one of those “nerdy” kids who loved school. Of course, back in the day, we weren’t called nerds or geeks.  I always got excited to think of all the new discoveries I would make and all I would learn over the coming year.

I still get excited by learning, and that’s why the end of summer and the beginning of school always thrills me. As autumn arrives — officially — and the air grows cool and the leaves turn colors, my excitement will continue to grow.

For me, this time of year is a signal to settle down, get into a regular routine, and turn my mind and attention to what I most enjoy doing — writing.  With that “back to school” attitude in my head and that same excitement in my heart, I can come into MLWR (my little writing room) each day with a burst of enthusiasm.

What can I learn today about fiction-writing and story-telling? What new possibilities will I discover as I’m putting scenes together? What ideas might suddenly come along?

My current project is The Sheriff Wore Skirts —another title in the “Sunset Series”. These are stories of life and love in the old west, with an ever-growing cast of characters who’ve become near and dear to my heart. At present, the manuscript is about 34,000 words, so there’s still much to be done before the story goes to the publisher in November.

Here’s a short little “tease” from the opening of The Sheriff Wore Skirts:

How long did a broken heart last? Nearly a month had passed since Sheriff Caleb Bryant’s best girl Molly had run off with another man – his former deputy, Hank Goddard – and his heart hadn’t yet begun to heal. Now, Hank and Molly were home again in Sunset.

Worse still, she was standing right in front of him.

Even though this is the project I’m actively involved with, it’s not the only project I have “in the works”. As a writer, I always have dozens of ideas lurking around, and that’s where all those colorful binders and organizational folders come in very handy.

The key to writing a novel is keeping it organized. There’s a great deal of information a writer needs, even if it doesn’t all go into the story. There’s research information, details about characters — their appearance, their background, their goals, their motivations — and there’s various settings we have to keep in mind. Writers often create timelines of events, of course, or outlines of a story’s scenes. As a writer of historical fiction, I also keep calendars from the years a story takes place so I know for certain what day of the week things are happening. For what it’s worth, I always check the moon phases, too, so if you’re reading about a gorgeous full moon as my lovers stroll hand in hand, you can be sure it really was full that particular long-ago night.

In the same way as a novel needs organization — a binder is great for this — future ideas also need some sort of order. I keep a stack of folders nearby, and when new ideas come to mind, or when I suddenly “hear” or “see” a scene from a new story, I can quickly jot down my thoughts and file them away.

So, what it all means is that this week, I’ll probably be stocking up on “school supplies” — even if I now call them “writing supplies”. I’ll be doing a lot of “readin’ and ‘ritin'” and even a bit of “rithmetic” as I keep my characters’ biographies up to date. Let’s see, just how old is little Kitty Barron now?

Oh, is that a school bell I hear? Guess that means it’s time to begin my day. Readers are waiting for the next book. Time for me get busy.

Thanks for visiting today!

Which of the “Sunset” books is your favorite?


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New Resolutions?

k2-_77d96879-c52e-453f-ab60-ca61b22078b4.v1I think my Question and Answer book is a bit mixed up. It’s only August, yet it’s asking me about resolutions. I’ve heard of “Christmas in July”, so maybe they’re thinking we should have “New Year’s Day in August.” It makes sense in a somewhat crazy way, I suppose.

Here’s the question as it’s posed:

What is your resolution for tomorrow?

Throughout my life, I’ve had a tendency to do things backward. I think being left-handed has something to do with it. Most people, I presume, use this little journal late at night before they shut out the lights and go to bed. Not me. My habit is to grab my journal early in the morning soon after I wake up.  Like I said, yeah, I do a lot of things backward.

So, I’m revising the question a bit. I’m going to think about today and what I’m setting my sights on to accomplish.


First on the agenda is a bit of housecleaning. Daughter Liz and her husband are moving to California later this month. Before she leaves, she wants to visit with family. She lives about two hours away from us now, and she’ll be driving up early on Friday morning, spending the night here, and then visiting with her sisters nearby. She wouldn’t care if I cleaned house or not, and if the guest room is a bit messy, it wouldn’t bother her in the least. As long as she gets some of Mom’s cooking — and a few popsicles — she’ll be happy. All the same, I want to straighten things up a bit, sweep the floors, and do a little dusting and polishing.

Second on my “to-do” list is writing. I have two more western historical romances under contract with Secret Cravings Publishing, and deadlines have a way of sneaking up. I’m currently working on The Sheriff Wore Skirts, and I’ve reached the point in the process where things are coming together, ideas are developing, and sitting down to write each day is wonderfully fun.

