Category Archives: Texas

The Steampunk Tea

While at the RT Saints of Suspense Party, I met Nina Davis, a fabulous local-to-me librarian. I am going to make a special effort to blog a field trip to her library, the beautiful-beyond-words Smith Public Library in Wylie, Texas. The images here don’t do it justice. When their copy of This Crumbling Pageant is on the shelves I intend to take a picture, because yes, I am that big a dork. But seriously! Wouldn’t you?

Steampunk Tea w:PosterTo my delight, Nina invited me to participate in the Second Annual Steampunk Tea, along with authors Lorraine Heath, Addison Fox, Jaye Wells, Eva Gordon, and Sandy Williams. I pulled together a few quasi-steampunk things and did the best facsimile of steampunk I could, and now see I must make this a priority. With various cons, signings and functions, I have too handy and excuse to play dress-up not to invest a little bit more in the costume!

The food was fabulous. Finger sandwiches, mini-quiches, petit fours and biscuits. (That’s Brit-speak for cookies, y’all.) Oh, and of course, tea. Darjeeling and Earl Grey. I am a sucker for a tea, and this one was elegant, with all kinds of book-related conversations!

Sometimes something happens that just makes a writer’s day, and this was one of those times. Last year my publisher and I distributed a few hundred chapbooks that contained the first three chapters of This Crumbling Pageant. The photographer from the Wylie News had not only received one, but had given it to her 13-year-old daughter to read–who LOVED it, and was dying to read the rest. I made my very first sale that day on that spot, before we even set up at the signing tables!

autographing steampunk tea

Pooks at the signing table, later in the day.

I warned her (and now you) that this book does have mature content. The best explanation I can give at this time is that there is sex that has context and consequence. Some people may be far more disturbed by the dark nature of some of the violence than any sexual content.

So, caution: Read yourself first, or know your younger YA readers’ reading history, before sharing with them! I know many read books much more graphic than this one. It’s very individual.

Again, the tea was a fabulously fun experience and I hope I get to do another one. Nina got away before I got a picture of her in her costume, but maybe next time.

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 Originally posted at the FuryTriad site.

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Filed under Book Pooks Wrote, Texas, The Fury Triad, This Crumbling Pageant, Writers, Wylie

Add a little Razzmatazz to your Christmas!

This is it, peeps–the last of my backlist, RAZZMATAZZ, the last of my romances. As 2013 zooms toward its close, I have emptied out my vault and cleared the path for new books in 2014!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Meet Kennie Sue Ledbetter, spunky and street smart—

razz-50-percent 300

…as long as the streets are in Tahoka Springs, Texas.

Meet Alexander Carruthers III, who has never known anyone like Kennie Sue. But one look—one hunch—is all it takes for him to want to know her better.

When small town girl Kennie Sue Ledbetter wakes up in a Reno hotel between two guys in rumpled tuxedos, she thinks things can’t get any worse.

When she steps on the wedding bouquet and sees the ring on her finger, she knows things can’t get any worse.

But then she finds out she’s married to the guy who won her in a coin-toss in front of the wedding chapel, and ‘worse’ has a name and a face:

Alexander Carruthers, the gorgeous silver-tongued devil who believes in love at first sight, in fate, and in doing whatever it takes to keep her—

Even if that means following her back to Texas and letting all the good people in Tahoka Springs know what she did on her summer vacation.

He’s Lear jets and high society charity balls.

She’s Ford Pintos and rodeos.

She won’t fit into his world and he sure won’t fit into hers.

This spells disaster—calamitous, embarrassing, tempting-as-sin disaster….

But can it also spell love?

Did I mention that I loved this book? It was a RITA Finalist for Best Short Contemporary Romance, and was part of a new wave of humor in the romance genre.

So take a trip with me back to the late 1980s, check your skepticism at the door, and let Kennie Sue and Alex show you how it was, once upon a time…

When slot machines still had arms to pull, casinos still handed out free drinks, and the world was just discovering parachute pants.

[Okay let’s forget about parachute pants.]

