Wednesday, October 01, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN RAE

Please welcome fellow Texas resident Carolyn Rae to the blog. Carolyn has granted an interview, so I’ll get right to grilling…er, I mean, interviewing her.

CC: Please share with readers something of growing up:

CR: I grew up in Washington, D.C. with one brother. I walked to the library a lot and read every fairy tale I could find, including The Princess and Curdie, but never found The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or any of Tolkien’s books until I had children. I read The Hobbit to them on a long trip from Hurst, Texas, where I live now, to visit in-laws in Mississippi. I guess my library branch didn’t have a large selection. After my mother died, my father remarried, and I gained two sisters and another brother. I used to entertain my youngest sister with stories I made up on long trips.

CC: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

CR: “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” U.S. President John Quincy Adams. I also like “You haven’t failed until you quit.” Marjorie Holmes.

CC: I love both of those quotes. How long have you been writing?

CR: Over twenty years. I also wrote the text and some of the recipes for There IS Life After Lettuce (Eakin Press), a cookbook for heart patients and diabetics.

CC: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude?

CR: I like quiet. Sometimes I play CD’s with Lloyd Webber songs sung by Sarah Brightman, especially “Love Changes Everything” and “The Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera or Gershwin’s Rapsody in Blue.

CC: I listen to classical music when I write. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

CR: I’m a plotter. If I don’t have a plan, I don’t know what to write next. If I start pantzing, I go off in wild tangents that haven’t much to do with my original story.

CC: I remember that you and I attended the same “Story Magic” workshop led by Robin Perini and Laura Baker. That workshop was immeasurably helpful to my plotting. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

CR: Once I used an interesting guy I’d met as inspiration for a hero. My character soon grew into someone different.

CC: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

CR: I write two to three hours everyday, well, Monday to Friday, now that I’m retired. When I worked full time at a day job, I’d write an hour each morning and one to two or three hours on weekends. I could do a book in a year. My critique groups sometimes slow me down when they find things I need to change.

CC: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

CR: I hope they enjoy the journey and cheer when the hero and heroine escape the bad guys, get proof enough to convict them, and work through  their issues so they can be happy together,.

CC: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

CR: I hope to publish books with traditional publishers and self-publish several novels I’ve finished, including a trilogy featuring people in the Witness Security Program, a time travel, and a series featuring twins. I may also self-publish a cookbook featuring healthy, tasty dishes as cookbook agents haven’t been interested so far.

CC: I’m a confirmed self-publisher now, but wish you success. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

CR: Watch for Romancing the Doctor, the latest romance from Carolyn Rae. Megan and Josh (Romancing the Gold) are now married and have enjoyed traveling for photo shoots in South Africa and the Congo during summers off while Josh earned his doctorate at Georgetown University.

When Josh accepts a professorship at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Megan leaves her job at the Smithsonian to work at the city’s New Municipal Museum.

Returning with presents from a trip to Kenya, newly pregnant Megan shows up on Heather’s doorstep to find her sister is in trouble again. Recently divorced, Heather has adopted a puppy, is being pestered by her ex and courted by brilliant CDC doctor, Daniel Whistler. But Heather’s also a reporter and is about to be thrown into the middle of the biggest nightmare of the century. Someone is spreading a mutated virus in big U.S. cities, a cruise ship and elsewhere. It causes death, miscarriages and sterility.

CC: Sounds intriguing. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

CR: Write every day. Learn all you can. Join a local writer’s group and become part of a small critique group. Research agents and editors before submitting so you can find ones who would be interested in what you write. Read the first three chapters out loud and run it through a spelling and grammar program before sending.

CC: Good advice. Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

CR: I used to teach in the Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution. I was the supervisor of the ironwork, carpentry, and painting trainees for their tests and assignments. They spent half a day with me and half a day in shop with instructors who’d worked at those careers.  I even learned how to do welding from an Apache chief who was an inmate there.