Third will be cooking. Today I’m planning one of my personal favorites. Salmon patties with creamed peas and potatoes. I’ll probably serve it with a spicy tomato drink and toss up a green salad, too. Hurry, dinnertime! I’m hungry already.

Of course, I’m hungry now because I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. I slept late this morning — almost 5 AM. My husband didn’t wake me until he was ready to head out the door. But he did leave breakfast for me. So now that I’ve checked my Question and Answer book and have officially got this day under way, I’m going to go grab a bite to eat.

Happy Wednesday

What’s YOUR resolution for today?


What If…?

What ifFor writers, those are two of the most important words in the English language. Small but powerful, they turn ordinary men and women into the heroes and heroines of romantic fiction. “What if…” transforms the mundane world into imaginative fantasies, incredible realms that might exist in the future, or endearing remebrances of past times.

Readers might think a writer uses those two little words to generate story ideas. Yes, of course, we do.

  • What if a woman living a glamorous life in a big city had to return home to a small, rural community?  That was the idea behind Summertime, my story of a stage star who spends a life-changing summer back home in Kansas.
  • What if a woman with no domestic skills had to find a husband? Yep, that “what if” thought turned into Not the Marrying Kind, the first book of my “Sunset” series.
  • What if a town accidentally hired a woman as sheriff? That’s the idea behind my current WIP, The Sheriff Wore Skirts. It’s scheduled for publication in January and will be my fifth story about the good folks of Sunset, Colorado.

You might think that once we’ve come up with a premise for a story, once we have an interesting “what if” to work from, we can retire those words and move on to writing. Nope. Throughout the process of crafting a story, “what if” continues to be an intriguing question.

Writers generally fall into two camps: plotters and pantsters. You’ve heard those terms before, I’m sure. Plotters like to plan stories out before they write. Pantsters take off with an idea and go wherever it leads them. Successful stories can come from either approach, and regardless of which writing method an author uses, “what if” plays an important role.

Although I lean more toward planning than “pantsing”, I rely on “what if” to provide me with lots of ideas and possibilities for the stories I write. As I’m putting together different scenes, I let my imagination wander, and my first story outlines will be littered with notes on POSSIBILITIES. That’s exactly how I write it. All in capital letters at the end of a scene…or, at times, right in the middle of a scene.

Yesterday, I was playing around with ideas for The Sheriff Wore Skirts. I know the storyline. I have a synopsis I’m working from. But the fun comes from figuring out exactly how the story events will unfold. I was sketching out a scene where hero and heroine come together and a bit of conflict occurs between them. As I wrote, my subconscious was writing alongside me, looking for possibilities I hadn’t consciously considered.

Then came that little nudge to my brain. Hey, wait!

  • WHAT IF this takes place at the bath house?
  • WHAT IF she sees him naked?

Later, as I explored other scenes, more little nudges came.

  • WHAT IF he comes home one evening and finds that woman in his bed?
  • WHAT IF the sheriff’s office is ransacked?
  • WHAT IF he suspects she’s lying?

Each time a writer asks “What if…” new possibilities emerge. At times, we can get carried away, of course, and part of the writing process involves choosing the right possibilities and saving the other ones for other days and other stories.

At this stage of the writing process, I can’t promise you the heroine’s going to see the hero naked in the bath house scene. I don’t know for sure whether the hero will have an unexpected — and unwanted — bed partner. Maybe the sheriff’s office will get ransacked; maybe not.  What I can promise is that as I continue working on the story, I’ll be asking the same question as I write each scene.

“What if…”

THANK YOU for visiting today. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about my writing process.
Your comments will be appreciated.


Getting in the Groove Again

Now, there’s an old-fashioned expression.  “In the groove”. “Groovy”.  For those who weren’t around back in the day, the expressions were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Yes, those were my days. It’s almost painful to think I ever used the word “groovy”, I did. Funny how we can look back on our mis-spent youth and cringe at times. Oh, yes. Life was groovy back then, or so it seemed.


