writer

Wild Rose Pass: an adventure in learning for the author

Readers, please welcome author Karen Hulene Bartell!

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. It’s a pleasure to be here!
Writing Wild Rose Pass was a stretch for me because I’d never written in the Frontier, Western, or Historical genres before—no ghosts and nothing paranormal. Adding to my dilemma, the timeline was 1880 Texas, so every phrase they spoke, every idiom they used, every food they ate, every dress and uniform they wore, as well as the roles they played, all had to be double-checked for historical accuracy. Writing it was slow going.

And although romance is always a part of my novels, I’d never written a true “Romance” before, so I had to learn how to write from two points of view and speak in both the heroine’s and hero’s voices. With few exceptions, I’d always written from the female POV. Suddenly, I had to give equal time to a male POV, often in the same scene—but from the other’s perspective.

I learned how women and men communicate differently. Men are more concise in their speech. An article in The Guardian noted that the male brain is more visual-spatial and better adapted to mathematics, while the female brain is more adept at communication. A BBC post by Claudia Hammond stated that women speak 20,000 words per day compared to men’s 7,000 words per day—men prefer action to talk.

Because the men in Wild Rose Pass were officers in the cavalry, accustomed to giving orders, I wrote their dialogue in short, terse bursts, using simple subject-verb sentences. Additionally, the hero Ben had been raised by Comanches, who taught him that “Men keep their own counsel” and “Men don’t whine.” Trained to keep his thoughts to himself, he spoke guardedly, even when he wanted to express himself.
Besides those restraints, Ben had no formal schooling. Self-taught, he felt embarrassed about his lack of education—especially when compared to the heroine, who had attended school out East. With his feelings of inadequacy, he chose his words carefully, even when he “opened up.”

Despite my learning curve, I enjoyed writing Wild Rose Pass and had fun getting into the Old West mindset. Maybe it reminded me of the old Westerns I used to watch as a kid ��

Blurb:

Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Excerpt:

Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”

As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks.

When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.

“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.

“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.

Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.

As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?” Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.

A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

 

Buy Links:

 Amazon eBook

Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble NOOK Book

Barnes & Noble Paperback

 About the Author:

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

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Can a rescue cat help two damaged people fall in love?

Thanks, Cynthia Terelst, for being with us today! First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you live? Do you have pets that are your loves? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?

Hi Everyone,

I live in Queensland, Australia with my two cats, Kimmy and Possum. Kimmy was adopted from a local refuge and Possum was a foster fail through a rescue. I foster kittens, and have had five in my home at one time. That was pure craziness, and I will be sticking to two or three from now on. It is rewarding to know that you are saving lives and preparing them for a wonderful forever home.

I do not have any formal training in writing, in fact my degree is in commerce, which is funny really when you think that numbers and words are opposites. I don’t think you need an education in writing to be a good writer.  Although, having an understanding of structure, flow and grammar helps. I find editing the hardest part of the process. Like most writers my first draft is about getting ideas and words on the page. Editing is perfecting those words and takes a lot of effort. You need to consider the plot, subplots, character arcs, flow, tension and much more.

The Cats Out Of The BagTell us about your most recent publication.

What inspired you to write this story?
What’s your favorite thing about the book? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

The Cat’s out of the Bag is my first published novel. It is a contemporary romance set in Australia. The two main characters are what some would consider tortured souls; Jesse is a billionaire from America who is trying to escape his empty life and Evie has rebuilt her life after escaping a bad relationship.

I felt it was an important story to write because it touches on family bullying and domestic violence. There is a lot of hope in this story and it is important for people to know there is always hope.

As it is set in Australia, I wanted to include different Australian scenes. Many of the places visited in my novel I visited with my daughter when we travelled around Australia with out cat and dog. Some of the places, like the Fairy Garden, needed research.  It was fun to learn about things I didn’t know before.

