IN THE MOOD

        All writers have days when the ideas just won’t come, or they are flat-out not in the mood to write. Or some days we are just stuck at a spot in our story where we can’t figure out where to go from there. I call it “writing myself into a corner.” What seems to be a great idea flows out of us and into an exciting story, but sometimes we fail to consider how that particular event or decision will affect the rest of the book.

        No matter what the problem, I often find that listening to my “mood music” often pulls me out of whatever has slowed my writing. When I listen to music like the theme songs from Lonesome Dove or Open Range, I can so easily “see” the magnificent western landscape, and seeing it and feeling it through music instantly brings up new ideas and the desire to write something grand and memorable. It helps me describe that beautiful mountain view or the wide-open grasslands with endless horizons. That, in turn, creates new ideas, an inspiration to write a story that fits the bold panorama of the American West.

        Listening to the theme song from The Big Country brings up visions of Jake and Lloyd Harkner herding cattle over yellow grass and the vast slopes of J&L land, with the Rockies in the background. I can stand on a high ridge and look down at the sparkling water of a stream below. I can scan the horizon for miles, looking for stray cattle or rustlers. Such big country helps me envision the big men it took to tame it, and the strength the women of such a land needed to survive it. Then, of course, there is Native American music, which I use to help me envision warriors and villages and herds of buffalo. I can “see” a band of painted natives in full regalia and riding painted horses across the expansive spaces of the high plains.

        I don’t know what I would do without my mood music. I used it a lot in Dancing Beneath You, because the hero, Ben, is trained in professional singing and dancing, and he founded a youth group that he molded into a song and dance group much like Glee. I can see Ben or the youth group singing every song I list in my book, and it makes me eager to tell more of their story, which I will do in the sequel, Walking Beside You.

        Another story I want to write is called. If I Loved You. It is based on the song of the same title from the musical, Carousel. Most of my mood music is theme songs from great westerns, as well as songs by Josh Groban and David Phelps. The list is long. I have over 600 songs in my phone. I get them through Apple Music. They are constantly playing when I drive, and I keep earphones in my office and at my bedside so I can listen whenever I am in the mood. When I listen to If I Loved You, sung by Josh Groban and Audra McDonald, I see a young pioneer girl who has fallen in love with a young Cheyenne warrior. Her father finds out and forces them apart, and during the song I see her wagon pulling away with the wagon train, the young girl sitting on the wagon gate crying and watching her Cheyenne lover ride away with a band of other young men. They disappear over a rise, both thinking they will probably never see each other again. I cry every time I picture that when I am listening to that song.

        Whenever you are feeling low, or are sick of boring TV shows, and even sicker over today’s news, try listening to songs you love. They can be up-beat songs that make you want to get up and dance, or simply soft music that relaxes you, or songs that bring up visions of things you love most. I know music has been a big part of my writing and always will be.

        Listen and imagine. They are the two major keys to writing.

 


 

THEY CAN’T STEAL OUR MEMORIES

        I was making Rice Krispie treats a couple of days ago, and I thought what a pleasant, comforting time I had doing so. You melt butter and puffy marshmallows, throw in the Rice Krispies and gradually roll them into the white sugary cloud of melted marshmallows and then smooth it into a pan and slice it up and eat it. Kids love it. Adults love it. And it is so simple to make.

        That whole incident reminded me that in spite of all the madness going on out there in the world today and all the stressful and often depressing news that bombards our TV sets, radios and newspapers, we need to remind ourselves of the things that comfort us and make us happy – things like baking pies and playing with our pets and/or with our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

        I love to watch old movies, especially the black and white ones. They remind us of the old America, of manners and classy clothing, the wild enthusiasm for baseball and how people dressed up to go to those games. In old movies we often see what our big cities used to look like during a time when law and order prevailed, when boys stood on street corners hawking newspapers and milk wagons and street cars dominated the streets. I love the old MGM Grand musicals, where huge stages were used to perform incredibly beautifully choreographed dance routines with fifty dancers or more moving to perfectly-coordinated routines, all done against magnificent backdrops and with the dancers wearing glamorous feathers and glitter.