In case you’re wondering, “groovy” was synonymous with cool, excellent, fashionable, amazing, at least, according to Wikipedia.  Groovy – Wikipedia. The article explains:

The word originated in the jazz culture of the 1920s, in which it referred to the “groove” of a piece of music (its rhythm and “feel”), plus the response felt by its listeners. It can also reference the physical groove of a record in which the pick-up needle runs. Recorded use of the word in its slang context has been found dating back to September 30, 1941, on the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, when band leader Billy Mills used it to describe his summer vacation. In the 1941 song “Let me off Uptown” by Gene Krupa, Anita O’Day invites Roy Eldridge to “… come here Roy and get groovy”. The 1942 film Miss Annie Rooney features a teenage Shirley Temple using the term as she impresses Dickie Moore with her jitterbug moves and knowledge of jive. In the 1945 film A Thousand and One Nights, Phil Silvers uses the term to describe an ostentatiously bejeweled turban.

The word has now disappeared from the language in its colloquial form, except for times and places — like here and now — when somebody uses it to poke a bit of fun at the past. Yeah, it really was groovy, man.

Actually, I’m using the word in a slightly different context today. To get “in the groove” means to “get with it” again, to “start spinning”, and I’m just making matters worse here, aren’t I? What I’m trying to say is that after being off-line for several days while dealing with REAL LIFE, I’m now back at work here in MLWR (My Little Writing Room) and back to my online connections, too.

I probably won’t be spending a great deal of time online though. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on No Regrets, the fourth book of my “Sunset Series”.  I guess I could say I’m getting back “in the groove” there, too. As I near the end of each writing project, my mind and my muse kick over into what I call “get it done” mentality. Instead of playing around, I focus. Instead of jumping around in the story, I concentrate on pulling it together into a coherent timeline. Instead of putting aside “problem spots” with an “I-can-fix-it-later” approach, I go through those spots and resolve each one. I sometimes think of it as similar to a major construction project where the inspector has gone through the building and created a “punch list” of things to be done, re-done, or otherwise fixed up.

So, you might not see me online as much as usual over the next few weeks. When I do emerge, it will be with a completed story sent off to the publisher. Then comes the fun of waiting for cover art, planning the launch party, and sharing the story with western historical romance readers.

And then comes even more fun as I set to work on Book 5. A sheriff wearing skirts? Yep, that’s what’s coming up for the little town of Sunset.  The Sheriff Wore Skirts is currently slated for release in January, 2016. It’s going to be a fun story.

Groovy, huh?

To keep you entertained while you’re waiting for No Regrets, come along with me now for a “blast from the past” and enjoy a few groovy tunes!

Groovy Kind of Love – Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon – Young Rascals

Feelin’ Groovy – Simon and Garfunkel



Monday: Fun Day

I’m in a silly mood today. OK, so, yes, that happens often. Today, though, for some reason, my mood is sillier than usual. I’ve been hopping around the Internet, playing with a few random idea generators, and they’re always such fun, I can’t keep them to myself.

I discovered random generators one day when posting to one of the Facebook groups I manage. It’s WIP It Up, and it’s a group that promotes friendship, provides motivation, and serves to encourage writers from all genres and all skill levels as with make our ways through our WIP — which, you probably already know — means “Works in Progress”.

If you’re interested in checking out the group and joining in, here’s the link:

WIP It Up!

The group’s activity is a bit sporadic. When my schedule is light and I have lots of time, I enjoy posting in the group every day. But then, when I’m facing a deadline or when family obligations arise, I don’t always have time to do the necessary research for items and information to post. All members, of course, are encouraged to post excerpts, motivational quotes, or to start discussions on writing-related topics. It’s a closed group, so only members can will what is posted, and if you’re interested in joining, please visit the page and leave a request.

But, back to my silliness. Those random generators. There are, I’ve discovered, random writing generators for just about every aspect of story-telling. Need a basic idea? Sure. Turn on the generator. Just looking for a character or two? No problem. Need an entire plot? Heck, yes!

Consider this little jewel I spun up on a generator this morning:

An heroic little old lady has 24 hours to transport – across enemy territory – a run down farm.

Sounds like compelling drama to me! I haven’t quite figured out the logistics involved in moving an entire farm, but maybe she just needs to move the animals. In fact, there was an actual rescue operation to save the beautiful white Lippazaner breed during the last days of World War II. A 1963 film was based on the event:

The Miracle of the White Stallions


So maybe the story idea from that little plot generator isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. That’s how ideas work a lot of times. We can start with something totally off-the-wall, play around with it, explore different possibilities, and suddenly, a real idea emerges.

If you’d like to try generating an idea of your own, here’s the link:

Writer’s Plot Idea Generator

This is only one of many sites offering writing generators. A few others you might have fun with are:

Plot Generator

Seventh Sanctum Story Generator

Genre, Plot, and Story Prompt Generators

Random Story Generator

So, now that I’ve played around a bit this morning and have had a laugh or two, it’s time for me to get busy on my own WIP. But before I bid you farewell, I have one more little generator to share. It never fails to make me smile. A few clicks, and I’m laughing. Enjoy!

