As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell was a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest.
Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State in what was once a summer vacation cabin. It’s been modernized and even has indoor plumbing – woo-hoo! I share the cabin with my two cats or maybe, they share it with me. I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 30 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.
I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!
Ten Things You Don’t Know about Asking For It, my second book for Black Opal Books
10. Asking For It is the second book in my “Cheerleader” series. Set in and around a private school, Stewart Falls Academy, twelve girls deal with timely issues while they learn to interact and build a winning cheer squad. The life lesson their coach wants them to learn is that, “Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader!”
9. Characters grow and change in a variety of ways which may surprise the writer as much as it does the reader. The flyer of the squad, Sarah Flynn thinks she’s found the boy of her dreams, only to discover she’s living in a nightmare. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to please him. When she disagrees with him, it grows harder and harder to explain her constant injuries. Will she even survive to Homecoming, much less the end of football season? Can she get out of this relationship alive?
8. World-building in a contemporary teen novel can be as challenging as creating the setting of any other story. Stewart Falls may be a fictional town set around three small mountain lakes in the Cascade foothills of Washington State. It still required all the amenities from the local pizzeria to a down-home riding stable to make the book come alive.
7. Teen dialogue isn’t easy. It’s like learning a foreign language and at 50+ years of age, my brain synapses have been closed a long time. Good thing I had kids at the schools where I substitute teach and at the barn to keep my language real. Sarah’s family puts the fun back in “dysfunctional.” I had to make sure that she doesn’t come across as the “Wendy Whiner” that her mom calls her.
6. Just because the writer loves a character doesn’t mean the editor will and that means a heavy rewrite through the revision process. One of the suggestions that I received the revision stage was to provide Sarah with a safe outlet to express her emotions. I added in a diary and it became an integral part of the plot.
5. The supporting cast doesn’t have to be human, but don’t forget the character arcs. Sarah struggles to keep her horse even when her family and new boyfriend want her to get rid of it. As for getting the puppy she’s begged to have for years, forget about it. She just has to share her friend’s.
4. Conflict needs to start at the beginning of the book with the introduction of the antagonist. It may not be who the reader expects, but the writer better remember the rule.
3. Sarah discovers that the guy of her dreams may be a pretty face ~ he comes with baggage even if he lives in what should be a picture-perfect small town. He may be hot and romantic, but is he a decent person? Does she deserve what he dishes out? Accepting yourself for who and what you are leads to being able to accept others.
2. Her life isn’t perfect, but neither is Sarah. While it’s fun to write a flawed character, it’s also a challenge to keep her true to herself. She needs to learn how to stand up for herself and her aunt is willing to teach her. However, when it comes down to it, can Sarah stop being the family doormat or does she need to get “Welcome” tattooed on her forehead?
1. Be careful what you wish for ~ you may get it. Afterwards, as Sarah does, you may learn that you don’t want it. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her boyfriend happy, but is that truly her job?
I’m delighted the Stewart Falls Cheerleaders found a home with Black Opal Publishing. I have a terrific cover and my own real puppy is on it. I still don’t know how we got him to hold still for the picture – he’s a whirling, horse-chasing, sister-puppy –attacking, cat-romping fellow at the best of times. But I have to admit that when he’s sleeping, he’s downright adorable.
I spend a lot of time with teens both at the family riding stable and as a substitute middle/high school teacher. I love hearing what they think and say – the books seemed to come about naturally out of both those venues. And of course, it’s always easy to find “beta” readers at the barn or the schools who are happy to tell me when I make a mistake and need to rewrite, sort of a “turnabout is fair play,” time.
In addition to writing young adult novels, I also write mainstream western romance as Josie Malone. Last April, BookStrand released my third mainstream western romance, A Woman’s Place and so my personal adventure continues. In other words, Yippee! I always dreamed of someday being a writer. Then I wanted to be a published writer and this is when I quote the cliché, “You’re never given a dream without being given the power to make it come true.” You may have to work for it however.
A Woman’s Place follows my first historical for BookStrand, A Man’s World. In that book, a woman masqueraded as a gunfighter in 1887 Washington (state) Territory – actually, Trace was a pretty good gunfighter – everybody just thought she was a man except the hero who figured it out and helped save her from the outlaw who stalked her. When A Woman’s Place begins, Trace and Zeb have been married for just over six months. Then renegades rob the bank she owns in the town of Junction City.
So, our hero, Rad Morgan, the marshal of Junction City sets off to capture the miscreants. Along the way, he meets his match, and Iraqi War veteran/homicide detective Beth Chambers takes no prisoners. She’ll fit right into 1888 Washington Territory. Of course, I had to figure out how to get a woman from 2012 to the Old West and why she was even there, but that was part of the adventure and the paranormal elements kept escalating. Much to Rad’s initial dismay, Beth and Trace become fast friends.
Either way, it was good to meet you!