Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

My photo
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.


Seductive Musings

Monday, March 30, 2009

I-Team Casting Couch — the heroes

Moving right along — we have a production schedule to which we must adhere, after all — I think a couple of heroes are ready to be cast. But I need your vote.

For Julian Darcangelo, its down to fellow Italian, Raffaello Balzo. I love his eyes, which have Julian's coloring.

Or Eduardo Verastugui. I love his intensity and can see him playing someone known on the street as "Dark Angel."

For Reece Sheridan, a late-comer, Jason Lewis, who pretty much fits the description of Reece all around. No voting here. I'm just going to call this one.

And for Marc, either Henry Cavill

or Brazilian model Daniel Bueno.

So cast your votes, and we'll move on to the heroines. And thanks to all of you for the luscious photos you've been emailing me!
Sunday, March 29, 2009

I-Team Casting Couch — continued

Let's pick up where we left off, shall we? We were perusing hot men for taking the roles of the heros in the I-Team series in our little game of I-Team Casting Couch.

Rita suggested Eduardo Verastegui for Julian. I told her that my tongue got stuck to my computer screen when I opened her email and saw his photos.

So here he is, both above an below. What do you all think?

Rita suggested Johnny Messner (below) for Marc Hunter.

He has the eagle tattoo already, doesn't he? Any thoughts?

Last night it dawned on me that Henry Cavill, the actor who plays Charles Brandon on the Tudors, might make a great Reece or a Marc Hunter. Brad Pitt was suggested for Reece as well. We all know who Brad is, so I haven't posted a photo of him.

Bo has made a ton of suggestions, not only for heroes but also for heroines. (WTG, Bo!) I'll try to get to those soon. I must eat lunch and then write a bit!
Friday, March 27, 2009

I-Team Casting Couch — Updated

I am home again! We got about 18 inches of snow total. I spent last night in a hotel, then got up and had to unbury my car for the second time. I went in to the office for while even thought it's my day off — it's our busies time of the year — and then drove home on a slushy highway. It's really warm today, so the sidewalks that have been shoveled and the roads that would plowed are all but dry. Where they weren't plowed -- well, some fun, rutty driving. (I actually do find that fun.)

So, thanks to Sue Z, I have a new game I want to play with you all. I'm calling it "I-Team Casting Couch." Let me explain.

Let's imagine that the I-Team series was made into an ongoing TV series where every week featured a new I-Team adventure with the characters from my books. Each book would probably play out over a period of weeks, and there were be overlapping story lines and probably lots of stuff that was never in the books at all. (Hey, it's Hollywood, right?)

Now, let's imagine that you are the casting director. It's your job to find actors for all the roles. Here's who you need to cast:

Sen. Reece Sheridan
Kara McMillan
Lily McMillan
Connor McMillan
Tom Trent
Joaquin Ramirez
Syd Wilson
Holly Bradshaw
Tessa Novak
Kat James
Sophie Alton
Matt Harker
Natalie Benoit
Julian Darcangelo
Marc Hunter
Megan Rawlings
Lissy Charteris
Will Frasier
Chief Irving

Then there are a host of very secondary characters: the bad guys from the books, Alexi Burien, miscellaneous senators, Syko & Gang, the good and bad cops at Denver PD, assorted prison guards and shower hawks, Mr. & Mrs. Rawlings, Mrs. Charteris, & etc.

Clearly, the most important roles to cast are the leads I've listed. For the sake of simplicity, we'll leave Gabe Rossiter, the hero from Naked Edge, out because his story isn't out yet. That still leaves a lot of roles to cast.

So your assignment, should you opt to play, is to find stars for the roles of these characters. We don't need big names; we need talent — and people who match the descriptions of the characters and have their intensity. We can use contact lenses for eye color, if necessary, and we can dye people's hair if we must. But let's get as close as we can.

In your posts, list the people you'd cast. You don't have to cast everyone to make suggestions. If you've found the perfect Julian, you can just post him. We'll keep working on it till we get it right. There will be prizes along the way — book plates, book marks, signed I-Team books.

Let's see what we end up with!


