A publication date–my kingdom for that date

I so need a publication date. My fourth book is coming soon from my publisher. I have the official cover. I have the official blurb. I have the official excerpt. My editor and I have signed off on the final galley. All I need now is a publication date.

I understand that there is a process and West of Forgotten is very near the end of that process to being a published book—but there are times that I envy my writing friends who self-publish. Write the book, look it over for typos, have a few beta readers go over it, send it to a hired editor, buy a cover, put it all together and hit “publish.” Done.

In all honesty, I am NOT that brave.

I want a publisher. I like having my own editor and the great rapport Anne and I have in our working relationship. I love the cover artist I have through my publisher. Everything Deb touches turns to gold when it comes to creating a cover. Have you seen my covers? And, I like that if I have a problem once the book is published, I can shoot an e-mail to Rhonda, or RJ, or Lisa (depending on the problem) and have a resolution within a matter of a day, and sometimes, just in hours.

So, now that I’ve talked myself out of thinking about self-publishing my next book, I’m going to share the cover, the blurb, and the excerpt from West of Forgotten (coming soon from The Wild Rose Press).

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Jacket blurb:

Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly.

For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter.

Unless she can learn to trust Harrison, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.

Excerpt:

“You are an interesting woman. Beautiful, fascinating, and so full of contradictions.” He levered back from her and lifted his hand to cradle the side of her face, the pad of his thumb feathering along the slope of her cheek. “A seemingly very strong woman and yet terrified of a kiss.”

Rachel’s mouth was dry and she couldn’t pry her tongue from the roof of her mouth. Her limbs trembled. Surely he had to hear how fiercely her heart was pounding, so loudly she heard it echoing in her ears.

His voice deepened, grew quieter until it was almost a whisper and she fought the urge to close her eyes and let the warmth in his voice wash fully over her. “A woman with a child but so frightened of intimacy.” He leaned even closer to her, his mouth almost on hers, yet not touching her except where his warm palm held her face.

In the darkness, she could just make out his features. Her hands slid up his chest and she didn’t know if it was to push him away or pull him closer. She was aware her breathing was shallow and she held her breath when he brushed the pad of his thumb against her lower lip.

“You have a mouth made for kissing, my beautiful wife, but I’m not going to kiss you. Not until you ask me. And, I promise, when that time comes, you’ll be asking me to do a whole lot more than just kiss you.”

 

