Book Releases

Tempting Fate (Colorado High Country #4) —
Chaska Belcourt’s story is out! Head back to Scarlet Springs for more Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team adventures and more humor and sexy romance. The book is available in ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords.


Barely Breathing (A Colorado High Country Novel) — The first book in my new Colorado High Country series is now only 99 cents at all ebook retailers! This new contemporary series is set in the small mountain community of Scarlet Springs and focuses on the lives and loves of members of an alpine search and rescue team.


About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Monday, October 16, 2017

My visit with Kaylea Cross & COVER REVEAL



I swore I’d do a better job keeping up with this blog, but I have failed. So much has happened in the past couple of months.

I took a trip to Canada and spent a week with my friend Kaylea Cross. It was the first time we met in person. The week was packed with adventure. We went on a whale-watching tour in an old refitted US NAVY RHIB (rigid-hull inflatable boat) and saw orcas.




It was my first time seeing any large sea mammal, so I was excited out of my mind. The water was very choppy, and it was raining, which  meant we were slammed around in the boat a bit and were hit in the pelted in the face with drops of water that hurt. Still, it was a blast!



I have to say that Kaylea has an uncanny ability to spot orca fins, whale blows, and whales in general from a mile away. She has the best eyes. She loves whales, so we really enjoyed that.


A couple days later, we flew via helicopter to Ucluelet on Vancouver Island and spent a week plotting together, going for hikes through the temperate rain forest and enjoying the beach. Then we flew back to Vancouver by helicopter, getting a beautiful view of the ocean, the coastline, a plane crash, and the forests of British Columbia. This wasn't my first time in a helo. The last time I was in a helicopter, I was being flown from Mt. Ida, where I’d fallen, to a trauma center. This time was much more fun.



In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on CLOSE TO HEAVEN, A Colorado High Country Christmas, which will be out before the end of October.

This was supposed to be a novella, but it defied my wishes and became a 50,000+ word novel. It tells the story of Rain Minear and Joe Moffat, the reclusive and eccentric owner of Knockers, Scarlet Springs’ one and only brew pub. These two have known each other for 20 years, since Rain was 17 and Joe was 27.

We’re getting a look at the history of Scarlet Springs in this story, including a chance to meet some of the ancestors of our favorite Scarlet Springs characters. We also get to see why Joe keeps to himself—and why he has suppressed his feelings for Rain for so many years.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story. It will be out before the end of the month!

Watch for an excerpt!







Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A quick tour of the urban farm at Casa Clare





The more we do for ourselves, the more power we have over our own lives. With the world and the country in the state they’re in, it is super important to build security for ourselves and our neighborhoods however we can. Food security is vital.

I have always believed this. It’s in my DNA. My grandparents on both sides grew most their own food, and my parents always had a big vegetable garden. I can’t seem to shake the urge to grow things.

Before I had spinal surgery in 2010, we were growing most of the vegetables we ate through the summer in a patch of amended soil on the south side of our home. Everything was organic and fresh and so delicious that it ruined store-bought veggies for us. But spinal surgery changed what I was capable of doing, and the urban farm was let go.

Now it’s 2017, and the urban farm is back. In fact, it’s better than before. We’re planting everything in hand-mixed soil in raised beds so that I can garden again. In addition, we planted an orchard — eight dwarf fruit trees — in hopes of having a big store of fruit each fall once the trees mature. We also wanted to add to the urban forest canopy to decrease our carbon footprint.

We implemented Phase I this spring. For some ridiculous reason, most of the work of this transformation was listed under Phase I, so this phase felt eternal. It started in march with covering a big percentage of our lawn with weed cloth and 16 cubic feet of mulch and then transplanting seven rose bushes and one giant delphinium from the old rose bed to new beds.

I thought you might want to see what it looks like these days.

We planted two apple trees — Fireside (at top) and Honeycrisp (below). We weren’t expecting fruit this year, but both trees are producing so well that we’ve had to stake most of the branches to protect them, even after culling less desireable fruit from the trees.


You can see the rasberry beds behind Honeycrisp. The plants are thriving and producing a small amount of fruit, which is what one would expect for their first year.




We also planted two cherry trees — Sweet Cherry Pie and Evans Bali — and got precisely five cherries this year. That’s about 500 percent more than we were anticipating. 


