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

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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.


Seductive Musings

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Remember the urban farm?

Hey, everyone!

Thanks so much to those of you who helped make the launch of Falling Hard a success. One reader suggested I buy stock in a tissue company, given how many of you talked in your reviews about being moved to tears by the story. I cried when I wrote it, so we’re even.

If you were in a cave at the end of February and missed the book’s release, it’s available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. It’s also available at Smashwords (all ebook formats), IndieBound (paperback), Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

If you haven’t tried my new contemporary (NOT romantic suspense) series yet, Barely Breathing, the first book in the series, is only 99 cents.

And now for something completely different.

Before cancer, there was spinal surgery. But before spinal surgery, there was the urban farm. Who remembers my blog posts about planting and harvesting — all those green beans and homegrown broccoli and arugula?

There was a time not that long ago — back in the days of Project: Happiness and Man-Titty Monday on this blog — when we grew most of our own veggies. That was taken away from me when spinal surgery in my neck left me unable to bend over for long. Elevated beds were obviously the answer, but there was no time or money or energy for that after my breast cancer diagnosis.

I am now a survivor of two years and three months, and life is moving forward. Spring is more or less here in Colorado. And the urban homesteading bug has bitten again.

I've always been a believer in self-sufficiency. Gardening is in my blood. My great-grandparents were farmers. My grandparents on both sides of the family grew most of their own food. I had my first experience gardening at about the age of 2-1/2. I attemped to help my Grandpa plant onion sets then, to the delight of all the adults, told them, “This is hard work,” and walked away.

Yes, I still hear about this, and I’m 53.

Given the state of our nation and the state of this world, it’s not a bad idea for all of us to plant our own version of a Victory Garden and do what we can to rein in our expenses and increase our self-reliance. My gut as someone whose ancestors came to the Americas in 1610 tells me we’re headed for rougher times. This brings out my inner pioneer and makes me want to prepare. A big part of me wants dive into urban farming with a backyard orchard, elevated veggie and strawberry beds, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry bushes, grapes, along with chickens for eggs and bees for honey.

But another part of me thinks I should leave the house to my younger son and take off for Scandinavia, where my sister and most of my friends live. Both are my dream — an almost self-sufficient urban farm and living in Copenhagen with my friends or Stockholm with my sister (or both). Sadly, they’re not really compatible. Benjamin would not appreciate it if I left him with a ton of garden work, four chickens, two hives of bees, and two cats.

Yeah, so I have to work that out, don’t I? If I hold off on chickens and bees, however, I might be able to do both, living seasonally in Scandinavia.

In the meantime, we took the first step toward relaunching our urban farm. A couple of weekends ago, we worked in record heat for March (80 degrees! In Colorado!) to cover a big section of our back lawn with weed cloth and transplant seven established rose bushes into a portion of that new garden. This past weekend, we took delivery of 14 cubic yards of mulch — SO much mulch — and spent pretty much all of Saturday hauling it into the backyard and dumping it on the new beds. The weedcloth and mulch together will kill the lawn beneath.

The next step is planting berry bushes and trees. Regardless of any other decisions, we want more trees so that we can help expand the urban forest and do our part to sequester carbon emissions. (Yes, we believe what science tells us about climate change.) And so the debate is ongoing.

Which trees do we plant?

I’ve spent far too much time — dozens of hours — researching the kinds of fruit trees that do well in Colorado, with our unique combination of extreme heat and extreme cold, arid climate and clay, alkaline soils. There are a lot of options, and trying to fit them into the back yard is the real trick. I’m considering espalier and columnar apple trees that won’t take up much space, as well as dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of other fruit trees.

We planted a bigtooth maple in our backyard last fall. Native to Colorado, their leaves turn brilliant orange and red in the fall. So that much is settled.

Right now, we’re looking at planting a peach tree (Reliance), an American plum, Bartlett and Red Bartlett pear trees, an espalier or columnar apple tree, and a sweet cherry tree. Sweet cherries and peaches are tough to grow here because of our tendency to follow warm early spring days with weeks of frost and late-spring snow. The trees bud and bloom — and then the blooms freeze and die. But I know people who have peach trees and get good harvests most of the time.

(The new beds are much bigger than they appear in the photo above. They’re more than six feet deep and as wide as our house.)

We’re also committed to blackberry bushes, raspberries, and a blueberry bush because, damn it, I  love blueberries. (In fact, when my younger son was little, he called me Pamela Blueberry.)

The trick is setting it up so that the trees are planted where they’ll thrive and where they won’t be crowded.

If you’ve never heard of espalier trees, google it. They’re trained to grow flat against a fence. The cool thing about an espalier apple tree is that it often combines more than one variety of apple in the same tree, so no pollinator is needed. If a pollinator is needed (as with most apple and pear trees), then you must have two trees. We can’t manage that.

We’d also like to fit a desert willow (so pretty), some kind of evergreen, and a serviceberry tree into the landscape somehow, along with additional flowers because we both love flowers. We have concluded that we need an extra backyard to plant all this stuff. Probably true. But we’ve only got the one. Still, I think we can pull it off.

The south side of our house where our old veggie garden sits fallow is big enough to accommodate some trees, though it’s so warm that it might make the more tender trees bloom too early. Our front garden might have room for a desert willow or evergreen. We just need to get out there and walk it out.

On my agenda for this spring, too, is learning to can — something I’ve never done — and learning to dry fruits and veggies. The point of growing an abundance of food is to set some of it aside. All I know how to do at this point is eat it.

All of this, plus I’m starting a new book. I’ve got a sloppy sort-of outline for Chaska’s story — or rather the first chapter of it. That’s all I really have when I start, so I guess I’m ready.

I hope to have his story to you on/around Mother’s Day, with another Colorado High Country novel for late summer. After that, we’ll see where the Muse takes me.

Yes, I do plan to give Joaquin (I-Team) his own story. Yes, I plan to write more historicals — and sooner than you might think. We’ll have to see how the next few months unfold before I can be more specific.

In the meantime, happy reading!

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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