Who’s Your Hero?

What defines a hero-

My new Big Sky Mavericks story is releasing today. As you can tell from the title, the meaning of the word “hero” comes up from time to time in this book. For me, the definition of the word goes well beyond the narrow parameters most people tend to attribute to it.

Yes, acting heroically is spectacular and important and good. Running toward a catastrophe instead of away is very brave and deserves recognition and reward. But, sometimes, the small, nearly obscure challenges — like a single mom doing the best she can without a lot of support — can require a huge dose of bravery without any hope of recognition.

I tossed out this question on my Facebook page a few days ago: “Who’s your hero?” I was going to pick out a few answers from the 100+ to share, but when I started reading them, I realized each is the TRUTH for that person, and each answered my question. Some are very touching. (If you don’t have time to read them all, please scroll to the bottom to see a wallhanging a friend made for me. :-)

Bonnie Jackman Gonzales Just finished Montana Hero, soooooo good. You didn’t say book hero, so my Granddaughter Cassie she saved her husbands life when he had an accident with a high powered firework. she keep it together and got him to the emergency room faster than an ambulance coming for him would have been, he would have bleed out if they had waited.

  •  Misty Garoutte Clarkson I like all heros men women and animals alike just finished a book where a dog saved a little girl right before his heart gave out
  • Jenelle Reyes Liked and shared! My sister Kat is my hero! She’s the strongest person I know. She’s been through so much with her health and keeps fighting!
  • Melissa Tippie My hubby is my Hero ~ He’s a volunteer fire-fighter & EMT smile emoticon
  • Callie Barbara Cuddy It used to be my husband, but he’s leaving me, so I guess I’ll have to be my own hero.
  • Carrie Porter Evans All veterans, especially my friends and family and my Mom.
  • Jennifer Schultheis My husband is my biggest hero. He is exactly the kind of guy I want my son to grow up to be. Honest, loyal and hardworking. Thank you for the chance. Sharing! 
  • Shannon L Schoolcraft Its a mix between my dad and my mom. They both have been through a lot and i look up to them. They are the strongest people that I know. 
  • Pamela Lowery My mom is my hero, we lost dad 2 years ago, and she has become our rock and glue and has held the family together. They were married 52 years and had never spent a whole day apart.
  • Casandra Kluber My mother is my hero!
  • Connie Kline Fischer I love my husband but I have to say my sons share this. They make me so proud every day of my life. Mike and Matt: you guys are the best! heart emoticon heart emoticon
  • Jackie Hammond My daughter. She is a wonderful mom and a beautiful person. She has taught me so much over the years.
  • Jeanne Sheats No particular person – the everyday people that help others.
  • Lourie Staib Both of my parents, they both fought like crazy to stay alive for my benefit & in the end their health failed them both.
  • Linda Rimer-Como My mom is my biggest hero, she us there for me no matter what.
  • Linda Henderson My daughter. She is an amazing mother. Her 12 year old son has aspergers and a he is his biggest advocate. She’s amazing.
  • Linda White My Daddy is my biggest hero, he has endured the loss of my mama, survived lung cancer and other related illnesses and has kept a positive outlook through it all!
  • Suzie Gaspard Quebedeaux My grandmother! I called her Granny. She passed away on my 35th birthday but she is still a hero to me. She had 12 children (the youngest had Down’s Syndrome), had 60+ granchildren. She had the patience of a saint. I NEVER heard her raise her voice or say a bad word about one person.
  • Morse Dawn My mom
  • Janine Rowe My husband who always stands up for me even when I do something questionable.
  • Jackie Maxwell Awesome socks. And your books, of course! I have five heroes-Nick, Joe, Beej, Danny, and Molly
  • Dawn Cripps My husband he kills spiders for me and I have never felt safer with anyone in my life
  • Judy Thomas My biggest hero is my daughter.
  • Angelina M Linan I would say my kids because without them i don’t think I would work as hard.
  • Lynn Clayton my son
  • Dawn Anderson My mom and grandma
  • Crystal Holloway My biggest hero is my dad.
  • Shari Drehs Bartholomew My biggest hero is my husband.
  • Carol Schwartz My mom who passed in 2012
  • Jennifer Matusik Ingman My youngest daughter is my hero. She has endured a lot medically, yet she never lets is keep her down!
  • Dana Wintch Tillack My mother!!!
  • Judy Pflueger My sister, Sheila.
  • Carole Fiore my cousin Joanne for she fought cancer twice and she’s doing great!
  • Judy Stephens Burr Too many to name ! 
  • Brianna Birch The Veterans who don’t come home! Especially one of my husband’s friends named Benjamin who we named our son after. Thank you for the opportunity! Liked and shared
  • Susan Newkirk My hero is my son – who is small – but never let’s anything stop him !!! Congrats on your new release !!
  •  Taylor Lynn Hanagan My grandmother who recently passed away. Always so loving. So positive. Saw the good in every situation. Put herself last no matter who or what it came to. 
    True definition of an angel. heart emoticon
  • Alexis Sapphire Liked and shared ty my hero’s are my kids 
  • Lorie Sullins Payne My cousin who survived cancer but daily deals with problems with her arm and shoulder while working as a nurse
