New posts are planned for Saturdays and otherwise randomly as something of interest happens. I maintain an author page at Facebook. If you are interested in more on the writing, it's at

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guest Author: Sheila Hollinghead

One nice feature of cutting back on how many blogs I post has been being able to invite other authors to post here. Some don't write anything like I do, which gives my readers a chance to see the diversity out there among romance authors. I consider that a win/win.

Sheila Hollinghead, an army brat, was born in Nuremberg, Germany. When she was ten, her father was stationed in Toul, France where she discovered a treasure trove of books hiding in the furnace room. The house was rumored to be the former headquarters of the Nazi Party with bullet holes decorating the foyer as evidence. The books she found, sci-fi, mysteries, fantasy, and the classics, opened her mind to the power of story.
Raised on army bases, she lived many places, none “home” until she returned to south Alabama. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and two cats near the farms where her ancestors struggled to scratch a living from the ground.
She agrees with Emily Dickinson who said, "I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine."

Hollinghead is active in her community, heading up her local food bank with the help of her husband. She also participates in meals-on-wheels and WinGS (Women in God's Service) who visit the sick and shut-ins.

Her newest book, Abby and Joshua, will be out September 30th but is available for preorder now at Amazon.   Special Announcement: On the day of release, Sheila Hollinghead will be giving away six Down to the River swag packs. Items include six paperback copies of all three novellas in one book, Down to the River. Also included will be magnets with pictures of horses, cowboy hat chains, bracelets, and other great prizes. Two of the six winners will also receive coffee mugs. For more details, visit Sheila’s Facebook Author Page on September 30th.

Amazon Link, Abby and Joshua:

Description for Abby and Joshua:  
Sometimes the force of a tornado pulls us from the mire, but other times, the soft breath of a cowboy is all that is required.
 A good-looking, young cowboy keeps showing up at Abby Harrington's door ... even at the most inopportune times. Abby is older than he is, not to mention heavily pregnant and with a brood of children. Besides, she is still legally married and distrustful of men.

Why, then, does she slowly respond to the cowboy's friendship?

The return of her man from her past thrusts Abby into a life-threatening situation. Will she have the strength, knowledge, and faith needed to survive?

The soft breath of a cowboy gives her everything she needs.

Excerpt from Abby and Joshua:

Mrs. Franklin entered her room with a young lady. “I’d brought Miss Williams by to meet you.”

Abby’s heart sank. Miss Williams couldn’t have been more than twenty and had a vibrant beauty. Her aqua-colored eyes contrasted with her dark, glossy hair, mostly pulled sedately back in a bun. Sprigs of curly hair framed her perfect face. Rosy cheeks and naturally pink lips made her a picture of health and vitality. Abby touched her own lips, remembering how pale they’d appeared only a minute before when she’d seen herself in the mirror.

She became aware the two ladies awaited her response. “How do you do, Miss Williams? Please let me know if my children do not attend properly to their lessons.”

“Oh, I’ve met your children! They’ll do fine, I’m sure. And such beautiful children! Your daughter looks so much like you.”

“Thank you,” she said automatically. She wasn’t sure Miss Williams spoke the truth. Susie looked a lot like George as did Tait. Wade favored her the most.

“I’m so sorry you’re confined to bed. I’ll come back to visit when I can,” Miss Williams said.
Abby smiled and nodded. “Your company would be a pleasure.”

“I must hurry back to the children now. We begin our first lesson today. It was so nice to meet you, Mrs. Harrington.” Miss Williams gave a smile, revealing straight white teeth and hurried away.
Mrs. Franklin fetched the breakfast tray and set it across Abby’s knees. “Now, what would you like to talk about?”

“Are you from around here?” Abby asked.

“About ten miles south, as the crow flies. My husband and I had a small place, big enough for the two of us. God never blessed us with children. My husband passed last year, and I moved into town. When I saw this place needed a cook, I knew the Lord truly answers prayer. So, here I am!” She beamed at Abby and without prompting continued. “When I heard children lived here and a baby, with another on the way, my joy could not be contained. I love the wee ones so!”

