Sunday, March 31, 2013

A pleasant surprise

This Saturday was a great day for me! I finished my manuscript and proposal for The Major's Minors, and I mailed them to my agent.

In addition, I was at the library, and as I passed the Large Print Section in the Fiction area, I glanced at the end cap as I went by. Look at that! My book, Maggie and the Maverick, had been chosen by the library staff as one of the display titles!

I had to take a picture. :)

At the beginning of a new month, it's time to set some goals. Having just finished a novel, I'm searching through my project ideas for the next thing to work on. I spent Saturday afternoon with my daughter, plotting out a novel, sticking post-it notes everywhere and exploring possibilities. I've got two more sequel novels to plot, and a novella collection I'm kicking around.

My goal for this month is to get these stories plotted out, pictures found for the main characters, basic research done, and synopses written up.

What is your goal for this month?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Friday Five


This week my sister-in-law sent me an email notifying me that she had seen the first delicate spears of a crocus leaf poking out of the ground.

Woohoo! Bring on Spring!

This week's Friday Five is, my five favorite signs of spring.

1. The green mist that appears when the trees are just budding out.

2. Robins in the yard. 

3. Peonies poking up through the mulch in my garden.

4. Green grass. My eyes are starved for green.

5. Neighbors! When warm weather comes, our neighborhood is like an ant hill that got kicked. People emerge and go in all directions. 

How about you? What's a sign of spring that you enjoy where you live?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Research Books

 I love research books. (As my husband and groaning bookshelves will attest.  Or is it my bookshelves and my groaning husband?)

My current WIP is set in 1868 Fort Larned on the Kansas Prairie. The hero is the post surgeon, and he's also an herbalist. He's deeply interested in Native American medicinal herbs and uses them to treat his patients.

When I started this story, I knew little about frontier medicine and even less about Native American medicinal herbs. I'd visited Fort Larned and taken lots of pictures and walked the grounds and talked to the park rangers, but I knew I'd need more information to use the place as the setting of a novel.

Enter research books!

The above title is fascinating. Written by Volney Steele, it's a fairly comprehensive look at early medicine in the United States. I think it will come in handy for many stories yet to come.

The book to the right has proven invaluable to me. It is a dictionary of herbs used by Native Americans. From Snake Root to Ginger, Birch Bark to Sweet Grass, this alphabetical listing gives information on the places these plants grow, the parts used in medicine, the preparation needed, the dosages, the uses, and so much more. I couldn't write this story with as much realism without this resource.

Then there's my handy little book, published by the Kansas Historical Society, on the history of Fort Larned itself. Though not as famous as its cousin to the north, Fort Laramie, Fort Larned played an vital role in protecting the Santa Fe Trail and in the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. If you ever have a chance to go to Fort Larned, about halfway between Salina and Dodge City in the great state of Kansas, I highly recommend it.

I've used other books in the research for this series, including the Godey's Ladies' Book and Dover Fashion Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney, (my heroine is a catalog artist for a fashion catalog and dresses very well.) but these three are the ones I take with me everywhere when I'm writing. I have them beside me on the desk, in my laptop bag, or strewn across the bed, wherever I happen to be writing.

Do you enjoy research? Is historical accuracy in fiction a high priority for you as a reader and/or a writer?

What are you working on right now?

I'm chatting today with Stacy Monson at her blog Land of 10,000 Words, which features Minnesota authors and history and cool MN stuff. I'd love it if you'd check it out, and if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win a copy of Sagebrush Knights!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Friday Five

Snow Storm, Dec. 2008

In honor of this week's First Day of Spring, I thought it would be a good week for this particular Friday Five:

Five Signs it is Spring in Minnesota.

1. The largest freshwater ship on the great lakes, the Mesabi Miner, gets stuck in the ice in Duluth Harbor and has to go back to the dock.

2. We've only had to leave the bathroom cupboard door open two nights this week to ensure the water pipes didn't freeze. 

3. The best people can say about the many inches of snow we have here is, "At least it isn't mud."

4. I had to wear my gloves out to the mailbox to avoid frostbite, only to find it stuffed with seed and flower catalogs.

5. We can't decide if having snow for Easter Sunday means the Easter eggs will be horrible hard to find (buried in the snow) or ridiculously easy (sitting atop the ice.)

What's the spring weather like in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Have you heard of Speedbo???

Speedbo is an event put on by every March to encourage authors to set a writing goal and stick to it for one month.

We've just passed the halfway mark, and I've got some work to do to meet my goal. By the end of the month, I need to be finished with this current WIP.

Over the weekend, I read through the manuscript and corrected a few things that I knew needed to be changed if I was going to write the ending I hoped for. Now I'm set to write the final chapters of my story and get it sent to my agent for submission. :)

Do you have writing goals this month? Are you participating in Speedbo?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Friday Five

I'm a big fan of Ronald W. Reagan's, and I wish we had someone in Washington like him right now.

So, I thought I'd post five of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes:

1. Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.

2. The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

3. Facts are stubborn things.

4. Trust, but verify.

5. I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.

and a bonus quote

6. Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.

Read more at 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Winter Wonderland


Southeast Minnesota is buried under another blanket of snow. It's so beautiful outside! And yet, I find myself paging through seed and flower catalogs and longing to go somewhere without my coat and gloves and boots.

What's the weather like where you are? Are you ready for spring?

Monday, March 04, 2013

Mountain Climbing


Sometimes you face a mountain. Something you must get over to get on with your journey. A task, a goal, an obstacle, a dream. Mountains come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common. They are the dividing line between where you are and where you want to be. 

And to make things more interesting, often, when you scale one mountain, thinking you are done, you've crossed over, you're on the downhill side and things are bound to be easier, only to find that there is another mountain looming ahead.

It's easy, especially in this writing life, but also in your spiritual life, your physical, mental, emotional life, to say, "This is too hard. I can't cross all those mountains. I can't get to the top."

When I find myself saying this, I need the reminder that I don't have to reach the summit. I don't have to cross all the peaks ahead of me. I just need to put one foot in front of the other. I need to reach for the next handhold. I need to just do the next thing.

It's so easy to get distracted, to focus on everything except what you should be doing. And this can get cyclical. The more you avoid doing what you need to do, the easier it is to avoid what you need to do.

I have some mountains ahead of me. I need to stop standing still and take a step.  And then another.

How about you? Are you facing a mountain? Is something standing between you and your goal? What's the next step, and what is stopping you from taking it?