Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BOOK BEGINNINGS



Every author is asked enumerable times where they get their ideas for their stories. My entire writing career began with a dream. Not the dream of becoming a writer. I didn’t seriously consider doing that until sometime after I began my first novel. No, it was a dream that started me writing, a dream so vivid and compelling that I dragged out a portable typewriter (pre-computer days) and began to type.
            That first book, a time travel when no one was buying them, has sat in a box on a shelf for over twenty years. An editor told me the story was too unusual to sell as a first book and suggested I write a simple romance, get it published, and after a few more books I might be able to sell the complex stories I love most. So I wrote about a woman who faked her own murder to escape an abusive marriage. She joined a wagon train for Oregon and hired a guide to pose as her brother. Naturally she and the guide fell in love. That book became a Golden Heart Finalist and was published by Kensington Books as Tender Touch.
            My most successful paperback, Forever Mine, came from a visit to an Oregon lighthouse and saw a bridal photo of a keeper and his wife who were married there. Neither looked happy, but she appeared absolutely forlorn. I thought about what that area of the country would have been like in the waning days of the nineteenth century, what a chore it would have been simply to get to the lighthouse from the nearest town, nine miles away, when there were no roads. And Forever Mine was born. You can find it through September on sale for .99 at Amazon and other eBook sellers.
            Taming Jenna is another story. My critique group and I were having lunch after a meeting and I said to one of the members I knew had a quirky sense of humor, to give me an idea for a new story. Without hesitation, she said, “Write about a woman who has to find a man and the only way she can identify him is by a scar on his bottom.” The result? —a lady Pinkerton who finds herself at odds with a bounty hunter after she pulls a gun on him and makes him drop his drawers. That was a fun story to write.
            Ideas for novels come from many sources and what they are doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the writer is inspired by an idea that carries her through to the end of the tale and creates a vivid, compelling read. I like to believe this is what I’ve done in my books.
       To Have and To Hold  was the idea of my editor at Kensington. He wanted a story about a widow, perhaps with a couple of kids, and a drifter. I got to choose the characters. For my heroine I wanted a strong woman, feisty, and unique. Tempest Whitney suited the bill. She has her own colorful language and she takes no guff from anyone. Instead of a drifter, I created Buck Maddux, every woman's dream, who was just released from prison after doing two years for being involved in the robbery Tempest's husband actually committed. Buck simply happened by and found the wounded thief dying. Unable to just ride on and leave the man, Buck stayed and in the process promised to check on the man's wife and children for him. After prison, he kept that promise. Tempest didn't exactly welcome him.
      Buck had twin half brothers, Cade and Whip Kincade. For my next book, I decided to write Whip's story, which ended up titled The Scent of Roses. But who was Whip Kincade, truly? I had to find out. I found him in a small town on the Utah-Arizona border running a saloon and a mine with a partner. The two also owned and shared the biggest house in town, haunted Rose House. Unfortunately, Whip and his partner, Josiah, have a fight in front of numerous witnesses. That night Whip finds Josiah dead, murdered. The next thing he knows, he's accused of the deed.To avoid arrest while he hunts down the real killer, he hides in secret passageways in the old house--passageways with peepholes that let him spy on Rosalyn Delaney who arrives a day later claiming to be Josiah's widow. Trouble is, Josiah already had a widow who takes an instant dislike to Rosalyn. Whip decides on the spot that the newcomer looks guilty as hell. The Scent of Roses is definitely a romance but also a bit of a mystery.
       One of these days I must write Cade Kincade's story. Hm, who is he and where will I find him? How about some suggestions. Anyone have an idea?
       Where do you authors get your book beginnings? Ever flounder for a new storyline? I'd love to hear your experiences.





Monday, September 8, 2014

FOREVER MINE ON SALE FOR SEPTEMBER

For the entire month of September, Tirgearr Publishing is making my historical romance, FOREVER MINE, available for only .99.

This book has an average rating on Amazon of 4.5 stars. Ind'Tale Magazine gave it 5 stars.



A writer could find few spots on the Oregon coast more romantic than the Cape Meares lighthouse. The light itself sits at the tip of a finger of land comprised most of basaltic rock, part of a cape named after an early British explorer, John Meares, who first charted the cape. Dedication of the light took place January 1, 1890, a year and a half before the story told in my book Forever Mine takes place.

I visited there soon after the lighthouse first opened its doors to tourists. Inside a glass counter sat a photograph of a man and woman who looked remarkably miserable. The photo was of one of the keepers and his bride the day they were married there.

The image of that bride and groom stayed in my head long after I left. What had it been like for her to go to what had in 1901 been a very lonely and isolated location to start a new life? The nearest city, Tillamook, sits nine miles away on Tillamook Bay. Today, you can travel from the city to the light on a narrow road in a short amount of time. But in that bride’s day, the only access involved a boat ride at high tide to a landing near a spit of land that ran north to the opening of the bay. From the landing, she would have taken a bumpy, muddy wagon or horse ride up and over the cape through dense forest on a road that barely deserved the title. Her only company once she reached her new home would have been her husband’s fellow light tenders and their families, should they be married.