       I like to look at old pictures of my grandmother, aunts and uncles, parents and siblings and remember big potluck picnics and get-togethers where everyone brought their favorite dish. There is nothing better than gathering at a big Sicilian reunion or a wedding where there is home-made pasta dishes and sesame cookies. I also remember going to an aunt’s house where food was the number one recreation. I had an aunt on the non-Italian side of the family who should have owned her own restaurant, where she could serve her fabulous southern pecan pie and the best home-made vegetable soup in the state.

        My husband and I go for a lot of rides down back country roads, where things are quiet and people still live away from all the turmoil of interstate highways and big cities. We see tractors and huge discs and blueberry pickers and cherry shakers. We see corn fields and blueberries, asparagus fields, peach orchards, cherry and apple orchards, fields of squash and pumpkins. We come across fruit stands where we can buy super fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel blessed to live in the country, and all of America is beautiful. We have traveled everywhere in this country, and you can’t beat the magnificent majesty of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierras, Yellowstone Park and Grand Canyon, or the Black Hills of South Dakota.  

       I have an old Betty Crocker cookbook – probably 50 years old. And I have an old Bible that has rose petals pressed between the pages. They still smell wonderful. And there is nothing so comforting as smells … the smell of an old, old book, the smell of pine at Christmas, of cookies baking in the oven, or of home-made popcorn or home-made bread. I remember the smell of my grandmother’s perfume. I don’t know what it was, but it had a bit of a spicy scent, mixed with some kind of flower I can’t pinpoint. Every once in a while I pick up that scent, and immediately, I feel Grandma with me.

        I enjoy listening to music from the 40’s, so many war songs about pride and patriotism. And back then, songs were so much more romantic, plus you could actually understand the lyrics. I take comfort in old Christmas carols and in paintings of farm Christmases by Grandma Moses. How many kids today have even heard of Grandma Moses?

         I love big-band music and remember a ballroom that once existed here in my hometown, where famous bands like Lawrence Welk and Glen Miller visited. Their music could be heard in the air at night, and people came from miles around, some from a couple of hundred miles, just to be there and dance to the music, women wearing beautiful dresses and men in suits. You don’t see that anymore. Nor do you hear really good, easy-singing artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

        Remember the night time talk shows, like Johnny Carson? I never watch today’s late-night entertainment. It is no longer entertainment at all. I used to laugh at every joke and every prank, and I enjoyed the guests because they talked about fun things instead of ranting about politics. Are there any programs left that don’t talk about politics? It is all over the news, the sitcoms, the talk shows, the newspapers and magazines, and I am sick of listening. I prefer doing other things, things that make me happy and contented. I watch very little TV, unless it is old movies and old sitcoms in which the family unit and morals and manners prevailed.

        I wonder if there are any young people who know what high fidelity is – or know what an iron is – a percolator – a can opener – a meat grinder – an eggbeater, a rumble seat, driving with a clutch, or when car starters were a button on the floor. How many know how to cook a big meal? Do you remember drinking out of a hose? Playing on rope swings? Do you remember having chores and having to earn your toys and goodies? Nothing has ever been “given” to me. I had to earn everything I had, including my school clothes and my class ring and class trip. I worked summers since I was fourteen years old.

        There is a Bon Jovi song that talks about wanting to “go back” – to “when we were beautiful, before the world got small, before we knew it all. Back, to when we were innocent. I wonder where it went. Let’s go back and find it.”

        I often want to go back to those days myself. Innocence can actually be a good thing, something joyful. That’s why children find so much joy in every new thing they learn, every new friend, every new object, every new game. The world is a wonder to them, and I sometimes wish it could be that way for all of us. The sad part is that now schools and modern-day teaching steals a child’s innocence long before he or she should lose it, teaching them things that only parents should have the right to teach them, the right to decide when and how they will do so.

         We need to preserve the past and our history as best we can, and the best way to do that is to talk to our children and grandchildren about what things used to be like. Hand down our heritage and our history the way the Native Americans do. In spite of how hard the government and others tried to take away their language, their religion, their cultural beliefs, Native Americans hung on to all that was vitally important to their heritage. Many have preserved their language and teachings and now teach it to their youth. That is all due to the Old Ones handing down their stories and wisdom. 
 

