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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free Giveaway on Friday

Hi all,

I'm blogging about Country Western Music and my favorite artists and how they inspire my writing on Petticoats and Pistols on Friday. Stop by and say hello. I'll be holding a drawing for a book from my backlist and one set of Harlequin coupons.

But for the record I have 3 sets of Harlequin Coupons I'd like to pass on to my avid blogger readers here on this page. You just have to be one of the first 3 to email me at and I'll pass them along to you. Send me your address and I'll put them in the mail to you!
Hope to hear from you tomorrow here or at Petticoats!!
Have a Safe Labor Day Weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Winner of Men Are Just Happier People Contest!

And the winner of my last weekly drawing for August is:

Cherie J


Contact me at with your address and your book preference from this list of available titles!

Bunking Down with the Boss
Heiress Beware
Like Lightning
Fortune's Vengeful Groom
Between the CEO'S Sheets

Happy Friday everyone and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writer's Block Anyone? -- Contest Continues

I've never experienced it before, so when it happened to me, my nerves went raw. When the ideas don't flow, when I can't think up a plot, when my characters aren't aren't talking to me, their lips sealed and I can't get into their heads that's writer's block and it's what makes my heart race like crazy.

Not in a good way.

It's been days of me trying to work out a plot. And I think to myself "Tonight, I'm gonna sit my butt down and finish the synopsis. I won't go to bed, until I do."

Three attempts later, I find myself lying on the sofa, eyes shut, trying to sort out my character's conflicts. I'm close, I know I am, but it's not working. My partner in crime and masterful plotter, my husband tries to help. He's great coming up with ideas. He's great to bounce ideas off of, but nothing's working. My head clouds up. I can't think. Nothing's coming and everything's coming, all at once.

I console myself. Start on the synopsis, get something down. Didn't Nora Roberts say to put garbage on the page, then fix it?

Finally it dawns on me. I'm trying too hard. I need a break. It's been 21 books over 10 years of writing and for the past three years, back to back to back and double deadlines. Maybe I need a break. I need to free up my mind. I don't mean a vacation, because writers know that even when we're on vacation, we're writing in our heads, accessing situations for suitable storylines, noticing surroundings and people -- it's obsessive, it ridiculous and it's wonderful. For most of us, it's truly what we were meant to do.

Most writers are compulsive and if I may, slightly neurotic. There's always the devil in your head questioning you, what if I can't do it anymore? What if I am fresh out of ideas forever?

So, I backed off. I didn't think about writing. I read a book, (always good for inspiration). I went for frozen yogurt, did normal things, got away to the beach, tried not to think at all. I freed up my mind. I didn't press. I didn't demand.

And guess what? The story came to me. It uncluttered in my mind and I saw the characters for who they are. I have the story now. It's there and it's exciting and I'm over the block and the panic. I never thought it would happen to me. It's wasn't pretty. My husband was great, comforting and tried to help. The support meant so much.

So now I'm off- to finish the synopsis and start my story. I'm back in the saddle. It's where I'm supposed to be.

Remember --contest continues: Post why you think Men Are Happy People from Monday's blog and you'll be entered into a drawing on Friday!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Monday Morning Funny-- Contest Continues

Men Are Just Happier People

(For women who love and write about men- for men who want to smile this morning)

What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves.

Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant.

You can wear a white T-shirt to a waterpark. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth.

The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Graying hair adds attraction. Wedding dress~$5000. Tux rental~$100.

People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life.

Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier!

Random Drawing! Which one of these do you agree or disagree with most? Do you have another one to add to the list? Your post will enter you into my last weekly August Blog contest. You'll win a free autographed book from my list of available titles and Harlequin/Silhouette Coupons worth $5.00. Good luck!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Winner of This Week's Blog Contest

Thanks all for posting. I hope you liked the
new western Petticoats and Pistols site.
The winner of the random drawing is:

Next up on this blog:
More on Getting Summer Write and one last August weekly contest.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sneak Peek at Bodine's Bounty - Getting Summer Write!

Here's a peek at my November cover.

I love the snowy background of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it's the first time I've had a horse in the forefront of the scene. That's Lola - she's with my hero/herione for the entire story.
In the story, Bodine is a little older than the man here and more embittered by life, a bounty hunter by trade, but Bodine looks determined and rugged enough on this cover for me! I think the artist captured the essence of Emma well - she's a young woman who's run off on her own for the first time in her life. Our hero is secretly being paid by her protective grandmother to keep her unharmed and untouched.


