Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Author of the Month--Pamela Morsi

Another new addition to my blog this year is featuring a favorite author of mine each month. To kick off the year I’m starting with one of my all time favorites, Pamela Morsi.

The first time I ever met Pam was way back in 1992 in Chicago at the RWA National conference. Her first book, Heaven Scent, had just won a Waldenbooks award and I took advantage of the moment by snapping a picture. Although I hadn’t read the book yet, I was working as an assistant manager for Waldenbooks at the time so I knew who she was.

My first reading experience with one of Pam’s book actually came with her third book, Garters, which came out the following month after that conference in Chicago. We’d received some bookmarks from the publisher there at the book store and since I’d just met Pam I was doubly excited to give one of her books a try. As soon as the book came in I grabbed a copy, read it, and was hooked! Proud, determined Esme Crabb captivated me from page one.

I then went back and read Heaven Scent and Courting Miss Hattie, and waited impatiently for every Morsi book to come down the pike. Eventually, she published a book entitled Runabout. Oh, I absolutely loved that book. Recently jilted Tulsa May Bruder loves the independence the cantankerous Runabout car gives her. Much to her surprise, she ends falling in love with the one man who has a talent for fixing it. This story is a true delight and Morsi delivers a homey, small town, turn-of-the century atmosphere with this story that I just love.

Then in 1995, Pam published Something Shady. Oh! Something Shady is my all-time, A-#1 favorite Morsi book. Yes, all of Pam’s historicals are on my keeper shelf, but if I had to give up all but one, Something Shady is the one I’d fight tooth and nail to keep. Again, Pam does a terrific job of bringing the turn-of-the-century small town to life. And she does it by creating characters you can empathize with, laugh with, root for, and just plain fall for. I love Gertrude Barkley’s unapologetic and independent ways, and when she finds herself in the middle of a sleepy town scandal, she discovers the man next door, who she has known for years, is really the man of her dreams.

And Pam’s writing is always fantastic. The woman has a way with prose, let me tell you. And setting, she’s brilliant when it comes to creating setting and atmosphere. One of my favorites lines from Something Shady demonstrates exactly what I mean. The moon was a mere sliver in the autumn sky, turned like the edge of a teacup pouring out the last dregs of luster on the night. (sigh) What can I say? That one line always inspires me to be the best writer I can be.

Other delightful books, Simple Jess, The Love Charm, No Ordinary Princess, Sealed with a Kiss, Sweetwood Bride, and Here Comes the Bride, followed. All of them are wonderful books I love, but in my eye, Something Shady is the best of the best.

So, a few years ago when the historical market hit kind of a lull and Pam decided to branch out into contemporary, I was bummed. Big time. As a writer I understand the need to make a living, or to spread creative wings and try new things, but oh, how I miss Pam’s historicals. And I’ll be honest here. (Sorry Pam) I haven’t read a single one of her contemporaries. I’m sure I’m missing out on some absolute gems by being stubborn like that, but I so love her historicals that I’m afraid reading a contemporary will taint, or take away some of the magic she created in those historical characters I love so much. I don’t know. It’s my twisted way of thinking, I guess. If Pam would come back to writing her small town historicals you bet I’d be first in line to plunk down my cash.

So, how about you? Are you a fan of Pam’s historicals? If so, why? And, if you’ve read her contemporaries, which one(s) do you recommend? Maybe you can convince me to shove aside my stubborn streak!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January Cowboy of the Month--Trevor Brazile

This month I’m starting a new year-long salute to cowboys. Each month I will profile a cowboy who inspires me to write my sizzling cowboy stories for you! I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to your comments.

To kick off the year I’m starting with the talented Trevor Brazile in honor of his Seventh All-Around Championship win! Yee-Haw! Congratulations, Trevor! Brazile won the title at this past December’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, NV. The 2009 win ties Brazile with bronc and bull rider Ty Murray, a legend in his own right, who dominated in 1989 - 1994.

