Friday, February 18, 2011

A Sentimental Journey

A strange thing happened to me the other day.  I was hoping to take a short nap while my youngest granddaughter was taking hers, but while I was lying there, I thought of my high school band and vocal music director.  I don't know why his name sneaked into my mind, but instead of napping, I went to the computer and searched his name on Facebook.  I really didn't expect to find anything.  Instead, I discovered he's still in the town in Oklahoma where he settled two schools after he left us back in 1967.  And that town is having a celebration this weekend in honor of him and the community-type band--jazz band--he's put together. To say I was surprised I found him is an understatement.  He was a very special to person to many of us, and from reading the Facebook "Event" comments, we aren't the only ones who think so.

Mr. Rotter came to our high school at the beginning of my freshman year.  It was a small school of less than 200 students, but we had a larger band then than there is now.  And Mr. Rotter made us one of the best in the state.  Part of that had to do with the fact that he wasn't a whole lot older than we were.  As a band director he worked us hard.  He expected the best from us, and we gave it to him.  We won a I rating (the best) at a state-wide marching contest in the fall of his second year, his last at CHS.  He could play a mean saxophone, but he loved the trombone best.  Many of us still remember enjoying his rendition of Little Egypt on the piano...if we were lucky enough to talk him into doing it.

I won't be able to go to the celebration this weekend.  Life sometimes gets in the way of the things we'd really like to do.  But I'll be thinking of him and the students and adults who've been lucky enough to know him.  He's one of a kind.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roughneck heroes

New release--Roughneck Cowboy *Men of the West* (Feb 2011) by Marin Thomas

Blood Is Thicker Than Oil

When his mom passed, roughneck Travis Cartwright thought he’d lost the only family he and his daughter Charlie had. That is until he discovers an estranged father and siblings living just a few hours away. They might be strangers, but they’re blood; and Travis needs to protect Charlie should tragedy strike at his dangerous job.

Dominick Cartwright offers his son more than peace of mind. He gives Travis a new job, a place to live, and a side project--to convince Dominick’s stubborn neighbor, Sara Sanders, to sell her ranch. Travis is confident he can smooth talk the plain-Jane teacher into selling quickly; but there’s more to Sara than meets the eye. Soon Travis loses sight of his mission…and his heart.

As their relationship grows, they uncover painful family secrets, and Dominick’s real motives. Then, the sparks fly!

Why a Roughneck for a contemporary romance hero?
These rough and tumble men have always fascinated me. These guys don't flinch when hot oil splatters their hard-hats or drips down the back of their necks. Their duties on the "rig" consist of pulling cables, chains and thongs around the platform for eight to twelve hours per shift. They work in terrible weather conditions on rigs in the middle of the ocean or rigs in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. They're risk-takers by nature and genuinely fearless individuals. While researching material for my story I learned some fascinating facts about Oklahoma.

The setting for Roughneck Cowboy is outside Tulsa in the fictional town of Tulapoint, OK. The oil history of this state dates back to 1859 when oil seeps, known to Indians as "Medicine springs" were discovered in Indian Territory. The first unintentional oil find was made near Chelsea, OK in 1889 and it produced one half barrel per day. In 1897 The Nellie Johnstone #1, the first commercial well drilled in OK hit pay dirt in the Bartlesville Dewey Field in Washington County. Tulsa changed from a small frontier town to a boomtown.

The discovery of oil in 1901 at Red Fork, a small community southwest of Tulsa on the opposite side of the Arkansas River brought in wildcatters and investors. In 1901, an official survey was done and streets lay out and neighborhoods were established in Tulsa on the opposite side of the river from the drilling sites. In 1905 the Glenn pool oil field was discovered. The strike created such a large supply of oil Tulsans were forced to build storage tanks for the excess oil and later pipelines. Tulsa soon became a leader in the growing petroleum industry, resulting in many oil companies choosing Tulsa for their home base. In 1906 Oklahoma Natural gas Company was formed. In 1907 Oklahoma and the Indian territories became the State of Oklahoma. Also in 1907 Oklahoma becomes the largest oil producer, with Tulsa claiming the title of "Oil Capitol of the World." Below is a picture of an oil-producing well that sat out front of the Oklahoma City capitol building in 1939.

