Monday, February 29, 2016


Readers, my guest today is Linda Carroll-Bradd. I’ve only recently met her through our participation in a joint project. She’s a talented writer and lovely person. She’s agreed to let me interview her about her latest release, LACED BY LOVE.

Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.

I grew up in a northern California moderate-sized city, the middle of three sisters. Any other middles out there? I was so introverted that some of my parents’ friends thought they only had two daughters. I loved to read, to disappear into the world created in the pages of a book. I can remember making my younger sister get on the wagon train I created from the picnic table and a couple of saw horses after reading Little House On The Prairie.

After a life-changing event following eighth grade graduation (doctor said I didn’t have to wear my glasses fulltime), I decided to be more outgoing and in high school, I burst into the social scene. Plus I adopted lots of feminist ideals in college. Nobody has been able to keep me from expressing my opinions since.

Trekking along with my husband’s job jaunts has given me the chance to live three years in central Oregon and twelve years in Texas. We’ve now returned to southern California near 3 of our 4 adult children, and enjoy living in the San Bernardino National Forest while he works for a camp and conference center. Our 4th child lives in the northern part of California along with her husband and two daughters. Our small cabin is shared with two beloved dogs, Keiko and Phoenix.

I imagine you live in a beautiful setting. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Living in a forest at 6,800 feet gives me a view of all four seasons. (still have a couple of inches of snow in our back yard from a late January storm) Just going onto the deck or taking the dogs for a walk can recharge me. I’m still a lover of reading and can get reenergized by reading a great story.

How long have you been writing?

23 years. On a landmark birthday, I gifted myself with a one-day class in writing romance. And I was hooked. Because I was working fulltime, I stole moments here and there to write and the story developed at a snail’s pace. Twelve years later, I made a sale. My first published story was in a confession magazine. The best thing that I learned in that course was about Romance Writers of America, and I hooked up with a local chapter that introduced me to critique groups.

Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Series Kindle World?

Debra’s Montana Sky series includes the world where many of my other stories are set-western United States from 1860-1890. I have been involved with Debra’s stories behind the scenes as an editor since 2012 and have come to really love the setting and the characters. I wanted to create people to visit that established setting and interact with the characters she’s created.

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

Most of my writing is done on a PC in an upstairs niche in our small cabin that serves as my work space. I often have music playing in the background and it varies from sing-along music for narrative to instrumentals for the dialogue scenes. I’ve discovered if I’m on deadline, I can write almost anywhere on my laptop.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I started out years ago being such a plotter than I needed to know the color of the heroine’s apartment walls before I wrote a single word of the manuscript. Over the years I’ve tried several methods of plotting with varying degrees of success. I gave a presentation once to an RWA chapter describing my attempts and pointing out which manuscripts (finished and not) those methods had produced. Now my method has evolved into a combination of the two. I need to know certain details about the characters (family members, upbringing, personality type (based on archetype), biggest fear, best skill), how the setting impacts the story, and how I envision the ending. What I’ve discovered is I can trust my storytelling sense to bring the characters together at the end with a heartwarming conclusion.

What research did this project involve?

Because of the remote location of Morgan’s Crossing, I figured if people weren’t miners then they must have stumbled onto this town on their way somewhere else. I like finding different professions and the idea of a traveling vaudeville troupe was intriguing. My heroine, Cinnia, performed dramatic interpretations of poems. So I studied what poetry available to her in 1886 was still recognizable today. Each poetic rendition required a different costume, so I also gave her dressmaker skills. (cue research into sewing machines and dress forms)

Originally, I intended the hero, Nic, to be a miner who’d been injured and now worked at a mostly sedentary profession like saddlery. When I started researching tanning methods from that time period, I discovered that Russian leather had been considered the best quality in the late 1700s. (Who knew that?) So much so that spies were sent to Russia to discover the secret formula. That changed the hero’s background, and he became one of three brothers living in hiding spread throughout the West until their father receives a patent on the tanning method.

Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Before I was published, I was much better about word count goals. Now my deadlines set my work schedule. I do more research than needed, but I’ve discovered this method often leads to wonderful little ethnic customs or foods that round out a story well. Although I may not write actual new pages every day, I’m always researching or plotting or revising pages.

Do you write full time or do you have a day job. If you have a day job, what is it?

I call myself a fulltime writer, but my day job is as a freelance editor. So I juggle writing time with editing time, depending on which deadline is pressing the hardest.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

When I was starting my family, I lived in a city that was the west coast center for home births. All three of my children were born at home and in a bed within an antique bedframe from the late 1880s.

What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

That bundles of tanned Russian hides from a 1786 shipwreck of the Metta Catharina were discovered in the English Channel in 1973. They’d been encrusted with mud so that when the bundles were opened, the hides gave off the special, unique odor associated with the technique. (The actual formula was lost when the factories were destroyed in the Russian Revolution of 1917.)

