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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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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My weekend with the Gangstas — a photo essay

The first thing that needs to be said is this: We didn't take that many pictures because we were too busy doing stuff, primarily laughing. Some things are just too special to capture on film. And KrisTAY lying on her back with her feet in the air and her face turning purple because she can't quit laughing is one of them.

But here are some things we did photograph...


While on a quick tour of Rocky Mountain National Park, we had the pleasure of watching about 50 elk cross the road. They stopped traffic while slowly making their way from one side to the other. Some were males with big racks; others were cows with calves. These are obviously bull elk. The mountain with the flat top that you see in the distance is Long's Peak. It's the mountain I see from my front yard. The mountain I fell on is behind the elks' butts off to the viewer's right.



I think they look like hobbits, don't you? KrisTAY and SueZAY posed in front of Boulder's Foothills on our way to breakfast. The biggest rock in the background is what's called the Third Flatiron. Both my dad and bro have climbed it. I have not and don't plan to. Behind the person taking the photo (aka me) is NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Up there we met one of my Ranger friends, who told us about an idiot drunk-driving accident on one of the hiking trails. This is about five minutes tops away from my office. This is the view I have from work. Not bad if you have to go to work.


Hobbits, I tell you. Hobbits.


After sucking a second glass of sangria through a straw, I find myself sitting beside "Debby," who is leading a prayer meeting. (Don't ask.) Actually, Kristi and the other gangstas were sampling my perfume oils that I bought from a parfumerie — ambergris, Arabian musk, castorium, and a couple of artisan perfumes called Seduction and Erotica. But I was a bit tipsy and got confused about a few things.


Naturally, one thing led to another, and so KrisTAY had to try on my authentic police handcuffs that I learned how to break out of while writing Unlawful Contact.


We new we needed to get some photos, and it was really a tough night in some ways because we knew KrisTAY and SueZAY were flying out the next morning. It seemed such a shame to have such a great time and then have to say goodbye and not see each other again forever. We took turns posing together because we had no one to take photos. Here, Kristi seems fascinated with me, while Libby strikes a pose wearing the RBL shirts that Sue made for us. She looks like the librarian of the erotica section. Sheesh!


Now it's Sue's turn.


One of the last things we did together was drive to the set of my son's film. He wrote the screenplay and has spent all summer filming, using replica weapons. It's a 1930's noir detective story. He's in the center with the dame (his girlfriend Liz) perched on his arm. They were filming in the middle of an abandoned rail yard among old semi-restored train cars.


Here's one of just Ben and Liz.

To LiberTAY, KrisTAY and SueZAY — I miss you!!!!
Monday, August 27, 2007

Parting is such sweet sorrow!

There was a Gangsta Bitch sighting in Colorado this weekend.

This past weekend, Kristi and SueZ from the RBL board came to visit and stayed at my house. They flew in from O-hi-o to spend a three-day weekend with me and Libby, known at RBL as Evil Libby (for reasons that would be obvious to anyone who met her).

Libs and I had been looking so forward to having them here and were bummed to find out their flight was delayed by two hours. We had some sushi, then headed out to DIA and did our best to wait patiently. Given the fact that both KrisTAY and SueZAY are short, we realized we were looking for pygmy gangsta bitches so we looked down a lot. They arrived late and hungry from what must have been the flight from hell, and even though we'd never done more than talk on the phone, IM and post on message boards/blogs together, the four of us felt instantly as if we'd known each other forever. How at ease were we? Well, the dinner conversation took a decidely x-rated turn pretty much from the moment we got in the car.

Thursday night we ended up just coming back to my place — Libby was kind enough to drive everyone in her Tony Soprano wagon — so that we could crash. Libs stayed at her own house about 25 minutes away with her DH and kids.

Friday, we got a bit of a late start and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. This was the pygmy bitches' first trip into the mountains, and they seemed to enjoy the scenery. Actually, I think it blew them away. Kristi was quiet for, like, a whole half hour. They saw a huge herd of elk, as well as the mountain I fell off of — Mount Ida. I also showed them a few places of personal significance, like the place whereI once had sex in the snow. Ahem.