        We should do the same. We should write down the things we remember so they are never lost. They can take the history out of our movies and textbooks and teachings, but they can’t steal our memories. Preserve those memories, and hand them down to your descendants. And teach them what a wonderful, free country we live in and that it is our job, and theirs, to make sure we never lose real America.



HONORABLE VETERANS ON THE 4TH OF JULY

           I realize that the 4th is a celebration of gaining our independence 246 years ago, something too few Americans today appreciate. Perhaps if they had to live fully under totalitarian rule, they would finally realize how precious our freedom truly is. To realize that too many citizens today even mention the word “socialist” makes me ill. And it surely agonizes those veterans who fought so hard to free Europe and countries in the Pacific in WWII, but until our educational system begins teaching real history and explaining that doing so means going all the way back to the Revolutionary and even the French and Indian wars, our young people will never appreciate this big, beautiful, free country. You would think they would understand it just because of all the people who want to come to American FROM SOCIALIST COUNTRIES!      

        Be that as it may, I believe July 4th should be a celebration of all veterans who gave so much in ALL wars. In that light, I would like to remind everyone of those precious men and women who fought in WWII. I feel very honored to be in possession of two photo albums my mother (now deceased) left to me. I was born just 5 months before V.E. Day, in LaPorte, Indiana, where my father worked in a bomb factory. I have been back there to see the little house my parents lived in then, one of many in a government housing area called Kingsford Heights. What is left gives me goosebumps … many of those little houses gone … those left now remodeled and lived in by ordinary people. The government school there sits empty, but I can “hear” the ghostly laughter and screams of the children who once were students there.
 

       A rusted old train engine and a couple of train cars that were used to haul supplies to the bomb factory and haul bombs out of it, sit abandoned on a train track overgrown with grass and weeds. The buildings for the bomb factory sit spread across a field and are now used for storage, probably by farmers. (Different types of bombs were made in different buildings so that if one blew up, the other buildings would not be affected.) And across those same fields are little hills where there used to be bunkers for storing the bombs, partly for safety, and partly so that in case of an invasion from Germany, they would not be visible from the air. I remember my father saying employees had to wear special rubber shoe protection and hair nets to avoid any static that might cause an explosion.

 

        My mom was home with my older sister and pregnant for me, and then with me as a new baby while all this was going on. The albums she gave me are not full of pictures. They are full of letters saved from my mother’s best friend in high school, who was an Army nurse in WWII. I will not mention her name because I don’t know yet if her relatives would want me to, but I feel so honored to be in possession of these letters. If I can find this woman’s children/grandchildren, I am thinking of asking permission to use these letters in a non-fiction book. 

 

        They are a treasure to behold – letters from Day-1 of this woman’s entry into the war all the way to her coming home. You can literally follow the war and get a first-hand blow-by-blow of what life was like for an Army nurse. I always knew these letters were important, but through all all these years I really did not take the time to read them word for word. I did just that recently, and I cried. I got goosebumps at realizing what a treasure they are. The album even includes a chronological history of this woman’s travels with the 91st Evacuation Hospital. For instance, it starts in 1942 at Fort Knox, KY, then to New Jersey, then Staten Island, NY and sailing for Europe on the U. S. Argentina. 

 

        The Argentina docked at – wow! CASABLANCA! (French Morocco) – How many people don’t know about that wonderful movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman? How romantic is that? This woman was in French Morocco into the spring of 1943, when her Unit moved on to Algeria and numerous locations there until that summer, when Mussolini resigned. Some of her Unit moved on with the now-famous General Patton. (Another movie persona) This woman’s Unit continued into North Africa., then to Licata, Sicily. SICILY! My fraternal grandparents migrated here from Sicily. Then this nurse moved on to Palermo, Sicily. She mentions Italy’s surrender in September of ’43, and she had to help care for 10,600 sick and wounded over a 3-month period.

 

        In November of ’43 it was back to Algeria, past Spanish Morocco and the Straits of Gibraltar, all such famous places. At that point she thought they were headed home, but they ended up heading through the Irish Sea to Wales, where they spent Thanksgiving of ’43 aboard ship. Then it was on to England and the Battle of Bristol in December (where they spent Christmas).

