Contest winner and the dog days of summer

First…drum roll, please…the winner of my June Contest is: Claudia.

All 9 Spotlight on Sentinel Pass books!

Congratulations! The box of books is awaiting your address and the Amazon gift card is awaiting your email addy. I’ve signed them generically so you can give away/share as you please, but, of course, I can and will make them to you, if you prefer.

So…did everyone have a great 4th of July? Our was hot, hot, hot. Summer took its sweet time getting here, but now it’s making up for lost heat. 😉 But as hot as I felt in the 104-degree high yesterday, at least, I wasn’t wearing a fur coat. Here are two of our guests: Vinnie and Virgil.

Virgil, back, and Vinne

Ah, well, the wine was chilled, the steaks delicious and the company stellar. Now, it’s back to work…with time off for pages written. I’m shooting for a whole chapter today. Wish me luck.

Stay cool, my friends. I’ll announce another contest as soon as I think of something interesting to offer as a prize.


For Daneen

I learned Monday of the death of a dear friend of our family, Daneen Lamb. She was only 44 and leaves behind a devasted family that loved her completely–even when her illness took her further and further from them.

Daneen suffered from depression brought on by chronic pain. She was injured in a car accident several years ago and despite numerous and varied attempts by doctors to fix the problem, it only got worse.

The last time I saw Daneen was she came to visit my sister, Jan, near the end of her life. Outwardly, Daneen seemed completely fine. I had no clue to what she was dealing with until one afternoon when I was befuddled by seemingly conflicting instructions on several of the myriad perscriptions Jan’s doctor had prescribed. Daneen calmly explained what each drug was supposed to do and how it should be taken.

“How do you know all this?” I asked.

She shook her head sadly and replied, “Deb, I’m a walking pharmacy. There isn’t a drug out there I haven’t tried.”

Then she told me about her stay in “the loony bin.” It helped, she admitted. “For a bit.”

But, apparently, the pain, the despair, the depression and sense of utter hopelessness won out. Last Friday, after a brief call to her father to say “This time I’m gonna get it right,” she bought a gun and took her life.

Years ago, when I was writing for a newspaper, I did a story on suicide.  It was a powerful, emotional piece that won several awards. I learned a lot. But nothing I learned hit home like reading my friend’s obituary on Monday. I was suddenly struck by how much pain a person must be in to see death as the only choice left.

My heart is breaking for Daneen’s family–her beloved parents, Julie and Leo, husband Evan, and their two beautiful, accomplished children, Laren and Ben. I waited to blog today (Wednesday, not my usual Tuesday) because today Daneen’s brave and loving children will sing at their mother’s funeral. Today, I put in the mail this steel sign that my husband made for her family. A tribute to a woman who will never be forgotten.

Daneen Lamb, 1966-2011

Hug the ones you love!



So, last week, I’m working along on my laptop. It’s late evening. Not my favorite time to work, but it was one of those days, y’know? I finish some editing, close my laptop, stand up and, suddenly, there’s a light show. Little flashes of light coming from the right rear quadrant of my right eye.

Uh-oh. This can’t be good, right?

I go right to bed, sleep with a mask, get plenty of rest. I figure I overdid. Bad Deb. Next day, I do my normal stuff. Sorta forget about the lights, but in the back of my mind I’m hoping there’s not a repeat. All seems fine–until about eight at night. This time I’m watching TV with my distance glasses on.

So, now, I’m worried. But this is Friday. It’s a holiday weekend. Other than the occasional light show, I’m fine. But I decide: no lap top. No Internet. No Spider on my iPad.

Yeah, right. Like I have that kind of willpower. I’m here, aren’t I? Blogging. Late, but that’s because I truly am trying to pace my computer time.

I can’t get in to see the good eye doc until a week from Friday. Hopefully, it’s nothing serious. Fingers crossed. Until then, I will read less, surf as little as possible and try to remember what it was like before we had the Internet. There was life, right?

Anybody have any eye-opening experiences they’d like to share–or eye health advice?



I don’t know if you can tell, but I hired a helping hand–Dee Tenorio’s to be specific–to clean up my website and make it a little more user friendly. Please bear with us as we work out all the bugs. 🙂

Last week, an old friend, Marie, posted something on Facebook. I replied and she replied and I replied and…you get the idea. From our discussion, two things became abundantly clear:

1.) The URL for my old blog ( was still working (something I thought got changed four years ago when I re-did my website and converted to my new blog (

2.) Many of the contacts from that time had NOT been transfered to my new site.

In other words, all the lovely people who had followed my blog for years and years got left behind UNLESS they specifically re-signed up for the new blog. Many of my old friends and dedicated readers, like Marie, figured I’d stopped blogging, since my last blog on that old page was titled: VOTE. Yeah…it was THAT long ago.

