Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago Marathon, Jamie Winston, Nascar Fistfights, and Martinsdale-St Mary's Volleyball Team

Eliud Kipchoge beat his closest competitor, Sammy Kitwara, in the 37th annual Chicago Marathon this morning. In terrific weather, Kipchoge ran the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 11 seconds. Honestly, I am equally impressed and confused by such feats. I've no idea why anyone would want to do something so grueling. Oh wait, the $155K prize money might have something to do with it. And what's up with that extra .2 miles? That has to be tacked on because running 26 miles isn't sufficient enough?

Jameis Winston is exploring his options today. One of those options may be dropping out of Florida State in an effort to avoid the impending investigation into his alleged activities including misconduct and rape. The university is apparently concerned enough over possible litigation from the rape victim, that they've decided to open this investigation. Note that it's October 2014 and the assault took place in December 2012.

No charges or disciplinary action were taken against Winston when the rape was initially reported. The rumored litigation would, if you listen to the chatter, include Florida State, Winston, and the Tallahassee Police Department.

So as Winston considers his next move, dropping out of Florida State prevents him from participating in the university's investigation, it allows him to leave the state and completely ignore the investigation entirely, and it separates him from his possible co-defenders in the lawsuit the victim is thought to be contemplating.

What happens if Winston does leave Florida State? Well, he then becomes eligible for the NFL 2015 draft. Something tells me he'll fit right in. I write fiction and even I can't make this stuff up.

Tempers were hot at Charlotte last night as drivers fought to stay out of the elimination race next week at Talladega. Brad Keselowski raised tempers by causing contact between his vehicle and those of both Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Both drivers showed their displeasure with Keselowski on the track.

Following the race, Keselowski went down pit row and hit Kenseth's vehicle-it's worth noting that Kenseth had removed most of his safety equipment before being struck, a practice that is routine at this point in the race-Keselowski bounced off of Kenseth's car and hit the car of Tony Stewart. Stewart promptly responded by throwing his car into reverse and bashing into Keselowski. Keselowski fought to get away from Stewart and in doing so, it the car of Danica Patrick.

Keselowski ended his temper tantrum by doing burn outs in the garage area and running over some of his own equipment that was on the ground near his hauler.

Matt Kenseth, known as a mild-mannered and even-tempered guy, was so angry that he went after Keselowski as he stood between two haulers. It took several crew members to separate the two men.

After the race, Keselowski blamed the two other drivers for causing the trouble, insisting that they ruined his night by hitting him on the track and he was simply retaliating in kind.

Hamlin disagrees, calling Keselowski out of control . "It's either four or five of us are wrong or he's wrong," says Hamlin. His concern is that Keselowski will try to wreck him, Stewart, and Kenseth next week at Talladega. "He'll just be out of control like normal," Hamlin said. "We'll do what we have to do to get in, and that's the big picture."

NASCAR officials are reported to be reviewing tapes and talking to all involved before any decision regarding disciplinary actions are taken.

Meanwhile, a group of volleyball players from Martinsdale-St. Mary's high school, located south of Des Moines, Iowa, were playing a game in which one player struck the ball, causing it to go into the stands and hit a young girl in the face. When the game ended, the girls rallied around the girl to apologize to her for the wild hit.

According to the mother of the 10-year old, her daughter has the mental capacity of a child half her age and thought the players were angry and that's why she was struck in the face with the volleyball.

The team made a point of apologizing to the child and reassuring her that it was an accident, that she had done nothing wrong, and no one was angry with her.

I don't know about you, but I think this group of high school girls could teach NASCAR drivers and football players the meaning of sportsmanship.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Emma Watson, Women's Rights, the U.N. and the War on Women That Isn't

Emma Watson, the actress who starred as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, is the Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. In speaking for women's rights and against the daily and sometimes subtle and sometimes overt hostility against women, Ms. Watson has become a target of threats against her safety and against her reputation. But there is no war on women. For doing nothing more than speaking for equality, Ms. Watson is now the target of webpages threatening to release nude photographs of her in an attempt to tarnish her reputation, to humiliate her, and to cause her to stop speaking.

Now I don't know if there are nude photos of her, nor do I care. We all know how rampant photoshopped photographs are and before one more person says, "If you don't want nude photos leaked, stop taking them", I suggest you listen to the speech this impressive woman gave to the U.N., because you are part of the problem. What a woman does in her private life, is not anyone else's business and when that business is hacked and leaked, the blame should rest solely on the criminal, not the victim.

What the vast majority of people don't realize, both male and female, is that such an attack should be an affront to all of us, regardless of who we are or what we believe. If one person is stifled by threats of violence, and you sit back and do nothing or say nothing, you are as guilty as those who make the threats. And if you sit back and do nothing and say nothing, what do you expect to happen when someone threatens you as a way to intimate you into silence? Are you going to look around and wonder where the outrage is? Are you going to be looking for support in righting the injustices that happen to you when you didn't rise to that challenge when faced with the injustices happening to those around you?

