Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cover Reveal and Book Trailer for Yellowstone Origins!

It's almost here! I'm so happy to announce that, after a year of planning, plotting (and I'm not a plotter, but this book and the two that will follow required extensive story mapping), and six months of fretting and writing, YELLOWSTONE ORIGINS is finished!!! And I have a release date.

November 10, 2015

I'm excited to finally  reveal the cover, and also a special project my son put together.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Yellowstone Origins, the Writing Process

So, I had a dream a while ago about Yellowstone Origins. I don't normally have dreams that I remember, or dreams about books, and this one had nothing to do with the actual story, but more the process of writing this particular book.
In my dream, I was playing chess, having to look several moves ahead and concentrate, because if I made one wrong move, the entire game was lost, and I couldn't go back. At the same time, I was juggling two snakeheads in one hand, and had to be careful not to drop one of them.

Yep, that's about right as far as the writing process went with this story. I don't think I've ever tackled something this involved, where I really had to pay attention to each move, each scene, because this story involves all the background I have on the Yellowstone Romance Series in my author notes, and I needed to remember everything that came before, and what will come after, Origins . . .

So, I apologize that this book has taken so long to write, but I needed to get it right. On the surface, it reads very fast and smooth and typical of my other stories, but there's a lot of stuff I'm trying to cover without it getting overwhelming.

The series was supposed to end with Deception. I thought I had everything covered, and it had come full circle, but there's so much there that hasn't been told yet, which I realized with one word in a review a while back. That word; "cliffhanger." Those of you who know my writing know that I don't write cliffhangers, so that's what made me decide that I just couldn't let it end yet, because there were still lots of unanswered questions.

 Origins and the two books that will come after it have been over a year in the serious planning stages, when I firmly decided that I was going to pull out all my notes and get the back story out there (after that one word in a review) - and I had to take all that background and incorporate romance into it, too - and I'm now on month six since I wrote the first actual word ("Prologue" :D ). That sort of reminds me of my progress with Heart Song.

Ok, I did write a couple of books in-between those six months, because I had to step away from Origins every now and then. Maybe I'm overthinking it (because I never overthink my books, she says sarcastically), but in the end, Origins and the two that will follow will be the stories I wanted to tell in the Yellowstone Romance Saga.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post . . . Cover reveal, release date, and something I’m really proud of – a book trailer for this book.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Guest Author - Doris McCraw

To Live History

Please help me welcome my special guest today, author and story-teller, Doris McCraw! She's doing a giveaway, so be sure to comment with your contact info at the end of the post!
This post written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw-Angela Raines - author
What is it like to live history? There are numerous ‘towns’ and ‘ranches’ that allow visitors to watch living history. Some of the more famous are Colonial Williamsburg and Plymouth Plantation. In Colorado there is  Rock Ledge Ranch. There are those who recreate historic battles from the Revolutionary War on.
Then there are people who take on historic character. I know Ben Franklin (Christopher Lowell), Theodore Roosevelt (Don Moon) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (Richard Marrold). Of course there are those who are unique to Colorado history.  Pearl DeVere, the Cripple Creek madam who died of an overdose of laudanum, Poker Alice, a poker player  in the Old West, Wm. J. Palmer founder of Colorado Springs and his wife Queen and James Burns, the Cripple Creek magnate who was one of the owners of the famous Portland Mine on Battle Mountain near the town of Victor, Colorado.

Theodore Roosevelt The Bad Land Years
All the people who have this passion to pass along history, to create characters as in the living history sites or to research and bring to life people from the past, do so to keep the stories alive. From the period correct costume to having the facts straight, to them the best way to remember the past and learn from it is to relive it and share it.
I too have this passion for history, be it the early women doctors, the labor wars in Cripple Creek/Victor or the founding of Colorado Springs and Colorado, I want to share the wonderful information I find. I also have made it my mission to bring the life of Helen (Hunt) Jackson back to public consciousness. For over twelve years I have researched and performed as this amazing woman. For me and those others who have this passion it is not an option to not do this. We live history because we don’t want to lose history. History is the stories of our lives. As writers we tell stories, as historic characters we do the same.