Okay, we have some suggestions coming in:

Clive Owen as Julian Darcangelo.

Nathan Kamp as Marc Hunter

Italian hottie Raffaello Balzo as Julian Darcangelo

Antonio Banderas as Julian Darcangelo. (I had always kind of envisioned him as Joaquin.)

Collin Farrell as Marc Hunter.

These ideas are from Sue Z, Evil Libby and moi. They should help get you started.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Ah, what a stressful job -- having to stare at handsome guys. Casting TV shows sure is hard work! ;-)
Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is the view right now from my office window at the newspaper. See the tree? Neither do I.

After weeks of temps in the 70s, Colorado's mountains and Front Range have been hit with a monster snowstorm that is dumping at least 2 inches an hour and has been doing so since last night.

The drive from home to work — normally a 45-minute trip — lasted much of the morning, but I felt lucky compared to the people who had gone off the highway and now sit nose-first in snowbanks. My little car handled the drive pretty well, apart from the fact that in places the snow was so deep that it scraped the bottom of the vehicle. I came close to losing control a couple of times, but — thank goodness! — made it safely.

I have a hotel room reserved for tonight, where I shall hang out and write.

Schools are closed — it takes something of this magnitude to get a snow day in Colorado — and most highways are going to close this afternoon.

I wish I were home by my fireplace instead of stuck in an office! But staying in a hotel is always kind of fun. By tomorrow afternoon, I hope to have made it safely home again to snuggle in front of a fire and write.

To all my friends in Colorado — yes, I'm talking to YOU! — be safe!!!
Saturday, March 21, 2009

Naked Edge — An excerpt! Or "When Kat met Gabe"

A view of the real climb after which the book is named. You can see how it got its name. The edge sticking out is the arête.

With the video of Dan (below) in mind, here's where we first meet Gabe in the prologue to The Naked Edge. Enjoy!


Gabriel Rossiter crimped the chalked fingers of his right hand around the small handhold, then carefully shifted his weight onto his fingertips, drawing himself to the right. He didn’t notice his skinned shin or the people far below taking pictures of him and pointing, or the sweat trickling down his temples, his mind focused entirely on the rock as he worked the arête on a bad-tempered geological accident known as The Naked Edge. Scraped fingers reached again, caught rough stone and held.
He maneuvered his way around the jutting, razor-sharp edge for which the climb was named—no ropes, no cams, nothing beneath him but 600 feet of air.

Some people needed heroin. Gabe preferred adrenaline.

He looked up and picked his way up the rock face with his gaze, thinking his way through his next move in a language without words. This was what he needed—internal silence, emptiness, oblivion. He needed to forget.

He reached with his right foot… And then he heard her scream.

He caught just a glimpse—rocks spilling down the side of a nearby slope, a woman falling with them—and felt a moment of vertigo as she tumbled out of sight. And then a decade of experience kicked in.

So much for your day off, buddy.

He fired himself around the arête and thrust his fist into an overhanging handcrack, liebacking his way on hand jams to the final pitch and an easy finish. Then, with no ropes or gear to pack up, he was off.

It was a long, exposed scramble down the Eastern Slabs, but the rock was dry, enabling him to move quickly. He knew the terrain as if it were his own backyard—and, really, it was. He’d been climbing here since he was sixteen, and he’d been a Boulder Mountain Parks Ranger since he was 24—eight years. He’d spent almost every waking moment of his adult life in these mountains. He’d done his fair share of rescues over the years—and had helped bring down his share of bodies.

And that’s what you’re going to find today, Rossiter—a body.

He didn’t let the thought slow him. If by some miracle she had survived, she was going to need his help.

He moved down the steep rock face, his cell phone out of his pocket and in his hand the moment his feet hit dirt. He dialed 911. “Sixty-forty-five, off-duty.”

“Go ahead, sixty-forty-five.”

“Rockslide in Eldorado Canyon State Park approximately one half-mile north of Redgarden Wall. Saw a woman go down with it. I’m en route, but I don’t have a damned bit of gear with me. I’ll call again when I have her location.”

“Copy sixty-forty-five—”

That was all he needed to hear.