When did women wanting to be treated with respect become such an affront to so many men? I am surrounded by loving, caring, compassionate men, all of whom want to see the women in their lives succeed and be happy. None of them are walking around cat-calling women, degrading them, blaming them for being attacked or raped. None of them think that because their wives or daughters wear athletic clothes to run means it's okay to attack them or wearing a skirt means it's okay to put a phone under her skirt and take photographs of her panties.

How did our world become so upside-down and when are we going to right it? Too many men are
keeping silent while women are victimized daily. Too many men are being silent when other men talk about women asking for it, liking it, wanting it, deserving it. Too many men are doing nothing while women's rights are being stolen.

If you think there is no war on women, I challenge you to go onto Twitter and search #YesAllWomen and listen to the issues that women face every day. Read the comments and take in the anger at these women for doing nothing more than vocalizing their personal experiences on Twitter. If you think there is no war on women, I challenge you to read some of the laws proposed in the past two to three years restricting women's access to health care and birth control. If you think there is no war on women, I challenge you to go to this site and read the bills that have come up in the past several years. I don't care if you read the article. I'm not trying to slant or sway your political views at all. Read only the last portion, if you like, which lists the bills and what they do.

Bill HR 358 is a bill in Pennsylvania that allows insurance companies to deny birth control to the extend that hospitals can refuse to do the abortion and refuse to transfer the patient to another facility, even if the mother's life is at risk.

Bill 1217 is a South Dakota bill that was signed into law in May of 2011, that requires women to have spiritual counseling prior to any abortion. It also limits who can provide that counseling. The councilor will make the final decision as to whether the abortion is performed or not.

Bill HB1166, also in South Dakota, is a bill that forces doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that they're at higher risk of suicide, a claim that is unsubstantiated by any scientific or medical evidence.

Bill 1210 in Indiana requires that physicians tell women that abortions cause breast cancer, even though there is no scientific or medical evidence that this is true.

Bobby Franklin is a State Representative in Georgia and has proposed a law making both abortion and miscarriage illegal. He calls it prenatal murder and wants it punishable by the same code as homicide, which means a woman who has either an abortion or a miscarriage could be sentenced to death.

Texas has made the so-called creeper photos, a protected right. What this does is make it perfectly legal for anyone to shove their cell phone or camera under your skirt or down the shirt of women, take a picture, and be protected from any criminal charges.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling penalizing a man for taking photographs up women's skirts and dresses on the public transportation system. State lawmakers quickly created a new law making this specific activity illegal.  You can read about it here.

This has to change, people. Look at the women you love and ask yourselves what life you want for them. Stand up.

Read this and tell me there is no war on women. Read this and tell me you're okay doing nothing and saying nothing. Better yet, read this and do something.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beyonce Baby Rumors, Child Abuse, and the NFL

Rumor has it that Beyoncé and Jay Z are expecting baby number two. Wonder what color they'll name this one? I'm not a fan of odd names for children, which will come as some surprise to my children.

Let me explain. My kids all have traditional names, however, they're all spelled oddly. I didn't realize my spellings were as far out of the norm as they were, but as four of the five are grown adults, I can't fix it, either. Sorry, kids.

And on a side note, someone buy her a pair of pants. Seriously. Doesn't she ever get cold?

Let's talk about the difference between disciplining a child who's misbehaving and beating a child. Honestly, I didn't think the distinction was that difficult to figure out, but NFL players just don't seem to understand how to control themselves. Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson, has been arrested for child abuse.

He says he didn't abuse his four year old son, Adrian Junior. He says he disciplined him. I ask you. Does this look like discipline to you or does this look like a man who lost control?

Discipline is the act of teaching. Discipline is meted out with reason, thoughtfulness, love, and compassion. This was a beating. This left marks, wounds that were open and bleeding, and bruises on a four year old child. There is nothing of discipline in these photographs. This is child abuse.

The images were released by CBS 4 Minnesota, the same station which reports that the child was taken to a doctor upon his return from his father. The doctor states the child suffered open wounds and lacerations on his buttocks, thighs, and lower back, along with his hands. The doctor termed it as child abuse, an allegation that was substantiated by another person termed as an examiner by the news station.

According to the child, his father also has hit him with a belt, has had leaves put in his mouth, and his father has a special room in the house in which these whoopings take place.

Now keep in mind that Adrian Peterson makes no excuse for his actions, nor does he deny them. What he does deny, is that it's abuse. He maintains he disciplined his child and nothing more. I ask you this. If someone did this to you, would you consider it abuse?

Do not misunderstand me. I care not whether you perpetrate such acts on your child or another. I care not how you justify this behavior. I care not for your talents on or off the football field. You are a child abuser. That is all I need to know of you.

Wonder what the NFL and Roger Goodell will make of this? He won't be playing on Sunday. This week, anyway.

Can't make this stuff up, folks. Can't even use this in a book. I wouldn't treat a fictional child this way. Let alone a defenseless four year old child.