ANYWAY, by the time we got down from the mountains, we were pretty wiped. We had lemoncello from Libby's personal stores — the glasses were rimmed with "fucking pink" sugar — and washed that down with pizza. Strange combo, but it worked. What's funny, though, is that we didn't really drink that much. Most of the time we were too busy talking and laughing to drink. That night we watched my Dieux du Stade DVD featuring nekkid European rugby players. Mmmmmm.

On Saturday, Libs had some errands to run, so I took the pygmys in to the People's Republic of Boulder, my hometown, for breakfast and a mini tour. They saw the outside of my office, NCAR on top of the mesa, a hot mountain parks ranger who happens to be a friend of mine and was there dealing with a car wreck, as well as Chautauqua Park where I played as a kid. We had a very yummy breakfast (Kristi was a rebel and ate lunch) at Chautauqua Dining Hall, which sits right up against the mountains. Then we headed up to Libby's, where we talked about music and enjoyed entertainment provided by Libby's two kids. Once her DH got home, we came back to my place and then went out for a steak dinner. DELICIOUS.

A couple of glasses of sangria later and we were laughing our butts off. I had sore abs from laughing so much. We took pictures of the four of us, something to help us remember the weekend, and then sadly and too suddenly it was time for bed. The pygmys flew out the next morning, leaving Libby and I to put the pieces of our lives back together.

I can't say when I've had more unrelenting fun.

Kristi and Sue, it was such a pleasure to have you here. You are both such sweet, caring and FUNNY women that spending time with you is fantastic. And Libby, it was wonderful to be able to spend that much time with you. It's even more exciting to know that everyone's lipstick was accounted for at the end of the weekend — no hapless tubes were taken hostage by Libby and Jabba. Libby and I plan to return the visit by heading to O-hi-o next summer, hopefully with a keg of lemoncello.

Thanks so much to my gangstas for the wonderful, wonderful time. I miss you so much already!

And, yes, there are photos. I don't have them yet, but when I get them, I'll post them.
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book Soundtracks/Excerpt from Ride the Fire



I want to give a shout-out to Kristie and Amy and their friends posting on Amy's blog, The Thrifty Reader. I met Kristie in person at RWA (finally!) and was so grateful to be have the chance to chat with her and thank her for her support over the years. I haven't met Amy or her friends, but Amy recently emailed me about reading Ride the Fire and there was some discussion on her blog about the Last of the Mohicans movie and soundtrack.

As a love of all things historical, I've always loved that movie. I saw it when it originally came out and was impressed by the detail and the attempts to be historically accurate. Though I can't say my ideas for my books came from there — the concept for Ride the Fire actually came to me in a history class while I was still in college — I will say that the music has always been a part of the soundtrack of any historical that I've written, most especially Ride the Fire and, of course, the MacKinnon's Rangers series that started with Surrender and is continuing with Untamed.

It's very raw, powerful music that I feel reflects the brutal nature of the frontier and of the human strength it takes to survive in the wilderness in the middle of a war. The French and Indian War — or the Seven Years War for you Brit types — has always been of special interest to me. Not sure why, exactly. I had European ancestors on this continent dating back to 1610 and the second year of Jamestown. My Cherokee ancestors were, of course, already here. Also, I love anything with a frontier (and that includes Star Trek. LOL!

Well, I got off on a tangent there... I meant to write about books and music. Someday I hope they'll create playlists on iTunes for authors so that people can download the music we listened to when we wrote the books. I know that I scroll through authors' websites (if I like their books) looking for new music. I've even asked on this blog if readers could send me suggestions. In that case it was sexy music, but I was writing a contemp then.

Now I'm writing a historical, so it's historical-sounding soundtracks and traditional Celtic music that I want to listen to. Already I've had the LotM soundtrack on, together with a lot of Old Blind Dogs, my favorite Scottish trad band. Kristie kens who they are! ;-)

I have some native music also that I listen to when I write, but I tend to get distracted. I love the Lakota language and end up singing.