Next to the rasperry beds, we have the first of four strawberry beds. We installed a sprinkler system to make it easy for me to water everything. Behind the strawberry bed are our two blackberry bushes and some pretty yard art — a fleur de lis. The raspberry bushes are at right in the photo below.



The photo below shows much of the backyard, with all of the fruit trees, the berry beds, and a glimpse of our transplanted roses. 



You can see how much of the grass we eliminted with mulch. This strip (below) is going to become a row of raised vegetable beds. After everything else, we managed only one raised veggie bed, and that went to tomatoes. Hey, we have our priorities straight. 



We’re doing what we can with whisky barrels. We have herbs and potatoes planted in large containers and whisky barrels on one side of the yard. We also have three blueberry bushes planted in whisky barrels along the fence in the photo above. We will probably add to that number.

We're looking forward to harvesting the potatoes soon.




Our first ripe tomatoes will be coming this week. These are black cherry tomatoes (below). You really can’t have too many tomatoes.



This shows the raised tomato bed, some volunteer sunflowers, and the three whisky barrels with blueberry bushes growing in them. (There are very few ways to grow blueberries in Colorado because our soil is too alkaline to support them even with amendments.)




Our peach tree has precisely 21 small fuzzy peaches on it. Boy, are we looking forward to those! We planted the peach tree, two pear trees and a plum on the south side of our house in the most sheltered area. Peach trees aren’t guaranteed to produce every year on Colorado’s Front Range. We get too many late-spring cold snaps and have such crazy changing temperatures that the blossoms tend to get frozen. We are hoping for the best.


Of course, among the edibles one must have sniffables. These are our transplanted roses and the bed that contains sunflowers (planted by squirrels), hollyhocks, and clematis. The roses all survived, which is a huge relief to us. They’re small this year, but they all blossomed, as you can see below.



Below is a closer shot of Europeana, one of my favorites. It’s such a brilliant shade of red.


Pink poppies are just starting to bloom. I planted these this year, also.



We also planted two pines — one in front and one in back. They do well in our climate and soil, and they give us something to decorate at Christmastime. 



I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of the backyard orchard at Casa Clare and the glimpse of that we’ve planted this spring. It’s a building process, and this is just a start. I hope one day to be canning and setting aside large amounts of food from the garden, adding to our food security and independence. 

If I have my way, I will one day be able to move forward with a local organization that helps people grow their own food and creates community gardens for those who don't have suitable space for growing. Food security is about independence. It’s about saving money. It’s about community and helping to make sure our neighborhoods and cities have some control over where our food is grown and what’s on it. 

Also, it’s about YUMMY. We can’t wait for those peaches and the apples to ripen. 

Speaking of Christmas — okay, I mentioned it — I need to stop posting and get back to Joe and Rain’ story. Rain is about to have a very bad night.

Have a good week, everyone! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tommy sticks and whisky — the history of Scarlet Springs



When is old junk not junk? It’s not junk when it tells a story.

I’m putting the pieces together for the next book in the Colorado High Country series and spent Friday up at the Nederland Mining Museum, gleaning what I could about the area’s hard-rock mining history. The museum has so many artifacts from that era — some of them huge pieces of equipment — that they flow out the door and around to the sides of the building.

Joe and Rain’s story — A Scarlet Springs Christmas — will give us flashbacks into the town’s past. You’ll read all the same last names in those flashbacks — Taylor, Jewell, Hawke, Ahearn, etc. — but the characters will be the great-great-grandparents of the people you know and love.

Joe Moffat, the man who owns Knockers and the mothballed silver mine above town, has a unique relationship to the history of the area that brings with it a sense of responsibility. You’ll see what I mean in his story.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share what I saw at the mining museum.


When most people think of the gold and silver rushes, they think of rustic men panning for gold. That happened in Colorado during the gold rush (1859), but that was never the backbone of mining in my state. Here on this old wagon are a variety of different tools used in placer mining (panning for gold), including a small sluice, several gold pans, hammers and shovels for digging and smashing ore and a basket for sifting through crushed ore.


After seeing this display on the evolution of lighting, I knew immediately that I would never have been able to be a gold miner. Back before Edison and electricity, miners went down into the dark wearing tommy sticks (candles) on their helmets or stuck them into cracks in the rocks or timbers using iron candle holders. Some — those who had a bit more money — made little oil lamps using bacon fat or lard. They burned much brighter than the candles — and advantage when you're in the dark — but were also smoky.

Miners had to work quickly because they had only three candles per shift. When that last candle went out... You can see why I wouldn’t be down there.