I added some comedy in there as well to lighten the mood.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Cats-out-Bag-billionaire-international-ebook/dp/B07ZC2Y2PG

How would you best describe your books?

My books are full of love and hope. Even though I deal with some tough subjects I like to add some comedy in. It is amusing to write characters’ reactions to Australian English and Australian culture.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

Gosh, I like to read just about anything. I have been reading a lot of romance recently to help with my writing. I am particularly fond of young adult dystopian. I have just started to read a space opera series because I wanted to know what I was missing out on.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I like creating life and watching it play out on the page. I wrote a scene recently where I cried and I hope the reader feels the same emotion I did.

I wanted to be a writer from a young age. My grandfather thought I might be a journalist like his father was. But young dreams have a way of changing. I even wanted to be a lawyer when I was thirteen. I had it all planned out. I would have a career and then have children when I was thirty-five. That didn’t eventuate either.

I wrote my first full length novel when I was sixteen.  Life interrupted and I put writing aside for over twenty years. Now I am back at it and I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I belong to Queensland Writers Centre. They send out a newsletter weekly. Another association I am a member of is Romance Writers Australia.  I am not a member of any groups where we get together to write or discuss writing.

I don’t find any one website useful. I google a lot when I get stuck.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

 No. I am lost in the zone, so it wouldn’t matter what I listened to. Sometimes I prefer silence; other times I like some background noise.

Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?

I have written one contemporary romance, The Cat’s out of the Bag, which is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. I have written a young adult novel which is yet to be published. I would like it to be traditionally published so it can be available in schools.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

I am writing my second novel in the Love Down Under series, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.  It is a contemporary, second chance romance.

On April 4 I will be joining two other authors for an author talk at Hervey Bay Library. I am hoping to do some other local signing as well.

What would you like to tell readers?

I would like to thank readers for their support.

Blurb

One van. Two hearts. Thousands of kilometres.

Jesse’s a self-made billionaire who yearns to get away from his empty life and the money-hungry parasites who inhabit it. The plan? Go to Australia, tell no one about his money and find himself. Instead of finding just himself, he finds Evie, who is everything anyone should aspire to be. Now, what he aspires to be, is hers. But to be hers, he needs to tell her everything.

Evie has left her past behind. She has rebuilt herself, and her life, into one of happiness. annaAfter she meets Jesse, while volunteering at a cat shelter, memories of her past filter back in. She is stronger now and wants to trust him. But after all she has been through, is trust even possible?

The quest to find a cat a forever home leads them to travel across the country together. Can the close quarters drive them to open up to each other? Or will it drive them apart?

Excerpt

Jesse

The wave petered out, and I paddled back to the line-up. Sitting, watching, waiting. The constant breeze in my ears and the sound of waves breaking relaxed me. Lulled by the gentle rise and fall of the swells, I thought about Evie.

She was one of the most complicated people I’d ever met. Whatever she had been through had made her strong and independent. But underneath, she was all doubt. I could see her trying to be brave, but that could change in an instant as her insecurities took over. I felt like it was a fight between Nick and me, and I didn’t even know the guy. I didn’t know how to beat a ghost. But I would. I would figure it out, and I would gain Evie’s trust, bit by bit.

Her. Me. That’s what I would strive for.

*****

CYNTHIA TERELST is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian sceneryu and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

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Website http://cynthiaterelst.com/

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Blog http://cynthiaterelst.com/blog/

Twitter @CynthiaTerelst

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BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cynthia-terelst

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/author/ref=dbs_P_W_auth?_encoding=UTF8&author=Cynthia%20Terelst&searchAlias=digital-text&asin=B07ZCTX8SB

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/cynthiaterelst

What’s on a bordello madam’s bucket list?

Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Lily Pearl Evans has run the Sassafras Social Club in Chaparral, New Mexico for 15 years, and she’s seen some things. But there are still some things she’d like to see. But not chickens.

See, Lily Pearl has been lucky enough to deal with a more affluent clientele–credit approved only.

