Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A giveaway

by Rain Trueax

Since I began this blog before I became an indie writer (means publishing my own books), I have never had any idea how many of you read romances-- or for that matter, ever read one. One reader wrote, some time back, that she used to read them but no longer. A few, I know still do but not how many. Maybe you've never read one but have been curious what they are about. Maybe you read them but prefer no one knows. Secretive romance readers are not unusual. It is the Cinderella of the publishing business and at the same time, it's the cash cow. Some resent this being a reality and hence put down romances.

It's funny about the ideas promoted regarding romance readers-- that they are lonely, unhappily married, living a dream life and that the romances are unhealthy for them. The truth is, in sociological studies, the ones reading romances are mostly happy in their relationships. Many are in high stress careers where the romances provide the same release that another might find from a Tom Clancy adventure. Romances are not just about the hero and heroine but families and friends. They always end with a feel good, it's part of the requirement (love stories not so much).

Through the years, I've had times where I have read a LOT of romances. My favorites are those with action in them. I found the first ones with sex to be-- like, wow they can really say that. Today, yes, I laugh at some of the euphemisms that were sometimes used (come on, you can enjoy the basic story and still think some of it is funny). 

To be honest, if a sex scene goes on beyond a few paragraphs, I skim ahead-- not out of prudity but out of boredom. What I wanted, still want in romances, is the action, the relationships that some fight so hard to have. I though also, like sex for a full relationship, how this couple really come together. Sure, it's idyllic. Better that, then some of the books considered literary, where nothing ever works right. Who wants that for a goal? Not me. Life provides plenty of that. Romances are uplifting as people overcome obstacles. They are often set in worlds most of us don't experience-- sometimes would not want.

Because I began writing books before the romance genre got more 'detailed,' I wondered how mine would fit-- the jury is still out on that one. Given time romance writing has evolved independent of love stories.  Love stories have long been available, but they are tougher (i.e. Wuthering Heights or Gone with the Wind types as a happy ending is not guaranteed). 

Romances where the couples actually did 'it' in the book, only began in the 70s. They were called bodice rippers for obvious reasons. Where there had always been erotica out there, it wasn't mainstream or in the average bookstores. That changed and women (some men too) discovered the fun of sexy stories, and it did help some marriages with the heat the books generated. Remember, there was a time where sex in a relationship was considered kind of dirty-- even in a committed relationship. Men could lust but women not so much. Romances gave women permission to feel desire. I remember one pamphlet from the 1880s that a pastor put out where sex with lust was not condoned-- obviously that meant her, not him. So the view women had toward desire was condoned and encouraged.

By the '90s, romance novels had changed their emphasis. Having a heroine raped multiple times had lost its appeal (not sure why it ever had it). The difference between porn, erotica and a romance was explored. Authors changed their emphasis and style of writing as they tried to provide what readers wanted. Styles changed, the basic plots, not so much, and a lot of those early themes are still popular today.

The ten books you see in the photo are among the many that I purchased during the '90s, when I was most interested in reading the genre and studying writers. I was curious about how they developed their styles and would follow writers I liked through their backlists. During those years, I haunted used bookstores. It wasn't easy to find all a writer had written, since bookstores, even the used ones, only wanted the most recently published. Today, Amazon makes this far easier, and I've picked up copies of books that are no longer even in libraries through small mail-order bookstores. 

In the years, I was buying a lot, some I'd keep and some give away. Once I was in Massachusetts with my husband on a business trip (we'd driven out). i was staying in a motel where the cleaning lady and I would chat. I explored the local used bookstores, and would give her the books I'd finished, which she would pass onto her daughter. That's how books often are-- shared.

Eventually, at home, I had a bookcase stuffed full, when I decided I needed its space for something else (research which I also had a ton of). I packed the books in boxes and forgot about them. This year, I decided to bring some of the boxes to Arizona and see what I could do about freeing the books from the boxes.

