Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review

Last Flight from Flagstaff just received a four-star review from Readers' Favorites. Reviewer Natasha Jackson calls it "a creative blend of romance and mystery."

The best part is that it's currently FREE! Depending on demand, this offer could end at any time so grab it while you can. Get it at AmazonBarnes and Noble  or iTunes .

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For Children and Dogs, I'm Thankful

I just got back from a wonderful Thanksgiving week in Prescott, Arizona. My husband, son and I flew down to Arizona so we could have Thanksgiving with my daughter who only had Thursday and Friday off and wouldn’t have been able to fly to Alaska. I love cooking for my family, and it was great celebrating the holiday with the four of us together, but a little bittersweet to realize it might not go on much longer.

My son is just finishing his student teaching and (cross your fingers) will be teaching next fall and won’t have the whole week off. Odds are that with one kid in Arizona and the other in Alaska and no extra days off, somebody will miss Thanksgiving with the family next year. As they grow in their careers and start their own families, time to spend with us will become harder to find. This independence was always our ultimate goal, but it can sometimes leave a mother can feeling a little superfluous.


I have the cure for that. We flew back to Alaska last night, and this morning I went to pick up the dog from the kennel. Roxy left me no doubt that I was missed and loved, and that she will always need me. Fifty pounds of wiggling, joyful dog makes it impossible not to smile. So, I’ll take a cue from Roxy and live for today, with thanks. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moosicide in Paperback

They Called it Moosicide is a fun, Nancy Drew type mystery set at Christmas in Anchorage Alaska, and at Goodreads, you can win signed copy.



Goodreads Book Giveaway


They Called It Moosicide by Lisa Deckert

They Called It Moosicide

by Lisa Deckert


Giveaway ends December 09, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Interview with I.B. Nosey

I'm so excited! On Halloween, October 31, the famous journalist I.B. Nosey will be interviewing me! I.B. Nosey, winner of the famous Pukelitzer Prize, is know for his, let's say, unconventional interviews. Please stop by Feeling Nosey? and leave a comment. I.B. loves comments - he takes them all as compliments.  I'll see you there!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the Mood

I’d like to write a Christmas short story – in fact, I’ve started it. I have the characters, and the setting, and the plot, even the main working scenes and an idea for the cover, and yet for some reason, the story just doesn’t want to go anywhere. I don’t know if it’s because there isn’t any snow yet, or if the characters aren’t inspiring, but I can’t seem to focus on them, to make them real in my mind, and I figure if I can’t get excited about them, a reader certainly won’t.

In the meantime, the idea for another full-length story popped into my head this morning. I can picture the opening scene, picking blueberries on Powerline Pass near Anchorage on a rare sunny day in August. Of course, the only ones who love blueberries more than people are bears, and they’re not good at sharing. This story wants to be written. 

So, I figure I’ll go with the muse and start the new story. I’ll take notes and plan the story, writing little scenes as I picture them. I’ll spend some time with the characters and get to know them. There is a mystery in this story, so it will take plenty of plotting. Meanwhile, if I give it a little time to percolate, maybe the Christmas story will gel. Or maybe it won’t. We’ll see. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Romantic Settings


How important is the setting of a romance? Setting is central to historical romances, but I think it’s almost as important to the story as character development in contemporary romance. Our surroundings reflect who we are, and contrasting a character against the setting helps define her or him. I know setting is vital in my Choices series.

In Recalculating Route, Marsha and Ben are on a journey of discovery, both literally and figuratively. After thirty years of marriage, Marsha and her husband had great plans for retirement, but he died, and Marsha finds herself struggling in unfamiliar territory. Ben, too, is reassessing his life, after selling his company. The two come together on a road trip, and as they explore and discover America, they learn about each other, and about themselves. Just as Seattle and Sedona can be so different, and yet both so beautiful, so can different people inspire love. 

Shades of Sedona would be a different story elsewhere. Rebecca would still be Rebecca, but if she were in a Kansas town the same size as Sedona, she wouldn’t be building her Spanish house, photographing the fantastic rock formations, or bumping into wealthy single men. Not that there is anything wrong with small towns in Kansas - they have their own charm as a setting for a different type of story. 

In  Last Flight from Flagstaff, Donna visits Flagstaff to help the daughter of a friend and falls in love with the town. I’m from Anchorage, but my daughter attended college in Flagstaff, and some of Donna’s discoveries mirrored my own as I visited Flagstaff for the first time. In fact, my husband and I plan to start living part-time in Arizona. I hope the book captures some of the special feel of that place. 

While it’s important not to let the setting overpower the story, the setting gives it the sense of reality, of being in a real place, even if the place is imaginary. Reading a book can almost be like taking a vacation, a chance to experience a place and a life that’s different from our own.  If I’m traveling some place I’ve never been, I try to find a story to read on the plane that takes place in that city. It’s fun to visit a landmark and feel as though I’ve seen it before, through someone else’s eyes.

Characters are central to a romance and plot is crucial, but remember the setting. As a lovely ring makes a diamond more beautiful, the setting of a romance can make it something truly special.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dogs I've Loved

My earliest memories include dogs. Laddie had his place in the family long before I was born. He was a big, fluffy, yellow dog. At least I thought he was, but when I’ve looked back at old pictures, he wasn’t nearly as big as I remember. I have no idea what breeds might have gone into his makeup, but he was beautifully patient with a small girl. 
 