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Greetings from The Bridge

The rules here are rather strange, but like all places, there are some who view rules as set in stone and others who view those rules as much more in line with strongly worded suggestions. Supposedly, I am only allowed one time to contact my human in such a manner once I crossed the Bridge and I used that one time when I hacked Vander’s Facebook page. But, as I said, there are some here who view rules as little more than suggestions—and for that I have to thank my old feline friend, Ding. If anyone could find a loophole, it would be her. I also figured if Vander could take over HER blog for a day and write a post, it can’t possibly be that hard to do.
I have waited some time before I decided to steal HER blog and send HER a message because I know how deeply HER heart hurt when she kept the promise she made to me when I was a small puppy. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt HER. She was—no, she is my human and hurting HER is something I never want to do. I know the day I left HER and went to the Bridge she hurt so much.
I remember I woke HER up that morning because I was in horrible pain. She tried to make it better and the only thing that helped was when she laid down on the floor with me and just held me in HER arms. She held me when the doctor lady came out to help me go to the Bridge. Having HER hold me when the doctor lady helped me was so nice because I wasn’t alone. I always trusted HER and she said that the pain would be all gone.
I can’t really explain what happened next, but some of the others here said that my body died. I could still feel HER holding me, feel HER gently stroking my head, and kissing my muzzle—but—I was also looking at all of this. And, the pain was gone. She very carefully placed my body in a pretty wagon and a nice lady pulled my body away. I heard HER say to Aunt Jacque, “I can’t watch him being taken away,” and she and Aunt Jacque drove away. I tried to tell HER that I was still there, in the car.
When we got back to the house, all the dogs I knew were still there and they could see me. I could see them. I could see HER, but she didn’t seem to be able to see me even though I know she could feel me next to her. She kept telling me it was okay, that even though it hurt her, she would be okay and I could go.
I couldn’t leave HER. Only thunderstorms scared me until that day. If I stayed right next to HER, I didn’t have to walk across a large black area. There was nothing in that area. NOTHING. She was on this side of the emptiness. On the other side was a place so beautiful and bright.
Our friend Johanna sent HER a text message. HER response was that I was scared and I wouldn’t go to the Bridge. I didn’t see a Bridge, only that horrible, black emptiness. Johanna said she was sending help. And, then in that empty blackness I saw a large tri-colored smooth walking to me. And, behind him were a lot of other dogs and a cat. Some I knew: Belle; my half-sister E.B.; my friend Cara; and my best cat friend, Ding. The tri said his name was Elvis and his human, Johanna, had asked him to come walk with me across the blackness. He said when HER dogs and Ding heard I was joining them across the Bridge, they all wanted to come with him.
Another tri smooth crossed the emptiness. For a minute, he leaned against HER legs and I could feel HER happiness to sense him by HER. He said his name was Boots and he was the smooth who made HER fall in love with tri smooth boys. Boots is a very serious dog. (Vander, take note, please…) And, then I saw HER very first heart dog. I have never met royalty, but I knew beyond a doubt, this tri rough girl is the embodiment of regal and royalty. Lena looked at me and said, “You aren’t leaving HER forever. You’ve done this before. Many times in HER life. Heart dogs like us, we find ways to return, again and again.”
Lena and I started to walk into the blackness and I got very scared when I felt HER fading away. I ran back to HER. Lena walked back to me and she growled at me. “You are hurting HER. Walk with us. Cross the Bridge with us. It won’t be forever. You can come back to HER. She will always hold you in HER heart.”
And, then Ding rubbed her head against me and whispered, “I will walk right next to you. Lena will walk with you, too. And, Boots and Colt and C.J. will be with us. Just look across the emptiness and you’ll see the Bridge appear.”
There was a Bridge. I could see it, then. Elvis asked me if I was ready to cross the blackness. I wasn’t ready. I told him I wasn’t. All the dogs she ever loved just sat down or lay down around HER and Colt said they would all wait with me until I was ready.
Two more collies crossed the emptiness. That blue smooth doesn’t seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he said something that made me realize I have a promise to keep to HER, too. When she became my human, I promised I would never hurt HER. I had to leave HER.
Whiskey, the other collie who came across after the others, has a very sick sense of humor. He told me not to worry about falling through the blackness. He knew of only one dog who fell through it and that dog came back as a cat. Ding didn’t appreciate the humor.
I’ve been on this side of the Bridge for a little while now. Every night, I hear HER say, “Good night, Snapey-baby. Mommy loves you. Always.” I have gone back to HER, mostly when she’s sleeping because the two times I went back when she was still awake, I heard HER say how empty the little cabin still feels. I don’t want HER to feel hurt still.
Mommy, you were the best human a dog could ever want. All the dogs you ever loved and still love are here. Beary wants to know if you still have “his rock”. I don’t know what that means, but I promised him I would ask. Ding said to tell you “Thank you.” Lena thinks you’ve waited long enough to find another spiritual companion. I’m not sure what that means, either. Boots is proud of Vander. (Someone should be, I guess.)

And, Mommy,  I love you, too.

Always.
~~S

Ghosts, book signings, and Deadwood

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Where else can you take an 1880s Train Ride through the Black Hills…

1880s Train RideAttend a PRC Rodeo in Deadwood…

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Mount RushmoreSee a Ghost (and get your fill of amazing appetizers!)

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…and see more ghosts in an historic cemetery…

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…Then Come Have Fun in Deadwood this Summer!

Special Places in the Heart

8512snapeBecause of his age and the arthritis in his right front wrist, my old champion Snape (Gr.Ch. Wych’s Prince of Summer) has become a house dog. Because of his age, getting him up and down the stairs into the basement for a bath is an ordeal–for both of us. He’s no longer completely steady on his feet while navigating stairs so he relies on me to prevent a fall. Until yesterday, even though he was slow, he could still climb them without assistance. Yesterday, after he had a bath and a complete blow-out with the dryer, I had to lift his back end on each step.

 

That assistance brought home just how old he really is. He’s eleven and a half years old. He’s been with me since he was eight weeks old and when I first picked him out, I really didn’t want another male. I was tricked into meeting him. I’m glad I fell for the ruse perpetrated on me by his sire’s owner and the owner of his mother. As a puppy, he was a bright red and for some time, I thought like his sire, he was going to be a pure for sable. Until he started to grow his adult coat when he was about 18 months old…and then that rich, deep mahogany began to fill in. _eag2742-edit-1820183777-o

Finishing his championship took time–because he is one of those dogs that doesn’t really look a lot like other collies in the ring and the right judges had to be found for him–older judges who’ve been in the breed for decades. Every one of those judges who put him up, whether all breed or specialty judge, all had the same comment–that he has a “classic look” to him. He finished his championship with all-breed points and specialty major wins.

