New Kind Of Collage

When working on a  new book, I would make a collage of snippets  from magazine pictures to give me a quick visual of scenery and the different terrain in my stories. Anyone who’s read my books knows I like my scene setting, I don’t spend pages describing the flora but I like clear images cut into the page of my characters’ surroundings. Since I usually work on multiple books at a time, the boards helped me keep the stories separated. In the past I had those storyboard collages tacked up by my desk so I could glance up while writing to keep my mind steeped in that imagery.  I’m currently working like mad on a new series, but my imagery process has gotten a cyber upgrade–thanks to Pinterest–a place where I can pin pictures to a cyber board and where I’m not limited to just magazines on hand. I have to admit when my critique partner recently sent me an invite I figured she must be mad at me and my first response was NO WAY, I am not joining a social media distraction.  But then she told me to go look at her storyboards for the books she’s working on–and bam, I was pinned 😉


I’ve been amazed by the huge volume of pictures and the easy process of finding and pinning. I haven’t had a chance to go back and add to my boards since that first day but in just a couple hours I’d found a dress I felt could be similar to the dress my heroine wears in book one in the opening chapters, well, what the dress may have looked like before she’s drenched, dragged and caked in mud 😉

The coolest aspect of Pinterest for me was links to these pictures led to some amazing historical sites. I found a bunch of great new resources and a ton of visual stimulation for settings and terrain.

Anyone else been pinned? It’s also a great place for finding tasty recipes! Check it out–resistance is futile 😀

Here’s a few more pics I added to my storyboard. One of my favorites is the picture of the Chinese laundry.


Horse Humor

I recently came across this picture in my search for a reliable car for my kid–he graduated high school last month (woohoo!) and we’re trying to find a small SUV type rig with a gas mileage that won’t drain his wallet. By the descriptions, this is just what he’s looking for  😉

Good gas mileage, check!  My kid is not picky, no doubt he’d take these wheels if they’d get him to town–likely with five other teens crammed inside.

I don’t know about the emo thing, but I think every teen goes through the “Whatever” faze 😀

 I can so relate to that delayed reaction 😉

There’s one in every family, huh?

 Hope these induced some smiles!  Wishing y’all a wonderful post 4th of July weekend.  We’re still celebrating with a double birthday weekend, hubby tomorrow and mom-in-law on Sunday.  Happy weekend wishes!!

Frontier Reality TV


I’m not much of a TV watcher and until GRIMM started this year (coolest paranormal series), I never watched any particular show on a regular basis. But my hubby makes up for my lack of tube time, recording a ton of shows all day, every day, to watch at his leisure. Tonight he was watching a backyard make-over show (he’s been building this massive patio structure in our backyard for the past two years–almost done!) when the words “frontier”, “pioneer”, and” reality show” drew my attention away from my computer screen. I had the hubby rewind the commercial (gotta love satellite TV) so I could get all the details. Don’t know how many of y’all get the DiY (Do it Yourself) Network channel, but if you do, you gotta check out this show!

Frontier House airs this Sunday.

Three modern families are dropped in the Montana wilderness. Together they build cabins, raise livestock and form a strong, yet dysfunctional community.

I don’t know if there will be more than the four episodes listed on the DiY website.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS:  (May 6)  Three families are chosen for one of the most extreme sociological experiments captured on film. They will shed their modern lives and step back in time to the Montana Frontier, circa 1883. Shock sets in as the pioneers start their journey.

PROMISED LAND:  (May 13)  After a tough trip back in time, the homesteaders arrive at Frontier Valley. The harshness of their new reality sets in. First task: building shelters. Daily chores test their will and character while stormy weather and personalities clash.

CRACKING UNDER PRESSURE:  (May 20)  Rumors fly about how some of our homesteaders have snuck in modern supplies, causing tensions to rise in already-strained relationships. Focus shifts from shelter to food as worries of starvation overshadow life on the frontier. A rare summer snow storm wreaks havoc on Frontier Valley.

FAMILY AFFAIR:  (May 27)  The children steal the spotlight, as they prove to be valuable resources for survival on the frontier. The pioneers realize they are not alone in the Valley. Lions, coyotes and bears make their presence known.