This is disappointing, but, as my mother used to say, “It is what it is.” Dee is fixing the link. I am going to try to find my old friends and encourage them to sign up for my current blog/newsletter by offering a contest to celebrate the rebirth of Sweet!

As for the rest of the housecleaning, hopefully the little tweaks won’t be all that are noticeable. I am looking forward to having direct links to my two short stories–and all that follow. (Thank you, Marie, for convincing a friend to buy A Hundred Years or More.)

BTW, in case you’re worried (rolling eyes), I’ll still be keeping you current on the Wine, Women and Words Book Club (the real people, not the characters in my books). In fact, we met on Saturday last to discuss Margaret Atwood’s post-apocolyptic book called Oryx and Crake. It dealt with bio-engineering. Science run amuck. Humanity vs life. Heavy topics. But great food and discussion. And, oddly fitting since that was the day the world was supposed to come to an end. We toasted that not happening with an extra bottle of wine. 🙂 Thank you for hosting, Jill.

So, next week, I’ll announce a month-long contest. I’m working on a fun prize right now.

Don’t forget to check out Brenda Novak’s awesome online auction for Diabetes Research!! Only ONE WEEK left. Check out this fabulous prize. Warning: you’ll be bidding against me. 😉



We attended a wedding on Saturday last. I -heart- weddings. I really do. But I’m really not sure why. Weddings are a huge, expensive undertaking, and, inevitably, something goes wrong.

In this case, the venue for this outdoor wedding was the Mt. Bullion Winery. A lovely, picturesque setting–especially in Spring. Unfortunately, the weather was unseasonably chilly for mid-May. Okay, it was cold. I spent much of the day wishing I’d worn long-johns under my skirt. Plus, the bridal party was late. And there was no cell service at the winery, so, of course, my imagination configured multiple worst-case scenarios for why they were late. Never once did it occur to me to blame the real culprit: hair. Apparently, you can never have too many flat-irons. Who knew? 😉

But once the bride arrived, the music started and the precious little flower girls (including my youngest granddaughter) started tossing their rose petals, all was forgiven–even the arctic breeze. The rest of the day went off without a hitch. The sun popped by for a minute and the wine warmed me up quite nicely.

So what is it about weddings that we love so much?

The dress? I really loved Sarah’s. Isn’t she a beautiful bride?

Maybe I just like seeing handsome men in tuxes? Justin was pure heartthrob material, don’t you agree?

The pagentry? The color? (In this case, guava-coral.)

Maybe it’s the cake. Or…cupcakes, as the case may be. Very delicious cupcakes.

Or, possibly, it’s the hats.

Oh, wait, that was the Royal wedding…or was it?

Perhaps the ceremony serves as a re-affirmation of love and societal structure. I really don’t know. But I was very happy to attend Justin’s and Sarah’s, and I wish them a lifetime of love and joy.

However, not all weddings work out the way you hope. Check out this great movie weddings mash-up video.

I’ve never written a book centered around a wedding, but my friend Ellen Hartman’s latest Superromance features a wedding planner. I just downloaded–correction, apparently I pre-ordered the e-book–since it’s not releasing until June 1. (I went to open it and couldn’t find it and went back to Kindle store all ticked off. Then I read the part about delivering it to my reader on June 1.) Darn it. I can’t wait to read it.  I’m in a wedding sort of mood now. Or, maybe, I’m just in the mood for a little Happily-Ever-After. How ’bout you? Any good (or bad) wedding stories to share?


Two things…

I ran across two interesting blogs today and wanted to share.

The first is fun–and about RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS. Check it out. Tell ’em you love my books, too. 😉

The second is more serious. One of our own, Fatin, who run the Novel Thoughts and Book Talk Blog and has been a dedicated reviewer and supporter of romance and romance authors for years, recently lost her husband to a senseless act of violence. He was gunned down in his store in North Carolina. Fatin and her four daughters need our help. Members of the romance community have come together to offer some fabulous donations for this great cause. Please check this out and contribute if you can. There are some really fabulous items up for auction later this month.

Thanks, my friends.


Spring works for me

I took this photo a few minutes ago. Not trying to rub it in for all you poor folks suffering in colder, snowier climes, I swear. I simply thought you might like a reminder of what’s coming.

Yesterday, I was working on my synopsis for my WIP (work in progress) and came to a stumbling spot. I had two characters, both of whom I found interesting and engaging and important to the hero and heroine, but a nagging thought in my brain–placed there by my father-in-law, Milt–made me question whether or not both characters were necessary.

Milt, who is 86, read my last book, THE GOOD PROVIDER, and he told me he liked the story but thought there were “…too many characters.” He couldn’t keep them all straight.