How sad that the formula was lost. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

I hope my readers get a sense that making the intimate connection of a relationship might be a struggle but the effort is worthwhile. I also want them to end the story satisfied my “people” have achieved their happy ending.

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Since I started writing, I have always participated in a critique group—either in person or online. Early on, this is how I learned story structure. Now, my participation is the way I get feedback on if the characters ring true or the situations are believable.

Tell us about your Kindle World novel with a blurb and an excerpt.


Seamstress Cinnia York wants more than performing with a traveling vaudeville troupe—she wants to put down roots. The day after the troupe arrives in tiny Morgan’s Crossing, the manager takes all the money and leaves town. By opening a dressmaker shop, Cinnia hopes to make the home she’s always wanted, but Nola, the older sister who has made the decisions for the orphaned sisters, disagrees.

Leather worker Nicolai Andrusha is living in hiding as Nic Andrews until the patent on his family’s tanning process is approved. Although he’s under a mandate to keep a low profile, he’s intrigued by the red-haired performer. Controversy arises when miners claim they paid the manager for private appointments with the female performers. Will Nicolai defy his family obligation to help the stranded beauty who has caught his eye?

The empty space looked out onto a gentle incline down to a bend in the river. A variety of trees lined the moving water, and dried grasses waved along the ground.
“Park facing outward between the saloon here and those shops down there.” He pointed toward the fork in the road. “Flynn, the equipment wagon goes closest to the saloon. There’s a slope on the back side so don’t forget to set the blocks on the wheels.”
            “Really?” Nola scoffed. “Doesn’t he realize we’ve done this enough times and in all types of terrain to know the routine?” She shook her head as she angled the wagon to the uphill side of the road.
            Dorrie and Cinnia hopped to the ground to perform their roles as parking guides. They walked near the front wheel and shouted instructions as Nola cajoled the horses to back the showman’s wagon into position. Each driver repeated the action, making sure to allow walking space between the wagon wheels. Soon, the six wagons stood in a straight line, tongues facing the street. This time, their lavender wagon was positioned next to Mr. Thomas’s, who had parked close to a building that looked like a newly constructed shop of some type.
Within minutes, the area was a beehive of activity. Sturdy rope lines strung between the trees and square wooden posts the men hammered into the ground created a temporary corral. The horses were unharnessed and let loose into the grass-covered space.
With a long-legged stride, Nola walked Captain and Skipper down to the river to let them drink their fill after the day-long journey. Other drivers followed her path with their horses. Whistled notes of an unknown tune floated on the late afternoon air.
Arney, the juggler, joined them, rolling a wheelbarrow for collecting rocks to create the fire pit for cooking. Others opened windows to air out the wagons or set out folding stools for evening use.
Dorrie and Cinnia unclamped a roll of wire netting and poles from the underside of the wagon. Working together like they had many times in the past, they set the poles and then wrapped the netting around the outside. Simple cord ties secured the netting to the uprights, and when they finished, a rectangular pen for the dogs stood only a few feet away from the wagon’s filigreed metal steps.
Gigi and Queenie rolled in the grass and chased each other, happy for the freedom after being cooped up in the wagon or restrained by leashes for hours.
Tasks that were everyday and routine to the troupe seemed to be of interest to the townspeople. As Cinnia set out their three folding stools, she heard whispers from the front of the wagon. When she leaned over and looked underneath, she saw five or six sets of small-sized feet. Good. Children were often the best ambassadors of advertisement for the shows, because they pestered their parents to attend. Families always had an enjoyable time because of the variety of the acts—an entertainment for everyone.
What she hadn’t expected was the tall blond-haired man who leaned against a clapboard building just past Mr. Thomas’ wagon. Dressed in a buff-colored shirt and denim trousers held up with suspenders, he looked like a shopkeeper, rather than a miner. But, even from twenty feet away, she could feel the intensity of his gaze as he watched her movements. Different from the leers she often had to endure, she sensed this man’s scrutiny was more curious, like he wasn’t sure what he observed.
The long day of travel undoubtedly had taken a toll on her appearance. Being in the direct sunlight had probably increased the number of freckles dotting her cheeks. Encountering a steady breeze while traveling on the prairie was a given. She slipped a hand up her neck to check for any stray hairs coming loose from her bun. Maybe not too much fixing would be needed to make herself more presentable.
“Who are you primping for?” Nola nudged her with an elbow as she passed.
Cinnia stumbled off-balance then clamped her jaw tight. Leave it to her older sister to be obvious and obnoxious. She picked up a stool to relocate it, taking a peek over her shoulder, only to spy the bare plank wall of the building. Her shoulders slumped.
Her mystery man had disappeared.

