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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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking Point play list — and excerpt!

Natalie and Zach are being kept in an old Mexican
ghost town in the desert much like this one.


Sorry to be MIA again. Work gets busy, and with Benjy home this week, my evenings have been filled with other things.

I won’t lie — I love having him home. He’s been hard at work weeding the flower beds and catching up on gardening and yard work that I can’t really do. We’ve visited my parents in their new home so that he could have a chance to see them. My brother and his family came over, too, so the cousins were all together. Good times.

So, I'm behind on Breaking Point already — I’m disappointed with myself but not surprised — but I hope to catch up. And what music am I listening to?

I started out noodling around on iTunes looking for new music and had a preliminary playlist going. That has morphed a bit with some new downloads and now it looks like this:

Beautiful by 10 Years
Landing In London by faves 3 Doors Down & Bob Seger
Santa Monica by Theory of a Deadman
Believe by Staind
Save Me by Shinedown
Call Me by Shinedown
Breaking Inside Shinedown
If You Only Knew by Shinedown
Beautiful Day by Saving Abel
Drowning (Face Down) by Saving Abel
Oye Como Va by Santana
Suite Española, Op. 47: Asturias by Pepe Romero
Not Afraid by Eminem
Wherever You Will Go by The Calling
This Is Baghdad by Bruce Cockburn
Blow Me Away by Breaking Benjamin

I was listening to My First Kiss by 3OH!3 — they’re local boys for me — but it was a bit too happy for this part of the story. (We're going to have some exclusive 3OH!3 stuff in our paper soon when their new CD comes out.)

There's some Nickelback tossed in there, as well as Hinder and Hoobastank. The Bruce Cockburn piece is really evocative because he visited Iraq before he wrote it and the "war zone" element is reflected in the song, I think. (I interviewed him about it when he came back; he is amazing.) Even if Zach and Natalie aren’t in the Middle East, they’re definitely in a war zone... especially right now.

And because so many of you have said you need a fix, I searched through the 68 pages I've written and pulled out something I thought I could share without spoiling the story.

Yes, I'm posting an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Breaking Point! I won't be around much till next week, so hopefully this will tide you over. In the meantime, I wish my American readers a happy Memorial Day in memory of those who have served. To everyone else, have a happy weekend!

From Chapter 3 of Breaking Point

“Zach, wake up! I think they’re coming!”

Zach jerked awake.

Men’s voices grew nearer.

Gritting his teeth, Zach dragged himself upright, more aware of Natalie’s fear than his own discomfort or dread. He fought to catch his breath. “It’s okay … Cárdenas isn’t here yet. They’re … coming for me… not for you.”

“It’s not okay! No matter what you’ve done, you don’t deserve to be tortured or chained up like this. You are in chains, aren’t you? I can hear them when you move.”

“I guess they figure… I’m more of a threat than you are.” And then it hit him. She thought he was a criminal. Not surprising, given their situation and how little he’d told her.

In that instant, the door was thrown wide, daylight spilling across his blindfold. Familiar voices joked in Spanish about Natalie.

“She is pretty — and shy. Look. She doesn’t like it when I touch her.”

Zach thought he heard Natalie gasp, her shoes scuffing on the floor as she backed away from the door to her cell.

The men laughed.

“I hope El Jefe shares her when he’s done with her. Oh, she makes me hard.”

“Do you think El Jefe would mind if we fuck only her mouth?”

Anger and disgust burned through Zach, reviving him, clearing his head. “Cárdenas will feed your dick to his dogs, you stupid chingadero.”

That got their attention.

Zach heard a key slip into the lock of his cell door.

“Eh, cuñado, are you ready to talk? Or do you want to die screaming?”

He ignored the taunt. “You should feed her. Do you think your Jefe wants a weak, half-starved bag of bones? And if these scorpions sting her and make her sick — I wonder what El Jefe will do to you then?”

The odor of alcohol and sour sweat assaulted Zach’s nostrils as someone leaned down and spoke directly into his face. “Shut your mouth before I cut out your tongue, you stinking son of whore.”

