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Book Lovers Unite!

If you’ve never been to a book conference you don’t know what you’re missing! Hi, Kit Morgan here and I recently I attended Book Lover’s Con 2019 in New Orleans. It was a lot of fun with wonderful events and books galore! So I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights. There was a Faery dinner, various fun events for readers, workshops for authors, a huge book signing with over 200 authors, dance parties and more! And hey, it’s New Orleans, so naturally, folks ventured out and did a swamp tour, plantation tour, or simply explored the French Quarter. There’s nothing like staying in a historic city to get the creative mind going!

The con began with a Jazz Festival Kick-Off. In the morning you could have smoothies with Harlequin authors. There was the audio listening lounge where award-winning narrators of audiobooks read excerpts from their recent work. One could pay a visit to The Chamber of Books and pick up a couple of freebies to take home with them. There was even a “Crafter’s Corner,” a designated spot for quilters, knitters, crocheters and the like to sit, craft

and chat. 

Readers enjoyed games like Hot Hero Bingo, Romancelandia Author Feud, Around the World in 80 minutes, or attend fun classes like Bookmarks, Bracelets and Beads. Take a Bite Out of Inspirational Fiction was a fun little signing hosted by authors Susan May Warren, Liz Johnson, Julie Klassen Elizabeth Goddard and more. The Historical Book Club was another fun event I was part of where we all dressed up in period costume. There was the Small Town Reader Carnival hosted by authors such as Rae Ann Thayne, Emily March, Sheila Roberts, and Melinda Curtiss. 

All genres of romance were represented in some form or fashion, including our beloved Western Romance! We had our own corner at the Book Bash Dance party. Our table’s centerpieces were made up of BOOKS! I came home with an entire bag full. Some cozy mystery, cowboy romances, a few romantic suspense featuring cowboys of course, and a few New Orleans doo-dads. You can’t come here and not take home goodies!

     

Next years Book Lover’s Con will be held in Nashville, TN near the Grand Ol’ Opry! For more information, you can check out the Book Lover’s Con website: https://www.bookloverscon.com

Time for me to go read some of the books I brought home! I hope you enjoyed reading a little about what fun it is to be with fellow book lovers!

 

Kit

 

 

 

Updated: May 19, 2019 — 7:30 pm

Boone Helm–Wild West Serial Killer

Nickname–The Kentucky Cannibal

I give a speech where I talk about ‘Where do you get your ideas.”

The answer is usually…from research.

I’m researching a current book and I run across weird tidbits that give me chills or make my eyes go wide, or make me ask, “Did this REALLY happen?”

Such is the reaction I got when I read about Boone Helm. The Kentucky Cannibal. Serial Killer of the Wild West. YIKES.

He got his nickname for, and I quote, “His opportunistic and unrepentant (I don’t know who I’m quoting you understand, who said this???) consumption of human flesh.

He came from, by all reports, a fine family (but there must’ve been SOMETHING, yeesh!) Maybe not. Maybe he was just bad!!!

He was from a family of twelve children, so that’s a BIG family but, being from a family of eight, I like to think large families and murderous insanity don’t necessarily go hand in hand. (I hope! So far so good!)

Married at age twenty, by age twenty-two he was divorced in an era that did not make that easy. His wife being regularly beaten must’ve helped. Boone Helm’s FATHER paid for the divorce so the wife must’ve had some sympathy. In retrospect she was probably lucky to get out of the marriage ALIVE. And they had a daughter. WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO HAVE HIM FOR A FATHER???

Helm abandoned his family (thank you Jesus!) and pretty much cut a swath of robbery and murder across the west for the next thirteen years. He was twice convicted and sentenced to death only to escape through once, feigning madness (although who knows, he probably was mad, but still that doesn’t mean you don’t watch him closely right???) And once by convincing his brother to pay off a scad of witnesses…buy their silence.