  • Eileen Aberman Wells Liked & shared!! Can’t wait to read it!! One of my heros is my younger son who has overcome many obstacles in his life to become the awesome person he is now. Another is my younger daughter who is a trauma nurse. My other two kids aren’t bad either.
  • Kathleen Elliott Clark My husband who fought a battle against kidney cancer, but lost. he was the strongest person I know And I miss him every day. He passed away in 2012 at the young age of 64.
  • Deborah Favorito My hero is all the veterans, soldiers and all the men and women who have lost their lives to protect ours.
  • Judith Voss My mother, who in 1950, left China at the age of 20 to travel to French Guiana to an arranged marriage to a man she had never met. She spoke no English. Eight years later she was widowed with five children between the ages of 7 and 1 to provide for.
  • Kelli Jo Calvert Jo Rowling!
  • Melinda Garza My Dad!!!
  • Deanne Patterson My biggest heroes are my 12 kids . They mean the world to Me 
  • Connie Heim Reynolds My biggest hero is my hubby. He quit his job to take care of me when I had breast cancer. A side effect of the medicine is I have memory problems. He patiently waits while I search for a word.
  • Sharon Baker My youngest brother who has passed away. I miss him.
  • Marie Cassini My dad, and my husband.
  • Charish Otte Liked and shared!!! My dad is my hero!!!
  • Aisha Panjwaneey Just finished it today. Loved it. My 13 year old nephew is autistic and he’s brilliant. At music, at art, at math. He can emulate just about every accent he’s ever heard. And he’s obsessed with planes of every kind, commercial, Air Force, military you See More
  • Audra Holtwick My family are my heroes because they put up with me
  • Diane Blaser My biggest hero is my 91 year old father who is the very best man I know (my husband is second best). My father and I have grown so much closer since my mother died 23 years ago and I married my husband because he was so much like the man my father is. Liked and shared! Thank you!
  • Marlene Roberts Engel My daughter who was totally blind and passed from cancer at the age of 13 is my hero.
  •  Suzanne Smith Congratulations, that’s wonderful! My biggest hero is my husband who has stood by me, saved my life and is my soulmate heart emoticon 
  • Tanya Jayne Phillips My biggest Hero is my husband who is amazing before and especially since becoming disabled. Supporting and caring for me and my girls. My daughters are my heroes too along with my parents and in laws. I know that’s a lot but it’s true. 
  • Dawn Schlauderaff My daughter working full time and going to school full time to become a nurse this fall.♡
  • Mai Tran mom is the biggest hero of mine
  • Tina Peterson Our Soldiers, I have a lot of family in the military, or were in the military and they deserve to be my heroes… they risk/risked everything to give us freedom and peace of mind. They are the best of the best.
  • Debbie Adams-Rice My hubby Vietnam vet has overcome a lot thank you for the chance liked and shared
  • Jennifer Roberts Bernard Liked and shared. My hero is not one person but, the men and women who fight to protect me. I know they give up everything for me!
  • Marcy Shuler Military personnel and first responders are my heroes.
    • Debra Salonen, author This book is dedicated to the men and women on the front lines of the wildfires. Too much of that around California right now.
  • Michele Gray My dad. A survivor of colon cancer and all the suffering he endured and prevailed.
  • Ria Alemina My dad is my biggest hero, he can do many things, men job, women job, you name it and he can do all! He’s so talented in many things! I’m so proud of him!
  • Melissa Adkins Jesus Christ. He has blessed me very well.
  • Jill Steinberg-Bieber Liked and my father who worked his whole life put me into business took care of my two boys from the time they were born a man that loves without condition and is always doing something special for me. A thoughtful man who takes a cooking class and wants me to be part of it a father that just calls to go to lunch And a movie I’m truly blessed and jack is my hero
  • Sara Zehr My grandparents!!
  • Milica Jovanovic My dad. 
  • Lilian Gamble Liked and shared, my mom
  • Maria Colon My husband… Who is an amazing husband, veteran(22 yrs) and father.
  • Shelagh Merlin My daughter is my hero. She’s just amazing and despite life kicking her in the guts really hard once or twice she ALWAYS has a positive attitude and a warm smile. And she’s a fantastic mother too!
  • Debbie Ward My Kids & Grandkids are my Heros!
  • Mary Goodman My biggest hero is my brother who took care of me and my sister when we were little but better than that we are still close
  • Magdica Duvnjak Liked and shared, my husband heart emoticon
    Like · Reply · 7 hrs
  • Hina Tabassum Khatri My Parents. They have educated us, my siblings and I, even when that wasn’t the norm in the community.
  • Beatrice Banda My Daddy is my hero
  • Kelly Ballenger My Grandpa. He was always there when I needed him and was a hoot to be around. I have some great memories.
  • Terri Walsh My husband is my hero! 
  • Sheri Carter Biggs Ŧ My hero first and foremost is my Savior Jesus Christ and secondly is my 80 year old daddy who still gets up EVERY day to go to work as the School District mail man and helps take care of my sweet mama and me.
  • Melissa Keith My hubby. He’s in the Navy.
  • Sue Peace In real life my father, in fiction Eve and Roarke smile emoticon
  • Peggy Clayton my real father always has been
  • Kelly Iliakis my boyfriend rob is my hero! love these contests!