How can readers learn more about you and your other books?

Linda Carroll-Bradd, Author


Friday, February 26, 2016


Dear Readers, if you’re a member of the Pioneer Hearts Facebook Group, you know this guest. Cassie Hayes helps Kirsten Osbourne keep everyone sorted and things running smoothly at Pioneer Hearts. Plus, she’s a talented writer. I just read her latest release and I thoroughly enjoyed HOPE ON THE HORIZON. I’m thrilled Cassie agreed to share with us today.

Please tell us about growing up.

I grew up in Oregon farm country. My parents were antique dealers, and when I wasn’t playing in the fields surrounding our house, I was helping them in the shop. That plus a deep love for Little House on the Prairie help flavor my books.

I love antiques. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Reading, naturally. I’m also an avid knitter. I’m trying hard to work out almost every day, although I’d hardly call that relaxing!

How long have you been writing?

For as long as I remember. I sent little stories into newspapers and magazines since I was a little kid. In fact, my first published work was in a free local TV guide when I was eight!

Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Kindle World?

I not only love Debra’s work, we’re also friends. When she asked me to help launch her Kindle World, my tongue almost tripped over itself to say ‘YES!’

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

I have a tiny office the size of a coat closet. It’s normally set up for me to write standing up (to minimize ’spread’, if you know what I mean). I generally have earbuds in with white noise or playing to drown out the world.

My office is tiny, too, but at least it's MY space. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

I used to consider myself a pantser until I got stuck about midway through a book. I took the time to plot each scene from the ending to where I was stuck and that’s where I found my problem. From then on, I won’t start a book with a nicely rounded plot sheet and character sketches.

What research did this project involve?

Mainly re-reading some of Debra’s books, and a little internet research on Montana and Idaho, where my book ends.

Same for me, Cassie. But I love Debra Holland's books so I didn't mind re-reading them. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

I generally don’t start writing until the afternoon. My creative juice just don’t start flowing till then. Once they do, they’d better pour out 2,000 words a day or else! I actually give myself a pretty gold star every day I get my minimum. Silly, but effective.

That's a good idea. Do you write full time or do you have a day job?

I’m a full-time writer and have been for a decade.

What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

That I have a strange preference for characters’ names that start with J. I may plot extensively now, but I often wait to name smaller characters till I get to their scenes. That’s how I ended up with so many ‘J’ characters. I held a naming contest on Pioneer Hearts to help me rename them all!

Oh, I find myself drifting toward names with the same consonant, so I'm vigilant about keeping track. Otherwise, too many characters have names that begin with M. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Honestly, my goal is to bring them a little bit of relief from their daily lives. I’m not trying to teach or preach or proselytize. While I hope readers possibly gain some perspective on troubles in their own lives, my main ambition in life is to leave readers feeling happy.

Great goal and one I share. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Listen to your readers. They’ll tell you what they want to read. Then give it to them!

I absolutely love your cover for HOPE ON THE HORIZON. Tell us about that Kindle World novel with a blurb.

Jasper Eaton couldn’t be happier with his life. Despite having the deck stacked against him since the day he was born, he beat the odds and found himself a home in Morgan’s Crossing, Montana. He has friends, a farm and a future brighter than the stars in the night sky. Nope, he couldn’t be happier…could he?

Cora Winters is a good girl who always does what she’s told. When she’s forced to marry an older man headed west, she never dreams she’ll end up widowed, injured and left for dead by the side of the road.

After Jasper rescues her, a friendship blooms and they each dare to dream of a better life together. When Cora’s past comes back to haunt them both, a gunman’s bullet threatens to kill their future before it even begins.

Cassie Hayes, Author

HOPE ON THE HORIZON is such a good novel. How can readers learn more about you and your other books?

I love to hear from my readers!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Merry Farmer is one of the most delightful authors I know. She looks deceptively innocent and demure--until you see the mischievous sparkle in her eyes. Merry allowed me to grill her with the following interview about her latest release, THE WILD BRIDE.

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

That’s a trick question for me, because from the day I picked up a pencil and learned how to write the word ‘grasshopper’ in 1st grade, writing has been my way to relax. But I have been known to knit socks in my spare time. Lots and lots of socks!

How long have you been writing?

Since I was 10 years old and realized one day that I didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing assignment to write something. Best day of my life!

Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Kindle World?

It was such an honor to be asked to participate by someone as awesome and talented as Debra that I couldn’t say no! … No, really, it was like the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse. I also happen to love group projects, particularly when we authors can include characters from each other’s stories in our books.

Where do you prefer to write?

I have a special office area in my house. My computer chair has a comfortable butt-print in it from all the hours I spend there. I do usually listen to music while I write, a local, classical music station here in Philly.

Are you a plotter or a panzer?