A bit of trivia: When I think of Captain Joseph in Surrender I think of Eric Schwieg from LotM or Adam Beach from Squanto: A Warrior's Tale. In either case, yum. Here's pic of Eric.





So music is important to writing, and I've taken to posting the playlists for all my books on my website as I've seen other authors do. Sometimes it's the lyrics of the song that make it fit. Sometimes it's just a feeling that I get from the song. With historical novels, I'm looking for music evocative of the period in which the novel is set, something that sounds "historical" to my modern ears, anything that takes me back.

In honor of Kristie and Amy and Amy's friends, I thought I'd post an excertp from Ride the Fire, which is sadly only available at the moment from used book stores or on Amazon. (It will be reprinted within the next year, though.)

Hmmm... which scene to post....


From Ride the Fire





Nicholas awoke with a jerk, caught between the nightmare and wakefulness, his heart pounding, his body covered with sweat. He struggled to open his eyes, found himself lying on his stomach in someone’s bed, his head on a pillow. His right leg throbbed, burned. His head ached. His throat was parched as sand, and a strange aftertaste lingered in his mouth.

From nearby came the swish of skirts, the sound of a log settling in a fire, the scent of something cooking.

Where was he?

Through a fog he tried to remember. He’d been attacked. The Frenchmen from the fort. He’d lost a lot of blood, had ridden in search of help. The cabin. The woman.

Bethie was her name. Elspeth Stewart.

She’d helped him, cleaned his wound, cauterized it — not altogether willingly.

Nicholas lifted his head, started to roll onto his side to take in his surroundings, found he could not.

His wrists and ankles were bound to the bedposts.

Blood rushed to his head, a dark surge of rage, of dread.

“You’re awake.” Her voice came from behind him. “You must be thirsty.”

“You little bitch!” He pulled on the ropes, his fury and dread rising when they held fast. “Release me! Now!”

“I-I cannae do that — no’ yet. I’ve made broth. It will help you regain—”

“Damn your broth, woman! Untie me!” He jerked on the ropes again, outraged and alarmed to find himself rendered powerless. Sharp pain cut through his right thigh.

“Stop your strugglin’! You’ll split your wound open and make it bleed again.”

Infuriated, Nicholas growled, a sound more animal than human, even to his own ears. He jerked violently on the ropes, but it was futile. He was still weak from blood loss, and the effort left him breathless, made his pulse hammer in his ears.

Damn her!

He closed his eyes, fought to subdue the slick current of panic that slid up from his belly, caught in his throat.

She was not Lyda. This was not the Wyandot village.

His heartbeat slowed. The panic subsided, left white-hot rage in its wake.

“Why did you do this? I told you I meant you no harm!” He craned his neck, saw that she stood before the fire, ladling liquid into a tin cup, a brown knitted shawl around her shoulders.

“Is that no’ what the wolf always says to the lamb?” She carried the cup to the bed, sat. “Drink. It will help to replenish your blood. Careful. ’Tis hot.”

Tantalized by the smell of the broth and suddenly aching with thirst, Nicholas bit back the curse that sat on his tongue, drank.

Bethie held the cup to his lips, watched as he swallowed the broth, her heart still racing. For one terrible moment, she’d feared the ropes would break or come loose. She’d known he would be angry with her, but she hadn’t expected him to try to rip the bed apart.

Truth be told, she feared him despite the ropes. Although he’d given up for the moment, she could feel the fury coiled inside him. She could see it in the rippling tension of his body, in his clenched fists, in the unforgiving glare in his eyes. He made her think of a caged cougar — spitting angry and untamed. He was not used to being bested.

The arrogant brute! Did he imagine she would grant him warm hospitality after the way he’d treated her? It served him right to be bound and helpless!

As if a man of his strength were ever truly helpless.

Her gaze traveled the length of him as it had done many times while he’d slept, and she found her eyes focused of their own will on the rounded muscles of his buttocks where the butter-soft leather clung so tightly.

