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.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Lou, I loved RYE'S REPRIEVE and hope you sell a million of the book. I also hope you'll continue the thread with a series so we can see each sister married. Congratulations on this fine work.

Anonymous said...

Caroline, I was touched by your introduction to my "red" post today. Thanks a million. I've found a new friend and colleague, and I'm so pleased!

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