July 04 - Sue Horsnell - Australia

Monday, July 6, 2015

Finding Story Everywhere by Paty Jager

On my birthday a week ago, my hubby woke up and asked, "What do you want to do today? Once I check on the pivots we can take off and do whatever you want."

I suggested heading to Nampa, ID for a movie and dinner. He didn't look to thrilled. Then I suggested we have lunch at my favorite cafe in the area, Narrows, and drive the scenic loop over the Steens Mountains. I'd only been to the top once and we hadn't taken the loop. We'd just drove up to the highest point and turned around and went back down. Hubby liked my idea.

Narrows restaurant on hwy 205
We headed out about 10:30 and arrived at Narrows a little after eleven. It is only 17 miles from our place to Narrows, however, all but five miles is gravel and lots of critters and sights along the way to keep us at a slow pace to see everything. There were antelope with fawns, horses with foals, and cows with calves. Not to mention hubby scrutinizing everyone's fields and crops. ;)

We left Narrows after a wonderful lunch and a chocolate ice cream cone (my birthday cake) at noon and headed to the Steens turn off. As we meandered our way up the north side, wandering in and out of all the campgrounds and lakes, the scenery changes.  We went from desert plants to Quaking aspen trees and wildflowers. The higher we meandered we encountered more flowers and less trees. Until at the summit of 9500 feet we were in alpine terrain.

Looking down into the deep gorges it was breathtaking. Hubby doesn't like heights and kept asking me to step back away from the edge. But the best photos were from close to the edge to show the sheer drops down to the gorges and valleys below.

Kiger Gorge
Staring down into Kiger Gorge I could imagine the Kiger mustangs hanging out in the lush grasses and under the aspen trees, breeding and growing the herd until they were discovered. To learn more about this check out my post on Cowboy Kisses on July 20th. ;)  I could also imagine a strong-willed woman trying to keep the mustangs from extinction as the army and people who sold animals to the army started rounding up the sure-footed horses with stamina. Yes, a historical western story came to me as I stared down into that lush gorge.

The top with patches of snow
We continued on up to the peak. The 9500 ft alpine level. On one side of the road was Little Blitzen canyon, a drop of a couple thousand feet to the floor of the canyon. Groves of aspen trees dotted the terrain as well as jumbles of rocks. On the other side of the road was the sheer thousands of feet drop down to the floor of the Alvord desert.  We'd ventured along the road on that side of the mountains a couple weeks before. Taking the grandkids out to explore Alvord desert with it's cracked surface and winds. Before the desert I'd noticed a canyon that snaked up the mountains. At the base of the trees and what looked like a stream sat a building. In my mind it was a homestead.  Standing on the top of the Steens Mountains looking down that canyon and spying the same building another story idea hit. This time one with a strong woman with two kids, trying to keep the homestead she and her husband built for a legacy for their children. Rustlers were stealing her cattle and she didn't trust anyone in the area. Her only hope is a marriage of convenience to save the homestead for her kids.

Looking down the canyon toward Alvord Desert
We continue on down the south side of the Steens. Hubby was impressed with how well the road was maintained. He'd heard rumors it wasn't a very good road. While trekking down this side we encountered even more wildflowers. The paint brush flowers stood taller than the sagebrush making an colorful splash among the dull green sage. We also discovered another canyon that looked worthy of a trail ride some day and an equestrian campground with corrals. I sent an email to my daughter saying we would need to check this out the next time she's down.

Wildflowers on the south side.
I have lots of research to do now that I've found two locations and the main characters have settled firmly in my mind. I need to look up the homestead information for this area, the army and horse buyers, where the closest towns with good supplies would be and much much more so I can start writing the stories that are now brewing in my brain and waiting to get out. This was definitely one of my best birthdays ever. And I owe it all to my hubby who is patient while I take a million photos and stand staring into a canyon conjuring up new people in my head.

Writing into the Sunset  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

An Author Downunder

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday.

Our Australia Day, 26th January, is similar to your Fourth of July. We do have scattered celebrations around the country for those Americans living downunder. These are not on the scale of the US celebrations but help our American friends to feel a little less homesick.

My name, as most of you know, is Susan Horsnell and I write Western Romance under my own name. I write Erotic Romance under my pen name - Lacey Roberts.

