My Crazy Library … What’s on Your Bookshelf?

When I started out today, I had no idea what I wanted to blog about!  So I hit my bookshelf in my office looking for ideas and WA-LA, I realized that my BOOKS were the blog!   Often times, I scrounge around the bookstore shelves looking for that one “bargain” book that I might use for a story.  I hit garage sales, when I have time, (not so often lately) and check out the used book section in my public library.  Often, friends give me books and I do appreciate their understanding that in order to write a good book, a writer needs to to spark their creative juices.  That’s a whole nuther blog folks.  Today, I’m sticking to the subject!7117yg506vl__bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg

The whole world is our writing oyster, to tweak a well-known phrase a little.  We never know when or where we’ll use the knowledge gained in those books we  keep on our shelves.  Sometimes, it’s hit or miss.  Sometimes, we use a book over and over and other times, we may use it once or not at all. 

So I perused my bookshelf and found some fun things I’ve purchased over the years. For instance, I have a book from the Whodunit series, called Deadly Doses – a writer’s guide to poisons.    Wonderful!  I remember finding a way a villain could knock off my hero in Chase Wheeler’s Woman, a Harlequin Historical from early in my career. The method was simple with ingredients that are easily accessable in today’s world. I thought and thought about this. Then I realized I couldn’t in all conscience, put that deathly method into my story!  I know, I know … but I just couldn’t spell it out in such specific terms.   It was too easy for someone to do … so I used vague terms and the end result was the same.  The hero drank the poisoned tea and almost died without me revealing the details.   But at least, MY conscience was clear!  I don’t know how mystery and thriller writers do it.  Maybe that’s why I write romance. 🙂

img_0001.JPGI continued perusing my shelves and came up with LOVE TYPES by  Dr. Alexader Avila.   He gave a very insightful lecture at my chapter meeting and of course, I bought his book.  This book claims that by using his LoveType tm, system,  you can instantly help identify your soulmate when you meet him or her.     It’s really quite fascinating and the first chapters delve into you first, Unmasking Yourself.  There’s even this nifty quiz that helps you decide who you are. Then in later chapters, the author describes how to identify your soulmate from the list that includes, The Meaning Seekers, The Knowledge Seekers, The Security Seekers and The Excitement Seekers.  Each of these are broken down some more into subcategories.  For instance, under The Excitement Seekers, you’d find, The Gentle Artist, The Craftsperson, The Performer and the Wheeler-Dealer.  There are 16 love types in all.   I thought that I’d really use this book, with hopes of helping with characterizations and internal conflicts.  But no.  I’ve had the book 5 years at least, and the cover appears untouched. It’s in excellent condition, because I MAY have referred to it once.  But that’s all.  That’s not to say that I WON’T at some time in my writing life. So the book stays.

img_0002.JPGMany years ago I picked up a book at the Used Book section of the library, called A Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners.  It sat and sat on my bookshelf and I knew that book would come in very handy one day.  That day didn’t come far into the future because, you see, I had always wanted to use that book, somehow.   And then it hit me … I’d write a romance about a female veterinarian in present day.   Like Lightning became my 3rd Desire about a female vet whose office burns down and she takes up residence at our hero’s ranch to continue her practice.   From there, it was a no-brainer.  I had this great book that spoke of rural animal ailments and how to cure them.  The research was built-in, pictures and all.   And since then, I’ve used the info  from that book many times in my westerns as well as my contemporaries.  It was a gold mine of a book and it cost me $0.00   That’s right.  The book was on the Free Shelf in the library.  Don’t you just love it!

isreading.jpgAnne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird is a keeper.  There’s nothing like it to boost up your creativy.  And then there’s Poker Champion Doyle Brunson’s  book  teaching me the fast strategies of Texas Hold Em.  More than one of my contemporary heroes has played the game, so I needed to brush up on my poker skills.  