Monday, September 8, 2014

NFL, Ray Rice, and Delayed Justice

Okay, so taking the chance that I'm boring you stupid with my utter contempt of Ray Rice, I have to give the NFL credit for finally doing the right thing. I've several contemptuous blogs noting the total lack of integrity with which the NFL, the Baltimore Rav
ens, and Roger Goodell responded to Rice's clear abuse of his then girlfriend Janay Palmer...who eventually married him and announced that she was somewhat responsible for her own abuse...can this situation sicken you even more, you ask? The answer is yes.

The latest video to emerge shows the left-handed knock-out punch delivered to Palmer's face. It's a vicious, brutal, and extremely dangerous assault. The video shows what happened inside the elevator. Prior to this, the only video released was the video showing Rice pulling Palmer out of the elevator by her hair, caveman style. This video shows Palmer launch herself at Rice, who then strikes her, leaving her crumbling to the floor of the elevator.

Should Palmer have launched herself at Rice? No, of course not. Did she deserve to be beaten unconscious for doing so? Again, of course not. Does anyone honestly expect us to believe that Rice couldn't control her without delivering a potentially lethal blow to her face? Seriously, people.

I wonder if this is a case in which it's appropriate to say, "Better late than never?" I am glad justice is finally being dished up by the NFL and I pray that Rice and Palmer (Palmer especially) get the deep therapy they both obviously need. Still. I have to wonder how it is that Rice was allowed to take a few anger management courses and avoid serious jail time. I guess in this case, some justice is better than no justice.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The NFL, the NFLPA, and the Lack of Progress

So the NFL and the player's union, the NFLPA, have been hard at work trying to hammer out a new agreement to address some of the inconsistencies in current policy. While they all agree there isn't likely to be amnesty for players who have been suspended for marijuana use, they do agree they'll update the policies to include a higher testing cutoff point before players are disciplined. I'm sure that's very reassuring for Josh Gordon, the receiver for the Cleveland Browns. Josh, as I've discussed here before, has been suspended for a year after testing positive for marijuana.

Now before anyone gets on me, I do not personally condone marijuana use. I don't have strong opinions as to whether it should be legal or not but I do believe smoking anything is dangerous. Our lungs are made for air. Not pollutants designed to make us feel better through chemical alteration.

But, having said that, I still have a huge problem with players being suspended for an entire year for smoking pot but for two games for acts that should have put them in jail. Yes, Ray Rice, I'm talking to you. You may be a male but you are certainly not a man. You are a coward and an abuser and you deserve to go to jail.

Over the past several weeks, reports have come out telling us that the union and the league have moved closer together in negotiations, then further apart, then closer together. Even reaching an agreement isn't going to bring about any real changes for some time as the agreement must go to lawyers for review and be voted on by the NFLPA board. So really, the only thing the two parties can report is a lack in progress toward any meaningful progress.

You know, if I wrote a book that included the punishments handed down by the NFL, it would be viewed as utterly implausible. How very sad that it's not fiction. To those of you who write NFL fiction, I salute you. Personally, I have trouble watching it right now. I can say this, though. In my book, Ray Rice would suffer a horrible fate in prison while Josh Gordon would have served a two game suspension and been back on the field. That's just me, though. You decide which reality would be better.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers, Duck Dynasty, and Dancing With the Stars, Oh My!

It's with a sad heart that I learned we lost another comedic icon today. Joan Rivers passed away after suffering complications from a routine procedure being performed in a doctor's office. Coming so soon after the suicide of Robin Williams, it feels as if the laughter has faded from the world.

As many of you did, I grew up watching Joan Rivers step in as a guest host on the Tonight Show on the occasions when Johnny Carson wasn't able to do the show himself. Personally, I loved those shows more than the shows when he was on stage. And I was upset when she wasn't chosen as his successor, although I've always loved Jay Leno, also.

I won't say I was a big fan of her later years but I don't think that takes away from the hours upon hours of laughter she gave to me throughout the years she performed on television.

Robin Williams was such a part of my young adult life, I still can't fathom his loss. Watching him on Comic Relief with his good friends and talented cohorts, Whoopie Goldberg and Billy Crystal, I would be in pain from laughing, crying in equal parts from laughter and sadness as they highlighted the plight of the homeless in this country. Laughter with a purpose is a gift to both the performer and the listener.

Our local news is filled with information on LoLo Jones performing on Dancing With the Stars. She's a talented athlete and she grew up here in Central Iowa, so it's no wonder her every move is reported by the news. It's come to my attention that a cast member of Duck Dynasty will also be on DWTS. Sadie Robertson, teen daughter of Willie and Korie Robertson, will be performing along side LoLo, Tommy Chong, and others. Even with the draw of our local celebrity, I'm not likely to watch.

I'm not a huge fan of Duck Dynasty, but I'm not really a fan of reality television of any kind. For me, personally, the show comes across as a bunch of very wealthy people acting like redneck hillbillies, not because that's what they are, but because that's what they're paid to be. I think there are a lot of good things about the show and the families portrayed but there are enough contrived things and disturbing things to make me turn the channel. It's not my thing.