The books had been put into boxes randomly, thus was sorting required. Some readers only enjoy English historical romances and don't enjoy American historical romances. In Tucson, I sorted. Some I remembered reading but many I had to depend on the blurbs. It turned out I had two boxes of English types and two of American. I found very few contemporary, but there 5 more boxes left in Oregon; so there might be more in them, as I have always enjoyed reading a mix of genres.

So, the plan is: A GIVEAWAY (the first of what I hope will be more depending on how it works out). From Saturday, March 24th, until Tuesday, the 27th, if you are interested in receiving the books you see above, COMMENT here, which could be as simply as-- yes. If you comment and say you don't want the books, that's okay too. You don't have to sign up for anything. You don't have to have ever commented. You don't have to say you like romances. Maybe this is a chance for you to find out. After three days, we'll draw a name and morning of the 28th (when Diane posts her new blog), at the top of this post, I'll post the winner, who will have to send their snail mail to my email (which I'll also post on Wednesday). 

For me, this is a way to share books that influenced my own writing-- might inspire yours or if you have no interest in writing, could be fun reads-- or even books to sell or give away. The idea is to get these books freed from their boxes. 

These books, although not erotic, are open door on intimate relationships. Many of the authors are still writing books. A few have gotten their backlists from the corporate publishers and are now indie writers, with their books at lower prices available for eReaders. For some, old paperbacks are the only place the stories can be found. 

I had my husband, "dog nose", give them the sniff test and they are not musty smelling.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018

why the paranormal

by Rain Trueax

It's St. Patrick's Day, about which I thought of writing, since it's important to a lot of people-- even those not Irish. I am though really not much for saints of any sort even if they drove all the snakes out of somewhere, which I personally doubt. Instead, I'm interested in why some supernatural myths appeal to us and others frighten us.

It is ironic to me, is it to you? If you pray to an angel, it's okay but if you consult a spirit guide, it's not. Opening a Bible randomly to give wisdom for the day is fine but Tarot cards not so much. A miracle is accepted if it came from some sources but not from others. The Virgin Mary on a piece of toast is inspirational but a ghost telling someone how to invest in the stock market, not okay. On it goes.

I think these kinds of questions began my interest in the supernatural world which can nicely dovetail with the scientific.  Don't believe me? Check out quantum physics sometime for what we know and don't know about what we consider the reality of life. You think you are solid, think again and it's not just about atoms or time. Life is full of what we think isn't actually what is.

When I wrote my first paranormal, I didn't decide early on whether it'd have a real supernatural being in it. I tiptoed into the water of the other side gingerly with Sky Daughter

More than a few years later came When Fates Conspire. If you are interested in its beginning (out of a 2013 dream), I wrote more about it [here]. It was the first novella of what became three paranormals, which eventually ended up in one book, Diablo Canyon. (I still find that one of the more confusing things I've done as a writer because when I try to list how many books I've written, those three are slightly different without the spice but the same story. Still, I made it that way so that I could open the novel's door on the sexual relationships of the couples). The stories fit together into one book because they involve humans (some with extra powers) coming to eventually fight monsters, of the Native American sort, who have gathered on a canyon south of Billings, Montana. I used a mix of science and magic for the challenges.

The next time I was tempted into the paranormal was driving through downtown Tucson and Barrio Viejo. It was there that I saw the possibility of young, professional couples with a difference-- the women being natural born witches, dedicated to protecting the street. The first of those came out in 2016 and the most recent this year. 

To date, my paranormals have met with very limited interest from most of my readers who love historicals. The question then being-- why continue to write a series that few will ever see or give a try? Well, there is a reason. They excite my interest of what might be. It's fun to create a gnome as a secondary character or have a grandmother, who is Navajo, and lives a very physical life with her sheep and weaving but has protected her land in ways that have come naturally to her. That's the nature of the paranormal, where each writer makes their own rules.