My imagination delved deeper. What if the bride had never met her husband until her wedding day? Soon, I had characters yakking in my head, demanding their stories be told, and FOREVER MINE was born.

Kensington Books published Forever Mine in 1995 and it became my most popular story, receiving a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award nomination and high ratings. Eventually it went out of print. Last year it was released as an e-book by Tirgearr Publishing.

The Cape Meares Light stands 225 feet above the sea on a bluff 800 feet long and 200 to 300 feet wide, with the light at the narrow tip and the keepers’ homes at the widest point near a thick forest of Sitka spruce and hemlock trees. Today the bluff is wooded, but during the light’s active years, the land was kept barren, allowing fierce winds to sweep over the cape. 

The head keeper and his two assistants took turns tending the light and keeping it operating. The outside of the great Fresnel lens that created its life-saving beam is made of curved prisms that refract or bend the light so that it comes from the center of the apparatus in a narrow sheet. Four magnifying glasses called bull’s-eyes at the center of the lens intensify the beam. A kerosene burning Funck lamp with five tubular wicks, mounted in the center of the huge lens, provided the illumination. The lantern was so large keepers could walk around on the inside as well as the outside of the lens while doing their daily cleaning chores. Forty-eight glass panels protect the apparatus.

The lens had to be cleaned and polished every day, the lamp cleaned and filled with fuel. The framework was dusted, the wicks carefully trimmed or replaced, all in readiness for the lighting of the lamp come evening. The copper and brass fixtures had to be cleaned and polished, as well as the utensils used in the lantern and watch rooms. Walls, floors, balconies, stairways, landings, doors, windows, and the passageway from the lantern to the oil storage area were also cleaned daily. Every two months the lens was washed with alcohol, and polished annually with rouge. Equipment had to be kept in good repair and the tower painted. None an easy task. 

Besides the normal chores of housekeeping, cooking, laundry and child rearing, wives maintained large gardens and helped take care of the domestic animals. Children were home schooled until a school was built close enough for them to reach it on horseback.

In my book, Forever Mine, the men become incapacitated at one point, and the heroine, Ariah, had to assume their tasks as well as play nursemaid to them. During that time a bad sou’wester came up, nearly blowing her right off the cape. The angry sea tossed a rock through the glass of the light, chipping one of the prisms of the lens. Readers questioned how that could happen when the light was over 225 feet above the sea. The story of the rock, as well as other events in the book, came from the son of the light keeper whose wedding photo inspired the book. “Ole Hig,” as he liked to be called, was the only one of the keeper’s four children not born at the light, but he grew up in the Cape Meares village nearby and spent many hours at the light. He listened to numerous tales related by his father and other keepers. I was lucky enough to become acquainted with “Ole Hig,” who shared his memories with me. Thanks to him, Forever Mine took on a new depth that truly brought the story to life.

Lighthouses have fascinated me for years. Have any of you ever lived in one? If so, I’d love to hear your remembrances.






Saturday, August 16, 2014

SPECIAL COVER DEAL!!!!

NOW, AT COVER-OPS.BLOGSPOT.COM

A NEW DEAL FOR FIRST-TIME CLIENTS

YOUR FIRST COVER, custom design, pre-made, eBook, or print is FREE!!

That is ONE free cover per new client.
(additional purchases not required)

If you act NOW.

Offer good only for the month of August. Last day to get in on this deal will be August 31

Email me at charraddon@pobox.com

Here are some of the latest pre-mades posted to Cover-Ops:










Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

SADDLE UP SUNDAY SNIPPETS


Hello Cowgirls and Cowboys . . . saddle up every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month to share your WESTERN excerpts with our readers/followers.

WHERE: Hosted by Stilettos At High Noon Blog
WHEN: Every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month
WHO: All Western fiction and Western Romance writers
(All genres welcome)

WHAT:
1) Sign up on the linky at Stilettos At High Noon every Monday (linky will go live under this tab by noon) for the following Sunday.

2) Post 3-4 paragraphs from one of your novels, novellas, WIPs on your blog (must be western-themed).

3) Post SAHN's link on your blog beneath your excerpt so viewers/readers can check the main list to read more excerpts.

4) Saddle Up Sunday logo must be visible on your blog with a link back to Stilettos At High Noon (use logo at beginning of this post). 

Your blog post must be live by midnight Saturday in order to participate in Saddle Up Sunday Snippets. Please promote your excerpt and SAHN on twitter and FB and all other social media sites on Sunday. Authors participating should use the hashtag #SaddleUp to promote others who are posting excerpts. Let's see if we can't get western lovers to follow this event two Sundays a month. Questions? Contact mckennagebhard@gmail.com.


 MARK YOUR CALENDARS 
THROUGH DECEMBER 2014
Saddle Up Sunday Snippets
At Stilettos At High Noon 
The Following Dates: 

August 17th
September 7th

September 21st
October 5th

October 19th
November 2nd

November 16th
December 7th

December 21st

SIGN UP LINKY FOR APRIL 6th 
SADDLE UP SUNDAY SNIPPETS