CC: How fascinating. We’ve been acquainted twenty years and I didn’t know that about you. All this time, I thought you always worked as a legal secretary. What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?

CR: When I had to do an experiment with the liver of a laboratory rat, it smelled so good, I had to taste it.

CC: Euwwww! Excuse me while I go brush my teeth and use Listerine. Can you give readers a blurb about ROMANING THE GOLD?

CR: Here you are:

Megan McKinley finds searching for gold fascinating when she meets attractive photographer Joseph Logan. However, he has a secret agenda, to discover who’s smuggling Peruvian artifacts.
This fall, you can follow Megan McKinley as she rediscovers the teacher she had a crush on as a studly, bearded photographer. Then she finds out that’s not the real reason he’s there, and that he suspects her of wrong doing.


CC: Beautiful cover. How about an excerpt from ROMANCING THE GOLD?


Chapter One

Megan McKinley basked in the warm sun. Here she was, sitting beside her friend, Paula, on a hard wooden board, on her way to Cuzco, Peru, in a donkey cart of all things. She took a deep breath of the clear, fresh air. She’d waited all year to take part in this archaeological expedition, and she’d already made a great find.
Noise from behind made her look back. A red car was creeping along beside them. A hulking man stepped out of the car.
“Hand over your purses,” he barked.
Megan’s stomach lurched. She couldn’t hand him her bag. Her debit card would allow access to the money she’d scrimped and saved to finish her master’s degree. Why the hell hadn’t she put it in her money belt? Now, she wished they hadn’t missed the archaeology camp’s van leaving for town. Her degree and this expedition were supposed to cinch that job at the Smithsonian. Ever since her parents took her to the museum as a child, Megan wanted to spend days and days there. She’d hoped she might soon have that chance, but now….
The driver cracked his whip and gave a command. The donkey brayed as the cart jerked forward. Every bump jarred her, while overworked muscles complained with twinges and aches from digging for artifacts.
The man with the bulging biceps continued to walk beside them.
“Stop!” he commanded, but their teenaged driver refused to comply.
Cropped, curly hair framed the stocky man’s brown-skinned face as he puffed on a cigarette. The acrid smoke set her nostrils quivering. The gun in his hand, although only palm-size, made her tremble. The dark-skinned car-driver, leaner, but just as mean looking, continued to keep pace with the donkey cart.
The man on foot pointed the gun directly at Megan. His eyes narrowed.
“Give me your purses,” he bellowed and motioned with his free hand.
Eagles collided in Megan’s stomach. A bead of sweat trickled down her neck. Her fingers tensed and her insides twisted even tighter. Staring at the barrel of the gun, she caught her breath. Dust from the dirt road swirled around, making it hard to breathe.
CC: An intriguing excerpt sure to get readers’ attention. Where can readers find your books?

CR:  Amazon    Kobo   Nook

This book currently is available at MuseItUp Publishing but also at




See Carolyn Rae’s author page on MuseItUpPublishing.com.

Carolyn Rae, Author

CC: How can readers learn more about you?

CR: Find me at www.carolynrae.com (where you find my blogs - I just visited the McDonald Observatory)
Carolyn Rae Author – Facebook author page
Twitter - @Carolynraew1

CC: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?  


CR: I’ve given talks at libraries, bookstores, a diabetic education group, writer’s groups, and conferences. If your group is interested in a talk about “Finding Time for Your Dream,” “Luring Readers into Living Your Story,” (talks I’ve given at writer’s groups and conferences]) or  “Plotting Made Easy with Post-It Notes,” contact me at carolynrwilliamson@att.net

Monday, September 29, 2014

MOLLY HARPER AND DUETS BY EMELLE GAMBLE



Emelle will award a signed paperback of MOLLY HARPER with bonus novella DUETS included (US ONLY) to THREE randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the tour banner at the top to see other stops on this tour.

Both books are FREE on Amazon September 27 - October 1, 2014.