I really struggled with the opening to this story. Did I need a prologue to explain some of the backstory and set up the book? Do I start with Bodine making the secret deal with Emma's grandmother? But after all my deliberation, I knew I had to START MY STORY WITH ACTION.

When in doubt, an action scene never fails to grab the audience getting them involved from early on. There's a brief set-up in the first few paragraphs, then WHAM! Emma gets herself in big trouble and Bodine comes to her rescue. The first scene tells a whole lot about both characters, their motivations and keeps a a fast pace for most of the first chapter. After three tries, I finally got it right and was happy with the result.

When starting the story, I really gave a great deal of thought on how to best depict my characters and their conflict in those first few scenes. Each character was on their own separate mission in the story, but their lives become entwined early on. I knew I wanted to begin the story there - at the point where they are thrown together. Their FIRST MEET was memorable. I put Emma in a position where she was forced to trust Bodine and from the start she wasn't sure she made the right decision. It was the right decision for me. Once the first chapter was written and it worked beautifully, I figured all the time and attempts at getting it just right had panned out.

Contest Continues --
Visit me tomorrow (FRIDAY) on Petticoats and Pistols and post a comment on my blog, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS ... and their trusty companions. You'll be entered in a drawing for an autographed book and Free Harlequin/Silhouette coupons.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Starting the Story in the Right Place -- Getting Summer Write and Contest

It's essential to start a story in the right place, but how do we know where that is? The best and easiest way is to start in the middle of a scene, with some action or something provocative happening. Sometimes, dialogue works very well. You need a sentence, a phrase, a paragraph or even a whole scene that will immediately draw the reader in.

The best example that come to mind right now, are the James Bond movies. When you see the opening scene, it's usually Bond in a dangerous situation (one that has nothing to do with the upcoming story, btw) with lots of action and stunts. It's fast-paced, draws the movie-goer in immediately, your eyes are glued to the screen.

Now, when writing romance, we CAN'T write a scene that doesn't directly relate to our story. Every scene has to move the story forward. It has to be intriguing enough to engage the reader and make them want to read the rest of the story.

In Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum series, One For the Money, after reading the first line, I knew I'd read the entire collection, no doubt.
"There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me -- not forever, but periodically." The next paragraph had me glued and then I was a goner.

In Susan Mallery's Sizzling, her first line went like this, "Until 6:45 on that Thursday morning, women had always loved Reid Buchanan." This statement makes you ask a question, why? What happened? You already know something key about the hero.

In Sharon Sala's Deep in the Heart, "For all intents and purposes, Samantha Jean Carlyle was dead. It was just the when and how of it that had yet to happen." Again, a very intriguing opening that makes you wonder, what's happening to this woman right now.

An opening line, paragraph or scene takes a good deal of thought and time. Although sometimes, it just comes to you. Those "oh yeah" moments are wonderful when they happen. You just KNOW it the right place to start the story. But if that doesn't happen, you must ask yourself, how will the opening tell enough of the story, make it exciting and yet leave the reader intrigued enough to continue reading. Give it a good deal of thought. Then plunge in and see if it works. Here's the opening to my Work in Progress. I played with these lines until I was sure they worked. They tell you just enough about the character to hopefully make you want to read on.

He was good at throwing things.
He knew how to throw a great party.
He knew how to throw his fist into a reporter's camera.
He knew how to throw on Armani to make an impression.
Mostly though, Luke O'Conner knew how to throw a baseball at 95 miles an hour.

Already from this opening, you know a good deal about my character, his nature and maybe some of his character flaws. Are you intrigued? Hope so.

Often a new writer opens with too much backstory. They tell you all about the main character's history and what happened to him/her. Often its a lackluster opening with "too much information." Facts and history are better off placed later on in the story, woven in by small threads that fit the story together, piece by piece. It's an art and really good writers do this to perfection.

What stories have you read lately that have drawn you in immediately?

Answer that question and be included in my weekly drawing for a Desire from my backlist of available titles.

And if you visit our new all western site and make a comment on
Petticoats and Pistols all this week, especially Friday when I make my blog debut, you're name will be entered once for every comment you make.

Be sure to let me know about your comments at to be entered.

Up Next on the Blog: A sneak peek at my new historical Bodine's Bounty and how I started that first chapter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Petticoats and Pistols Launch Day!

Today's the day! We're launching our new site for Petticoats and Pistols! You have to stop on by and take a peek. It's really fun and we're really proud of the way it turned out.