 

Snape is my pet. My highest aspiration for my collies is that when they are retired from the show ring, they become “pets.” There is life after the show ring. Most of us will never have a top stud dog. Most of us will seldom have a top ten winning dog. Most of us will never win the Nationals, but I think most of us have these dogs who hold a special place in our hearts. The day Snape finished, while I was crying tears of joy, another person in this breed was very angry. Perhaps forgetting that I was set up behind this person, this person threw a pin brush into their tack box and announced that they couldn’t believe “that f$&^ing pet won.” Whether or not I was meant to hear that comment is neither here nor there. I did hear it, and I have not forgotten it. I have since come to realize this person is no more than a bully, just as fierce in the bullying as those who bullied this person in high school. I actually pity this person. And, I’m very proud of my “f$%^ing pet.” He holds a very special place in my heart and none of the insults hurled at him will ever take away his championship, his grand championship, and most certainly never take away that place in my heart.

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We’re Not Getting Out of this Alive

It’s not a damn competition. Life, I mean…it’s not a damn competition. I’m not supposed to be in competition with anyone other than myself. Yet, I keep getting sucked into competitive mode. Maybe it’s part of human nature but the competitiveness can also manage to suck the happiness out of a being.

When I’m not writing and masquerading as a published author, I show my collies. This year has been an ugly year. I’m not sure what shifted because I’m still winning as much as I usually do, but something changed and it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. Competition became cut-throat. Back stabbing became the norm. And, when that wasn’t happening, and there wasn’t enough sh*t flying, some people took it upon themselves to out and out lie. Twice this year, I seriously considered hanging up the leashes, putting the brushes in the tack box for the last time, and calling it quits. A few years ago, I had already retired the “professional” shingle because I was well over the drama. It used to be what happened in the show ring didn’t affect the friendships and relationships outside of the show ring. Not any more.

And my writing career—I’ve seen far too many authors attacking and slurring other authors. We’re all in this together. I guarantee, it’s a really big pool of readers out there. There’s more than enough readers to go around. The only thing that happens when two authors go at each other in public forums like Facebook and Twitter is you make the rest of us look bad. So if you could please knock it off and at least try to act professional, the rest of us would appreciate it. If Author Aaaa says something you don’t like or says something about you, you don’t have to respond. When you do, you’ve given Author Aaaa a much bigger audience than they probably would have ever had and you’ve given them “street cred” because you’ve responded.

The only exception to that response has been another ugly trend I’ve seen in the writing world—and that’s the bad behavior of some of the male cover models. Gentlemen (and I am using that term VERY lightly), it is NEVER—I repeat NEVER acceptable to intimidate, harass, and belittle any woman for any reason. When you attack, mock, and degrade the very women who write the books that you appear on the cover of, you better believe the rest of us are going to sit up and take notice. And, we’re not going to want you on the cover of our books. Ever. We’re going to respond to that bad behavior.

Politics—Oh, dear God—I am sick to the death of the political posts. The election here in the U.S. is over. One side lost. One side won. For the love of all that’s holy, can we please remember we’re all supposed to be Americans and work to making this country better for EVERYONE? I have lost track of the people I have unfollowed on Facebook; some I’ve had to unfriend, and about half a dozen, I’ve actually blocked because of the vitriol. Guess what, folks. In two years, we get to vote on most of the Senate and almost all of the House, AGAIN. We get to do this all over, AGAIN. I can’t wait (and add as much sarcasm as necessary to that last statement).

The only thing I can attribute all this nastiness and ugliness to is competition—competition for readers, competition for modeling gigs for those covers, competition for championship or national ranking points, and competition for which political ideology will govern for the next few years. But you know what—at the end of the day, all the competition gets us very little. Oh, there is some monetary compensation, I’ll admit that. But, when the competition becomes so intense that it makes us into ugly, hateful people, it’s not worth it. Personally, I like to be able to look at myself in the mirror.

