Progress Report

June 26, 2016

I thought those of you hanging in there would like a progress report. The Journal is finished and is out to beta readers now. After that, of course, there will be revisions and the tedious stuff like proofreading, but the end is nigh as they say. I am going to do a paper version of this and it should be about 150-160 pages formatted like the other books (48,000 words).

Tonight I worked on a blurb, and after about a hundred false starts finally have something that strikes me as halfway decent. As you know, the blurb is supposed to make you want to read it, so if it doesn’t have that effect on you, it isn’t working. Let me know.

If anyone had warned Caroline Tindell she would come face to face with Jamie Lenahan at the start of the 1905 Great Plains Automobile Race, she would have stayed home. “I loved him with all my nineteen-year-old heart,” she admits, but that was six years ago, before the shallow, coldhearted rogue broke that heart.

Jamie expects the Great Plains Race to be day after day of bad roads, dust, and difficulty. Miss Caroline Tindell should not be the biggest difficulty, but there she is, marooned at the side of the road after an automobile wreck.

What should a man haunted by the memory of a girl who didn’t love him enough do? What should a woman who never got over loving a man who didn’t return that love do?

Caroline and Jamie have a thousand miles to find out.

Now onward to a cover.

~ Ellen


April 24, 2015

I received an email yesterday from McD. After seeing our discussion about recommendations in the comments to my last post, she is sharing her list of authors currently writing historical westerns. (I happen to know that McD is a thorough reviewer and has in fact reviewed for a couple of popular book blogs.) Four of the authors she mentions are new to me, and I’m going to give them a try. So, here it is:

Jo Goodman
Carla Kelly
Kaki Warner
Holly Bush
Rosanne Bittner
Lori Austin
Linda Broday

All of these authors usually deliver 3.5-4 star reads, some higher, particularly JG.

Rosanne Bittner has a new book coming out – Do Not Forsake Me – in July. It’s book #2 in the Outlaw Hearts series. The first book, written over 20 years ago, is due to be re-issued in June by Sourcebooks. It’s a 500 page sweeping saga, and pretty good – 4 stars.

Desiree Banks
The Gallows’ Bounty
The Sheriff’s Widow

J.R. Biery
The Milch Bride
From Darkness to Glory
(there’s a third book in this series I’ve not yet read)

An older series that’s been re-issued – 4 stars overall – which I recently re-read and enjoyed:

Maureen McKade
A Reason to Live (the best of the series imo)
A Reason to Believe
A Reason to Sin

I hope those of you looking for recommendations find some new-to-you books and authors to try in that list.


Yee Haw!! And decisions, decisions….

November 21, 2014

All About Romance posted a Desert Isle Keeper review for Without Words today, and there have been some very complimentary comments in their forum threads, some I suspect by followers here, although I can’t always tell when you use different screen names :-). The book has had a super launch, with nice review averages on Amazon and Goodreads and great reviews on other blog sites too, such as Romantic Historical Reviews. The Maldivian Book Reviewer’s glowing review had me blushing.

Once again, thanks all, for the purchases and borrows, for the reviews, for the word of mouth recommendations.

Now as to that decisions thing…. Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program has changed the indie landscape in the last months. I put Rachel’s Eyes into the program early on just because I had never published it through major distributors other than Amazon, and it was easy to do as an experiment. (To be in the KU program, a book has to be exclusive to Amazon.) To my surprise, that four-year-old, too-short short story started selling better than it has since it was new and in addition has had as many borrows as sales ever since it’s been in KU.

That made me go hmm, but what made me put Without Words in KU was my own reaction to the program as a reader. I’ve been trying all sorts of books I never would have tried if it meant searching out and buying some unknown indie author. Yes, I always downloaded samples and read them before trying a new author, but I found samples often fooled me in that a book would fall apart long after that first 10%. Downloading the whole book and either continuing to read or zapping it without consequence seems so superior.

The big negative of the KU program, at least in my opinion, is that the book has to be exclusive to Amazon, making it more difficult for non-Kindle readers. I hate cutting off anyone with a Nook or Kobo, but I really have very few non-Amazon sales and the problem seems to be less every day with Kindle apps for every device under the sun floating around. The really determined could download the Kindle version and convert to epub for their Nook or Kobo, but I realize that’s the techie solution.

The pluses to the KU program as I see them are: (a) Rachels’ Eyes was revitalized by KU; (b) Words has had the best first two months of any of my books since Sing My Name considering sales alone, and it has had as many borrows as sales; (c) as a reader, KU is making me more adventuresome in trying books by other indies.

So I have pulled Sing My Name from distribution to sellers other than Amazon and am going to try it in the KU program and see what happens. Depending on what happens with Sing, I’m going to think about each of the other older books one by one and try to make reasonable decisions for each.

