Posted in ebook reader, Kindle Fire, Uncategorized, writing

The world at our fingertips


I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms lately, and like many of the people sitting quietly around me, I found myself turning to my phone for entertainment. I was a long-time holdout when it came to smartphones, telling myself it was an expense I didn’t need, a distraction I couldn’t justify. And then, nine months ago, my grandson was born. And he lives some 1400 miles away from me. And suddenly those i-messaged photos and live facetime became too tempting to resist. When my son did a smartphone upgrade, I inherited his older model, and now I have to admit I’m a convert. The facetime is my favorite feature, of course — though watching my grandbaby growing and changing on a tiny screen is bittersweet.

In those waiting rooms, the entertainment I access most often on my phone, no surprise, is the free Kindle app. How many times during past years have I found myself spending long blocks of time in waiting rooms and hadn’t remembered to bring a book? Reading the two-year-old gossip magazines around me or the crumpled newspaper someone had left behind. Sometimes scribbling in a notebook, though I can’t usually write in public places with too many distractions. Or the wait lasted longer than I expected and I finished the book I brought, and couldn’t, of course, carry my entire TBR pile with me. The Kindle Fire I received for Christmas a couple of years ago has been a joy, but I don’t always have it in my purse — and I always have my phone. Which means, I am literally never without a book. Not only a book — my entire ebook library! Finish one? Start another. Not in the mood for this one? Try that one. Can’t concentrate on a new story? Spend a few minutes immersed in an old favorite, just for a brief visit with those old friends (yes, I’ve purchased a few of my treasured bookshelf “keepers” in ebook format just so I always have them with me). My only limit now is battery life, a frustration in itself, of course.

I can’t help thinking back to my childhood, when my friends and brothers teased me for never leaving the house without a book. Like most book addicts, not having one nearby always made me itchy — and that hasn’t changed with maturity. All three of my children were readers, but my middle daughter, Kerry, was the one who was never seen without a book in her hands, to the extent that she was known to walk into a few walls in her time. She still loves the feel of a “real” book (though as a new mom and medical resident, her pleasure reading time is quite limited for now), but she commented recently that she reads on her phone or tablet when she’s holding a sleeping baby and has only one hand free. My other daughter reads on her phone or tablet during otherwise boring bus commutes to work.

There was a time I wondered if the new electronic options would limit reading, but for me, at least, they have given me more opportunities to escape into a book. The boring waiting nook where I get my oil changed and tires rotated, with nothing but old sports, mechanics and hunting and fishing magazines available? I can slip away to a windswept beach where two lovers try to outwit their evil pursuer. Hospital waiting room with sneezing, coughing bench mates and a silly cartoon blaring from an overhead TV? Time to go off-planet for a futuristic romp with animated dust bunnies. Waiting in the car while hubs checks out yet another woodworking supplies store? I’m in New York in the future where a tough female lieutenant solves murders with her sexy Irish billionaire spouse. Mystery, romance, sci-fi, drama, family sagas or whimsical comedies — all within that roughly four-by-two inch little box. Maybe it wasn’t such a splurge, after all! (But the best thing in there is still the collection of my grandson’s photos.)


Since I’m talking ebooks, I should probably insert a plug here — Almost all my titles are available for Kindle, Nook and other ereaders, the majority for less than $3. Click the “Books” tab above for links.

And I would love for you to join me on Facebook for more photos and conversations. Click the link at right to “like.”

Posted in ebook reader, Kindle Fire, Uncategorized, writing

A New Point of View


I finished another book this week — an as-yet-untitled Harlequin Special Edition — and I’ve spent the past few days catching up on all the things that piled up while I was submerged in the all-encompassing phase of completing a story. Tasks such as dusting and vacuuming, laundry and grocery shopping were all pushed aside until after I typed “the end.” The pantry and freezer had become so empty I felt as though I were on an episode of “Chopped” every time I made dinner. “Hmm, what can I make with a can of black beans, a half-box of quinoa and a bag of frozen crawfish tails?” The pantry and freezer are now full again, house clean and laundry basket empty, and I’m preparing to dive in to the next story to start the process over again. Even after this many books, the sight of a computer screen with nothing but the words “Chapter One” displayed on it can still be intimidating.

It always takes a while for me to get “into” a new book. To get to know the characters — who they are, what they want, what holds them back from obtaining their goals. The writing is always painfully slow at first, a few pages a day if I’m lucky, then speeds up as I grow more comfortable with the story I want to tell. Inevitably at some point  in every book I come to a screeching halt. I’ve been known to spend several days struggling with one scene, writing paragraphs — or worse, whole pages —  only to delete them, struggling to type a few words an hour. Pacing, frowning, referring to my notes, trying to distract myself by listening to music or watching a movie and hoping that will recharge my imagination’s batteries, only to find that I’m still stuck when I reopen the file. Usually when this happens, I find that it’s either because the scene is out of time — something that should happen later in the story, if at all — or, quite often, that I’m simply trying to tell it from the wrong point of view.