I’m definitely a plotter. I used to be a pantser, but a couple years ago I learned a method of outlining that works very well for me. It’s an involved, long process, but once I have that outline, I can write like the wind and get a lot of words on the page in a short period of time.

What research did this project involve?

Honestly, the biggest chunk of research I did was reading Debra’s books to get a feel for the world and consulting with my fellow authors to figure out how best to use their characters. I also did a little research about the earliest automobiles and internal combustion engines.

Tell us about your writing schedule. 

I keep to a strict writing schedule. I’m a full-time writer, so it’s my job. I work best in the morning, so I usually write pretty solidly from about 8:30-10:30, then another solid chunk in the afternoon. Every day, not just weekdays. I also make specific time to read. As Stephen King says in his wonderful book, On Writing, if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to be a good writer.

Do you write full time or do you have a day job.

Writing is my full-time job, my hobby, my obsession, my boyfriend, my all-in-all.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

I may write romance novels, but I’m kind of a big Doctor Who geek these days. I used to be a total Trekkie too. There’s just something about the vastness of the universe and the infinite possibilities of space that gets me all excited. I’m also passionate about metaphysics and what might lie beyond those things that we, as mere mortals, can comprehend with our finite minds. I almost minored in philosophy in college…was only one class short.

What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

I learned just how remote and isolated some of those early mining towns in Montana were at the end of the 19th century!

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

I hope my stories make readers think about life—then and now—in ways that they never have before. I like to add a dash of unusual history into each of my stories and to try to make people see that it doesn’t matter when you were born, we’re all people and we’ve all always wanted the same things.

What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Write your brains out. No, seriously. The only way to know if this is the path you really want to pursue is to write until you think you can’t stand it anymore, and then, if you still have ideas and still want to get them down, you know you’re a writer.

Tell us about your Kindle World novel with a blurb:

Minnie Faraday is clever, daring, and out of control. When she finally goes too far, her parents hatch a plan to send her up to Morgan’s Crossing to marry the man she’s been in love with since she was a little girl. It’s the perfect plan to settle and ground her, and one her parents are sure will bring happiness to everyone involved.

One problem… They neglected to tell Minnie about the plan before shipping her off.

Freddy Chance always had a soft spot for the bright, adventurous girl who followed him around through his youth, but marriage is the furthest thing from his mind. He has made a life for himself as a mechanic in Morgan’s Crossing, in spite of a mining injury that slowed him down. Minnie doesn’t fit into his plans, but, feeling a sense of obligation, he’s willing to entertain the idea of marriage.

But when the beautiful and very grown up Minnie steps off the stage, what was once innocent affection blossoms into passion. Only, Minnie isn’t finished getting into trouble, and this time her life and Freddy’s are on the line.

How can readers learn more about you and your other books?

Newsletter sign-up URL:

Twitter: @merryfarmer20

Monday, February 22, 2016


Dear Readers, I have recently met online an amazing woman named Louella Nelson. Lou and I are involved in Debra Holland's Kindle World Montana Sky Series. One of the great favors she did for all fourteen of us in this series is to plat a map of Debra's world (with Debra's help). Lou is a tremendously talented and interesting woman. Her interview is below but please don't miss the information about her book, RYE'S REPRIEVE. :

I'm so privileged to have Lou on the blog today.

Caroline, thanks so much for the opportunity!

Readers love to get to know authors. Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.

A scary moment that happened on a book tour:

I was a passenger in a small plane flying from a fishing village in Southeast Alaska, where my brother’s family lived, to Juneau for a media interview on my novel Mail-Order Mate. It was a noisy machine and I could barely be heard as I spoke to my mom, who was flying with me on the media tour.
Suddenly, the engine fell silent. The wind whistled around the fuselage. The alpine mountains rose on either side of a fjord, below, that was RACING up toward us.
Calmly, the pilot turned to the handful of passengers and said in a matter-of-fact tone, “Sorry about that. We just ran out of gas. I’ll turn on the auxiliary tank.”
Only then did he turn back to the console and flip a switch. The engine sputtered—scary moment—and then coughed back to life, roaring and soaring once again.
This kind of adventure has followed me from my childhood in Maine, where my father was a trapper and guide, to New York, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, and California, where my vagabond family finally settled. Being in the woods, the ocean, the rainforest is in my blood. Only one of my novels and one of my short stories use urban settings I have visited, such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newport Beach, and London. All the other work is set in wildly beautiful rural settings, where I am happiest—where I love to set my books.
In San Diego, when I was married and was working in the family Yamaha motorcycle shop and raising my daughter Stacee, we lived in lovely Bonita Valley. Doesn’t that name sound romantic? It was, really. We owned horses, chickens, a goat, ducks—the usual farm menagerie—which to me is totally romantic! After reading every Walter Farley Black Stallion book in my youth, I finally got to live the dream of riding my own horse. I rescued a fourteen-hand Arabian gelding, Jay Jay, from the former owner who’d starved him, put some meat on his bones, made him beautiful and saucy, and rode him over the California hills amid withers-high yellow mustard and the sandy washes of the Bonita Valley river bottom.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get around to talking about my current new release, Rye’s Reprieve. Well, about now. My love of horses showed up in the form of my heroine, Missouri Harper, who brought her three sisters to Montana Territory in September, 1886, to homestead and raise horses. The hero is a gifted physician with a secret so painful he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine—I know you can read that in the description of the book, but I just love the concept and thought you’d like to hear it again. Rye, wouldn’t you know it, owns a handsome stallion with bloodlines linked to a winner of the Kentucky Derby. Missouri is no fool. She wants to make a deal. But it’s not the deal Rye has in mind.