Visit our town of Wildflower Creek, see the Larkspur Library, play a game in the Sunflower Saloon and enjoy the whole experience! Post a comment on my blog today for the launch and stop by and see me on Friday too!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Contest Winners!

Yes, it's Barry Manilow!!

He was in line in front of me and he bought tickets to the Bourne Identity. Little did I know he'd sit right behind me. He was trying for a disguise with a hat and his hair was real straight, not full when you see him on TV. I LOVE his music, always have. So it was a big treat. And no, I didn't say anything to him. I could tell, he just wanted to see the movie. He dashed out quickly during the ending credits.

Okay - because of my GOOF, everyone who posted here this week WINS!

But you have to contact me with your email address at

Let me know which book from my available titles you'd like.

Thanks for guessing and posting this week!

And look for our all new, all western author website launching next week at

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


We're guessing who sat directly behind me at the movie theatre when I was watching the Bourne Identity. And I GOOFED - He was on American Idol's Top Ten LAST season! He's a Las Vegas Headliner and has ties to Dick Clark.

I wondered when you all came up with great answers, but none were right. My apologies! My memory is fading, bloggers. Because of my goof, everyone who guesses corrrectly now will WIN!

Good luck! And check back tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


7 Things You Need To Know to Make You a Better Writer -- Getting Summer Write! Contest Continues Below...

1. Always trust your OWN instincts. Critique partners are great sources for other sets of eyes and ears, but ultimately it's your story and your career. Always listen with an open mind - then go with your gut.

2. Put your work aside for a few days -- take a breather or start on something else. Then go back to read your story. Ask yourself and be brutal -- Would I Want to Read this Story? Then ask yourself Why or Why Not?

3. If you feel your "middle" is lagging, STOP! Write down 20 Things That Will Happen in the Story. They can be silly or serious - then draw a FEW ideas from those twenty and get back to writing your story. ie: Blow something up, burn something down, someone unexpected shows up, natural disaster, the circus comes to town, there's a murder, etc. Force yourself to put 20 things down on paper. Think about your characters and how your new ideas work in the story.

4. Try to let go of your internal editor. Go for broke. Make your story edgy. Be Brave. Be Daring. Be Bold. Then read the scenes you've written and pull back the reins a bit if you need to. It's far better than writing "safe". The most memorable stories are ones that fill the reader with a sense of surprise, wonder and shock.

5. Remember that Good Storytelling is a must. Beautiful prose fill the pages and if you can do both, great. But ultimately it's the story that wins out.

6. Remember to keep your "voice" constant. Too much voice can cloud the story just as much as too little voice kills the story. Keep your style fresh, open and honest. Don't mimic. Finding your voice is freeing.

7. Remember writing is your passion! When you struggle, think of it as a challenge, not a chore. You have a gift that you share with others. You should love the process and enjoy the journey. You're the creator of your own destiny. It's the best job in the world!

Contest Continues .... so who do you suppose sat right behind me while I was watching Bourne Identity? (Hint: he was the guest/singer on American Idol and also a great songwriter) Keep guessing here and I'll post the name on Friday.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum - Getting Summer Write and Contest continues...

Are you one of the 70 million who saw this movie this weekend? What did you think? How would you compare it to the first and second movie? If you're a fan-- and I am, I really like Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. He's perfect for the role - well, he created it after all. And I liked the whole premise - that his identity was taken from him and he's fighting to stay one step ahead of the people trying to kill him.

So why am I writing about this movie today and not talking about writing per se? Well, I am -- really. I walked out of this movie with a small sense of satisfaction that ,"Ah, okay- now I know why he was being chased and why they want to kill him." But I was left totally unsatisfied in other ways. A good book can do that to you too. It can answer all the questions, satisfy your curiosity, but at the same time, not really leave you feeling like you got your money's worth.

Perhaps there are many who would say that the 3rd Bourne movie is the best. I'd have to disagree. Why? Because there was no heart and soul to this movie. I had 2 movie's worth of time and expectation invested here and I wanted more. There was a scant amount of dialogue. The movie-goer never got "involved" with Bourne. He hardly spoke to anyone. Every time I thought he might come close to displaying his emotions, to letting us know what he was feeling, to getting close to someone, another long-lasting action scene ensued. The director felt it necessary to jar the camera so much (to display the gripping stunts and action realistically) I had to turn away. It hurt my eyes to watch. Those incredible stunts were fast and furious and hardly recognizable. And it wasn't just my take on it -- others in the theatre felt the same way. So for the 3rd installment we get lots and lots of rapid action, fight scenes, but very little plot, very little emotion. If I hadn't seen the first 2 movies, I wouldn't have known anything about Jason Bourne. And I probably wouldn't have cared about him.

