Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Mary Connealy


Seekerville: The Journey Continues

A Model of Devotion--coming in October


A Model of Devotion--coming in October

The exciting conclusion to The Lumber Baron's Daughters series is coming in October.

A Model of Devotion...plenty of danger and action and romance.

Jilly finally faces the fact that she has to get married to be safe. And yet getting marriage is the most dangerous thing she can imagine.

A Model of Devotion--coming in October

She's finally claimed her independence . . . how far will she go to keep it?

A brilliant engineer, Jilly Stiles has been educated since childhood to help run her father's lumber dynasty. With the company safe from her stepfather after the marriages of her two sisters, Jilly can now focus on her dream of building a mountaintop railroad--and never marry.

Nick Ryder came into Jilly's life when he saved her mother from her no-good stepfather, and he's prepared to protect Jilly from anything that threatens to harm her--as long as he keeps his heart from getting involved.

But when a cruel and powerful man goes to dangerous lengths to make Jilly his own, she must make a decision between her safety and her hard-won independence.


This week I'm on my way to a writer's conference.

I'm so nervous I can't STAND IT!

I've done a few, very few things out in the real world but mostly within my small bubble of close friends and family.

But I love the ACFW Conference and am determined to go. So...

I'm trying to ignore the upcoming conference, all while packing and planning and booking flights and a hotel room.

And yes, it's a little insane. But I think now instead of crazy, they say you're compartmentalizing.

So I can pick out clothes and pack a suitcase, while ignoring that I've got to get out of my bubble for a while.

A Model of Devotion--coming in October

I've got writer friends coming, including some Seekers, that I want to see so BAD!

So I'm doing it and I've got a new release coming to promote so it's a good thing, right?

Anyone else going?

Have any of you done this? Stepped back out into the real world boldly? Or had trouble doing it?

I'm a serious introvert. I think introverts make the best writers, because liking people is just so TIME CONSUMING. And not to say I don't like people...I just don't want to talk to them, or see them, or be out of my recliner.

That's not the same as not liking someone.

So tell me how you've emerged from your cocoon. Are you an introvert and an extrovert and, btw, I WOULD think Introverts make the best writers, now wouldn't I? 

And maybe, I'll see you in St Louis.

Cutest Meet Cutes?


Cutest Meet Cutes?
As a romance writer (and just an all-around-romantic-y person), I am a BIG fan of a solid meet cute! A meet cute usually refers to movies, but as readers, we've begun to refer to them in books too. 

What is a meet cute, you ask?

If you've ever watched a rom-com, you already know, even though you may not be aware of it. 

A meet cute is that moment when two characters (who will form that lovely romantic connection in the story) meet for the first time. Usually, they meet in a humorous or "cute" sort of way, though more dramatic ways are fine too (think, P&P or Jane Eyre).

What a meet cute provides is a sudden spark, a "teaser" of more to come, a little look at how these two are going to interact together. 

It can reveal an immediate attraction or repulsion, but, of course (in our HEAs), the repulsion turns to attraction through the course of the story. 

Think of some of your favorite movies for examples. 

Here are a few "classic" examples:

Maria and Captain Von Trapp on The Sound of Music

- Why is it "cute"? She's dancing in the empty ballroom and he bursts into the room in all of his serious "state" :)

Don Lockwood and Kathy Seldon from Singing in the Rain

-Why is it cute? As Don Lockwood (a famous silent film star) is trying to escape some rather energetic adoring fans, he jumps into Kathy Seldon's car.  Kathy, at first, is terrified of the "stranger" jumping into her car until she recognizes him, but pretends not too and then feeds Don a little humble pie :)

Cutest Meet Cutes?

Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly from You've Got Mail

-Why is it cute? Well, it's all the MORE cute because we (as viewers) know that Kathleen and Joe are already in an online relationship, yet the characters have never met in person (and don't even know each others' names). So when they meet for the first time in Kathleen's shop (and we know Joe is trying to take over little bookshops), we're already rooting for them. Hint: F.O.X.

One more?

Iris meeting Miles in The Holiday (which actually uses the term "meet cute" in it, but I also think when Iris meets Arthur Abbot, though it's not a romantic meet-up, just really sweet). 

There are tons of great meet cutes, both in historical and contemporary romances. The live-action Cinderella, Notting Hill, Return to Me, Kate and Leopold,...the list goes on!

But meet cutes happen in books too! I ADORE writing meet cutes!!