His manacles were unclipped from the chain, then he was hauled to his feet, one Zeta on either side. He stumbled blindly forward, wishing he had the strength to fight them. He’d tried it on his first day here, but he hadn’t been able to get his cuffed hands in front of his body fast enough to pull his blindfold off so that he could see the men he was trying to fight. That’s when they’d broken his ribs.

Now, he barely had the strength to stand upright.

“Zach!” Natalie’s voice came from his right. “I’ll pray for you!”

He dug in his heels, fought to stand his ground for just another moment. “Listen to me, Natalie. Don’t let Cárdenas inside your head. Nothing he can do to you can change who you are. Remember that!”

“Stay alive, Zach! Please!”

“If I don’t, I promise to haunt these bastards for the rest—”

Then he was shoved roughly forward, pain splitting his side, stealing his breath. Sunlight hit him full in the face, cool stone giving way to familiar hot gravel beneath his bare feet. Every muscle in his body tensed.

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country…

He started to recite the code of conduct, trying to prepare his mind for what was to come, but a different thought replaced it. It was nothing much — just a name — but it seemed to put steel back into his spine.

Natalie.

So there you go!

And this just in...

THE GOVERNOR JUST SIGNED
THE SHACKLING BILL!
I think I need a drink.
Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with a true powder hound -- Updated





A while back, I promised you an interview with a true powder hound, someone who skis the way Gabe skis — in defiance of gravity and as often as possible. I work with a guy like this. He writes for the outdoors section of the newspaper.

Extreme skiers, climbers, etc., are not an endangered species in Boulder; in fact, meeting people who excel in sports like skiing or telemark or skateboarding or rock climbing is just part of life here. People like Isaac come to Colorado, and to Boulder specifically, because of the thrills it offers.

Isaac has been writing for the outdoor sports section of the newspaper for almost eight years now. (Can you believe that, Isaac?) He works freelance, going on fun outdoor adventures and then writing about them, or testing outdoor gear and sharing his experiences. When I met him, he had a girlfriend and lived for adventure, his life focused on chasing powder during the winter and hitting the singletrack during the summer (i.e, mountain biking, an obsession it in our outdoor-crazy city).

Isaac knew a few things about Gabe and Naked Edge from the beginning, because I shared passages of the story with him, either because I thought he’d find them funny or because I wanted to run the lingo by him to make sure it sounded authentic. Rock climbing lingo is part of my family’s speech; skiing lingo… not so much. Oh, sure, everyone in my family skis, but no on snowboards. And no one has ever lived in his or her car driving to the places where snow is falling like true powder hounds do.

That’s one thing about Isaac’s writing I love — he writes the way those guys talk, whether it’s skiing or mountain biking he’s covering. He was writing about the impact of bicycle seats once and used the term “manberries,” which I stole outright for Unlawful Contact. (Dude, I’m giving credit where credit is due.)

I asked Isaac if he would mind answering a few questions. The guy is now married with a wee son (who is adorable) and a full-time job. Despite that busy schedule, he agreed.

Pamela: Isaac, thanks for agreeing to visit my blog. Can you tell us how old you were when you slid down your first snow? Was it love from the beginning?

Isaac: I was actually 10 when I took my first turns, prior to that I was a Cali kid, skatepunk and BMX shredder. I moved to Vermont and remember thinking as I watched the local Vermonster’s ski that I was TOO OLD. Funny, washed up at ten. :) Then I got a pair of skis at the local ski swap took my first turns as was hooked! I’ve been lucky enough to log a 1000+ plus days since then. Still trying to perfect glorious art of the Telemark turn. Practice, practice!

Pamela: I never learned the Telemark turn. I did master the Telemark face plant, though. I have that down cold. So what brought you to Colorado and to Boulder, specifically?

Isaac: Sun and light dry powder, which Seattle where we lived previously had approx NONE. Viva Colorado!

Pamela: Describe the most powder-houndy period of your life.

Isaac: Lived in Bozeman, MT, for a year and ski bummed at the righteous Bridger Bowl in 1992 (damn, I’m old). Skied 100+ days and worked the night shift at Dana Design backpack checking seams. Lived on $110 a week. Those were the days...

Pamela: Don’t complain about getting old to me, please. I’m 11-1/2 now, and that’s awful. How long have you been mountain biking?