Let me tell you why an Australian gal writes stories set in Texas USA in the 19th Century:

I grew up incredibly close to my Dad who was a Cowboy and Indians fan. I remember fondly how we would watch every John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Gregory Peck, and any other Western actors movies, together. We would 'discuss' - insert argue, the stupid things the outlaws did and how the Cowboys, Marshalls and Sheriffs always won. The Indians, apart from Custer's Last Stand, were always on the receiving end of a loss no matter what they did. I was young and idealistic so I always barracked for the Indians, hoping against hope, they would win at least one fight. My love of the Wild West was instilled in me at a very young age and Dad nurtured it.

My fascination led me to begin writing fictional stories while still in high school. I was an excellent English student, loved to read and wanted to create tales that people just might enjoy. After I left school, Nursing was my priority quickly followed by marriage and children. Writing was shelved.

Five years ago I retired and the scripts again saw the light of day. Our sons were grown up and married with families of their own, we moved to sunny Queensland and I finally had the time to develop my ideas. I thought about writing about Rural Australia but she didn't have the Cowboys,
Indians and Marshalls the Wild West had. These were the topics close to my heart and which I loved so - The Glenmore's Series was born: a family of four siblings, 3 sons and 1 daughter, facing numerous obstacles to survive and thrive. The series has Cowboys, Indians (friendly), the cruellest of outlaws and love - lots of love. Although I write fiction, I do include some facts and I have also drawn on some of my own experiences such as the care of a newly blinded child as in Blind Acceptance.

I have been humbled by being awarded two Crowned Heart Awards for Excellence, a Rone nomination in 2014 and a Rone Finalist in 2015, a Finalist in the Laramie Awards for Western Fiction in 2015. Not bad for an Aussie writing Westerns. I have been mildly successful in the US but have yet to crack the UK and Australian markets. I did know when I began writing this genre, it would be for a specific audience. I am thrilled that people actually read and enjoy my stories.

My Erotic Romance has been more widely received and Taming Gemma was Runner-Up in the Predators and Editors Readers Choice Awards earlier this year.
If you would like to discover more of my books please visit:

Western Romance:

Website -

Erotic Romance:
Website -

Friday, July 3, 2015

Loved By Many

This post was first published at www.JudithAshley.blogspot.com.

Dr. William Glasser's revolutionary book Reality Therapy was published fifty years ago. Many of us who studied with Dr. Glasser as well as others who are interested in his work are coming together in Las Vegas later in July to celebrate this important anniversary.

Not only was the counseling process of reality therapy taught in 1965 the first brief therapy, at the core it recognized the importance of the counselor attaining and maintaining a friendly, colleague-like relationship in the client. Today we know this approach as ‘client-centered’ therapy.

Dr. Glasser died in August 2013 but his teachings are alive and well.

In my recent book, Hunter (due out summer 2015), Logan, the daughter of the main character, Hunter Compton, runs away and gets into trouble on the streets of the fictional Fremont, Oregon. When she is found and brought off the streets, she is shaken to the core.

How could anyone still love her if they knew what had happened to her?

It starts with two people who do know what happened to her and clearly and unequivocally state they love her.

As the story progresses and she comes to see that people who have known her do not turn away from her. Whenever the darkness of despair and fear creep into her thoughts, she begins to list by name the people she knows do love her.

Having a background in child welfare as well as thirty years working in domestic and international adoption, I know how powerful the knowledge is that someone else cares about us.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to take a piece of paper and write down the first name of everyone who cares about you. Of course there are some names like family that easily go on the list, but stretch yourself.

Who else cares about you? Best friends, but they are also easy to include.

When I involved my granddaughters with this exercise, after family, we included their teachers, neighbors, doctors and classmates.

Seeing a list of names of people we believe love and care about us not only shows us how connected we are but it is a very powerful experience.
My own list would include my local pharmacy. Just yesterday in 90+ degree weather, when I picked up my prescription and a pint of vanilla ice cream, the pharmacist checked to see how close I lived offering me a cold pack to keep the ice cream from melting.

I didn't ask, it was offered.

Cynics will say, "Well, yeah, you're a customer".

Judith Ashley
However, if I'd been across the street at a major grocery chain, no one would have even asked much less made the offer.

So do yourself a favor and make the list. Add to it from time to time as you meet and get to know new people.

And, unless someone is especially nasty to you, do not cross them off. I know I've several people with whom I'm not in regular contact, but that doesn't mean I don't care about them and vice-versa.

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series romantic fiction that honors spiritual paths that nurture the soul.

Learn more about The Sacred Women's Circle at Judith's website.
Check out Judith's author page at Windtree Press.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer (Winter actually) Holiday – I’m off

On the 4th July I leave New Zealand, I’m heading off on my ‘escape from winter’ summer holiday. I’m heading to the US of A and I’m so excited. I'm in need of a break after a bit of surgery in June.