The show kicks off this Sunday night. I’m so glad for that recording feature on our TV because my baby boy turns 17 this Sunday and we’re christening that new patio structure that has soaked up so much of my hubby’s blood, sweat and tears.

As I’m in the midst of building my fictional town for a new series, I’m really looking forward to this visual glimpse into the past.  I recall a show similar to this on PBS six or seven years ago where three families were dropped off in Montana wilderness for three months and had to build houses and start storing up food and supplies for winter. Historians graded their progress at the end and proclaimed they all would have frozen or starved to death before spring. A lot of insight can be gleaned from watching these re-enactments. Though I mostly recall the cold storage box they had tied to a dock to keep milk and butter cold, and how their stockings were hard and crunchy in the morning and they beat them against a chair or something to soften them up before putting them on. I have yet to incorporate crunchy stockings into a romance novel 😉

I have a feeling this show is going to reinforce my appreciation for the comforts of modern times.



Easter Egg Art


Spring is definitely in the air and on the ground with green grasses coming back to life and vibrant flowers bursting through. The orchards around my place are gorgeous with miles of trees in full bloom with pink and white blossoms.  The colors of spring brings Easter eggs to mind, which are a symbol of new life, fertility and rebirth. The tradition of painting hard boiled eggs in the spring dates back to the Saxons, who regarded the egg as proof of the renewal of life, used eggs in festivals dedicated to Eastre, the goddess of fertility. Easter wasn’t widley practiced in the US until after the Civil War. Churches and commmunities were moving on with a rebirth of their nation and Easter parades were held, and I’ve read that egg decorating was a tradition introduced by German immigrants.

There are many other decorating techniques and numerous traditions of giving them as a token of friendship, love or good wishes. In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ, shed on the Cross, and the hard shell of the egg symbolized the sealed Tomb of Christ — the cracking of which symbolized His resurrection from the dead. Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine. A batik (wax resist) process is used to create intricate, brilliantly colored eggs, the best-known of which is the Ukrainian pysanka and the Polish pisanka.

I loved dying eggs as a kid. Though, compared to the coloring kits available today, ours was pretty basic. Six cups of vinegar, six colored tablets, one clear wax crayon we’d all fight over, along with the one egg dipper 😉   My boys got far more creative with tie-die kits, markers, shaker bags and glitter. An option I didn’t care for then and now are those plastic covers that slip on the egg and shrink in hot water–they’re impossible to peel for those who like to eat the eggs.

This is the first year my kids, well, young men as they are, won’t be coloring eggs. The only eggs I’ll be making are deviled egss. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the younger neices and nephews have created this year.

Here’s some cool eggs and a great way to use old wire hangers to display them 😉

Will you be coloring eggs this year? Have any decorating tips or stories to share?


Bunco in the West!



So, I was at Bunco on Sunday, my once-a-month dose of social activity and one of my favorite days of the month because I get to spend time with my mom, mom-in-law and the best bunco bunch around. There’s lots of laughter, dice rolling, and quite a bit of teasing the local rooomance writer and much-appreciated prodding about the new series I’m working on. The question came up of whether I’d have bunco in the new series and that got us to talking about how long bunco has been around. Some gals remember their mom’s moms’ being bunco players. Of course, I had to do some digging—was there bunco in the old west?

Indeed, Bunco was played in the old west! In fact, the dice game was introduced in the United States during the Gold Rush! Seems a shady fellow making his way from the east to west coast in 1855 brought a dice game from England he called “Banco” into gambling parlors as he made his way to California gold fields. The game originating in England was called 8-dice cloth, though our English traveler, also known as a crooked gambler, had made several changes to the game. As its popularity spread across San Francisco, Banco became known as Bunco. According to the World Bunco Association (that was news to me too!), bunco was also played by groups of women, school children and couples throughout the 1800’s.


The game was repopularized in the 1920’s during Prohibition, Bunco often being associated with those notorious speakeasies–so much so that the law enforcement squads sent to raid these clubs became known as “Bunco Squads”. This movie poster on the right is from a 1950’s film.

Quite the rip-roaring start for what I always thought of as a rather innocuous ladies game–though I will admit we might tend to spike the punch 😉

These days bunco isn’t limited to living-rooms and club rooms, there are Bunco Cruises! There’s even a bunco app for iPhones. I think I’ll be sticking with my monthly gathering of friends.