He hung up and took off through the trees at a run.

# # #

It took Gabe almost ten minutes to reach the base of the rockslide area. Sucking wind, his heart pounding from exertion, he searched for her amid the rubble—boulders as big as trashcans, smaller rocks, mangled tree branches. He found a lone turquoise earring and a backpack that must have belonged to her. But he didn’t find her.

There was really only one possibility.

She was dead and buried, crushed somewhere beneath all that rock.

“Damn it! Goddamn it!” He pulled his cell out and dialed 911 again. “Sixty-forty-five, at the site.”

“Sixty-forty-five, can you repeat? You’re breaking up.”

“At the site. No sign of the victim, but there’s no way she walked away from this. She’s probably buried. There’s a good ton of rock here. We’re going to need—”

A cry.

Stunned, he stopped mid-sentence.

Another cry—the sound of a woman in pain.

“She’s alive! Are you getting a lat and a long on me?” Gabe hoped the signal from his phone was strong enough to give dispatch a solid GPS reading.

The answer came in a burst of static—and then the call disconnected.

Damned cell phones.

He pocketed the phone, hitched her pack over his shoulder, and ran uphill through the trees toward the sound.

She screamed again.

He adjusted his direction, quickened his pace.

And then he saw her.

Her jeans torn and muddy, she was crawling, or trying to crawl, her right leg dragging behind her, probably broken. She inched forward, crying out as her injured leg dragged across the damp forest floor. Then she sank onto her belly, whimpering. But before he could call to her to let her know help had arrived, she pushed herself up again and struggled forward another few inches, her scream catching behind clenched teeth.

She was heading toward the trail, he realized. She was trying to rescue herself, trying to get to where help could find her. Lucky for her, it already had.

“I’m Gabe Rossiter with Boulder Mountain Parks.”

She looked up at him with a startled gasp and tried to sit, but succeeded only in sinking onto her back, the movement making her moan in pain.

“Easy, there.” He walked over to her. “Just lie still. I’m here to help you.”

The first thing he noticed was her eyes. An usual shade of hazel green, they watched him warily as he knelt down beside her. Agony was etched on every feature of her pretty face, a streak of mud on her bruised cheek, pine needles in her long, dark hair, the other turquoise earring dangling from her left earlobe. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, no taller than five-five and small-boned—a red flag when it came to fractures. There were deep scratches on her arms and hands, but no obvious bleeding.

“The rocks… They fell.” She spoke with just a hint of an accent.

American Indian?

“I saw. Last night’s rain must have eroded the ground beneath them.” Because he couldn’t seem to help it, he looked into her eyes again, relieved to find that her pupils weren’t dilated. “What’s your name?”

“Katherine James.”

“How old are you, Katherine?”


“Do you know today’s date?”

She shivered, cold sweat on her forehead. “It’s Sunday… August twenty-sixth.”

In shock, but coherent. Probable broken leg. Scrapes and bruises.

“Help is on its way.” He kept his voice soothing. “In the meantime, I’ll do what I can for you. Can you tell me where you hurt?”


“I’ll bet.” He dug into her pack. She wasn’t carrying a first-aid kit, but she had brought a sweater. He draped it over her. “I’m a paramedic and a park ranger. If it’s okay with you, I’m going to check you to see how badly you’re injured.”

She eyed him suspiciously, still shivering, her gaze dropping to his bare chest, with its chalk marks, to the chalk on his hands, to the climbing shoes on his feet.

Okay, so he looked like some kind of half-naked freak to her. Fair enough. “I’m off-duty. I was rock climbing nearby and saw you fall. Let me help you.”

She seemed to measure him, then nodded, wincing slightly with her next breath.

Broken ribs. Possible internal bleeding.

He put his hand on her shoulder, tried to reassure her. “I’m going to feel on the outside of your clothes, and you tell me where it hurts, okay?”


He stood, walked around to her other side and started with the obvious, sliding his hands over her jeans along the length of her right thigh. “Does it hurt here?”


Thank God it wasn’t her femur. He’d seen more than one woman bleed out from a severed femoral artery, dead before help could arrive.