Today, although it's not history as we know it, my experiences working in the corrections field and a love of romance created my newly released novella, "Angel of Salvation Valley" from Prairie Rose Publications. The story takes place in the state I love, Colorado.  I hope readers enjoy it as much as I did writing it. One person who comments on this post will get a copy of this newly released story of Angels, Demons, Heaven or Hell. Otherwise you can find it at: http://amzn.to/1RSRBrN

Follow my haiku post five days a week at: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com

Home for His Heart: http://bitly.com/1Ibnw5U

Cowboy Celebraton: http://bitly.com/1MiguNL

Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Spotlight - Ruby Merritt

My special author guest this week is Ruby Merritt, whose book, Ella’s Choice, was a great read for me! Right up my alley, and the kind of stories I enjoy reading. Her latest book in the Spirit Hearts Series is called Lena’s Courage, and I’m looing forward to reading it very soon. (Trying to get a WIP wrapped up, then I can treat myself to a book to read!)
Ruby is giving away an e-book copy of either Ella’s Choice or Lena’s Courage, so please be sure to comment at the end of this post.

Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I am Ruby Merritt, author of the Spirited Heart Series. I’m an avid horsewoman, homeschooling mom and in the past worked as a software engineer in the high tech industry.

Why did you decide to write historical western romance? What is the appeal?

I love history especially that of the American Old West. And I love romance.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

I research quite a bit for my books, but I love finding interesting tidbits about the time period so it’s not work at all to me.

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

My readers are very good to me. I love them and their comments. Some of the most reaffirming to me as a writer are “the character depth is amazing” and “the feelings from your story are still with me.” The worst comment I’ve received is “utter nonsense” and the weirdest was along the lines of “I think I’ve read this book before. Shame on Ruby Merritt for stealing someone else’s story.” LOL!

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I plan out my stories to the extent I know who my characters are and what makes them tick, and I know the major external events that will drive them to confront something about themselves and allow them to find their happily ever after together. The finer details come out while I’m writing and sometimes they can be a little surprising even to me.

Can you tell us a little about your current work? Is there a story behind the story?

I haven’t started my next work yet…at least not writing it. It’s still in the planning stages of figuring out my characters and what is going to be their conflict. The story will be about Grace Chapman, a character who’s made appearances in both Ella’s Choice and Lena’s Courage, the first two books in my Spirited Heart Series.  At the moment there isn’t a story behind the story, but who knows what will grow in my fertile imagination.

What sets your heroine Lena apart from all the other women in your hero’s Lucas’ life? Why is she perfect for him?
In my latest release, Lena’s Courage, Lena has this notion she is not brave, but when people close to her heart are threatened, she shows extraordinary courage to help protect them. For Lucas, who’s come to the Wyoming territory to create a new life for himself, Lena reminds him of a traumatic event in his past, but it’s her courage in facing her own past that shows him the only way to a happy and fulfilling future is to face your past and deal with it.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I’ve found the best way to combat writer’s block is to go do something ordinary or everyday like walk the dog or wash the dishes or take a drive. Putting the story on the back burner and letting things percolate in the subconscious does wonders for getting the creative juices flowing again.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel.

Oh, I have several, but some of my most favorites involve the five year-old son of Lena. He is so honest and open and full of life. He considers everyone a friend, including Lucas, and is always inviting people into his world. The scene where Lucas’ plays Jonah’s cup and ball game is a special favorite of mine because it shows all my characters being playful and light-hearted, during a time period where so much of life was hours of work, day in and day out. It’s also the scene where Lena realizes she has feelings for Lucas, but isn’t ready to face them yet, leaving Lucas, as romance heroes often are, wondering, “Why is she running from me?”

What else do you have in store for your readers?

At the moment, I rather tied up with my Spirited Heart Series. As soon as I write one book, I have characters and material for three more it seems. LOL! Truly a good problem to have. However, I have two rough drafts in a contemporary series with more planned in my head, but who knows when I’ll get back to those. Again a truly good problem to have.

Lena’s Courage:

Shortened Description: Lena Schuler has returned to her hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming to make a life for her and her son only to find the man who brutally stole her innocence six years earlier has returned as well. Lucas Kline, a promising attorney, has come to help mold the Wyoming territory into a civilized state and find peace from his own troubled past. When Lena’s attacker threatens the safety of those she loves, will she have the courage to face him and help Lucas put him away once and for all?

Ella’s Choice:

Shortened Description: Captured by the Blackfeet at nine years old and eventually adopted by the revered Lakota chief Grey Owl, Little Brave, known in the white man’s world as Ella Hastings is facing return to a life she’s hasn’t lived for the past ten years. Half French and half Lakota Army scout, Beech Richoux finds his precarious balance between his two worlds tipped in a direction he never imagined when he commits to escorting Ella to reunite with a grandfather she believes abandoned her years ago.