[There are no parachute pants in this book.]

[Pinky-swear!]

I hope you enjoy the ride!

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Filed under Book Pooks Wrote, Book View Cafe, Romance, Texas

We interrupt this program…

To share a few pics from today’s weather in Dallas.  When stormy weather strikes, the Resident Storm Chaser hits the road.

This time he took me with him.

These are all copyrighted by me, because I took them. Yes, you got that straight. They may not be great, but they are mine.

Forney, Texas--Rolled down window, took picture.

 

Forney, Texas--Through the windshield.

Forney, TX--School Parking Lot

No fatalities today, and a lot of that is because of the spotters and storm chasers out there who report in so that warnings can be sent for people to take cover. Great job, local media, for following it so closely, too.

And if you ever doubted–the Resident Storm Chaser is definitely a Gryffindor.

Well, somebody has to save the world.

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Filed under Forney, Texas, Texas, Tornados

Why I Wrote It, or, Since you didn't ask…

A few weeks ago Bill Chance reviewed La Desperada.

This is the kind of thing that can make an author nervous, because Bill was not the target audience when the book was written as a romance novel (quite) a few years back. And who knows how a man will react to a sexy genre typically written for women?

His review was thoughtful and gratifying because he picked up on things few people do, so as I responded to him there, I knew I’d eventually want to mention some of these things here.

First, I think I’ll address a question few people ever ask or care about.

“Where did you get the idea?”

I thought you’d never ask!

JK Rowling said the first thing that popped into her head before writing Harry Potter was, “Once there was a ten-year-old boy who was a wizard and didn’t know it.”

Well, in my case, what popped into my head was, “Once there was a woman so desperate to escape that she held a cold-blooded murderer at gunpoint and said, ‘take me with you.'”

That’s all I knew.  I didn’t know if it was contemporary or historical, if it was set in London or Acapulco. I just tasted this woman’s desperation, could feel it in my veins, and could only ask a few logical questions in an effort to find out more.

How desperate is she? Well, if the cold-blooded murderer looks like Redford/Pitt/Depp, how desperate does she have to be? Seriously? Take me with you? Isn’t that a no-brainer? So I immediately knew that he was not handsome, and worse, had to be terrifying. Because the more terrifying he was, the more desperate she had to be.

My hero began to take form.

How desperate was she? Well, backing up a bit, why would she be dependent upon a cold-blooded murderer? Story-telling logic told me she had to force herself into his company (and again, if she didn’t have to force herself, what was interesting about that? Not much, so again, I learned more about him, because I learned that he didn’t want her. Truly. Did. Not. Want. Her.) And once forced, they would be forced to stay together.

Why?

Isolation.

And thinking of isolation made me think of the Trans Pecos.

Of a town so small, Fort Davis was big in comparison. And Fort Davis is not and was not ever big. Fort Davis in the 1880s was even more isolated than today, when it’s connected by state highways and such to the rest of the world.  Because Fort Davis is over 200 miles from the nearest city of size, El Paso and (my research uncovered) only had one mail coach a week.  Getting away from Fort Davis would be hard. From an even smaller more isolated town?

Bingo. I had a location that I named Cavendish (and later, for the screenplay, Redemption).*

Imagine that isolation, that desperation, if someone is in an insufferable situation and is in fear of their very life–

And then I knew even more about the woman.

She was totally unprepared.

She was a lady.

She was from “back East.”

She was fragile.

And desperate.

And… strong.

I chose the location not because I love it. (I prefer green places, the greener the better.) I chose it not because I love westerns. (I’ve read two Louis L’amour and no Zane Grey, though my grandfather loved them.) I chose it because I knew it in that way you “know” a place you’ve visited a few times, have driven through, have peered at through various windshields over the years thinking, “I could not survive here.”

I chose it for logical reasons and for dramatic reasons, and thus, ended up researching places from afar, before the internet was an option, with a two-day side-trip from a tornado chase to nail down some details.

