Hubby and I did a little traveling last week to seek out a location for my next historical novel. Searching Arizona is like receiving Christmas presents that just keep coming. We drove to Jerome. For those of you who have never heard of the town, don't feel bad, I had never heard of it, either. It's a treasure! Built on the side of a mountain and overlooking Sedona far in the distance, I felt like I was in a European village. Of course, I've never been to Europe, so I'm just speculating. I uploaded several pictures. Don't you just love the police car? I'm not sure if its really used or just for looks. I read some brochures about the history of the town and discovered it was once the copper mining capital of the world, with a few thousand residents, but when the copper mines played out, it became a ghost town in the 1950s until the hippies moved in. After the hippies, it experienced a revival and is now populated with many artisans, galleries, and restaurants. It's a lovely place--perhaps the setting for another book? Hmm.
In the valley below Jerome, we traveled through the "C" towns as I call them--Clarkedale, Cottonwood, and Cornville--on our way to Sedona. They are lovely towns with much history. There is a train that departs Clarkedale and travels the canyons of Sedona. We didn't have opportunity to ride it, but it's on our bucket list. Cottonwood's Old Town is wonderful and also on our bucket list to wander one day. Cornville, is a tiny hub with beautiful countryside. Blink, and you're already through the town.
Our primary destination was Sedona and if you've never been there, you're in for a surprise. The terrain is nothing like the nearby "C" towns. Because of the iron in the soil, the countryside is red, it's rough, and it's incredibly beautiful. We took a road trip in a jeep with a guide to two vortices, side-by-side, that are said to be female and male (don't ask me to explain that; I haven't a clue). There is an ancient tree standing between the vortices whose branches and trunk are swirled. Of course, that kind of mystical stuff is something I love, so I started daydreaming a story combining history with a touch fantasy--how about a reclusive female healer of the 1800s living near the vortices, and a father whose last hope for his daughter is the healer. To add conflict, he must overcome great difficulty in finding the healer, even though he has little belief in such skill. Perhaps the story will one day come to fruition. Sigh.
After some much needed R and R, I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and begin writing the second book in the Finding Home Series; the story of Hallie's sister, Lilah. Hallie is the heroine from Cry of the West who made the several months journey from St. Louis, MO to Oregon City, OR along the Oregon Trail.
Lilah's story takes place twelve years after Hallie's arrival in Oregon, and it's been twenty years since the sisters parted ways. Cooper Jerome, Hallie's husband, hires his friend, Rush Garrett, to find Lilah and deliver a letter from Hallie, in the hope that it will persuade her to allow him to accompany her to Oregon
I'm sure you can see where this is going. Rush and Lilah are the H/h and I have entitled this book Rescue on the Rio. Because the first book, Cry of the West, was full of western history, I've got my work cut out for me in researching the Rio Grande River and surrounding lands. Hopefully, there will be plenty of action, especially when Lilah gets abducted by bandits bound for Mexico. Luckily, Rush will be tracking them, determined to save her. Not so lucky for the bandits, Lilah is a woman with a strong will and cunning mind. Because the story unfolds as I write, there are many unknowns I can't wait to discover.
I'm having fun just contemplating all the trouble I can get Lilah into. However, there is a vulnerable side to our heroine that few are allowed to see. I have a feeling that Rush, strong and cunning in his own right, may just see beyond Lilah's facade and recognize the longing in her heart for a family and home of her own. Hence, the name of the series, Finding Home.
On another note, the above picture was taken during my vacation in Hawaii. It was my first visit and I marvel at the beauty of the islands. My husband and I rented scooters for a few days and had a blast discovering the Big Island. We went snorkeling and below is a picture of me in my gear. I think I scared the fish. Actually, the colorful array of aquatic friends, and even a sea turtle, made for a wonderful day. Oh, and I also had to upload a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Chicken strutting their stuff. As for the flower, I took more photos of flowers than anything. Every few paces I made my husband stop so I could snap a shot. Such a patient man.
Gary and I sometimes make unusual friends during our travels. We met this guy in Arizona, and although you can't tell from the photo, we were surrounded by his companions. After our new found friends lost interest in us, we were allowed to proceed onward to another adventure. Since visiting Arizona, we have been immersed in the Old West--love the ghost towns! It's a writer's paradise.
Speaking of writing, today I just put the finishing touches on the fourth book in my contemporary romance series: Romance on the Ranch. It's ready for release; however, with a name like Candy Kisses, I have a feeling that if I upload it now, it will become available on Valentine's Day, and readers will get the impression it's a Valentine's story. Nope! The name and completion date are just coincidence. To waylay confusion, I'm aiming for a release date of February 16th.