Most of the books I write are category romances for Harlequin. The stories are tightly focused, centered around two people struggling with problems — either external or internal — and finding their life partner in the process. When asked why I enjoy writing romance, I almost always explain it’s because I believe that almost every reader can identify with that desire to find a soul mate. A safe place to call home. Sometimes these romances take place within the framework of a family drama or a mystery or a career crossroads, but always the main purpose of the story is the coming together of the two main characters, the hero and heroine. In my category books, I tend to stick with those two points-of-view in telling the story. Each scene is told through the eyes and emotions of either the heroine or hero, though I’ve occasionally included a secondary storyline with additional points-of-view (VALENTINE BABY comes immediately to mind, which included a romance for the hero’s mother). As I begin writing each scene, I decide what I want to accomplish in the scene — how it advances the story, what is revealed to the characters, how I hope the reader will respond. Whose point of view the scene is told through makes a big difference in all those objectives. Many times when I’ve struggled for days with a scene, I’ve tried simply rewriting it through the opposing point-of-view — and I’ve been amazed at what a difference it makes to the flow of the story.

Perhaps because I’ve been a storyteller since childhood, having wanted to be a writer for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated with why people behave and believe the way they do. I can usually understand both sides of a heated argument or debate, especially when I know the background and life experiences of the opponents. I am rarely drawn into passionate political or social debates because I can usually make arguments for both sides. I loved my psychology and sociology classes in college. My husband earned a degree in psychology (we met in college when I was a journalism major/psych minor and he double majored in psychology and sociology)  and one of our daughters is a psychiatrist, so a fascination with human behavior and what makes people “tick” seems to run in our family. I have a widely diverse group of friends of all races, religions, ethnicities, political parties, nationalities — and I love learning about all of them, seeing the world through their eyes. When I write, I ask myself, “Why would he/she do this? Why would he/she say this or want this? How can I make the reader care what happens to these people?” And very often in the books — as in real life — it all comes down to point of view.

For all my friends celebrating Easter or Passover or other holidays this week — much joy to you! Many of my friends are greeting the start of spring, while in the other hemisphere, my friends are moving into winter. Whatever season is beginning for you, may it be filled with love and with happiness.


THE RIGHT TWIN, available now from Harlequin Special Edition, in stores and for ereaders.

Coming in May, THE TEXAN’S SURPRISE BABY. Click the Home tab above for details.

Click the “Books” tab above for links to purchase most of my earlier books for ereaders.

And join me on facebook (link available at right) for on-going updates about my books.

Posted in ebook reader, Kindle Fire, writing

World building on a small scale



I’m always impressed by authors who can create entire worlds out of their imaginations and bring them to vivid life. As a reader, I believe in the the worlds created by Tolkien, Burroughs, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and so many others. In more recent years, I’ve grown intimately acquainted with the future imagined by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb, and in the psychic-populated planets envisioned by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle. I love escaping into those fantastical worlds for hours of pleasure and adventure.

My own books have been more grounded in the present and in recognizable settings, usually in the South, where I’ve grown up and feel so comfortable, and often in my home state of Arkansas. As much as I love reading about those other worlds, my interest lies more in characters. I wouldn’t enjoy reading those otherworldly books if the authors weren’t equally as skilled at creating believable, fascinating characters for me to bond with and cheer for. My own writing focus tends to skew toward large, intricately interconnected families. Perhaps because I come from big families with complicated connections, myself. My parents were married fifty-four years before my mom’s passing five years ago, I had three younger brothers, my grandfather lived with us for a while before his death — which meant 7 people in a three bedroom, 1 bathroom house. I have too many cousins on both sides to count, some of them “double first cousins,” and my always-growing extended family includes stepchildren, adopted children, children-of-the-heart — in other words, the typical Southern American background with many, many real life stories to tell. I don’t base my characters on real life people or situations, though I’m sure I’ve been influenced by things I’ve seen, heard and read, but I’ve come to know most of my characters almost as well as people in my real life. I enjoy writing connected books including previous heroes and heroines because I like exploring what might have happened to them after the earlier books ended. For my Walker/D’Alessandro families (introduced in the Family Found series I started in the early ’90s and whom I will revisit in 2013), I have notebooks of family trees, character descriptions, progressive ages in each book, offspring names (yes, I’m now matching off the second generation, some of whom have started the 3rd generation). I’ve engaged cheerfully in SORA (soap opera rapid aging), but I’ve tried very hard to stay consistent with making everyone age at the same rate, which can be a challenge at times!