And thus, when Bill Chance wrote about the setting with such understanding and connection, it really, really made my day. And I had to respond, as follows:

You’re the only person I’ve ever known who knew the setting and recognized the details–even McKittrick Canyon, which you recognized even though I didn’t name it. It has been so long, I don’t remember why I didn’t–I think maybe it wasn’t known by that name yet? Or I wasn’t sure if it was? Twenty years ago I decided not to name it but heck if I remember why now. (That is true of most of my research. I research for hours or even days or longer on this detail or that, find what I want, use it, move on, and have no record nor memory of it for later.) Anyway, it’s really thrilling to read your review and see that you knew the area and appreciated it.

The Sierra Diablo is an interesting place to research, too, because I frankly couldn’t find out much about it at all except a few sentences somewhere, and it was all private access so we couldn’t drive into it to look. I finally decided, “There are 18 people on the face of this planet who will know if I get it wrong, and if any of them ever read my book, they are welcome to inform me of my errors.” LOL!

Rooting the conflict in Missouri was another interesting choice, since I didn’t know at the time that my great-grandmother was a James of Missouri. But when it came time to do the screen adaptation, I couldn’t find a way to gracefully work all that background in and make it dramatic and succinct, and I finally resorted to changing it to abolition, which drew a sharp line in the sand between good and bad.

Secondary characters–there is a trend in romance novels to spin off series by writing about secondary characters. I’m not sure why, but I felt obstinate and decided to write secondary characters that were too flawed or unheroic to merit their own books, just to be perverse. Thus I named my young deputy the very unheroic name of Wendell Crutcher, and Obregon was a drug addict. (BTW, today, Obregon would be a perfect hero, romance having changed so much.) Despite the fact that I thought I’d managed to sabotage any desires for spinoffs, I had letters from readers begging for books about Wendell, Obregon, and (yes, really) Doralee. People wanted me to write a book about the whore. Today? Yes. Back then? No. My editor confirmed, no whores for heroines. (And yes, I realize there are other problems with using Doralee for a future book but we won’t go there!)

As for the sex, ah, that’s okay, you weren’t the target audience. (wink)

Thanks so much for this eloquent review. It was well worth a twenty year wait to accidentally find somebody who appreciated the backdrop as much as you did!

[In writing this, I discovered that Bill and I have something in common.  The “other” Patricia Burroughs who crops up in google searches is a real estate agent in Canada. When I typed in billchance.com instead of billchance.org, I found a real estate agent in Virginia. We both have careers in real estate in our alternate lives!]

McKittrick Canyon, unexpected oasis in a desert terrain, my bit of green.

* Originally titled What Wild Ecstasy [Kensington Books], this tale inspired the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences/Nicholl Award-winning screenplay, “Redemption.” 
The novel [La Desperada],and script [Redemption] are available together for the first time in one download at Amazon and at Book View Cafe.

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Filed under Book View Cafe, Books, ebooks, La Desperada, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, research, Review, Screenwriting, Texas, Writers, Writing, Writing Process

Things I learn when working out. (Don’t expect much.)

1)  Day one, walking a couple of miles is easy unless there is something wrong with your right heel and you end up limping like Festus.  [Sidenote: Trusted friend recs Ideal Feet most highly, has worn her insoles for three years w/o any more foot pain. Reviews cast doubt. Decisions, decisions.]

2) Day two, dancing to Just Dance for Wii is fun and aerobic and with nobody around to watch me geek out not all that humiliating, but do not ever save the ridiculously energetic Fame until last again. Ever. Ever. Ever.

Ever.

3) Luckily, streaming Netflix through my Wii console is very soothing, especially when I can’t move off the sofa I’m admiring Cornish scenery and watching Doc Martin.

For the rest of the night.

Or until Sam comes home to drag me to my feet and wheel me off to bed.

[EVER.]

Huh. I wonder if the original is on streaming Netflix.

 

Final note. Today is the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and I can’t figure out why 25 years ago they spent a fortune in TV ads so that we’d know the word Sesquicentennial but this time, nada. What do you call it, anyway?

 

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Filed under exercise don't laugh damn it, Texas, Wii