Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Free holiday music at Amazon!

Hi everyone --

I hope you're all having a wonderful December. I'm very much in the holiday spirit right now (it helps that I had a Christmas book out this year). I've been listening to Christmas music non-stop. It's a good thing I have scores of holiday albums.

I'm now addicted to Amazon's free Christmas music. Every day in December, they're giving away a new Christmas mp3 -- everything from Barenaked Ladies to Bing Crosby. I've found some very cool music there. Just check out the link above to get you there.

And if you go to their main holiday download page, you can get five bonus tracks, including a fabulous choral version of Jingle Bells that my 11-year-old loves.

Happy listening!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


An alert reader tipped me off to a mistake in my reader letter in the front of THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. I printed a recipe for my favorite snickerdoodles and I think I must have been half-asleep when I sent it to my publisher (a not-uncommon situation here since I do lots of my work at night when the kiddies are asleep!). Anyway, apparently I listed baking powder when it should have been baking soda. It was right in the instructions but not in the list of ingredients. So here's the corrected version ...
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening (I use margarine, softened)
3 cups white sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking SODA!
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste and preference

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
2. Cream together butter, shortening or margarine, 3 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla with electric hand mixer or in food processor.
3. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
4. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
5. Mix the 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough balls into mixture, place 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
6. Bake 8-10 minutes until just firm (don't overcook!).
7. Remove immediately from baking sheets and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm not yet into the holiday spirit this year but having a Christmas book released last week has sort of jump-started the process for me! I loved writing THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, even if I was probably the only one back in March who listening to five different Christmas stations on Pandora to help me catch the mood!

I have to share a little inside story on the book. There's a scene in it that touched me every single time I read it -- when I originally wrote it and through every version of rewrites, line edits and page proofs.

It's the Christmas Eve scene when the heroine gives her oldest child something precious of his father's, who died a few years earlier (I won't give it all away -- you'll have to read the book!). Anyway, I wrote the first draft late one night and I couldn't stop crying as I wrote it. That happens to us crazy writers sometimes! I don't know why but I was very moved by the emotion in the scene so I'm sitting down in my office sobbing away and my husband comes down to tell me good-night. He gets that panicky look men get when they find us crying. He was so worried to find me in such a state and thought I was having my usual deadline-induced breakdown, the kind when I'm absolutely sure I'll never be able to write another book again .

I had to tell him, no, this was a good thing. It was just my people making me cry. If a scene spurs such a reaction in me, I can only hope it has a similar impact in my readers!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I have a rather unique opportunity next week -- one that suddenly scares me to death! I was contacted a few months ago by the director of the Utah Humanities Council's Festival of the Book, who asked me to be a guest lecturer at the literacy festival, in its seventh year.

At first, I thought, "Sure! No problem. How hard could it be?" But as the date approaches and I've had a look at the lineup of lecturers, I'm doing a big, nervous gulp here. Not only am I the only romance author involved, I'm just about the only author of popular fiction and the pressure suddenly feels enormous.

What do you say to people who would rather be caught naked in a windstorm than have somebody spy them reading a romance novel?

My topic is The Appeal of Romance. I plan to talk about exactly that -- why romance novels make up more than a quarter of all books sold and outsell every other genre.

As I'm preparing my lecture, I've re-read my dog-eared copy of DANGEROUS MEN AND ADVENTUROUS WOMEN, the great book of essays by some of the lionesses of the industry like Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown and Elizabeth Lowell. I've also scoured RWA conference keynote addresses from people like Barbara Samuels, Lisa Kleypas and Suzanne Brockmann. All of them have wonderful things tos ay about why are books are so popular around the world.

I don't expect to change anybody's mind but I would at least like to offer lucid, compelling reasons to read romance. And I would love to hear from you! Help me out here ... Please, I'm begging you! What do you love about romance novels? How do I explain the magic and wonder of becoming lost in a beautiful, life-affirming story?

I'm holding a drawing among everybody who responds. Two winners will receive their choice of either a copy of THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, my November book that won't be on shelves for another few weeks, or anything from my backlist.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I hope you're having a great summer! I'm thrilled to announce that the final book in my Silhouette Special Edition trilogy THE WOMEN OF BRAMBLEBERRY HOUSE should be in stores today -- or in the next few days, anyway. Bookstores are supposed to shelve the new books today but sometimes it takes them a few days to get to it. A SOLDIER'S SECRET is the story of Anna Galvez, sister to a couple heroes I've featured in previous books (Ren and Daniel Galvez, two of my very favorite men!) and the last woman standing at Brambleberry House. Here's the blurb about it ...

"To find out who was claiming ownership of the only place he'd ever called home, Harry Maxwell knew he'd have to practice a little deception. So the wounded lieutenant changed his name a little. Altered a few facts. All for a good cause—get in, get the truth, get out.

Until he met the Brambleberry House heir presumptive. Anna Galvez was captivating in ways he hadn't even known existed. Still, after spending time with her, he wanted the house more than ever.

But only if she was in it…. "

I loved writing this book and wrapping up a series I so enjoyed creating. I loved the Oregon Coast setting, the gorgeous Victorian and of course the characters who filled it, both living and dead!

I also wanted to let any readers in the Bay Area know I'll be signing books as part of the huge booksigning for literacy that Romance Writers of America hosts each year at their annual conference. The signing is Wednesday, July 30, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Downtown Marriott. For directions and a complete list of the hundreds of authors attending, please visit the RWA website, http://www.rwanational.org/cs/literacy_autographing

All my best,


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summertime and the living is easy.


