Tag Archive | Tennessee History

Need a Tissue?

Yesterday was a two tissue day.

Some days I’ve gone through an entire box.

No, I don’t have a cold, or allergies, I’m an emotional writer. Is it good to cry over your own manuscript? And I’m not saying that I’m crying because it’s so bad that I want to burn it…I’m crying because I’m so caught up in the emotions of my characters that I’m feeling their pain.

So, I want to know, do any of you cry while you write?

How many of you remember the great scene from “Romancing the Stone” where Joan Wilder is hunting through her house for a tissue? She has just finished her manuscript, and is sobbing over the typewriter. I’ve always loved that movie, and now that I’m a writer, I appreciate it even more.

I’ve often been asked how it is that I can feel for fictitious characters. I think it’s because they become very real to me. They become a part of my days as I plan out their lives. It’s like molding clay into a new piece of art, or brushing color onto a canvas. We breathe life into our characters, so in many ways, they’re very real.

The good thing is that the more real they are to me, the more they’ll come to life on the page for my readers.

So, to all of you emotional readers and writers, keep a box of tissues handy, and go on and cry. It’s good for the soul.



Grandpa dried my tears with flowers.

Grandpa dried my tears with flowers.



Should Have Gone There First

Sorry I’ve been absent on my blog again! Shame on me!

If any of you have ever orchestrated an estate sale, then you will understand that all my time was consumed. But now, I can breathe a relieved sigh, and get back to what I truly love…writing!!

In the midst of the craziness, my husband and I got away for a one-day trip to Chattanooga, TN. Beautiful city with a gorgeous downtown area and riverside. The purpose of the trip was to meet up with an old friend who now works with her husband on the American Queen and other steamboats. They’re both entertainers and have been working on the boats for the last fifteen years. (What a great job, huh?!)

Laura Sable and I used to do theater together. We hadn’t seen each other in twenty years! Of course, neither of us have aged. ;0)

So, here’s my advice to you. When you write a book about steamboats, and have only traveled on a pint-size one on a lake, it’s wise to take a tour of a REAL steamboat like the American Queen. Laura was one of my Beta readers on my book, “Marked.” The book takes place in 1850 on a Mississippi River steamboat. I researched via the internet as well as books and photos, but stepping aboard the luxurious boat was an experience I’ll never forget! There are things now that I know I could add to the descriptions in my book, (and I still can). I’m happy to say that both she and her husband, Bill read the book and told me that I got it right on the money. WHEW! And…they enjoyed it, which made me feel even better.

I know that we can’t always go to the places we write about, but it sure helps if you’re able. I use Google Earth frequently to check out landscape and such, but there is nothing like breathing the same air your characters breathe. I know…I can’t time travel, but I can use my vivid imagination to sense what it must have been like way back when. I’m a romantic at heart, and there’s something glorious about an elegant ship, and picturing ladies and gentleman in fine clothing cascading down the fanned stairway.

When I stepped into the dining hall, I felt like I’d walked into a scene from “Titanic.” We now want very much to travel by steamboat. And…I may have to write another book about them with all the new tidbits I’ve learned.

Thank you Laura and Bill for an amazing tour and adventure!

And to all of you working on your next masterpiece…step into the shoes of your characters, and walk where they walked.


All aboard!

All aboard!

Dining Room
Dining Room

Rollin' on the River!
Rollin’ on the River!

Learning From Others

My grandfather used to say “I’m no spring chicken.” He also used to tell me that he probably wouldn’t be on this earth much longer. The first time he told me that I believe I was about ten years old. He was 60, and lived to be 101.  Oops!  I’m telling my age now!239140774108_0_BG

I was blessed that he lived a long life because I learned a lot from him. Not long ago when we were moving, I came across some old cassette tapes that he made for me. Instead of letters, he would record cassettes and send them from Illinois to my home in Idaho. Hearing his voice always cheered me, and his tapes were full of wisdom and humor. When I found the long-forgotten cassette and put it in my archaic tape player, I cried like a baby. Not only was his voice on the recording, but my grandmother also made a reluctant “appearance” on the tape.

I wish now that I had recorded all the information he told me when we traveled across Illinois and he showed me where he grew up and stories of how his family came to America. My love for history makes me wish I had the foresight to at least take notes.

Lesson learned. Pay attention. Take notes. Learn what you can from people who have lived and done things you’ve never done before.

That applies to my journey now.

Years back when I was performing in a summer theater group, I met an incredible tenor by the name of Robert McPherson. If you get a chance, go out to you tube and pull up his rendition of the National Anthem. Amazing… Anyway, I told him once that when I heard him sing, I wondered why I even tried. He sings effortlessly, and beautifully. His response to me was something like, “Don’t discount your own talent. Everyone has something to offer.”  So, I kept singing too.

And now, I can apply that same wisdom to my writing venture. I wrote previously about the “Self-Doubt Monster” and this ties into that. Every writer is unique. We all have different voices and different stories to tell. Don’t discount your own talent.

When I first joined Music City Romance Writers, I remember being in awe of the published writers in our group. I still am. I also remember the first time I asked Trish Milburn to sign a copy of one of her books for me. I was nervous asking, but she graciously signed, and has never been out of reach as a fellow writer. In fact, I’ve not met one person in our group who looks down their nose at anyone. If anything, it’s just the opposite. They embrace new writers and willingly pass on their knowledge and share their writing journey.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of a group that lift each other up instead of back-biting and trying to climb over one another. Unlike some jobs where people can viciously try to claw their way to the top, we are helping each other get there, and rejoicing when someone has success.

I hope that I can be encouraging to new writers and that all the things I’m learning can be passed on.

Write on!MCRW Natchez Trace 2013 018

Civil War

While researching material for my newest book, I have been talking to Civil War experts as well as visiting reenactments and historical sites. Having grown up in the Northwest, I was not familiar with a lot of the details about the war. The South is rich in history, and reminders of what shaped our country.

I pray that we’ll never be so divided again. Being human, we’ll always have our differences, but hopefully we can overcome them and appreciate each other for our “uniqueness.”

My stories are not typical romances.  Then again, what romance can truly be called “typical?” Every heart beats differently, and attractions can be something completely magical…even in times of strife.

Step back in time with me, and remember where we came from…

A time to rest…

A time for play…