Isaac: Got my first mountain bike in 1988 (that’s actually rocking my world as I type — sheesh!) Thumbshifters and canti brakes. Mongoose IBOC Pro — but pro I was not. LOVING mt biking more with every passing year, just signed up for BC Bike Race for my 40th birthday — 500km over 7 days of rocks, berms, bridges and hopefully a few cold adult beverages. :)

Pamela: That sounds so fun! What is it about crashing down rocky mountain trails in defiance of death that appeals to so many people here? I mean, when your bike requires shock absorbers and you have to wear a kind of motorcycle helmet — is that what God intended when She created the bicycle?

Isaac: We all know SHE shredds :) I thinks it’s the totally focus that is addictive. No time/way to contemplate the bills, the laundry, the meaning of life. Just raw caveman/women ripping through the woods. We ain’t engineered to sit under fluorescent lights all day!

Pamela: I have to agree with you there (as I sit under fluorescent lights). How do you feel about alpine climbing, rock climbing and ice climbing, which are my family’s addictions? (Except for me, of course. I’m still recovering from my near-fatal bout of Rapid Deceleration Syndrome, as you know.)

Isaac: I like to climb but um, well, SUCK. I get the Elvis shake-y leg syndrome pronto. Glorious sport, but in Boulder, the comp is pretty high (no pun intended).

Pamela: Can you define some terms for us? Gabe and Marc used some of these in the story: “shredding the gnar”; “sick terrain,” or sick powder”; “epic”; “catch air”; “snow farm,” “face shots.” (As a side note: Do you think it’s coincidence that there’s an overlap between porn slang and outdoor sports slang and the fact that most of those who pursue outdoor sports on a hardcore level are young males? Never mind. You don’t have to answer.)

Isaac: Yes, it’s true that the bro/brahs of the sports world do sometimes speak in tongues! Maybe related to lack of oxygen at altitude??? LOL. In sum, the sick-er, gnarly-er, etc., the better-er!!!

Pamela: Did you have any epic days this year? Do you have a skiing memory that stands out for all time?

Isaac: Skied Jackson in mid-March with my best buddy after 20 inches of powder. It was a dream trip to the “White Room.” It doesn’t get any better, and let’s just say that all the powder/orgasm analogies are right on the $. Unreal.

Pamela: Thanks, Isaac, for your time. I love having your work in the paper. You’re great to work with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a smile on your face. And thanks for being willing to hang with us today and for sharing links to your ski vids.



Here’s a clip, filmed by Isaac, that shows his buddy Doug Telemark skiing glades at Eldora. The trick about skiing glades is, well, not hitting trees and killing yourself. Doing it Telemark is even tougher. But there’s even more than that. Tree wells, hollows of snow around a tree’s trunk, can trap you and lead to a nasty fall and/or piercing by branches. Or you can catch your tips or tails on a trunk/well/branch and wipe out, perhaps hitting wood. To ski the way Doug and Isaac are skiing here, you have to be good. We get a glimpse of Isaac, who is filming while skiing, as he turns the camera on himself.




Here’s a clip he filmed of some buddies Telemarking. Note the face plant at the end. That is my only true skill when it comes to Telemarking.


And here’s a glimpse of mountain biking. This location, Walker Ranch, is about 25 to 30 minutes from my office. It’s just above Boulder. And this gives you a good idea of what Boulder Mountain Parks land looks like, i.e., where Gabe would have worked. One of my ranger buddies lives in at Walker Ranch. Lucky SOB.




OK, well, I hope you enjoy watching these. I’m spending the weekend with Natalie and Zach, who will finally be unchained very soon. I need to catch up on writing so I won’t be around much. But I do read your posts and enjoy them. I hope you have fun with this!

Incidentally, if you’re interested in mountain biking or skiing videos from Colorado, YouTube is loaded with them. You can probably Google all the places in Naked Edge and see them there, i.e, Redgarden Wall where Gabe was climbing, Boulder Mountain Parks, the famous Third Flatiron, etc.

I’m adding this link to another YouTube video because it offers a great little overview of my hometown, together with some mtb (mountain biking) how-to. It made me laugh. You get glimpses of our bike path infrastructure, as well as Boulder Canyon, where, I swear, I grew up with my dad climbing those canyon sides with traffic whizzing by below.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Things to look forward to this summer!