Random Logline Generator


DID YOU KNOW…In ancient Egypt, servants were smeared with honey in order to attract flies away from the pharaoh. 

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I’m currently working on the fourth book of my “Sunset Series”. The title is No Regrets, so naturally, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the whole business of looking back at life and wondering if we could have and should have done things differently.

I want to know your opinions on the subject.

One of the first times I ever considered regrets came from hearing a country song. It was “I’d Rather Be Sorry” by Ray Price. Please, take a moment to listen.

I’d Rather Be Sorry

The words that jumped out at me as most meaningful were these:  I’d rather be sorry for something I’ve done than for something that I didn’t do.”


I was much younger then, and when I heard the song and listened to those words, I didn’t agree. I hated doing the wrong thing and later regretting it. It seemed so much easier to cope with those “wishy-washy” regrets that were more like forgotten wishes. “Oh, I wish I’d gone skating with my friends…sounds like they had a great time.”

Here’s how I saw it. If I regretted something I’d done, I had to face up to the fact that I’d made a mistake. I had committed an error or infraction. Something I hadn’t done, on the other hand, wasn’t a mistake so much as a simple oversight. Well, I should have realized how much fun skating would be…hey, maybe next time.

Mistakes — those things I regretted doing — caused harm. Little oversights and missed opportunities, not so much.

Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I can see it a bit differently. We shouldn’t live our lives being afraid of making mistakes and having regrets. Life should be about taking chances, daring to live our dreams, and doing things we love — even if we sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes, we even fail.

I see, too, that life really is all about choices. Letting an opportunity pass us by is a mistake, and afterward, we have only ourselves to blame. As we get older and look back over the years, what hurts most aren’t the things we did wrong but the things we neglected to do, the times we allowed our fears hold us back, the times we chose not to get involved.

Writing No Regrets has given me an opportunity to explore what “being sorry” means in our relationships with others — and in our relationship with ourselves. Through listening to my characters and sharing their stories, I’ve come to understand and fully embrace the need to be who we are, to follow our dreams, and above all, to dare to live passionately.



Would your rather be sorry for something you’ve done?

Or for something that you didn’t do?


Thank you for visiting today.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Remember, each comment on my blog this month adds $1.00 to my May pledge to Reach Out and Read.

DID YOU KNOW: The State of Colorado once had a law that made it illegal to kiss a sleeping woman!  Watch for more fun and fascinating little facts to come. 

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Putting Emotions on the Page

There are two types of writers, or so I’ve been told. One is the objective writer. He – or she — skillfully captures the actions taking place within the environment, delivering a picture so clear that readers can easily see all that’s happening.  Objective writers are direct, to the point, and hard-hitting in the vision of the world they present.

Subjective writers, on the other hand, grab readers by the emotions and don’t let go. They force readers to feel their way through a story rather than observe it. What happens in the lives of the characters also happens — at an emotional level — in the hearts of the readers.

If you’ve read any of my stories, you’ll already know that I’m a highly subjective writer. Although I try to capture the sights and faithfully show the movements and physical aspects of my characters and the settings, my strong suit is getting myself so deeply immersed in their heads that their thoughts and feelings naturally come pouring out — sometimes in ways that surprise me.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a subjective writer. It’s easier, I’ve heard, for a subjective author to learn the techniques involved in writing from an objective point of view. Objective writers, however, often struggle to “add” emotions onto the page. And there’s the rub. Emotions aren’t something that can be added in later. They can’t be layered onto a story. Either they’re there, or they’re not.

Where do emotions come from? How do we draw them out and put them on the page?

This is related to that oft-repeated advice to “show, don’t tell.” Yet how, precisely, do you show a quality as intangible and incomprehensible as an emotion?

Body language is often touted as a ideal way to show emotion. Yes, it’s important. If a character is feeling down-hearted, we need to see those sagging shoulders, the slow, shuffling steps, the pinched facial features that reveal the emotions. We’re still approaching it from an objective point of view, though. We’re using our heads to rationalize how an emotion looks.

How do we move beyond that point and use our hearts instead? How do we give readers the subjective experience that allows them to feel the emotions themselves? What tricks can we use to make readers laugh, cry, or slam doors in anger along with our characters?

First, we have to understand where emotions come from.