How about the rest of y’all? Ever been part of a bunco bunch? Any bunco cruises in your past or future?


Today’s Winner!


Paisley has chosen a winner, and the e-book goes to….

Connie Lorenz

Congratulations, Connie!  Send me an email ( ) with your choice of e-book, and the email you use to log in to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


Thanks again to Paisley Kirkpatrick for spending the day with us!

Stacey Kayne’s eBook Winner!

Since my boys usually draw my book winners, they let their buddy Seth draw tonight’s winner. And the ebook goes to…

Joanne B!

Apparently your resolution to read more this year is already working for you 😉

Please email me at with the email address you use to log into B&N Nook or Amazon Kindle and I will send you the ebook of your choice.

Thanks to all who stopped in to chat with me 😀 I just love this poem, which was in my newsletter, my new year wish to you:

At the sound of the tolling midnight bell

a brand new year will begin.

Let’s raise our hopes in a confident toast,

to the promise it ushers in.

May your battles be few, your pleasures many,

your wishes and dreams fulfilled.

May your confidence stand in the face of loss,

and give you the strength to rebuild.

May peace of heart fill all your days,

May serenity grace your soul.

May tranquil moments bless your life

and keep your spirit whole.    

~ Author Unknown

New Year’s Resolutions…?


Anyone else still reeling at the realization that another year has gone by? Chinese New Year doesn’t begin until January 23rd, and according to the Zodiac calender, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, a powerful symbol signifying success and happiness. I like the sound of that. I’ll take that over some of the Mayan calender predictions.  While I may feel a bit shanghaied into this new year, I’m looking forward to it. Onward and upward! We had some extra excitement for our New Years, my niece gave birth on January 1st, her first baby and her son was the New Year’s Baby for our area. So far, a wonderful start to the new year 😀

A big part of new year traditions in many cultures is making New Year Resolutions. As Tanya mentioned in her post on Wednesday, the tradition of resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C., The concept is to reflect upon self-improvement annually and set new goals. Sharing that goal with other increases accountability–in other words, peer-pressure 😉

Wikipedia actually has a list of the most popular resolution goals:

  • Improve well-being: lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money
  • Improve career: get a better job
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often,
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play less sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity

Of course, they also mentioned a 12% success rate in keeping up with most resolutions. A year is a long time to be good 😉

I have a couple tips for keeping up with those resolutions–first off, write it down. Write it, print it and tape it somewhere you’ll see it daily–for me that would be on my computer desk hutch or computer monitor. And then repeat to yourself:  SEE ~ BELIEVE ~ ACHIEVE  Also, start off with smaller short-term goals, something that can be easily achieved in a few weeks. Little steps to get you moving and increase a sense of success to keep that attitude positive 🙂

I haven’t done a resolution in a few years, though I did get an early jump on the health and exercise thing–I went for all my yearly check-ups, which I hadn’t done in over three years. My youngest has plans to become a personal fitness trainer and I’ve become his genie pig of sorts and I try to stick to his fitness plan…mostly.  When I’m good and listen to him, I feel great and I have lost twelve pounds over the last few months. Since I home school, there’s no escape *g*. So, the new year plan is to maintain on the health and home front, but my writing schedule is getting an overhaul. My New Year resolution is to FINISH these long overdue books.  My goal is to have at least three for the new series turned in by the end of the year to a happy editor. If I don’t have the first one turned in by next month my critique partner will be hunting me down–so yeah, thumbs up on the peer pressure 😀

How about all y’all? Got any resolutions for the new year you’d like to share?

I have some extra incentive–I’ll be giving away an ebook to one lucky comment poster, through B&N Nook or Amazon Kindle, winner’s choice of any of my books.


Black-Friday Showdown!




Poor Thanksgiving Turkey doesn’t stand a chance. I have this vision of Santa bringing up the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade with spurs sparkling and guns blazing!  A signal, for “Let the holiday madness begin!” There’s hardly time to put away the turkey leftovers with Black-Friday sales starting at 10pm Thanksgiving night…sheer madness. I’ll admit, even as I write this post, I’m waiting to check out some Black-Friday on-line deals. I’m all for nabbing those sales…without the crowds 😉  How bout the rest of y’all–anyone braving the crowds today?