Spring, it seems, is finally here. After weeks of cool temps and late-season snowstorms, we seem to have turned a corner. Last week, it was 32. By the end of this week, it will be 85. That’s what happens in Colorado. You go from having the heat on to running the AC in the blink of an eye.

I started thinking about the things I love about summer. BBQs with my boys and their friends is at the top of the list. Good fruits and veggies from the farmers’ markets is another. Vacation. Woo! I’m taking two whole weeks off in July, and I can’t wait.

Here are some other things I love about summer:

Flowers

Those of you who've been following this blog at least since last summer know I love, love, love flowers. I have a very large flower garden out in my front yard that consists of four very large separate flower beds filled with shrub, Bourbon and old English roses, cosmos, columbine, lupine, lavender, herbs (sage, thyme, yarrow), sunflowers, hollyhocks, irises, delphiniums, geraniums, rose mallow, Russian sage, snow-in-summer, butterfly bush, dragon flower, pin cushion flower, daisies, purple coneflower and, yes, much more. (Did I mention the flower beds were big?)

I have several additional beds in back, including what Benjy and I call the Faery Garden, which is pictured above (that's just a few of my rose bushes with King Arthur giant delphinium rising above them next to my back deck).

Summer is the time when I can walk out my door to the scent of sun-warmed roses and lavender. Do I love this? Oh, yes, I do. And thanks to my son Benjy, the garden keeps getting lovelier.

Writing




I have a love-hate relationship with writing. Every time I start a new book, I worry that this book will be the one that everyone hates, the one that proves without a doubt that I’m an idiot who can’t write worth a damn. I know I’m not the only writer who feels this way, but I often suspect I’m the only writer whose suspicions are correct.

When the words are flowing and the pages are coming together and the characters are divulging their inner turmoil without my having to hold a gun to their heads, life is bliss. When I decide (as I always do) that story sucks and I’m an idiot and my characters clam up, life is misery.

Still, I’d rather write fiction that do almost anything, and since I haven’t decided that Natalie and Zach’s story sucks yet, life is good.


Reading




I freaking love to read. If there’s one thing I love more than writing, it might be reading. This summer, I expect to be reading a lot of historical texts about the French and Indian War to bring myself up to 1760, the year Connor’s story is set. Yes, reading texts for research is just as fun for me as reading fiction because the facts and details in the texts aren’t a bunch of dry facts to me; they’re fuel for my imagination, grist for the mill, a shot of caffeine for my muse.

Still, I hope to make some progress through my TBR, focusing on Christy Reece’s books and a handful of other authors.


Season 3 of True Blood



I cannot wait! The bad part is that I have no choice but to wait because I don’t have television, let alone HBO. So I don’t get to watch it when True Blood starts up again this summer. I shall find a way...

Because who can resist Erik and Bill and Sookie and the world’s favorite dumb blond — Jason Stackhouse. This clip had me laughing out loud at work today.

James Frain, fresh from being beheaded as Thomas Cromwell on The Tudors shifts from Showtime to HBO to play... A vampire? I'm not sure from the trailer what he is. But he doesn’t look good for poor Tara. Still, I admire him as an actor and was happy to see him in the cast.

Guys without shirts





It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that one of the best parts of summer is seeing sexy men without shirts in the park, on the street, in their yards — all over the place. In Boulder, which is the sport capitol of a very athletic state, the sightseeing in terms of shirtless men is unparalleled. The temps go up, the clothes come off. And my eyeballs are ready...

What are you looking forward to this summer?
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation weekend reading



A few months back, I was introduced to author Christy Reece through some of our mutual readers. She and I interviewed each other for our respective releases in late February and early March and found it funny that our books both featured heroes named Gabe.

I hadn't had time read any of her books, but this is graduation weekend. And I found myself desperately in need of a fiction break. (Let's just say sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain when it comes to the ex. And with family gathered from near and far — including the ex's family — I said some things that escalated, and... You get the picture.)

Needing some R&R, I grabbed Rescue Me, Christy’s debut novel, off my neglected, lonesome TBR... and devoured it.