The events of the past several months...the loss of two beloved comedians, the odd mix of contestants on DWTS, and events of the world make for an interesting blend of ideas in my head. I wonder what a romance novel driven by such events would look like. Keep an eye out. You might see one in six months featuring a local celebrity and a reality television child star facing off in a contest that takes place in a world distracted by a decades long war. But then again, that's not escapism, is it? It's our daily life.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Jennifer Lawrence, Nude Photos, iClouds and Football

Unless you've been living under a rock the last 24 hours,  you've no doubt heard the news that several actresses have had photos of themselves in various states of undressed stolen through and iCloud leak or faked to be included in the popularity of those stolen images. The hacking of someone's account, simply because of their fame, is disgusting. It pains me personally, because as silly as it sounds, I feel a kinship to Jennifer Lawrence.

No, I don't know her personally, nor am I a stalker. I am a writer. My third book in my Walkers Ridge romance series is in progress and the heroine is Jessa Waters. In my mind, Jessa Waters is Jennifer Lawrence...or I should say Jennifer Lawrence is Jessa Waters. Having lived with Jessa Waters in my head for a long time, clamoring to have her story told, this feels very personal to me.

When I write, I often pick a person to picture in my mind when I write a specific person. The reason is simple. It helps me keep that character true to one personality. Jennifer Lawrence has a cadence to her voice that creates an image (for me) of the girl next door. A kind, compassionate person who I would be friends with and enjoy hanging around with. Since that's the type of personality I want Jessa Waters to have, it makes sense for me to keep Jennifer Lawrence in mind when I write Jessa Waters.

My heart goes out to all of the women who have had personal and private information stolen from their personal iCloud or faked through image manipulation and released to the public simply because of their careers. It's disgusting to recognize that we really haven't come all that far from the whole caveman dragging a woman around by her hair mentality. The blaming of the women for having images on their private devices has been a common response. I'm not going to address what someone else should or should not do. In my opinion, that's not my business. What I will address is this. Someone hacked into information that does not belong to them and released it publicly with the intent of gaining money and fame, and to shame and embarrass people they do not even know. Why, I wonder, is there no backlash against the one who committed the crime? Really, does the content of what was stolen matter? The theft itself isn't enough? Now we have to justify our own right to have what was stolen? When does the blaming the victims stop? Will it stop?

And speaking of dragging women around by their hair, what in God's name is up with football players and the NFL? Five days ago, Cleveland Brown's receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for a year for smoking marijuana while Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was given a two game suspension and fined an additional game paycheck for beating his wife unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator by her hair. Am I the only person who's totally disgusted by this bizarre and unbalanced punishment of those who break various NFL rules? I mean, come on. A full year for getting high on a substance that's legal in many places and two games and a fine for something so incredibly violent? This seems to be the exact opposite of what it should be.
And while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell now admits Ray's punishment is not severe enough, he will not increase the penalty, either. That makes it worse for me, somehow. That the man with the power to correct this situation publically acknowledges that he got all wrong but refuses to fix it, anyway. How is that okay and where is the outrage from players and fans? Because I'll tell you the truth, I don't se any outrage.

I had an entire series of books planned around football players but I've scrapped it. The idea is just so distasteful now, that I've scrapped a year's worth of research, notes, outlines, and plans. I'll start over and I'm happy to do so.

The takeaway here? If you smoke pot, you're out for a year but if you beat the crap out of a woman, you get a slap on the hand. Never mind that pot is legal in many states and beating another human being is illegal in all states. Never mind the video showing Rice pulling the unconscious victim out of the elevator by her hair. Never mind that even the
Commissioner himself admits this is wrong. Just ignore all of that. It's the Boys of Fall, after all. Tradition and money and bonfires and money and tailgating and money and booze and money get the idea. If you don't think Ray Rice and the NFL aren't benefiting from all this publicity, I've got some ocean front property in Iowa for sale. We should talk.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RWA National Conference 2014

Boy, do romance writers know how to party!! We took the town of San Antonio, Texas by storm last week when something like 2500 of us filled the two Marriott hotels and two overflow hotels on the River Walk. This is the view from my balcony, on the 18th floor of the Marriott Riverwalk. I spent every morning enjoying a cup of coffee on my balcony. Okay, fine...yes, I spent more than one evening consuming adult beverages on the balcony, also. And who could blame me? The view was stunning and I deserved it. Conferences are hard work!!

My days were filled with workshops of all kinds. From deepening motivation to increasing marketing, from understanding goal, motivation, and conflict to chats with icons like Nora Roberts, the conference was packed with tremendously beneficial information, regardless of where a writer is in her career.