Things don’t always run smoothly, but none so rocky as the night a dehydrated, dirty stranger shows up on her front steps. He’s not a client–doesn’t even look like he’d be applying for services. But he’ll change her life in ways she can’t even imagine.

Check out the featured blog on Romance Lives Forever!

Getting back on the dating horse again after 40

In CONVICTION OF THE HEART, attorney Suzanne Taylor is a single mother of teen girls who hasn’t really considered dating much–until she meets police sergeant Nick Sansone. It has been years since she’s gone on a date other than something super casual, so she’s anxious as hell over every detail. What to wear. Where to go. How sexy to look. She doesn’t know what Nick’s expectations are, and she’s not going to take her daughters’ advice (which was something along the lines of “woo woo momma’s got a boyfriend. Is he gonna see your tattoo?”

Here she is getting ready to go:

Her hair wasn’t right.

She stood in front of the mirror in the frou-frou restroom that served the office and the rest of the tenants on the floor. She hadn’t decorated it. The ruffled pink curtains and wallpaper practically bleeding fuchsia butterflies were not to her taste at all.

She took her hair down again. Pinned it back up.

How is it her clients always managed to begin the dating life without difficulty or reservation whatsoever? For Suzanne, it was a major trauma.

She held her hair left, right, her eye critical. The Moody Blues were a sixties band. The Age of Aquarius. Hippies. Free love.

Photo by Linda Mea Meoni

Hair down.

She took her hair out of its band, brushed it, then fluffed it with her fingers.

She’d chosen a feminine silk blouse, black with turquoise medallions, and black dress slacks instead of jeans, since they were going to the Benedum. If the concert had been at Star Lake, they’d have lawn seats and a blanket, and more casual would have been appropriate.

Suzanne thought about Nick, and a blanket, listening to music under the stars…going from zero to sixty pretty fast along that imaginative track. A long time since she’d made love with a man.

She shook her head to clear her mind. Focus.

Shoes.

The overnight bag she’d brought to the office held a pair of black pumps with a mid-height, chunky heel. She slipped them on, then looked in the mirror again.

Satisfied with her clothing, she dabbed on a hint of makeup, nothing garish, and added small dangle earrings, blue gemstones wrapped in silver, and a spritz of Opium, her favorite perfume. A deep breath gave her a moment to examine her appearance. A little less than professional, a little more than Sunday church. It would do.

***

What do you thinking about dating after forty? Easier or harder than at twenty? What special considerations have you made or seen others make to present a good first impression on a date?

 

CONVICTION OF THE HEART, a novel of romantic suspense, and the first volume in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series –available at the Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and other booksellers.

Some writing advice…is less than perfect ‘good enough’?

 Today’s entry is from Randy Ingermanson, the ‘Snowflake Guy’.

IMG_20180720_165918081I’ve got to say that I’m of various opinions on this. Depends where my piece is going next.

If it’s a contest, where THIS IS IT, I tend to lean toward perfection. If it’s going to a beta reader or an editor, I want it to be good, of course, but I think it’s important to let go of perfection in favor of getting some other eyes on it and opening up.

Organization: Is “Done” Better Than “Perfect”?

by Randy Ingermanson

I realized recently that I’m a perfectionist.

That has an upside and a downside.

The upside is that when I finally finish something, it’s the best I can do. It’s something I can be proud of.

The downside is that it often takes me a very long time to finish things. And sometimes I don’t get them done at all. And that means there are a lot of unfinished things on my plate. Which is not something to be proud of.

So I’ve been asking myself lately whether it’s better to be “done” or “perfect.”

And I can’t see that either one is always the best answer.

The Argument to Just Get it Done

Some things simply don’t need to be perfect. (That’s very hard for me to say, but I have to admit it’s true.)