Romantic suspense novels that involve kick-butt heroine always make me nervous, because, to be honest, I can’t enjoy a heroine who lacks femininity or vulnerability. Female strength to me is different than male strength, and rather leave the violence to the guys. Gender role reversals don’t interest me much.

But Eden/Devon is not that kind of a kick-butt heroine. She’s still very much a woman, not a guy with breasts. At times extremely vulnerable, she tugged at my heart strings. Jordan, the hero, is all the things a hero should be: strong, brave, physically adept (in many ways), sexy, protective.

Reading about the tragedies of their lives and watching them find their way together while they take down a nest of vicious and evil human traffickers — a subject I dealt with in Hard Evidence — was pure romance reading pleasure. And it helped get me through a tough day.

I’ve got her next three books in my TBR, and I’ll read them in order.

I’m extremely proud of my older son, Alec, who graduates tonight from Colorado State University with a double degree. We’re having a BBQ tomorrow. Thank God a bunch of my family will be there. Hopefully it won’t snow.

We’ve had a snow and rain all week. The foothills were covered in white on Thursday. And, yes, it’s mid-May here in Colorado, too.

Now I need to get back to writing. With all the activity this weekend, I’m going to get behind on Zach and Natalie’s story. Poor Zach has been in chains for so long now, and the conditions in which Natalie is being kept — all those scorpions! — horrifies me.

Upcoming: I promised an interview with a true powder hound, and Isaac has agreed. I sent him a bunch of questions earlier today. When he’ll get answers back to me, I can’t say. Over the weekend, he’s mostly likely up in the mountains. But it will be lots of fun, I’m sure because Isaac is lots of fun. So stay tuned!

Have a great weekend, everyone.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A real happy ending — 2nd UPDATE


The bill took some big strides on Monday.

First, it made it out of the House Judiciary Committee on vote of 10 to 1 in favor. I testified first, followed by a long list of witnesses ranging from activists to a former inmate who gave birth shackled to legal experts to an OB/GYN and Laraine, the nurse-midwife.

One of the lawmakers really didn’t understand what was at stake and kept asking how we planned to protect the guards from these dangerous women if they were unshackled. Clearly, this man has never had a baby.

Another lawmaker called current policy in the state “barbaric.”

Still another thanked the representative who is sponsoring the bill in the House for bringing the issue forward. He said he felt it was really important and thanked her for doing it. And guess what? She thanked me and credited my research and my persistence for the fact that they were about to vote on the bill. That made me feel wonderful, and I’m sure I was red as a tomato.

Then they voted, as I said, 10 to 1 to pass the bill.

I was at my desk at the paper when I heard from Pamela Clifton, who was still at the Capitol, that the bill had already been presented for second reading on the House floor and had passed. So that hurdle was jumped quite easily — and without any nail-biting on my part.

UPDATE — The bill passed the House on third reading this morning 62 in favor, 2 abstentions and 1 no vote. Talk about bipartisan support! The representative who voted against it was the same one who grilled me yesterday and who voted against it in committee.

Senate re-adoption — Tuesday, 2:30 PM. The Senate voted with no fuss and no objections to re-adopt the House version of the bill just moments ago. Woohoo!

Only ONE hurdle remains:

Governor’s desk — He’d be an idiot to veto it, particularly given the high level of bipartisan support the bill has earned. Once he signs it, Colorado will have a new law and be the eighth state in the United States to ban the shackling of pregnant inmates in labor.

Here’s what the bill will change:

No inmate, except for the worst of the worst, can be shackled during labor and delivery. So they’ll be able to use the hot tub and make use of other comforts that other women use.

No belly belts or ankle shackles on pregnant women ever.

If pregnant women are shackled, it must be using the least restrictive restraint necessary to ensure public safety.

A medical person will be present when an inmate is strip searched on return from prison after having a baby.

There will be a basic, uniform standard for all jurisdictions — state, county, city, juvenile, adult.

So we really are in the home stretch here, and I’m so glad it’s gone well. I feel good about what we’ve accomplished and the role I’ve been able to play in that. I hope to join with some other women I met through this process to put together a database of resources for people in other states who want to ban shackling.