Find out more about Ruby Merritt here:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Guest Author Spotlight - Marsha Ward

It is my great pleasure to host author Marsha Ward on my blog today!  And, she’s giving away a paperback copy of her book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave a comment at the end!
Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but now I live on a back road near a creek in a little valley hamlet beneath a mountain ridge. My children are all grown, and since I’m a widow, I have all the solitude I need for writing.
Phoenix was a small town when I was growing up with a chicken coop and an orange grove and lots of room to roam. After school, I would bake a pan or two of sugar cookies, take them across the street, and entertain my girlfriends with my latest story. That probably came about because my father was such a good storyteller. His accounts of living in Old Mexico as a child, and then settling in the Tucson area, influenced my love of 19th Century Western history. Warner Brothers’ TV Westerns also factored into my love of Western stories. For years, I thought I’d been born in the wrong century. I think I’ve outgrown that, due to our present-day computers and flush toilets.
I always envied my cousins who lived on a ranch, but the ranch envy turned into writing about people who settled the West and lived on ranches.
 How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?
If I know I’m doing a book where I need to do heavy research, I start figuring out what I need to know and then either research on the Internet or start buying reference books on that period or place. I read 150 books for my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, and researched for a year and a half for my most recent, Gone for a Soldier.
Once I have a solid overview of my most likely needs, I start writing, and find out what I really need to know. I leave a marker in the text to note my need for more research, and go back and fill that information in when I have finished the first draft.
What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?
I try not to read reviews, but I’ve received some nice comments from readers over the years. One told me she so admired a female character in my first novel that she wanted to be like her.
I did read a review once that praised my very real characters and well told story, but wished I had stayed with the storyline when I, according to them, veered off on a tangent for about a fourth of the book to tell about the religious beliefs of a group of people the characters met. Apparently, they missed the part where some of my characters were deeply affected by what they learned, which eased hidden sorrows and guilt enough that they could climb out of their holes and make changes for the better.
 Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?
Despite the way I do research, I’m very much a discovery writer, also known as a pantser. I start out with my characters(s) getting a jolt that will change his or her life, and I know more or less where I want to end the story. I may even know a few of the things that are likely to happen along the way, but I don’t really know how the story will go until I write it. I learn fascinating things about my characters that way.
Can you tell us a little about your most recent work, Gone for a Soldier? Is there a story behind the story?
Yes, and yes. I started telling the story of the Owen family with what I thought would be one novel and done. I was eighteen, and had suffered a brutal change of course in my life, so I started to write “The Great American Novel” as consolation. It was published a long time later, at which time I learned the saga wasn’t over. When I was well into writing my fourth book about the Owens, I decided I needed to write sort of an origin book, wrapping up loose ends and letting my readers know why the family headed west at the close of the American Civil War. Thus, I began at the beginning of the war and plowed through to the end, with surprises to me, as well as to my readers. Gone for a Soldier is the epic romance of Rulon Owen and Mary Hilbrands, set in a time of epic change. Here’s the description:
Rulon Owen loves two things more than life—his country and Mary Hilbrands.
When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it home to his wife and the son he's never seen.
Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won't come home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness and the unknown future ahead.
Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not all enemies wear the Union blue.
What sets Mary apart from all the other women in Rulon’s life? Why is she perfect for him?
Ever since Rulon first noticed her, Mary Hilbrands has always been able to turn his insides to jelly. There is a look in her eyes that attracts him like a bear to a bee tree. Despite her youth, Mary has a strength she doesn’t suspect, and it comes out during the awful war that keeps them apart.
 Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Yes. I eat chocolate and work on something else until I clear my head.
Can you give us a little background on your hero, Rulon, that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?
Because I’ve written a series of novels and Gone for a Soldier is a prequel, so to speak, Rulon has been around for a long time as a calming influence on his younger brothers and sisters. But I suspected that he wasn’t always that way, and I wanted to explore who he was as a youth. I discovered that, had he not been reared by the mother who bore him, he could have been a bit of a reprobate, let us say. His intense yearning to wed Mary before he leaves to fight supports that discovery. The war knocked rough edges off and good sense into him.