This is the couples' first meeting and, as a writer, it's a great opportunity to make the moment memorable and set up the "tension" well before we ever get to the life-long romance or HEA :) 

It's that first glimpse we, as readers, get of the dynamics of the hero and heroine! Usually, we have a little background on one or both characters so the the meet cute has a deeper meaning too. 

Cutest Meet Cutes?

Here are a few bookish ones that I love:

Amelia and Emerson's first meeting in the Amelia Peabody series

Sophie & Clay in Petticoat Ranch (Mary Conneally has some hilarious meet cutes). 

Hattie and Miller in Jenny B Jones's Sweet Right Here

Grace and Noah in Melanie Jacobsen's Kiss the Girl

and...of course, the list goes on.

What a meet cute does is build expectation. It gives a little hint into how these two are going to be the romantic leads of the story. Fun, right?

So let's hear it from you guys!

What books have you read that have some of your favorite meet cutes? 

(all photos are property of the author or taken from


Cutest Meet Cutes?

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance “peppered” with grace and humor. Writing both historical and contemporary novels, she loves to incorporate her native Appalachian culture and/or her unabashed adoration of the UK into her stories. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the wife of a fantastic pastor, mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her nineteenth novel, Authentically Izzy, debuts in November with Thomas Nelson. She loves connecting with readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook & Instagram. You can learn more about Pepper and her books on her website at

Let's start this year off right!

Let's start this year off right!

I've already made three resolutions...but I made them about a week ago.

I don't really believe in resolutions just because I never succeed at them.

My resolutions, much less time wasted playing games on my computer...yes, I do that.

I've deleted a blog I hang around that discusses personal problems. I find them sort of addictive to read at the same time I just shake my head and wonder why people are idiots. Or if maybe all the letters are written by either Fiction Writing 101 college students or thirteen-year-old girls.

Haven't been there in a week and I'm not going back.

And to say NO to sweets. After a badly bacchanalian Christmas season of over-eating, I'm done. I'm back to my usual sense. I promise.

No, none of these resolutions are writing related. But wasted time is time away from writing.

And being healthy is just a good idea.

I'm still writing my usual 1000 words a day.

Let's start this year off right!

I'm about to kick off a new series called The Lumber Baron's Daughters. Book #1 The Element of Love is coming March 2. Book #2 is Inventions of the Heart coming in July. Then book three, no cover, no title yet, releases in October 2022.

(wow, I can't quite believe I just typed 2022!!! I remember when everyone was so worked up about 2000, that's closing in on a quarter century ago.) I suppose it means I'm closing in on old age. :(

I've tried to raise my daily writing number a few times. For example, last November...not two months ago, but a year and two months ago, I did NANO. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. Then I spent two weeks revising that fast flow of words.

So six weeks is about 45 days. That's 45,000 words. Not that much of an improvement over my usual speed and the plodding revisions were sad. I had to fix some things that were deeply wrong because my brain just didn't seem to have time to ponder what's next and I went in a few odd directions.

It was good in one way though. It helped me realize NANO didn't work for me. So...insert a sort of weak YAY here.

So resolutions. Did you make any? Have you EVER kept one? Tell me your resolutions. If you made them January 1st, you CAN'T have given up on them yet. 

Leave a message to get your name in a drawing for one of TWO $22 Amazon gift cards.

The Element of Love

Let's start this year off right!

With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother's unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away--far and fast--to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father's lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather.

When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb's past and in the land around them come to light, it'll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay.

Inventions of the Heart

Let's start this year off right!

After her sister's marriage, Michelle Stiles and her younger sister Jilly are left at Two Harts Ranch, owned by Zane Hart. They've so far managed to stay one step ahead of their stepfather and his devious plans.

Zane has his own problems, having discovered a gold mine on his property. How does he harvest it without kicking off a gold rush? Michelle, educated and trained to run her father's business, wants to manage all aspects of the mine. Zane thinks for a smart woman she can have some misguided ideas. Running that mine will be dangerous, and he doesn't want her exposed to what might occur out there.

But danger finds Michelle anyway when a man breaks into the house and attacks her. Able to fend him off and capture him, they realize he has ties to Michelle's stepfather. If they go to the sheriff, they'll reveal her location, but if they do nothing--their troubles have only just begun.

Creating Characters--Give them a quirk


Creating Characters--Give them a quirk

I'm the little girl in the center. You know...the CUTE ONE!!???
There are unsubstantiated rumors that I was a quirky little thing!
Also, I believe my mother is very pregnant with the fourth of her eight kids.
What can I was the baby boom!

One of the things I like to do when creating characters is give them quirks that compliment their personality or career choice, or whatever their underlying deal is.