A Texas native, Trevor has now qualified for the national finals 18 times in Steer Roping and Tie-Down Roping, and is the first cowboy to qualify for the NFR in 4 different events, (steer, tie-down, team roping header and heeler). A tough competitor, Brazile is the Triple Crown winning cowboy of 2007 by winning the All Around, Steer Roping and Tie-Down roping titles. He also holds the highest single-year earnings record for 2007 by banking $425,115.00. And if that isn’t enough, he’s also the youngest cowboy to cross the $3 million earnings mark! Wow! Sorry ladies. He’s happily married. ;-)

How does Brazile do it? Well, he has five things going for him—background, persistence, focus, horsemanship and practice. His rodeo roots run deep. His father, Jimmy, was a four time NFR qualifier in steer roping, and his mother, Glenda, rodeoed as well. While he was learning to walk, Trevor was also learning to swing a rope. And these days when Brazile is not in the arena competing for the gold buckle, he’s in the practice pen. Fellow cowboys say his focus and concentration are uncanny. Numbers don’t lie and it’s obvious this cowboy has no trouble shifting from one event to another at each rodeo. A skill he attributes to his father. "He wanted me to be an all-around cowboy, not just a tie-down roper, steer roper or team roper. He wanted me to excel in all of it," says Trevor. He also gives credit for his mental toughness to his father-in-law, five time World Champion Tie-Down roper and roping legend Roy Cooper.

When not traveling down the rodeo road, Brazile hangs his hat at his Decatur, Texas ranch where he enjoys family life with his wife and young son. He trains quarter horses and hopes to host roping clinics when (someday) he retires from the rodeo circuit.

The thing I like about Trevor is he is a true cowboy with a strong work ethic who lives, eats, and breathes the western life 365 days of the year. He’s tough, yet has the utmost respect and appreciation for his horses, stating that he’d be just another cowboy without the talent and athleticism of his four-legged partners. And, okay, I admit it, Trevor is a cutie, too!

Yeah, Trevor is definitely inspiration for a romance hero. What say you? What makes a cowboy hero material in your book?

Be sure to keep an eye out for February's Cowboy of the month coming soon!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy 75th Birthday, Elvis!

Wow! Elvis would have been 75 today. Hard to imagine. We thought he seemed kind of old when he passed away at age 42 in 1977 (of course, I was just a kid at the time and all adults seemed old!). In retrospect, 42 was darn young. Just think of all he could have continued to accomplish in the years since. He was so incredibly talented, handsome, and had an awesome stage presence. Elvis was the first to do so many things in the entertainment industry. No wonder he became such an icon and is still a legend today. And I, for one, still miss him! I never tire of his music and listening to his wonderful voice!

That's why it was such a thrill for me to visit Graceland this past June. My dear husband indulged me and we spent a whole day there (I splurged on V.I.P. passes) and we ended up touring the house twice and taking our sweet time on the grounds. It was great. If you are an Elvis fan, I highly recommend going V.I.P. Having the time to explore and not be rushed is the only way to go if you really want to maximize your Elvis experience.

As we were touring the house, I felt just like Alex and Casey did (Studs for Hire: Woman in Charge) and half expected Elvis to come around a corner, or to see him sitting at the piano, or watching TV. Graceland is still very much alive with his spirit. As I was writing Studs for Hire: Woman in Charge, I really developed a new appreciation for Elvis. I'd had been a fan since I was a kid, but when I was brushing up on my Elvis research, I really began to understand and appreciate all that he did for others, and what he accomplished in a rather short period of time.

In Woman in Charge, I try to honor Elvis in a respective and fun way. And like me, Casey develops a new appreciation for the King of Rock 'n Roll. Casey learns a lot of neat, fun things about Elvis while learning to give love a chance.

Some of my favorite memories of Elvis are his '68 Comeback Special (black leather never looked so good!), his Aloha from Hawaii Concert, plus too many more to bore you with. How about you? Do you have a favorite Elvis memory? Celebrate Elvis' Birthday with me by sharing your thoughts!