~ Ellen

Paperback of Words is out

November 8, 2014

The paperback edition of Without Words is out now, and the first time I found it on Amazon, it was already linked to the digital version. When Amazon is speedy, it’s very, very speedy.

However, since my prediction was the paperback would be available a month earlier than it actually is, you can tell I’m not very speedy at all and in fact have good reason not to make predictions.

This is the first book I tried the recently available matte cover option for, and I like it a lot. I’m going to continue with the glossy covers for the mysteries (assuming I ever get to the plural point with those) and with the matte covers for the romances. A post on some author site dissected the matte/glossy options as to which colors they did best with, but pfft. Unless a proof copy with a matte cover comes to me with a strange look, they’re all going to be matte from now on.

~ Ellen


Happy Halloween and…

October 28, 2014

First, I apologize to those waiting for the paperback of Without Words. After meeting the pre-order deadline, I sort of collapsed, but then I did get in gear and format the paperback. However, when I received the proof, both the cover and interior needed tweaking. That’s done now. As soon as I can get to a wifi connection, they’re ready to upload, and the paperback ought to be released in the next few days.

Second, Happy Halloween. Anyone who follows here knows the chances of me ever writing a woo-woo kind of story that would be great for releasing just before Halloween are south of slim to none. However, I’m sure many of you enjoy paranormals, and Keta Diablo, who like me posts in the Western Romance thread of Amazon’s Meet Our Authors forum, has just released a new paranormal Western romance. It’s called Chasing the Dead, is the first in her Bannister Brothers series, and here is more detailed information:


About the Book

The Apache kidnapped me to dispel an evil ghost from their village. If I tell them I don’t possess the same skills my madre did, they’ll cut my throat and feed me to the dogs. Celesta was the best spirit chaser in all of New Mexico before she died.

The most I can hope for is that Emmett, my fiancé, will rescue me. Is he capable of such a thing? Poppy must not have thought so because he sent Deacon Bannister to save me. Deacon…the man who walked away days before our wedding a year ago. The man who still melts my bones after one look.

We’re running for our lives from Uday, the vaporous ghoul tracking us. He wants Sacheen, the beautiful maiden banished from the Apache village who travels with us. The warrior killed her father when Sacheen refused to marry him, and then Sacheen’s brother killed Uday.

The ghost’s powers grow stronger every minute on our journey back to El Vaquero…and so does my love for Deacon.

Madrid Arrende


A shadow hovered near the fires, ducking in between stalks of cacti and other scrub brush. Maddie drew a deep breath and ambled forward with Elan beside her. Amid the dissonant chants and prayers, warriors brandishing spears and shields hollered into the gray mist. Maddie squinted, hoping to catch sight of the ghoul the others couldn’t see. Only powerful shamans and spirit chasers had trained themselves to look upon the face of a dead spirit. A ripple of fear spread through her limbs and shivered down her spine when la fantasma appeared before her.

A mass of black patterns and swirls marred his enraged face. His eyes were hollow and black until a den of serpents slithered from the sockets–a deception the spirit had learned in his brief time in the underworld.

Maddie swallowed hard and sneaked a glance at Elan. Standing tall and looking formidable, she had to admire the man’s courage. “It is you he seeks to destroy, Elan, to forge a path to Sacheen. I will go forth on my own now.”

Elan shook his head, his expression one of disbelief. “Why would you put yourself in such danger? We wait and see what the dead man will do.”

“No. It is what he wants, for all in the village to fear him. Only then does his true power unfold. I will meet his challenge; let him know I am here to banish him back to the dead.” “Although I cannot”, she whispered under her breath.

The ghost twisted and turned, retreating back from the fire, only to appear seconds later at another location in camp. He screamed and howled, the otherworldly sounds rumbling through the village like a murderous dust storm.

Maddie shrugged aside Elan’s grip on her elbow and walked forward. “Madre, be with me,” she said to the ground. The moon had not shown its face this night but a smattering of a million stars gave enough light for Maddie to focus on the grim outline of the wretch. “Lift up your eyes dead spirit and hear my words.”

An inhuman screech sent a blast of wind in her direction. It lashed her face and whipped her long hair into a frenzy.

“You are small and weak. I do not fear you!” she screamed, bewildered by the words spewing from her mouth. “The wolf has sung your passing and the bear has grumbled low. Sing your death song and return to the underworld.”

The wailing chants of the shamans echoed behind her.

Ignoring her warning, Elan suddenly appeared beside her, only to be struck to the ground when the ghoul unleashed a stream of lightning spikes from the sky. Elan moaned, clutched his broken arm and attempted to rise.

“Stay down!” Maddie ground out between clenched teeth.

Her mother’s voice rode the crest of her fear. Be strong, Madrid, try again.

Her knees shook and her spine curled, but she took another step forward. “Your breath has moved to another world. You must remain with it. Do you hear me, dead spirit? You are no longer welcome here. Your relatives have said farewell and so must you, never to return.”