 

 

 

The Knight of the Plains

Great American Western RomanceAuthorRibbon
Head on to HartsRomancePulse.com to enter to win

What is it about the cowboy that is so enduring? What was it about this breed of man that has made the cowboy such a part of our national mythos? Sometimes, the word “cowboy” has been used in a derogatory manner—but for the most part, the cowboy is the good guy. He might be taciturn, but when he spoke, people listened to him. He was as careful with his weapons as he was with his words. He tipped his hat to a lady, regardless of her status in life, because that was just how he was expected to act toward a member of the fairer sex and this myth of the cowboy and the frontier West was born shortly after the Civil War, when heavy industrialization was the experience of many Americans, and out of the need for a unifying image after the bloody and deadly divisions of the Civil War. “It’s a kind of fiction with a traditional shoot ’em up formula. A hero who is tall, handsome and taciturn and skillful with a gun and a rope rides into town, and he saves everyone” (Don Graham, professor of English literature, U of TX).cowboy

 

I can only speak for myself, but I know why it is I look up to cowboys and why they hold such a large part of my heart. I grew up, figuratively, in the Old West. My childhood heroes were John Wayne, The Rifleman, Matt Dillion, the Cartwrights, the Lone Ranger, and Superman. Superman? Yes, the Man of Steel, too. The cowboy lived by a creed—don’t lie, don’t take advantage, respect and defend women and children, stay on this side of the law, your word was your bond…sounds suspiciously like Superman fighting for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

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In those Westerns I cut my television viewing teeth on (and in the novels, as well), the good guys were discernible from the bad guys, and it just wasn’t the white hat which let me know who the good guys were. Those good guys lived that cowboy creed. Call it chivalry, if you will, because it was a form of chivalry. It was a much simpler time, then. You knew who the bad guys were. They didn’t live that creed. They didn’t care, so long as their nefarious plans didn’t go awry. Cardboard villains shooting it out with cardboard heroes. Those Westerns offered predictability and simplicity. Most are morality plays—set against the backdrop of a landscape huge, sweeping, and intimidating. It was the simplicity and the predictably which made the Western and the cowboy so much a part of our national psyche.

 

Yet, there is something to be said of those simpler times. Perhaps that’s why even though the genre fades in popularity (including in the movies), it will never go away. The cowboy has made comeback after comeback because I think deep inside of us, there is a longing for a bygone era when we knew who our friends were, who we could trust, and who was the bad guy. It’s certainly not so simple today.

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Head on over, now, to HartsRomancePulse.com and enter to win a Kindle, autographed western romance novels, and more. Tell ’em Lynda sent you!

Define Beauty

How do you define beauty? I know how our society seems to define it and I never fit that “ideal”. Because of that ideal, I have never really seen myself in a positive light, unless I was evaluating a role I was fulfilling—mother, wife, grandmother, dog handler. We use body shaming too often with our girls and ourselves. I can partially understand why the Mayor of London (as in Great Britain) has banned some public images of the female body. After all, as he says, he has two teen-aged daughters and he’s worried about their self-image in regards to their own bodies. I also have my reservations about the Mayor’s edict, but that’s for another blog post.

 

I’ve found a wonderful organization which celebrates girls, teens, and young women with disabilities. Founded by Abbie Curren, 2008’s Miss Iowa, and the first contestant to compete for the Miss USA crown with cerebral palsy, this organization is the “Miss You Can Do It” pageant (https://www.facebook.com/missyoucandoitpageant/).

 

I like this organization for a lot of reasons. Beauty comes in all sizes and in all forms. Beauty isn’t just the “ideal” our society claims it is. Beauty is just as much in the eye of the beholder as it is to be found within. I struggle daily with body image—I’m not getting any younger and those grey hairs I keep finding aren’t helping. The fact I’ve carried two children within my body doesn’t help that body image. That is—they didn’t help until I looked in the mirror a few years ago and said, “ENOUGH!” How I view myself had a direct effect on my daughter. I hear her say the same things about her body that I’ve said, unwittingly, within her hearing about my own body. And, I’ve heard my ten year old grand-daughter and my six year  grand-daughter shame their own bodies.

 

Enough is enough. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I’m not 95 pounds soaking wet. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed because I have stretch marks from carrying my two children, or that I have grey hairs in the brunette because even though Miss Clairol is wonderful and only she and I know how much grey I really have I earned those grey hairs, or be shamed because….You fill in the blank for whatever reason we as women allow ourselves to be shamed.

 

I will see myself as my husband sees me—as a beautiful woman he is attracted to. I will see myself as my son sees me—as the beautiful woman who gave him life. I will see myself as my daughter and grand-daughters see me—as a woman who is beautiful, caring, strong, and intelligent.