Movie star Molly Harper has it all, beauty, success in her field, and a loving family and marriage to actor Ben Delmonico. Norma Wintz, Molly’s mother, has it all, a lovely life style and two children who adore her, and a respite from the battle against cancer she’s been fighting. Anne Sullivan, at age fifty, is optimistic that her move to sunny Santa Barbara, California, will allow her to be closer to her youngest son and his family, and help her start her life anew after the death of her beloved husband.

But all three of these women, despite their considerable blessings, are plunged into turmoil when the most intimate of secrets that ties their lives together is revealed. At this same time, Molly Harper is confronted with the news that her marriage to actor Ben Delmonico is over. As she navigates this heartbreak and tries to keep the personal details of the drama off the front pages of the newspapers, Molly must also find a way to once and forever negotiate a way forward with her ex- lover and best friend, the volatile and compelling Cruz Morales.

How each of these characters handles the resulting upheaval in their own life, and in their relationships with one another, forms the compelling story of family, secrets and trust in the romantic women’s fiction novel, Molly Harper.







DUETS offers alternating looks into the lives of two women who would seem to have little or nothing in common.

Screen star Molly Harper has it all…beauty, success in her profession, a loving family and an upcoming marriage to actor Ben Delmonico. But as Molly is on the verge of marrying the man who has swept her off her feet, she still wonders if he hasn’t swept all her feelings for her first love away, Cruz Morales.

A handsome and cerebral college professor, Molly and Cruz have an on-again, off-again history stretching back to Molly’s early teen years. He’s not a man who a girl can ever forget about, and his feelings for Molly are equally conflicted.

Anne Sullivan, happily married for twenty-five years, is fighting to hold onto the man she loves, and hold off a confrontation that could shatter her family’s image of what they are. It involves the beautiful screen star and her mother, upper crust matron Norma Wintz, who Anne has traveled to California to meet under the most dramatic of circumstances.

Duets confronts the most intimate type of family secret that ties these two women’s lives together, just as chance events turn Molly and Anne’s worlds upside down.


Enjoy an excerpt from DUETS:

Anne Sullivan looked down at her watch.

One twenty-one p.m. Norma Wintz was twenty minutes late.

Anne leaned back against the banquette and avoided making eye contact with the hovering waitress. She folded her hands together and wondered if her face looked tight as cellophane stretched over a bowl of tuna salad. That’s how it felt.

I shouldn’t have come. She glanced around the unfamiliar restaurant. It was all glass and mirrors; chock full of shockingly glamorous Californians surely leading shockingly exciting lives. People who wouldn’t understand why a widow from Potomac, Maryland was breaking into sobs and intruding on their lunch experience.

Which is probably what I’m going to do once Norma arrives, she thought. She had tried to prepare herself for meeting the woman, face-to-face, who had adopted her baby thirty-five years ago, but Anne wasn’t sure she was going to be able to handle it as she hoped.

Calmly. Dispassionately. In control.

Anne’s chest suddenly ached, as if all the emotion she’d suppressed for decades gathered into a knot under her ribs.

I should call the number for Norma Wintz and tell her not to come. Which was a great idea, except she’d left her cell phone in the car. And if she went to her car to get it, she might not have the emotional courage to come back.

To say nothing of the fact that if she walked the two long blocks to where she was parked, there was a good chance she would miss Norma Wintz altogether, and the woman would probably think she was a crack pot.

Anne took another peek at her watch.

One twenty-two.

That’s impossible. It felt as if an hour had passed since she’d last looked at the time.

“Excuse me, are you Mrs. Sullivan?” A waiter, his eyes jade green against his tan skin, smiled at Anne. His name tag read ‘Taj’.

“Yes, I’m Anne Sullivan."

“There’s a call for you.” Taj held out a phone.

Anne pressed it against her head. “This is Anne Sullivan.”

Taj clasped his hands behind his back and smiled at her as if she was a small child on the first day of school.