Mortified, she jerked her gaze away, felt heat rise in her cheeks. Her stepfather had always said she was possessed of a sinful nature.

“More.” His boorish command interrupted her thoughts. He glowered at her through eyes of slate.

“Aye.” She stood, hurried to the fireplace, ladled more broth into the cup, uncomfortably aware that he was watching her.

“How long do you intend to keep me a prisoner?” His voice was rough, full of repressed rage.

She walked back to the bed, sat, feigned a calm she did not feel. “’Tis your own fault you lie bound. You cannae be expectin’ to be treated as a guest when you behaved like a felon. Drink.”

He pulled his head away, his gaze hard upon her, held up the ropes that bound his wrists. “This isn’t necessary.”

“You threatened me, held your pistol to my head, forced me to do your will and admitted to killin’ two men. Do you truly expect me to trust you?”

He frowned, his dark brows pensive. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“As I recollect, you seemed quite bent on frightenin’ me.”

“I didn’t have time for social graces. My need was dire.”

“So is mine!” She stood in a surge of temper, met his gaze. “I cannae risk you regainin’ your strength and then, when you no longer need my help, hurtin’ me or my baby or takin’ what is ours and leavin’ us in the cold to starve! I dinnae even know your name!”

For a moment he said nothing. “Kenleigh. Nicholas Kenleigh.”

She repeated his name aloud.

“Now that we’ve exchanged pleasantries, Mistress Stewart, you will release me.”

“Nay, Master Kenleigh. I willna — no’ just yet.” She lifted her chin. “You’ll stay as you are till I’m certain you pose no threat to me and my baby.”

He gave a snort. “And how will you determine that?”

“Drink.” She held the cup once more to his lips. “Perhaps I shall have you swear an oath, a bindin’ oath.”

He drained the cup, looked up at her. “And if I am a murdering liar, a man with no honor, the sort of man who would harm a woman ripe with child, how would this oath prevent me from doing whatever I want the moment you cut me free?”

Bethie stood, walked back to the fireplace to refill the cup once more, the truth in his words dashing her sense of safety to pieces. “Are you sayin’ I should never set you free, Master Kenleigh?”

“No, Mistress Stewart. I’m saying that unless you plan to keep me a prisoner forever and care for me as if I were a babe untrained in the use of a chamber pot, sooner or later you have no choice but to trust me.”

She walked back to the bed, felt her step falter. In truth, she hadn’t thought about how or when she would release him when she’d bound him to the bed. Nor had she considered what keeping him bound would mean. She’d been thinking only of a way to restrain him and deprive him of his weapons, and she had accomplished that.

A babe untrained in the use of a chamber pot? Good heavens!

She reached the bed, sat, held the cup once more to his lips. “Very well. I shall cut you free. But you shall first swear to me by all you hold sacred that you willna do anythin’ to harm me or my baby or to deprive us of our hearth and home.”

He swallowed, licked broth from his lips. Then a queer look came over his face. He stared at the tin cup, then gaped at her. “You drugged me!”

How did he know? “I-I gave you medicine to ease your pain — and make you sleep.”

He laughed, a harsh sound. “You drugged me so that you could bind me and take my weapons.”

He stated it so plainly that Bethie could find no words to soften the truth of what she’d done. She rested a hand protectively on her belly, felt her baby shift within her. “Y-you left me no choice.”

Nicholas saw the defiant tilt of her chin, noticed the pink that crept into her cheeks. He noticed, too, the way her hand softly caressed the swollen curve of her abdomen as if to calm the small life inside her.

What would he have done in her place?

He dismissed the question — and the irritating impulse to defend his previous actions toward her. There was only one rule in the wild — survival. He’d only done what he’d felt he had to do to stay alive.

And so had she.

“Very well, Mistress Stewart. I swear that I will not harm you or your child or try to take from you that which is yours.” His next words surprised him. “And for the short time I shelter under your roof, I swear to protect you from any man who would.”

What in the hell had inspired him to say that? She was not his problem. Clearly, whatever potion she’d given him had addled his mind.