When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

My kitties, my garden, and a really good book, such as Patience: Bride Of Washington  by Caroline Clemmons. That was not a joke.

Thank you, Lou. You're very kind. How long have you been writing?

I used to get comments from recipients of my business letters: “You should write a book.” I was wordy. Loved words, used them extensively.
Then a close friend handed me The Thorn Birds, saying, “You could have written this.” That title should alert you to how long I’ve been writing. Only now do I realize I should be so lucky to write a classic like that one. But I took his words to heart. I was into photography at the time, and soon after I switched to writing.
I worked on my first novel, met an agent in a critique class at college, and sent her that first book and a proposal on a second.
She called back a few days later and said, “Put that first book on a shelf and never show it to anybody. But the second book I can sell.”
The late-great Pat Teal, romance agent extraordinaire, submitted the novel to Harlequin on a proposal, which is a three-chapter version of the book. While I was finishing the novel, Harlequin was deciding whether they wanted to take me on.
Once day Pat called and said, “I sold your book to Harlequin Superromance.”
My daughter was home from high school. We jumped up and down on the couch in a Tom Cruise copy-cat move and shrieked and cried. That was a moment.

Lovely story! Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Kindle World?

I sent my close friend, New York Times best-selling author Debra Holland, the opening scene of Rye’s Reprieve when all I had written so far was the opening scene. I’m developmental editor for all of her books, and we have a great working relationship and a level of trust.
She read my scene on the plane to the NINC conference in Florida, where she met with one of her highly placed contacts at Amazon. Because she liked my scene, for the first time since her huge success with the Montana Sky series, she became interested in opening her popular series to a Kindle World.
So I guess you could say the whole exciting launch of our Montana Sky Kindle World novels happened because I woke up at 4:00am one morning and wrote a scene that made me happy, and I shared it with Debra.
Once it was official, her “world,” we sat at my dining table for months, working on our respective projects and enjoying the camaraderie immensely.
Writing is a lonely business. It’s wonderful to share writing time with a friend.

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

Solitude. In bed or at my dining table. Preferably with a writing companion and kitties laying their paws or their heads on my keyboard.

I have kitties that "help" me write, too. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Plotter. I teach three-act structure and the internal arc of character in two 10-week series each year, courses I developed for students at the University of California, Irvine. They gave me the Distinguished Teaching Award one year. It was awesome. OMG, I’ve been teaching since the 1990s, and you should see the success of my students, outlined on my website. They keep me motivated and humble.

What research did this project involve?

I’m a best-selling contemporary author. Rye’s Reprieve is my first published historical fiction. (Never mind the books I have stashed that have never seen the light of day.) If you go to my website, you will see the map I developed for the 14 authors who launched in Debra’s Kindle World in February 2016. The main thrust of this research, which I included in the back of my book as well, was on 1880s medicine, veterinary medicine, and the bitter winter of 1886 in Montana Territory. I adore the research end of writing.

Lou's map of Morgan's Crossing, Montana Territory
helped her fellow authors write their books

Since the map helped me tremendously, I included it above. Tell us about your writing schedule. 

When it comes to schedules, I get all uptight and uncomfortable. My blood pressure shoots up. These days, I don’t have the discipline of Sandra Brown, nor do I still have the youth of Debra Holland. To play the violin a bit more, I teach writing at a local college—all those essays to grade—and I have my home, gardens, kitties, family relationships—the usual dense life of the author. But! If Debra and I say we’re going to write for several months straight on a deadline, I do what it takes. I couldn’t stand to let anybody down.

No wonder Debra treasures your friendship as well as professional relationship. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

Do not ever give me an animal to “foster.” It will never leave. Three kitties attest to this flaw in my character. I won’t even go into the horses and other creatures I’ve “fostered” that became permanent members of my family.