A nod and smile was all that was needed for Mrs. Franklin to prattle on. Abby ate her breakfast, one of the best meals she’d ever tasted, and thought of Joshua. Miss Williams would be perfect for him. She was beautiful, and young, and most importantly, not encumbered with a bushel of children. Why would Abby even think for a moment he’d be interested in her?

Any attention he’d shown was simple pity. Her husband had run off with the housekeeper, and gossip was rampant on the ranch. He’d merely felt sorry for her and tried to be kind. Obviously, he was a God-fearing man.

Anyway, if she did like him, as she admitted she did, she’d only want his happiness at heart. Miss Williams would make him far happier than she ever could. And once he got a look at her, he’d never give Abby a second glance.

 Sheila Hollinghead Links:


Saturday, September 16, 2017

making a video

One of the things about the internet is how it brings us in touch with so many people, from all around the world, those we'd likely never meet any other way. It seems relatively safe too-- other than insults being easier to throw around. The thing is the anonymity has a price attached-- lack of real connection. 

Oh, we can choose to meet in a real place, those we only knew through typed words and a few shared pictures. I've done that now with maybe 20 or so. Some came off meeting first in chat rooms. Some came later through Facebook connections. But many 'friends' remain typed words and a photograph (which might not even be them). 

For someone like me, who lives in a community where there aren't many like-minded folks nearby, the internet has become a way to connect with others, who are more like-minded. They can feel like friends, but we can't say-- hey, let's visit some antique stores today. Or how about lunch? The internet becomes a place to interact but yet... are we?

One way I tried to get past the feeling of unreality was to set up a blog I called Videos and Discussions. My idea was I'd create short blogs where I talked about my writing-- or whatever topic came to mind. Others would give me their links about their creative work and I'd post them as a place to get a little more real, to hear each other's voices, see how we look when talking, and then share those ideas that we would share over coffee if we lived closer. While I've done quite a few short talks there, it didn't end up having others want to share theirs-- or hasn't yet.

Then, I forgot about making the videos until last week-end when I thought it must have been a while. A while turned out to have been since 2015. On the weekend, I decided to do one regarding my recent work. I'd learned a thing or two about what makes a paranormal and that gave me a theme.

Back when I first began making videos, I knew I wanted them to feel like talking with a friend-- the thing I wasn't getting much of. Still, I wanted them to have some cohesion. With a friend, I could drift off this way or that, as could they. With a video, I have only four minutes (about the longest I expect people to stay with it). 

To get my cohesion, I don't do an outline or write down key points. I turn on the webcam and just start talking. I turn it off, watch it, and try it again-- with no intention of keeping these. Eventually, after a couple dry runs, I have a good idea of where I am going and what will best illustrate my points.

Then is when I look to room lighting. I tape these in a corner of the living room where my desk and webcam set. I turn off some lights and put on others as I like a visual with more light on one side and limited light behind. Since I don't cut and splice, the final video will be one take-- which means phone calls, husband walking through room, all can lead to a-- start over. 

I'll admit it. I want to look as good as possible for a video; so I put on the kind of makeup I only wear when heading to town. I also choose a top that doesn't change the lighting. I notice I have a lot of tan t-shirts, and they show up often in the videos I've done. 

When I sit back down, I start talking with the points in my head, which means if I do it more than once, it will vary. I haven't ever spliced one; but if I did any outside, that would likely have to happen.

If when I watch, it doesn't work, I try again-- although I don't keep doing and doing it as that seems to me it'd get stale. Monday, with two interruptions, the one below was the third try. I'd done the dry runs the day before as I fleshed out my ideas. Outlines might be more effective, but for me, this works best to stay loose.  I have no idea where the 15 came from on the video but it wasn't the takes this time. They all got erased except the final one.

Next step is post it to YouTube on my channel, which also has book trailers and nature videos that we've made. YouTube's computer chooses the thumbprint, with three options-- never good ones when I'm talking. Vimeo, which I have also used, lets the creator choose the thumbprint. Nice Vimeo. But I have to say YouTube is so easy to use that I generally go for it. 

So take a look at the one I made Monday, then come back for why I am posting this topic.