A friend gave us this piece of art a few years ago. It hangs by my door as a reminder. We are EACH the hero of our own lives. If life gets you down, give yourself a hug then “try again tomorrow.”

With love and gratitude,


PS: If you’d like to read MONTANA HERO, here are some links. Or you can read the first chapter at TULE PUBLISHING. The initial reviews are great! I’m so delighted.


Amazon     iTunes     KOBO     Google Play     Amazon UK

The end, the lovely end

Montana Hero quote

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a little brain dead. I sent off my completed manuscript this afternoon. I finished the first draft of this book several weeks ago, but the second read seemed to take forever. It required some spit and polish and toning down some noisy secondary characters.

This happens sometimes. Do you know anyone who thinks their story is utterly fascinating and hogs the spotlight? This happened in my second published book. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I had the characters all lined up, a plot and everything. Then the hero’s best friend showed up and suddenly, it was all about him. And, darn it, he was pretty fascinating.

Luckily, I learned from my first experience. This time I cut  every flashy scene with Hero #2 in it and and pasted it in a file called: MONTANA ROGUE. That title fits him to a tee.

Since I’m so tired, I’m going make this blog short and sweet. The sweet part is the Sneak Peek scene I shared with my newsletter followers. Here you go:


Mid-January, the San Bernardino Mountains wildfire

      Flynn Bensen recognized the dream the minute it started in his sleeping mind.

     His old frenemy was back. The homestead looked exactly as he remembered it. An authentic log cabin in the high Sierra, aged to a rummy golden brown from dozens of summers. Its metal roof was rusted so poetically you’d have thought God used a fine-tipped paintbrush to add just the right touch of umber. The word bucolic came to mind. A word Flynn never used until that day last September.