In a paranormal, if I want to have a heroine, who can look into someone's memories (The Shaman's Daughter) or is convinced if people just understood more of the supernatural world, they'd see good guys there (To Speak of Things Unseen) or to be a witch and not want the gifts until they suddenly mean life or death (A Price to be Paid), or my latest where the heroine has to open herself to her human side with more trust (Something Waits), those are the fun parts of writing paranormals. 

In my case, I also see there being a responsible side when I create these fantasy elements in ways that are positive and show how to deal with what is not. Take away the powers and these books are like all my others for their values and what the story has for important elements. 

What they don't have are many readers and finding that kind of reader, open to mystery of life, is what I am looking to do. Turning away from what has been popular writing is not necessarily lucrative in a physical sense, but I don't know any other way to write and stay true to the Muse. ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Painting, and Photograph compared with Chinese watercolor painting

Although I didn't start this painting thinking it would be like a Chinese watercolor, others at the West Hawaii Painters thought it was.  Like a Chinese painting the light area ties the painting together working with very linear brush strokes. The color is subdued with the linear elements giving the painting strength.  When determining if it was finished, I referred to examples in  the book, CHINESE WATERCOLORS by Joseff Heizlar. I was reminded of what I knew about the Chinese organization of distances.

February 22, 2018 at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau  National Park

Kekaha State Park, February 2018
 Like Chinese paintings which combine three points of view, this panoramic picture was made by  moving the camera  first by looking down in the foreground, then across the middle ground, and finally up and farther away in the background.
The Chinese watercolor,"Pines on a cliff'' pictured above  has similar compositional elements.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Something waits

With a new book out and my mind turning toward what will be the fifth in the Hemstreet Witches series, I thought I'd post the newest link here. I've written now six paranormals (one of them, Diablo Canyon, is alternatively available as three novellas)
Natural born witch, Torre Hemstreet feels lost as her third sister marries—the youngest no less. After years being the four musketeers, she’s on her own. More upsetting yet, the boy she fell in love with in high school, the boy who left without a word, is back. Like she needs more upset.

Marsh Logan has had more success with his music career than he ever expected when he left Tucson. He’s  winding up that career ten years later to return to the woman he could never forget—if she’ll have him when she learns his secret and if he survives whoever appears out to get him.

Beginning in Tucson, traveling north to the Navajo Nation, Marsh must find peace with himself, gain Torre’s forgiveness, and find his hidden enemy before he can destroy him. Marsh has never thought of himself as a warrior, had no idea he was in love with a witch, but he’s got a lot to learn-- fast.

Gnomes, shapeshifting, witches, and skinwalkers move through this 71,500 word paranormal romance, the fourth in the Hemstreet Witches series. All the books stand alone but the love stories and adventures begin with Denali, go onto Elke, to Devi and now it’s Torre’s turn—whether she’s ready or not. Spicy romance with speculative spirituality. All paranormal romances are exclusively at Amazon and available to borrow for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Projects in process

by Rain Trueax

On a personal level, about the only exciting news for this week is we saw the first of the wildflowers. This is not supposed to be a spectacular wildflower season due to not enough rain in the fall. We will take them in whatever small quantities they appear.

The project for the week, besides getting my fourth in the Hemstreet Witches series ready to be published, involved the arrival of the last pieces for the king-sized bed (frame, head and baseboard, mattress, etc.). This was good but also complicated. The house has three bedrooms but one has been a den for Ranch Boss's engineer consulting and publishing work when here (he is my editor and publisher). 

The original goal was turning the shop (outside the living room wall and under the same roof as the house) into a den/library. We would then have three bedrooms with two having queen beds. The king was for our master bedroom (not very master sized but it has a second, tiny bathroom off it). It would be a nice addition but still keep it a small home with maybe 1600sqft or so.

We just got the estimated cost for the addition. Way over our budget. Except, now what do we do with that extra queen bed? After much work for Ranch Boss in disassembling it, it's stacked in the second bedroom but that can't stay that way (although one of the cats likes its elevation for her sleeping). 

Our time here has been one project in progress after another (as a writer I am used to those). This one may take another year to get it to fruition.

