Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 Writing goals, hopes and dream...

I am guilty of blog neglect, but what better way to get started again than to think about where I have been with my writing and where I want things to go for 2015. First goal of the year is to do better with this blog in 2015. I will see what I can do, but my writing must come first for the most part.

As I look at me and my writing, it is difficult trying to find the time to write, what with a full time job and a family. The last few months have been full of family medical issues which do not lend to finding the words late at night when I do have time to write, but this too shall pass and I am hoping with the new year things will get back to normal.

Since the height of October's Moonlight and Magnolia's event with SAWYER'S ROSE receiving an honorable mention, a few things have happened. I got the manuscript off to seven different editors and agents, some asking for partials and others for a full. I managed to get them all off in one night of serious determination long before November. The verdict so far? Two rejections, but a couple of promising emails that leave me hopeful for a couple of the others.

Rejections come hard. The height of hope comes crashing down, but I've managed to take a deep breath and pick it up with fresh hope each time. I am reminded of a couple of quotes from writer friends. One is that "it all boils down to the right editor/agent at the right time." The other is that it is "the journey you must remember to enjoy." So what did I do when I absorbed these rejections? Well, I jumped right into the November challenge to complete a book. The result was about 80,000 words into Wyatt's Bounty. :)

I started writing for publication in mid 2011 and I remember being so lost in the characters of that first story that I could hear their voices and sagas in my head all day long. But I remember the joy of coming home from work, handling the children and all the daily chores and then later excited to find myself alone again with my laptop and my story. It was fun, and it still is. I don't want to lose that. Another writer friend has reminded me that writing before publication is sometime when you have the most fun, because there are no pressures and time lines you have to meet. Your story is your own, your time frame is your own and you decide. Maybe she is right as I kind of call my own shots now on how it gets done. But then again, I can push myself harder than anyone else might ask me to do. I don't set hard daily number counts and while I do try to set a goal of when I will complete a rough draft, sometime I meet it and sometimes I don't. Usually when I don't there is a good reason and the writing will win if I give it more time.

So my plans for 2015:
1) Complete Wyatt's Bounty Full Manuscript
2) Enter Wyatt's Bounty in the GRW's Gin Ellis Critique for some feedback
3) Enter Wyatt's Bounty in the Maggies-even with the upped deadline
4) Keep the blog updated at least monthly
5) Stay hopeful Sawyer's Rose will get it's chance
6) Start on Dawson's Haven, once Wyatt's Bounty is complete
7) Enter All But the Fall, my contemporary in the Maggies
8) Maybe enter Sawyer's Rose in the Golden Heart next time

While I set new years goals carefully most of the time, I never have been one that is rigid about them. Life sometimes gets in the way and you have to give yourself a break here and there. And so there you have it, at least for now. Stay tuned to see how things go in 2015.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Maggie Awards


Look! Sawyer's Rose and I make the big screen for a few seconds. It was such an honor to have the story final in this year's Maggie awards for historical romance. Sawyer's Rose got an honorable mention which I do not take lightly and means the world to me. It was so much fun to catch up with my writer friends, listen to lectures and pitch my story to a number of editors who all want a look! I am hopeful once again and when I catch up on sleep and get a few minutes, I plan to send Sawyer out to see just what happens. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Chuck Wagon: North GeorgiaTrout

North Georgia trout can be small but pretty tasty. We catch our own and fry them up fresh right at the camp site in a cast iron skillet.

Clean and gut the trout and remove the skin.
Soak the trout in buttermilk and then press into cornmeal with added salt and pepper. Drop the trout into hot oil and fry until golden brown! Yum Yum! For added spice add cayenne pepper to the cornmeal mix.

And for something totally different, coat the trout in regular yellow mustard instead of butter milk and then coat on cornmeal and fry them up. You won't be disappointed.

 Fresh caught by Dakota.
Soak in buttermilk.
Coat inside and out in cornmeal with salt and pepper added.
Serve 'em up hot!

Our trout came from Wildcat Creek Campground in North Ga.

Monday, September 1, 2014

From the Chuck Wagon-Mexican Cornbread

Mexican Cornbread

Buttermilk cornmeal 3 cups
Whole Cultured Buttermilk 2 cups
Eggs 2
Jalapenos-chopped or sliced to taste (We add half a jar of sliced)
Mexican corn mix 1 can drained
Cheese: cheddar or mixed 2 cups

Mix all ingredients together stirring until well mixed or the consistency of cake batter
Pour into greased hot iron skillet (11 inch skillet in picture)
Place in over at 350 degrees until firm in center and lightly browned on top
Butter entire top and serve

If you want to make this a complete meal add a half pound of ground beef cooked, stirring it into the mix before cooking.