 

        1944 took this nurse to France and she mentions the German Luftwaffe overhead. And what landing and battle did her Unit follow? NORMANDY! Her hospital unit spent 40 days performing non-stop operations. You can “feel” the horror and tragedy she saw, and how incredibly depressed and worn out she was after that. Her letters also tell about General Patton landing inside France and the ground shaking from explosions. Her Unit moved constantly as our troops moved farther and farther into France and toward Paris. In early 1945 she was transferred to the Netherlands, then back across the Roer River to Hostert, GERMANY! Our troops were moving in for the “kill.”

 

        May 8, 1945 (5 months after I was born back in the States) VICTORY IN EUROPE was declared, and the next day this nurse secretly married an army man who had been with her Unit the whole time – a wonderful story of two people very much in love but who had to keep it secret and literally ignore each other when officers were around, because nurses were forbidden to marry enlisted men. WHAT A LOVE STORY! 

 

        She worked at Robert Bosch Memorial Hospital for a while in Germany that summer, after which she was finally sent back to the States. But her husband could not come with her. It was a few months later before he was able to go home.

 

        I cannot tell you how moving this woman’s letters are, and all the while my mother (who had no idea how bad things were “over there”) envied the fact that her friend got to see so many countries and lead such an exciting life. At the same time (from reading this woman’s letters), it was obvious that she was envious of my mother being home with a husband and babies. She could not wait to get home and start her own family.

 

        I am so proud of my mother saving these letters, which are now 82 to 77 years old! She also saved albums full of newspaper articles and headlines about the war, along with obituaries about local men and women who died fighting. She also left me in possession of a set of books full of pictures that follow the war chronologically. They have to be priceless.

 

        I wrote a WWII story once based somewhat on this situation between two women living very different lives in the war. It never sold, but it came close, and I hope to re-write it and maybe, finally sell it before I die. Whether I do or not, these albums of letters are a real treasure trove, and I have to decide what to do with them. If any of my readers have any idea the best place to which I should leave these letters (some kind of WWII museum or library?) would love to hear your ideas. Of course, I would first see if I can get permission from the descendants of this woman. I Just e-mail me at rosannebittner17@outlook.com.

 


 





YOUR IDENTITY

       I recently watched the new TOP GUN movie and LOVED it! As I watched, Tom Cruise, whose Top Gun call sign in the movie is Maverick, is talking to one of his commanders, who, in an argument, reminds Maverick he is the best flyer among the elite Top Gun crew. Maverick looks back at him and says, “That’s not WHAT I am. It’s WHO I am.”

        That statement really impressed me. It hit me that for some people, what they do is not just a job to them. It is something from the heart. I thought to myself that writing is not just something I do to make money (which, believe me, is not the fantastic income some might believe). Writing is who I am. I don’t have to force myself to do it. I don’t strain to think of ideas. I don’t see my characters as just that – characters. They are real people living a real life.

        Stories and ideas dance around in my head 24/7. I am currently working on my 75th book, with more in mind. I hope to stay healthy so I can write for many more years. Writing is not just something I am able to do and something I hope to retire from some day. It is as much “me” as breathing, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and dreaming. It is something I can’t NOT do. If I did it just for a living, I would quit and find a good job that would likely pay more, and I wouldn’t be sitting home alone at the computer for most of the day every day.

        I don’t want to retire. I don’t care if I make a lot or a little money. I don’t care if I write till my legs swell and my back aches. I don’t care if it interferes with my social life. I love to write. Period.

        If you see writing as a job and consider it hard work, you are not a writer. If you dread having to sit down and start a new book, you are not a writer. If you have a lot of trouble developing your characters, or liking them at all, you are not a writer. If you get bored with your own story and stop for days or weeks at a time, you are not a writer. If you work on a book for a year or several years, always mulling it over, always making changes, never sure if it’s good enough, you are not a writer. We all have doubts and struggles at times with a story, but we keep at it because we love our characters so much and are confident the problems we might have will work out, and that’s because we have confidence in ourselves and know that the answers will come. And being writers, we always have pen and paper near the bed because nine times out of ten, the answers and great ideas will come in the middle of the night. If we don’t write them down, we know that answer we’ve been looking for, or that great idea, will no longer be there in the morning. The same goes when we suddenly hit on the perfect conversation, or the perfect one-liner. That’s what I mean about the statement Maverick said above. It’s one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments, and I have had plenty of those.