I remember in Sharpshooter in Petticoats, Mandy McClellen Lindscott, a wickedly fast, accurate shot with her rifle, had a callus on her trigger finger.

When she was worried, or angry or even just thinking, she’d rub that callus with her thumb. That was her quirk. And it said a lot about her. How she thought of herself. The weight she carried because of her rifle skills. Negative and positive things. She counted on that trigger finger. She also had a lot of fear about how cool she got in a crisis. Cold honestly. She carried the fear inside her that she had what it took to be a killer.

Creating Characters--Give them a quirk

So right now, I’m creating a group of sisters who are brilliant and, on top of that brilliance, they are highly educated and trained to take over a big business, a lumber industry but also the other facets of the dynasty their father had built.

One of the sisters is a chemical engineer, before that was really a term. Chemicals were created and the word and job of engineer exists (in addition to train engineers) But the two hadn’t really been cut off into a specialized field called chemical engineer.

So my heroine loves chemistry and, because her father’s dream was to build train tracks up a mountainside.

Someone’s going to have to build those tracks (that’s book #3).

Someone’s going to have to invent excellent brakes, super strong freight cars able to carry massive weight.

Someone is going to have to blast holes in mountains to build the tunnels they need.

My heroine gets the job of blowing stuff up. The Element of Love coming February 2022.

The twist in this book is the sisters, so smart, but wealthy all their lives, have to run away from home because danger has come to the Stiles Mansion up in the vast, remote forest.

Book #2 of the Lumber Baron's Daughter

And they have to HIDE. So they hide out as servants…and guess what? They have no skills. Sure they can modify, improve and get a patent for heavy duty undercarriage elements for a train car. But can they patch a hole in the knee of someone’s pants?

And how in the world does a bloody hunk of unidentified meat turn into a meal?

They are doing their best to fake it but they don’t dare tell the truth because if word of their whereabouts reaches the ear of their enemy, they are in dreadful danger.

So my smart heroine is faking NOT being smart. A the woman who has always had servants is trying to fake being a servant. She is bad at it. And she’d learning a few lessons about a ‘woman’s work’ having true value. And how, though she was always polite and thankful, she may have not given enough respect to the servants who fed and clothed her while she did ‘important’ work.

I’m having a lot of fun trying to make her humble and servant-like, and having her feisty, brilliant mind sneaking out all the time.

So...quirks. Give your characters quirks to make them three dimensional.

Do you have characters that are quirky? Tell me about them.

Today, for the Christmas season, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter.

If you want, you can use it to pre-order The Element of Love...but no one's gonna check if you use it for wild living!!!

Merry Christmas

The Element of Love by Mary Connealy

With their sharp engineering minds, Laura Stiles and her two sisters have been able to deal with their mother's unfortunate choice in husband, until they discover his plans to marry each of them off to his lecherous friends. Now they must run away--far and fast--to find better matches to legally claim their portion of their father's lumber dynasty and seize control from their stepfather.

When Laura befriends a mission group heading to serve the poor in California during their escape, she quickly volunteers herself and her sisters to join their efforts. Despite the settlement being in miserable condition, the sisters are excited by the opportunity to put their skills to good use. Laura also sees potential in Caleb, the local minister, to help with gaining her inheritance. But when secrets buried in Caleb's past and in the land around them come to light, it'll take all the smarts the sisters have to keep trouble at bay.


Love on the Range releases TOMORROW!

 When you write a three book series, it's a little tricky to introduce the characters who will populate the series but keep the main romantic hero and heroine front and center, while developing the secondary characters with an eye toward setting them up for their own story.

So, Molly and Wyatt. They've very definitely played parts in the earlier books but Molly is mainly taking care of the house and cooking for everyone, for which she has a strong talent.

And Wyatt has mostly been working. While Cheyenne, his half-sister runs off in a temper in the first book, then chases after bad guys while falling in love in the second book, Wyatt has needed to keep the ranch running.

So what it amounts to is, Molly and Wyatt have been doing all the work.

Now it's their turn. I ended the last book with Wyatt getting shot. Now we start this book with him with a broken collarbone, mostly tied up to keep one arm from moving and Molly waiting on his hand and foot. Now it's everyone else's turn to do all Wyatt's work.

And Molly is getting tired of being doing everything.

And she's exhausted, and for a mild mannered woman, a very RESERVED woman, she's getting a little cranky.

Love on the Range releases TOMORROW!
Love on the Range

There is still one day to pre-order on Baker Book House. On Sale and free shipping! Click to Buy

Buy on Amazon Here

Wyatt woke up to a woman in his bed.