What I am hoping is my original idea for the link above could still happen-- not just with other writers, but photographers, painters, sculptors, cooks, quilters, etc. etc. I still think this is a way to make ourselves more real to each other when we don't have an opportunity to meet for real. And if we someday do, then that's still nice to share our creative work with others, those from around the world. 

There is another plus to making these. I think it can help us focus on what we are trying to accomplish when we talk about our work, when we make ourselves become cohesive in what we hope to accomplish. 

If you give it a try, get me the link. I'd love for Videos and Discussions to fulfill the purpose for which I had originally hoped-- a nest of creativity where the work is shared and encouraged. Besides bringing us together, the internet can do that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Guest Author: Charlene Raddon

Thanks to Rain for hosting me. I’m thrilled to talk about my latest release, Divine Gamble. This book has been a labor of love. Back when I was writing for Kensington Books, I sent a proposal for Divine Gamble to my editor. He rejected it and asked for a story about a widow with a couple of kids and a drifter. That’s how To Have and To Hold came into being. But I loved Divine Gamble, so I dragged it out now and then and worked on it, always laying it aside because something else demanded my attention. Finally, my chance to finish the book came this year, and I’m excited to say it is published and doing well.

DIVINE GAMBLE,  a gritty, sensual American historical western romance.

As a girl, Maisy Macoubrie witnessed the murder of her beloved father. She's been running from the killer for fourteen years. If only she could provide a safe home for her and her son… but she'll never get rich dealing faro in saloons, with a cold-blooded killer on her trail.

The Preacher never meant to become a gunman. Sometimes life deals a man a hard hand. Always alone, always hunted, he dreams of all he’s been denied—peace, family, love.

The moment Maisy and The Preacher meet, their lives change once more. United in battle against a powerful enemy, they fight side by side, but can they beat the odds they face? Is love worth the biggest gamble man has ever known?



The air shifted, and a breeze fanned the back of her neck. Someone had entered the saloon. Seeing Marshal Jake Harker look behind her and frown, she stuffed the bank draft into her pocket. The hair on her neck rose. She turned slowly, expecting to see death staring her in the eye.

A new stranger, built like a freight wagon, stood just inside. Small eyes squinted out from under bushy brows. Dirt and grime smeared his square, pugnacious jaw. He reminded her of Quasimodo, minus the hunchback, but with an ugly scar angled from the corner of his nose, and down across a fat-lipped, down-turned mouth, exposing a jagged tooth. Her father had played Quasimodo once on a beer-soaked stage in Wichita, frightening a five-year-old Maisy near to death. Did he seem familiar to her because he reminded her of that unnerving experience?

The newcomer gave her a bold once-over. He took what looked like a photograph out of his pocket, glanced at it, at Maisy, and, wearing a grisly smile, started toward her. Something behind Maisy caught his attention, and he stopped. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Harker staring at the stranger. The Quasimodo look alike cursed under his breath, spun about and left.

Maisy laid one hand over her heart and pressed the other to her lips as if that would keep her from falling apart. The man had gone but might be waiting for her when she left at quitting time. He must have seen Harker's badge and figured now wasn't the time to grab her. Maisy's heart raced. She closed her eyes and reminded herself of the other times she'd survived Gold's henchmen. She would survive this time, too.

A sudden urge to leave town assailed her. But the stage had left. The ore train from Telluride wouldn't arrive until morning. Why had she ever thought she'd be safe in a dead-end canyon like Pandora occupied? Yes, she had friends here, but she couldn't risk endangering them.

She discreetly closed her bag to hide the card box inside. "Snake eyes! I forgot my card box. Would you keep an eye on things, Jake, while I go back to the boarding house for it?" 

"Let Delilah do it. I'd better go with you. You never know what gun-happy drunk might—"

She forced a laugh. "I'm a big girl, Marshal. I've been walking dark streets, storm or no storm, all by myself for a long time now, and I have my Deringer in my reticule. I don't need anyone holding my hand. Besides, Delilah's busy."
"Still, I think..."

"Don't be silly. I'll take Hock. He won't let anything happen to me."

As if comprehending her words, the dog rose and swiped a wet tongue over the back of her clenched hand.