One problem with spending more to do the addition than we had intended is that it'd not be a good investment, as either a rental or sale, unless we intend to make this our permanent home (that has not been ruled out eventually). The
United States has some areas (Oregon is one) where housing costs are skyrocketing. Tucson is not in that situation. With so many homes being built, more desert scraped of for developments every time we get down here, it keeps housing cheaper comparatively. There are some ritzy areas, of course; but even the more expensive sections in the Santa Cruz river valley (Tucson has several rivers and streams but most only flow after storms) are far less than they'd be in parts of California. 

Our home is in a nice little suburban feeling area where homes were built in the '70s on an acre or two of desert. It has a covenant protecting it to stay as it is. The reason we have so much wildlife is this isn't where they scraped off the desert, as they too often do today. These homes were set into their desert. Wildlife in Tucson has less and less of these places. 

Another reason for more wildlife here is we aren't far from the La Cañada Wash, which comes out of the nearby mountains. Fortunately, washes are places that they don't allow development due to flash floods after storms. That leaves them also conduits for the critters that many desert lovers don't desire or respect-- sadly. 

A lot of those who come to Tucson only want the golf, swimming, shopping, restaurants, bicycling, hiking, and endless sunshine. Nothing wrong with those activities, but it leaves the original residents just in the way-- unless being viewed in a zoo...

The photos of the bed being put together are because of how a process like this amazes me as to what Ranch Boss knows how to do. If he didn't, we'd have to pay someone who did, as no way could I do it. These projects are never without glitches. The end result though is a very nice bed with room for us and four cats if they so desire :). Through the window, you can see where we store our vacation trailer when we are here.

View out the bedroom window. We do have a wall that is mandated around the pool (does not keep out rabbits or birds). This one is to fence our cats in and let the wildlife have the rest. There is a neighbor at the back of our acre that we can see their porch light at night. The little sculpture garden is new with herbs being added. I don't how they'll do when we are not here, but we are hopeful the drip system can keep them growing. Having an herb garden off the kitchen is one of the many sensual pleasure that this place provides.

Another new addition this year is a hummingbird and loose seed feeders on poles. In the past, we only put out quail blocks but this year we decided to add seed intended to bring in cardinals. It has along with many other songbirds we hadn't regularly seen. When we are gone, the summer has more lushness for them to get feed and some, of course, migrate north to avoid the extreme heat-- snowbirds ;).


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Painting a wedding at Waiailea Beach in Hapuna Park, Big Island Hawaii

At the West Hawaii Plein Air Painters event, 9:30 AM, Friday, February 3, Cindy had been painting for almost two hours. Cindy is not in the painting just on my left on the other side of the log from me.  I was also a little early and just starting this painting and Richard had just arrived and was set up to paint. Then the mother of the groom appeared. She wanted us to all move because her son was getting married there in half an hour.

Richard who facilitates the group said there are no reservations on the site and we would not move. 

To make the lady happier, I offered to paint the wedding and give the painting to her. She said she had photographers and never came to look at my painting luckily because it was in a very dull state after three hours. I have put in many hours on it since.

If she changes her mind and finds me, and demonstrates real appreciation, the wedding painting would still be a gift to her.

The 12 x 16 inch painting is over an acrylic painting on canvas that I covered with absorbent ground that accepts watercolor and mixed media. Then I sprayed it with gloss UVprotective Krylon before making changes with acrylics. With the Krylon protection I could remove the acrylic and preserve the under-painting.

The old recycled surface was intended as a warm up painting before the real effort of the day. When the wedding happened, I decided that the iron wood trees made an excellent symbolic frame for the ceremony of joining of two family trees of life.

 My most memorable paintings outdoors are when I am moved by what happens while I am painting. Most paintings include more than one period of time. This painting depicts the father walking the bride and then he was consoling the sister. The bride was painted twice.

The wedding painting is not finished yet. I am working on the expressiveness of the gestures and relationships between the members of the wedding party and how the eye is directed to the wedding.