I’m away for the whole month of July, traveling with my twin sister, Leigh. We’re starting in Honolulu, then heading to Vancouver to see my father, then a quick trip to Seattle and on to NY for the Romance of America conference (I might see you there at the book signing!).

I’m pretty much back, the only tug on my heartstrings is leaving Brandy (my 15 month old Cavoodle) behind. I’ll miss her so much…

It will take me about 8.5 hours to fly to Honolulu, and it made me laugh when I realized that in Regency times, it probably took that long to get from London to Cornwall, for example. The idea of traveling in Regency times would be so different from today, although probably only slightly less comfortable.

In my latest release (watch for a special starting around 7 July 99c) A TOUCH OF PASSION, book
#3 in my USA Today bestselling Disgraced Lords series, my heroine, Lady Portia Flagstaff goes on a journey. She’s kidnapped and taken to Egypt. Well, nobody puts Portia in a harem, if Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood has any thing to say about it.

The rescue goes well and they have a long sail home, just enough time for Portia to work her wiles on her reluctant hero. Grayson’s determined to keep her at arms length. He’s fighting a losing battle….

The siren in the steam ran a seductive eye over his hardening body, stopping at his groin. He hardly recognized her as Portia. The night of reckoning was here. Good God, how did he fight this sensual vision?
She continued, her eyes drinking him in. “Rush informs me you’ve been taking the night watch at the helm the last few days. I suggested to Rush that he get a warm bath ready for you, after being in the chilly air, night after night. We can’t have you getting sick.” With a twinkle in her eye and a naughty giggle, she added, “But it was just too tempting, all this water. I couldn’t resist.”
Resist, yes, that is exactly what he must do, he told himself even as his hands relaxed their grip on the door and one foot entered the cabin.
She sat upright in the tub, the top of her pert breasts visible above the water, her long hair swirling around her shoulders. His mouth watered. His other foot entered the room.
With a raised eyebrow, and in a voice he hardly recognised, she soothed, “You do look a tad chilly after your watch. Would you care to join me, there’s room for two?”
Staring at her, he couldn’t force out a single word.
“What’s the matter, Grayson?” she cooed.
He closed his eyes and tried to control his need, but the way she said his name was intoxicating. He throbbed uncontrollably.
“You’re not shy, are you?”
He opened his eyes; unable to speak he simply stared at her.
She lay back and let her long hair fall over the side of the tub in waves of silk. She took a face cloth and ran it down over her face and across her bosom. He followed the cloth with his eyes, like an addict focused on his next fix.
“Why don’t you shut the door behind you?” Her voice a husky murmur caressed him across what now seemed a claustrophobic space. “We don’t need an audience.”
His foot moved a step closer.
She smiled. It sucked all the breath from his lungs.
“If you won’t come to me, I’ll have to come to you.”
At her words she rose gracefully from the tub, water streaming over her luscious curves. His heart pounded so hard in his chest he knew she could hear it. He stepped closer still.
Jesus, what was he doing? His very hands burned with the need to touch her, run his palms from her slim waist down her elegantly curved thighs, to slide his hands through her auburn womanly curls, wet and glistening at the apex of her thighs, and feel her woman’s heat before gliding back up to her firm ripe breasts and molding them in his hands. The nipples taut, and aching for his touch.
His mouth watered wanting to suckle, to taste, to claim her.
“Do you need me to help you?” she purred. “Come here.” She crooked her finger and bade him move closer.
Stay back.
But his body ignored his command. When the haze of his need cleared he was at the tub’s edge. She’d never been this forward before, and she knew her power. He forgot she was a virgin. Oh, she’d flirted and teased in her younger days, her innocence making a mockery of her attentions. She’d had no idea how to use her feminine wiles back then. So untutored. She didn’t even know what she’d really wanted.
But look at his siren now.

Crikey, Portia’s a bold one!

I wonder if I’ll meet a man who makes me decide to do a seductive bath scene. Somehow I doubt it! I’ll get my romance off my trusty kindle, which is now packed, with books for me to read.

Have you got any holiday plans? If so, where are you going and what books are you taking along to read?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Surprising Perks of Being a Doormat

By Robin Weaver

Your critique partner asks for a “quick edit,” of her manuscript even when she knows you’re packing for a class reunion; a mechanic gives you an estimate you know is two-times higher than he’d charge any man; your first-born expects you to drop everything and just listen, then cancels on your celebratory lunch at the last minute; a friend makes a snarky remark about the “girls’ day” you spent hours planning… BTW, these are just examples and none of these things happened to me. I’d never list the actual things that prompted this blog because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Geez, guess I really am a doormat.

