Great Posts Country Fans! And the Winner is…

Natalie’s name was picked from my random drawing to receive a book from my backlist and Harlequin Coupons! Congratulations and thanks for posting everyone! It was fun!

Please email me with your address and title you’d like at

 Available titles….

Silhouette Desires about Cowboys

Bunking Down with the Boss

Fortune’s Vengeful Groom

Like Lightning

Harlequin Historicals

Lily Gets Her Man

The Courting of Widow Shaw

Chase Wheeler’s Woman

Renegade Wife





Yes, I’m talking about country music! Who’d have thunk that this New York born, Motown-loving, transplanted Californian would be moved by the rockabilly twang, the slow easy ballads, the humor, the honesty that is now the country music phenomenon.

The truth is my venture into writing began about the same time I found country music on the radio. Tired of the oldies, unable to relate to the new hip-hop sounds blasting the stations nationwide and feeling a little lost — musically and professionally, I knew I needed more of something in my life. I recall hearing Faith Hill on a pop music stationimages-tim-and-faith.jpg. But it wasn’t just Faith who intrigued me, but the man singing the duet with her, her new husband, Tim McGraw.  I knew little of both of them, but thought to investigate this “country music” thing.  

I bought a Tim McGraw CD, watched him perform on Jay Leno one night, and as they say, I was a goner. Being a western romance writer,  I fell in love with country music from that day on.  Tim’s tight jeans, black hat and amazing smile, helped just a little. 🙂     (Met him once and never miss his concerts) 

Seriously, the music called to me, beckoning with tunes of lost loves, of heroes found, of sweet smiles and first crushes.  The songs tell a complete story in three minutes, painting vivid pictures with impressions that stick in your head, long after the tunes are gone.   

I found the music inspiring, the lyrics fresh and honest, the images real. Sometimes humorous and fun, sometimes  heart-breakingly sad, sometimes soulful and  deep.  Those heart-tugging emotions evoked a longing for something else in my life.   They inspired me. They moved me. They made me feel. 

I can’t say that music solely played a role to help me find my lifelong passion of writing, but those short musical bursts of true life told beautifuly through rhythm and lyrics, with fiddles and drums and guitars and keyboards surely inspired me at a time when I truly needed inspiration.

bradpaisley46-426×135.jpgThe same holds true today.  Often I’m asked the timeless question writers are asked- where do I get my ideas?  My silent answer : From Tim and Faith and Toby and Kenny. From Martina and Brad and Shania.  From  Rascal Flatts and Brooks and Dunn, to name a few of my favorites.


 untitled-toby-keith.bmpShould Have Been A Cowboy…Toby Keith

I bet you’ve never heard ol’ Marshall Dillion say, Miss Kitty have you ever thought of running away
Settling down would you marry me?
If I asked you twice and begged you pretty please.  She’d have said yes in a New York minute
They never tied the knot
His heart wasn’t in it
He just stole a kiss as he rode away
He never hung his hat up at Kitty’s place

I should’ve been a cowboy
I should’ve learned to rope and ride
Wearing my six-shooter riding my pony on a cattle drive
Stealing the young girl’s hearts
Just like Gene and Roy
Singing those campfire songs
Oh I should’ve been a cowboy

I might of had a sidekick with a funny name
Running wild through the hills chasing Jesse James
Ending up on the brink of danger
Riding shotgun for the Texas Rangers
Go west young man, haven’t you been told
California’s full of whiskey, women and gold
Sleeping out all night beneath the desert stars
With a dream in my eye and a prayer…
In my heart


AnywayMartina McBride


You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ’em anyway


2812106-280×336.jpgLive Like You Were Dying …Tim McGraw (10 weeks at #1)

He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout’ the options and talking bout’ sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ‘cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
He said

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

He said I was finally the husband, that most the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend, a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden goin’ fishin, wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
Well I finally read the good book, and I took a good long hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again
And then

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Shu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denyin’
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

My Top 10 Favorite Country Artists

Tim McGraw

Faith Hill

Martina McBride

Carrie Underwood


Brooks and Dunn

Josh Turner

Toby Keith

George Strait

So Much More

I could go on and on about country  songs that inspire me.  The ones that make me laugh out  loud. (Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off)  The ones that are almost too heartbreaking to listen to (Concrete Angel). The ones that pull at your parental heartstrings(There Goes My Life) and the ones that speak about love and romance. (I Need You)   

The stories they tell and  rich emotions they evoke all help me develop my characters, create my plots and put those words on the page.

There are too many songs to name and too many artists I enjoy to post here.  But I’d love to know if you’re a fan of country music?  Are there songs that help inspire you whatever your profession?  Who are your favorites? 