I’m having my own Black-Friday giveaway today! One comment shooter will win a western holiday tin star and a yet-to-be-released LARGE PRINT copy of my first book, MUSTANG WILD. I received a box of these new large-print books last week, along with the news that my first two books will finally be available in e-book format on December 15th. I’ll be giving away e-books next month on my Facebook Fan Page, so sign on to my FB Fan Page if you’re interested!


I’d love to hear some Black-Friday survivor stories 😀

Any mall-mishaps or Tickle-Me-Elmo tug-a-wars in your past? Come away with any amazing deals? What’s the earliest you’ve hit the stores? I did the whole 4 a.m. thing ONE time, and my cell phone beeped around 8 am–it was my niece letting me know my 5 & 6 year-old boys had just seen me on the morning news with my arms full of Hot-wheels and Pokemon. Another reason Black-Friday can be dangerous, those sneaky news crews 😉

Hoping everyone had a fun Thanksgiving and wishing y’all a smooth ride into the winter holiday season!

Way Before the Cowboy Era…


Last month I had an amazing experience at our local Fossil Discovery Center, and while this topic goes a bit beyond my usual era, I wanted to share.  Especially for those who may live near my area and haven’t made the trek out to the fossil museum–you shouldn’t miss this! The center is fairly new, the one-year anniversary of the center is on the 13th of this month (National Fossil Day), and is located adjacent to the site where the fossils were found,  one of the largest fossil beds in the country–which also happens to be the Madera dump. Anyone remember the headline news from about ten years back when mammoth fossils were discovered in a California landfill? The mammoths were just the tip-of-the-tusk. Because this was a working landfill paleontologists had to cast and excavate fossils as fast as the massive machinery uncovered them. No time for  meticulous sediment removal and identification. They have enough fossil casts (plaster jackets) waiting to be opened and examined to keep paleontologists busy for the next twenty years–and they are nowhere near done excavating. They’ve already uncovered 39 different species, from snails and rodents to the large predators like the saber-tooth cats. I had no idea, and it’s practically in my backyard. I’d heard the Fossil Center was in our county but had no clue it was only ten miles away!

If I hadn’t been looking for a social/learning/volunteer outlet for my boys, I likely would have remained clueless. A huge benefit to homeschooling my teens–which, sadly, is NOT loads of writing time–is how much I learn in the process. One major drawback to their independent study program is a lack of social interaction. Not wanting to encourage the total hermit lifestyle I happen to revel in, getting my kids involved in a public program was important and I thought a fossil museum/discovery center would be perfect. I called and was told, “Sure, bring them out and we’ll put them to work.”  While visions of uninterrupted writing time danced in my head, my teenagers met that news with enthusiastic responses of, “Seriously? Do we have to? This is so stupid. Why are you punishing us?” Enjoying that chipper chorus all the way to the museum, I started to worry this great idea was going to go up in flames.

The paleontologist staff turned their grumbles into wide-eyed interest within ten minutes of stepping through the doors. Their enthusiasm for their work radiates like a palpable energy, and I think we were all a bit mesmerized by that energy and the massive scale of information and exhibits on display. After getting the grand tour, my kids were shooing me out the door, proclaiming four to five hours a few days a week would be great. A few weeks into it, they are just as enthusiastic, if not more so now that they are being trained to give tours and working with groups of elementary school kids who visit for field trips. My sixteen-year-old was telling me last week how he got the best feeling when a little girl running out to the bus stopped at the door and shouted back, “Thank you, Ethan!” Probably close to the happy feeling I got when he shared that with me–a moment that reminds you all your time and energy spent is worthwhile 🙂

I definitely recommend a visit to the Fossil Discovery Center or perhaps a similar facility in your area.  I was surprised to learn the fossil bed covers more than 40 acres, one of the largest. The fossils are from the last Ice Age in the San Joaquin Valley, the Middle Pleistocene Epoch, and are as old as 780,000 years. Little has been uncovered about this time period, making the site extremely valuable, and it’s rare to find a location with so many species available, giving a clear picture of life in their natural environment. The most common fossils found on this site are herd animals; ancient horses, camels, mammoths and giant ground sloths. The exhibits are definitely something to see!