After which he went home with his brother and then set out killing and robbing again. He boasted of the men he’d eaten to outlaw friends. Including once eating a man’s leg, then cutting off his other leg because he had a long journey and needed food.

OKAY that wasn’t my point really, I just found him such a ghastly character I had to write about him but….I’m toying with the idea of having him be a bad guy for a book. Or a fictionalized, slightly less hideous version because in this case, I seriously can’t handle the truth.

What do you think? What if I have a heroine and this guy is her father. Hoone Belm’s daughter!!! What if you were little Letitia Belm and you headed west only to find your long gone father is the most notorious, vicious criminal ever to roam the frontier?

Is it too much?

Like I said, I’m just toying with it. But wow, what a lunatic. What a character. How could you live it down?

She needs to marry a lawman, huh? That’d be a fine conflict between them.

Anyway, where do ideas come from? It’s from stuff I read like this.

What’s the craziest REAL LIFE character you’ve ever heard of. In this case, mine is one of those…what’s that saying? I’m fumbling for it. Something like…Fiction is harder than a true story, because fiction has to make sense.

I’ve updated my website and I really love it. Go have a look if you’ve a mind to. Mary’s Website

Let’s talk crazy characters!!!

 

Updated: May 15, 2019 — 9:59 pm

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS–SETTING by CHERYL PIERSON


Are you a reader who loves descriptions and details of settings? Glittering ballrooms, the bone-chilling cold of a winter in the Rockies…or maybe the oppressive, killing heat of the desert? What about something idyllic, like a river or creek babbling through the woods? A beautiful rose garden, or even the ugly side of description—such as barren prison walls, or a Civil War battlefield?

 

 

 

 

It depends on the story, doesn’t it, and again, how much importance those descriptions have on the impact of the action, and the outcome of the story.

Let’s use a ball as our example.

If you’ve never been to an 1800’s ball—and none of us have—we need to know at least the barest details.

Five basic things we need to know are:
What is a ball?
Why is the ball being given?
Who will be invited?
When will the ball be given?
Where will it be held?

That’s enough for some stories. But the main question is—how important is the ball to the plot?

This is where layering comes in—and this one scene, and the details it contains—can be vital to what comes next, or even many scenes later.
So many things can happen at a ball!

Guests can meet for the first time, uninvited guests can show up, clothing can have significance, music can bring back memories, the food can even be poisoned!

Or, the ball can just be a ball, like the old saying attributed to Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…” –and if that’s the case, then tedious description and intricate detail is wasted because the ball is just a vehicle to get from one scene in the story to the next, and has no real underlying importance.

 


Describing the details of the clothing worn is sometimes distracting as it pulls us away from the action. We may be reading about a blue satin gown when we need to be concentrating on the man who lurks in the shadows. Too much description can bog down the reader and deaden the story rather than bring it to life.

Why? Because deep description of the things such as décor, clothing, and meals stop the action of the characters. The plot “takes a break” while our minds process all of the description of the scenery, the meals, the clothing. In this case, again, sometimes, “less is more” and we need to let the reader’s mind fill in much of that kind of detail.

Consider this: We know certain facts—a ball costs a lot of money to host. So we already understand that those who are invited are most likely people who move in the same upper crust social circles. Therefore, we know they, too, have money, so are appropriately dressed, arrive in style, and are schooled in proper societal customs. One excellent way to cut through the “red tape” of description (of things we already know) is to describe something that is out of place, or “not right” as this reminds us of what should be—and those details of descriptions we’re already aware of.

Perhaps an impostor at the ball commits a social faux pas without realizing it, alerting others to the fact she isn’t who she pretends to be. Maybe an unlikely hero comes to her aid quickly, offering an excuse, or correcting the mistake before others notice.


This scenario does several things for the story that simple description can’t achieve.