This is Nora Roberts at the beginning of her chat. I have to admit, this took place just before lunch. I was so determined to not miss this, I went to this conference room a half hour before the workshops started for the day, found a chair next to an outlet so I could keep my phone charged, and I sat there until after she finished speaking. She is amazingly talented, very giving, and hysterically funny. Her advice was blunt and brutal, "Quit whining and write. Sit the f**k down and write. Shut up and write." She explained writer's block doesn't exist. You're looking at a blank page. Write something. Even if it's bad and ends up getting cut, just write. I was so impressed with everything she said.  I tried to catch her to get a photo with her, but it didn't work out...pretty sure she's filing a restraining order against me, though...I might frame it. :)

Sylvia Day gave an inspirational Keynote Speech during Thursday's luncheon. She discussed the changes in the publishing industry and the choices authors now have. She reminded us that this is our business and we have a responsibility to learn our industry so we make informed decisions that help move our careers forward. She mentioned the hats authors now, editor, publisher (if self-publishing), cover artist, formatting expert, marketing is our duty to our readers to ensure we do the very best with each of the hats we wear, which makes being an author both a privilege and a challenge.

Me and Robin Carr
There was plenty of fun to be had, as well as all of the educational opportunities. The big literary signing was amazing. Picture two large ballrooms filled with authors from every sub-genre under the romance umbrella and then imagine all of us going crazy as we vied for the attention of our favorites. It's a wonder no one was killed as we ran in a fevered rush trying to reach all of our favorite authors!!

I did manage to pry myself away for a short period of time and take in some of the sights. My hotel was blocks from the Alamo. Trust me, I didn't forget and you're not the first to think of that joke. The Alamo is beautiful and I wish I'd had more time to explore. It's much larger than I realized and I just didn't have time to do it justice. It's definitely on my list of sights to go back to when time permits.

 I also took a stroll down part of the River Walk. It's a pretty little walk along the riverfront, surrounded by architectural stone walls and lush greenery. With small niches carved out in strategic shady locations, even the extreme heat wasn't a deterrent. The sidewalks were pleasantly populated without being overcrowded.  While I didn't take the time for the boat ride, it's another one of the items on my list for a return visit to San Antonio.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit this city, I highly recommend it. From the moment I stepped off the plane until I flew  home the following week, the city and it's inhabitants were nothing but welcoming to all who attended the RWA conference.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Dreaming Big Dreams in Phoenix

I had the pleasure of attending an amazing double conference just last week. On Thursday and Friday, I attended Buildin' the Dream. This portion of the two conference event was geared toward authors, editors and publishers. It consisted of workshops lead by those successful in their fields, discussing their experiences and offering solid advice for the attendees, to help them achieve that same success.

 The first evening, we were fortunate enough to be treated to Keynote Speaker, Diana Gabaldan, author of the amazing Outlander series. This tiny dynamo of a woman regaled us with her experiences as a professor and her first foray into writing. She is smart, witty and incredibly funny. I swear, by the end of the evening, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much. She is an amazingly talented woman and I admit, I was more than slightly star struck…in fact, by the third time I made up an excuse to chat with her, I was pretty sure she was considering a restraining order.

Friday morning we gathered for a wonderful breakfast. We followed that up with more workshops. The leaders of the conference, Morgan Kearns and Kris Tualla, ran the conference like a well-oiled machine. We had time in between workshops to chat, get coffee, make a call or use the restroom, but we didn’t have so much down time that we were bored or left wandering about with nothing to do.

Friday afternoon, we flipped over from Buildin' the Dream to Arizona Dreamin'. Arizona Dreamin’ is the second portion of this double conference and is geared toward the reader. This is a brilliant strategy, as authors, editors and publishers happen to love books. All and anything to do with books. That’s why we do what we do. I don’t know an author who doesn’t have a ‘to be read’ pile that’s less than a dozen books deep. So putting the two together is grand.

Friday night found us gathered in the ballroom for a night of socializing and entertainment. The entertainment was a singing group called Broad’s Way and they sang a variety of songs from several musicals. They were talented, funny and thoroughly entertaining.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, we gathered in the ballroom as a large group. Seated around several round tables, we each had one author, publisher or other workshop leader at the table with us. When this meeting got underway, that person had three minutes to introduce themselves, tell us about their services or products and invite us join their book club. At the end of three minutes, each professional switched tables, allowing those at the table to meet each and every one of the workshop leaders. It was a wonderful way to get a better idea of what each person had to offer so we could plan our day based on who we wanted to learn more about or spend more time with.

The book clubs were half an hour each, during which, the hostess discussed their experiences in the profession and answer questions. Many had fun games or gave away gifts or free books. (The airport people were not impressed with the weight of my luggage) Trust me when I tell you, this was brilliantly planned and very successful.

When I left the conference, I felt as if I hadn’t spent the weekend at a professional business event, but rather as if I’d spent four days with terrific friends, having a blast and sharing our experiences in the writing industry. From magazine editors, publishing companies, cover artists, to cook book authors, and authors of all romance sub genres, I’ve made more than professional connections. I’ve made lifelong friends. And that, is truly priceless. 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge - Melissa Overton

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge

Melissa Overton is the teen aged sister of Jamie, the sheriff in Walker’s Ridge. She is in high school and hoping to break out of her small town and go to college in the biggest city she can find. She works at a local shop after school and is very active on the ranch and with her friends. Watch as Melissa finds romance at school.