        So, God willing, I will be writing for many more years, because writing is not “what I do.” It is “who I am.”

PS -- If you want to learn more about me and all of my books, please visit my extensive website:  www.RosanneBittner.com.    I would also like to invite you to join my Rosanne Bittner's Heart of the West Street Team on Facebook!

 


 

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

      I have been working on my 75th book for several weeks now, but the idea for it has been in my head and in my heart for about 30 years. As I sit here thinking about that, I still wonder how and why so many stories keep coming to me. I am surrounded in my office by pictures of past book covers and pictures of models who look the way I picture them for future stories, and the ideas keep coming. One picture on my wall is of all the main characters from GUNSMOKE – Matt, Kitty, Doc, Festus, Chester and Quint, and I realize how much all of them influenced me to write about the Old West, clear back to when I was little and listened to GUNSMOKE when it was only on the radio.

       All those actors are gone now, but they live on in reruns that have been on TV since the fifties. Hard to believe. GUNSMOKE had to be one of the longest-running shows ever, but I fear a lot of today’s young people don’t watch it. Some probably have never even heard of it.

      That is sad. Thank God for Turner Classic Movies. If you want young people to know “real” America, have them watch some of those older movies. I love old black and whites that show what New York and Chicago and other cities looked like back in the 30’s and 40’s. TCM is a treasure trove of lessons in how we got to where we are now, and the Encore Western Channel is a great source for westerns that span the 1930’s through today.

      I don’t know about you, but I love studying and remembering the past. So much has been lost in the way of class and manners and how we dress. I love watching old airplane movies when people dressed up just to fly - furs, hats and all. And men wore suits and hats to baseball games.

      I think with the loss of respect and manners and pride in how we look only leads to disrespect of others and more crime and crude, insulting talk and even ignorance. We learn from the past, but now certain factions try to erase that past. We should not let that happen.

 


 

HEALTH AND WRITING - AND ALL THAT STUFF:

        I am working on my new contemporary and was sailing along just fine until I suddenly felt like someone had given me a powerful sedative, knocked me in the head, and shoved a brick into my stomach. I don’t know if – maybe – I’ve had a bout of Omicron (for one day my temp was 101) or if there is some other kind of flu going around, but the bug bit me – enough to keep me in a constant headache for about 10 days, make my stomach feel like it was full of ulcers, make every muscle in my body seize up, and keep me too tired to get out of bed. I would sleep for hours at a time. At 77, I honestly wondered if this old body was shutting down and I would never get to finish my book.


        Yes, that is actually what I worry about when I’m sick, or, in those bleak moments, think maybe my time is up. I’m not worried about dying, but I panic at the thought of dying before I finish writing all the books I still want to write. All those characters will never get a chance to have their say.


        Yes, I’m a bit crazy, but most writers have weird quirks. When Louis L’Amour died, my first thought was, “But what about all the stories he still might have written?” And now that I have a deeply vested interest in the characters in this new book, I can’t think of anything worse than not being able to finish their story. It took a while for all of it to jell and for these two to begin to take the form of reality and for me to fall in love with both of them (which is vital for me in writing a good love story), but now – WOW! These two have overtaken my heart, and the story is getting really exciting. Ben (Red Wolf) Colter is Lakota (Sioux) and Carmen Wolfe is a gorgeous blond from Michigan who knows next to nothing about the Lakota culture. Both characters come with a tremendous load of baggage that says “STOP! DO NOT PROCEED BEYOND THE FIRST MEETING. YOU ARE HEADED FOR DISASTER!”