"All right." Harker bent to pet the dog. "I think he'll make you a good guard dog. He knows you saved him. Get back here soon, though."

"I only need ten minutes, I promise. I'll take the back way, and no one will even see me." Slinging her cloak around her shoulders, she took up the bag and headed for the rear door of the saloon, the dog at her heels. The rest of her faro gear would have to remain here. Replacing it all would be expensive, but, if she took it, Harker would know she didn't plan to return and demand to know why.

Every instinct screamed for her to leave Pandora now. But she had to hang onto her wits, had to make plans. One choice would mean a steep and dangerous trek over a trail that zigzagged up the cliff and over the mountain. No, the train remained her best bet. She could only hope she'd be safe in her room until departure time. At least she had her reticule, the bank draft Harker had given her, and her Derringer. She'd managed before; she could do it again.
She had to.

An avid reader, Charlene Raddon never planned to be a writer. A vivid dream changed that. She dragged out a portable typewriter and began to put her dream on paper. Originally published by Kensington Books, Charlene is now an Indie author. All her books have received high accolades, contest wins, and awards. When not writing, she designs historical book covers at her site, where she specializes in westerns.

Charlene’s website:

Saturday, September 09, 2017

covers and titles

With my work in progress having taken a hit due to outside forces (let me count the upsets we've faced as citizens of our country and of the earth), I've been writing but doing more with re-creating book covers. Writing a first rough draft requires control over a period of days (for me), and this summer has had limited time for that. Stuff happens, and that is a fact of life.

Having control over the covers is one of the pluses I receive for being an indie writer. I can do them myself, buy them already made, or hire someone to make them. Amazon offers a create your cover app that lets you use their tools to create one. For some writers, the choice is impacted by finances; but in my case, I like doing covers and have done them from the start using my photos, digital techniques, and purchased, royalty free images. I've had successes and failures-- and likely that will continue to be true.

Currently, after redoing the cover for Arizona Sunset, first in the Arizona historicals, I became interested in doing them for my novellas. I had the fourth in that Arizona historical series that had a banner in the middle. That is what I wanted as a way to set the novellas apart from the full length novels.

As part of the process, Sonoran Christmas, also got a new title-- Frederica's Heart. It's eighth in the Arizona historical romances. Sometimes, when a book is written, I am caught up in writing it and miss the deeper message. That was the case with that novella. It was set during the Christmas season, but it wasn't really about that as much as two people who had given up on finding true love and then... well, that's why people read the book.

The cover started out to be simple with a landscape. Next, I tried the couple, but nothing quite worked until I decided to go with the energy-- her fine culture and his gun. This was also their conflict, of course. Neither was quite who the other thought-- that's pretty typical of any intimate relationships in my experience.

In creating a title or cover, the problem is always how to get across what the book is about. In the next one, the novella follows a longer book, From Here to There. The couple's marriage started off a little badly-- with the bride asking for an annulment before the reception. The book moves from Boston to Montana and ranch living is at its heart along with the romance. 

A Montana Christmas continues the story of that family and takes that couple into what is effectively a long epilogue (novella at 27,000 words) about family and can it be healed when things have gone so wrong? Christmas was the right season, and I know a thing or two about ranch living, having lived on a small one for nearly 40 years. If you are interested in family dynamics and what ranch life is really like, you might enjoy this book. It isn't a new romance, although a new one is possible from some of its characters in the future.

The cover I had for A Montana Christmas was okay, but I like better this one that mixes the hope she feels with the work that never ends on a ranch. I used a purchased image for her, with photos I'd taken to create a painterly app for Montana ranch life.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

a week i had dreaded is past

by Rain Trueax

Blue butterfly image from Stencil and altered at Dreamscope

There are many divisions among people-- some political, others created by cultures. One is not much discussed but very real-- avoid doctors until absolutely necessary or head for a professional at the first hint of a problem. This division doesn't cause bad feelings between the two sides-- although both might feel their way is best.

I come from a long line of-- see a doctor only when something is seriously wrong. Hence when I developed a ganglion cyst a year and a half ago, I headed for the computer and talked to my friends who'd had the same thing earlier. Pretty much today, a computer is a good source but also can be wrong, of course. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

he's a bear-shifter-- who knew!