Later, they wore carbide lamps on their helmets. A small chamber holding water dripped down onto calcium carbide, creating acetelyne gas. The light from the burning gas was directed using a little mirror on the front of the helmet. But this is later than the period of my story.


Here are more light and helmet artifacts. You can see a candle standing in a wooden candle holder the iron-tipped end of which would have been hammered into the rock or a nearby timber.


Here are some rail cars for moving ore. One of them is hand-pumped. When I saw it, my mind flashed on an episode of Scooby-Doo with Shaggy and Scooby frantically pumping their way down the tracks inside some mine. I have such dignified thoughts.


When I got to the museum, I met a volunteer named Susan, who told me she didn’t know much. She then proceeded to answer all my questions and tell me things I hadn’t thought to ask, using her own very extensive notes. Susan knows a lot, whether she thinks so or not.

This photo above shows the tools a single miner might use in the course of a day — hand drills and hammers. Miners used the drills, which were really iron spikes, to drill holes for blasting. There was single-jacking, where one miner held both the hammer and a short drill. He would strike the drill, turning it 1/4 turn after each blow. But a single man couldn't dig a very deep hole. Double-jacking involved one man holding a larger drill and turning it, while the other hit it with a heavier hammer, or dago, as the hammers were called. You can just see one of those iron candle sticks next to a candle there on the display.

Susan told me that two men could drill a single 1.5-foot-deep hole in an hour. That’s an hour of very hard manual labor. Before dynamite could be placed, they had to drill dozens of holes in a specific pattern in the rock. Those holes would be filled with dynamite, which was connected via long fuses for detonation.

This does not sound like easy work to me.


They have a diorama of the Caribou Mine, the fictional version of which Joe’s family owned. Here you can see the shafts dropping from below the shaft house into the mine below.


How did miners get down there? I’m so very glad you asked. The either climbed down a very long ladder or rode in a kibble — a big iron bucket — together with their tools. The kibble was lowered and raised by a hoist engineer, one of the highest paid men at the mine. He had to be a non-drinker and very reputable because lives were in his hands. In emergencies, he had to move that hoist quickly to get men out of the mine.

Susan told me that the Cornish miners who came here from Devon after the copper mines ran out were a very superstitious lot. They refused to ride down in the kibble but had no problem taking it back up again at the end of their shifts. So they would go down the ladder and then ride up in the kibble. She said men who rode in the kibble would put their tools in the center and then straddle it — one leg in and one leg out. If they were short, this would have put their nuts at risk, but that’s just my observation.



Speaking of dynamite...

See that steel box in the center of the table below, the one with the holes in it? That's a dynamite thawer. Life at altitude is chilly, and dynamite becomes volatile at 40 F — well above freezing. This meant that they had to keep the dynamite warm. One way to do that was to place sticks of dynamite into the slots a dynamite thawer, pour water into the box around them, and then set the box on a warm stove or above a few burning candles. Miners from smaller operations didn’t have newfangled, luxury devices like dynamite thawers and so slept with sticks of dynamte in their armpits. Shut the front door, you say? No, seriously, they did.



Below, you can see some tools that were used by the blacksmith. It was his job to make all the tools used for mining and to maintain them as well. The average drill lasted about six hours in a mine before it had to be resharpened. He spent a lot of time on drills. He was one of the better paid employees. Without a good blacksmith, all work at a mine came to a stop.



If you’re ever in Nederland (Scarlet Springs) stop at the museum. There are fun things for kids to do, like gold panning and putting on period costumes. They have artifacts from mining camps and towns also, including this very fine cook stove and waffle iron. Lots of booze bottles, too. 



So that’s the end of our tour. I learned a lot and came away with new questions. I’m doing research for the historical scenes in the novel now and am really looking forward to hanging with everyone’s ancestors for a while. Eric Hawke’s great-great-granddaddy was a rabble rouser. That’s for sure.

If you haven’t tried my Colorado High Country series yet, now is a great time to dive in. The fourth book, Tempting Fate, was just released a couple of weeks ago, and the first book, Barely Breathing, is only 99 cents. The series is straight contemporary romance, not romantic suspense, something that seems to confuse some readers. In other words, there’s no suspense/thriller threat — except that I do sneak some elements of suspense into the stories. It’s not part of the main narrative, however, like it is with the I-Team series, which is romantic suspense.

You can read excerpts from all the books in the new series on my website.