“Hello, this is Norma Wintz calling,” a voice said in Anne’s ear. “I’m on my way but there was an accident and traffic is wretched. I got no answer on the number you gave me, but I wanted to let you know I wasn’t standing you up.”

“Oh, that’s no problem.” Anne nodded at Taj and repositioned the phone an inch higher on her ear. “I don’t have other plans for this afternoon.”

“Fine. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.” The phone went dead.

“Okay. Thank you!” Anne met the waiter’s eyes and wondered how Taj had known to bring it to her.

Norma Wintz must have described me to him. But what could she have said, since we’ve never met? Look for a woman who seems the sort to give up her first-born child for adoption?





Emelle Gamble, Author
Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection. These evolved into bad teen poetry and worse short stories. She took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed. As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, published in the summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an April 2014 release.

Once and Forever, an anthology which includes the novella Duets, came out on November 1st. Molly Harper, a full length novel starring the characters from Duets 3 years later was released by Posh Publishing in January, 2014. Duets is now available as a standalone novella. Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, ‘Phil-the-fist’, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving.

Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.

Review Quotes:

Praise for SECRET SISTER…

“Along with being a very unique and captivating plot, SECRET SISTER offers a shocking turn of the paranormal kind… This is a story of friendship, family, and most of all, true love and what those things can mean. I cannot recommend SECRET SISTER strongly enough… “ Fresh Fiction, Fresh Reviews

DUETS…

"I'll admit I grabbed this book for review more because Emelle Gamble had a story in there - I've loved her significant touch brought to family relationships in a previous book of hers that I've read, and I wanted to confirm if this sort of embroiled-relationships type of tale is really her niche or not. Turns out, it is!" Zee Monodee's Author's Corner reviews
MOLLY HARPER…

"MOLLY HARPER ...is the first book I've read by this author, but it won't be my last! Ms. Gamble does a wonderful job of drawing these characters and making them just leap off the page." Long and Short Reviews

DATING CARY GRANT…

"Fantasy and reality blend together in this mesmerizing tale from Emelle Gamble…It's not your typical romance, making it a breath of fresh air in a market currently inundated with new adult contemporary romances (which I do love, but need a break once in a while!). I continue to be a fan of this author..." Andi's Book Reviews

Links:

Email: emellegamble@aol.com

Website: www.EmelleGamble.com

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/Emelle.Gamble

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmelleGamble

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123746.Emelle_Gamble

Emelle Gamble BOOKS:

DATING CARY GRANT book of the month at Long & Short Reviews. eBook exclusively at Amazon.com
http://amzn.to/1iiE8Y0

SECRET SISTER… RONE Award Honorable Mention for BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL of 2013
available in audio, paperback and eBook at Amazon http://amzn.to/17J2Bn6

DUETS, a prequel novella to MOLLY HARPER, now available at Amazon http://amzn.to/1cagyNa

MOLLY HARPER, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon http://amzn.to/MOJUXa

MOLLY HARPER and DUETS now available in one Paperback volume! http://amzn.to/1hW6YSj


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 26, 2014

OUR STATE FAIR IS A GREAT STATE FAIR!

Here we are with Fall begun and in Texas, that means the State Fair. Personally, I love the fair and hate to miss it this year because of recent ankle reconstruction surgery.  Years ago, I always entered jams, jellies, and vegetables I’d canned from our orchard and garden. Darling Daughter 1 won a blue ribbon one year with her photo of a spider web still wet with dew. Now, we just like to soak up the atmosphere.
Blue ribbon and Best of Show for my peach jam
Strolling through the fairgrounds is a great place to watch to watch people. In addition, I love the exhibits and midway. No, I don’t play the games or ride one of the 73 rides available. However, the Texas Star ferris wheel is on my bucket list. I do not like heights, especially in a swaying seat. But I have vowed that I will ride the Texas Star. Darling Daughter 2 was at the top one year for the fireworks show and reported the sight was spectacular.
Big Tex before the fire

Two years ago, Big Tex caught on fire. He has since been reincarnated better than ever. Each year, he gets new jeans and shirt. This year, he’s wearing a navy shirt, as shown on television. He welcomes fairgoers with greetings at intervals.