        We all know that the basic theme of most romances is “love conquers all,” but in this case, love is a real battle waiting to happen. I was worried about writing this story because contemporary is not my forte, let alone getting involved in a culture completely removed from today’s average dating scene . Worse, here I am 77 years old writing about a young divorce (I’ve been married 57 years!) who experienced an abusive marriage (I never did) and who has ideas about dating far more modern than when hubby and I dated 60 years ago!!! And writing about a 32-year-old widower (thank God I’ve never experienced that) who lost his wife in a tragic (and still unsolved) shooting (what do I know about being involved in a shooting? Nothing!) and who is very deep into his Lakota culture and life on a reservation. (Right. Like – I know about that life. I grew up Sicilian and eating spaghetti and meatballs most of my life.)


        See the problem? So I’ve been wrestling with this book, and then along comes this stupid Covid, or whatever it was, and I was beginning to believe I’m not supposed to write this book at all. But these two characters will not leave me alone. Actually, they have lived in my mind and heart for around 30 years, because that’s how long ago I had the idea. I actually wrote the book! But I didn’t like that version or the location, and by now other things have changed as far as keeping the story “modern,” so here I am writing it all over again in spite of all the little voices telling me not to write it at all.


        I am finally feeling normal and getting back my old energy, which I am proud to say is pretty darn good, considering my age. Yes, writers can have “sick days” and “skip work” once in a while, but they end up backlogged just like you would on a regular job when you don’t show up. I don’t have a boss who could fire me, but I have a lot of fans, and sometimes they get pretty demanding. They would love it if I could turn out a book a month, so when I get behind, I feel guilty because I owe those great readers a new story.


        Covid be damned. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I am “back at it,” and hoping that DANCING BENEATH YOU will be published sometime this summer. Writers have job responsibilities just like anybody else.

 


 

RACETRACK DAYS


      Feel time flying by? I sure do. I feel like I’m sitting at a racetrack watching it fly past me.

 

     Zoom! There went another day.

 

      Shoom! A whole week!

 

      Whoosh! A month!

 

      I told my web site designer today that I was still recovering from Thanksgiving. Christmas feels like it never happened. And I was going to post a Valentine’s Day message and realized that TODAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY and it’s mostly over!! I meant to order a really pretty green sweatshirt for St. Patrick’s Day, and now that is right around the corner and the shirt might not get here in time. 

 

     We have a steep driveway, and last summer a lawn cart I use rolled down the driveway without me. I tried to catch it, but at my age, that aint’ easy. That’s how I feel about time. I’m always chasing after it and trying to stop it. At 77 I feel like every day now is a gift, and I want to treasure it.

      Part of the problem for a writer is that we are always looking forward to that “next” new release. BLAZE OF GLORY was published just before Thanksgiving (last year already!), after months of buildup to the book, lots of promotional work, interaction with you, my readers, for weeks, with trivia questions and fun facts. I worked so, so hard on that book and worried I would never finish in time, worried if you would like it, worried something would go wrong, and then – bam! It was published. Comments were posted. Orders were placed. I sent out all the promised prizes. And then the glorious balloons all popped and everything got quiet.


      Now I am working on my first contemporary and – again – looking forward to its release sometime this summer. So, because I am always looking ahead to another new release, I often miss what is right in front of me. TODAY. And today is all we have. But I get so excited over every story I write that I can’t tear myself away from the computer to just relax, something I preach to others that they should do. I will relax more when summer gets here and I can sit out on my patio and enjoy my flower garden and the hundreds of birds that occupy our big pine trees every spring. But even then, my mind will be racing with what should happen next in my story, although by summer the book should be done and it’s the promotion and advertising that will be on my mind.


     I can’t do much about turning off my brain. It is always in writing mode, so I continue to work hard on managing both my writing work and excitement and finding ways to also enjoy the beauty of each day. Many of you want me to write faster, but a chapter a day is pretty fast, after which I proofread – rewrite – edit – rewrite – work with my cover designer – work with those who help with promotion – work with my agent on a pub date with Amazon – so there is plenty to do even when a book is finished. The real satisfaction comes when all of you, my readers, buy the book and send me your wonderful comments, and I have no doubt you will gush over DANCING BENEATH YOU. It’s my first contemporary, and that makes me nervous, but I am finding out that I like writing contemporary more than I thought I would. I just might write more contemporary stories, but I still have a lot of historical stories to write after this, especially sequels to other books all of you loved, including one more story about the Harkners – maybe two. Jake and Miranda have come so far after Jake the outlaw met the woman who would change his life forever and finally help him learn to love and learn what it’s like to have a loving family.