Melissa Overton

You won’t believe what happened to me at school today. I was getting my stuff out of my locker and Collin Randolph walked by and in a teasing kind of way, he closed my locker. I think my jaw hit the floor. He looked over his shoulder, grinning and he winked at me. He WINKED at me. ME! I think I about passed out.
Karlee Smith was with me and she did that low whistle thing that she does and said, “Collin Randolph noticed you.”

I was like, “I know, right?”

I totally tried to play it cool but I think I had this stupid grin on my face all day. We don’t share any classes so I didn’t see him the rest of the day. I kinda tried to watch for him in the halls but without making it obvious that I was watching for him, you know what I mean? But I didn’t see him.
Karlee kept asking me if I saw him and I think she was almost as disappointed as I was when I told her no after almost every class. Except trig, of course, because we’re in the same trig class so she knew he hadn’t talked to me.

I’m so going to spent two hours figuring out what to wear to school tomorrow. Today I wore skinny jeans tucked into my black boots and my black sweater…the one with the buttons on the sleeves…but I don’t want to wear black again tomorrow. I can wear skinny jeans and boots every day, but not sweaters and not black every day. B O R I N G.

Maybe I should go shopping for new clothes. And boots. Obviously boots. But maybe some cute tops that don’t smell like horses. Maybe I should get highlights. Or a trim. I’ll ask Harmony what she thinks when I go to work tomorrow. She has such good taste. She’s got great jewelry in the shop, too. I can look for some cute earrings. If I wear my hair right, the earrings will show. In that case, they need to be sparkly earrings. Sparkly is always good.  
Right now, I need to haul butt and get my chores done. A couple of the horses need exercised today and I have a ton of homework. I sure hope Karlee’s home tonight because I’m so gonna need help with my trig homework. 

Later Gator,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge Elizabeth Overton

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge

Miss Elizabeth is a strong woman. After the death of her husband Jim, she poured herself into the raising of Jamie and Melissa, running the ranch and her volunteer work at the church. Now Jamie is grown, the sheriff of Walkers Ridge and a family man. Melissa is 17 years old, doing well in school and looking forward to college in a big city. The ranch is a well-oiled machine that runs well under the supervision of Jamie and ranch manager, Juan Trujillo. What will Elizabeth do with herself as her role in life changes? Read her blog below to learn how she is handling this transition.

Elizabeth Overton

Well, it’s happening. Jamie moved into the farmhouse with Caroline and they’re raising JT. How on earth did I become a grandma? Jamie is moving forward with the adoption proceedings and they’re both loving having their baby boy home.
I’m trying to respect their privacy and not drop in every day to play with JT, but it’s difficult to resist. I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes I don’t even make the attempt. Sometimes I just march right over and knock on the door.

Thankfully, Caroline has been nothing but loving and gracious. She’s worked miracles around here. She’s restored the farmhouse to the state it was in when my mother was alive, she’s showcased some of my mother’s prized quilts, she’s softened Jamie in a way I didn’t know what possible…the girl is a Godsend.

 Melissa is finishing her junior year of high school in a few months. We’re planning senior pictures, she’s hard at work with plans for her graduation party…I believe everyone in Walkers Ridge will be invited…and she’s mapping out an itinerary for college campus visits that will likely take months. There isn’t a single college campus on her list that isn’t listed in a major metropolis.

I tried to get her to at least visit some of the more local colleges but she wouldn’t have it. Montana State University has excellent research and science programs, including horticultural and biotechnology, which is where her strengths are. The University of Montana has terrific research facilities as well, and she could study environmental science and law or journalism. She swears she wants to live in the big city and get away from the ranch even if she does want to study agriculture, horticulture or the environmental sciences. I think I will ultimately lose this battle.

Regardless of where she decides to attend college, the fact is I’m turning into an empty-nester. I didn’t anticipate this part of life, at least not yet. A year ago, Jamie was still at home and not even involved with anyone, let alone a family man with a newborn son. Melissa was a silly teen enjoying the company of horses and her girlfriends more than anything else. Now Jamie has moved out and Melissa is planning to do the same as soon as possible. Where does that leave me, I wonder?

 Sometimes I think about the days when Jim and I were starting out. We married in 1984 and immediately began working toward our dream of a large ranch. We spent every penny we could on buying land. We started with such a tiny little lot adjacent to Mom’s farmhouse. Initially, we didn’t even have a house. We bought a little mobile home and lived in it for two years. The plan was to build a house but when my mother became ill, it just made more sense for us to move in and help take care of her. We spent everything we could save on buying more and more land, always adjacent to our existing lots until eventually, we had several hundred acres. We built the original house after Mom moved to the nursing home. It’s odd to think about it  but in reality, Jamie and Melissa spent more of their childhood years living in the small farmhouse than they did in this house. I don’t know that I’ve ever considered the farmhouse as anything other than my mother’s house but I imagine the kids consider it home. For me, this is home. The house  Jim and I planned for, drew out on scratch paper and built together. The home we shared until the day he died. The home that protected me during months of grief when the only thing that got me out of our bed were the needs of our children. Now our children are strong, independent adults who are stepping into their adult lives much faster than I would prefer.
So at the risk of repeating myself, where does that leave me? When Jim died, I thought the woman in me died with him. The passionate, sensual side of my life was over. However, after the demands that have consumed my day to day life for so long lessened, those emotional and physical needs are reawakening. With no husband, I’m not sure what to do with them, but they are making their presence known.