My writing has been broken up by life-- which has a way of happening. I am trying to get back into it as the characters take on more flesh. I learn things about them that I might've felt but did not know in the beginning-- which has a way of happening. In the case of my hero for Something Waits, I did not originally know he was a bear-shifter. It came to me as I recognized the conflicts he faced coming from two ethnicities-- adding to it the family secrets which must not be spoken.

Below is a snippet of one aspect of his life that has impacted who he is in ways most of us will never experience or believe because we know what the 'real' world is... Because this is part of a raw first draft, it might be different in the book-- editing has a way of doing that.


Marsh ground his teeth. He felt the kind of anger that never led to good. “I’ll talk to you later,” he said to Jericho, leaving the room and managing to not slam the door. 

His hotel sat on the edge of the Catalinas with desert around it. Perfect for what he needed. Soon, he’d gone far enough from the buildings to strip out of his clothing and let it happen. The cells in his body transformed their energy and within moments, the process was complete—he no longer appeared as a human but had taken on the form of a large bear. He lunged forward, not needing moonlight to see his way now that he had a bear's vision and senses. The width of the trail was perfect for him to gallop up the trail—his speed increasing the higher he got. Dark as it was, he didn't expect to run into humans on the trail. If he did, he'd know enough ahead to go off trail and wait out their passing.

Taking on an animal's form had given him no comfort the first time it’d happened. He’d been ready to graduate from high school, angry at something that he no longer even recalled. That day, with no warning, he'd felt his body morph into that of an animal. He had been fortunate he’d been up on Mt. Lemmon when it happened, hiking, thinking, and trying to work out his future. Being a bear had not been part of it. In confusion and panic, he’d stayed where he was and waited for whatever had happened to go away. Finally, it had. His clothing had been torn, but he’d put on what he could and driven back down the mountain to try and understand.

Being half Navajo, Marsh had heard the stories of skinwalkers, humans who turned animals. Some of them had become bears. Skinwalkers were always evil, seeking power from unholy sources. He had not sought power—other than having allowed his anger build to an unhealthy level.

The years since found him researching other ways such transformations could happen. Except in the Navajo world, it was always an inborn quality—inherited mostly. Who in his family had been a bear-shifter? He was unwilling to ask, to trust anyone enough to reveal his own secret. He could only try and control it.

It had taken years for him to recognize he could use it. It was empowering in a strange sort of way to leave the world of humans and become one with nature, where the scents and sights were so different. Now he used it when he needed to let off energy, when he couldn’t think through what was happening in his human world.

He ran for what might’ve been hours. He had to leave time to get back before light. He wanted to be on the mountain. When he reached the first pines, he sat under them and let their energy flow into him. A rabbit approached and then hopped away when it saw him. He could have killed and eaten it, but he’d never developed a taste for raw meat—even as a bear. 

Bats flew overhead, in the distance he heard an owl. Night creatures, as was he at least for the moment. Was he also evil as his mother’s people would claim? He couldn’t ask his mother. She’d died when he was only thirteen. He knew  Grandmother Ali having spent summers helping her with her sheep, learning Navajo ways.

During the school year, he’d lived with his father’s mother in Tucson—where he’d met the love of his life. Something he had eventually run from until he no longer could run and had to return.

He hadn’t expected her to greet him with open arms. She didn’t understand what had motivated him to leave. He had been unable to tell her then or maybe ever. How could she understand what he didn't.

In 1993, we had made our third trip to Montana. In a gallery, I saw this painting, met the artist, Larry Knutson, and photographed a couple of his paintings. I'd have loved to have afforded the work, but the budget wasn't stretching that far.

When I knew I was going to have a bear-shifter in my next book, I tried to find where I had the photograph. At that point, I didn't even remember the year. I went through many albums and finally there it was. I believe it says something about this idea of shifting into another shape-- even if in a fantasy way. 

In looking online to see what he might be doing, this is the only site that had his work-- Art at the Park. There was a quote by him that I liked.
"we all have an animal spirit that we associate with in some way... It should not be kept outside of ourselves."