For the past four months I have been writing daily for hours each day. Only about six weeks ago I released Cry of the West: Hallie, the first book in the Finding Home Series. I had intended to immediately begin writing the second book, Rescue on the Rio: Lilah, but a wonderful email from a reader requesting a continuation of the Romance on the Ranch Series, prompted me to postpone my current project, and I'm so glad I did because it resulted in Candy Kisses.
So, now it's time to begin writing Lilah's story and I've been waking up nights listening to her tale. I must confess, however, that I won't begin her story for a couple of weeks. I've never been to Hawaii and when the opportunity arose, did I have to think twice about going? No way! As much as I love writing, I'm looking forward to some down time. Over the years, I've discovered that writing a story is not the difficult part--it's the editing that's difficult. Sometimes it drives me bonkers and I doubt that whatever I'm working on will ever be ready for release.
Okay, since this is just musings, it's time to sign off because the mountain outside my window is looking fabulous in the evening light and I just want to soak it in. After the sun goes down, I'll put on a travel video and get lost in the beauty of Hawaii.
Dream Kisses Book Cover
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, again because the third time's a charm. I'm finally happy with the cover for Dream Kisses. I tried my hand at designing the cover and my husband said, "Verna, stick with what you do and let the experts do what they do." After trying twice and not creating the perfect look, I asked Elaina Lee (For the Muse) to design the new cover and I love it! She was also the artist for the Shapeling Trilogy. So, the cover is up on my website and will soon show up on Amazon.
Blurb for Dream Kisses:
Sarah Carter a.k.a. Mims Murphy, meets Sage Tanner at Imaginings Publishing while he's posing for the cover of her soon-to-be-released western romance novel. After being bulldozed into a coffee break with him by her publisher, Sissy Johansen, an embarrassing incident makes Sarah furious, and she walks out. Of course, fate has a wonderful way of intervening in matters of the heart. After deciding her book needs a touch of reality, she signs up for "dude" lessons at Lazy M Dude Ranch. Imagine her chagrin when she discovers the owner of the ranch is none other than Mr. Tanner himself!
The photo shoot had already begun when they slipped into the studio. Sissy motioned her to a spot near a side wall. Mims leaned against the wall, her eyes riveted on the models. Lights flashed and the photographer, a short skinny man with a balding pate, called instructions. "Move in, Sage. Yeah, give her that sexy, hot hot HOT look. Make her sizzle. Chastity, let him know who's in charge."
Sissy smothered a giggle and whispered, "Can you believe her name is Chastity?"
Mims bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing out loud.
"Okay, models, let's try a kiss. The title of the book is Dream Kisses, so how about some dream kisses. Make my toes curl."
With a rather bored expression, the male model glanced in Mims direction. Her heart tripped when their eyes met, something that only happened to characters in her books.
Sissy whispered, "He's absolutely the most gorgeous model I've ever seen, and I've seen my share. If I were twenty years younger, I'd throw myself at him unabashedly." She sighed.
"Sissy, you're kidding, right? You're married," Mims shot back.
"I think I'm kidding; not really sure."
Mims shook her head and looked back at the models now sharing a passionate embrace and kiss. The female had hit the genetics jackpot: curvaceous body, flowing blonde hair, sexy sky blue eyes, and full pouty mouth. Of course, maybe it wasn't genetics; maybe it was implants, hair salon, contacts, and Botox. Whatever, she's still gorgeous.
A fan gently billowed the female's lavender silk drape around her luscious body and lifted her golden hair off her shoulders. The male model bent her slightly backwards, all evidence of his boredom gone when he laid a whopper on her. His hair, the color of rich mahogany laced with sunlight, also moved in the breeze of the fan. His linen shirt, falling off his shoulder and open to the waist, revealed tanned skin and washboard abs.
Sissy said, "My God, I think I can scrub clothes on his abs."
Mims choked and shook her head at Sissy's forthrightness.
For the past few weeks I have devoted my time to completing the first book in the Kisses/Romance on the Ranch Series: Dream Kisses. I first got an inkling for the series while writing Book One in the Shapeling Trilogy: Roth. In that book, I used the phrase "dream kisses." I liked the feel of the words and tucked them away for further exploration, and Dream Kisses was born. While writing Dream Kisses, secondary characters begged for their own stories, thus Honey Kisses and Baby Kisses, will become books two and three.