            Very few things in his life had ever been stranger.

            She had her hand resting on his chest. Flat, right over his heart. Her head resting on his shoulder. Which wasn’t the shoulder that’d been shot. His arm was around her.

            She was on top of the covers and he was under, but it was still the strangest and most wonderful thing that’d ever happened to him.

            And he’d once watched a cow sniff a little cloud that rolled into a mountain valley, leading a horde of clouds that settled into fog.

            That fog rolling in, like little balls of fluff, that sniffing cow, that’d been the strangest and most wonderful thing…up until now.

            Molly. And boy oh boy, this was now number one and the sniffing cow wasn’t even a close second.

Molly What? What was her name? He’d hardly ever talked to her. Well, a few times. And she’d served him delicious food. She was a way better cook than Cheyenne and a fair sight better than Win. She’d patched some of his clothes, washed them, hung them on the line, he’d seen her doing it. She’d cleaned up after all of them, washed dishes. She’d kept this house running through a time of madness.

And now she was sleeping in his bed, in his arms, and it felt…right.

Most everyone around here was named Hunt. His mind rabbited around to Win marrying Kevin and then like a jolt of lightning, he remembered Cheyenne marrying Falcon. He leapt out of bed…except he didn’t.

            He tried. Realized he was all but tied up. Remembered why—his broken bone--and figured he was too late to stop the wedding anyway.

            So he just stayed where he was and watched Molly sleep. He’d done some wiggling when he’d tried to sit up and she’d slept through it so she must be exhausted. Poor thing.

            He realized that her name could be Hunt too, if he married up with her. And shouldn’t a man marry a woman he shared a bed with?

            Especially when he was so uncommonly pleased to wake up next to her.

            There were dark shadows under her eyes. His head was clear enough to remember being in and out of consciousness, fighting a blazing fever, a lot of it was blurred, but he knew whatever else was going on, whoever else was around, Molly had always been here.

            Marrying a woman he really didn’t know at all, just because he liked waking up next to her, struck him as a lunatic notion. But his life was one lunatic moment after another lately.

            Anyway, she didn’t like him much. So he set the idea aside.

Garner. Molly Garner.

            There, somehow knowing her name released him from any plans to change her name to Hunt by marrying up with her. He could remain single.

            Relief swept through him and that relief told him he’d made the right decision.

            Still, she was a pretty little thing.

Today tell me if you've ever wrote a series. How do you do it? Some series are just set in the same place but not largely populated by the same characters. If you don't write in series, why not? Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Love on the Range.





Love on the Range releases TOMORROW!

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes the hand behind the attack as the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he'd finally carved out a home and started a herd--while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail, driving off dangerous men. He'd
hoped those days were over, but the latest attack shows he was wrong.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace offers the only shelter for miles around, and agrees to take them in until she can safely continue. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling--yet enticing.

Working to survive the winter and finally bring justice to the trail, Trace and Deborah find themselves drawn together--yet every day approaches the moment she'll leave forever.

It's Tricky to Remember to Forget

It's Tricky to Remember to Forget
A Man with a Past
Brothers in Arms, book #2
The hero in my soon-to-release novel A Man with a Past, has amnesia. I mean he has it through the whole stinking book....well almost. He gets his memory back at the the nick of time you might say! 

It was fun but I hope I did it alright. 

I've written one other character with amnesia and before long at all I just flat out gave her her memory back. It was just too HARD to remember to forget.

You don't really realize it until you start writing it, but a character spends a lot of time with internal thoughts. And in ways large and small those internal thoughts are concerned with who they are. How something is affecting them.

Sure sometimes they think things like, "When I was married to Betsy, I'd've never said such a thing." Or more mildly, "He'd decided to never marry again. Losing Betsy had hurt too much."

You can't do that with amnesia. No worrying because you were frightened by a barking dog as a child, nearly struck by lightning as a teenager, lost your parents in a flood as a young adult.

Nope, none of that, because YOU CAN'T REMEMBER ANY OF THAT HAPPENED.

It's Tricky to Remember to Forget

It's tricky to remember to forget. 

You need to re-write, revised, regularly, specifically looking for oops moments when a character is acting as they normally do which includes, tiny moments of memory, the things that make a person who they are.

And that act of memory is so fundamental to writing...backstory...internal conflict...fears and joys and strengths and weaknesses. We are trained to write all of that into a character. Well forget it. My recommendation is frequent and very specific revisions looking for a character remembering or reacting based on a memory.

