Thursday, June 10, 2010

I’ve completely run out of ideas for a blog topic this month, so I thought I’d talk about researching settings. My stories for Harlequin American Romance are set in small town Colorado. Now, I don’t know about you, but I just can’t bring myself to set a book somewhere I’ve never actually been, nor that I’m on pretty familiar terms with.

I think it adds authenticity if you can bring the setting alive with sights, sounds and smells thereby capturing the atmosphere of a place. I have no idea how anyone does that without having been where their books are set.

Take it from me, you’ll never read a sheik book by CC Coburn because I have absolutely no interest in travelling to Saudi Arabia et al. Been there (sorta general region) done that, aint goin’ back!

I live part of the year in a small town nestled in the Colorado Rockies and get so much inspiration from this setting that it becomes an integral part of my books—a character, if you will. But I add layers to this setting by interviewing locals who work in the occupations of my characters.

At first, I was a little anxious about approaching people to interview them, half-thinking they’d discount me, as we see so often in the press, as just another hack writer of trashy books.

But the reaction has been quite the opposite. I’ve interviewed a County Court judge, been taken on a tour of the County Jail, interviewed the Sheriff and the commander of our town Fire Department (plus got to check out his firefighters and their quarters!) a veterinarian and a local rancher who all gave up hours of their time to answer my nosy questions. I’ve also interviewed rescue personnel and the head of the local ski patrol.

Each has been so generous in their assistance and supportive of my efforts to bring authenticity to the setting and the occupations of my characters and I’m very grateful for that. I reward their time and patience with a signed copy of the book they’ve so kindly helped me with, and although I’m not sure if they ever get around to reading them, I’m pretty sure they’re chuffed to see their names in the acknowledgement pages.

In a couple of weeks I’m heading back to beautiful Colorado with complimentary signed copies of my latest release, “The Sheriff and the Baby” to give to these wonderful locals.

Now if only I could find a hot ex-priest to interview…

I’m giving away a copy of “The Sheriff and the Baby” to celebrate its release this week. I’d like to know from readers if setting is important to them. And if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Until next month!

Monday, June 07, 2010

With a Little Help.... by Megan

...From My Friends.
Okay, I admit, I'm a Beatles fan. I would like this song anyway, even if Ringo wasn't singing it. It's so true for my life. I'm lucky enough to have really wonderful women as friends. Friends who stand by me, stand behind me, and stand in front of me when trouble comes.

My mom's health is deteriorating. She's suffering through some tough heart problems. So what do my friends do?

Offer to bring my family meals. Offer to critique my manuscript in the wee hours while I'm finishing up a deadline--running behind due to caring for my mom and the difficulty I had writing during this time. Offer prayers for my mom and the rest of the family. Offer to listen to me rant about doctors and hospitals and *stuff* in general. Offer me days off work to finish my ms. Offer me encouragement and M&Ms. (I have the best friends!!)

My family and I are deeply touched by their generous souls. It's this kind of love that forms my heroines. When writing I ask myself: would I want this character as a friend in real life? In a difficult situation, what caring thing would my friends do? I'm proud to have them as role models for my daughter and for me and for my fictional characters.

I hope y'all have friends as true and supportive as mine, and enjoy reading the fictional heroines we all admire in American Romances.

Megan Kelly

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo—Social Media Blitz Contest Today!

Dear Readers,

June kicks off the debut of Harlequin American Romance's first-ever six-book continuity series—The Codys: The First Family of Rodeo. In honor of this exciting occasion we're running a ONE DAY ONLY Social Media Blitz Contest here on the Harlequin American Romance Authors' blog.

Contest Scoop

Check out today's blog--Rebecca Winters discusses the first book in the Codys:First Family of Rodeo, WALKER: THE RODEO LEGEND. After reading her blog, post the following info:, Rebecca Winters and

to your Facebook, MySpace and/or Twitter pages as well as your favorite blogs. The more places you link her post, the more chances you have to win! You can earn additional chances to win if you refer a friend and they in turn post a link to their favorite social media websites and blogs. Be sure to return to and tell us where you're spreading the word so we can keep a tally of your activity.

Remember, the CONTEST IS TODAY ONLY—June 6, 2010!