I've wanted to write a contemporary/western/romance without fantasy elements for some time and I'm happy to say Dream Kisses was uploaded to Amazon about a week ago. However, I have yet to promote it because there are always a few bugs to work out. No matter how many times I reread a story, it seems a few typos get by. I'm also redesigning the cover. I decided the first one (dream cloud with blue sky) does not convey the idea of a western romance. So, I went back to the drawing board. After a couple of hours searching photo sites, I found one showing the boots of a man and a woman standing close to each other (perhaps kissing?). I designed a new cover and now await Amazon's replacement of the first one. After that, I will begin promotion.
On another note, the first book in the Shapeling Trilogy is available for free at Amazon for a limited time. I guess you could say this happened accidentally on purpose. About three weeks back, I put the book up for free on Smashwords and left it up too long. The web crawlers for Amazon picked up on it being free and made it free on Amazon. Now I have to wait for the web crawlers to discover the book is no longer free before they will restore the price of .99 cents. In less than a week there have been about 1,300 downloads. I must say, I am speechless. I hope readers enjoy the Shapeling Series. I agonized over the characterizations and plots for months. There had to come a time when I said, "Enough, move on!" With that being said, I am elated that Dream Kisses is complete and looking forward to writing Honey Kisses. With each book, I endeavor to improve my writing and simplify the whole process from conception to publication. That's my rambling for today ((-:
I just love the book cover for Davide's story! Elaina Lee (For The Muse) designed all the covers in the trilogy. She is so talented and easy to work with!
The edits are almost done. Of course, I'm such a perfectionist, I could edit for months and never get a book published. I have to draw a line and say, "Enough!"
I've been working on the back cover blurb for the paperback. Writing blurbs is my least favorite task in the whole process. I'll probably tweek this one several times, but it here's what I have so far:
Davide Beowolf: All his life Davide has been told that he is the prophesied Great Prince. Early on, he decided the universe had made a mistake. How could he possibly be the Shapeling Prince…when he has no shifting ability? For years he has requested an audience before the Thirteen co-Princes in order to convince them of their mistaken belief. When that opportunity is unexpectedly offered, it is with a strange stipulation. He must first travel to Uluru in The Red Center of Australia and go on a walkabout with his childhood friend and confidant, Zoe Spencer. Only after completing the walkabout will his father reveal directions to the Cave of Thirteen. Unfortunately, Zoe has been avoiding him for two years.
Zoe Spencer: Zoe just wants to get on with her life. She's spent too much of her adulthood pining for David Beowolf. After accepting the fact that he will always view her as his older childhood friend, never as his soul mate and lover, she severed contact to preserve her heart. While touring with her symphony orchestra in Spain, Davide unexpectedly arrives with an incredible request—that she accompany him to Australia and go on a walkabout! Could her heart survive if she agrees?
My Habit: Addicted to Writing
So...I've got Shapeling Trilogy launched. And, as always happens, I've had to work out a few bugs the first days after publication. Now the bugs are taken care of and I'm happy with the ebook. I've got the paperback in process and great ideas for the third book swimming in my head, and ...I haven't cleaned my bathrooms in six weeks! So...instead of going directly to the bathrooms (I hate cleaning bathrooms), I scrubbed the kitchen (even cleaned the refrigerator), then grabbed the vacuum and hauled ass around the living room. Suddenly, my writing addiction made itself known. What's an addict to do? I fought the urge, but to no avail. Alas, here I sit writing this ridiculous blog.
Just to satisfy my habit, I guess I'll write some goals for the rest of this year and next. First, I'd like to finish the edits on a middle school novella I started about three years ago, entitled Restoring 'Tween Time. I'm so close. It just needs edits and a cover. Next, I want to begin the third book in the Shapeling Trilogy, which is Davide's story. The plot is intricate and the locations fantastic. It's going to take a lot of brain power, which I'm kinda low on right now with all the effort I've put into the first two books. I also have a gem of a story I started about four months ago entitled Dream Kisses. I just love this story about an older woman (45ish) and a younger guy (35ish). It's not fantasy; it's contemporary romance. There's a unique twist that I think readers will love. The story keeps calling and I keep ignoring the call.
In November, I'm participating at a book fair where I'll be selling paperbacks of Shapeling Trilogy books one and two. If Restoring 'Tween Time is ready, I'll also be selling it. The Oregon Book Fair's location is Padgham Pavilion at the Jackson County Expo Park in Central Point, which is near Medford, Oregon. I'll post more about this as the time approaches; very exciting for me!