I own a couple of acres of land, in a state where there’s lots of rain and quite a bit of sunshine. Which means that weeds grow like crazy here. Short of a nuclear blast, I don’t think it’s actually possible to get the entire lot free of weeds at any given time.

But even if it was possible, they’d be back in a week. So it makes sense to just blaze through and knock out all the big weeds and leave the little guys alone. Painful as it is to let the little weeds live, there are just too many of them.

Now that summer is approaching, I’m facing that reality again. So there’s a case for getting the job mostly done, rather than perfectly done.

I had a manager once who used to say, “Make it good enough for now.” I never liked that idea, but often it was the only way to work.

When you have a hard deadline that absolutely must be met, usually the best you can do is “good enough for now.”

The Argument to Get it Perfect

But there are times when you really need perfection.

For example, when lives are at risk. Every airplane crash is a reminder that somebody, somewhere wasn’t perfect.

As another example, sometimes there are outsized rewards for being the best. If you’re IMGP0717.JPGan Olympic athlete in an event that gets a lot of media attention, there can be a huge financial difference between a gold medal and a silver. Even if the performance difference is only a hundredth of a second.

When you’re in a high-risk situation or a high-reward situation, “good enough for now” really isn’t good enough.

What About That Book You’re Writing?

Let’s bring this home for writers. What about that book you’re writing? Is it better to get it done, or get it perfect?

I’d say that depends.

It depends on what your goals are for the book. It depends on your strategic vision for your writing career.

It may very well make sense for you to write books quickly, doing the best you can in a set amount of time, producing good quality books on a regular schedule. That works for many writers. We might call this the James Patterson model. Mr. Patterson does very well by writing about a dozen books per year.

But it may also make sense for you to write the best book you possibly can, no matter how long it takes. You might take years between books, while your fans loyally wait, knowing that you’re going to give them an amazing experience every time. That also works well for some writers. We might call this the J.K. Rowling model. The last three Harry Potter books were spaced two to three years apart. And Ms. Rowling has done very well by that model.

You Get To Decide

You are in charge of your own life, so you get to decide how you’ll run your writing career.

Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have a binary choice between “fast and good enough” or “slow and perfect.” There’s a spectrum of options, and you get to choose where you’ll fit on that spectrum.

IMGP0748Here are a few questions to guide you:

  • Does your personality lean more towards “get it done” or “get it perfect”?
  • Does your target audience value high speed in writing or high quality?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the fastest writer in your category?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the best writer in your category?
  • Where do the writers you admire most land on the spectrum of “fast” versus “amazing”?

Every project is different. You don’t have to put all your books at the same point on the spectrum. You can bend some of them toward the “fast” end and some toward the “amazing” end.

I make only one recommendation here: make the decision on where you want your book to be on the spectrum at the beginning of the project.

And then live by that decision.

******

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Yes, it’s nearly Mardi Gras, that holiday that transforms the city of New Orleans (and

nola-pcola-013
Jackson Square

 many others in the South) into a major party town. My daughters and I stayed with an old newspaper friend and his wife one year for the event, and had a wonderful time. While those who venture downtown and out to Bourbon Street encounter a lot of drunk, happy people, out in the Garden District, where Hank lived, it was much more a family atmosphere. The whole neighborhood came out into the green area between the street car tracks along St. Charles Avenue, called the neutral ground, set up tall ladders for the smallest kids, and spent the day catching beads, and getting happy. nola pcola 003

 

The French Quarter, is of course picturesque and a must-see. I loved the balconies that stretched for blocks, overlooking the packed streets.

We stayed nearly a week, ate the obligatory beignets and drank chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, visited the Voodoo Museum. The trip was wonderful, and research done then formed the basis for my novel VOODOO DREAMS. This is the third book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series.

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to VoodooDreams_w7507_medthreaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

Visiting this book, for me, is like re-visiting the city. Check it out at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com  or at the publisher’s site, The Wild Rose Press.  Enjoy this read with your favorite coffee and king cake. Happy Mardi Gras!