Rebecca is giving away autographed books—both Harlequin Romance and American Romance. Plus, the grand prize winner will receive Rocky Mountain Chocolate! Remember, for each social media site you link to this blog and for each friend you contact who in turn spreads the word through their favorite networks, your name will be entered into a drawing. You have twenty-four hours to link us and win! Rebecca will post the winners in the comment section of her blog tomorrow. Be sure to return to see if you're one of the lucky winners.

And now here's Rebecca Winters' blog. Please keep reading!


Howdy Pardner from the Cody Stampede!

The cute little cowgirl you see in the middle with the tan cowboy hat is my darlin’ granddaughter Reese Burton. She’s here at the Denver Stock show with friends. Doesn’t she look great there watching the stockmen spray off those steers?

When her daddy sent me these pictures, I told him I was going to use this one to celebrate the launch book for Harlequin American Romance’s first-ever six-book continuity series.

The Codys: First Family of Rodeo

Everyone who loves rodeo enjoys milling around the grounds, checking out the bulls and horses. Some of the older gals enjoy checking out the Steer Wrestlers and bull riders, too!

Here’s Walker Cody, practicing for his event. Walker's the bulldogger in the first book of the series: WALKER: THE RODEO LEGEND. This guy’s a heartbreaker and a world champion bulldogger. He’s also a Marine who came back from war a wounded hero.

Come on and join me while I show you around. You’ve got to admit this is the prettiest country God ever created. When I saw this meadow, I knew it was the place where Walker yearned to come home to after the war.

A vision came to me of a mountain cabin built on John Walker Cody land years earlier at 10,000 feet. That’s where eight-year-old Walker and his siblings knew happiness sleeping in the loft while their grandmother cooked them trout they caught for breakfast. His fond memories include riding horses up there with his best friend and later on riding around double with a girlfriend. Now at 28, it’s his shelter away from everyone, his cave, his retreat, his fortress, his eyrie where he can try to heal his scarred heart and body before facing the world again.

Ya want to stay a spell and enjoy a week of rodeo? Cody’s the place!

Of course it won’t look all peaceful and quiet like this come rodeo season. A few miles away there’s another little fictitious town called Markton. From there you’ll come to the Cottonwood Ranch. There’s so much land, I envisioned a 600,000 acre spread in my mind as far as the eye could see and going right up the mountain. The rest came easy. A main ranch house here, bunk houses there, corrals, bullpens, you name it and the other gals writing for the series just kept addin and addin things like a fancy barn, a landing strip for their plane, a mechanical bull. It just grew and grew until…well…you’ll have to read all six books to capture the full flavor of a true rodeo family layout.

Walker needs help with his PTSD and decides to take up bulldogging again to fight it. But can he bring down a bull fast enough after being away six years?

One vet I know still suffers from it after many years, but with the help of a good psychiatrist and art therapy, he’s doing much better. Being around him gave me insights into Walker’s suffering. Here’s a sample of what he puts down on paper to get out his fear and emotions.

The picture of this dog walk-a-thon fit right into my story. I needed a setting where Walker and Paula, a grieving war widow with a two-year-old son Clay, will meet. What happens here throws three people together and lives are changed forever.

One of walker’s big challenges is getting back with his family again.

I come from a family of six children, and I’m second to the oldest. So is Walker. Being from a large family I was able to come up with some dynamics for the Walker family that defined my own. I had four sisters. My brother was the baby. Walker has three brothers, Jessie, Dex and Dusty, and his sister Elly who’s the baby. There were similarities I could incorporate. The rest came from the other authors as they developed their stories.

I had the luxury of doing the first draft of everything. That’s nice in one way because there’s nothing pre-conceived. You’re working from scratch. But as the other layers are added, you have to rework some parts until everyone’s satisfied.

Walker’s is a story of redemption through rodeo where wounds heal and happiness eventually triumphs.

Don’t forget to return next month for our second One Day Media Blitz Contest on July 16th when Marin Thomas blogs about book two in The Codys:First Family of Rodeo, DEXTER: HONORABLE COWBOY.

Write to me at and share any thought or feelings. I’m signing off for now.

Yours till the Stampede is over!