1. Points out the discrepancy in what should be and what is.
2. Allows our characters interaction, and possibly dialogue and observation, rather than the author filling the page with scenic description.
3. Allows the reader the opportunity to learn more about the characters and their personalities through this interaction, and can be a vehicle to reveal something of importance.
4. Can possibly further the action during such a scene rather than slowing it by miles of scenic description.

This is not to say that there isn’t a time and a place for detailed descriptions of settings! We can’t call ourselves authors and take the “easy” way out by saying, “It was a ball like any other” by way of description, unless—we put it in the right context.

How about this: 
Jake looked around at the opulent ballroom –the surroundings were familiar in a tiresome, cloying way. Or…maybe was jaded. It was a ball like any other—except for one thing. Something that made him catch his breath and inwardly let go a streak of curses he’d love to shout to the skies. She was here. The woman he’d thought he’d never see again…

Well, anything can happen now, can’t it? Maybe she’s wearing an inappropriate shade of red amidst a sea of violet and blue. There are so many ways to make setting come alive without endless description that many readers become bored with and skim over.

If you read my last installment of this blog series about main characters, the examples I used from Shane (Jack Schaefer) and St. Agnes’ Stand (Tom Eidson) are also prime examples of description of setting as well as character.

But here’s another good one I really think is wonderful from Conagher, by Louis L’Amour. In this story, Evie from “back East” has come out west to marry a man with two children. Evie tries to make the best of things, but she lives in fear at first. The land is so different, After she’s been there a while, she finds there is a beauty in her surroundings she had to grow to love, in time.


As L’Amour describes the heroine’s (Evie) dismal hopelessness at the land her husband (Jacob) has brought her to, we wonder how she will survive. Yet, Jacob has plans, sees the possibilities that Evie cannot, or will not see. The underlying message is, “The land is what we make of it.”

As the story continues, she begins to appreciate the beauty of the prairie, while acknowledging the solitary loneliness of her existence. She plants a garden, nurturing the plants, and gradually she sees the farm being shaped into a good home from the ramshackle place she’d first laid eyes on.

The land is beautiful, but unforgiving. Her husband is killed in a freak accident, and for months she doesn’t know what has happened to him. She faces the responsibility of raising his two children from a previous marriage alone.

In her loneliness, she begins to write notes describing her feelings and ties them to tumbleweeds. The wind scatters the notes and tumbleweeds across the prairie. Conagher, a loner, begins to wonder who could be writing them, and slowly comes to believe that whomever it is, these notes are meant for him.

At one point, visitors come from back East. One of them says to Evie something to the effect of “I don’t know how you can stand it here.”
This is Evie’s response to her:

“I love it here,” she said suddenly. “I think there is something here, something more than all you see and feel…it’s in the wind.

“Oh, it is very hard!” she went on. “I miss women to talk to, I miss the things we had back East–the band concerts, the dances. The only time when we see anyone is like now, when the stage comes. But you do not know what music is until you have heard the wind in the cedars, or the far-off wind in the pines. Someday I am going to get on a horse and ride out there”–she pointed toward the wide grass before them–”until I can see the other side…if there is another side.”

The land, at first her nemesis, has become not only a friend, but a soulmate. L’Amour gives us this description through Evie’s eyes and feelings, not in writing about it from his perspective as the author.

Think of your own writing projects, and books you’ve read. What importance do you give setting in description, plot, even characterization? Within 40 pages of ‘Conagher’, we understand that the land, with all its wild beauty and dangers has become enmeshed in Evie’s character. She can’t leave it, and it will never leave her.

Endless, detailed description can’t do what L’Amour does through Evie’s eyes in a very few sentences. Do you have a favorite description of a setting you’ve read about or written about?

Ruthy’s Winners!

From Ruthy’s post last week, we have TWO COPIES of “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart” (she dug around some old totes and found another, then swiped the dust off… that’s our Ruthy, for ye’!) One is going to Lori Smanski, and the other to Janine! Gals, e-mail Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com and give her your snail mail information… and she hopes you love, love, love this story!