In the midst of pursuing my goals and cleaning house occasionally, I'm editing a book for Sarah Schofield. It's a fabulous YA novel with an awesome cover. We're aiming to have the book published by the end of the year.
Well, having written the above, I feel better. I guess I can face the bathrooms now.
Update and excerpt of Book Two in Shapeling Trilogy: Fawn: Master (Sample Sunday)
The book cover for Shapeling Trilogy Book Two is almost complete. Elaina Lee has done it again...another fabulous design. I love the way she creates a cover that tells a story. When I look at the pictures, I'm immersed in Fawn and Wade's story. I can't wait for the unveiling.
The paperback ended up being 177 pages. I had hoped for at least 200, but the stories write themselves and when they're done; they're done. I'm aiming to have the ebook posted on Amazon the first week of September and the paperback shortly thereafter. This release date is a month earlier than previously anticipated. My fingers are numbs from typing so much!
I've been pleased with the sales of Book One, Roth's story. I hope Book Two, Fawn's story, is as well received.
Here's an excerpt of Wade taking Fawn on a tour of Dream Catcher Ranch:
Wade opened the kitchen door and waited for Fawn to exit. Her glossy black hair in its pony tail bounced back and forth. He wanted to reach and circle his fingers around it to see if it felt as silky as it looked.
Sam bounded around the side of the house and ran straight to Fawn. She knelt and scratched him behind his ears. He barked his 'happy bark'. Wade shook his head at the dog's antics.
Fawn looked up and said, "Your land is beautiful, Wade. How many acres do you own?"
"Around two thousand, give or take. The house faces north, so we're looking south toward New Mexico; southwest is Arizona, and west is Utah. The Four Corners area is where the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet. We're about forty miles from there."
"It's where the Anasazi lived, correct?"
"Yes, their ancient dwellings are scattered throughout the area. I've even found some in a canyon on my own property." The minute Wade said the words; he'd wanted to take them back. If the information got leaked, he'd have archeologists and government people swarming his land. He cleared his throat and said, "Uh, Hidden Canyon is not public information and I'd like to keep it that way."
"No problem, I won't tell anyone."
"Thanks. Come on, I'll show you the stables and living quarters for the ranch hands." He walked the length of his two-story ranch house and into the blaze of a late afternoon sun setting the gradually rising western hills aglow with myriad shades of pinks and reds. His great-grandfather and grandfather had cleared the surrounding land with its outbuildings, corrals, and pastures with their own hands. He led Fawn to the stable, with Sam at her heels. He turned to Sam and ordered, "Go guard the house." Sam looked innocently at him and whined. Wade couldn't believe it. The dog never disobeyed him.
Fawn knelt before Sam again, and said, "You know you're supposed to follow Wade's orders. We'll spend time together later."
Wade's mouth dropped when Sam turned, with his tail between his legs, and slowly walked back to the house.
Leading Fawn inside the coolness of the stable, he walked to Misty Morning's stall.
Rubbing the mare's head, he said, "Hello, girl." When Fawn patted Misty's shoulder, he introduced his horse. "This is Misty Morning; I rescued her from ending up at the glue factory. She'd been mistreated and looked nothing like she does now. She's the best horse I've ever owned. I call her Misty Morning because I was driving past an old farm house at dawn and almost didn't see her because of the mist. I made some inquiries about the owner of the farm and got some bad vibes, so I went back and purchased her from the old tyrant."
"Hello, Misty Morning. I'm happy to meet you." The horse whinnied and turned her head toward Fawn.
"Looks like she's takin' a liking to you. She's usually skittish around newcomers."
"I have a way with animals."
Obviously, thought Wade as he watched Fawn lean her forehead against Misty's snout. He'd never seen his horse or his dog bond so quickly with a stranger.
Wade motioned past the stall. "We'll leave the stable through the back entrance. The kitchen building and living quarters are just past it."
Fawn gave Misty one last pat and followed him. He said, "The guys are out repairing fences, looking for strays, that kind of stuff."
Fawn chuckled, "Doing 'cowboy' stuff?"
Wade smiled. "Yeah, 'cowboy' stuff. They'll be returning in an hour for supper." He opened the door to the cafeteria style room. As if to underscore his words about supper, they heard a loud clang, and what sounded like French cursing coming from the kitchen.
Wade sighed. "Prepare yourself to meet Pierre. For the last ten years he's done nothing but complain about having to prepare 'American slop'. Every now and again, he sneaks in some fancy French dish which the guys razz him about. Pierre claims all cow hands have no 'palette discernment'. The fancy dish usually ends up being fed to the hogs." He laughed. "The hogs love Pierre."
