The Writing Curse

I have discovered something about writing that I should have known for all these 30(+) years of sitting at the computer for thousands of hours and getting arthritis in my lower back and suffering shoulder and wrist inflammation and having carpal tunnel surgery and going through the incredible highs and lows of writing for a living … having the talent to write can be a curse!

My husband has always commented that I have incredible energy that doesn’t seem to lessen as I age. Well, I’ve had my moments, and recently I was feeling mysteriously worn out and extremely depressed … so much so that I was going to go to the doctor to see if something was wrong with me. I have been very busy with things unrelated to writing lately, so I’d set my writing aside. Two days ago I finally caught up and decided I’d better get back to writing, even though I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do more than a couple of pages.

Well … I wrote two long scenes for my 4th “Outlaw” book because they’d been bugging me and I just had to get it out of my system. Low and behold, I felt more energized. Then I write a whole chapter to my new Indian romance, and by the time I was done, instead of being tired, I felt like someone had given me an “energy shot!”

I have decided that writing is a curse … i.e. “if you don’t write, you die!” or something like that. If I go too long without writing I literally get tired and depressed. I don’t need protein or vitamins to get me going – I need WRITING to get me going. I know this sounds psychotic, but then I’ve decided most writers are a little bit crazy anyway. After all, most of the time we live in a world far removed from realism. It is very seldom that I am talking to someone, or watching TV or a movie, or working in my garden or washing dishes or whatever, that I am not also “writing” in my head. My husband doesn’t allow me to drive on our trips west because he knows my concentration will not be on the writing. I will be looking out into the mountains or the wide-open plains and I will be thinking about my next chapter or my next book. I’ll see a gang of outlaws charging along the side of a moving train I’m watching, or I’ll see Indians lined up on a hilly horizon, or in driving through Denver I’ll be thinking about what that city was like when it was nothing more than a tent city that sprang up along Cherry Creek because of the discovery of gold.

Writing can be emotionally and physically draining. Sometimes I will ball my way through a certain chapter, or laugh, or worry this or that will upset my readers. Sometimes you have to make big choices when it comes to your characters and what they do or what happens to them. You enjoy a lot of power as a writer – the power to literally control the lives of your characters. And sometimes you truly fall in love with them. I have cried over and mourned some characters, and there are many who meant so much to me that I felt depressed for a while after finishing their story because I miss them. To this day I still miss Zeke and Abbie Monroe from my 7 book SAVAGE DESTINY series – the first books I wrote over thirty years ago. In fact, as involved as I get in most of my stories, I could easily continue every single book into more stories, as I have done in several trilogies and am currently doing with my Outlaw books.

Few non-writers understand what goes on inside the mind of writers. Every person we meet or have ever known lend to the development of certain fictitious characters we bring into our stories. I’ve never written one character who didn’t somehow fit someone I’ve actually known, but I’m not going to name names. Of course I’ve never known anyone as bad as some of my “bad guys,” but then the news takes care of that. No character can be too good or too bad, because such people really do exist.

So … I am cursed. It’s a nice curse in most ways, but there are moments when I want to tell that writing bug to leave me alone. It never works. In this case the “bug” isn’t something you go to bed for and sleep it off. If you go to bed and sleep you only get sicker. You have to get back to work in order to get well and keep the “bug” at bay. Such is the life of a writer.

The Vicarious Life of a Writer

I have decided that most of us writers have one thing in common – the desire to “be” like the characters we write … or perhaps we are only writing about ourselves. When you consider that we write in genres that we love, then we must be wishing we could actually live in another realm, or perhaps in old England, or in the WWII era, or maybe experience being a pioneer, or a gunslinger, or an Indian, or a doctor or nurse, a lawyer, an FBI agent, in the Secret Service, a King or Queen, a Duke or Duchess, an astronaut, a werewolf, a reporter, an actress, a vampire, a policeman, a fireman, maybe even someone who is single and wildly sexual, a model, a rock star, a football player. The list is endless.