Updated: May 8, 2019 — 8:38 am

Winnie’s Winner

Thanks to all those who stopped by to leave a comment on my post about Ada Carnutt.  My winner for a copy of The Unexpected Bride is

Debra Guyette

Congratulations Debra! Please send me your mailing info via my website and I’ll get your book right on out to you.

 

 

THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE

Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for – more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.

Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?

Updated: May 9, 2019 — 1:44 pm

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Howdy!

Hope y’all had a great weekend and are biting at the bit to start the new week.  Well, at least happy to be getting back into the swing of things.

Hope you will all bear with me as I blog again about Grandfather George Randall.  George wasn’t actually any blood relation to my husband or me, but he was a good friend.  He lived with us for about 15-17 years, I can’t recall the exact number now.  And when we moved East, George, being family to us by then, came with us.

After George died, Starr Miller, a good friend and reader, did some research on some of George’s acting parts, and so I thought I would share some good memories of Grandfather George once again.

 

Over to the left here is a picture taken of George and me when we were traveling back from the Stars in the Desert celebration.  Although I don’t quite remember the date of this event, I believe is was somewhere in the late 90’s.

One would think I would remember his tribe, but I don’t exactly recall it.  Goodness, I do have to work on my memory.  I do believe that it might have been the Ojibway  or Ojibwe tribe in the Northern Mid-West.  George and I became friends when a friend of mine, Maria Ferrara, and I were working to establish a literacy project on the Blackfeet reservation.  That’s when I was introduced to George.

Off to the left is another picture taken when George and I were at the Stars in the Desert event in New Mexico.  And off to the right is a picture of George with Maria Ferrara when we were on the Blackfeet reservation in Montana.

The Following is a partial listing of some of George’s movies and television appearances.  This partial list was put together by Starr Miller and her family — many, many thanks to Starr and family for their work on this.

 
 
ConAir
Wakan – George appeared as Grampa White Owl
Durango Kids – George played the part of Doc
The Magnificent Seven TV Series – In this TV Series, his part was Shamon 
Yellow Wooden Ring – as Takota (I so love this name, Takota)
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman – as Little Thunder
Scalps — we don’t know more about the part he play in this movie
The Indian in the Cupboard —  George played the part of the old chief who died suddenly
 

Off to the right here, is George — of course standing next to the pretty girl.  We used to kid George that he had a girl in every port (so to speak).  Indeed, once George told us a story about him patiently awaiting a bus, when a woman suddenly rushed up to him (one he didn’t know) and suddenly kissed him, right there in the street, stating she thought he was so handsome.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the blog today.  A friend of George’s in the Los Angeles area, is putting together a “Go Fund Me” page in order to help pay for George’s Memorial and burial — or in this case paying the fee to obtain his ashes, since cremation was George’s wish.

We miss George in many different ways.  We don’t have the heart yet to go through all his things, and we still have the door to his room closed (as he liked it to be), in honor of him.  We also know that George is in a good place, and will bring much joy to those wherever he may be.

Would love to hear any comments you have today on the blog, any memories you have of your elders, or grandparents or of your dearly departed loved ones.  So be sure to come on in.  Also, in honor of George, I’ll be giving away a paperback book of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, which is part of the Blackfoot Warrior Series.  It was really while working on the literacy project on the Blackfeet reservation where my husband and I became friends with George. 

Of course, all our rules for give-aways apply — they are listed here on our site over to the right of the page.  But please do come on in and if you please, share some of your own thoughts and experiences with me.

 

 

Updated: May 6, 2019 — 8:10 am

Julie Benson’s Winner!

The winner of the wine glass, bracelet and Colorado Rescue giveaway is. . .

Laini

Congratulations!

I will contact you at the email

address you used at Petticoats and Pistols concerning getting your giveaway.

Again, congratulations, and thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat about your favorite library memories.

                               Julie

Updated: May 1, 2019 — 8:28 pm