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Teaser Tuesday/Word a Day: Inspiration

I’m back for a Word a Day post 2 days in a row. Woohoo! Today’s word is inspiration. It’s also Tuesday, when I usually share a little teaser from a MS I’m getting ready to publish. So, I’m going to attempt to combine those into one. So, first a little story.

One Saturday morning, when I was about twelve, I was watching TV with my stepdad. It was an old show on TNT called Hondo. It was a western, and I got caught up in it. Then, one of the times we were watching it, I saw it was based on a book by Louis L’Amour. So, next time I was in the school library(I was in 7th grade at the time), I started looking to see if they had any of his books. They did, in fact, have Hondo, which I read. Then, I came back and got more of his books to read. It didn’t take long to read through everything our school library had(and later the public library). So, I started buying them whenever I could find them.


We also watched pretty much ever western that was on at the times. All reruns on TNT, what was The Family Channel back then(High Chapperal, Big Valley, Bonanza), and TVLand(Gunsmoke, The Rifleman). And I branched out to reading more westerns. But, I’ve always come back to Louis L’Amour.


And that was some of my inspiration that led to me writing Stained Snow. It wasn’t the first western I wrote. That happened back in seventh grade, when I basically did a knock-off(though a lot shorter) of Lonesome Dove. But, I’ve had a love of westerns ever since then.

And now, for a little snippet of Stained Snow, which will be out sometime in March(I will set an official date soon).

It took William nearly two days to reach Rawlins. He made it to South Pass, the easiest way through the Sweetwater Mountains without going all the way around to where the North Platte River cut through. Nobody had seen Thomas in a week.
He went west from there, following the railroad tracks. Every town William stopped in, someone had seen Thomas. Not everyone wanted to talk to him. Some had good things to say about Thomas. Others stated he’d stolen something from them. Even a horse in one of the small towns along the way.
He’d been on the trail for nearly two weeks and had started to give up hope he’d ever find his brother. It seemed every town William came to, there was less time between them.
He pushed on.
He rode into the town of Latham after passing through the mountains. It wasn’t a large town, but the railroad towns had plenty of saloons and houses of pleasure to cater to the rougher elements. William had never been much of a drinker, but the saloon was the best place to listen for news. He wasn’t sure how long he would be able to keep up the pretense of drinking while listening for information, so he hoped it wouldn’t take long.
He stepped into the saloon and let his gaze scan the room before he headed over to the bar. In that quick glance, he had taken in who sat at each of the tables. William leaned against the bar and signaled the bartender.
When the other man approached he ordered a beer and put his coins on the bar top. Then, he turned to face the room while he waited for it. Looking out at the other patrons didn’t give him any more information. He didn’t know any of them. Didn’t know if any of them were friends with Thomas, or even friendly with him. He didn’t even know who would be the best to approach for information.
The bartender slid the beer across the bar to him. William caught it but held a hand out to stop the bartender from leaving. “I’m looking for someone,” he said.
“There’s lots of someones here. Why don’t you go pick one of them?”

Word a Day: Hope

Today’s word for the Word a Day challenge is Hope. This is another theme that tends to run through my stories. Sometimes characters may not have a lot of hope at the beginning. But, by the end they always find it. They may not always end on a “Happy Ever After” but I always have at least a “Happy for Now”. And since I tend to write connected series, you can usually see that “For Now” turn into “Ever After”. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of writing this type of series. Being able to bring other characters back in and see what’s happening with them.

Just this morning I actually wrote a bit about hope in one of my WiPs. Ready When You Are is part of my Hunter Family series, which is a spin-off of my Flames series. I’m not too far into this story, but these two actually first met in the previous book(another thing I like about writing connected series…being able to set up future books/relationships). If two men kissing bothers you, you may not want to read on.

Something heavy felt lodged in Oliver’s chest. Was it hope or something darker? He knew the weight of hope and how sometimes it could bury you. He hoped Kelan would help lift him out if that started to happen this time. “Yes, to both of those.”
At the sound of shouted numbers from down the hallway, they both turned their heads toward the door. Nine. Eight.
“It’s almost midnight,” Oliver said.
“Sounds that way.” Kelan pushed up from the bed and took a step closer to Oliver.
Five. Four. Three.
Oliver met Kelan with another step, and one hand reached automatically for his hip. He’d promised to take things at Kelan’s pace, but the other man had come to him. “It’s tradition to kiss someone at midnight,” he said.
Kelan faltered a little, then he smiled. “So, it is. And my family’s pretty big on traditions.”
One. Happy New Year.
Oliver leaned forward, and Kelan met him halfway, their lips pressing together. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted, as he felt himself spiral away, falling deeper and deeper. Then, Kelan was stepping back. Oliver had to shake himself out of his stupor. Everyone was still cheering out in the living room, so the kiss couldn’t have lasted the years it felt like. It must have been less than a minute.
“Friday,” Kelan said.
Oliver gave a little shake of his head. “Huh?” he asked, still a little dazed from how Kelan’s lips had felt on his.
“Dinner,” Kelan said. “If you still want to do that anyway.”
Oliver winced a little. Kelan had apparently gotten the wrong impression from his stunned reaction. He lifted his gaze to meet the other man’s now. And saw some of that wariness in those [xx] eyes. “Of course I do. Especially if it means we can find a way to kiss like that again.”
Kelan’s shoulders lowered slightly. Maybe Oliver wasn’t the only one feeling the weight of hope. Friday was only two days away. It shouldn’t bury him too deep by then.