There needs to be some down time in a movie, where the movie-goer can take a breath, get to know the character, feel what he feels, to truly get involved. The same holds true for a good book. This goes hand in hand with the last two weeks where we've talked about character and emotion. Let us see "who" the character is, what he wants, what his motivation is, through dialogue and interaction with other characters and introspection. Let us "feel" what he feels. To do that, the writer has to let emotions speak for the character. That involvement was missing in this movie. At least for me. But it ended well, answered questions and because I'd seen the other two, this sequel held up. But it could have been much better.

When writing, that's the ultimate goal -- to make your story the best that it can be.

Contest - Guess who sat directly behind me in the theatre when I was watching the Bourne Ultimatum? (Hint: male singer who was a guest vocalist/instructor to the American Idols Top Ten this season)

Win a Book from my backlist of Available titles if you guess correctly.

Be Sure to check back on Friday when I post the winner.

Friday, August 03, 2007


And the winner of the first weekly drawing picked randomly of an autographed copy of Bunking Down with the Boss or any other of my available titles is:


Please contact me at to recieve your book and thanks for blogging.

The Blog Contest Continues on Monday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Getting Summer Write - More on Emotion.. Contest continues

When I began thinking about Bunking Down with the Boss, I knew I wanted to write a story that had more depth and emotion than any other book I'd written to date. Granted, my westerns have a good deal of emotion. There's more time and more pages to get into the character's heads. The westerns have a bit more humor in them at times, but they are deeply rooted in conflict as well.

I'd like to think that Bunking Down has both, a deeply-rooted conflict and some sassy humor. I know I always enjoy a book that can grip your heart tight and still make you smile.

A writer knows they've done their job, when they have evoked emotions in their readers. Here's what reviewers have said:

I was drawn into the story and I felt the grief and tears came easily. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see if these two people could find love at the end of this story. Helen Slifer Writers Unlimited Reviewer

Bunking Down with the Boss is one of those stories that will tug at your emotions. Charlene Sands shows us that taking a chance on love is always difficult. Both Caroline and Sam are dealing with issues that make taking that chance even more difficult. Loveable and realistic characters, you can't help but root for them to be true to their hearts and take that chance. Debby Guyette-Cataromance Reviews

The emotionally charged scenes and torrid lovemaking will pull you in and make this story on to savor and enjoy. Patti Fischer - Romance Reviews Today

When I received these reviews as well as some nice fan mail, I knew I'd hit my mark. The subject matter of this book automatically pulls you in. Sam Beaumont is a handsome, sexy CEO, who lost his wife and child in an accident that he feels responsible for. The guilt eats at him daily. He hates the man he's become and leaves his company behind, not to find peace. Sam doesn't think he deserves peace, but to remain "dead" inside. He drifts from place to place, keeping annonymous, taking on odd jobs and trying not to "feel" anything but the death of his soul. Then he meets Caroline -- and their lives become entwined. Their first encounter leaves him cold, and he figures he can accept a job from the widowed woman -- there's no chance of him feeling anything for her. Caroline has trust issues. She's wary of men, after a disatrous marriage to a man who abandoned her and their small child and destroying her family business. But even though we never see Caroline's young daughter, Annabelle in the story, her presence is felt - the child is visiting her grandparents for the month - convincing Sam that he's not the man for Caroline. He's failed over and over at fatherhood. Put those elements together along with magical, sizzling chemisty between the two and you have a story that can't help evoke emotion.

Humor is also a great way to evoke emotion. Sometimes, it's slapstick with falls and crazy scenarios, like in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and sometimes it's done with witty dialogue. Sometimes, the circumstances themselves, lend to humor. Some authors don't do any humor at all. It's not their style and that's okay. They have a more dramatic side to their writing. And for some authors, like Maureen Child, the humor automatically comes out. She's witty and funny in real life and it's reflected in her writing style.

If you want to evoke real emotion in the reader and make them care you must tap into genuine feelings that make your reader identify. Here are a few examples from author Cheryl St. John that provoke immediate reactions:

animals of any type
abused women
abused children
mental imbalances
money or lack of money

The last Susan Mallery story I read tapped into:

uniforms (military man)
underdog (heroine)
lack of money

Bunking Down tapped into these feelings:
lack of money

What are you reading or writing that taps into those above feelings?

The Blog Contest Continues!
Check back on Friday to see if you've won from my random drawing.