He slid his hands past her knee and heard her gasp just as he found the bulge on her shin. “Your tibia is broken.”

Not quite a compound fracture, but bad enough.

Her right ankle was tender and swollen, as well, either broken or sprained.

But of more concern to him than the broken bones was the fact that she was beginning to fade, slowly falling into unconsciousness, her dark lashes now resting on her cheeks, her eyes closed. He’d bet his ass that she had some kind of head injury. With a fall like that, she wouldn’t need to hit her head to injure her brain.

“Stay awake, Katherine. Stay with me.”

Stay with me.

Kat thought time must be playing tricks on her. He’d just spoken those words a moment ago, and yet it seemed like hours. She forced her eyes open, saw him watching her, a worried look on his face, his hands moving gently over her, seeming magically to find all the places she hurt most—her right leg and ankle, the ribs on her left side, the deep scratch on her left arm.

As if through a fog, some part of her noticed that he was a very attractive man, rugged and tall, with deep blue eyes. His square jaw was covered with dark whiskers, his temples trickling sweat, his thick, dark hair curling at his nape. There were calluses and chalk on his fingers and scrapes on his knuckles and his left shin. He was wearing only shorts and strange shoes, and although Kat had seen many men without their shirts, she’d seen very few men who looked like him—all lean muscle from head to toe, as if an artist had carved him from marble and then brought him to life.

Strange that she should notice such an unimportant thing right now.

His callused fingers worked their way gently along her collarbones, over her shoulders and into her hair. “Did you lose consciousness when you fell?”

She tried to think. She’d heard the rocks scrape, felt the ground give way, felt herself falling, and then…

The next thing she remembered was looking up at the sky, her right leg hooked over a rock, her entire body wracked with pain. “I think… I must have.”

Apparently done checking her, he sat back on his heels, looking down at her. “You are one amazing woman, Katherine James. I don’t know many people, men or women, who would have been tough enough to do what you just did. You crawled almost two hundred feet, dragging that broken leg behind you.”

But Kat hadn’t been brave. She’d been terrified. Once she’d come to herself, she’d realized that no one knew where she was and that unless she could make her way back to the trail where hikers could discover her, she would die right where she lay. Fear had gotten her onto her hands and knees, driving her forward each unbearable inch, the pain excruciating.

Without warning, the full weight of what had just happened hit her. Tears burned her eyes, spilled down her temples, her body shaking uncontrollably.

You almost died, Kat.

The ranger took her hand, held it, his fingers warm. “It’s going to be all right. I know it hurts, but they’ll be here soon.”

She looked up at him. “Y-you saved my life.”

He shook his head. “You’d have been all right without me. You’d have made it to the trail eventually. It wouldn’t have been fun, but you’d have made it.”

But she wasn’t so sure.

# # #

She lost track of time after that.

The park ranger telling her to stay awake, stroking her cheek, telling her everything was going to be all right. People crowding around her. An oxygen mask over her mouth. The prick of a needle in her arm. A warm blanket.

There was a moment of terrible, sharp pain when they put a splint on her leg, and she heard herself cry out. The ranger’s warm hand squeezed hers, his voice deep and soothing. Why couldn’t she remember his name?

“It’s almost over, Katherine. In twenty minutes you’ll be in Denver, and Saint Anthony’s will take good care of you.”

Was he coming with her? A part of her hoped he was.

She didn’t really know him at all, but somehow she trusted him.

“She fell from there?” a man’s voice said. “Holy shit! Why is she still alive?”

“I can’t believe she crawled all that way with a badly broken leg,” said a woman. “Just the thought makes me queasy.”

“So, you were free-soloing The Naked Edge when you saw her fall. Gee-zus! You have a death wish, Rossiter. One of these days we’re going to be rescuing you, only there won’t be anything left of you to save.”

And then Kat was bouncing along as they carried the stretcher out of the trees toward a helicopter, the ranger walking beside her, his voice her anchor.

“Stay awake, Katherine.”

Only after the helicopter had lifted off did she realize the he was gone.