Not here, I'm afraid. During the other three seasons of the year, I always picture summer as a nice, slow inner tube float down a torpid creek, where we just drift on the current and enjoy the sunshine and the scenery. Ha! From the moment school ended at the end of May, we've been on Class V rapids, dodging precarious boulders and time-sucking whirlpools. It seems like we race from T-ball to Cub Scouts to family events to swim lessons. Last night alone, we had four commitments and ended up ducking out of two of them and squeezing the others in somehow (and somehow found time in there to keep the lawn watered, the kids fed and the minivan gassed up!).

I know it's all part of this season of our lives. In some distant, murky future, we will miss this chaotic time, when the whitewater slows to a quiet trickle of activity. That seems a long time away right now!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yay! I'm on the Waldenbooks bestseller list for the second week in a row with my latest book for Silhouette Special Edition, A MERGER ... OR MARRIAGE?. I had great fun writing this story, especially working with the other five talented authors involved in THE WILDER FAMILY miniseries. It's always a little tough to take a story someone else created and make it your own but I really came to love Richard and Anna (and especially Richard's little boy Ethan. What a heartbreaker!).

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I cut my boys' hair today for the first time ever.

Needless to say, it was a terrifying experience to grip those clippers in my hand and make that first plowing inroad into locks that needed snipping about a month ago. My stomach jumped with nerves as I watched the hunks of hair fall to the driveway and blow away in the wind.

The journey to the spot was born from my frustration at paying $15 a pop for buzz cuts in the summer (I'm a big tipper!). I decided this time to spend $30 for a home haircut set and try myself. I mean, how hard could it be?

Ha. Twenty minutes later, my stomach was still jumping with nerves, this time from looking at the jagged mess I'd made. It's a good thing my 10-year-old is nonverbal and has low vision. If he had seen himself in the mirror, I'm sure he would have stopped speaking to me all summer. The five year old was thrilled, however, despite the raggedy job I did trimming around the ears. He ran right in to show his dad. His exact words: "It's not bad for the first time!"

If I had just stuck to the clippers, everything would have been fine. They would have had okay cuts. But I decided to go crazy and try to trim the necklines and around the ears and therein lay madness! It's a good thing they like hats in the summer (though I was trying to figure out how I could get by with having the 10 year old wear one to church!).

I've decided that cutting kids' hair is a lot like writing a book. I thought it couldn't be that tough -- I could save money and the hassle of wrestling kids at the barbers by doing things myself. I read the instruction booklet but I didn't study, I just dived into things.

Lots of people tell me they want to write a book and I'm sure in the back of their heads, they are quite sure that if I can make a career out of it, anyone can. I agree ... I really do. But it probably won't be perfect that first time. Writing a good book is really a lot harder than it looks. It takes practice and experience to layer plots, to create vivid characters, to come up with snappy dialogue. You have to choose the right tools, you have to practice a great deal, and sometimes you have to know when to be satisfied with what you have created instead of taking a snip here and a clip there and ending up with a choppy disaster.

Friday, May 30, 2008

All right, I've been putting this off long enough. It's time to update my blog! My life has been so hectic, I've let it slide (quite obviously!). I also had an ancient computer that made any kind of updating a week-long chore. But now I've updated my hardware and my software, my life has slowed (for the moment!) so I'm making a commitment to to keep up with my blog.

First off, I'm thrilled to announce my latest book is in stores now. A MERGER ... OR MARRIAGE? is a June release and is the final book in The Wilder Family miniseries for Special Edition. This was a great six-book series written by different authors and I was thrilled to write the finale. Here's the back cover copy:

"To snag a coveted promotion, financial whiz Anna Wilder has to close one last important deal: the takeover of her hometown hospital, Walnut River General. Black sheep Anna had never felt like she'd fit into the respected Wilder clan, and now her job was making the proposed merger personal -- especially when she met her opponent in the boardroom.
Richard Green was the savvy attorney -- and ex-love -- determined to foil her plans. After one unbelievable kiss years ago, Anna had run far away from her home, her insecurities and the man who made her pulse quicken. But perhaps her return was a second chance in disguise. Could Richard convince Anna that this merger was bad business ... and take over her heart instead?"

I loved writing this sweet reunion story! I really came to adore the characters and the entire Wilder family and I'm thrilled the book has already appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list!

I'm also pleased to announce that the final book in THE WOMEN OF BRAMBLEBERRY HOUSE will be out in August! In A SOLDIER'S SECRET, I at last get the chance to tell the story of Anna Galvez and hunky injured war hero Harry Maxwell, who comes to recuperate at Brambleberry House. It was such a joy to write a happy ending for Anna, and Max became one of my all-time favorite heroes! Of course, Conan the dog appears and there are a few ghostly encounters in store for Anna and Max. I actually cried writing the last page and saying good-bye to these characters I came to love so much through writing the series.

I also had a Mother's Day novella in a Harlequin anthology out last month. I know Mother's Day seems a distant memory but my story, A MOTHER'S HOPE is really a timeless story of love and redemption. The collection is still available at online bookstores and at eHarlequin.com.

I also wanted to give you a heads-up about my final 08 book. I just finished writing THE COWBOY'S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, which is scheduled to be released in November. I so loved this story! I was able to return to Pine Gulch, Idaho, the setting for my COWBOYS OF COLD CREEK series and several of the characters I introduced in that series make a repeat appearance. It was so fun writing a Christmas book, though I imagine I very well might have been the only one creating Christmas stations in April on Pandora!

And one final bit of news ... I was humbled and thrilled to learn that my January 07 book HIGH-RISK AFFAIR is a finalist this year for the Romance Writers of America's RITA award in the contemporary series/suspense & adventure category. The winners will be announced in early August at a lavish awards celebration in San Francisco.