King was my dog, not that my family got him for me especially, but he chose me as his favorite person and kept me company as I grew up. Another fluffy dog, he was probably part sheltie, part shepherd, and a lot of other things. He met the school bus every day and escorted me to the house. King was smart and eager to learn new tricks or to run along beside my bicycle. He hiked along when I roamed around the farm where I grew up, and occasionally killed a snake. When I read that Native Americans attached a travois to their dogs when they moved camp, King let me rig up a harness and drag and pulled around my dolls without complaint.

Almost as real in my memory are the dogs I’ve only met in books. My first tragic story was Old Yeller, and it still has the power to make me cry. Savage Sam, White Fang, and Buck from The Call of the Wild were special friends of mine. Later, I met Mrs. Murphy, the loveable corgi in Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries, Kimi and Rowdy from Susan Conant’s, Cedric the gassy boxer, Tricky Woo, and so may other dogs in James Herriot’s books, and a wealth of others.

As an adult, I’ve had huskies, a terrier, a Labrador, and now an energetic Staffie mix (maybe). They’ve all been so different, and yet every one of them is special, with a special place in my heart. I didn’t plan to have so many different kinds of dogs, but somehow, the right dog just showed up at the right time.

When I write a story, the cast of characters almost always includes a dog, even if I didn’t originally plan it that way. The people in these stories are just the kind of loving, giving people that need a dog in their lives, and just like in real life, the right dog just shows up.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Supporting Characters

“And the award for Best Supporting Actor goes to ….” We need our leading man and lady, but where would Scarlett O’Hara be without Mammy? (Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar that year).  Without Mammy to lay down the law, Scarlett would have nothing to rebel against, so how would we get to know her feisty side? Luke Skywalker needs Han Solo for contrast and conflict.

Romance is a genre built on characters. Boy meets girl (usually) and the story revolves around their relationship, but we need family, friends, enemies, and even strangers for them to play off if we want to get to know their true personalities. There’s a reason superheroes have sidekicks.

The best friend who encourages the heroine to take a chance is a staple, but sometimes the friend instead urges caution and the heroine must convince her or even defy her. Either way, we get conflict and contrast, a sounding board. Perhaps our heroine must stand up to a controlling mother, or make up for a distant one, and that shapes her personality. Even the most minor characters can be important. If a man is rude to the pizza delivery boy, we’ve learned something about his personality.

Characters don’t have to be people. In many books, the setting almost becomes a character. A sudden flood can trap the main characters together, acting as the antagonist. In Recalculating Route, one of the most endearing characters is Lindy, a cocker spaniel. She’s no Lassie, but she’s an outstanding love-sponge, and Ben’s patience and affection are revealed through his relationship with Marsha’s little dog. Another character in the story isn’t even alive. Marsha’s late husband clearly influences her thoughts and actions through her memories of him.  

As a reader, I want to get to know the main characters, to feel what they feel and root for their success. I want to live inside the story for a little while. Well-developed supporting characters play a huge role in making that happen.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Boomerlit Bloghop, July 26


Please join me for a tour of Boomer Lit at Boomer Lit Friday .

Today's excerpt is from Detour on Route 66, a short story scheduled to be released in early August.


Ben drove up the winding road to Airport Mesa and parked in the lot. He took her hand and they followed the other sightseers toward the overlook. They found a good viewing spot on the edge of the crowd while the sun was still a few degrees above the rim.

“Why were all those cars parked halfway up the hill?” Ben asked. “I can’t think the sunset view would match the one from the top.”

“That’s a trailhead and a vortex site. It’s very popular.”

“I see. So what is your take on this vortex phenomenon?”

Marsha looked toward the people below, scattered over the flat surface of a large rock. “I think it’s people trying to come up with a pseudo-scientific way of explaining simple emotions. All the supposed vortex sites are places of special beauty. When you stand or sit in those places and really give yourself time to absorb the peace and splendor of that spot, of course you experience something special. I think vortex is just another name for joy.”

Ben looked at her thoughtfully. “You’re a joyful kind of person, aren’t you?”

Marsha raised her eyebrows. “Actually, I’ve been more of a mournful kind of person lately.”

“That’s understandable. You’ve been grieving. What I mean is some people are natural critics; they find fault with everything. You’re just the opposite. You see the good things: the humor in life, the beauty in tiny wildflowers, the joy in your surroundings.”

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boomerlit Bloghop, Friday July 19


Please join me for a fun sampling of Boomer Lit at Boomer Lit Friday.


Today, we have another excerpt from Detour on Route 66, coming in August. This conversation takes place over dinner, as Ben and Marsha get to know each other.


“You’re retired now?”

“Yes. A major offered us big money, so we sold off the company a couple of years ago. I missed it at first. I thought maybe I’d dabble a little on the side, just a private investment in a well here or there, but I’ve found that I’m not as eager to hunt as I used to be. Maybe I’m like an old hound who would rather lie on the porch than chase rabbits.”

“Is that what you do, lie on the porch?”

He wrinkled his nose. “I tried it for a little while, but it got monotonous. Then I tried my old standby, chasing after pretty young things, but that didn’t have the same thrill as it used to, either.”

She raised an eyebrow. “No?”

“No.” He shook his head. “I found I was just going through the motions. I don’t want that anymore. The trouble is, I don’t know what I want. That’s when I decided to go on this road trip. I thought maybe I should see America, to go experience all those things I never had time for when I was working, and Route 66 sounded like a good place to start.”

 




Sunday, July 14, 2013

June McCullough Blog Interview

I'd like to thank June McCullough for featuring me on her blog.  June's Blog I'd love to have you stop by.

Thank you, June.

Beth