Oh I’ve had offers from men. Occasionally I would consent to a dinner date. There was no chemistry, no spark, nothing to ignite my senses and encourage me to continue with more than the sporadic evening out. Now I’m wondering how to begin that portion of my life again. Do I sign up for one of those computer dating services?  Is that how it’s done these days?
I can count the number of single men from church in one hand. I’m more likely to win the lottery than I am to start going into the city and start hanging out at clubs. I can’t exactly place an ad in the local paper.

So maybe that part of my life is over, even if my body doesn’t want it to be so. Perhaps I will simply have to find another way to bring additional companionship into my life. I wonder if this is how one becomes the crazy cat lady…this insatiable need for companionship with no foreseeable way to obtain said companionship. Something to ponder.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Christina Cole to my blog today. She's talking about two of our favorite things, being a lady and the old west. I think you'll enjoy her perspective as much as I did.
Feel free to visit Christina's blog, Christina Cole Romance to learn more about her books.

How to Be a Lady – Old West Style


By Christina Cole


When we think of “the Old West”, most of us probably think first of cowboys, those handsome, rugged men who rode the range, who roped, wranged, and wrestled their way into history…and into our hearts.


But, what about the ladies?


Truthfully, being a woman has never been easy. Consider all the expectations and demands placed upon us.  We work hard. We put meals on the table, we raise children, we hold down full-time jobs…and then some.


I love this little quote from Ann Richards:


‘After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.’


Yes, that’s the way it’s always been for a woman. As for “being a lady”, that involves an entire new set of rules and restrictions. Today’s woman, of course, has “Come a long way, baby”, but for females living in the old west, standards were strict.


I think, in a curious way, one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical romance is because of the restrictions and limitations placed upon women. In my own life, I’ve always been taught to question authority, to break the rules, if necessary, and to stand up for what I believe. I like writing about women — like Kat Phillips in Not the Marrying Kind — who don’t fit the traditional mold, women whose willingness to bend, or break, the rules can sometimes lead them into trouble. Of course, in time, it can also lead to love and happiness.


But, I digress.

What was required of an American “lady” in the late 1800s?  She was to dress modestly, to be clean and tidy at all times, to care for her home and family, and above all, to comport herself properly and mind her demeanor at all times.


Here are a few rules on how a proper lady was supposed to behave in public:


Be still. A woman was expected to be quiet and reserved. Noise was believed to derange mental faculties and incapacitate the mind, making clear thought difficult. A loud, boisterous woman was unbearable.


Watch your words! Ladies were instructed to speak properly and to avoid any use of “slang” – which might carry hidden messages that an innocent young woman would not even realize she was sending.


Keep your thoughts to yourself. Even as the virtue of honesty was touted, women were expected to bite their tongues and keep many of their thoughts to themselves. A good woman was not supposed to “speak her mind”. Frankness was not a character trait to be admired in a female.


Never boast! Women were advised to avoid speaking foreign words because it implied that others were less intelligent. Nor was a woman supposed to correct another’s mispronunciation or a factual inaccuracy. Of course, boasting about wealth, family, or position was considered “silly” and tiresome.


Give and accept apologies when needed. A true lady would always accept an apology with grace. Of course, she would also quickly offer an apology for any wrong she committed.


Listen carefully. Along with being still and keeping her own thoughts to herself, a good woman was always willing to listen to others — whether she wanted to or not. To do otherwise would make her appear indifferent. True politeness decreed that she should listen patiently and respond with kindness.


Guard your laughter.  For a woman to laugh at her own wit or cleverness would be gauche, indeed. She also needed to be very careful to laugh at only the proper times. Interrupting a funny story with premature laughter would spoil the moment, and, of course, no woman would ever laugh, or even smile, at humor that was off-color, offensive, or inappropriate in any way.

Never gossip! Women who gossiped were considered unreliable and untrustworthy at best. At worst, a gossip would be viewed as malicious, uncultivated, and empty-headed. A true lady would never talk behind a person’s back nor share unfounded rumors with others.


Don’t give other women the “once-over”. This was a sweeping glance that took in another woman’s appearance and, in an instant, judged that woman to be lacking. It was proof that a woman had an unkind heart and a vulgar, uncharitable soul.


Treat your enemies with kindness. A lady would treat everyone with kindness, of course, and this dictate extended even to those whom she considered “enemies”. In fact, a woman was expected to treat enemies with even greater consideration and respect than she might show to a good friend. Doing so would allow her to feel noble and strong. Of course, she was required to keep those feelings to herself and not boast about her kindness.