One of the contests each year among food vendors is the newest fried concoction or unusual food offered. Among this year’s winners are funnel cake flavored beer and fried shrimp boil. Of course, attendees can still find the traditional Fletcher’s corny dogs in many places throughout the grounds.

Our family’s favorite was to buy tickets to the State Fair Musical for an afternoon matinee. This allows ticketholders to park inside the grounds. Parking is always a problem, although there are shuttles all day. We enjoyed looking around the fair for a few hours, then resting during the hottest portion of the day in the air-conditioned Music Hall to enjoy that year’s musical show. By the time the performance was over, the outside temperature would be cooling down.

Carol
In addition to the usual attractions, there are numerous museums at the fairgrounds. They include the Women’s Museum, African American Museum, Natural Science Museum, Arboretum—and more.  If you are in the Dallas area the last weekend of September through the first two weeks of October, why not visit our State Fair?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE?

What is your favorite book of those you’ve read in the past year?

That is the question I ask when someone follows me on Twitter at @CarolinClemmons (no E in Caroline). Often people answer with a book I’ve never heard of, but there are a few repeats. Among them are GONE GIRL, THE BOOK THIEF, THE CONFESSION OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE.

Now I’ll share some of my favorites of books I’ve read in the past year.


THE CATTLEMAN by Anna Jeffrey is the second in her Sons of Texas Series, set near Fort Worth. I loved Pic Lockhart and the story surrounding him. You will too. Anna is a strong writer who weaves multiple threads together masterfully in this women’s-fiction-type contemporary romance.


OUT OF THE DARK by Geri Foster is in her Falcon Securities series of contemporary romantic suspense. How would you react if you had amnesia and didn’t know who you could trust? All Tony Archuletta knows is that some people claim to be friends yet others are trying to kill him. He senses he must get to St. Peterburg, Russia but doesn’t know why he knows this is urgent or what he’s supposed to do when he arrives. This opens with action that lasts through all the book.


SLEIGHT OF HEART by Jacquie Rogers is a fun, action-packed western historical romance. Hero Burke O’Shaunessy is one of my favorite heroes ever. The model for heroine Lexie was Jacquie’s aunt, who was an amazing math whiz.





DESPERATE: LIPSTICK AND LEAD by Sylvia McDaniel is a short novella written to introduce the three sisters for her latest series. This western historical is fun and includes surprises. It’s available now as a single. But this novella is included in the upcoming box set, WILD WESTERN WOMEN, which also includes novellas by Callie Hutton, Kirsten Osbourne, Merry Farmer, and me!



MAIL-ORDER TANGLE by Jacquie Rogers and Caroline Clemmons. Yes, I realize listing my book is vain, but I do love this box duet. Jacquie and I worked together by phone and email to link our books seamlessly (in my opinion) as two cousins find mail-order wives who are sisters.



KATIE AND THE IRISH TEXAN by Carra Copelin is a short western historical novella that introduces one of the families in her Code series. The characters came to Texas from Ireland. I love Irish characters, and Carra does a good job with the dialogue.



BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY by Kaki Warner in her runaway brides series is a book I won and set aside to read later. I’m so sorry I waited because this is a great book. The heroine’s character development through three stages of her life is remarkable—from terrified Irish immigrant Cathleen Donovan to socially prominent ward Margaret Hamilton to self-sufficient Lucinda Hawthorne who claims her life in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado. 

What's your favorite of the books you've read in the past year? 

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 22, 2014

HOW NANCY DREW CAUSED TROUBLE


Until I was in the fourth grade, I’d never had access to a library. That year, I attended school Morton, Texas. To my delight, the city or county bookmobile came to the school and our class was able to check out books on alternate weeks. That was when I was introduced to Nancy Drew.



