I just finished a very incredible book: Woman of the People. It's not a romance, but has a love story, actually several, familial love, sibling love, tribal love, romantic love. What touched me most about this story however was the sensitive, insightful and engaging portrayal of the captive narrative which eventually becomes a story of the struggle of Native Americans in the face of the white man's westward expansion. Through the capture and assimilation of a nine year old white girl, Helen Morrison, by the Comanche in 1850's Texas, Capps guides you into the thinking and actions of the Native Americans as they struggled to hang on to a way of life that has served them for generations, but which is doomed with the coming of the white man. Yes, a very sad and vile part of our American history, but Woman of the People is also a caution for the present and the future. Those who we think are different from ourselves are at their very core are people who feel, think, breath, struggle and love just like we do. You can buy Woman of the People at Amazon.
The second book in my Spirited Hearts series, Lena's Courage is up for the prestigious RONE award from InD'Tale Magazine. I'm honored and squeeing from excitement at being included with such talented American Historical Romance authors. The first round of judging is by you the reader. The top readers' choices will go on to the next round which is being read by a panel of judges. This is where I need your help. Please help Lena's advance to the round by voting here. Thank you, readers. I appreciate each and every one of you.
One of my most favorite movies is Phenomenon starring John Travolta and Kyra Sedgwick. Towards the end of the movie Travolta's character, George Malley, asks Sedgwick's character, Lace Pennamin, "Hey, would you, uh, love me the rest of my life?" Lace replies to a dying George with whom she's recently found love, "No. I'm gonna love you for the rest of mine."
The notion of loving someone even after they will have passed from this life is so tenderly and heartrendingly expressed by the characters in this scene, I tear up each and every time I watch this movie. But while that exchange between George and Lace is powerful and touching, another one between the supporting characters Doc, played by Robert Duval, and Banes, a somewhat fair weather friend of George's played by Sean O'Bryan, is profound.
Banes: [speaking about George's transformation] He never really changed at all. Isn't that right Doc? I mean he never really got any smarter. Doc?
Doc: Banes... how's your lady love?
Banes: We... um... we broke up.
Doc: Really? That's too bad, yeah. Now George has a love at his side and she is sticking with him. You know why? Because he bought her chairs. That's pretty smart to me. You ever buy Lisa's chairs?'
Banes: Doc's real drunk tonight.
Of course, Duvall's character is not drunk, and in fact makes a monumental point in winning (and keeping) your loved one's heart. Discover what they hold precious, what they're passionate about, what makes them tick and find a way to be a part of that as George did with Lace in buying every single chair she made when previously they'd sat forlornly with the For Sale signs on them.
Which brings me to the real life portion of my post. My husband of more than 25 years, but less than 30 years (haha), is not a fiction reader. He himself will tell you he's read three fiction books during his entire life: Dante's Inferno, Congo by Michael Crichton, and Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by James Lovell and James Krueger. Why these three? I could conjecture, which would make for interesting musings, but that's for another post. LOL! On with this one.
Last week found the hubster with an eight hour layover in JFK during a business trip. Not a drinker or a game player or a fiction reader, he passed the time by reading the first book in my series, Ella's Choice. Wait, whoa, back up there. The man who's only read three fiction books in his entire life read a western historical romance?
At this point, you're probably saying, "Well of course he's going to read her book because, she's his wife..." and blah, blah, blah. But people, the book's been out for over a year, and he's picked it up and put it down several times during that time, only reading to around Chapter 3 or 4. What made him finally pick it up and read to the end this time?
Yeah, what made him read to the end this time? I could say my stellar writing swept him into the story and held him spellbound to the very last word, and while I'd love to think myself such a great storyteller, I'll say it was an act of love, of wanting to connect, to be together when the miles separated us. With his business trips, and my traveling with our teen aged daughters to horse shows (someone has to drive the trailer) and my other jobs of writing, homeschooling and editing, we not only find ourselves at opposite ends of life physically, but emotionally. He bridged the gap that often separates us and said with his gesture of reading Ella's Choice, "I miss you and I want to be with you."