And last, but not least, is this counsel:


Kiss sparingly! A kiss was meant to be a sign of pure, eternal love, not a token of affection to be shared casually. Even among couples who planned to marry, kissing was to be indulged in very infrequently. There was always the chance that an engagement might be broken, and too much kissing might lead to a broken heart. Promiscuous kissing — heaven forbid! — was a shameful act. No true lady would ever engage in such sinful behavior. Besides, kissing was dangerous to a woman’s health. It could spread contagious disease.


I never tire of reading about the past, about the lives of women and the roles they played in bringing “civilization” into places where it had not existed before.


Whenever you read the history of a new settlement, you’ll find the men arriving first, creating a rough, lawless, uncivilized land. But then, they would bring in the ladies, and the land would change. Women brought love, the values of home and family, the need for law and order. Women brought education, schools, religion, churches. Women brought the need for shops and stores, pharmacies, fabrics. Women truly changed the world.

Of course, I suspect that many women “played by the rules” in public, yet freely broke a few of them in private. Like that rule about speaking her mind. Or the rule about watching her words. And especially that one about kissing.


* * * * *

Christina’s latest historical romance, Not the Marrying Kind, is now available from Secret Cravings Publishing and other online booksellers. To read excerpts and learn more about the story, the characters, and “The Sunset Series”, please visit Riding into Sunset - Stepping Back in Time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Caroline Edwards

Caroline Edwards is the heroine in This Montana Man, book one of my Walkers Ridge Romance series. I hope you enjoyed getting to know her and Jamie, the sheriff of Walkers Ridge, Montana, as they fell in love. And I hope you enjoy this visit with Caroline as she blogs about the changes in her life. Enjoy.

Angela K Roe

Caroline Edwards-

I can’t believe he’s here. I look at JT and am amazed that this most perfect, tiny person is my son. My son! I LOVE this picture of Jamie holding JT. Isn’t it perfect?

I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Caroline Edwards and as you can probably tell, this is the first time I’ve tried blogging. That’s probably silly since I’m a romance writer and should blog regularly. My editor has always told me that blogging is one of those things that if you’re going to do, you need to commit to doing it right. I guess that’s good advice but it’s sort of made the idea of blogging intimidating, if that makes sense. Now that the baby is here and I can blog more for fun than marketing, I figured it was a good opportunity to jump in and see what it’s all about.

JT was born two weeks ago in the diner, of all places. Can you imagine? That’ll be a story to tell him when he gets older. Daisy has already made it perfectly clear that she has special claim to the baby since he was born in her diner. I can’t argue with that, plus it gives me a chance to get a cup of the best coffee in town. (Don’t tell Harmony I said that!)

So we had the baby in the diner and as soon as he was born, Jamie proposed…I probably should have led with that, now that I think about it. That’s how JT got his name. Jamie proposed and named the baby James Thomas Overton IV. Whew, that’s a mouthful! Jamie’s grandfather went by James, his father went by Jim and Jamie goes by Jamie so JT makes perfect sense for the newest in the line of Overton men. Jamie filed adoption papers two days after JT was born.

Now we’re home with this most perfect and precious child and I can’t imagine what my life was like before he was here. Right now, we don’t even mind getting up in the middle of the night. I’m told that will change soon…both the midnight feedings and the not minding! J

The only thing I’m really struggling with at the moment is the nursery. The women of Walkers Ridge were so fabulous stepping in and helping me put it together. I didn’t know if I was having a girl or a boy so we decorated in all the traditional pastel baby colors. I loved it when we did it. It’s just that now he’s here and he is a he…I think I want to redo it.

Jamie says I’m being silly. JT has no idea if the walls are striped or plaid or blue or white. He’s right but when we did the nursery, I thought the room was perfect for a girl or a boy, but now I think it’s too feminine. I probably won’t make a decision right away. I’m too tired at the moment to consider painting his room or shopping for new bedding. Right now, when I get any free time, I’m either napping or planning my wedding.

We hit a major roadblock as soon as we started planning. When Jamie approached Reverend Snell to find out what dates the church had open, we were told that he had reservations about the fact that we’re living together before the wedding and how Jamie is adopting JT before the wedding, essentially making him born out of wedlock. Since I wasn’t married to his birth father, he was born out of wedlock regardless of whether Jamie chose to adopt him or not. Plus, even in small town USA, I find it difficult to believe that no couples live together before they get married. Maybe it isn’t the best way to do things but that should be our decision, shouldn’t it?

Anyway, the entire thing has left a bad taste in my mouth and now I’m not even sure I want to attend services there, let alone get married there. Jamie’s entire family has attended this church for generations. Elizabeth has pictures of her wedding in this church, pictures of Jamie and Melissa getting baptized there…I worry about what she will think if I do decide that I’m not going to this church. Look at me, potentially rocking the in-law boat before I even have in-laws!

Stay posted to see what happens next. In the meantime, JT is just waking up. You know what that means, right? It means I have a hot date with a little man who needs a diaper change and a bottle. J