A bigger issue, how does having no memory affect your personality. ARE you afraid of dogs? ARE you afraid of lightning storms. Would you be? Seriously, how deep does a fear or phobia go? If you can't remember almost getting struck by lightning, then are you unafraid? I really couldn't quite decide. On this one, I just went with my own approach but I tried to be consistant about it.

Anyway, my hero Falcon Hunt isn't afraid of anything, so that doesn't apply. 

He was a fun character to write because he talks like a Tennessee hillbilly. I'd never done a book with that strange, unique accent before and I enjoyed it. 

An example of how Falcon talks from the opening of A Man with a Past:

When a man grows up in wild country, huntin’ food, eyes wide open for trouble, he knows when he’s being watched.

And that man there, back’a him weren’t out lookin’ for a place to have a Sunday picnic.

Falcon’d fought shy of a dozen towns and wanted no part of Independence, Missouri. Ceptin’ he didn’t know where in tarnation he was going and to his understanding this was his last chance to figure it out.

So he went ridin’ right smack into that beehive of a town on his old rawboned mule to find out how to get to Wyoming. And a man commenced to following.

To a lot of men, it might be right hard to spot a single man on these crowded streets full of shops and freight wagons. Everywhere he turned people swarmed.

But staying alive wasn’t easy in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee, where a man could find a way to die near every time he turned around. And yet here Falcon stood, as tall and rawboned as his mule, proving he was a tough, savvy man and he didn’t intent to trust to luck with that man on his tail.

He intended to trust to skill.

It's Tricky to Remember to Forget

Falcon was fun to write. His main enduring skill is his utter trust in himself to take care of himself and anything else that cropped up. He had a skinning knife and his old single-shot rifle. And he has the wilderness. He can cloth and feed  himself and he isn't one speck worried about doing it.

And then a blow to the head, actually a gunshot to the head, and he can't remember a thing. And he's in the wilderness. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

Have you ever written an amnesiac? Have you ever wanted to? Have you ever tried and gotten so tired of the stumbling blocks you just give your character their memory back for your own sanity?

Today I'm giving away a signed copy of A Man with a Past. Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing.

A Man with a Past

Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He's got brothers he can't remember, and he's interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he's already married. He can't imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that--twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it's clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they're to have any chance at a future. 


It's Tricky to Remember to Forget

The Accidental Guardian is currently on sale in in Kindle for $1.99

Be careful when you click that the sale is still on. I noticed the NOOK book version has returned to full price so I suppose it's about over!

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

 I spent five days at a writer's retreat 

(Yes, I know how to spell writer!!!)

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
This is me, sitting outside on a beautiful morning on the porch of the Log Cabin we stayed in in central Iowa.
Trust me, this place has NOTHING IN COMMON with a true, frontier log cabin. It was such a nice place. Beautiful house, lots of space, very comfortable...not counting that Erica Vetsch started coughing from something she was reacting to. But I felt fine!!!
Our hostess was Dawn Ford from Iowa.
Here she is with Erica Vestch. We were each given a meal to be in charge of. 
Dawn is actually making coffee, but Erica is faking that she's cooking.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

Next is Nebraska author (like me) Kathy Geary Anderson.

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

Cathy just had her first book release, The Trouble with Jenny, and it was so fun to talk about!

She's working on the next book already.

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
Our fifth writer was Iowa author Shari Barr. She left a day early and as you might predict, I didn't get my camera out until she was long gone. But she had fun writing and then off she went, something about a daughter getting married in the near future.

And we had a guest come by one day. Iowa author Erin Stevenson. 
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

Her latest book is Sisters Ever After, book #1 of a new series.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

I wrote as many words as I could for five days, two of them mostly travel days, and got 13,000 words down. 
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

I finished one book and began another.
I need to go through the book I finished and do revisions but I didn't want to spend the retreat doing that. I wanted WORD COUNT!!!
I couldn't hold a candle to Erica and her TWENTY THOUSAND WORDS!!!

We also brainstormed for a while each night, if someone wanted to. And someone always did?
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

The one drawback was no wifi. That surprised us but we had a little lead time for it. Still, I wanted wifi. I'm pretty hooked!

Erica is the one who mentioned how often we, as historical authors, look up words to see if they existed during our book's era. Pro-tip...Shenanigans DID exist in 1870...but not by much. 1850s.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

We were on our own for breakfast--which I mostly skipped. And lunch, which was either leftovers or turkey sandwiches. And we had a nice snack counter which, no matter how much we ate, seemed to grow more plentiful with each passing day.