He bought my chairs. *swoon*
The evocative image behind the words in my last Grace's Purpose teaser is from landscape and nature photographer, Greg Russell. I discovered the image through Greg's blog post Citizen of the West. Although I'm not a resident of the west, his words resonated with me as to the qualities I've attempted to draw for the main characters in my Spirited Hearts stories. When I inquired about using his photo for Grace's Purpose he said... Incidentally, this image was made about 5 miles south of Cheyenne, just north of the Colorado state line. No snow that day, but the wind was blowing some lovely dark clouds around (it seems the wind always starts the moment you cross the state line into Wyoming), but the sun was still shining on the prairie, so it made for an interesting juxtaposition of light.
If I hadn't known before, I knew then that his image was perfect for my purposes. Again, thank you Greg for allowing me to backdrop my humble words against your stunning photography.
Greg captures all facets of the western landscape from plains to mountains, deserts and beyond. Treat yourself and browse his photos at Aspenglow Images. All photos are for sale as fine art prints in a range of sizes. In addition, Greg will license his photos for use in your project for a reasonable fee. Students are allowed to use his images for free in reports as long as he is given credit.
Not content with capturing beauty through the lens, Greg has co-authored An Honest Silence: A Celebration of Wilderness with two fellow photographers. From Greg himself... An Honest Silence is a mix of photography and short, intimate essays by each of the authors. All three authors come from different backgrounds and hold different points of view, but what the book ultimately shows is that wilderness is a common thread in everyone’s life.
Whether you're a student, author, reader or appreciator of stunning western landscape, I urge you to visit Alpenglow Images and be transported into the wonder and beauty that is our western United States.
High Plains Storm, December 2003
#GracesPurpose #SpiritedHearts #GregRussell #AspenglowImages #RubyMerritt #WesternLandscape
The closing of one year and the opening of another is always a natural time to reflect. As I look back, I realize 2015 was a tough year in many ways. My family and I experienced the death of our sweet and very loving fourteen year old niece. That's way too young for anyone to die. Only days later, my beloved Jack Russell Terrier mysteriously disappeared. At a time when I needed the comfort of my velcro dog the most, he was gone. Add in a broken fibula which took away riding my horse, and I buried myself in my writing.
Then my family and I took a trip, just the four of us, not to see more family, not to attend a horse event or a funeral, but just a trip for us, to do exactly what we wanted to do and be together before the oldest flies the coop. The venture to The Big Apple, which will go down in our family annals as a trip of many firsts, ignited a love for NYC in our oldest daughter. Who would have thought?
Meanwhile, all throughout 2015, my brain was churning on my books, how to market them, how to sell more, how to reach readers, how to engage readers all with an eye to sell, sell, sell. I learned lots of strategies, where to advertise, when to advertise, how to track clicks on an ad, but for all I learned, I was driving myself crazy because I wasn't seeing the results I thought I should see. Then when a reader disappointed me in a way that I shouldn't care, I knew I had to take a step back. I had to return to writing for the reasons I'd initially started writing -- to tell a story, to immerse myself in a craft that I love, a craft which continually fascinates me, and hopefully one day I will master to the best of my ability. So in 2016, I'm letting go of all the worries of marketing and selling and reaching readers. Instead I am choosing to be present to ALL of the wonderful things in my life -- books and readers included of course. But I'm hoping this approach will allow a natural balance to occur that will nurture and sustain me mentally, physically and emotionally. And if I sell a book or two, well, that will be a bonus. :)
More to come about the the stunning photo behind the words...
#TeaserTuesday #GracesPurpose #SpiritedHearts
*** Giveaway *** Win your choice of my Spirited Hearts ebooks (including the upcoming Grace's Purpose) by posting a link to your review of Lena's Courage in the comments below. I'll choose a winner from those commenting, and announce next Tuesday December 15th when I post the next teaser for Grace's Purpose. If you haven't read Lena's Courage yet it's free with #KindleUnlimited and if you have but haven't reviewed, it only takes a few minutes. 😊
Oh no, bad news! Well, somewhat, but there's good news too. The bad news is Ella's Choice is rolling out of #KindleUnlimited on December 10th. Borrow before then and read for #free anytime afterwards. So that's good news, but wait, there's more good news. Read on.
After December 10th, Ella's Choice will be offered on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. I'll be posting the links once they go live. Meanwhile here are a few of the Amazon buy links if you want to read and/or recommend to a friend.
Amazon US: here
Amazon UK: here
Amazon CA: here