If you had no idea I was writing this series, you might want to sign up for my newsletter so that you can get word of new releases without missing anything. I don’t send out newsletters unless I actually have news, so don’t worry about being spammed. Be sure to check your spam folder for a confirmation email.

Hope you’re having a great week!


Friday, July 14, 2017

A trip to Scarlet Springs




I thought it might be fun to take you all with me on a trip to Scarlet Springs. Everyone needs a vacation, right?

I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, right next to the mountains. My view of the world every single day included the incredible Flatirons. We lived a 10-minute drive across town to hiking trails and spent most summer weekends hiking somewhere on the Mesa or McClintock Nature trails or in the Chautauqua Area in general. I know those trails by heart.

The Scarlet Springs series is set higher up in the mountains — about a 30-minute drive up Boulder Canyon. In real life, the town of Nederland sits there, nestled in a little valley surrounded by mountains with the Indian Peaks as its backdrop. This is a look at Scarlet/Nederland from the other side of the reservoir where Moretti likes to boat and where Hawke taught Victoria to wakeboard.




A couple of weeks ago, Benjamin, my younger son who is a park ranger, went up there with me to show me his secret patch of columbines. I took advantage of being up there to take pictures to share with you.


At the top of this page is a small glimpse of that secret columbine patch. Why is this field of flowers a secret? It's a secret because people don’t follow the rules. When you go into the mountains DO NOT pick flowers. Not only will you be ticketed and fined if you’re caught, but you will be depriving plants in a harsh environment of their one and only chance to make seeds this year. If enough people do this in an area, those flowering plants die off, and there are fewer flowers in the mountains. That's why this is a SECRET columbine patch. It absolutely enrages me when I see people picking flowers in the mountains. It’s not your garden, folks. It belongs to everyone.

When I was little, my father, a semi-pro rock climber and alpinist, taught me this:

“Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.” 

That’s the proper ethic for time spent in nature. If everyone takes a pretty rock/pine cone/flower, there won’t be any left.



Here’s a closer look at Colorado’s state flower. Columbines are so delicate. They tend to cling to shady areas, often in glades of aspen where you also find poisonous hemlock.




On the hike up to the columbine patch, we passed this little pond where you can often find moose. There were no moose there that afternoon.



 Here’s a look at Mud Lake, what I call Moose Lake in the series. There are often moose there. I’ve seen them myself. This is the lake where Chaska takes Naomi where they see the mama bear and her cubs.



These are some of the wildflowers alongside the trails as you hike up to Mud Lake/Moose Lake. Penstemon was in high bloom, along with cinquefoil, columbine, and many other flowers. The pink/purplish flowers in these two photos (above and below) are penstemon.



On our way up to Scarlet/Ned, we stopped to hike up to the Crow's Nest, a feature on a parcel of country open space that gives you a 360-degree view of everything. The view below looks out over the damage caused by the Four Mile Canyon fire toward Sugarloaf, that rounded mountain just to the right of the dead tree. Sugarloaf is the place Chaska takes Naomi to watch the sunset. It truly does have the best views of the area. 


The tree itself was fascinating, and I took many photos of it. Wind shaped it; fire killed it. One of my readers felt there was a kind of poetry to this image. It was very poignant, she said.



This is a slighly better look at Sugarloaf. I’m going hiking there soon, and I’ll get photos when I do.



Cinquefoil blooming next to an old log fence.



 A pond near sunset. Still no moose, darn it!




Now, we’re in the town of Scarlet Springs. Above, you can see the little roundabout where two highways come together. That’s Bear's roundabout, where he likes to expound on the Gospel for spare change.



The average street in Scarlet Springs, busy with summer tourists.



The geod store I mention in the stories.

There isn’t a cryogenics business in Nederland, but there is a famous dead guy in a freezer in a tough shed. Locally, we all call him “Grandpa in the Tuff Shed.” A Norwegian guy who lived here many years ago put his deceased grandfather on ice in his Tuff Shed for the day when he might be brought back to life. After he lost his fight to stay in the US, locals felt they had an obligation to take over paying for the electricity and maintaining the Tuff Shed for Grandpa’s sake. Hence Frozen Dead Guy Days, probably the biggest event in Nederland each year. The cryogenics place in my series is a nod to this cultural element. A local ice cream store sells a Frozen Dead Guy flavor of ice cream — blueberry ice cream with crushed Oreos and sour gummy worms.