And she hadn’t even thanked him.
Thursday, March 19, 2009

A bit about Gabe Rossiter from Naked Edge

Sorry I've been MIA. We've reached what is probably the busiest time of year at the newspaper — a cluster of demanding special editions — and I've been working all day then taking work home at night. I've fallen behind on my blog, on emails, on laundry, and, yes, on writing.

I haven't written a word on Naked Edge in three weeks, partly due to work and partly due to the fact that my younger son, Benjy, was home on spring break last week. I had a lot of fun with him and chose to spend every free moment I had with him.

But, as of this weekend, with various crises and spring break behind me, I'm hitting Naked Edge hard with a goal of finishing it by the end of May. I'm not sure if it will be out next November, but I hope so!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a bit about Gabe Rossiter, the hero in the story. Gabe is a Boulder Mountain Parks Ranger, which means he's like a cop who works in the mountains. I've volunteered with Boulder's Mountain Park Rangers, doing naturalist work for them, and they're a wonderful bunch of men and women. They carry guns, wear Kevlar, and deal with everything from climbers who've fallen to injured wildlife to drug dealers to poachers.

Like most rangers, Gabe is a paramedic. He's also an expert climber. And by expert, I mean world class. Because most of you have had little exposure to what rock climbing is and probably don't know a carabiner from a cam, I thought I'd share a video from YouTube that shows Dan Osman free soloing, which is what Gabe does in his free time.

Free soloing means climbing alone without gear. People who do this have nerves of steel, are incredibly strong both physically and mentally and are perhaps also a bit nuts.

As some of you know, I come from a family of climbers and grew up in the mountains hiking and climbing. My dad taught rock climbing and alpine climbing and spent some years climbing with Layton kor, a very famous world-class climber who spent time at our house. The vocabulary of climbing and the gear involved have always been part of my life. I remember stepping over huge coils of climbing rope as a kid and watching my dad clean and check his gear. He once saved a man's life by stopping his fall (he was on belay when the guy fell). The rope dug into my dad's waistline by about a half-inch, leaving permanent scars.

I almost died doing alpine climbing in 1994 when I fell 40 feet after slipping on an overhang of ice on Mount Ida (highest peak to the right above). You can actually see where I fell in this photo. See the tiny fingernail sliver of snow almost in the center of the photo in the saddle between the two peaks? I slipped, fell, bounced over rock. But that's another story...

I might have died had it not been for a ranger who was mountain climbing off duty and found me. He called for a helicopter rescue and eight hours later I was safely in the Estes Park trauma center. Curiously, this is how Kat and Gabe meet, also.

Okay, I'm rambling...

Click on the link above to watch one of of the greatest speed climbers and free solo climbers in the history of climbing. Sadly, Dan Osman died base jumping when his rope broke (the last segment of the video). Watching him climb leaves me in awe! And it gives you a chance to see how Gabe spends his free time and to see what, exactly, he was doing when he first glimpsed Kat.

Poll results: Very interesting! Most of you — a whomping 67 percent — say that bad research and writing is the thing that most offends you in a romance novel. The next largest group — 27 percent — say that deliberate cruelty by the hero or heroine toward the other is what upsets you most. That's what I would have chosen. I cannot stand deliberate cruelty from either the hero or the heroine, and a hero who's Alpha male qualities are demonstrated in this way is what I call a "jerk." It turns a book into a total wall-banger for me. Two percent of you said that graphic sexuality is what upsets you most, with another 2 percent saying the same of foul language.

I thank you for your votes and for the fun discussion about pregnancy and birth in romances.

I'm not sure what the next poll will be, but keep watching.

In the meantime, prepared to be awed by Dan Osman.
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pregnancy and birth in romance

I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for it. And I'm not even sure why.

When I wrote Ride the Fire, I was pretty sure the story was going to tank. It contained so many forbidden elements, foremost among them a heroine who was heavily pregnant with a baby that wasn't the hero's. I didn't care. The story had fallen into my heart in one big chunk, and I wanted to write what I saw because to me it was beautiful. A tortured man and an abused woman find themselves alone together in the midst of a violent frontier and, by working together, slowly overcome their own horror and fall in love.