Guilty, too. We've heard how in the thirties hobos would scratch a mark on the fence or outbuilding of someone who is soft-hearted and will provide a meal. We are convinced that somewhere on our fence the cats and dogs have left such a mark. ☺What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

I will spare you the gory details, but cattle by the thousands suffered horribly in the winter of 1886-87 in the western U.S. I can’t bear the thought of how horses suffered. And people. See my website blog for links you can follow in the research for Rye’s Reprieve.

Don't you hate thinking of all that loss? What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

I hope readers will get excited about the history, and about the courage of the characters, who are beset by storms, privation, wolves, mountain lions, and the awesome power of winter. I want them to feel for the man who hides his true self because of a terrible tragedy when he was a young doctor. I want readers to root for the twenty-five-year-old redhead who takes on this wild land and this complex man to find happiness.

I did that with my book THE SURPRISE BRIDES: JAMIE. In spite of the fact I wrote the book in summer, some scenes made me believe I was cold. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Aspiring authors, writing is going to rip out your guts. Be ready for that, and keep tight hold of your dream to be published. Today, it can happen for everyone. Sit butt in chair and write.

 Wasn't that a great interview? And now Louella's post:

Rye's Reprieve
(The Harper Sisters Book 1)

by Louella Nelson


In 1886, gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine in Montana Territory. But saving people is second nature, whether it’s doctoring a man mauled by a mountain lion or battling a wolf to save a child.

Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper suffers through the worst winter in Montana history to provide for three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. Dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators make survival precarious.

Rye comes to Missouri's aid, putting his life in danger and Missouri in his debt. As they fall in love, his secret and her promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

Montana Territory, September 23, 1886

Five miles southeast of Morgan’s Crossing, near his favorite fishing hole, Rye “Doc” Rawlins saw the biggest goldarn deer ever seen in the West. He leaped from the saddle. Heart racing, he braced his rifle against a crack in a granite boulder and took aim at the patch of dun hide he glimpsed through the cottonwoods and aspens.
He was a lousy shot—had already missed on a ten-point buck two hours ago. This time, steady, steady, he told himself, blocking out the rustle of the river to his right. He drew a breath, held it, slowly let it out, waiting to locate the sweet spot behind the foreleg that would mean a merciful clean kill.
As Rye stared, the animal lifted its head and peered at him. The shape of the head wasn’t right, the jaw too heavy, the black nostrils wide and flaring to get his scent. He registered that the animal was a horse, not a deer. A fear-response kicked in—he could be strung up for killing someone’s horse—and he shouted, “Ho!”
Simultaneously, out in the choicest fishing hole in this part of Montana rose a water nymph, breasts gleaming beneath a cascade of water. The cool juice sluiced off a mane of deep-red hair and bared a face and shoulders only Botticelli could paint.
He shouted in panic, “Ho!”
So the sounds he’d made came out, embarrassingly, “Ho-ho,” as if he were humoring children on the eve of Christmas.
The woman, likely in her early twenties, stared at him, eyes in shadow, the pupils no doubt wide in fear, her chest rising in panicked breaths.
His manly parts responded.
Though he was a man of faith, the two events together jolted him as apparitions might were he to find himself alone on a stormy night in an abandoned house.
However, his heart and mind were not to have a reprieve. A second woman of similar age, blond and equally lush, burst out of the deep pool. When she saw Rye, she screamed, sending icicles along his spine.
Then a third appeared, dark-haired and slight, not yet twenty, he guessed. She jumped in fright and clapped her hands over small high breasts, sinking up to her chin to hide herself.
A part of Rye’s brain that loved women was at once shocked and thrilled.
But when a last female came up laughing and sputtering, saw him, stared like the first without a scream, Rye glanced away, for she was but a child of thirteen or fourteen.
What to do?
If he mounted his horse, he would have a clear view of the four females, but they would deeply resent him taking their full measure. On t’other side, but for the child it would be a pleasure few men would ever experience and, therefore, not to be missed. He and his mining buddies were short on women in the camp, and these women were beautiful treasures. If he took another look, Reverend Norton would be preaching in Morgan’s Crossing sometime soon and Rye felt he could be absolved. But for the child.
While he debated, one of the women said sternly, “You look again I’ll have your eyes in my sights.”
Reflexively Rye glanced her way. The redhead. She beaded down on him with a big-bore rifle. Naked, gleaming, and armed. She drew back the bolt with a snap. “I said—”
“I’m not, I’m not.” He reached for his stud’s trailing reins, took a step toward the stirrup.
Metal clicked when she shot the bolt. “Don’t you move,” she demanded.
He froze.

