The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Down time is creative time

I know. I know. If there's a worse blogger in the known world, I wouldn't know who it is. I do what I can.

Housekeeping: This Friday and Saturday (June 28-29), I'll be in Malad, Idaho, at the annual Malad Welsh Festival. This year I'm selling my books and Mrs. Kelly's Novel Hand Cream. I have 19 different fragrances, one of which I developed for the Welsh Festival called Oatcakes'n Honey. It's a good conference, sort of a modified eisteddfod, with singing groups young and old. There are talks on a variety of things Welsh, other Celtic music, displays, and lots of kindly folk with Welsh ancestry (including moi). It's great.

But this is down time for me. I just finished a novel for Harlequin, which I titled, A Wife Like Mary. No telling what Harlequin will rename it. I'm due to start Book Two of the Spanish Brand Series. The first book will be out August 1, although I hear that some of the Barnes & Noble stores already have it. I enjoyed every minute of writing The Double Cross, and look forward to the next book, which I'll begin August 1.

Actually, it's far from down time. What I'm doing is research, which means reading about Comanches, and smallpox, and those primitive inoculations which preceded Edward Jenner's vaccination, and comancheros, those bold and brave New Mexicans who traded with the Comanche. It was a tough time and place that makes me feel a bit guilty when I whine about getting a paper cut. But I love that northeast area of present-day New Mexico around Cimarron. I'll be down that way in August.

This is the challenging time for a writer of historical fiction - trying to figure out the bones of a story, and stay true to history. I have no doubts that ignorance is bliss, but I always want my stories to be accurate.  It's doubly tricky when writing about some branches of the Comanche who were so elusive. There was no more ruthless Indian nation than the Comanche; they asked no quarter and gave none. For some 250 years, they owned Texas and wore it out with repeated raids and depredations. Can I make these folks appealing? You bet.

So why in the world would a writer set a series about a brand inspector right on the edge of Comancheria? I've been told that my novels are good, in part, because of my realistic and compelling characters. And nothing reveals character more than adversity. I like a writing challenge. I like putting all the pieces together in a logical way. To me, that's the great challenge of writing. Put people in a dangerous place - some will live and some will die. Mostly I hope you care about Marco Mondragon and his wife Paloma, and their sort-of ally, Toshua, a Kwahadi Comanche on the outs from his own tribe. He's also Paloma's protector, whether she wants his protection or not.

That challenge of putting the pieces together is evident in my next Cedar Fort novel, Safe Passage, which comes out August 15. It's set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. The Mormons had established a series of successful colonies in Mexico, starting in 1885. When things went terribly wrong, they were forced to flee in 1912. The story of their exodus from Mexico is compelling enough, but I decided to give it another twist. How about a young man estranged from his wife for two years, who learns from his father-in-law that his wife didn't get out? Someone has to go find her, and he's elected. He also wants to see if he can make things better between them. He has his own conflict, in addition to the above: he's born and raised in Mexico, and he really doesn't want to leave at all.

Maybe it's just me, but what I hope comes through in this story for my readers is my great love for Mexico and its kindhearted people. The more I wrote, the more I felt it.

So right now it's back to Comancheria and a brand inspector and his sudden wife. I've given myself until the end of December to write this second book in thee series (no name yet). And then I'll be researching an area I've visited a time or two - southeast Wyoming, but in 1887. What's the conflict here?  A really, really bad winter.

Well, excuse my rambling thoughts. I certainly have a writer's mind, but I don't entirely understand it. A writer's life is a hard slog, at times. But at all times, it's a total privilege to create people that linger in the mind. Mine, anyway, and maybe yours, too.

Back to Comanches. I'm in writer heaven.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Now Hear This!

This is terribly short because I'm headed to Cedar City to see niece Terri Metcalf-Peterson play the role of Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly."  She has a magnificent voice, is a lyric soprano professional, and it will be terrific.

The news:  Here's to the Ladies: Stories of the Frontier Army is now in ebook format! This is my collection of Indian Wars army stories that was published in 2004 by Texas Christian University Press, better known as teacup.

It's a collection that means so much to me, because I started writing those stories when I was a ranger at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. I still remain in close contact with the gentlemen listed in the dedication, except for the one who is now in Fiddlers Green (army jargon for passed away). Two of these short stories won Spur Awards from Western Writers of America.

These short stories launched my writing career. Is there any wonder that I have such affection for them?

Anyway, I'm tickled.