Post a comment and be entered into a drawing for Harlequin Coupons and a book from my backlist of available titles!

Happy Trails !


Under the Covers

the-stranger.jpg          Some people ask me if we authors get to design our book covers.  The answer is no.  We don’t see them until they’re print ready—not at Harlequin, at least, or any other publisher that I’m aware of.  I’m sure there’s a good reason behind this.  If we were given input into our covers along the way, the poor production folks would never hear the end of us.           

Most publishers, including Harlequin, do let their authors fill out a form describing the setting, the hero, heroine and any other important characters, and some key scenes that might work as cover art.  Along with the form we can submit sample photos—catalog models or actors that resemble our hero and heroine, pictures of the setting, key objects, etc.  From there it’s all up to the editors and art directors.           

Cover art has changed a lot over the years.  The early Harlequin Historical covers were paintings.  They were exquisite.  Some of us were lucky enough to have covers painted by the legendary cover artist, Pino (Cheryl, is your RAIN SHADOW cover a Pino?  It has the look.)  Today’s covers are more likely to be computer-enhanced photos, but they’re still beautiful.            

Covers in the early days of sensual romance usually showed the hero and heroine in a passionate clinch.  I was told (and it seemed to be true) that you could tell the level of sensuality in a book by two things—the position of the hero’s hands and the depth of the heroine’s cleavage.  Aren’t we glad that era is over?            

Seeing your cover for the first time is always a thrill.  The heart leaps—or sometimes it sinks.   Egad!  My hero looks like Donald Trump!  What were they thinking?   Usually, however, it’s just a Wow! I love the cover for my new book, THE STRANGER.  The house is supposed to be a one-story adobe.  But that scrumptious hero…oh, yeah!   Who’s going to look at the house?

You can see all my covers on my web site.  Most of them are wonderful (I’d love to hear your favorite).  But the winner of my Worst Cover award is no contest.  One of my earliest books, BRIDE OF FORTUNE, was based on real events and real characters.  The heroine was an American woman who married a Prussian prince and became involved in the Mexican war to depose the Austrian Emperor Maximilian.  I sent clearly labeled photos of the heroine, her handsome, clean-shaven prince, and the bearded emperor.  Somebody mixed them up.  The cover shows the heroine in the arms of the emperor.  To add insult to injury the art on the back cover is an exact copy of a scene from the movie, “Anastasia” with Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes, clearly recognizable.   (No, the publisher wasn’t Harlequin.)


And my favorite cover?  It’s WILD WINGS, WILD HEART, my only Silhouette Special Edition.  The beautiful heroine is my daughter, Tanya, who died in a car accident in 1985.  I sent them her picture and they used it as a model.  My throat still gets tight when I look at it.


Do you have a favorite book cover?  Any questions or fun cover stories to share?  We’d love to hear them.  And the winner I draw from those of you who post comments will receive a copy of THE STRANGER or your choice of my other recent books.

Good Evening!

horseheader11.jpeBefore we leave for the evening, I wanted to thank you all for joining me here today in our discussion of pow-wows. A special thanks goes to Buffie, AndreaW., Mary Connelly, Debbie, Tanya Hanson, and Lew Gordon for joining me, and of course a special thanks goes out to my fellow Western authors, Linda Broday, Lorraine, Charlene, Pam Crooks, Elizabeth Lane and Pat Potter, who have made the day special. I’ve enjoyed chatting with you all.

Be sure to join us tomorrow for more fun. more stories, and more chatting.




horseheader11.jpeGood Morning!

In July, my huband and I spent three weeks on the Blackfeet reservation. We were there with church volunteers and my friend, Patricia, where we were sponsoring some literacy and drug education programs. Plus, last week we were on the Crow reservation where we were again working with volunteers. Therefore, I thought you might like to hear something about the pow-wow, both the historical pow-wow and modern-day event.

The pow-wow — so much a part of the Western landscape and culture — attracts visitors from all over the world.

What are they all about?

endtour1.jpeOkay, let’s start first with the history of the modern pow-wow. Probably the early beginnings of the modern pow-wow has its roots in the summer/autumn gathering of the tribe. During the winter and spring months, the tribe would separate in their different bands to go their own way, to hunt and to prepare for the coming winter. Spring was of course devoted to gathering food and hunting. But in the late summer or early autumn the entire tribe would come together for ceremonials and religious renewal, as well as for cultural activities. It was a chance for young people to get to know other young people from other bands of the tribe, as well as for relatives and old friends to come together again. Often the Sundance was an part of the gathering, as well.