Then we signed up for dinner. Which, four days before, I had to ask if we'd ever discussed dinner. At which point Erica told me what I'd agreed to make and when and Dawn showed me the Google document where I'd filled in my meal plan.

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!


Swiss Cheese Brain is my superpower!
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

It was wonderful. Dawn Ford has arranged a writer's retreat before, and I have to say she's really got a knack for arranging a successful writer's retreat.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

The Log Cabin was so pretty and really out in the woods.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

As part of a successful writer's retreat we often look around the area for touristy or scenic things and in this case we could not resist historic Fort Dodge. Erica found it and lured me and Dawn to it the morning the retreat ended.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
I took so many pictures! But I won't subject you to all of them.
There was a pioneer village with old buildings pulled in 
to surround the restored Fort Dodge.
This is the Blacksmith Forge.
Below it the Blacksmith Shop.
I have a whole lot of pictures of old iron tools. I wanted to make my next character a blacksmith but after studying this building, I maybe can't handle it! We'll see.

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
Next we walked along the stockade walls to enter Fort Dodge. I just love this kind of stuff. 
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
Below is a picture of the Land Office. Looking around restored pioneer villages helps me to remember all the possible stores in a town of this era. I tend to have a general store, a livery stable, a jail, a diner and a saloon. I'm trying to remember there are occasionally a few more things. This village had a veterinarian, a cabinet maker, a carriage maker, a drug store, a church, a school...I remember to add those always. It was a cool place.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!
And one more little is my mom's 93rd birthday. This is a picture from her 90th birthday party. Mom and all eight of her children. 
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

She's survived Covid and now is vaccinated but we are still very restricted in our visits to her nursing home.
So we don't get to throw her much of a party. I'll be gone for a while this morning. But I'll be back.

We all agreed this last year has been so majorly WEIRD with Covid and everything shut down, that getting together for the writer's retreat (all of us vaccinated) was just purely uplifting.
We haven't done it enough.
And we're already talking about next time!
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a
Keepin' Cowboys Cool Cooler to celebrate the new series.
Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

Rockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!

Living, Breathing Snow Scenes


Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

By Ruth Logan Herne and Mary Connealy

Ruthy here.

Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

I can generally tell when someone has never driven, walked, stood in or experienced a real blizzard or lake squall (blizzard-like conditions over a specific area instead of a general storm) because they tell it wrong. Not just different... because what one fears, another one takes as a challenge, so the variants of character(s) are fine... but the storms themselves are uniquely similar. So are the effects. But how those effects affect an area can be so different based on terrain, setting, wind direction. And as a writer, as an American author, 50% of your readership could live in an area (like mine and Mary's) where snow is a reality for six or seven months/year. We can cite the October, 2018 blizzard that decimated farms and animals throughout the Midwest to April blizzards that keep people from Easter services and cover fertile fields with flood waters as the Mississippi basin drains 1/3 of the country. Those staggering numbers mean you need to get it right or lose readers. I remember a line from "A Town Like Alice"... "But he was an 'abo', and he was painting his place." 

The hero was explaining why the aboriginal man got the painting uniquely right. So how do you correctly write something you've rarely or never experienced? We've got some great ideas for you today so you Don't Mess It Up... 'cause if you do? They'll boo ya! (Derek Jeter to President Bush 9/2001)

Here are a couple of shows that show actual winter:

The Last American Cowboy (Season 1, Episode 1)

Heartland Docs (Season 1, Episode 2) 

Heartland Docs is also available from National Geographic on your Disney + app if you have that.

The harsh reality of a rugged snowstorm is life-threatening. It can also be funny. And poignant. Think of ALL the Hallmark movies you've watched where they get snowed in... roads blocked... gently falling snow. #notreal #Imserious #itsnotlikethat but... they generally have the BAD SNOW between the heroine and the airport, right???? :) That way bucolic innocence wins the day.

Here's a list of what to look for on videos and shows if you're inexperienced at writing winter storms. 

1. Snow: This might seem obvious, but a thick-falling, moisture-heavy 31-degree snow is heavy and piles up quickly, making travel dangerous without a major wind attached. Conversely a frigid cold, tiny flake 10 degree storm with a 40 mph wind, makes white-outs and blizzard conditions (creating "no" or very low visibility) an immediate danger. Even if your folks aren't going out into the storm (sensible people, right?) what they see out their window affects your reader and sets the scene.

2. Wind: Wind and snow have clogged interstates, mountain roads, village streets, shut down cities and wreak havoc whenever they walk hand-in-hand. In cities, the immediate problem is congestion. A heavy snow needs to be moved. Millions of people need to stay put. Tens of thousands of cars clog the roads. Power lines fall, people are cold, options severely limited. And little apartments don't have much room for a pantry, do they? 