For several years, I read every Nancy Drew novel I could find. After my family moved to Lubbock, Texas, my best friend Karen and I spent hours pretending we were girl detectives and were certain we would go on to open our own detective agency once we graduated from school.

I’m certain that we drove our parents crazy by seeing crimes where there were none. We were suspicious of everyone except our own families. You’ve heard the story of the boy who cried wolf, right?

One day when Karen’s parents were gone somewhere for the day, we were babysitting her bratty sister. We had strict instructions to stay inside her house. We were listening to the television or radio, I don’t remember which, when we heard the news flash that there had been a robbery only a few blocks from her house and the robber may have been shot by the store owner.

Being overly dramatic teens (barely) we locked the doors and peered out windows. That soon grew boring until we heard a huge bang against the wall separating her living room and the garage. Now comes the scary part.

Karen and I crept out the front door to see what made the noise, but we could see nothing—except a few drops of blood on the garage floor. The cleaning lady for Karen’s next door neighbor asked us what we were doing making so much noise when her parents were gone. She told us to go back in the house where we were supposed to be.

We couldn’t decide, though. We wanted to climb the ladder attached to the side of the garage and look in the attic, but neither of us wanted to be the one to do so. After dithering for five or ten minutes, we pulled down the heavy garage door and went back inside. Of course, we didn’t consider the typical door from the garage to the outside.

We cowered inside, hoping Karen’s parents would return soon. The minute her parents walked in the door, we barraged them with our story. Needless to say, her parents paid us no attention. Finally, we convinced her dad to just check out the garage so we’d hush.

When he looked, the blood was dried but added to our claim. He climbed the ladder to the attic, he found a fresh half-eaten loaf of bread and an empty bottle of Coca-Cola.

That scared us and, probably, her parents. I know her mom came to talk to my mom. I’ve often wondered what would have happened had we chosen to look in the attic. Nothing good, I’m sure.

Our life as girl detectives was over. I abandoned Nancy Drew and moved on to Louisa Mae Alcott.

Friday, September 19, 2014

WHAT TO DO WITH BRIDEZILLA

WRONG BRIDE is Geri Foster’s latest in her Accidental Pleasures series of sexy novellas and releases on September 20th. (Fans of her Falcon series should not worry as Ms Foster is currently working on the next Falcon book, OUT OF THE DEPTHS.)

Misty Walker is a professional wedding consultant who has been dealing with a genuine Bridezilla. Misty hasn’t met the groom, but she believes if he’s anything like his kind mom, then Mitch Collins doesn’t deserve a fate like Priscilla McFadden, aka the bride from hell.

When Misty overhears Priscilla and her lover plotting to kill Mitch on the honeymoon, she decides to warn him—wearing a disguise so he won’t recognize her at the rehearsal and wedding.

Is there a flaw in this plan? Oh, yes, several. Fortunately for readers, they all make for fast-paced, fun reading.


Here’s a blurb:

Misty Walker has agreed to be the wedding coordinator for the bride from hell, literally. When she overhears the future bride discussing how she and the lover plan to off the groom on the honeymoon, Misty decides she must warn the unsuspecting Mitch Collins.

Mitch arrives in the Dallas area drenched in doubts about marrying the wrong woman and wondering if he made a mistake. While waiting for the wedding date, a mysterious woman shows up at his place and after spending the night together, he realizes the wedding must be stopped.

The bride-to-be isn’t happy with the turn of events and takes matters into her own hands. Can Misty and Mitch both learn how important it is to find the right life partner?

Will love win in this crazy and comical situation?


You can find this book on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00NOZMNSU as well as at other online retailers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SHARING A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY


I’m sharing nostalgia today. I mostly grew up in Lubbock, Texas, known to residents as the Hub of the Plains. The city is located on the Caprock Escarpment called Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain, by the Spanish. Eleven thousand years ago, this was the home of Native Americans who killed the Bronze Columbian mammoth and short faced bear. As those animals died out, the land became home to bison and other mammals including mountain lions, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, less ferocious smaller mammals, snakes, and red ants. There are a lot of varmints, especially in Yellow House Canyon at the edge of Lubbock.