Rye’s Reprieve Amazon Link:

Louella Nelson, Author and much more

Louella Nelson is an award-winning University of California instructor, best-selling author, and developmental editor for Amazon and numerous best-selling and aspiring authors. 
A writers' mentor, teacher, and editor, Louella Nelson writes romantic fiction, literary fiction, and nonfiction such as BestSeller Secrets for Novel and Memoir Writers (a series of handbooks in development), blogs, and other instructional materials.

Her novel-writing credits include Rye’s Reprieve (Feb 2016) and the best-selling novel Mail-Order Mate, among others; the Amazon best-seller "Cora Lee: A Short Story" and other shorts; and poetry as well as scholarly works for the journals Onyx and Calliope.
She is a former president of the Orange County RWA and coordinator for the national RWA conference. In addition to speaking regionally and nationally, she hosts seminars, class series, editorial consulting sessions, and critique groups for fiction and creative nonfiction/memoir writers.

On the personal side, Lou enjoys nature in all its wildness, danger, and beauty, especially cats and horses wild and tame; fishing; bears, oceans, rivers, lakes, woods, the desert if it's not too sizzling--and all the creatures therein except scorpions and spiders, which she leaves to the expertise and appreciation of the entomologists.

Twitter: @LouellaNelson  Facebook: Louella Nelson and Louella Nelson Author.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Some time ago I met a lovely author and am very pleased to have her as my guest today. Please welcome E. Ayers.

Readers love to get to know authors. Please share anything that lets readers get to know the real you.

There's nothing very exciting about my life. It's very quiet. I left the excitement behind when I married my husband. I was still seventeen when I met him. I thought he was crazy to ask me out. But a friend assured me that he was a nice guy, so I let him buy me a sandwich. Apparently he'd fallen instantly in love with me, but it took me that whole night to realize I was falling in love with him. Five weeks later, we were married. Two children, several houses, quite a few cars, and almost thirty-seven years with that wonderful man and I was a widow. That wasn't supposed to have happened. That was not in our plans. We were supposed to grow old together. We were going to finish renovating this old house, sell it, and build that retirement house with heated floors, solar panels, and floor to ceiling windows.

So here I am in this old pre-Civil War house that's only half renovated. With my eight-pound dog and a cat that is three times larger than the dog, I sit and write books, while praying that nothing else goes wrong in the house.

Our house is not as old as yours, but it seems plenty of things go wrong. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

I love to take a ride into the country, out to the mountains, or head to the seashore with my camera. I also love to do pen and ink drawings of what I’ve photographed. The drawing is actually tedious and very time consuming, but it takes such concentration that everything else has to leave your mind. Depending on the detail, it takes about an hour to do a square inch. It’s a real stress buster. I've enclosed a picture of a pen and ink drawing I did. Once they are framed, it's hard to take a picture without glare on the glass.

Pen and Ink drawing by E. Ayers

You should be very proud of that drawing. How long have you been writing?

Seemingly forever, maybe not quite, but close.

Why did you choose to participate in Debra Holland’s Kindle World?

A few years ago, she asked me to be part of her Sweetwater Springs Christmas anthology. That was a collaboration of all the authors in that anthology, and it was so much fun. So when Debra Holland asked me to be part of her Kindle World, I said yes!

Where do you prefer to write?

I have a desk and a PC in a “computer” room. I have total solitude in that room except for my dog that is usually at my feet or at my side, and she never talks to me. With the doors shut, I’m very isolated, making it easy to slip into my writing world.

I write the same way, except it’s my cat keeping me company. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

I’m a planner. I don’t start writing until I have a certain amount of the story in my head. Then I’m along for the ride and I allow the characters to direct the rest of the story.

What research did this project involve?

I’ve been working an old diary and my research is only to the time of the Lakota Alliance. Then I skipped to the 1890’s. That leaves a big gap and I had to fill in the blanks, plus research gold, the mining techniques and the geology behind the formation. I now know how to pan for gold! Don’t you think that’s a really handy skill for a novelist? I wonder if I'll ever have a chance to try it. (My granddaughter loves to go gem mining. So I have done a few odd things with her. She'd probably be willing to give it a go. I know there's a gold mine in North Carolina.)

There is one gold mine, the Capps mine, that was owned by an ancestor of my dad’s first wife—thus of my half-brothers and half-sisters. The man married a Capps daughter and when she died, married her sister. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

I write at night while the world sleeps. I don’t set word limits because when writing historical I often stop to look up something. Besides word limits and/or goals can be restrictive. There’s no point in setting myself up for failure. I just celebrate what I do accomplish.

I also write better at night. Do you write full time or do you have a day job.

I write full time now. Before I married I worked as a bookkeeper, then my hubby had me stay home and once the girls came, I stayed with them but as they got older, I knew I need to work to help pay for their college, so I went back into bookkeeping as the youngest was about to become a teen. I wound up as an office manager to a large medical practice, went from that to a CPA's office, and then into officer manager for a large property management firm. I quit when they girls were married and out of school. That's when my hubby and I started renovating houses. Then a dear friend asked me to come teach at her school. So I did. It was fun. But it was during that time that I knew I wanted to seriously write. I went back to college and took classes in English as a refresher. Then I started to write.