      Now, in DANCING BENEATH YOU, I again bring together a man and a woman who others believe don’t belong together at all. He is Lakota and lives in South Dakota. She is white and lives in Michigan. The way they meet will have you turning the pages to see what happens next, believe me! Others think a relationship between these two could never last, but hey – that’s my favorite kind of writing - impossible relationships that are held together by one thing – love that cannot be denied – an attraction neither of them can ignore. You will love this sizzling but suspenseful love story. I will talk more about it as I continue writing, but for now, I want to build your expectations so that by this summer, you will be salivating to read this book.


      Sorry! That means you might see time passing too fast because you are waiting for a new pub date. Or maybe it will pass too slowly for you because you are so anxious. Either way, try to relax and just enjoy TODAY. 

 



 

(Race car Photo by Ján Žilla from Pexels)


Birthday Musings -- 77 Years???

        Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is over. Christmas is over. New Year celebrations are over. We are already into the middle of January 2022, and I am already thinking about Valentine’s Day (one of my favorites – brings back childhood memories of decorating a shoebox for all my valentines, and of making my own cards). 

 

        Friday the 14th I will be 77 years old. WHAAAAATTTT??? No way! WWII ended just five months after I was born. My parents and older sister lived in government housing in LaPorte, Indiana, where my father worked in a bomb factory. My mother’s best friend from high school was an Army nurse, and while my mother was home having babies, her friend was traveling to England, France, Italy, North Africa and Germany. I still have two scrapbooks my mother kept with all of her friend’s letters from overseas. So interesting! Those scrapbooks are the foundation for the WWII book I wrote many years ago but never published. I still hope to revisit that story and get it in shape for publication.


       Meantime, what am I to do about this birthday thing? I mean, I am so confused about how all these years passed so quickly. I am one of those seniors who thinks about “the good old days” with nostalgia, and now those “good old days” are like ancient history to my grandsons. Every time I listen to Bon Jovi’s song, When We Were Beautiful, I cry.


Back, when we were beautiful,

Before the world got small,

Before we knew it all.

Back, when we were innocent,

I wonder where it went.

Let’s go back and find it.

 

      Thinking about my birthday brought back memories of what life used to be like. I could go on for pages and pages about that, and about how I feel about life today, but the real purpose of this blog is just to tell all of you, especially my younger readers, to enjoy each day that you wake up alive and healthy . . . enjoy your children, your siblings, your parents and grandparents. Don’t let technology and today’s fast-paced life rob you of days, weeks, months and years of just feeling the sun on your face, or playing in the snow with your children, or being kind and loving to your mate, being respectful of others and “paying it forward.” You have heard many times from others that “life goes by so fast.” It really, really does. Suddenly your days seem numbered, and you realize there is still a lot you want to do, so get busy and do it NOW. Don’t put off your dreams, and don’t let doubt defeat those dreams before you even try to make them come true.


        No matter how much technology interferes with our lives, what with tv, computers, e-mail, cell phones, video games, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, modern appliances, electric cars, Bluetooth, streaming, texting and the host of technology this old dog knows nothing about, down deep inside we all still crave that “real” connection of hugs and smiles (behind those damn masks), talking face-to-face, and just plain falling in love. Don’t let technology steal from you and your children the thirst to learn and study and enjoy a “real” book in your hands. Don’t let it steal family time and in-person visiting and manners and creativity – or privacy and your identity. Don’t let technology preach, and even lie to your children. Real “life,” including touching, looking right into someone’s eyes, love and romance, still remains a primary motive in most peoples’ hearts.

 

        Romance has always been part of the human psyche and always will be. It’s here to stay, and I will always enjoy writing love stories. As long as “old age” doesn’t rob me of the ability to write, I will keep writing every day, as I have done for nearly forty years now. And boy, I have written my way through a LOT of life challenges – more than most people know. I guess that’s what provides food for my stories about family life and helps bring my characters to life. With that, I have decided I am not too old to try new things, so I am currently working on my first contemporary romance.