     He tried to resist the pull. He knew how this story ended. Why subject myself to it again?

      I won’t fall into the trap. I’ll turn left instead of right. I’ll ignore the whinny.

       But the eerie sound filled his ears, sending a shiver through his body. The horse’s abject fear seized hold and wouldn’t let go.

        Suddenly, he was deep in the fire zone. Heat from the hundred-plus temperature made every breath pure agony. His pack felt as if he’d loaded it with lead weights. His legs seemed disconnected from his body as he pushed onward toward the horse pen. Two frightened animals, the whites of their eyes visible at every turn, paced, reared, and tossed their heads. Every whiff of smoke drove them closer to the brink of frenzy.

     This time will be different, he told himself. This time I’ll do it right.

     This time I’ll save her.

      The position of the old woman’s body never changed. Her head rested inches from the watering trough, face turned away, as if she couldn’t bear to watch what happened to her beloved animals. She seemed smaller in hindsight, fragile and delicate. Spikes of silver hair stuck out like a bad wig. But she was breathing…always breathing. Just enough to give him hope.

       “Stay with me, now. We can do this,” he said, picking her up in his arms like a small child. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? Nobody deserved to be tossed over a shoulder like a bag of rocks as he had that day. If he’d cradled her to his chest like a child, maybe she would have felt loved, respected, care for. Maybe she’d have stayed connected to him, to life.

    “You’re gonna be okay. Just breathe. You can do that. Breathe. Breathe.”

      Someone shook him. Hard. The woman fell from his arms. He watched her drop into the flames of the fire that had been chasing them. He lost her. Again.

      He cursed and swung wildly, hoping to hurt whomever it was that made him drop her.

      “Flynn. Wake up, Buddy. You’re dreaming.”

     “Again,” another voice muttered. “What’s it going to take to make these nightmares stop? Drugs? I’ll find them. Just tell me what kind.”

     Flynn blinked, coming back to the real world.

     “I think he needs to see a shrink. Classic case of PTSD.”

     Awareness washed over him like a splash of rainwater from a bucket. He sat up, shaking his head like a wet dog, and looked around. He was on his cot in the tent cabin he shared with Tucker and Justin. His best friends. Brothers- in-arm.

      Tucker “Mountie” Montgomery stood, arms akimbo, in baggie sweats and an army-green T-shirt. His scowl barely put a dent in his heart-throb handsome face. Even half- awake and pissed off he probably would have had his choice of groupies if any knew he was a wilderness firefighter in his day job.

     Justin squatted a foot or so away. His standard issue undershirt and thigh-length gray shorts emphasized his compact muscles–finely honed from his off-season occupation: free climbing.

     Flynn swiped at a bead of sweat that rolled into his eyes, stinging. “Another nightmare?” he asked.

     “Same one, different night,” Tucker muttered. “Next time I’m making a Youtube video, I swear.”

      He threatened that every time. But Flynn couldn’t blame him for being upset.

     In the off-season, Tucker belonged to an elite, extremely well-paid troupe of dancers/entertainers that performed for audiences–mostly women–around the world. He told everybody he couldn’t afford to lose valuable beauty sleep. His fans deserved for him to look his very best.

      “Sorry, man,” Flynn mumbled. His throat ached, as usual. After every nightmare, he’d awaken to a body that somehow actually believed he’d just survived a close brush with death on the fire line.

       Justin handed him the metal water bottle sitting on the floor beside the cot.

     Justin Oberman–or “Goat,” as the other members of the crew called him–was the deep one. Ascetic, vegetarian, poet, and death-defying free climber who could scramble up sides of mountains like his surefooted namesake. “Flynn, this isn’t your fault, man. It sucks that your brain can’t let it go, but it’s been six months. Something needs to give, dude.”

They told him that every time this happened. This was their first group deployment of the New Year, but he’d been wrestling with this dream ever since the horrific fire near Yosemite National Park.

       “We all know–your conscious mind knows–you did everything in your power to save that lady,” Tucker added. “You’re the hero among us. Ask anyone.”