What does this have to do with my life as a romance novelist? That’s an easy question to answer.



Unlawful Contact was my way of working through all the terrible things I’d seen and heard about the treatment of female offenders in prison and jail. The sadness I felt about those things made their way into the story. I put a fantasy ending on that story, in which Reece passes a bill addressing a host of wrongs, shackling during labor among them. But it was just a fantasy.

Now that HEA will be more reality than fantasy. And all the Megans out there — the women like her here in Colorado — will have one less indignity to face as they try to put their lives together again.

My part in this is more or less over, so I won’t be driving to Denver again till the bill is signed. I hope to attend the bill signing ceremony and perhaps take my nephew with me so that he can see what that’s like.

My older son, Alec, graduates from Colorado State University this weekend with a double degree in anthropology and history, so that will keep me busy from Friday on. I am super proud of him. He has worked his way through college, which has meant working almost full time while holding down a full course load. That’s very hard work, and I’m so happy he’s finally come to the end. So is he! (That’s a major understatement!)

There probably won’t be much time for writing. So I’ll be catching up with Natalie and Zach as I am able.
Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day



Happy Mother's Day to all mothers everywhere! I hope and pray one day we'll have a world where motherhood is safe for all women, no matter where they live.

This Mother’s Day I’d like to honor midwives. Both of my births were attended by midwives, in part because the hospital model of childbirth just didn't work for me. Having a doctor show up at the last second, waiting for him to get his act together before you can push your baby out, all the drapes, steel tools and scissors, all the shouting "Push! Push!"... No thanks! I wanted an all-woman environment free of tools. Honestly, all the cutting and yanking seems so violent to me.

Most of my novels have featured midwifery births, and most of them have been home births, which has brought me kind e-mail from midwives who appreciate their model of childbirth, which is still relatively rare in the United States, getting a mention.

The short film above is part of a film contest. I found it fun and representative of the midwife's work — caring about mothers and babies on the toughest days in their lives.

Below, is a photo of me at the state Capitol on the day of the first Senate Judiciary Hearing. Even though I look hideous, the photo is special to me because it shows me standing with, Laraine Guyette, the midwife who caught Benjy, my younger son.

“Oh, my God, he's huge!” I said when she put him on my tummy. “He must weight 10 pounds!”

“Hmmm... I'd say he‘s closer to eight pounds,” she said.

She was off by one ounce.




Amazingly, Laraine showed up to testify at the hearing in favor of the shackling bill on behalf of the group of midwives who deliver prison babies. I haven't seen her for 20 years. But I looked at her, and then I realized who she was. I told her she’d been at one of my births 20 years ago, and the senator sponsoring the bill snapped this photo of us.

Small world!

When I got home, I checked Benjy's birth certificate, and there her signature was, right beneath two tiny footprints. So I hadn’t imagined it.



I would also like to honor my own mother whose love has been the center of our family. Here she is standing near the site of the Bloody Morning Scout in update New York near Fort Edward (Fort Elizabeth). A registered nurse, she somehow managed to raise four kids while working as the head nurse of an intensive care unit. Talk about stressful...

And before I end this post, I want to say a word on behalf of those mothers who will spend tomorrow behind bars far from the children they miss and love. Perhaps their kids have been permanently placed in other homes. Or perhaps the people who are caring for their kids can’t or won’t bring them to visit. Or perhaps their children want nothing more to do with them. There are lots of painful possibilities.

Most mothers, even those who are deeply troubled, love their children. Being without them is always a source of pain for these troubled mothers. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Friday, May 07, 2010

Remembering to breathe



Who cares if it's May 7? Last night it snowed. It had melted by the time the sun was high in the sky, but it's still nippy with the possibility of more snow ahead.

Ah, yes, springtime in the Rockies.

Tulips do look pretty in the snow. And so does my lily of the valley, which is just beginning to bloom. Those flowers are so precious and tiny. I have to get down on my knees in the grass to sniff them. I’m sure that makes a lovely sight.

Out in the veggie garden, I have six-inch high broccoli plants, as well as arugula, spinach, romaine lettuce, mixed greens and Swiss chard. When Benjy gets home — and when it actually gets warm — we'll open a second bed and plant tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, peppers and squash.