 The Cowboy Dictionary is a book I refer to with every historical I write. Where else could I learn that “huggin rawhide” means sticking to the saddle while riding a bucking horse or that a “huckydummy ” is a cowboy’s term for a baking powder biscuit with raisins or a “door knob” is a cowboy’s term for a young boy who still has some growing to do.   The Best Name Baby Book I found at a used book sale and it’s my savior. Whenever I start a new story, I search through those names to find the perfect name for my hero and heroine, and sometimes, even my secondary characters. 

So I ask you … if a stranger walked into my office and took note of these books, would he know I write romances?  I think not.  Our sources for information are as varied as the books we write!   And my next question is – like the Capital One commercial, what’s in your wallet, I’m asking “What’s on your bookshelf?”  Share with us the weirdest book you have on your shelf and how it came to be there.  


Available today on Eharlequin and bookstores in March.

Happy Trails and Happy Reading!

Cochise, Apache Legend

chandler-seated.jpgNo, this isn’t a photo of Cochise.  It’s Jeff Chandler, the Brooklyn-born actor who played the great Apache chief in three different movies, winning an Oscar nomination for his portrayal in the 1950 film, BROKEN ARROW.  No photograph of the real Cochise exists.  But accounts of the time describe him as tall and handsome with a fiercely majestic presence.  At a time when Native Americans were commonly played by white actors, Chandler (who was 6’ 5” and Jewish) did a first class job.  The scene where James Stewart walks into the Apache camp and Cochise, played by Chandler, first steps into sight, is pure goose bump material.   

The real Cochise was born some time between 1812 and 1815, most likely in the Chiricahua Mountains of what is now southern Arizona.  By 1835 he was leading raids against the Apaches’ traditional enemies, the Mexicans.  His ferocity in battle and his chiefly bearing soon made him a leader among his people.

Cochise tolerated the growing presence of Americans in his territory until an incident in 1861.  A rancher had lost some cattle and his half-Mexican son.  The local army commander summoned Cochise to his tent.  Cochise came with his wife and son, his brother and several nephews.  Cochise, who was innocent, was accused of the crime.  When the soldiers tried to arrest him, he drew a knife, slashed the tent and escaped.The soldiers held Cochise’s family hostage.  To ransom them, Cochise kidnapped four men from a stagecoach station.  Believing that his family had been killed, Cochise tortured and killed his captives.  In retaliation, the soldiers killed his brother and nephews, who were still prisoners.  Cochise’s wife and son were released, but the damage was done.  Throughout the 1860’s Cochise made war on the Americans, raiding, killing, striking terror into the hearts of settlers and outwitting the army at every turn.  When his father-in-law, the great Mangas Coloradas, was murdered by whites, who removed his head and sent it back East, Cochise’s rage reached new heights.  By the end of the decade Cochise was the most feared Indian in America.

Enter a new player in this drama.  Mail supervisor Thomas Jeffords was the one white man Cochise respected and trusted.  Their friendship is one of the greatest legends of the West. Through a series of events, Jeffords managed to arrange a meeting between Cochise and General Howard, known for his fairness toward the Indians.  A treaty was arranged, which gave the Apaches a reservation in their beloved mountains and named Cochise’s friend Jeffords as the reservation agent. 

jeffords.jpgJeffords, shown here, was played in the film BROKEN ARROW by James Stewart.  The romance between Jeffords and the Apache girl, played by Debra Paget, was entirely fictional.  But the rest of the story is mostly true.

Cochise honored the treaty to the end of his days and died in his sixties of natural causes.  His grave has never been found.  His eldest son Taza, who followed him as tribal leader, also walked the path of peace.  He died of pneumonia on a visit to Washington DC in 1876.  Cochise’s younger son Naiche and his warrior daughter Lozen continued the fight for freedom alongside another Apache leader who, in my estimation, was even more fascinating than Cochise.  But that’s a story for next time.

Who is your favorite Native American character, in film, fiction or history?  What do you think of the way Native Americans are portrayed in movies?  I’m very interested in your opinions.

Mildred Colvin, Saturday’s Guest!