     Flynn smiled at that. False modesty wasn’t Tucker’s style. I must be in worse shape than I thought.

      “Flynn, it was her time,” Justin said, repeating an argument Flynn had heard from others. Even the coroner confirmed the victim’s chances had been small to none. The subdural hematoma caused by the impact from hitting the water trough would have been tough for even a healthy young person to survive.

       Tucker threw up his hands impatiently. “She probably wouldn’t have lived even if you could have predicted the fire would veer away from her place at the last minute. But for all our sakes, we have to find a way to get the message to your subconscious.”

        Flynn shifted sideways, his feet landing on the dirty canvas floor with a muffled thud. His friends were right. Flynn thought getting back on an active fire line would purge his guilt. The physicality and exhaustion that came from walking four miles from a drop zone to the leading edge of a fast-burning forest fire then beating Mother Nature into submission sounded like the answer. Surely after a ten-hour day he’d be too exhausted to dream.

But, so far, that hadn’t been the case. He only felt drained–physically and emotionally. The answer to this problem seemed glaringly obvious in the pre-dawn gloom. “I need a different job.”

        Tucker’s epithet echoed in the stillness, and may have been heard three tents over.

       Justin’s sigh seemed to start at the center of his soul and vibrate outward.

       Flynn had been wrestling with the idea ever since his brother emailed him a link to a job opening for Head of Operations, Crawford County Search and Rescue, Marietta, Montana. He looked at his friends, soberly. “I’m moving to Montana, guys. I just filled out the application online and won’t know for a while, but there’s a good chance I’ll be manning a desk in the very near future. You two will have to keep the WildFire Hot Shots going without me.”

Tucker and Justin exchanged a look.

    “They have mountains in Montana, right?”

     “And fires in the summer, too, I’ve heard.”

      Flynn got their meaning. They’d saved one another’s lives too many times not to be able to read what went unsaid. “But Kentucky is home base for both of you.”

      Justin shrugged his broad, powerful shoulders. “It’s only a place if your friends aren’t here.”

      Tucker nodded. “Truth.”

      Flynn looked from one to the other. “Ryker sent you the job link, didn’t he?”

      “He thought you might need a kick in the pants,” Tucker said, plopping down on the cot, crowding Flynn’s space like he always did. “I’ve been looking at property online for awhile and I think I’ve found the perfect spot for Mountie’s Most Awesome Montana Zipline and Enduro Course.” He flashed the grin that drove women in his audiences wild.

        Justin rolled his eyes. “That’s the dumbest name I’ve ever heard.”

        “I like it. So do my investors. They’re lining up as we speak.”

       Older women with more cash than sense, Flynn thought. But who was he to criticize? Tucker lived boldly, followed his dreams, and always came out smelling like a rose. The guy had more than enough money to risk on a short-lived investment.

        “Our independently wealthy friend can dabble in a new commercial enterprise, but I put in for a transfer ten minutes after reading the email. It got approved yesterday. This summer, I’ll be in Yellowstone, which on my map appears to be in your neck of the woods. If that Search and Rescue gig doesn’t work out, I’ll put in a good word for you. Maybe you can get your old job back with the Park Service.” His serious smile told Flynn he meant every word. “But, for the record, I think this change of venue will be good for you. Hopefully, no more wildfires means no more nightmares.”

      Flynn agreed. He stood and the two exchanged a quick, manly hug that Tucker immediately crashed. “Oh, you guys,” Tucker said, wrapping them both in his long and very strong arms. “It’s a moment, isn’t it? A fresh new beginning for the MHS.”

       Flynn gave him a look. “The what?”

       “The Montana Hot Shots. We were the Wildfire Hot Shots. I just changed it. We have a Facebook page. Didn’t I tell you?”

       Justin stiff-armed his way free and headed for the tent flap. “Screw social media. I wouldn’t even carry a stinking cell phone if not for you two.”

        Flynn let out a long sigh. He’d been worried about breaking the news to his buddies. Maybe that tension is what triggered tonight’s episode. His nightmares had been coming less frequently–or so he told himself–since his visit to Marietta last November. Seeing his brother so happy, in love and looking toward the future, made the stark emptiness of Flynn’s life all the more disappointing by comparison.