 Describe a favorite scene in Gone for a Soldier?
Mary is obliged to assist at the birth of her mother’s baby. Pregnant with her own child, Mary has an epiphany when she realizes that her parents had engaged in the same marital behavior that she and her husband had—although she doubts they could have enjoyed it as much as she. Remember, the Civil War occurred during the Victorian age, when hardly anyone in Mary’s society thought about sex. Or rather, didn’t admit to thinking about sex. In this book, there’s a fair amount of such thinking going on, but it’s not written in a graphic manner.
 What else do you have in store for your readers?
I’m writing a Mormon migration story. This is quite a departure from my series novels. For one thing, it’s written in first person. For another, it explores how early Mormon history affects the lives of the Marshall family. But it’s still a story of a family on the move. I seem to like journeys.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Gone for a Soldier:
Rulon — April 19, 1861
Rulon Owen hadn’t intended that crisp Friday in April to be momentous.
In fact, when he’d saddled his horse in order to do an errand in Mount Jackson for his ma, he hadn’t given much thought to anything but stealing a few moments to see Mary Hilbrands.
She was only a little bit of a thing, a girl with dark hair and eyes that shone like... well, they kind of smoldered nowadays whenever she looked his way. Those smoky dark eyes gave him a shaky feeling that spun his head in circles and tied his gut into knots that...
“Whew.” Rulon realized he’d let the horse slow to a walk while he’d been off in a reverie, somewhere not in Shenandoah County, as far as he could tell. He got the horse loping again, and wished it was already a year from now. Mayhap folks wouldn’t get their tails in a twist about them keeping company once Mary turned sixteen in May next year. He was almighty tired of Ben and Peter, and especially of Pa, accusing him of trying to rob the cradle because he’d taken such a shine to the girl. Yes. He’d concede that she was young, but when she spoke his name, his knees felt like they was composed of apple jelly.
Ma sides with me, he thought. Pa was the true cradle-robber of the family when the two of them wed. Him twenty-four. Ma barely sixteen.
He wasn’t likely to throw his opinion on that subject in his father’s face any day soon. Firm. Formidable. The entire county used those words to describe his father. Rulon shook his head. Receiving back-sass from his offspring did not sit well with Roderick Owen. But at age twenty, Rulon hadn’t taken a lickin’ for a long spell. Maybe Pa’s gone soft in his old age. That’s likely, now that he has nigh onto forty-five years pressing him down.
Rulon rode on, wondering what to do to get his father off his back on the subject of Mary Hilbrands. It’s time I ask Ma to say a word to Pa, he determined at last. She won’t let him ride me once I begin to court Mary in earnest.
He slowed the horse to a walk as he entered the town. Ahead, he spotted his brother Ben pulling sacks of grain out of a wagon parked in front of the mill where he’d taken employment over the winter. Glancing up, Ben saw Rulon, and stopped to raise his hand in greeting, a big grin splitting his face.
Rulon drew rein and halted. “Brother Ben.” He clasped the outstretched hand. “What makes you so happy today?”
“I am put in a smilin’ mood from seein’ you with that enraptured look on your face. Can’t wait to thrust your hand into the cookie jar, huh?”
Rulon snorted at Ben’s fancy.
Ben kept on talking his nonsense. “Oh yes, indeed. You’re an enchanted man, spellbound and smitten, ready to do that girl’s bidding.”
“Speak for yourself, brother.”
Ben laughed and said, “Give my best to Miss Mary,” then smacked Rulon’s horse on the rump, which caused it first to shy and then to run.
After a block atop the runaway, Rulon regained control of the animal. “Heartless boy,” he grumbled, his face hot with humiliation. He settled the horse down to a sedate walk once again as he proceeded on his errand.
As he came in view of Mr. Hilbrands’ store, he saw a crowd of excited men, some coming, and some going. Some were running. Running! What was amiss?
He drew up and dismounted. As soon as he had his feet on the ground, a friend of Pa’s shoved the newspaper from Harrisonburg into his hands and bid him take it home. Slapping him on the back, the man ran down the street.
Rulon watched the man’s hasty departure, then looked at the immense black headlines of the special edition. WAR. He read the subtitles interspersed with the text on the front page. Ft. Sumter surrenders. Lincoln calls for troops. Via. Conv. votes to secede. Ratification vote in May. Counties raising Companies. Defend the Homeland. His heart went cold at the urgency of the words. It soon rebounded, and began to beat at a rate he’d not experienced many times in his life. He looked up from the paper, his breath as quick as his heart rate, and made a decision. Feeling the cogs of his life shuddering to a halt and then changing direction, he strode into the store to put his plan into action.

The e-book of Gone for a Soldier will be on sale for $.99 for a week (Oct 5-12).

Here are purchase links:

One lucky commenter will win a paperback book (e-book for international) in the U.S. or Canada.