I was enjoying the freedom when my husband died. Everyone thinks you get Social Security when that happens. No! I wasn't old enough, nor did I have small children at home. I had to go back to work if I wanted to keep my house and pay the bills. I went into medical records. Nice easy job that paid well. Several times they wanted me for supervisory positions because of my background, but I didn't want the hassle. I'd come home and write. When I realized that I was making more money by writing than in my job, I quit. Oops! A few months later, the tables turned and had to fight my way back financially. But I'm glad I've persevered. It's difficult some months, but it's worth doing what I love.

Certainly there’re ups and downs in writing. Losing your husband was the worst blow. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.

I think I'm out of surprises. Okay, here's something that I find almost hysterical looking back at it. My mom tried to push me to apply to colleges in the west. She really wanted me to go to the University of Wyoming. She figured that since I was such a nature girl and I loved horses, I needed to go to school there so I could meet a young rancher, marry, and live on a ranch.

The problem with that was Wyoming is not against the ocean. It wasn't even a day's drive from the ocean! I learned to surf when I was fourteen and I loved it. I surfed almost year round. I was a strong swimmer, competed on swim and diving teams, etc. There was no way I was leaving the ocean! So until someone moved Wyoming a little closer to the ocean… The answer was no. I was not going to go to college out there.

Yet here I am. I'm not writing about surfers, I'm writing about ranchers. Maybe my mother saw something in me back then that I failed to see in myself. Is there a wonderful man who's a rancher looking for someone to share his life? I'm an extremely good cook and with my writing, I'm very quiet. I know how to ride a horse. I still love nature and I can balance a checkbook! J

What is something unusual you learned while researching and writing this book?

I’ve got to say the commercial mining operations of gold. Yet I really don’t mention much about it other than the constant pounding from the stamp mill.

What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Ultimately…enjoyment of their time spent between the pages with my characters.

Don’t we all? What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Take classes, learn the craft of writing, and never ever put out a book until it is properly vetted, edited, and ready for prime time! Too many think they've written a wonderful story and honestly many have written a wonderful story but crafting that story is a skill that is learned. Remember when I said I was on swim teams and diving teams. I knew how to swim before I was on those teams. I knew how to do a few dives from watching others do them. But until you've been coached and practiced for hours and weeks and months, you aren't ready to do it in competition. You think you are straight going into that water, but you aren't, and you will throw a rooster tail! It's the same thing with a book. Readers don't want rooster tails.

A great analogy. Tell us about your Kindle World novel with a blurb and an excerpt.


Matilda “Matt” Berwyn, forced to live disguised as a boy in a mining town, longs to escape and blossom into the female she's always wanted to be. But her desire to leave Morgan's Crossing escalates when she realizes she's being stalked.

Stockyard hand Zeke Hillerman knows her secret and has fallen in love with her. He helps her flee to his parents’ home in the east to learn to be a lady, while he struggles to start his own ranch. As Matilda grapples with Victorian expectations of young women, Zeke’s plans for their future unravel, and he realizes that the cost of her ticket out of Morgan's Crossing may have been his own heart.


Zeke awaken and stretched. He had found the perfect spot for sleeping. Using his bedroll as a pillow, he’d slept through the night and well into the morning hours, leaving him feeling refreshed and ready for the ride to the Reiner stockyard. He scanned the water below and didn’t see Matt. Unfortunately, he couldn't wait forever. It was important that he return to the stockyard in a timely manner. But that didn't stop the disappointment that ran through him.
As he prepared to leave, movement caught his eye and he stopped long enough to realize it was Matt. She's not playing. She really is panning for gold!
He stood there mesmerized. Whatever she was finding wasn’t small. He left his horse and went back down the pass to get a better look. A spear whizzed through the air and landed near Matt.
Zeke instantly stiffened. His rifle was with his backpack, leaving him only with his knife. There was no time to think. He had to protect Matt. He took off in a full run, his boots barely touching the ground. A blood-curdling yell resonated across the peaceful landscape as an Indian ran towards Matt. He saw the Indian attack Matt.
Zeke dove for the young man slamming him into the creek bed. With his fist raised, Zeke looked into two dark orbs that instantly widened…
"Who is he?" Gray Fox asked.
Matilda sat in the creek after she dragged the man from the water and watched him. "Not sure. Think he's going to die?"
"As hard as you hit him with that rock, he might."


E. Ayers, Author

How can readers learn more about you and your other books?

Find E. Ayers here:
Twitter: @ayersbooks