       Would a change of venue rid Flynn of his nightmares? He didn’t know, but Ryker had made a fresh start in Marietta and found the woman of his dreams–the living, breathing, sexier than heck kind of woman. Maybe, Flynn would get lucky, too.

       But, honestly? He’d settle for a good night’s sleep.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


PS: I took the pretty shot of the bamboo this morning after yoga. It spoke to me. :-)

Please Redeem Me

So what happens when you have a character show up in the first book of your 4-part series who is so annoying and unlikeable reviewers call him “a complete and utter PITA”? (P I T A = pain in the arse…as my mother would have said.)

Well…naturally, you make him your next HERO.

My working image of Austen Zabrinski.

My working image of Austen Zabrinski.

In Cowgirl Come Home, my hero’s brother, Austen Zabrinski, shows up repeatedly. He’s…um…difficult. He has attitude. Here’s a snippet. Tell me if this sounds like a hero to you?

She only had a vague recollection of Paul’s older brother since he left for college before she and Paul started dating. But everybody in Marietta knew Austen.

His name had been in the Courier every week since he was MVP in at least three sports. All the girls wanted to date him, although he never had a steady that Bailey could remember. He gave the class speech at graduation. She knew that for a fact because she’d been selected as one of the four freshman girls to pass out programs at the door.

She’d listened closely because he had the audacity to buck the system, showing up with his longish hair artfully tousled, a movie-star goatee and bare ankles, hinting that he was wearing shorts under his gown.

At the time, Bailey had been impressed.

Now, not so much. She’d met more than her share of promoters, lawyers and wealthy stockmen over the years. And one thing she knew for certain was money did not automatically signify class.

More nervous than she had been when she left the house, she walked slowly and deliberately, trying not to limp.

Show no weakness. She couldn’t remember if the adage applied to wild animals and lawyers, or just lawyers.

Thank goodness I called in an order. She could pick it up and run. No need to bring up the ridiculous idea of going on a date. No harm, no foul.

She went straight to the cash register, not looking right or left. “Bailey Jenkins. To-go,” she told the young woman behind the till.

The girl–about sixteen working her first summer job, Bailey guessed–spun about and dashed to the kitchen window, where a clothesline of white orders were strung.

“Ironically appropriate, don’t you agree? A To-Go order. Your modus operandi, no?”

She turned, her purse clutched to her belly–bling side out, as if the glitter might magically ward off the attack she sensed coming. “I beg your pardon?”

Austen had changed since the cocky kid at the school podium. More than the expensive suit and cover-model haircut, his style shouted, “Warning: rich, influential, angry man with agenda. Look out.”

He leaned in. Not so his words were kept between them. No. In fact, he spoke loudly, with succinct clarity so the entire jury of her peers could hear. “It’s not my pardon you need to beg, Bailey. It’s my brother’s.”

I know. Right? A complete and utter jerk. So, what on earth would possess an author to pick such an unlikable character to make her next hero?

I wish I could tell you. I honestly don’t know. But I will say I found Austen intriguing. I wanted to know why he was so caustic, so judgmental. I loved his brother, Paul, so much I figured if Paul was so great surely there was some good, something redeemable in Austen.

And I learned a long time ago, while working with my first editor, that sometimes you don’t have any choice about who your characters choose to love.

My third Harlequin Superromance is called BACK IN KANSAS. This is a spin-off from a book titled His Daddy’s Eyes. The hero, Bo, is a recovering alcoholic. And in the course of writing His Daddy’s Eyes, he proved to be a very annoying character because he constantly wanted to be on center stage. I hate to admit this to non-writers, but there came a time when I said out loud, “If you want to be a hero, you can be a hero in the next book. Now, back off and be a good secondary character so I can finish this book.”

As strange as that sounds, he did. So, when I was working on my next proposal, I talked to my editor about who I thought would make a good heroine for Bo. She hesitated a moment and said, “But, obviously he’s in love with Chloe.”