9781597898904.jpgOh my goodness! I see Miss Mildred Colvin has arrived for her little social here in Wildflower Junction. She’s checked in bag and baggage over at the hotel and is resting up for the affair. Rumor has it she’s going to fill us in on the Code of the West and remind us of a few things that bear repeating. We can never be too upstanding and honest in my opinion. And then I hear she’ll give us lessons on cowboys and their magnetism. Of course, we’re always eager to learn more about the handsome men that make our hearts go pitter-patter. Hitch up your buggies on Saturday and hightail it for town. We’ll be waitin’.

Black Gold, Texas Tea, Y’all Come Back Now, Here?

BootsIn my research for Gingham Mountain’s oil story angle I found out so many interesting things that I could have written the whole book about it. First how come my bad guy recognizes the oil seeping up out of the ground as valuable while the guy who owns the land just thinks whatever it is fouls his water? It’s because oil was still in it’s infancy in 1880. There wasn’t much market for kerosene because coal oil was inexpensive and wood and candles provided heat and light so simply, why consider another source. It reminds me just a little bit of us, now in American…well all over the world. These days oil seems simple and other sources of power seem complicated and expensive, like solar power and nuclear power. So we don’t make much use of them.

Here’s why my bad guy knew and my cowboy hero didn’t. He was from Pennsylvania. In the early 1850s, a Pittsburgh druggist named Samuel Kier began selling bottled oil from his father’s brine wells as “Pennsylvania Rock Oil”, but met with little success. One day a whale oil dealer, processed a small amount of Kier’s “tonic” to make a lighter oil that burned well in a lamp. When Kier heard about this, he began using a one-barrel whiskey still of his own to convert his rock oil into lamp oil. After Kier upgraded his still to five-barrel capacity, Pittsburgh forced him to move his operation to a suburb out of fear of an explosion. In or around 1854, Benjamin Silliman of Yale University successfully distilled oil into several fractions, including an illuminating oil – kerosene.

cover_petticoatranch_sm.jpgI thought this was really interesting. One barrel. Get that? His ‘refinery’ was one whiskey barrel in which he converted rock oil into lamp oil. So in Gingham Mountain, the third book in my series that begins with Petticoat Ranch, I felt like it was safe to have a small time refinery. But I didn’t want my bad guy to set up the refinery himself because he needed to sneak in and out of the oil seep to steal the oil and he wouldn’t want to leave a trail. So he hauls his stolen oil to the nearest town and ships it to someone who refines it.

For years they ‘harvested’ the oil by skimming it off a creek, producing at the peak, six to ten gallons a day, so this is how my bad guy is harvesting his oil. But the twist that came after the skimming was drilling. In the summer of 1859 the experiment with drilling began. Although progress was slow, usually three feet a day in shale bedrock, they reached a depth of 69½ feet by August 27. When the drilling tools were pulled from the well one morning, they noticed oil rising in the hole. After installing a hand-operated lever pump borrowed from a local kitchen, the first day’s production was about twenty-five barrels. Production soon dropped off to a steady ten barrels or so a day, and the well is said to have continued at that rate for a year or more. Although this well was no gusher, it was the beginning of an idea. Titusville transformed almost overnight from a quiet farm town to an oil boom town of muddy roads, hastily constructed wooden derricks, and noisy steam engines. The Pennsylvania oil boom was on! This was in 1859, two years later the first oil well was drilled in Calfornia. Sites continued to be discovered steadily through 1878, the year Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and overnight the demand for kerosene plummeted as electric lights caught on. The oil industry entered a recession that didn’t fully recover until the invention of the first practical gas powered automobile in 1886—I could write a whole blog about this too. Fascinating. Horse and CarEven with the car appearing, it wouldn’t be affordable until they began rolling off the assembly line. The first to do this was Ransome Eli Olds in 1901, followed quickly by Henry Ford.

And also in 1901, the Spindletop gusher came in near Beaumont, Texas. Spindletop was not the first nor the biggest, but  it was one of the great gushers of all time, and, most important, it heralded the birth of the Texas oil industry. spindletop1.jpg

Spindletop blew in when Anthony Lucas, a Louisiana mining engineer, drilled a well to 1,020 feet on a lease owned by Texas businessman and amateur geologist Patillo “Bud Higgins”. Lucas placed his well on a low hill that he and Higgins thought might be a salt dome, and when the ground began to tremble on that fateful day in January and a great spout of oil exploded into the air, it confirmed their belief that oil accumulated around salt domes. The well produced an astounding 800,000 barrels of oil in just 8 days.

By September, there were at least six wells producing from the crest of Spindletop, with many more on the way. Total production from the field in 1985 stood at 153 million barrels.

One of the reasons the oil and the cars is so interesting is because of the innovation of it all. I read on one of the research sites that there are over 100,000 patents that led to the invention of the first automobile. There was a fortune to be made if you were first, if you made a tiny improvement in an old patent.

flintlock.jpgWatch the History of the Gun sometime on the History Channel. It’s like the story of America. The race to patent improvements, cars are like that, and oil…finding uses for it made people rich. Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park, had an INVENTION FACTORY. People would come in and say, “Can you make this egg beater electric?” And he’d do it.

Think about the way we’re surrounded with technology now and think back to…smoke signals…the pony express…telegraph lines…airmail…the phones with cranks and operators with wires to plug in to connect people. Now, we can’t make cell phones small enough. iphone.jpg

Could any of us really survive in the rugged west or are we too soft and too far removed from the chicken coop to the cut up chicken on the styrofoam plate in your grocer’s freezer.

What’s the most amazing invention to you? What’s your favorite?

Thank you for visiting!

horseheader1.jpeGood Evening!

It was a very inspiring day today to read all of your posts.  I want to especially thank all the following people for joining in with the discussion today:  Kelly Mortimer, Taryn Raye, Jeanne Sheats, Jane Squires, Phyliss Miranda, Estella, Nance Miller, Ally, and my fellow fillies, Elizabeth Lane, Mary Connealy, Stacey Kayne and Charlene Sands.

Have a wonderful evening!

Touring, Fans & Friendship

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

 Perhaps it’s because I have a book coming out in March that my attention is centering more and more on touring.  This year, unfortunately for me, I will be unable to tour — mostly because I am away from home.  Because touring gives me a chance to get out away from home and to meet people who read and who enjoy reading books (and hopefully my books), I thought I’d devote this time to talking about fans and friendships.

group-11.jpguntitled-91.jpgIt seems that we writers have a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the United States, and sometimes from around the world, as well.  Because people do read our books, it seems that it is easy to become close with each other in a very short order, indeed.  The pictures above include friends Lois Greiman, Jodi Thomas and writers and readers from the Amarillo, TX area.  The second picture is at Sunshine Bookstore in the Los Angeles area and with friend, Glynnis Campbell (aka Sarah McKerrigan).  Many readers and fans have become friends, even though we may not have ever met face-to-face.  This is because we correspond on a monthly, weekly or even a daily basis in many cases.    It is, indeed, a most fortunate circumstance — fortunate because in my opinion, one is only as alive as he/she has friends.


Above are pictured from left to right, myself with Lois Greiman at Borders in New York (this group is now working with Barnes & Noble), Bookseller, Tina Wood at Waldenbooks/Broders in Orlando, FL.  — in Alabama with Books-A-Million rep, and at the Temecula Barnes & Noble in California.  In this business, friends are for keeps, and your fans and your readers and booksellers are definitely friends.  I guess that’s why many of us who write keep an open door approach to readers and fans.  We want to hear from you, we want to write to you, to get to know you and hear about your hopes and dreams — even those things that might frustrate you from time to time.  Writing is a very personal experience, and I think that often, after one reads a book, it is as though you have come to know that author pretty well, and hopefully to think of that author like a trusted friend.  Therefore, it is perhaps an opening to a warm friendship.

For myself, I think of my friends and my readers in a rather intense way.  I think readers are a very special people, who seem to have bypassed the need to watch television every night,  who instead prefer to get their news and/or entertainment from books rather than having events spoon fed to them by news agencies, many of whom only seem to  mouth the most recent propaganda.  We who read seem to subscribe to the idea that we are still entitled to think for ourselves and we’d rather read about it ourselves and make up our own mind about things, events, people.  If you read, and I’m certain that most of you do, you will probably agree with this, I think.

pats1.jpg8-birmingham1.jpg6-watkinsville1.jpgFrom left to right, myself with the two Pats.  Then a wonderful reader from Alabama and another terrific fan from Georgia.  So in closing let me say how much I appreciate each and every one of my readers, every one of my fans and everyone of you who come to this blog and dare to write to us.  You are one of the main reasons I and many other writers continue to write.

May it always be so.  TBR4 

Winner of T-Shirt and Autographed Book

Wasn’t Phyliss a great addition to our weekend?  Thank you, Phyliss, for doing such a wonderful job, and I do hope you recover quickly from your arduous journey with those ornery mules.  Come back soon!

But wait!  Phyliss drew a name!  She will send the lucky winner a GIVE ME A TEXAN T-Shirt and a copy of the anthology signed by all four authors!  And the winner is….


Congrats, you lucky girl!

Phyliss Miranda Asks: What’s on Your Bucket List?

give-me-a-texan_jodi_thomas_linda_broday_phyliss-miranda.jpgphyliss_miranda.jpgGood morning from Texas!  

One of the first things people want to know about a writer, besides where we get our story ideas, is how we got started.      

In the summer of 2001, I sat methodically underlining the word “change” with a red Sharpie. I doodled through a list of things I had on my bucket list. You know, the endeavors you want to do before you kick the bucket. Since I had buried my little sister at the age of fifty, I realized if I wanted to achieve my dreams, I had to get off high-center. Make a change; something I have difficulty with.

I took inventory: Conquer the guitar, skydiving lessons, rappelling, surfing, and writing a cookbook. I tossed the guitar idea, when I remembered how the thin strings burned my fingertips. I vigorously scratched off the extreme sports…leaving the cookbook as my best option. Now, this seemed a reasonable goal. Isn’t our first learned skill after holding a bottle, writing? All babies begin with food before graduating to crayons on the wall.

linda_broday_editor_hilary_jodi_thomas.jpgLuck beamed down. The catalogue for the local college arrived that very day. Obviously, God had sent a signal. I evaluated the offerings. The first thing I discovered, no “cookbook” writing classes! Hum? I pondered the listing. How about “Creative Writing”, taught by a New York Times best-selling author? Doable and challenging.  That’s it…I’ll write the Great American Novel, but where should I begin? Registration! I hurried and completed the paperwork. Afraid I’d miss the postman, I broke my personal best getting to the post office. Didn’t want to miss the first class.

Three weeks to wait. What now? I’d need supplies, right? With my credit card in tow, I scurried off to Office Depot.  Two hours later, I returned with an array of pens and pencils, a newly revised Webster’s dictionary and thesaurus, two spiral notebooks, and two reams of paper. Satisfied with myself, I plopped the bag of goodies on my desk. Maybe I should have purchased more paper, but if I couldn’t get a four hundred page novel written using a thousand sheets of paper, I’d better forget about becoming an author. 

books_on_desk.jpgAs if they were the Holy Sacraments, I placed the dictionary and thesaurus on my worktable. I sharpened the pencils and took out the notepads—one for my first book and the other for the sequel. I’ve always been a big thinker. If a little is good, a lot is better. That’s hunky-dory for dessert but a bit shaky for hand grenades and novels. There I sat with a dream in my heart, a dozen #2 pencils, and two empty notebooks. Add a lot of determination, and I had everything necessary to become a writer. Didn’t I? 

While I waited for the class to begin, I wondered what kind of assignment we would get? No doubt, it would  be exciting and exotic. I’d better think of a plot. A couple of dim-witted ideas surfaced. “How about my cousin who married his third wife’s sister by her father?” Too complicated, unless I wanted to write a soap opera. 

purple_boa.jpg“The Day” finally arrived. Off I trotted, toting my books and thoughts. What did a writer look like? Being a New York Times best-selling author sounded impressive, so I figured our teacher would be dressed like Barbara Cartland—wearing the Hope Diamond and a hat. Yes, one with purple feather plumes. She’d carry a Louis Vuitton bag full of her books just in case someone wanted her to autograph one.  I arrived on campus early, and chose a seat up front, so I could get a good look at a real author—truly a phenomenon. Entered our teacher, Ms. Jodi! A pert blonde, wearing a chic pantsuit with a bright scarf, floated through the door, bringing with her an unmistakable aura. Surely she was the greatest writer I had seen. But then, she was the only author I’d ever laid eyes on.  For the next hour, I perched on the edge of my seat spellbound. I’d been to the Tri-State Fair and the circus, but I had never seen anything like her.   

jodi_thomas_phyliiss_miranda.jpg“A book begins with an idea, plus many hours of labor and perspiration,” she said. I knew I could handle the perspiration, but I’d have to think about the hours of labor thing. I remembered labor only too well. It hurt like crazy, I couldn’t sit down for a week, and my husband disgusted me for three months. 

Then there was the “every bad character has a good trait—every good guy has flaws” theory. Add “a villain has reasons, and a hero has weaknesses,” and you have my schizoid cousin on one of her off days. “Let your mind wander!” Now, I certainly could do that. An idea is ”what if?” Isn’t that like: Where would my cousin be today, if her mother hadn’t slept with the milkman? The sponge from within absorbed every morsel of knowledge. 

lost_shoe.jpg“Now, for next week’s assignment,” said Ms. Jodi. My anxiety level kicked into full throttle. She was about to give us the mysterious spine-tingling subject for our first writing assignment. Excitement built.  A shoe on the side of the road! What in the hay? That wasn’t exotic or thrilling. It was boring. The only other word I could think of, without the thesaurus, was, well, boring!   

Quite intimidated, I walked away from my first class, recapping as I drove home. To become a writer, I had to perspire, let my mind wander, appreciate my schizoid cousin, remember my labor pains, and write a short story about a shoe.           

whatahunk.jpgAt home, I wrangled with the topic while I removed my makeup. Dang it, this writing thing might get complicated. To begin with, I had to find something unique about a shoe on the side of the road! How in the world could I tell my wonderful, supportive husband that my first story was about a shoe? When asked, I didn’t exactly lie. I professed it was about a nurse and policeman. They wear shoes, don’t they? 

Still dwelling on how I beat the truth around a stump, I crawled in bed. Sleep melded with story ideas and darted around me like a screensaver going awry. Suddenly, my eyes popped open. That’s it! That’s my story. I shot straight up and scurried off to my office. Correction, my little self-proclaimed cubicle in the sunroom. I didn’t know pajamas would become my creative wardrobe. Forget pencils and paper; boot that computer! I flipped on the lamp, hoping not to disturb my husband. Didn’t want him to think I’d become obsessive-compulsive. Later when Ms. Jodi told me, “You need an almost demonic compulsiveness to write,” it all made perfect sense. 

By candlelight—it was really a nightlight disguised as a mini table lamp, but candlelight sounds more like what a writer should say—I wrote my first short story…”Footprints on the Heart”. Yep, about a policeman and a nurse, and a shoe found on the side of the road. 

linda_broday_phyliss_miranda.JPGNow, six years later, this lackluster assignment brought me to my first release “Give Me a Texan,” which I co-authored with four talented, totally awesome friends: Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and DeWanna Pace. I’d love for you to check out book trailer and an excerpt on my website:  If you feel adventurous, follow the link to our cover model, Nathan Kamp, and all of his book covers. My excitement is just as real today as it was the day I attended my first writing class. No, I haven’t written the cookbook, but it’s still on my bucket list.  

And, as you’ve probably guessed, my teacher was USA Today and New York Times bestselling novelist, Jodi Thomas.

DRAWING: I’m giving away an autographed hardback copy of GIVE ME A TEXAN, signed by all four authors, AND a T-shirt with the cover on the front to one person whose name I’ll draw Sunday evening, so leave a comment!