I remember back to Psychology 101, many years ago. I really didn’t agree with a lot of what I was taught about emotions. It sounded so backward!

GrizzlyHere’s the example I recall: You see a bear and immediately become frightened. Sounds about right, don’t you think? Well, maybe. But, a two-year old child sees the same bear and laughs. The difference of course, is that YOU know the bear is dangerous. YOU know you “should” be frightened. The child doesn’t have that same awareness. In other words, you had to think before you felt. Or, as it was explained in that textbook, thought precedes emotion.

I’ve lived long enough now and have learned enough about life to realize that this is fairly close to the truth. It’s not, of course, the whole picture. It’s not only our thoughts but our perspectives, our beliefs, our circumstances, and the context of our lives that shape our emotional responses to the world around us.

This, then, is the key to getting emotions onto the page. First, we have to know our characters, and we have to understand their beliefs, their desires, and especially their motivations — a handy word which is closely related to emotion — in order to sense what they are thinking and feeling.

Here’s a short little excerpt from Keeping Faith which illustrates the importance of who the character is and how his perspective on life shapes his emotions. Tom Henderson has returned to the dilapidated old homestead where he was raised. With him is a friend, Caleb Bryant.

“No point thinking about things you can’t have.”

“Who says you can’t have them?” Caleb asked.

Tom’s head jerked up. For as long as he could remember, he’d been told he’d never amount to a hill of beans, that he’d end up swinging from some noose, or rotting away in some jail. He was a bastard. Worse still, a whore’s bastard. Nobody had use for that sort of man.

But Caleb didn’t see him that way. Caleb, by God, was damned stupid enough to think every man deserved a chance to make something of himself. And why the hell not?

Tom wished with all his heart that he could have all the things he’d been denied as a child. Not the material things. Those things didn’t matter. What he wanted were the intangibles. The love. The respect. The laughter, the kindness, the happiness, the joy. He’d never known any of those things before, and now Caleb said he could get whatever he wanted?

Damn, but what did he know that Tom didn’t?

He was going to listen. He was going to learn.

And nobody would ever put Tom Henderson down again.

Can you feel Tom’s emotions? I haven’t named them, but can you feel the first stirrings of hope? Can you sense his sudden awareness of new possibilities in his life? Can you experience the same quiet determination that Tom feels?

Here’s another little excerpt from the same story. In this snippet, Tom’s just learned that his sister Sally died in childbirth, leaving behind a precious little girl. He’s holding the baby for the first time.

“Please, Mr. Henderson. It’s plain to see that you’ve got no way to provide for your niece. I suppose I should have taken time to make the trip on my own to assess the conditions, but I was hopeful you’d be in a position to take her. Optimism is one of my weaknesses, I daresay.”

She didn’t look too optimistic in Tom’s eyes. He couldn’t imagine her ever having a positive outlook about anything.

But this child! She needed hope. She deserved bright blue skies and sunny days. She deserved butterflies and flowers, and the sweet promise of spring. Not some strait-laced, tightly-corseted old biddy who thought of her as nothing more than baby girl.

Tom looked down at the tiny bundle he held in his arms. So tiny, yet so perfect. He marveled over the little fingers, touching each one by one. When the baby’s hand closed around his big thumb, he felt a tugging at his heart so real, so undeniable, he suddenly couldn’t find his breath.

“Excuse me, Mr. Henderson.” Edith Christensen’s nasally voice grated on Tom’s nerves. “I have to leave now. It’s a long trip back to Denver. You need to give me the child.”

“Not yet, ma’am. She’s my niece. I want a little time with her.” He stroked one soft, pink cheek and was rewarded with a gurgling, cooing smile. “She likes me,” he said, glancing toward Lucille.

And he liked her. No, he loved her. This precious life wrapped in a thick gray blanket was kin. Not his own child, but a child who shared his blood, all the same. She was Sally’s daughter, and Sally was gone now. This sweet, nameless angel was all that was left to him of his sister’s kindness, her goodness, her own innocence.

He wished he could have taken better care of Sally, could have helped her and given her all she needed, but he’d failed her. Too young, too mixed-up, and too bitter about his own life, Tom hadn’t been able to save Sally from the wretched evils of their childhood.

But he’d damned sure save this baby.

“I’m not giving her back,” he said in a quiet voice. “I’m going to keep her.”

Again, can you share Tom’s emotions here? Many readers have commented on the emotions within this story. Those emotions come through because we know who Tom is, we know his beliefs about himself and his place in the world, and we know his heart.