It was my turn to hesitate a moment or three. “But Chloe is a reformed prostitute,” I reminded her.

My editor replied, nonchalantly, “I’m sure our readers are evolved enough to know that not every character comes to a story with an unblemished past.”

The voice in my head is freaking out. “There’s blemished and then there’s prostitute!”

To my editor, of course, I said, “Okay. Let’s give that a try. ”

What came out of that collaboration was a story that scared me to death to write but connected powerfully with readers. And from that point on, I no longer was afraid of unredeemable characters.

The fact is every one of us has our not-so-heroic moments. We’re human. Maybe that’s what makes the difficult ones–real and imagined–easy to relate to.

Austen Zabrinski is very human. When we meet him in COWGIRL COME HOME, he’s going through an extremely tough time (off screen). He’s at a crossroads in his life and he’s questioning whether everything he’s done to that point was for naught. We don’t know any of this until he shows up on my new heroine’s doorstep needing help. Luckily, as fate would have it, she is the perfect person to help him figure out exactly where he needs to be and who he really is.

I love it when that happens. Don’t you?

PS: the title of this blog made me think of Englebert Humperdink’s 1985 hit Please Release Me. Here’s the link in case you need a laugh. http://youtu.be/6S9ecXWCBCc I’m still giggling.

And if you’d like to “meet” Austen Zabrinski, leave a comment. I’ll pick one winner to receive a review copy of NOBODY’S COWBOY next week.

Austen--as the hero I always knew he could be.

Austen–as the hero I always knew he could be.



Collages (Anne Stuart)

I’ve been doing collages of my books-in-progress for years now, with varying degrees of success.  I first heard of it from Barbara Samuel and I loved the idea, so I immediately began to paste pretty pictures onto oaktag to inspire me.  It didn’t further the plotting process but it meant I could go buy expensive magazines and the results were very nice.

But I lost interest when things weren’t advancing plot, and I realized I was simply doing it to keep from writing.

Writers will do anything to keep from writing, even dishes and making the bed.  Cutting pretty pictures out of Veranda and Vogue definitely beats household chores, but sooner or later you gotta hit those keys.

Then I went to a seminar Jill Barnett did on collage, and discovered you could use words!  Silly me for not thinking of that.  Jill used the try-fold poster board kids use for science projects, so I went out and bought a lot of those and new magazines, cutting out words as well as pretty pictures and got this:

That one was for ON THIN ICE — the blonde guy is the villain.  Again, inspiration but not progress.  Then I went to a meeting of the local RWA chapter and someone there gave talks about doing collage via scrapbook pages.  LOVED the idea. It  meant I could go buy scrapbook stuff.  Unfortunately they don’t have many scrapbook tchotchkes for my kind of books, except maybe at Halloween, so I gave up, until Jenny Crusie, former art teacher, got me under her wing.  She and Lani Diane Rich and I are plotting a fairy tale book, so we spent an evening doing scrapbook pages and having a great time, and this time I think it will really help with the plot as well as serve as inspiration.

But with collaging it works well if you’ve got an avatar, a stand-in for your characters.  I often start that way anyway, until they become their own people as the book progresses.  I’ve got heroes for books two and three.  Book two is a bad boy former pirate ship’s captain from the slums, and I thought Ian Somerhalder had the combination of gorgeousness and sauciness to get me started.  The brooding heir and accused wife-murderer works will with Richard Armitage.

But I’m stuck on the first hero.  Sir Richard Durant is charming on the surface, devoted to the son he knows isn’t his, hates his evil wife with a fierce passion, and is trying to destroy his life with morphine and absinthe.  So I need someone gorgeous (of course, for inspiration), charming, but with a hint of desperation.  More noble than the captain, more open than the brooding heir.  Someone with brown to blond hair, not black Irish like Armitage.

Anyone got any ideas?  His heroine is tall, calm, with a strong organizing streak, very maternal and brave, with scars across one side of her face.  She’s always had a crush on Sir Richard, but because of the scars she hides away.

So … who’s a good hero?  Throw some names at me — I need help.