I was also determined to write a more realistic birth scene than one gets from, say, television. Having given birth twice — once without so much as an IV or an aspirin — I really wanted to do justice to this very feminine experience of childbirth. So often, it's glossed over, and yet it is an amazing, horrible, terrifying, exciting and transformative experience for women. I've always felt our society doesn't give the act of giving birth the respect it deserves. (In ancient Sparta, for example, women who died in childbirth were given the same honors as men who died in battle. Can you imagine that here? But I digress...)

Of course, once you have a baby you have to feed it, so I include breastfeeding, which was the only way to nourish a baby in historical times and is still the best way to feed a child. I nursed my oldest till he was 15 months old and my younger son till he was 10 months old, at which time I was in the hospital for a while and he was weaned by circumstance, not choice. Neither received formula or bottles.

In my other novels, both contemporary and historical, the HEA often involves a new baby, though not always. I'm conscious of the fact that I tend to include that and have tried to veer away from it so that it doesn't become repetitious for you all to read. But there's something about pregnancy and new babies that adds to the HEA for me, at least.

In historicals, of course, it's realistic. I always find it strange and unrealistic when a man and woman in a historical romance can get it on for several weeks or even months and not make a baby. In contemporary novels, it depends on how careful the hero and heroine choose to be, so it's completely realistic that the heroine might not get pregnant. Still, it adds to the sense of fulfillment at the end of the story if I know that a baby is on the way.

Why do I feel that way? Not sure. I guess that children, for me, are the outcome of deepest true love between a man and a woman. They represent the love the hero and heroine have for one another.

I've caught some heat for having birth scenes that are detailed and for including breastfeeding. One reader emailed me and asked, "Can't we just assume that she nurses the baby? Why do you have to show it?"

I show it because I think it's beautiful. The same is true of pregnancy and birth. They're beautiful and natural and the outcome of the hero and heroine's passion for one another. Also, they're a very real part of many women's experience of life and are far too often hidden to society's detriment, I believe.

But that's just how I feel.

So what do you think? Does pregnancy and/or birth enrich the HEA? And what about breastfeeding?
Sunday, March 08, 2009

A matter of faith

Several months ago, I lurked through a back-and-forth between romance readers about speech that offended them in romance novels. Many of them felt it was offensive and therefore wrong for a writer to include phrases like "Jesus Christ" and "goddamn" in novels because these words constitute "blasphemy." I lurked and said nothing...

A few weeks ago, I got a letter from a reader thanking me for making my characters' religions a real part of my historicals. She said that most historicals reflect modern biases either by creating characters that have no religion or by putting it in the background. This bothers her because it's historically inaccurate. (I think I posted her letter as a Letter of the Week.) I really appreciated what she said because religion did play a major role in people lives historically speaking, killing, dying, emigrating to new lands. One can't downplay the importance religion had in people's lives throughout history. I was happy that she noticed the effort I put into being true to that fact.

I found these two topics to be very interesting because they illustrate for me what place I believe religion ought to hold in novels. Let's see if I can explain.

For me, characters rule everything. If I have a character who is a devout Catholic, then I want to portray a heartfelt Catholicism in that character, which means that I as a non-Catholic have a lot of research to do. I've had a lot of Catholic characters — in Carnal Gift and then again in the MacKinnon's Rangers series — and have gone so far as to burn votive candles and buy rosaries for Morgan and Amalie, which two of my Catholic friends used to say the Rosary once to "break them in."

(Writing Catholic characters from historical times also means I get to put Latin in the story, and I like that. It's my inner Latin geek coming out to play.)

Morgan's plain wooden rosary that he wore around his neck.

Obviously, when I write about any faith from the point of view of characters who practice that faith, I try to be very true to the faith and respectful of it. It's conceivable that I might have a character who would be very at odds with his/her faith, and in those cases I would portray that tension realistically. Kat in Naked Edge will be my first non-Christian character, though I suppose a great many of my I-Team characters probably fall into the category of agnostic, reflecting the times we live in now.

In short, I respect the religion of my characters and I make it a part of the story because it's part of who they are.

Mitakuye Oyasin! We are all one.