Whatever the fantasy, we put it into our books, and I’m willing to bet that we choose our genre along the lines of the way we’d really like to live ourselves, or perhaps at least have the characteristics of our heroes or heroines. If you can’t picture yourself as the character you are writing, the story won’t seem as real. And “the characters are so real” is the comment I get more than any other from readers. I think it’s because I “am” the hero and I “am” the heroine.

I have discovered something about myself. Since spending the last two years working on my “outlaw” stories about Jake Harkner, I find myself “feeling” his persona in me … and here’s the weird part … I find I am carrying myself with a little more of an authoritative attitude. Everyone knows that 99% of the time I wear designer jeans and glittery western belts. I find myself wishing I could hang a gun on my belt. I carry a gun now … never used to. I took the training for it and can carry a concealed weapon. I realized recently that’s partly because I “feel” Jake inside of me and he’s got that “don’t mess with me” air about him. I have become more outspoken and more confident and have come to feel the same way.

Writers are a strange breed. I hope I don’t come across as arrogant or too sure of myself. If I do, it’s the “Jake” in me, not the “Rosanne” in me. And if my heroines are strong and brave and totally loyal to the hero (which mine are) it’s because I have been totally loyal to my husband for 50 years – and we’ve been through a lot together, so I like to think I am strong and even brave at times (long story).

If you take a closer look at the books all of us write, you will see one tiny truth in all of them – that the author aspires to be like her hero or heroine. You will pick up on the fact that the heroine’s personality is an awful lot like the personality of the author who created her. Or perhaps when we read someone’s book we are seeing the author’s fantasies come to life. Maybe the author is a bit timid and would rather hide behind a bookcase in a gunfight … but she’s writing about a powerhouse heroine who says it like it is and stands right up to her adversaries and shoots back. Either way, I think we can always get a tiny insight into the mind and heart and personality of the author when we read his or her books.

Truth be told, I would love to be just like Jake Harkner, because I envy the power and sureness men have – their strength – their position as head of the household – the fact that for the most part they are the decision-makers. I mentioned in an e-mail about how to write that I don’t like being told what to do or how to write … and you see that in Jake. No one tells him what to do. He does what he wants and you’d better get out of his way. I’m a “girly-girl,” but there are times when I wish I had the authority and power most men have. It’s not that women can’t be the same way, but there is always that thread (even in today’s “forward-thinking” world) of truth that a woman is a woman and a man is a man and never the twain shall be equal. Too bad, but it’s a fact that will never go away.

Isn’t it fun to “live another life” in our writing? Isn’t it fun to live vicariously through our firemen and cops and cowboys and lawyers and strong female heroines? Isn’t it fun to have affairs with these men who don’t really exist while being totally in love with our own husbands? Isn’t it fun to be a pioneer woman for a day, or an astronaut for a day, or even a vampire, a gunslinger, even a prostitute? Most non-writers don’t have a clue what goes on in our heads as we perform our normal daily routines and love our husbands and raise our children and grandchildren and cook supper or go to the office. While we go about our daily business, we can be having a wild time in our heads! And that’s how books are created … from the wonderful fantasies taking place on the inside while on the outside we seem to be “normal” people. I don’t think any writer is “normal.” Do you? If they were, we wouldn’t have all these wonderful books!

Religion In Secular Fiction vs. The Inspirational Romance

Several years ago, after writing at least 50 secular historical romances, I decided I wanted to try writing (historical) inspirational romance. I have always had a desire to write faith-based books and I hinted at faith and Christianity in many of my books up to that point but never wrote straight inspiration. I sold FOLLOW YOUR HEART, WALK BY FAITH and WHERE HEAVEN BEGINS to Harlequin’s Love Inspired line, and they all sold well. WHERE HEAVEN BEGINS even won second place for the prestigious WILLA Award from Women Writing the West … but I was wrong to think I could stick with a genre that didn’t (in my opinion) involve “real life.” In a lawless land where people have to struggle to survive, sometimes what’s right and wrong gets all mixed up in the name of life and death. And in the Old West, which is almost all I write about, there was not much law, and there were few churches, and in many places none at all.

The Lost Summer

(or) How Writing And Our Characters Can Take Over Our Lives …

It’s been a while since I blogged about anything other than contests I ran for the publication of my 60th book, DO NOT FORSAKE ME; and for the reissue of all seven of my SAVAGE DESTINY books by Amazon. I just finished the third book about gunfighter Jake Harkner, LOVE’S SWEET REVENGE, and the manuscript is over 600 pages!