P.S. from Kim: Just a reminder southern cornbread does not have added sugar....GRITS: (Girls raised in the south) do not eat sweet cornbread.

So tell us how you do it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

In talking with my writer friends, we came upon the discussion of the first romance books we had read. Somehow 'Gone with the Wind' was mentioned and that reminded me of my maternal grandmother, whose name was Tommie Lou Campbell. I always thought her name was so unique for a girl. I think my first romance reads came from the small wooden (built into the wall) shelf in the small hallway of the farmhouse where my grandparents lived. I'd spend a few summer weeks at the farm in northwest Ga. and help myself to the books on the shelf, reading the ones that Granny was finished with or hadn't gotten to yet. There was nothing better than sitting on the screened front porch with the afternoon breeze blowing the heat away and finding myself lost in some other world of a book, most often romance. That is where I first picked up 'Gone with the Wind' myself, though I had already seen the movie. I remember Granny, with her apron on, baking the morning's homemade biscuits and gravy and telling me that "you might want to read that one when you are a little bit older." Well, a comment like that to a twelve year old meant I wasn't waiting to read it. What I found was an intense book I could not put down and it was the first time I had compared a book to the movie. Of course the book won! I remember also being fascinated by the little book Granny kept where she wrote down love quotes and love poems. I would copy them at times into my own notebooks and I still have most of those today. So I think I gained my love of reading from my Granny and then my mother. (More on mom and her reads in another post!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

From the CRITIQUE CORRAL...Introducing Denni Garrett

I figured what this blog needs is a Critique Corral. A place where some of my friends (who are avid readers and writers) can post what they have been reading or writing. Nope, it doesn't have to be about cowboys or the old west and there might even be times it gets a little heated, but this is another way to connect my blog to reading and seeing what is out there! So first one out of the chute at this month's Critique Corral:  Dennie Garrett.


Hi, my name is Denni and I am a Bookaholic.  I have been a bookworm since way back to childhood.  One of my most precious memories is when I was a child and my beloved Granny saving her Guideposts for me.  I loved to read anything!  My favorite books growing up were the Little House on the Prairie books.  I kept one of the series checked out at all times.  Pa Ingles reminded me so much of my Daddy and I wanted to marry Mr. Edwards. 
I am a native of the beautiful Upstate of SC.  I was born and raised there. I have traveled to many places but could never see myself living anywhere else.  I am divorced with no children.  I have 2 dogs, a Chihuahua named Sassi Belle and a poodle named Bindi Sue that are my fur kids.  I love animals and love to rescue them and find good homes for them.
I also have a 5 year old nephew who I adore.  He is such a blessing to our family. 
My reading preferences are very diverse.  I like reading all genres of books.  Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Greg Iles, Jeffery Deaver, Ann Rule, Vince Flynn and Dorothea Benton Frank.  That is just a tip of the iceberg.  I also like to look for old books, from authors that you have never heard from...a good book is a good book.  I am looking forward to sharing some of my favorite books with you all.  Feel free to email me your reading recommendation at
Happy reading!
Bookworm Denni---take a look below at the first book I've picked!

Book- Transfer of Power     Author- Vince Flynn
If you are looking for a hero, then no need to look any farther.  Mitch Rapp, Vince Flynn's fearless CIA counter-terrorism Superman fits the definition of hero!  He will amaze you and you will find yourself on the edge of your seat, hoping he will outsmart the bad guys.
I have read all of Vince Flynn's books (some more than once) and I think my favorite is Transfer of Power.  Terrorists get by security at the White House and that forces the President to go into hiding in an underground bunker.  The Terrorists take hostages and start making demands.  They then start the painstakingly task of breaking into the supposedly indestructible bunker.  But fear not, Mitch Rapp makes his way, undetected into the White House to save the day.  He moves like a cat and sneaks his way among the halls and secret passageways of the White House.  ( I had to wonder if secret passageways actually do exist there in real life.  Mr. Flynn tells a story that makes you feel like you're on the inside looking out, instead of the outside looking in)
Rapp saves the hostages before he saves the President.  But before he knows it, he realizes he's fighting someone within his own government that wants his rescue of the President to fail. 
I am not going to reveal the'll have to read it to find out.  (you will thank me later)
When I read a book, I have in my mind's eye, a picture of the characters as they emerge.  Mitch Rapp is a combination of Rambo, Chuck Norris, Seal Team 6, McGyver and Jack Bauer.  I pictured him as tall, steely eyed, square jawed and devilishly handsome.  Just like the very handsome Mr. Flynn looks on the back cover of his books.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sawyer's Rose finals in the Maggies!!!!