You can’t make this shit up. The real world truly is stranger than fiction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse of the area around Scarlet Springs (Nederland). I am headed up there today to visit the Nederland Mining Museum to do some research about the town’s mining history for Rain and Joe’s story. We’ll get Joe’s back story, which is really the history of the town itself. There will be historical flashbacks that show the ancestors of the characters you all love. I’m really looking forward to writing it.

If you haven’t tried the Colorado High Country/Scarlet Springs series, the first book, Barely Breathing, is only 99 cents. The fourth book in the series, Tempting Fate, came out a couple of weeks ago and is getting overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Have a great weekend everyone!
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What's next in Scarlet Springs?



Thanks to all of you who’ve posted reviews about Tempting Fate. Your love for this series is so incredibly gratifying. Your support means everything.

Being an author is something like being a cook. A cook works for hours — sometime days — on a meal, only to watch it be devoured in a fraction of that time. An author works for months — sometimes years — on a book, and readers finish it in a matter of hours. Before the author has slept off the post-writing hangover, they ask, “What’s next?”

That’s a good question. Here’s what I can share with you.

In May, I bought my way out of my contract with Penguin, which means I am free to write and publish anything I wish to write an publish. I no longer have any contractual obligations that prevent me from writing romantic suspense (I-Team or an I-Team spinoff), historicals (Kenleigh-Blakewell and MacKinnon's Rangers), or straight contemporary (Colorado High Country series).

Though the I-Team series is the most popular series I’ve written, my historical fans are hardcore. Hardcore. They have waited years for the next book in the MacKinnon’s Rangers series. I-Team fans, meanwhile, are hoping for Joaquin’s story and perhaps a revamp of the series or a spin-off, while my contemp fans just want the next Scarlet Spring book yesterday (but no pressure).

My plans through the end of this year include giving Rain and Joe their story as part of a Scarlet Springs Christmas novella. This will include some history of the town complete with historical flashbacks. I’m really looking forward to writing it.

I also want to write book 5 in the series. I’d imagined that Conrad would be the hero of Book 5, and I did leave him wandering the Himalaya in a state of grief over a fatal accident on Everest. I need to bring him home. His heroine might be a woman on the team. I’m not certain yet.

That will bring me up to three full-length novels and a novella in 2017 — a record for me. My novellas are the size of some people’s novels (around 50,000 words), so really, it’s almost like four novels.

What about next year?

For 2018, I plan to give historical fans Joseph’s story. Set just at the end of the French and Indian War (Seven Years War), it will give the last “MacKinnon” brother his own HEA and get us back in touch with Iain, Morgan, Connor, Dougie, Killie and the rest of the motley Ranger crew. If I have a very productive year, I will continue the series with Lord William’s story, which I have wanted to write for so very long.

I also plan to give Joaquin Ramirez (I-Team) his HEA in 2018. I haven’t settled on a concept for his story yet. It might be straight romantic suspense, or I might tie his story together with Scarlet Springs somehow. I’m exploring a variety of ways to bring the two series together. Gabe Rossiter (Naked Edge) is a member of the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team, and Zach McBride (Breaking Point) has made a couple of cameo appearances, too. But it would be so fun to get Julian, Marc, and the others in on some kind of action in Scarlet Springs.

I’d like to launch an I-Team spin-off series with Derek Tower getting his story as we follow the exploits of Cobra International Solutions, Javier and Derek’s private security firm. This would definitely include Nick and Holly, who work for Javier and Derek, as well as Laura and other I-Team members.

And then I’d like to get another Colorado High Country book and novella written.

That makes for a very busy year, but there will be something for everyone.

In the meantime, if you haven’t tried the Colorado High Country series because it’s straight contemporary and you don't like straight contemporary romance, you might want to give Chaska’s book a try. No, it’s not suspense, but it’s sexy.

Tempting Fate has a 4.8 average on Amazon after 51 reviews and a 4.51 average on Goodreads after 184 ratings. One reader told me she thought I could never write anything she liked as much as she liked the I-Team series but that now she couldn’t choose between the two series. That was wonderful to hear. The book is available in ebook and paperback.

Barely Breathing, the first book in the series, is only 99 cents in ebook — a great way to get caught up.

A lot of you have asked about the Colorado High Country series as well as Dead by Midnight and when they’ll be out in audiobook. I don’t have an answer for that yet, but I know it won’t be soon.

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy summer!

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"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale