‘Wonder More’ with Elaine Levine!

          My husband and I took our family (our son, his wife, their two levine3children, and our daughter) back East to see family over Thanksgiving.  It was the first time we’d all been together for Thanksgiving in fifteen years.  It was a fabulous family reunion, and we enjoyed the chance to catch up with everyone’s busy lives.

            I’ve been back East several times since we moved West in 1994, but this trip was the first one that I realized my old stomping grounds aren’t home anymore.  Perhaps I’ve acclimated to the open, treeless Plains.  Perhaps I need to be able to see for hundreds of miles around me in order to have the space to think.

            An ad for the various Smithsonian museums in the DC area drove this home to me.  My dad was a curator of invertebrate zoology at the Natural History Museum for many years before his death, so of course the ad caught my eye.  It featured a contemporary woman in a sun dress facing a vast range of green but treeless high mountain hills with the caption, “Wonder More.”  It made me homesick.  Not for the old days, but for my home in the West.

            It was an epiphany.levine1

            I’m nearly fifty years old, and for most of my adult life, I’ve been searching for my home.  Seeing that ad, I suddenly knew exactly where home was.  And I began to wonder when the West became my home.  A friend of mine recently pointed out that I have a theme of finding home in each of my stories.  I love that theme–I ought to–I’ve lived it for so many years.  There’s something humbling about a character finding home, finding where she (or he) belongs.   

levine2And of course, once I start wondering, I wonder about everything.  Like what it would have been like to live in a time without highway noise or airplanes, cell phones or satellites.  No matter where any of us goes these days, to the remotest Plain or the highest mountain, a helicopter could come rescue us in the blink of an eye.  But what was life like before our time, when leaving home meant you were quickly out of rescue range?

            Wonder more.

            Give yourself license to dream, to experience worlds beyond your own.  I wonder what it would have been like to heed the call of the West in the Nineteenth Century.  Was it anything like the call I answered in the Twentieth Century?  I doubt it.  Mine took three days straight across Interstate-80.  I didn’t have to travel by wagon or foot across Indian lands and rough territory, without bathrooms or medicine or any modern convenience.   I didn’t even leave the States to complete my trek.  And yet I was still scared, still heading for a new beginning.

            Wonder more.

            I’m a hopeless wonderer.  I wonder about you.  What is it about your favorite western hero that made him so memorable to you?  What themes are you drawn to in stories?  What are your own personal themes that you would like to see handled in a story?

   rachelandthehiredgun         RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN is Available Now!

            To celebrate her new book, Elaine is giving away 2 T-shirts with her book cover on them to 2 readers who leave comments this weekend.  If the drawing winners send Elaine a digital picture of themselves wearing the tee that Elaine can post on her MySpace, she’ll receive an autographed copy of RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN! 

            And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Colorado Romance Writers free newsletter for news of Elaine’s activities and those of all the published authors at Colorado Romance Writers! 

            Here’s the link: http://www.elainelevine.com/elaine.html

            Check out Elaine’s website for excerpts, clips and book goodies!

Order Elaine’s exciting debut from Amazon! 



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40 thoughts on “‘Wonder More’ with Elaine Levine!”

  1. hello Elaine!! It is so nice to see you blogging here-it’s a great place!

    I love western historical romances-they are the best around in my opinion!

    For me, there are a few memorable heroes that Ive read about! The ones that stand out the most are usually the lawmen! There’s just something about them! I especially love stories about Rangers!

    I also love reading about “half-breeds” (as they are usually labeled in books)…half white-half Indian! They are always just so interesting to read about. Maybe that’s because they are usually misfits-who dont really fit into either world, so they become hard and without emotion-until that one woman captures their heart!

    And let’s not forget those hot gunslingers! WOW-now those stories usually light up the pages of a book! LOL—-the strong and severe gunslinger falling for a beautiful woman while trying to stay alive through his next challenge..this is very exciting!

    Stories about strong, independent and stubborn men who eventually fall-those are the best to me!

    I would like to see more stories about heros that have a handicap-that live in the wild west…how did they cope? You know their pride would be a big thing to overcome and ask for help and this would make them very bitter towards anyone-especially a beautiful heroine!

    Thanks for blogging today Elaine and I am very much looking forward to reading Rachel and The Hired Gun!

  2. There’s nothing like a woman who knows her men, Melissa! I’m with you on all counts! They are all misfits–wounded, strong, with their own code of ethics. Sigh. That’s why I love westerns!

    And very interesting about a handicapped hero! That circumstance alone would deepen his turmoil.

    Nicely put!

  3. Hi Elaine, I was born and raised in California but currently live in Northern Virginia just inside the Capitol Beltway. I hear you on the differences between East and West. The trees here are lovely and so is the sky, but I’ll take the wide open spaces any time : ) The Smithsonian is truly amazing. That’s cool about your dad.

    Your book sounds like it’s right up my alley!

  4. Hi Victoria! Every place is special in its own unique way. The magic is in finding where you belong…a place to call home. I love the cool forests of No VA in the spring. And in the fall, the scent of old leaves is delicious.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Elaine– Welcome back to P&P! We’re always thrilled to have you. Love the cover of your book. Sexy cowboy! Wow, you got a good one!

    Great picture of your family. It’s wonderful when families get together and have fun.

    I think the theme I enjoy reading about or watching unfold in movies is the hero’s sense of justice and the lengths to which he’ll go to try to set things right. It’s a very capivating struggle to me. But, second behind that is a H/H trying to find a place to belong or fit in.

    Hope you have a great time and enjoy your stay!

  6. Ilike strong protective people who are loyal to their wives and families. Ican’t wait to order and read the book.

  7. Hi Elaine, nice to see you here! First off let me say don’t enter me because I have read your book. It is a fantastic read so ladies make sure you get this book because you will love it, I did. It is one that you will not one to put down once you start reading it. It will stay on my keeper shelf and I will re-read this one.

    I still live about 40 miles from where I was raised. So its still home to me. I went to visit my sister yeasterday and she still lives in my mom’s house. I always heard that home is where you make it, but I guess I just don’t want to change and I will always love close to my true home.

  8. Hi Elaine,
    What a wonderful post today! I thoroughly enjoyed it since I can relate to it greatly. After living my entire life in one area our family decided to move to the Southwest. This permanent move has made an immense impact upon me. I have learned so much and derived enjoyment and pleasure from my new environment and surroundings. The wide open vistas, the endless horizon and the abundant sunshine has lifted my spirits and changed my outlook. My Western hero lives with me everyday. He is my husband whose sense of adventure and determination made this cross country move and I bless him everyday.

  9. Welcome back to Wildflower Junction, Elaine! CONGRATS on your debut, and you already know how much I love that cover. Hubba-hubba!

    I was struck by Melissa’s comment about a handicapped hero. It’d be hard to pull off, I think–but readers love to empathize with a tortured hero, and if he’s a little bit handicapped and feels less of a man for it, all the better. Great conflict, built in.

    In my second western with Harlequin, WANTED!, my hero had lost an eye in a shoot-out with the heroine, and it sure knocked his confidence into the dirt. He came around by the end, of course. He was fun to write!

  10. Hello Elaine,
    Thanks for this great topic which I appreciated. I have always been enthralled with Western heroes. For their grit, principles and their morals and ethics. It always resounded with me since the 1950’s when the Westerns were popular and the shows became an escape for me. The West has always held an allure for me and luckily for me I had an opportunity to change my life completely and move to this spectacular locale. Since the move here I have benefitted from the beauty, magnificent scenery and the lifestyle change. I live in another place in my heart and mind. Thanks again.

  11. I love it, Elaine. Wonder more.

    I think of it as ‘what if’ that pathway we wander along in our daydreams that lead us to a story we want to tell.

    Thanks for visiting us.

  12. Hi Elanie,

    I always wonder what it would have been like to be in each story, I sometimes make the heroine “me” to feel more like part of the story. A hero is someone who stands up for what he believes is right and makes sure no one gets hurt by it.

  13. Hi Elaine!

    I just like those tough handsome heros who absoltely adore their heroines, but they don’t always know how to say it.
    I love reading about how they try to show how they feel.

  14. I love the Texas Ranger Stories, the appealing part that always gets me is the soft spot, like when they talk to children.

    I have a real fondness for mail order brides and the orphan train stories, I guess that would be the same as finding a home.

    Funny thought to share on Half -Breeds.
    I was reading one of Jodi Thomas’ books last week, one of the Whispering Mountain Series, When the hero ask the heroine if she minded him being a half-breed. Her reply was “I don’t like that word, always thought it should be called double-breed for you have double blood.

    Melissa D, you need to read Cheryl’s book “Second Hand Bride” it is about a scared hero. I just finished it and it was great.

  15. Hi Elaine, I sure remember your cover from last time! Talk about understated…

    I was born in Northern Ontario (trees, rocks and bush) and have lived in Manitoba (sunflowers and cornfields), Alberta (mountains, oil derricks and horses, and now Saskatchewan (flat wheat fields).

    When I moved to the western provinces, I felt naked in the wide open and wanted trees to provide somewhere to hide behind.

    When I moved to Alberta, I loved and was in awe of the majestic Rockies but I missed the sun when it ducked behind the mtns by mid afternoon.

    Now that I live on the open prairie where I can see a coyote a mile away, I cringe when I visit Ontario – I mean there’s so many trees, who knows who’s hiding behind them watching you?

    So, does this make me fickle…or adaptable?

  16. Hi, Elaine, What gorgeous photos! Wonder more and I guess, wander more 🙂 I’ve just been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my children, and thinking about how much the world has changed since then–it feels as if there aren’t as many unexplored, “wild” places for people to long to go, although there are still plenty of new-to-us places to explore!

    I’ve really been enjoying western historicals, and do enjoy how the heroes are very capable, and can take care of just about any trouble. Some story themes I enjoy are ones where the hero and heroine have some history–friends-to-lovers or second chances or some sort of redemption arc. I like the depth of the relationships in those situations.

    Congrats on Rachel and Hired Gun! Fabulous cover, and I’m intrigued to read the story!

  17. Anon1001–I couldn’t agree more. Loyalty is very important to me in a hero. It’s fun seeing the hero discover that nothing means more to him than his woman. I like seeing the characters from one story pop in to the next ones…I like knowing what has happened to them and seeing them grow in their relationships. Sager and Rachel pop into Julian and Audrey’s story in AUDREY AND THE VIRGINIAN. And all 4 of them pop in to Jace and Leah’s story in LEAH AND THE AVENGER…

  18. Home is where your heart is, Quilt Lady. I’m glad you found yours–I’m glad you knew it was your home all along.

    Thank you for those kinds words about RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN. I tried to bring all the relationships full circle. I think there’s something wonderful about getting to closure. We don’t always get enough of that in our lives.

  19. Mary–Thanks for having me out here again! You have the nicest visitors to this site! And you can tell I love that phrase–Wonder More. We should all get our minds to play more. Especially in these times!

  20. I wonder about that too, Dina. I love a story that takes me away from my life and plops smack in the middle of someone else’s. Oddly, when I write, I find I’m not just the heroine, but the hero too. I wonder what it’s like to live in his skin, to see what he sees, feel what he feels–to have his strength, and his courage. It’s fun stuff, this wondering!

  21. Stephanie–I’m convinced there’s nothing more bewildering to a man than to discover he has emotions! I love throwing trouble their way to see how they deal with it. And I love observing him being confounded by his woman’s emotions. If he loves her enough, he’ll figure out how to make her make sense, but it’s a struggle!

  22. I agree, Sherry. The emotion that comes from conflicting energies is infinitely interesting–the loner who loves a woman, a killer who’s a protector….the western canvas is perfect for that!

  23. Mmmm…tortured heroes! Nothing like them, Pam! WANTED! sounds like a great read!

    And thanks for having me back again! I apologize for being offline for a while today. I had to run my writing chapter’s monthly meeting. I have to run out for dinner, but I’ll be back tonight and all day tomorrow!

  24. Those are the exact reasons why I love westerns, Anne! It’s fun to see the good guys win and the bad guys lose. Your home sounds lovely, and the peace you find in it rare and wonderful!

  25. Wander more–very true, Fedora! I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I can’t wait until I can read them with my grandaughter. I like that redemption arc. Those can be very dark stories (which I enjoy), but the feeling you have after reading them is as if you’ve taken the their journey with them. It’s that closure again–the chance to make something right.

    BTW, the buttes are the Pawnee Buttes in the Pawnee National Grassland, about an hour east of me. And the rocky gorge is the Royal Gorge National Park, about 3 hours south of where I live. Don’t have to go far here to be away from everything!

  26. Phew! I’m caught up! My thanks to all of you for visiting today! I’m going to run out for some supper, but will check in when I get back! Hope you can come back and chat some more with me over the weekend!

  27. Congratulations Elaine! Your book looks wonderful. What a setting for your home.
    I was fortunate to have the opportunity to leave my roots and move to the West in 1995.It took us three days to arrive at my new home. I think that I belong here and feel it is home for me. I have given thanks each and everyday for that exceptional chance to change my life. There is room to breathe and scenic wonders. I adore everything about the West and cowboy heroes with integrity, strength and courage are always something which I can read about. I think of Wyatt Earp and his character as an example. Cowboys who had spirit and believed in themeselves.

  28. Sherry-
    As a matter of fact..I have read that book and I LOVE IT! It’s the only one I can remember reading! I think it was a wonderful story!

  29. Thanks, Diane! Your move west was very brave of you! I love that you found a place with room to breathe and think. There’s lots of fine western writers on this site to pick from–just the best of everything!!

  30. Hi Elaine, I have lived in the same 10 square miles all my life. Shortly after I married my parents moved a couple of states away. For a long time I felt I had no home base because their new home was not mine. After feeling abandoned for a long time, I discovered that home was right where I was, where my heart was.

    I really like reading western historicals. To pick one of the heros as a favorite would be impossible because so often it is the one I am currently reading.

  31. Connie–my daughter, who’s in the Coast Guard, told my husband and me that we weren’t allowed to move while she was serving. Our family house was her home, and if we moved, she felt she’d lose her foundation. Odd that here was home to her before it was to me. She spent most of her childhood in the Rocky Mountain area, but now she’s beginning to talk as if the ocean is her home. I wonder when she’ll recognize that?

  32. Hi Elaine, You posted some wonderful pictures and I envy your proximity to such natural beauty. I live on the East Coast although not close enough to the ocean to make it worthwhile. Would love to have more open spaces and see more land, less people. Fortunately, my husband is starting to feel the same way too. We are planning to take a trip with the kids to see the Rockies/Grand Canyon/Yellowstone, some ghost towns, next year and we’re excited about that.

    What I like about historical westerns is the amount of day to day struggle that the characters have to overcome (weather, food hardships, lawlessness in some parts, etc.)and then somehow love triumphs and all those hardhips don’t seem so bad.

    Congratulations on your first book!! Sounds like a great story!

  33. That sounds like an incredible vacation, Za! And you know I love ghost towns! I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon yet, but hope to get there soon. I’d love to hear from you after your trip!

  34. Hi, Elaine!

    I was dropping in for moral support but you don’t need me! You’ve obviously hit on a subject near and dear to many hearts – just look at all these comments.

    I wonder…why I don’t see you in the reunion picture? Are you there & my eyes are failing me? Or are you hiding behind the camera?

    You said: “I wonder what it would have been like to heed the call of the West in the Nineteenth Century. Was it anything like the call I answered in the Twentieth Century?” It may not be the same but I think it’s amazing that we’re still hearing the call and heeding it…it connects us to the pioneers who paved the way for those of us who call the west home today…

    I’ve had the sheer pleasure of reading Elaine’s book – and, I’m ashamed to admit is as I’m here on Petticoats and Pistols – I’ve never been much of a western romance reader. Don’t shoot, please! Elaine and Rachel and Sager have made a western romance reader out of me. I can’t wait for the next story in the saga!

    Tiffany :0)

  35. Tiffany! I can always use moral support! And you’re right–it is amazing so many of us are still hearing the call to come West!

    I’m so glad I made a convert out of you! Just look at all the wonderful authors on this blog that you get explore now!

  36. Elaine,

    I downloaded and enjoyed your book a while back — really great! I’m also an Indie author (congrats on the Indie award!) of western romances, and I’m always looking for good indie reads in the category!

    I’m looking forward to your next book!


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