A refrain from the Apache against her back bolstered her courage—a roar of cheers and the synchronized trampling of moccasins beating the ground.

Torrents of rain fell from the sky, pounding Maddie into the earth beneath her feet. Wet dirt spiraled up her nose and debilitating pain wracked her body. A hand clamped over her arm. When Maddie realized it belonged to Elan, a sigh of relief mingled with the cold blast of air surrounding them. Sacheen’s brother pulled her against his wet body and crawled toward camp, dragging her with him.

A triumphant scream from the ghost rent the air, pitching the warriors into a cowering retreat. The cold, gray dawn swept over camp. Shivering with despair, Maddie turned to Elan. “His power is great.”

Out of breath and still clutching his arm, he nodded.

“Maddie raised a fist to the sky. “We have failed this night, dead spirit, but we will not the next time we meet.”

Connect with Keta Diablo:

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 Buy Chasing the Dead




Progress Report

July 10, 2014

Thought some of you might be interested to know I’m working away on Without Words (that’s undoubtedly going to be the final title, as I’m getting fond of it). In fact, if things had gone as planned, I’d be through the first draft now, but I’ve had a surprise.

You see I use Scrivener (see screen shot in last post) for a very basic, rough outline of a story before I write a word. I don’t follow the outline exactly. Things change as I go along and have additional, more/better ideas, but the outline helps me tell a reasonably coherent story, and it also helps me know I have a novel-length story.

So I started Without Words, and my outline had 25 chapters, which as I remember, without going back and looking, is about what Bad Man and Light had, and I expected a book along the lines of 8o-85,000 words. Right now I’m past 91,000 words, and I have four and a half chapters to go. So unless editing really reduces things, I’m going to have a novel in the 100,000-word range again, and that surprises me.

You see, here are the word counts for my existing romances:

          Eyes                   117,000
          Sing                    138,000
          Dancing               95,000
          Bad Man              85,000
          Light                    84,000

Of course different stories can be longer or shorter, but I really thought the reason Eyes and Sing are so much longer is that they were the first books I wrote, and with more experience, I was “tightening” my writing (this is held out as A Good Thing by writing gods and goddesses; writers are advised to tighten things all the time) and so subsequent books were shorter.

Either I’m loosening again or I never tightened to start with and Words is just a longer story—or something. Right from the beginning, bits I had outlined as taking one chapter turned into two or in one case three. Right now I have 40 chapters (and an Afterword) in my Scrivener binder, and for all I know that will turn into 41.

So that’s where I am. The end is nigh, but not as nigh as I expected.

~ Ellen

Green Romance

May 12, 2014

Thanks everyone who voted in the AAR Frontier/Western poll. I confess seeing Eyes on that list would not have surprised me. Eyes and Dancing would have a little but not a lot. The results they posted did surprise me a lot.

The books I voted for did pretty well. Two of my ten I knew had no hope of making the list, but I couldn’t resist voting for them anyway. Of the other eight, I think four made it to the Top Ten and three were in the next ten, so I was only disappointed over one. And before you ask, Jo Goodman’s The Last Renegade.

Right now AAR is updating their Special Title listings, and I couldn’t help but see right on their home page the six of these that they’re doing now:

(1) Green Romances; (2) Friendships; (3) Two-Hanky Reads; (4) Best Enemies; (5) The Limelight; and (6) Cross-Dressing & In Disguise.

I think I’ve mentioned here before the friend who says I have a plodding linear mind (and doesn’t mean it as an insult; his mind works the same way). My mind is also pretty literal, so if you want a snicker, I’ll admit I saw this and thought Green Romance?  What the heck is a green romance?

In the horse world where I spent so many years, a green horse is one that’s just broke. At horse shows they have classes for Green Hunters, and green is specifically defined by limits on amount of experience. So that’s where my mind went first. Virgin hero and heroine?

Then again, being of Irish descent, I think of green as having to do with Irish, and the heroine in Without Words is Irish in a time of considerable anti-Irish prejudice. So Irish romance? Didn’t seem likely.

Finally I hit on environmentally themed romance, and yup, that’s it.

(2) and (3) were easy, although (2) was a little more expansive than I expected. (4) is narrower than I expected if I got it right in my quick read. No feuding families, the H/h need to hate each other. I’ve started a lot like that, but I haven’t finished many.

(5) is pfft for me. I somehow missed the gene that makes people want to read about celebrities. If I see a favorite author has written a book featuring someone supposedly famous, that’s a book I skip.

(6)? Now instead of snickering, you can laugh out loud. I read only the “Cross-Dressing” part and didn’t notice the “& In Disguise” part, and I’m thinking, boy, they’ve been reviewing a lot of gay romance lately, but a whole category for cross-dressers?

See? Plodding linear, literal mind.

~ Ellen