Still, on occasion I have created settings for my books — small towns, usually, which are always fun. The occasional private island (RAFE’S ISLAND and THE BORROWED RING come instantly to mind). For my next three Harlequin Special Edition books to be published next year (the first two featuring heroes from the Family Found series), I’ve created a resort set on Lake Livingston in Texas. The lake is real — the resort created wholly in my mind.

The scribbled sketch here is my conceptual map (obviously not to scale!) of the Bell Resort and Marina owned by the Bell family who will play such a big part of the next three books. As you can see, I’m not much of an artist — nor a cartographer. It’s not a real place and I’ve never stayed in such a resort — and yet, if you were to drop me at the gate of Bell Resort brought to reality, I could find my way around every inch. I picture it in my head as clearly as if I could step out my back door into the campgrounds. Once I’d crudely sketched it out, I’ve rarely had to refer to my map, because I know the place so well, just as I know the family who owns it. I’m sure those other authors are as intimately acquainted with their worlds, and that they enjoy spending time there as much as I’ve loved the hours I’ve spent at Bell Resort — without ever leaving the recliner where I do most of my writing.

I hope you’ll visit the Bell Resort and Marina with me next year and that you’ll enjoy meeting the family who lives there and falls in love there — with a few adventures along the way. THE RIGHT TWIN will be available in March, followed by THE TEXAN’S SURPRISE BABY in May (the third book not yet titled or scheduled as I’m just starting to write it).

In the meantime, click the Books tab above for links to my titles available now for Kindle, Nook and other ereaders. And if you haven’t yet read WAKE ME, my paranormal suspense book available for Kindle and the free Kindle reader app, now’s a great time to get it for only $3.99! With fall rapidly approaching, this is a story guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween.


“Like” my Facebook page (link provided at right) for on-going updates and discussions with me and my readers.

Posted in Kindle Fire, writing

Stories remembered

From the time I could hold a book and sound out the words, I have been addicted to reading. Books were my companions, my entertainment, my source of adventures outside my working-class, rural Arkansas upbringing. I had a happy childhood, but with three younger brothers, books were my escape to my own world of adventures and travel. I read on the school bus, under the covers by flashlight, outdoors beneath a tree, on car trips with my family. I’d have read at the dinner table had my mother allowed it. The library was a magical place for me. My mother helped me chose books from there that had been favorites of her own — Heidi, Alice in Wonderland, books by Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One of the highlights of my school memories were the days when our teachers handed out the Scholastic Books order forms! I pored over those forms, reading descriptions of the books for sale, carefully choosing the stories I most wanted to read, begging my mother for book money from our well-stretched budget. When the books arrived, I rushed home to hoard them in my room and read them over and over, savoring the stories, imagining the day when I could write books of my own. I still clearly remember some of my favorite Scholastic Books — Baby Island, The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, The Forgotten Door, The Runaway Robot, and probably my favorite, Follow My Leader. Anyone else remember any of them? I read them until the paper covers were ragged.

In my teens, I discovered romance — Harlequin books, Georgette Heyer Regencies, romantic suspense by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Phyllis Whitney. The childhood stories were left behind, but never forgotten. When my own children brought home their Scholastic Books order forms, I got excited all over again with remembered joy. And I was delighted to find a few of my old favorites still available for them, so they read some of them, too. I know both the girls loved Baby Island as much as I did, and David read The Runaway Robot several times. Just as my mother had shared her love of reading with me, I did the same with our children. We read together, visited bookstores frequently, attended midnight releases of the Harry Potter books, loaded books in tote bags whenever we left for car trips. And occasionally, I had to fuss at one of them (especially Kerry) for reading when she was supposed to be doing something else (like cleaning her room or practicing piano) … but I always did so with a hidden smile of reminiscence.

While I’ve been with our daughter in Seattle, I’ve had the chance to read quite a bit on public transportation and in waiting rooms. I’m reading now on the Kindle Fire I received for Christmas, and have to admit I’m loving it! It’s like having an entire library in my bag at all times, so handy. But I will always have a weakness for those tattered paperbacks ordered from the brownish-paper Scholastic Books order forms. And I’d really love to read The Ghost of Dibble Hollow again! (Which, unfortunately, is out of print now).


Remember to check my home page above for information about my newest releases, WAKE ME and HUSBAND FOR A WEEKEND. The Books tab has convenient links to re-releases of most of my older titles.

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Thanks for stopping by.