Today, at the modern pow-wow, you’ll see Indian and non-Indian people from all over the country enjoying the community and inspiring atmosphere of the pow-wow. Before we go any furhter, let me explain some terminology: there are some tribes (like the Navajo), who like to be referred to as Native Americans. But on the Northern Plains of North American, those tribes like the Blackfeet and Lakota, these people prefer to be called Indian. As one person put it to me, “I’m Indian and proud of it.”

Here in Los Angeles we have such a diverse and large American Indian population that if you were to ever attend one of our pow-wows, you’ll notice traditions being observed from all over the country. For instance, here in Los Angeles we have Aztec dancers, something one doesn’t see in the more northern pow-wows.

In the northern pow-wow, you’ll see the men’s Chicken Dance, something you won’t see normally in the Los Angeles Pow-wow.

powwowend21.jpeThere is much dancing and gift giving at the modern pow-wow. All ages participate and there is contesting within the different men’s and women’s forms of dancing. There are several different styles of men’s dances as well as women’s dances, as well. At many of the pow-wows in the west, you’ll also see the modern rodeo in action with some different aspects like the Indian relay race and the tepee raising contests.

There are food ventors — Indian fry bread is popular at all pow-wow’s that I’ve attended — and Native American jewelry of all kinds abounds. At the Blackfeet pow-wow there is the hand game and card games that continue well into the wee hours of the morning and at the Crow Fair pow-wow, one is treated to the sight of 500 or more tepees all set in the background of the beautiful Little Big Horn area.

Have you ever been to a pow-wow? If so, what are your observations? Are you thinking of attending a pow-wow? And if so, do you have questions you’d like to ask before attending? I will be checking into the blog all day long, so let’s start a discussion. I’d love to hear from you.

powwow1.jpeHere are three of us at an LA pow-wow, resting between dances. Patricia, on the left is a Traditional dancer, while Elaine and I are Fancy Dance dancers. As a note, each particular style of dance has its own regalia.

And for your info, all people are welcomed at the pow-wow, and many a romance has been sparked at pow-wow, both the historical, as well as the modern day pow-wow.

So come on in and leave a comment or two. See you later!


Tomorrow’s Topic

horseheader11.jpe A very good afternoon to all you bloggers! I will be your hostess tomorrow on Petticoats & Pistols and, since my husband and I have only returned from the Crow reservation, I thought that you might like to hear a little bit about Pow-wow’s in general — how they started, what they are, what happens at them, who can attend, where they are, who you might see there, what do you eat, etc.

paulkayblackfeet.JPGHere is a picture taken of my husband and myself the Blackfeet Indian Days pow-wow in July of this year. In the picture, I’m wearing the Women’s Fancy Dance regalia. I look forward to talking to you tomorrow, so come and join me for a discussion of this, or any other topic of your choice, as well as a Q & A of pow-wow’s.

red_3-crop-email.jpgCover art for RED HAWK’S WOMAN

Western Revival

With the release of three western movies, dare we hope that there’s a revival of the western on the horizon? A lot of fans, one of the biggest might be me, would dearly love to see the return of blockbuster movies about the old west. It makes more sense to me than stories of gangs, mobs, and modern day violence. I long to escape the problems in today’s society and return to a time when the settlers struggled to put down lasting roots on the rugged prairie. Seems to me returning to the past would give our kids more strength, more reason to resist the dangerous temptations they face daily. Just knowing why and how we got to where we are is powerful stuff. To me anyway.

We have three new westerns either on the big screen now or about to show ansept-dawn.jpgd each features some of the biggest names in the business. Premiering today, August 25th, is September Dawn starring Jon Voigt. It revisits the 1857  massacre of a wagon train of settlers by Mormon fanatics and how they blamed it on the Indian tribe in the area.


jesse-james-movie.jpgThen on October 5th a movie everyone has been anxiously waiting on reaches the theaters …. The Assassination of Jesse James with Brad Pitt!! Be still, my heart. I surely love to look at Brad. You’ll find me in line at the box office.  🙂


yuma.jpgCheryl  already posted the next movie — 3:10 to Yuma — in her very first post. Oh, Russell Crowe! What a hunk. He’s certainly doin’ his mama proud. Can’t think of anyone better suited to personify the rugged western cowboy. Not sure when it starts but it’s been well-advertised. Check out these movies and if they do well at the box office our editors might buy more western romance stories. Worth a shot.

Wild Western Reads!

Bride CoverMustang_WildHuge thanks to everyone for stopping by today!  I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts.  The winners have been drawn!  I printed the replies to all three of my posts and put them in a hat.  My hubby and each of my boys drew a name–couldn’t leave anyone out 😉   And the winners are….

Crystal B, Connie Brand and Mary Lou!!!

I’ll let you choose between MUSTANG WILD and BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON

Send me an email ( with your address and preferred book title, and I’ll get it in the mail  🙂 

Cheers, all!