So…what’s on your bucket list? 

Saturday’s Guest, Phyliss Miranda!

lindabroday.jpgDon’t you be forgettin’ Miss Phyliss Miranda tomorrow. Us Fillies have had to shake our bustles sprucing this place up for our company. On top of that, we had to send out a rescue party to escort Miss Miranda to our doorstep. It was those blasted, contrary mules! They dug in their heels and nothing on God’s green earth would budge ’em. But, she’s here now safe and sound and ready to gab up a storm. We’ll have us a grand old time. Y’all are welcome to come and join us, you hear.

Capturing the Perfect Moment

PerfectA perfect moment: those times when we’re trudging through the mud and the muck of life, or perhaps just treading across the uneven ground, and we stumble upon a fragment of time when all our troubles fade into the distance and all seems right in our world.  You can’t plan a perfect moment, they just sort of creep up on you amid the daily hubbub, sometimes amid a crisis, settling over you like a warm cloud, and in that moment the stars align, clouds part, and you’re able to see life’s blessings with stunning clarity.  In my own life, it’s the simplest moments that stand out the most, like being stopped at a traffic light and laughing with my boys as they reenact their school-yard antics, and realizing in that moment how grateful I am to have them; stuck on the tarmac in the blazing Arizona heat with my hubby, crammed in those tight airplane seats, and laughing about laughing at our rotten luck–and what could have been a horrible experience suddenly becomes a perfect moment.   Recently I’ve been dealing with some healing issues that have set me back far more than I could have anticipated and while the process has been disappointing and frustrating, it’s also given me some of those perfect moments. As a parent I spoil and praise and dote on my boys every chance I get. My boys are your average long-haired, music-blaring, video gaming, do-I-have-to-take-the-trash-out-NOW? teens, and I see it as my job to keep their days running smoothly,T&E the positive energy flowing, and to do what I can to make their lives generally happy. There’s been days when I’ve wondered if I was teaching them respect and consideration by example, or simply spoiling them. Well, in mid December the whole Mom’s-got-it-covered routine in our lives came to a grinding halt. Not only could I not tend to their needs…I needed them to tend to mine. And my boys amazed me. They were far more helpful and gracious than I could have expected and when days turned into weeks, their patience and positive attitudes didn’t waver. A couple weeks ago when I was about to do more than I should, and one of my boys dropped his game controller and jumped up, saying, “No, mom. I’ll take care of that.” (as they’ve done repeatedly in the past month) My hubby and I looked at each other and captured a perfect moment, when all the work and worry we put into parenting turned to pride, and all was well in my world. Now, my boys aren’t old enough to drive yet, so I’m sure I’ll need moments like these to reflect on during those less-than-perfect moments when I’m shouting something more along the lines of “What were you thinking?!” *g* but such is the balance of life.

As a writer, these are my favorite moments in a book, when the characters are caught up in the action and calamity happening all around, and something happens to take them deeper into Couplethat moment, a touch, a look, and without warning, there it is, a perfect moment–and suddenly their burdens are lifted, even if just for those few seconds, they appreciate the beauty of just being there with each other in that moment in time.  They often catch me by surprise right along with my characters…just as they do in life.  I find some of my favorite books by other authors are defined by those “awww” moments that capture my heart.  In Laveryl Spencer’s HUMMINGBIRD, Jessie DuFrayne has come back to town on the eve of Miss Abigail’s wedding day…he’s budged his way into her house, giving Abby no choice but to hear him out. As they sit with their feet propped near the stove and she begins to talk about her wedding plans, their toes touch, their eyes meet, and for a brief moment the rest of the world falls away and there’s nothing left but the rightness of being there in that moment with each other ….*sigh*   The moment is quickly snuffed, but it’s those glimmars of hope that keep me turning the pages, and rooting for that happily-ever-after.  We know there’s still muck and mud to be treaded…but with plenty of those perfect moments captured in between, the rough patches seem a little lighter.

So, how about y’all?  Care to share any perfect moments?  How about your favorite character MAVERICK“perfect moment” from a book?