Growing up, I was not allowed to run wild in the canyon (or anywhere else), but many boys played in the canyon, my husband-to-be included. They searched for and found spear points and arrowheads. I was so jealous. My husband had a perfect Clovis knife. He and I still love visiting prehistoric sites of Native Americans in the Southwest. And we enjoy going back to visit the Lubbock Lake Landmark Site near where my husband used to hunt spear points and arrowheads. Although we weren’t aware of the formal site until about twenty years ago, this year the Landmark Site will celebrate 75 years of discovery that began with the accidental unearthing of a Folsom point in 1936, and continues to the present day.

For thousands of years, across hundreds of generations, people have come to Lubbock Lake. Hunter-gatherers, the Apache and Comanche nations, and the founding of a modern city are each a part of the history of this National Historic Landmark that is one of the premier archaeological and natural history sites in North America. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a designated National Historic and State Archeological Landmark. It is managed by the museum of Texas Tech University with excavations conducted under a Texas Antiquities Committee permit. (And I love the Ranching Heritage Museum behind the formal Texas Tech Museum.)

I love visiting the area where I can imagine Comanche roaming in pursuit of buffalo. Not that I would have wanted to encounter Comanches in real life, mind you, but the adventurous side of my nature thrills at the thought of riding along the plains with them. Not killing or butchering the animals. Ugh! No, when romance writers visualize the past, we tend to cull the unpleasant and dwell on the more exciting and interesting parts of history. Hey, we’re the story creators, so we get to call the content, right?

Life in modern Lubbock has become pretty much like any other Texas city. Lubbock is home to two universities, Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian. There are more churches per capita in Lubbock than any other place I know. Celebrities who found their start in Lubbock include Buddy Holly and his band The Crickets (alleged to be the model for the Beatles), Mac Davis, Tommy Hancock, Waylon Jennings, and Ralna English (formerly on Lawrence Welk’s show). Wind turbine farms are popping up in the area, especially in nearby Garza County.

Lubbock still has sandstorms and dust storms, but not as frequently as when I grew up, due partly to soil conservation and planting trees.For those who don’t know, there is quite a difference between a sandstorm and a dust storm. A sandstorm picks up bits of gravel and abrasive sand that can actually damage paint--and bare skin. The sky appears almost rosy on the horizon before a sandstorm. Dust storms are comprised of powdery dust that chokes humans and animals. It can sift in through the most air-tight window and door. The sky may appear any color from gray, to brown, to almost black as the dust approaches.

I remember a dust storm the first year my parents and I were back in Texas from California. The house we lived in a few miles north of Lubbock belonged to the cotton gin my dad managed and was not that well built. After a horrible dust storm that lasted all one day and night, my parents waked up and my mom laughed at my dad. He was covered with a fine layer of dust and, when he sat up, his outline was easily defined on the pillow. He looked at her and told her she’d better look in the mirror before she laughed. When she hurried in to check on me, she looked as if she were wearing gray makeup with powdered hair. Everything in the house was covered in a layer of fine, dark gray, powdery dust--except for my room. Since I was puny and asthmatic, Mother had hung wet sheets at my windows to catch the dust so precious little moi wouldn’t have to breathe so much of it. Good mom, right? 

That was the worst dust storm I’d encountered until 1997, when we were visiting my mother-in-law. The dust storm that hit was so dark the sky looked black. We had to leave several hours early because I couldn’t breathe, and I considered that a definite disadvantage. That’s not a part of West Texas I miss! I used an ordinary sandstorm in my book, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME because that type of weather is a part of life for that area. So are lightning storms and tornadoes. Let’s face it, the weather in West Texas is terrible, but the sky is wonderful. It truly lives up to its reputation as the Land of the High Sky. And sunsets are unbelievable!