A second oil boom hit Oklahoma between the years of 1925-1930. The population rose over 72,000 and many of the new residents came from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Wealthy oilmen Waite Phillips, William Kelly and J. Paul Getty built their mansions and modern headquarters in the state. Another community that flourished in Tulsa was greenwood. It was the largest and wealthiest of Oklahoma's African American communities and was known as "Black Wall Street." The neighborhood was a hotbed of jazz, and blues music in the 1920's. The area over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. "Black Wall Street" is now also sadly remembered as a "Black" mark in the state's history. On June 1, 1921 one of America's most affluent all-black communities was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. It took fewer than 12 hours to destroy the model community. Over 3,000 African Americans died, over 600 businesses were lost: 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, 2 movie theaters, a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes, and even a bus system.

Like a lot of western states, Oklahoma's history is filled with men and women who've risked their lives performing dangerous jobs in order to provide for their families. You'll find that pioneering spirit in Travis Cartwright, my hero for Roughneck Cowboy.

A Roughneck's Dream--Author Unknown

I was working in the oil fields one cold West Texas day,
And there on the rig floor a dying roughneck lay,
He said, "I am off to the Big Rig, the Big Rig I'm told
Where the crown is purest silver, and the kelly's made of gold
Where a diamond studded cat line hangs from a pearl gin pole,
And the the driller makes all the connections,
and you never come out of the hole.

I run a Wild West Trivia Contest each month in my author newsletter. Sign up for my newsletter at and I'll e-mail you my February Wild West Trivia Question. If you answer the question correctly your name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of Roughneck Cowboy.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Given that I had so much fun writing the two kids in my March release, Second Chance Dad, I thought it might be fun to share a couple stories about raising my two boys. I’m happy to report that they are both now grown and still living thanks to my strong willpower in not killing them.

My youngest son, Justin, was about four when I was trying to teach him and his brother to pick up after themselves. I had held strong for an hour that they could not go out and play until the Legos were picked up. They were not happy.
Justin procrastinated for awhile then strolled into the kitchen where I was cooking and looked up at me with those big blue eyes and said, “You’re getting pretty old.”

I shook my head and said, “No, not really.” I was twenty-eight.

My sweet little blond-headed angel flashed those dimples and continued, “But you’re going to die pretty soon, right?”

In spite of the above story, my youngest son was the sweetest, most loving kid. His older brother on the other hand...When my oldest son, Jeremy, came out of the womb--and I’m not stretching the truth here--they laid that baby on my chest, he arched his five pound, premature little body, looked at me with that steely blue gaze and pretty much said, “I’m not sure who you are, but just so you know, I’m in charge.”

Jeremy was ADD and able to out-logic me by the time he was two. I was on a first name basis with his kindergarten teacher just trying to get him through school. After a particularly bad day, I was trying to talk to him about his unacceptable behavior. He asked how I knew what he’d done. Not wanting him to realize that his teacher was snitching on him, I answered, “A little birdie told me.”

A week later he finally learned to ride a bike. We lived in an extraordinarily kid friendly, small town neighborhood where all the moms watched out for the kids. Jeremy was out front riding his bike with very strict boundaries set that he could only ride as far as one house down each direction. There were kids everywhere as usual, but when I went outside after a few minutes to check on them, his little blue bike was in the middle of the street, but no Jeremy.

The other kids looked around and said he’d just been there. Needless to say, I was frantic. I felt like the worst mother ever. Myself, the other moms and a couple teens that were in the crowd started searching. He was shortly located a couple blocks over where he’d followed a friend he knew from school. He was only missing a few minutes, but all moms surely know the terror that went through my mind. When I got him home, I tried to explain how frantic I was and that he couldn’t just take off like that. Mommy didn’t know where he was and I was afraid.

He looked at me with those penetrating blue eyes and calmly asked, “So why didn’t you just ask that little bird?”

Any other cute kid stories out there?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ah, Valentine's. The day our thoughts turn to chocolate and hearts and flowers and chocolate and love and chocolate and romance...and the authors here on the Harlequin American Romance Blog wish their readers an abundance of all those things!

On Saturday I celebrated at a luncheon with fellow romance writers in my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. This is always a special occasion and I look forward to it every year. This year was really fun because I was on the decorating committee.

I filled my favorite vintage milk glass bowls (I have three of them) with red carnations to use as centerpieces. With the black and white table linens, black-and-white printed paper, votice candles, and chocolate hearts wrapped in red foil, I was going for understated yet elegant. What do you think?

Do you do something special to celebreate Valentine's Day? If so, please share the love!

Until next time,
The Wedding Bargain (January 2011)
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