For a moment she stood as still as a statue, her gaze seeming to measure him against the words he had just spoken. “Very well, Master Kenleigh.”

She took up his hunting knife, which had lain on the table, then disappeared out of his range of vision. He felt her fingers pulling on the rope that bound his left ankle, felt the cold blade of his knife slide between the rope and his skin. A few tugs later, his left ankle was free.

In a matter of moments, only the bonds around his left wrist remained. He rolled onto his back, watched her as she rounded the bed with agonizing slowness. He could feel her doubt, her trepidation. She watched him as if he were a wild animal that might attack at any moment, her violet eyes wide.

“I promised not to harm you. I am a man of my word.”

The cool touch of a blade. A few sharp tugs.

His wrist was free.

Quickly, she backed away from the bed, out of his reach, his knife still in her grasp.

Nicholas pushed himself up onto his elbows. Outside the parchment window, all was dark. Nighttime already?

Slowly he sat, let his legs fall over the edge of the bed, touched his feet to the wooden floor. The muscles in his right thigh screamed in angry protest. Dark spots danced before his eyes. The cabin swam.

Nicholas drew air into his lungs, felt the labored beating of his heart. He cursed his weakness, knew he had come terribly close to dying. It would take days, perhaps even weeks for him to regain the blood he had lost and, with it, his strength.
“You see, Mistress Stewart? I’m in… no shape to harm… anyone.”

And then, as if to prove his point, he slumped to the floor in a dead faint.
Saturday, August 11, 2007

No April Fool's joke!



Sorry I've been away so long. There's been lots to do at the paper — something that will hold true until August 23, when our big student edition of the paper is on the streets.

In the middle of that, one of my friends and coworkers endured a hellish wait to learn that four members of her family — her sister, her niece and her niece's two young daughters — had been on the bridge in Minneapolis when it collapsed. They were all taken to separate hospitals, and the youngest, who was the only one conscious and coherent, was too upset to remember her name. The two little ones have been discharged with cuts and bruises and one broken leg. Her sister had to have brain surgery to stop internal bleeding. But her niece is still fighting for her life in intensive care on a respirator.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers thus far, and keep praying!

In the world of fiction, Morgan and Amalie are slowly getting their story. I'm also working on an erotica novel the contents of which are Top Secret! I haven't picked a pen name yet, and when I do I probably won't announce it. It's not that I'm ashamed of writing erotica; it's that the Powers insist I use a different name.

But the news is that Unlawful Contact will be out on April 1! My editor bumped up the publication date, so there's less of a wait. I'm very happy about that! (Yes, there was a reason Marc Hunter's photo is at the top of my blog today, and not just because I love to stare at it.)

In other other news:

I got a HUGE box of chocolate nummies from Joanie in Hong Kong. THANKS! I'm savoring every sinful bite.

I also got an email from Gaby, who is now in Ireland. Gaby, if you read this, please forgive me for not emailing back! I've been swamped. I'm so glad you're getting settled, and I'm delighted my two contemps helped you through the transition!

I also heard from Debbie H, to whom I've been sending "Get Well" vibes.

And I got together with Libby the Warrior Princess and had drinks one night after a particularly hideous day at work. She was my designated enabler, driving the car so that I could seriously drink. Who says Tuesday isn't a great day for FACs? Thank you, Libs!



I also got together with Sean. (Remember him?) It was his birthday, so he bought me lunch. I didn't quite get that either. I should have been doing the buying, but he did it instead. I think when my Special Visitors come on Aug. 24, Sean will hang with us a bit. I know KrisTAY, SueZAY, and LibBAY will be so bummed! What red-blooded woman wants to hang with Sean? He's grown his hair out a bit and looks every bit the Leo he is.

But if Sean doesn't interest my friends, there's always Colorado's scenery. Here's a photo my brother took last weekend while climbing a 13,000-foot peak. I love the wide-open spaces of this state and I love this photo, with the little wildflowers in the foreground. David is getting good with the camera.



Have a good weekend, everyone! And please keep the folks in Minneapolis in your hearts.

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Favorite Writing Quotes


"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