Leading Fawn down the length of the room and past two rectangular dining tables pushed end-to-end with benches for seating, he held open a swinging door. "Hey, Pierre, watch your language, we've got company."
"Que? What? Company?"
Fawn entered the kitchen. Looking over her head, Wade saw Pierre quickly adjust his chef's hat that had fallen cockeyed across his forehead. The stubborn little man refused to cook without that damn hat, even though he was cooking for cowboys.
"Pierre Dubois, I'd like you to meet Fawn Woods. She'll be taking care of Zoe and the household."
Pierre started to roll his eyes, but caught himself. "Mademoiselle Woods, or is that Madame?" he asked with a slight bow.
"Monsieur Dubois, je suis Mademoiselle Woods."
"Oui. Je suis heureux de vous rencontrer."
Pierre's eyes rounded and his middle-aged but smooth baby features lit with a big grin. "Ah, finally, we are blessed with culture in this cowboys' den. I am happy to meet you, too."
"What's for dinner, Pierre?" Wade asked.
Pierre gave him a sour look and said, "Beans, beans, and beans, of course, but with the most heavenly cornbread in the State of Colorado. And, of course, the boring American apple pie for dessert."
"Good, I don't think the guys are ready for more Escargot," Wade laughed.
This is my first post at my new website. I wasn't able to bring my blogs over. Oh, I suppose I could, but it'd take months, so it's not gonna happen. I've recreated most of my other pages. Hopefully, this website is much improved. I've learned a lot over the past year about website design, blogs, tweets, FB, ebook publishing, print publishing, etc. It's been a stiff learning curve and a challenge. Who knows where I'll be a year from now.
So exactly where am I from a year ago...
In August, 2010, my first ebook novella was published by Solstice Publishing, Far Into Yesterday.
In March, 11:11 Countdown to 2012 was published as an ebook by Echelon Press.
Within the past few days, The Theory of Everything was published as an ebook, also from Echelon Press.
So, what's next? Something exciting! I've ventured into the indie world. In less than a month, the first book in a trilogy will make its debut. I've been working on this project diligently for months, and after I saw the cover designed by Elaina Lee (For the Muse), my heart hasn't stopped its pitter-patter. What do you think?
Is this picture hot or what!?
So what's the book about? It's about three Shapelings--people who can shift their form.
Here's a rundown of each book:
This trilogy is for anyone wanting to travel, explore, have adventures, uncover mysteries...heck, I'm at the top of that list. Below is a short excerpt.
Roth captured the updraft with his wings, their seven foot span easily maneuvering the razor sharp crags of Ember Canyon. He changed direction and streaked toward the river, iridescent under a full moon. Diving low enough to feel the spray from rapids, he reveled in his mastery of shapeshifting.
Within minutes he would learn what the Thirteen co-Princes considered a worthy decisive mission. For well over two thousand cycles of the sun he had been a Shapeling Protector. The successful completion of his next assignment would usher him into the realm of Shapeling Master, the second highest honor among shapelings; and again, another round of undetermined sun cycles with increasingly complex missions would be assigned to him. Finally, after achieving complete mastery, the honor of joining the co-Princes, leaders of all shapelings, would be his. He had no doubts about his abilities. He would not fail.
Roth soared high again, intent on reaching the Cave of Thirteen before sunrise. He arrived in record time. Gently landing and pulling his wings closed, he lowered his head and prayed to the Source, repeating the Prayer of Secrecy he had been taught as a young shapeling by his Guide. Before the last word in the prayer had been uttered, he no longer had wings or talons; he now stood tall on two feet, his raven hair long and whipped by the wind. Pale blue eyes that observed everything looked upward in a gesture of respect for the Source. He flexed and stretched his lean muscular form, feeling the rush that always accompanied a shapeshift.
Unlike humans, shapelings gave no consideration for his looks. In fact, shapelings never considered any of their kind greater or lesser than another. The focus of every shapeling was upon mastery; mastery of shapeshifting.
Roth glanced at the glow in the eastern sky. Soon the edge of the sun would appear. He smiled and walked the short distance to the Cave of Thirteen. At the exact moment the sun made its appearance, he stepped inside the cave lit by fire torches. Reverently, he approached the Thirteen and knelt, speaking the Prayer of Respect, "May the embers of truth always glow."
"Rise, Roth," commanded the Prominent Prince.