     Conversely in rural circumstances if there isn't a stock of food, being cut off from civilization, no power, no internet, no phone, no nothin' is a dire straits situation. (Mary's historical excerpt gives you that imminent feeling of danger. She threw in a fire for good measure.) :)

3. Slush: No one talks about slush, but slush on the roads can throw a car into a ditch or reel it into a field like my Welcome to Wishing Bridge opening chapter...  Amazon lets you read the opening chapter here for free, and I'm not bragging when I say that this chapter kept an editor from going to the Manhattan fireworks show several years ago because in her words "I couldn't put it down..." The result was a bestselling book with over 600 reviews and a 4.6 rating... But it starts with a storm that brings the characters together... God and their history take care of the rest. 

Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

4. Ice: Ice is treacherous. I had a really good ice storm scene as a book opening for Love Inspired and it got axed a few years back (see? I get stuff rejected, too... and it's made me tougher. Stronger. And more aware of my individual audiences) The deadliness of ice, the lack of control, the furor and weight of an ice storm is probably best applied in small doses... :) 

5. Visibility: Snow isn't rain. Driving rainstorms thin your vision field and can be awful.... That's another blog, though. Heavy snow can obliterate all of your senses except touch. It can deaden hearing, blind vision, mask smells and there is nothing to taste in a snowstorm unless you bite your lip in fear, and then the metallic taste of your self-imposed wound becomes a reminder to stay calm... or as calm as you can.

Mary sent me a great excerpt from her wonderful book "A Reluctant Warrior", and between the fire and the snow and the fire's effect on the snow, it's a gripping scene. If you read the Wishing Bridge opening scene... and Mary's scene... and take the time to watch those two episode links (and you might have to buy the opening episode of "The Last American Cowboy". I bought the whole series so I can use it for reference writing Westerns and cowboys... it's been invaluable.) you'll have immersed yourself in the realities of snow and how a brilliant scene doesn't just draw a reader in... it leaves them longing for more. And maybe-- just maybe-- they'll skip the fireworks to read your book.


Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

Ruthy asked me to write about snow. This scene (I’ve cut a few chunks out of a much longer scene) was one I brainstormed with a couple of my kids. I needed my characters in danger and had decided to have a villain burn their house down.

Except, shame on me, I decided that wasn’t enough.

I wanted to talk about how dangerous fire was and one of the kids (or several talking together) said yes, fire is dangerous but how much worse would it be in the bitter cold during a blizzard. And out of that came this scene. Heavy, powdery snow like they get on the ski slopes buried the house. Then comes the fire, digging yourself out through doors and windows that are buried deep.

And blazing fire melts the snow into ice and you’re soaked in ice water, surrounded by deep snow.

One of the things I loved about this was the fire that was trying to kill them, is now desperately needed to survive. And the snow that was freezing them, is now an insulator on the bunkhouse still standing that helps them warm the building and save them.

It’s all how a matter of degrees…in this case, blazing hot and brutally cold degrees.

Here the best of the snow and cold from the scene I wrote.

The Reluctant Warrior 

[Cam set his children] down, sick about leaving them in the bitter water and ice. But he had to get everyone else out. He had to. These four out here were soaked now. Him, too. Cold, with wet clothes was as deadly as fire, though a slower way to die.


Fire danced up the back of Slim’s coat. Cam juggled Gwen to free a hand and rip the coat off the youngster. Cam slammed the coat on the ground to extinguish it. Then he caught Slim by the arm, still hanging onto Gwen, and dragged them all forward. He collapsed in the ice water, now sooty and blackened. 

There was sudden shouting and hands pounded on him. Someone screamed. In the yelling, he heard, “Your hair’s on fire!”

Gwen was gone from him. Cam was pushed face first into the icy slush, then rolled onto his back. Through the daze, Cam swatted at the attack. Hadn’t he been hurt enough?

All the grappling hands turned him onto his front and his own coat was torn away. Trace grabbed snow in both hands and plowed it into the back of Cam’s head.

Then he was back on his feet, shivering violently, even with the blazing cabin at his back. He was soaked front and back in ice water. A stiff breeze froze his fingers and face, the rest of his body chilled with shocking speed.

And he looked at the whirlwind of hurt and scared people. In all the action, Penny and Gwen lay motionless. Then Penny coughed. It was deep and sounded painful but it was a sign of life.

Trace hauled Cam to his feet. “Your hair, your coat, most of your back was on fire.”