That’s the secret. Take what’s in the heart and use it as a way of understanding the thoughts inside the character’s head. Together they become a powerful combination that creates emotions readers can share.


Thanks for visiting today!

If you’d like to read more, Keeping Faith is available from Amazon and other on-line booksellers. You can purchase it in both e-book and paperback format.


What Do You Want?

One bit of advice I was given about writing

was to post a sign on the wall above my desk asking:

What does your character want?

The next bit of advice was, whatever your character wants, don’t let him have it.

No, I don’t actually have such a sign hanging up in MLWR (My Little Writing Room), but the idea behind it is solid. Good stories are built from conflict, and the two essential conflicts we all face in life are:

  • We have something we don’t want
  • We want something we don’t have

Learning to make a character miserable is one of the key principles for fiction-writing, but I’m not actually here today to write about my stories.

I’m here to answer another question from my handy-dandy little “Question and Answer” book.  Yes, it’s a question about what I want. When I read it, I felt a bit like a character in one of my novels, someone who’s being denied something I desire.

The question in full reads:

What was something you wanted today, but couldn’t have?

I find that a very awkward question since it’s not yet even 9:00 AM. Maybe the book is meant to be read at night. For me, it works better at the start of the day, so I’ll have to tweak this one a bit to make it work.

I could look back at yesterday. Was there something I wanted but couldn’t have? Maybe, but I can’t think of anything at the moment.

What about this morning? Have I wanted something I haven’t been able to get? Again, I’m sitting here staring off into the distance, unable to think of an answer.

Do I lead a charmed life? Do I have everything I want? No, of course not. I do, however, lead a very contented life. I’m happy with what I have.  I’m reminded of another sign I’ve often seen. I don’t have one of these hanging on the wall either, but maybe I should.


I do believe this is true. Life offers so many beautiful moments for us to enjoy, so many treasures to experience.  Our world gives us blue skies, rainy mornings, gorgeous flowers, briliantly-plumed birds. We can laugh at the antics of playful puppies, curious kittens, new-born foals. We can know the love of tenderness of family and friends, and can be touched by random acts of kindness from others.  What more could we want than what we’re given?

Oh…I can think of a few things. I’m sure you can, too.

I wish I could snap my fingers and my messy house would instantly be in perfect order. I wouldn’t mind having a few more dollars in my bank accounts, and sure, I’d love to make the NY Times best-seller list.

If I had unlimited funds, I’d renew my subscription to Strategy and Tacticsa war-gaming magazine that I thoroughly enjoy but which is a bit pricey. I’d buy a lot more books, too. I’d make generous donations to my favorite charities and organizations, including Reach Out and ReadThe Cat House on the Kings, and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

If money were no object, I’d probably splurge and buy myself lots of fancy kitchen gadgets, and I’d probably go crazy buying bath towels, bed sheets, candles, and oils. Yeah, there are lots of things I’d enjoy, but I see them as little luxuries, not necessities for a happy life.

Maybe as the day unfolds, I’ll think of something I might want…but can’t have. Right now, I can’t imagine what it might be. Unless…

Aha! I’ve got it. What I wanted this morning but couldn’t get was an answer to this question!


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Oh, what a fun question I have today! I’ve grabbed my little Questions and Answers book, opened it to today’s date, and here’s what I see:

What’s your favorite word — right now?


I’m glad that “right now” is added on, because my favorite words do change from time to time. But, I think I’ll have to revise this a bit and make “word” plural. It would be impossible for me to single out one word to call my favorite.

If I had to choose only one — right now — it would be ethereal.  I love the soft sound of the word. I love the beautiful, gentle images it conjures up in my mind. It’s a whisper of a word. It makes me dream.

Now, in no particular order, a few of my other favorite words would be:

  • Flabbergasted
  • Oblivion
  • Shambles
  • Blissful
  • Uncompromising
  • Clattered
  • Shuffled
  • Staggered
  • Glittering
  • Wisps
  • Slither

Of course, if you were to ask my editor, she’d tell you my favorite word must surely be “atop”. She made certain to point out how often I’d used it in my last romance novel. Can’t somebody just be on top of the bed once in a while instead of “atop” it?  Yes, Julie. You’re right.

Yes, I changed a few of those “atops”.

Words can be lots of fun. Words can be powerful. Words can make us feel, make us see, make us believe.

What’s YOUR favorite word — right now?


Thank you for dropping by today! I hope you’ll leave a comment and share one — or more — of your favorite words.