I’ll admit up front that I don’t take criticism well, but, this was valid feedback. That book came out BEFORE Supers went back to the longer word-count, which might have affected how quickly certain information needed to be delivered. It’s part of an ongoing series (Spotlight on Sentinel Pass), which means tying in characters from previous books. Plus, the opening scene takes place at a wedding where there are lots of people, lots of names to remember.

This small but ernest critique stayed in the back of my mind as I began writing the opening for my new book. I found myself second-guessing two of the secondary characters. Were they too much alike? Did/could they serve the same purpose? Which one could I do without? The crotchety first-floor neighbor who fills the role of Wise Old Man (from the Heroe’s Journey) for the hero? Or, the heroine’s father, who serves this purpose for the heroine as well as causing her angst.

I waffled.

I walked.

It worked.

Spring worked. A shoulder-into-the-wind sort of breeze loosened up the cobwebs. The brilliant blue skies with jagged contrails and the sort of white clouds we only see this time of year made change seem limitless and possible.  The burgeoning buds on the trees reminded me that beginnings are fluid. I returned with my answer.

The two characters remain, but only one will have an on-page speaking role. Her father is going to stay in Denver. She still has to deal with her angst and daddy-issues, but she’ll share the hero’s Wise Old Man –and, of course, the hero and heroine will help each other to find their way.

So, that’s how Spring works for me.


An AMAZING Valentine!

First, let me wish you all a very happy, love-filled Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a pretty from my photographer/friend Jackie at Jaximages. Sweet!

But the best Valentine of all came from Carol Stacy, publisher of Romantic Times Book Reviews (the industry standard for romance reviews):

UNTIL HE MET RACHEL was named Best Superromance of 2010

(If you haven’t read it, AMAZON has 13 copies left and they’re only $2.86. What a deal!

I couldn’t be happier–or more suprised. Amazing competition. Great books by great authors! But, as you all know, this book holds a special place in my heart because I was working on this story while caring for my sister, Jan, as she lost her battle with lung cancer. Rachel and Rufus were my escape from a reality that I wanted very much to deny. I know that Jan will be with me when I accept this award in L.A. on April 7th. RT is a fabulous party. Check out the link:

I hope your Valentine’s Day is as wonderful as mine has been!



Start ’em young…

My granddaughter won an award at her elementary school for reading the most books. The prize was a ride in a fire truck. And today was the big day. I shot a video but can’t get it to upload to Youtube. Sigh. Oh, well…here’s a pic.Congratulations, Miss M.

When I told her I was going to blog about her new fame, she said, “I know, Grandma. It’s what you do.”

And her sister, who is 4, showed me her notebook today.

“I’m writing words. Do you like this one?” she asked.

It was: VRYNK.

“It’s my favorite,” I told her.

If you see this in a future book, you know where it came from.



When I’m writing, I sometimes lose track of time. This is a good thing for my writing, not so good for my body, my family, my life.

An idea for a new story came knocking last week while I was in the sauna. Normally, I spend the time in the sauna with a pencil and a Sudoku book. This time, of course, the book was there, but no pencil. So, I let the story ramble on, not asking questions because it would be disrespectful to interview a potential hero or heroine and not take notes, right?

When the sauna went off–a good ten minutes before I noticed it was getting cooler, not hotter–I wrapped a towel around my sweaty body, shrugged on my thick robe and dashed into the house, straight to my writing chair–no coffee, no morning chatter with my hubby, no food. I sat down with my laptop and started typing.

My hubby came home for lunch several hours later and found me in the exact same spot, still in my robe, still no coffee.

This is the kind of creative energy writers thrive on. It feeds the soul, but it doesn’t do anything for the body. Finding the right balance is probably easier for some. Since I haven’t felt a strong connection to a story since I turned in my last revisions, I glommed on to this spark of inspiration like a woman who had been out in the cold too long. (Those of you in the Midwest probably understand completely.)

I’m working on Chapter 3 at the moment. I’m following, not leading. The characters are interesting. I learn new things about them every day. Some days, time disappears completely. I sit. I write. I look up and it’s getting dark. That means certain things in my life, like remembering to order window treatments for my newly remodeled family room, moves to the next day’s To-Do List. And the next. And the next.

And it wasn’t until I took a break for lunch today that I realized today is Tuesday and I blog on Tuesdays.

So, I’m taking a breather to get caught up in my life. Hang pictures on my newly painted walls. Vacuum the thick coat of sheetrock dust that has accumulated over the course of construction. And, yes, order my new wooden blinds.

And blog. 🙂

Have a terrific week. I received a notice to appear for Jury Duty next Tuesday, so I might be late blogging again.

Oh, and, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. Be happy!