Word a Day: Day 6 – Family

I haven’t done the last few days of the Word a Day blog challenge. I could come up with some excuses for it, but really, just couldn’t think past a vague idea for any of the words. And I didn’t feel like putting that much pressure on myself, after finishing one blog challenge in January and getting ready to do another in April(which I’m really looking forward to doing). Anyway, so I probably won’t post anything for every word this month. But, if that day’s word strikes me somehow, I will.

Anyway, today’s word is Family. I could probably go on and on about family; the ones we’re given and those we make. This is a theme that finds it’s way into a lot of my writing. My characters come from quite a variety of families. Some big, some really small. Some loving and accepting, others judgmental or cold.

My own family situation is probably not all that unusual, not in this day anyway. My parents got divorced when I was seven. I was daddy’s little girl and took it especially hard. My mom got remarried a year later. I didn’t always get along with my stepdad, but he’s the one who was there…for everything. A lot of the stepfathers I write are actually based on him and the relationship I have with him.

My dad would probably blame my mom as the reason he was never around. But, the fact is, she did everything she could to make sure we did see him. He was the one who was always cancelling his weekends with us. The one who always seemed to have something better to do than spending time with us. And when we were there, he seemed to think we always had to be doing something, when all I really wanted to do was spend time with him.

I have two older sisters. And, again, we haven’t always gotten along. Though I was always the quiet one, so most of the fighting happened between them. Even now that we’re all in our 30s, most of the fighting still happens between them.

There’s a number of cousins, both first and more distant, but we call all of them cousins, because otherwise it gets rather confusing. So, some of my bigger families in my stories have been based on them.

Overall, I have one of those fairly close-knit and supportive families. They may not always agree with your decisions, but they’ll still be there to support you.

When I first met my husband’s family, at least his dad’s side, it was a lot like going to my own family. And they accepted me right in, too.

Like I said, I write about a lot of different types of families. And sometimes that means meshing together very different experiences. I deal a lot with these different families in my Flames series. Like in Flames of Restoration, there’s a lot about the families we make. Nolan and Mark consider each other brothers after serving together in the Marine Corps and now working together for the fire department. Flames of Restoration is Nolan’s story, but this part deals with Mark and his thoughts about his own family, and how he can make things work with Caitie who had a very different family experience:

He’d never wanted kids. Hadn’t thought he’d be any kind of father. He hadn’t exactly had the warmest upbringing. And he didn’t want to turn out anything like his father. They may not be estranged anymore, but they were never going to be close. He wouldn’t want his kids to feel that way about him.
His kids? Why was he even having these thoughts? Him and Caitie hadn’t really talked about kids before. He knew she loved them, at least all her nieces and nephews, and her cousin’s kids. And, God, were there a lot of them.
But, they’d just moved in together a couple months ago. They weren’t even engaged. That had his chest tightening again. He’d thought about it. But, it was too soon, wasn’t it? It hadn’t even been six months since their one night stand at Kayla and Adrian’s wedding. He let out a soft snort at that.
Like one night ever would have been enough with her.
His breath caught at that. There were some days he wasn’t sure any amount of time would be enough with her. What did that mean, though? Certainly not that they could make a marriage work. Were they too different for that? Just look at their families. Hers was large, Catholic, close, loving. His was small, he doubted his parents believed in anyone but themselves. They were cold and about as far apart as they could get. How could people coming from such different directions make anything work?
And that thought just about ripped his heart from his chest. He wasn’t going to let his family take one more thing from him. They had nothing to do with whether or not him and Caitie worked out. She may end up walking away from him one day, but it wasn’t going to be now. And if now was all he’d get, he’d hold onto it as long as he could.

I could probably say more about different families, and my own, but this is already longer than I figured.

Word a Day: Day 2 – Bravery

It’s day 2 of the Word a Day challenge, and today’s word is bravery. I’ve been running this one through my head. Bravery isn’t something I have a lot of. Most of the time I’m an anxious mess.

But, in my opinion, some of the bravest men(and women!) are firefighters, particularly volunteer firefighters. They put themselves into dangerous situations, fires, responding to traffic accidents. And in the case of volunteers, they don’t get anything back for it.

I started writing my Flames series about a group of paid firefighters, and then I spun off that to another series to honor those volunteers. One of those is the younger brother of one of the paid firefighters.

Jace snorted. “I’m no hero, Nolan. I know that perfectly well. I’m just an artist. I’m nothing like you.”
Usually batting around the hero term irritated his brother. Right now, he just looked concerned, though. “Who the hell ever made you think that, little brother?”
“No one ever had to. I know it’s the truth.”
“Your truth is mistaken. You’re no less a hero than I am. Why would you think that about yourself?” He shook his head. “Seriously, little brother. You are an amazing artist, and no one can, or should even try, to take that away from you. But, it’s not all that defines you. You know I hate that hero label, especially since I’m paid to do what I do. How is it heroic to be doing my job?” Another shake of his head, as if none of it made sense to him. “But you? Dad, Tate, Jess. You don’t get paid back for what you put out there. You do it because you want to, because you feel called to it, because it’s the right thing for you to do. Those things might apply to me too, but I get compensated for it. So don’t ever deride yourself like that. Do you understand me?”


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