Even so, as women, and writers, it seems everyone wants a piece of us. All the time! We give, and give some more, then, when we need something—and usually it’s something really small—the entire world seems to disappear. Is it any wonder we feel like doormats?

Which prompted me to (what else?) google doormats. During this research I happened upon the book Give and Take, by Adam Grant. According to Mr. Grant people differ in their preferences for reciprocity and he places people into three categories: givers, takers and matchers.

The definition of givers and takers is pretty obvious, but to recap, Adam Grant says “takers are people who, when they walk into an interaction with another person, are trying to get as much as possible from that person and contribute as little as they can in return.”

Givers are at the other end of the spectrum and according to Grant, “It’s not about donating money or volunteering necessarily, but looking to help others by making an introduction, giving advice, providing mentoring or sharing knowledge, without any strings attached. These givers actually prefer to be on the contributing end of an interaction.”

As with good and evil, most of us are not always givers nor are we complete takers. For example, by whining about being a doormat, I become less giving and more taking. Thus individuals are a mix, but most people are predominantly one or the other.

There are, however, people who strive to be fifty percent giver and fifty percent taker. Grant defines this group as the matchers. To quote the Give and Take  author, “A matcher is somebody who tries to maintain an even balance of give and take. If I help you, I expect you to help me in return. [They] keep score of exchanges, so that everything is fair and really just.”

You are saying, “All right, already. What does any of this have to do with doormats?” And I did promise you a perk, didn’t I?

IMHO, both givers and takers can feel like doormats, and justifiably so. Sometimes, it seems the entire world is absorbed in a big ole pool of self-interest. Doesn’t it seem like the takers get more and more while the rest of us get…well, stepped on?
Not necessarily. Adam Grant’s research yielded some surprising results. When he analyzed a wide range of industries, he found the three styles exist everywhere. As you might expect, the givers are overrepresented at the bottom of most “success” chains. Putting other people first, they often put themselves at risk for burning out or being exploited by takers.*

“Well, duh,” you’re saying. “That no perk.”

And you’d be correct. But there is surprising good news. According to Grant: “Givers are overrepresented at the top as well as the bottom of most success metrics.”
So if you’re (mostly) a giver (aka doormat), take heart. The law of averages indicate that if you don’t burn out, you'll get the success you deserve.  So, keep helping other authors with craft, keep critiquing, continue to judge those contests, but mostly, keep feeling good about your generosity.

For the rest of you, get with the program. 

*A quote by Adam Grant

Monday, June 29, 2015

I Can't Wait to Share the Good News! by Sarah Raplee

I'm blogging off topic today in order to share a wonderful news site with you. I like to check The Good News Network website at http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/  while I eat breakfast to start my day on a positive note - and to find things to share on social media that will uplift my friends and followers. I want to remind them that the vast majority of people are good, kind and working hard to make the world a better place.

The Good News Network was founded seventeen years ago by Geri Weis-Corbley, a television and online media professional who has been a producer, director, editor, videographer and freelance journalist.

Where else will you find headlines like these all in one place?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Anna Markland on Medieval Romance

Thanks for having me as your guest. After two successful careers, first in teaching then in disaster relief, I embarked on writing a
Anna Markland
romance, mainly because it was something I’d always wanted to do. I chose the medieval period because it’s my favorite to read.

I have a keen interest in genealogy. This hobby has had a tremendous influence on my stories. I based the plot of my first novel, Conquering Passion, on a bizarre incident that actually happened to a Norman noblewoman.

My medieval romances are tales of family honor, ancestry, and roots. As an amateur genealogist, I cherished a dream of tracing my own English roots back to the Norman Conquest—most likely impossible since I am not descended from nobility! This led me to make up a family and my stories follow its members through successive generations.

I want readers to feel happy that the heroes and heroines have found their soul mates and that the power of love has overcome every obstacle. For me, novels are an experience of another world or time. I lose myself in the characters’ lives, always knowing they will triumph in the end and find love.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research necessary to provide readers with an authentic medieval experience. I love ferreting out bits of historical trivia I never knew! But I have to admit I sometimes “tinker” with the facts to make for a more readable story (and to ensure a happy ending). For example the noblewoman whose life inspired Conquering Passion didn’t live a happy life, and if I hadn’t changed some of the names in my latest novel, Pride of the Clan, every male would have been called Robert!