Cam’s blue army coat was shoved back in his hands and he pulled it on, even though it was as wet and cold as he was.

He realized no one from the cabin had a coat.

The men from the bunk house had grabbed coats. Everyone on Trace’s ranch slept fully clothed and kept their boots on to battle the cold. But the men in the bunkhouse had grabbed their coats. No one from the cabin was given a chance.

“We have to get the children warm.” Adam turned toward the bunkhouse, then turned back. “We put the fire out in there.” 

Cam’s eyes went to Maddy Sue (his daughter) shivering. Water dripped from her clothes. Ronnie was soaking wet. Maddy Sue wrapped her arms around her little three-year-old body, shaking, crying. Cam met Slim’s eyes, judged the boy to be fully alert, picked up Gwen and handed her over. 

“Get her inside. She hasn’t shown any sign of waking up, not even coughing.” She was alive though. He felt her breathing. He felt her warm in his arms.

Ruthy here: Connealy did a brilliant job of showing how nature and elements TRY TO KILL US!!!! But if we keep our wits about us, and react (very physics friendly, we need an "equal and opposite" reaction to be able to save ourselves!!!) in the best ways, we can live. Or people die and we have heart-gripping backstory that haunts  heroes and heroines for years to come.

Either way works... and if you tell it right, it's a scene your readers will never forget.

I know you can do this. I know it takes work and word choice and scene speed, and all those little things that separate the men from the boys... but I have faith in you. Do your research. Write, write and rewrite... Make 'em feel every step of the way. I trust you.

You've got this.

We've got a couple of books to give away today... but you've got to tell us you want them! The book will most likely include a winter storm! :) Leave a comment about winter below... and we'll be checking in throughout the day. Ruthy has two kids all day today (remote learning) and a 9:00 meeting, but she'll mosey over here... And Mary will check in off-and-on, too... And thanks for stopping by Seekerville. You and your success mean so much to us! 

Mary is tossing a copy of The Reluctant Warrior and Ruthy is giving away a copy of Wishing Bridge... a total score for two wonderful people! If you already have one or both, tell us.... You know we'll take care of you!

Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

Mary and Ruthy have been friends for about 18 years now, maybe more, once Mary forgave Ruthy for giving her a Bad Score in a writing contest.... and then they came face-to-face and Ruthy had to admit it, and cry and whine and beg forgiveness (okay, you know that never happened, Ruthy succinctly told Mary why she tried to ruin Mary's career before it even got launched, and she takes full responsibility and credit for Mary's amazing success.) Yep. That seems more likely. 


Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

Find Mary's website here...

Living, Breathing Snow Scenes

Ruthy's website here....

Friend and annoy them on Facebook and they do love it when folks buy their books. Links for The Reluctant Warrior and Welcome to Wishing Bridge are below: (in case you missed them as you skimmed, darlings!) 



Formatting for Mary's

 I  didn't want to say formatting for dummy's because that might hurt YOUR feelings.

Me? I'm kinda used to it.

So I had a novella come out of a collection, it'd been published for a couple of years. I thought, HEY I should put it back up. Might as well keep  it in print, right?

But I also feel a little guilty doing that, because it's been out a while and I don't like to trick people into buying a book they've already read. 

I also don't expect it to make much money. So....I'm sorry...I guess. But I just did it ALL myself. I MEAN ALL. I edited it. Created the cover and (here's the tricky part) formatting.

So, I don't know. Maybe I'm a jerk. Probably. But I just did it.

I found a YouTube video on formatting. I'll show you the link rather then try and explain it. It was very specific, very step-by-step.

You seems to have worked. I'm going to give away a few copies of it today and if anyone gets it and reads it, I'd appreciate a report of any errors in the kindle book. I did NOT create a print book because it's a single novella and they are so SMALL. Maybe someday if I collect a few more novellas I'll put them together and create a print version. But I don't know how to format that, so I'm scared!

I followed the link to the video I used. It has a whole lot of VERY SPECIAL steps and I advise you to follow them exactly. 


Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for an ebook copy of Dr. Tess and the Cowboy


Formatting for Mary's


An archeologist discovers dinosaur bones and wants to preserve an important site. Her dream come true may destroy his ranch. Or it may lead them to true love. 

A Model of Devotion--coming in OctoberCutest Meet Cutes?Let's start this year off right!Creating Characters--Give them a quirkLove on the Range releases TOMORROW!It's Tricky to Remember to ForgetRockin' the Riter's Retreat!!!Living, Breathing Snow ScenesFormatting for Mary's

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