I recently got word from GRW that Sawyer's Rose was a finalist for the Maggies in October. The Georgia Romance Writers website defines it this way:

The Maggie Award for Excellence has been given out by Georgia Romance Writers for over three decades. It is a highly respected award in the writing community.

I have worked on Sawyer's Rose for over a year and a half and thanks to the best critique partners a person could have this is the result. (Thank you Maggie, Cheryl, Trish, Sherry and Becke.) I also have a slew of beta readers who offer story advice and let me know where things did or didn't make any sense. (Thank you Kimmy, Dennie, Anita, and Scarlet.)  I am not sure any writer ever placed in any contest without great critique partners and then painstakingly writing and rewriting again and again. For me it has been a battle of learning all the things new writers have to learn and the things I am still learning like:
Show vs. Tell
Point of View-Head-hopping
Adding Emotional beats in the right places
And for me plain old grammar and punctuation (No I didn't pay attention in high school English. I was probably hiding behind my English book reading a romance novel.)

So my first real reward has come and it didn't come easy. But it does come at a time when I needed to hear something good related to my writing. When I first decided to pursue publication I jumped in whole heartedly. I joined GRW and RWA and I go to the events and I submitted to the Virginia Ellis workshop each year so I could learn. I've already pitched a couple of times and got the rejections that followed and then took a deep breath and pitched again. I have submitted to the Maggies, sure I wouldn't place but wanting the feedback of critiques from those that do not know me. That can be invaluable. Not sure how this has happened, but someone must have liked Sawyer's Rose for this to be where things have gone. I don't know how the story will do in October, but I do know at this moment this is a huge honor regardless. I am thrilled, excited and still in shock but it is starting to sink in. This doesn't mean Sawyer's Rose will get published but it does mean if nothing else I am making progress toward that goal and it feels really good.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hell on Wheels

Season four of Hell on Wheels Starts tonight and I can't wait. I will watch each episode over and over so I miss nothing! I started watching season one in 2011 when I was editing through my very first manuscript. Since I was writing a western historical romance, I thought I might learn something about the time period and about the building of the transcontinental railroads-a very interesting story to say the least. What I didn't expect was to become addicted to the series and Anson Mount in the lead roll of Cullen Bohannon. If you have not been watching Hell on Wheels, you are missing out on what I think is the best western television in a while. I sure hope this series continues for a while longer!!!! Who else out there is watching?

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Chuck Wagon-Old Fashioned Salmon Patties

Old Fashioned Salmon Patties

2 Cans of salmon-clean out the bones and skins (YUK according to Kim)
1/2 Large Vidalia onion chopped
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
3 Eggs Beaten
Salt and Pepper (In our case seasoning salt.)
Vegetable Cooking Oil

1 Cup Mayonnaise (At our house that means only Blue Plate.)
3 TBS Prepared Dill Sauce (Or fresh Dill chopped.)
Lemon Juice to taste

Mix the salmon with the onions and salt and pepper and Panko Bread crumbs and the eggs. Make palm sized patties and cook in large skillet with oil. Cook each side of the patties until golden brown. Allow to cool and serve with dip of Mayo, Dill and Lemon Juice mixed together.

That's it for the Chuck Wagon this month. Let me know some of you favorite recipes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A little on "Billy the Kid"

William H. Bonney born William Henry McCarty, Jr. was born on November 23, 1859 and better known as "Billy the Kid", but also known as William Antrim. According to legend, he killed 21 men and the first of those on April 1, 1877 at the age of 18. Bonney, was described as being friendly and personable and favored an unadorned Mexican sombrero. Billy was relatively unknown during most of his lifetime but was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico's governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head for the murder of men, cattle rustling and theft. He was known to use the Colt single action .44 and Colt double-action .41 caliber called the “Thunderer.” He may have also used the .38 caliber version called the “Lightning.” But a Winchester '73 rifle was his weapon of choice. Noted for escaping more than once when being detained, it wasn't until Pat Garrett was elected sheriff /US marshal that Billy was brought down on July 14th, 1881 at the age of 21. He was buried the next day in Fort Sumner cemetery.