What’s In A Hero?

I have recently needed to re-read several of my older titles for conversion to e-books. After 60 titles and 32 years of writing, I can’t always remember exactly what happened in every book I wrote or who the hero and heroine were. So far I have been pleasantly surprised at how good the stories are and how “hot” the heroes and the love scenes are. Somehow I had the idea that “way back then” I was hesitant to get too racy with my love scenes, but gosh, they ain’t bad!

Savage Destiny Series - New Covers and Now Available in Kindle and Print! {with #Giveaway}

After over thirty years of being in print, my SAVAGE DESTINY books are still selling. I consider this such a blessing, because I poured so much research and hard work into those books, and the hero and heroine will live forever in my heart – and from the feedback I get from my readers, they live in a special place in their hearts too. The seven books in this classic series cover about 45 years in the lives of Zeke and Abigail Monroe, beginning when they meet on a wagon train west when Abbie is only 16 and Zeke, half Cheyenne, is 25. From this union comes seven children and a herd of grandchildren, stories about many of them wound into the main story about the hero and heroine - all the tragedies and triumphs any family faces over the years. In this case the challenges are especially difficult because of Zeke’s Indian blood. He has three full-blood Cheyenne brothers in Colorado and three full-blood white brothers (in Tennessee), and Zeke lives torn between two worlds, as do his children, some of whom deny their Indian blood.

Blog Tour: The Outlaw Hearts Series - This is the Last Week!

The Giveaway

Grand Prize - One (1) Set of Autographed 11.7 x 16.5 Framed Prints & $50 Amazon Gift Card

Two (2) Sets of Autographed 8.5 x 11 Framed Prints & Two (2) $25 Amazon Gift Card

3 Signed Copies (US Only) - Outlaw Hearts & Do Not Forsake Me

3 e-Book (International) - Outlaw Hearts & Do Not Forsake Me


Do Not Forsake Me - Teaser #12

Available July 7, 2015

Jake has been in a fight and has a bad cut on his face. He and Lloyd are hunting outlaws and have stopped at a saloon for information. Jake is talking to men at a card table. I love this because it shows Jake’s subtle sense of humor, which comes through in several places in this book.
“Just a game of cards,” Jake answered. “I’ve been on the trail a while and need some down time. I’m tired of all the bullshit of this job. Had to come through Hell’s Nest on my way to my next stop, so figured we’d get in a little card game.”

“Is that your name for this place?” another asked.

“Can you think of a better one?”

“Guess not. It’s just as good as any.” He looked Jake over. “What happened to your face?”

Jake lit a cigarette. “A little run-in with a shovel.”

“Did you fight back?”

“Beat it near to death,” Jake joked.

“More like whoever owned the shovel, I expect.”

“Something like that.”

All the while Jake is very alert to every single man in the room and who might have the information he needs. Something happens next that shakes up everybody in the saloon and reminds all of them that, joking or not, nobody crosses Jake Harkner!

Do Not Forsake Me - Teaser #11

Available July 7, 2015

Jake, ruthless as he can be, is completely, totally in love with his wife and completely melts when it comes to her. Something has happened to force them apart, and while apart a family crisis has turned Jake into the old, ruthless outlaw who is out for revenge … but he stops at his house before going after men who have kidnapped his daughter. He needs Randy more than ever, because she is the only person who keeps him sane. He’s always lived on the thin edge between light and darkness. Worse, his wife could be dying from cancer.

He walked over to the bed and picked up a pillow, breathing deeply of the rose scent. He remembered how passionately they’d made love before he left. …

He squeezed the pillow tight, burying his face in it “Randy … Randy,” he groaned. He sat down on the edge of the bed and rocked with the pillow in his arms.

Sometimes all I need is your arms around me. He could hear her saying it, feel her in his arms right now, smell her on the pillow.


He looked up to see Preacher Zilke standing in the doorway. 

“You sent for me?”