But when it comes to offending people with language, that's something very different. Again, it's my characters that rule. If I have a character to says "Jesus Christ!" I put it in the story. If it offends readers, there's really nothing I can do about it. I don't write inspirationals and so I don't feel compelled to constrain the language in my stories or the behavior of my characters to the external ideals and beliefs of readers.

Though I would certainly stand behind every person's right to the free exercise of her religion (within certain bounds -- I don't believe in forced teen marriage, honor killing or polygamy), I don't feel that it's my job to reflect other people's faiths in my writing or to write in such a way that doesn't offend their sensibilities. I don't set out to offend people, however.

Does that make sense?

I guess the easiest way to summarize my view on this is that my characters' religion (if they have one) is the only one that matters to me in my writing. For me, blasphemy means not being true to my characters and that's it.

Now, for the results of my last poll....

Some 12 percent of you are fans of the Man Slut. You want the hero to have as much experience in bed as possible.

The vast majority of you — a whopping 55 percent — want the hero to have enough sexual experience to know his way around a woman's body.

A solid 25 percent say it's okay if the hero has has a few partners, but you don't want him to be a Lothario.

And 7 percent of you would like to see romance authors try harder to incorporate virgin heroes into their stories.

Very interesting!

Check for my new poll and vote!

This is going to be an extraordinarily busy month at the paper. I'll try to keep up with my blog, but I make no guarantees. Benjy is home for spring break. The two of us spent today at Denver Botanic Gardens looking at orchids, tulips and other pretty things (including a very lazy squirrel napping on a pine bough). I doubt I'll make much progress on my story until after Benjy goes back to school. I just hate to take time when he's home to write, especially when I'm not getting any time off from work to be with him.

Have a great week everyone!
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

NAKED EDGE — an update

Why do you think they call it deadline?

Thanks to Lucy Abarcia from Ever After-The Romance Book Specialists in Wollongong, NSW, Australia, I found out that a great many people are expecting Naked Edge to be released in April.

Wow, do I feel awful or what? D'oh!

Sadly, the book won't be out till November, and that's if — and only if — I hurry up and finish it. As many of you know, last year from May on was one catastrophe after another in my personal life. Two kids in serious car crashes. A tornado that destroyed my roof. And so on ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Though 2009 has been a better year so far, we've had some serious health problems in my family, and I'm very, very behind on the story. This weekend I reached the official halfway point, which is where I should have been last May.

I just wanted everyone to know that the book is not going to be out next month and that I will write as fast as I can, but not so fast that the book stinks. I really never want to rush a book. Both my readers and my characters deserve better. If I ever felt like I let either of those groups down, I'd feel terrible. Readers trust me to tell a good story, and my characters entrust me with their very lives. That's how it feels to me, anyway.

So I really am trying. I am not sitting around watching TV and eating bonbons. I don't have TV, and I'm not sure what bonbons are. I write every single moment I can, though I do try to maintain my blog and keep up with email. (I'm only behind by 58 reader emails now! Woohoo! My Inbox had more than 1,200 messages on Monday morning.)

My agent has been concerned enough about my situation to send cards and care packages to cheer me up. My editor, who knows what's been happening this past year, has been very supportive and just wants me to take care of my kids and my family first and then write the book when I'm able. And, really, I haven't had a choice. My kids and family have to come first. That's part of what romance novels show us, right?

But things are looking up! (AT LAST!)

THANKS for being so patient! I promise to torture you with excerpts and photos of sexy rock climbers (like Gabe, my hero) as often as I can.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Birthday flowers

I'm just popping in to say hello and to share some photos of my birthday flowers. I hand-picked the flowers for this and let the arranger at the floral shop put it together. I just love flowers, so this was my birthday present to myself.

It has blue hydrangea, pink roses, stargazer lilies and waxflower. The roses have opened most of the way now, and they look so lovely! Somehow, the beauty of the bouquet didn't translate well to my hasty photographs. But you get the idea...

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful emails and birthday wishes!

I'm caught in the midst of a busy work week at the paper, but I'll be back soon! I just wanted to share these photos.

Have a great day, everyone!

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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