There have been a lot of debates over about the history of  Billy the Kid's death--was it true or not. Did Pat Garrett really kill Billy? Was Billy alive and well living in Hamilton County Texas as Ollie L. Roberts "Brushy Bill" in the 1940's? A petition was even brought forth to exhume Billy and his mother for DNA testing to prove his death, but the petition was denied. With no DNA testing or real proof and the fact the Pat Garrett's grandson said his grandfather never got Billy the kid, we may never really know? What do you think?
I've watched movies over the years related to Billy the kid, but most do not tell the real story but only bits of it. Billy had a bad childhood with no father and his mother dying when he was young. Trouble started for him at an early age and he ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd. What is little known is that he was very likeable and the men he did kill were far worse than he ever thought about being. Movies such as Young Guns has a bit of the story right but if you read the history of Billy, there is a lot more to the story than shown on television of course. He's a very interesting read and regardless of all the truths or myths, Billy the Kid still remains a hero to those who love the old west and the cowboys found there.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I just loved the two years of this series. I hate that it was not picked up for a season three. Made no sense at all to me, so I bought both DVD's of each year of the series so I can watch again when I want to. I must be addicted to the time post civil war years and this is when this series was set. It played on BBC and again I just do not get why it didn't get another season. Anyone else out there watch this one?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Setting an Example

I have written since I was very young but it has only been the last 3 years that I have been writing the stories that have been in my head for years now. It has been a shorter time that I have been pursuing publication. I often wonder if in scrambling to find time to write and the fact that I have a full time job as a nurse, am I neglecting my girls. I heard a quote from Katie Couric once that said something like "when you work full time as a mother, you never feel like you are a good mother or a good employee." I think I am guilty of both, toss in writing into the dark hours of the night, and I have to wonder sometimes if I am doing anything right. But somehow we have found a happy medium in life where it works for me and my family. My kids are happy and healthy and we take time for fun on the weekends. When I first started this publication journey, both my girls drew pictures for me related to what I write. Take a look below. I now keep these in my writing notebook to remind me of what is most important, but as I have been reminded by several writer friends, I am also setting an example for my girls to follow their own dreams.

Dakota's Gunslinger.

Shiloh's Horse and Wagon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Chuck Wagon-Enchilada Dip

Enchilada Dip

2 pounds of ground beef (Or chicken or turkey)
1/2 diced Vidalia onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups of enchilada sauce
2 cups of grated cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
3 TBS of ground Cumin

Tortilla chips
Sour Cream

Brown the beef and drain. Add onions, garlic and cumin and cook until onions are tender about 4 minutes. Stir in enchilada sauce and top with grated cheese, cover and allow cheese to melt. Garnish with tomatoes and sour cream as desired and eat with Tortilla chips or flour tortillas.

Yum Yum, that's what's on the Chuck wagon for this month. Let us know what you think!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fun with Friends at Events

Here are some fun pictures from some of the writing events that I have been to over the last two years. It has been such an amazing journey and I have met so many interesting people and made some friendships I hadn't expected. Regardless of my not being published YET...I have learned a wealth of knowledge from all the fun faces in these pictures.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cowboys in History: Wyatt Earp

Wyatt at age 5 with his mother

Wyatt at age 21

Wyatt at home age 75-1923

Over the years the shoot out at the O.K. Corral has been depicted as one of the most amazing gunfights in western history, though few realize it wasn't all television depicted it to be.
On Oct. 26, 1881 the feud between the Earps and local cowboys, Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, Tom and Frank McLaury continued with death threats against the Earps adding up. Virgil Earp, acting marshal of Tombstone at the time deputized Wyatt Earp as assistant marshal, Morgan Earp was already Deputy City Marshal and Doc Holliday was deputized for the said event, which began around 3:00pm. The group headed toward Fremont Street where the threatening cowboys had been collecting in wait in the lot between Harwood House and Fly's Boarding House and evidently a photography studio. The most missed item on made for television reenactments is the fact that the Earp's were only about 6 to 10 feet away from the others as the gunfight began.
Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne fled the gunfight where Tom and Frank McLaury along with Billy Clanton stood their ground and were killed. Morgan Earp was clipped by a shot across his back that nicked both shoulder blades and a vertebra. Virgil was shot through the calf and Holliday was grazed by a bullet. The gunfight in Tombstone lasted only 30 seconds, but it would end up defining Wyatt Earp for the rest of his life, much to his dismay.
The last surviving Earp brother and the last surviving participant of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp died at home at 4004 W 17th Street, in Los Angeles, of chronic bladder inflammation others labeled as prostate Cancer on January 13, 1929 at the age of 80. His Associated Press obituary described him as a "gun-fighter, whose blazing six-shooters, were for most of his life allied with the side of law and order".
Tombstone is one of my favorite movies due to the fact there was Kurt Russell (Wyatt Earp), Sam Elliot (Virgil Earp), Bill Paxton (Morgan Earp) and Val Kilmer (Doc Holliday)--nothing wrong with the line up! "I'll be your Huckleberry."

Wyatt earp ver1.jpg
Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp showed some of Earps younger years and is one of my favorites as well.

What are some of your favorites?