Jake rose, laying the pillow on the bed. “Sometimes all you need is to breathe in someone’s scent to feel close to them.” … He turned away. “And right now I’m not sure there is a God after all. Why would He let this happen?”

Do Not Forsake Me - Teaser #10

Available July 7, 2015

This is a little clip to show you that Jake’s son, Lloyd, is just a chip off the old block. Reporter Jeff Truebridge is with Jake and Lloyd as they hunt down a gang of outlaws, stopping at the home of a woman who was mother to one of them and wife to another. A very angry and formidable Lloyd, who is tall and dark and built just like his father, has ridden to the out-buildings, kicking open doors and looking for culprits.

Lloyd rode around from the other side of the house and up to Jake then. “I didn’t’ find anything, but I saw two men back there in the woods.”

“I saw them, too,” Jake said quietly.

Jessie gritted her teeth. “How in hell can you sit there on that horse, Jake Harkner, and tell me so casually about my son and my man bein’ dead – and you bein’ the one who killed them!”

Jake lit a cigarette and waved out the match before dropping it. “I can sit here and tell you casually because Lloyd and I saw what they did to an innocent girl. So – no – it didn’t bother me at all to shoot them both down and it doesn’t’ bother me to talk about it.”

Jessie finally set the gun aside. “They was still my husband and my son. Ain’t you got no feelin’s about that? You’ve got a son.”

“And my son knows that if he ever did something like what we found, I’d damn well shoot him myself for it! Are you saying it’s okay what they did? They raped a young girl and shot an innocent man in a bank robbery.”

Jessie looked away, blinking back tears. “Get the hell off my property, Harkner.”

“Well, right now you’re still basically a squatter in this part of Oklahoma, Jessie, and I’m a U.S. Marshal, so I have every right to be here. And before you claim I have no feelings I could easily have shot Brad all those weeks ago, but I didn’t. I thought about you losing Bo, so I took Brad down a different way so you’d have one son left.”

“Well, ain’t that just real decent of you!” The words were shouted from near the doorway, and a moment later Brad appeared, looking much thinner than the day Jeff watched Jake throw the kid off the board-walk in Guthrie. He walked outside, bent over like an old man. “I still can’t stand up straight, Harkner!”

“At least you’re alive,” Lloyd told him. “Consider yourself lucky, seeing as how it was Jake Harkner who took you down.”

“Yeah, well, your old man took me by surprise, else I’d have beat the shit out of him.”

“Well, when you’re all healed up, you come on into town and I’ll take you on myself,” Lloyd answered.

“There’s other ways of getting revenge,” Brad told him with a sneer.

“Yeah? What’s that?”

Brad grinned. “Just ways, that’s all. Family is family, Lloyd.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Ole’ Jake here has a family of his own, that’s all. He ought to find out what it’s like to lose a loved one.”

As though sensing its rider’s fury, Lloyd’s horse whinnied and jerked backwards.

“You filthy sonofabitch!” Lloyd spat back. He reined his horse to a stand-still and started to dismount.

“Stay on your horse, Lloyd!” Jake warned, eyeing Jessie.

“He threatened the family!” Lloyd growled.

“Killing him won’t help!”

“Maybe not, but it would feel real good!” Lloyd glowered at Brad. “I’m real close to coming over there and breaking every rib in your body, you bastard! How does it feel having the shit kicked out of you by a fifty-six-year-old man? Kind of humiliating, isn’t it? Next time it will be somebody your own age, and you’ll spend a long time getting on your feet again, if ever!”

“You might not live long enough to try!”

Just then a movement came from Jake’s right. In an instant his gun was out and fired. Jeff’s horse skittered sideways, and a man at the far end of the porch fell with a hole in his chest.

The moment Jake fired the gun, Lloyd was off his horse, his gun drawn. He charged past Brad and into the house. … Jeff could hear him charging around inside the house, searching for anyone else who might be there. 

(Jake questions Jessie and Brad, then gets into a confrontation with Brad as Lloyd exits the house)

Jessie started to reach for her rifle.

“Don’t do it, ma’am,” Lloyd told her, coming around the side of the house, his six-gun trained in her direction. “That’s my father, and woman or not, I’ll pull this trigger.”