One zucchini plant only, and even then... At the end of the world, there will be zucchini and cockroaches, as I’ve always said.

I’m taking a moment to breathe. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. Big papers, special editions, bills in the Senate, hassles in the House, new five-book contract. After we heard that the Department of Corrections was attempting to gut or kill the bill, I found myself getting super stressed out, and that's just not good for me.

We have reached a compromise with them. I'm very reluctant to compromise because I feel that some important aspects of the bill have been removed. Right now it contains about 85 percent of what I originally put into it. But when they start removing phrases like "so as not to cause the inmate additional pain or suffering" you have to wonder WHY. I still don’t understand.

The House Judiciary Hearing is Monday morning. I'm first up to testify. It could be on the House floor as early as that afternoon and could pass the House by Tuesday. Then it will go into conference committee, where the two sponsors and others try to work out a compromise on the two different versions of the bill. Once they do that, both chambers have to approve the changes. And then, finally, it goes to the Governor.

It's been a real education for me to see how things work behind the scenes at the Capitol. I think along the way I've managed to annoy everyone who's been involved with the bill. Me and my temper. Oh, well.

But I'm trying to let go a little bit. I can't write books if I'm stressed out of my gourd and have a migraine. So...

I'm starting Chapter 4 of Breaking Point today. Bad things reach something of a peak for Zach and Natalie in Chapter 4 — and then begin to turn around. Right now, they are just voices in the darkness for each other as they talk through the wall of a place out in the desert where they’re being kept prisoner.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Thanks for your support here and on Facebook regarding the bill. The debate on the House floor will be available via live streaming. I’ll post the URL when the bill is about to come up.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Shackling bill passes Senate!

Just a quick and dirty update here...

Senate Bill 193, the shackling bill, passed out of the Senate this morning on a unanimous vote. All 35 members of the State Senate voted in support of it with no debate.

Now on to the House, where it has to make it through a Judiciary hearing and three readings on the House floor — in a week.

I'm ecstatic! So many people told me this couldn’t be done this year. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to them! There are women whose lives will be less traumatized and whose lives might even be saved because lawmakers put their differences aside to pass this bill.

Thanks, everyone, for your crossed fingers and prayers. I hope that by the end of next week Colorado will be the eighth state to pass restrictions on shackling. Then we have to figure out how to change the law in your home states.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Shackling bill on the Senate floor UPDATED



The anti-shackling bill, which some of you are calling Megan’s Law in honor of Megan Rawlings from Unlawful Contact, goes to the floor of the Colorado Senate for debate today. I’m pretty certain it will pass second reading today and third reading tomorrow.

Here’s the only hitch: The bill has drawn the attention of people on both sides of the abortion debate, both the pros and the antis, so I expect a bit of a tussle in terms of the bill’s language, which is neutral.

I’ve tried hard to shelter the bill from this issue, because this is not what it’s about. But when people feel they have a chance to beat their drum, that’s apparently what they do. I feel like I’ve said a hundred times: “This bill is not about abortion.” And I’ve said to people on both sides. But they’re all too busy trying to score points for their side to listen.

Hopefully, this little tussle won’t hold the bill back. It did delay the completion of the draft of the bill because there was bickering over language. Drove me nuts! I kept having to say, ”This bill is about unchaining women who are in labor.” Fortunately, the senator carrying the bill totally gets that.

UPDATE: The bill passed second reading on a unanimous voice vote after about 15 minutes of robust debate centered, unfortunately, around the abortion debate. This bill has nothing to do with abortion, of course. Fortunately, everyone seems to realize that at some level.

Tomorrow it goes back to the Senate for a final vote. I expect it to pass with strong bipartisan support. Then it's on to the House, where it will be pushed through quickly before the session ends.

And then change will have happened!

And all the women who end up in prison pregnant from now on will face a different set of circumstances than fictional Megan and all the real, live women she represents, women I've met and interviewed.

I cannot tell you how happy that makes me!

I watched the debate live via the Internet (I'm supposed to be working), and it was mightily strange to hear my name mentioned four times during the floor debate. Whoa! I think my face turned red.

Today’s discussion question: What have you all been reading? Any good books lately?

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