        Meantime, I am so happy to still be healthy, and happy that my husband is still healthy and still with me – 56 years and counting. There is still “romance” in our relationship. I am so grateful to have lived long enough to enjoy our first great-grandson, and I hope to see and enjoy however many more great grandchildren the Good Lord blesses me with. The picture on the right is almost forty years old – me at my first electric typewriter working on the Savage Destiny series. Seems like yesterday, but that was 74 books ago! And for whatever years I have left, I sure as heck will be writing more!



PEAKS AND VALLEYS

       The title of this blog refers to the highs and lows of writing. There are times when it feels like I am on a roller-coaster, and believe me, I am getting too old for such wild rides!


        When I start a new book, I’m kind of on a flat track, waiting to see how high the ride will take me . . . or how low. You know what it’s like – the ride starts with a slow climb, and your heart beats a little harder as your car rises higher and higher. Then I finish the first draft, and I’m on that first high peak. Yay! I’ve finished the story!


        Then comes the editing . . . along with the doubts whether the story is any good . . . and down I go! Time to get real and face the fact that no, I’m not the greatest writer ever to be published. LOL! I find mistakes, I see room for lots of improvement, I wonder how I allowed this or that mistake to get by me. I know my characters much better by the end of a story than at the beginning, so that means things at the beginning of the book have to be re-written because I realize they would not have said or done some of the things I used there.

       OK – several re-writes later I send the book off to a more professional editor, and I am on another high . . . that second climb of the roller-coaster. Yay! Now I am REALLY done! But then – down we go again, when the editor sends back her notes and comments. Oh, my gosh, how did I miss that? Why did my character say or do this? Yes, my editor is right! I have to work on being too wordy, or on being too repetitive, or on letting the readers know who is talking to whom, or how my character(s) are really feeling and why – on and on with the edits.


        So, I go back and do more re-writing, and yay! I have the finished product – much better than the original (at least that’s what I think). Sometimes the book gets edited again – sometimes it doesn’t – but I work hard on that last re-write, and I finally reach the point where I tell myself, “enough is enough. Send this thing off for publication.”


        And so, I do send it to the gal who converts my WORD version of the story into the format Amazon needs for publication in print and for Kindle. And I’m on another high. My roller-coaster car takes me to an even higher peak, and I celebrate that my book will finally become a reality! The publication date is set, and my readers will be thrilled! I work on advertising and book signings, and things will be great!


        Or . . . will they? Maybe the story sucks! Maybe there is something I forgot to include. Maybe they won’t understand my main characters. Maybe readers will toss the book after a couple of chapters because they can’t get into the story or the characters. Maybe I’ll get horrible reviews. Maybe they will wonder what happened to my writing. When did I drop the ball and write such a loser?

        Down I go again. I just don’t have it anymore. My muse is gone. I’m getting so old I just can’t write good books anymore. I’ve lost my touch. Why am I even writing at all anymore? What makes me think I can keep doing this and doing it well? Younger writers are more “with it.” They know what today’s readers want. How can someone my age, who has been writing almost 40 years and who comes from the era of big, sweeping, 80’s romances understand today’s fast-paced world? And who cares about my subject? Historical western romance? Who reads those anymore?


        Then I get some nice comments on Facebook . . . and some great reviews on Amazon . . . and people ask how fast I can write the next book . . . and they love my characters so much that they start offering me their own ideas of what I should do with that next book . . . and I begin to realize maybe I’m not such a bad writer after all, or maybe I’m not getting too old after all . . . and the comments and reviews keep getting better . . . and that roller-coaster car starts climbing again, higher and higher.


         Finally, I fly down that last dip, but it’s not a “low” for me. It’s just a release of all the pent-up doubts and worries and emotions that come with every book I write. I reach the bottom and the car levels out . . . and I can finally relax.


        Whew! The book is done – published – accepted – loved by most and selling well . . . and now it’s time to do it all over again. I walk to the pay booth (my computer) and I start the ride all over again.