What Makes You Throw the Book Down?

books_for_sale_186809Today I’m participating in a Round Robin topic:

You loved the blurb. First page sounded interesting. You bought the book. What makes you throw the book against the wall, stomp on it and go find another?

For me, the number one reason is lack of editing and proofreading. I’ve picked up several books that sounded so intriguing, the story so promising, but then I’m stumbling over typo after typo, elementary grammar mistakes, and disregard of the basics of writing.

It’s as if the author dashed off a first draft and immediately published it, without another read-through or anyone else taking a look at it.

The story cannot overcome these fatal errors for me. I encourage all writers, whether you have a publisher or are self-publishing, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by putting out an error-riddled book. Have it edited and proofread–probably more than once!

For more opinions on why readers throw the book down, visit these bloggers:

* Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/*
* Anne Stenhouse at http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
* Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
* Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
* Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog
* Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
* Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
* Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
* Beverley Bateman – http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
* Rhobin Courtright – http://rhobinleecourtright.com

Published in: on April 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm  Comments (16)  

Montana Promises: More Western Than Romance

Montana Promises (1)Montana Promises is the first in the “Montana Series” by Velda Brotherton and was recently republished. Tressie Majors is left alone in a soddie on the vast great plains after the death of her mother in childbirth. She has no idea where her father might be. Struck by gold fever he abandoned his family and set out for the gold fields of Montana Territory. She wants only to find him and let him know how much she hates him for leaving her and her mother alone and vulnerable. As she buries her mother and the child, she sees a horse and rider approaching in the distance. Perhaps this is her way out.

by Velda Brotherton

This book originally was my very first publication. Intended to be a western, I was told by a western editor that it needed to be turned into a romance because of the female protagonist. So that’s what I did, and it came out from Topaz in 1994. The publication happened so quickly I walked around in a daze for months. In fact, it was chosen at the last minute when another author failed to meet her deadline and a space opened up. The manuscript was lying on my editors desk, she’d read it once as a romance. The original cover was computer generated. It featured Steve Sandalis, the Topaz Man. I would later meet him at a Romantic Times Conference. He was a bit shy and very charming. Attending that first conference was a culture shock, but I recovered nicely.

My editor told me later that I’d kept my hero and heroine apart for too much of the book, and I wasn’t to do it again. We laughed about that later, but I was more careful with the books that followed. I was accustomed to writing westerns, and turning one into a romance challenged me. I still feel my books are more western than romances.

Two more Montana books follow this one. The next, Montana Dreams, features Ben Poole, who visited with Rose in chapter fifteen of this book. His adventures are tied up with the railroads that are beginning to criss-cross the west.

We are told, as authors, to write what we know. I disagree with that. I say, write about what we want to know. And that’s what I did when I wrote this trilogy that takes place in the Big Sky country of Montana. All my life I’d wanted to go to Montana. My Dad would go hunting in Wyoming and Montana once every year and I’d beg him to let me go along. But in those days, girls didn’t do such manly things.

Once I began this series, I visited Montana every day in my research, and later the actual writing. I dug deeply into Montana’s culture, the flora and fauna of the countryside, and traveled from one small town to another.
new Velda One day after a couple of the books were published, I was pleased to receive a phone call from a lady in California who said she was raised in Montana and when she read my books she felt as if she’d gone home. I couldn’t have received better praise.

Several years later, I was able to visit Montana and Wyoming, and when we went to the preserved ghost town of Virginia City, felt as if I were going home myself. I knew this place, where Reed and Tressie spent so much time.

To check out my books, go to Amazon or my website.

Velda Brotherton has a long career in historical writing, both fiction and nonfiction. Her love of history and the west is responsible for the publication of 15 books and novels since 1994. But she’s not about ready to stop there. When the mid-list crisis hit big city publishers, she turned first to writing regional nonfiction, then began to look at the growing popularity of E Books as a source for the books that continued to flow from her busy mind. Those voices simply won’t shut up, and so she finds them a hSad Songs cover 4ome.

A need to continue to write and submit her work, soon led to publishers in the growing field of E books. Within a matter of months, she placed a western historical romance, Stone Heart’s Woman, with The Wild Rose Press, an award winning E Book publisher; then a mainstream paranormal, Wolf Song, was accepted by SynergE Books. A much grittier book set in the Ozarks, A Savage Grace, about a demon gone rogue and a woman who tames him, is under consideration by another E Book publisher. Recently Wilda’s Outlaw: The Victorians was published in both E book and print by The Wild Rose Press. She is now producing audio books through ACX from her Kindle published books. Montana Promises came out in audio May 8, 2013, read by Jeff Justus. She also uploaded a novella, The Legend of the Rose to Kindle that same month.

Velda signed two more contracts in May, 2013, one with Wild Rose Press for Once There Were Sad Songs, a women’s fiction, another with Oak Tree Press for a mystery, The Purloined Skull.

An Interview with the Women of Pendleton Petticoats

Our interview today is with three characters from Shanna Hatfield’s new historical series. Set in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, the Pendleton Petticoats series highlights brave, determined women. During the early 1900s, Pendleton was a modern, progressive town, despite its Wild West reputation. In addition to 18 bordellos and 32 saloons, Pendleton offered residents such cultured experiences as an opera house, a French restaurant, and a tearoom. It was the second city in Oregon to have paved streets and boasted a telephone office as well as wonders like indoor plumbing to those who could afford the services.  The women in Pendleton Petticoats are from diverse backgrounds but find unity in following their hearts and chasing their dreams.

Pendleton PetticoatsAundy, Caterina and Ilsa join us today to talk about life in Pendleton.

Welcome to you three lovely ladies. Tell us a little about how you each came to be in Pendleton.

Aundy: I came to Pendleton as a mail-order bride for a kind-hearted farmer named Erik Erikson. We wed as soon as I stepped off the train, but had a wagon wreck on the way home. Erik died three days later, leaving me, a city girl, his farm and everything he owned.

Caterina: Growing up in New York, I never expected to live so far out west. When a mafia boss decided I would marry him, my family helped me escape and I got off the train here. Aundy was the second person I met and we’ve been friends ever since.

Ilsa: (Giggles) You forgot to mention the first person you met was your very good-looking deputy sheriff husband, Kade. You literally ran into him when you turned a corner and smacked into his chest.

Caterina: (Glaring at Ilsa) So I did. Thank you for sharing that with everyone. Let’s talk about why you came to town.

Ilsa: Because Aundy, she’s my sister, and Garrett, that’s Aundy’s husband, rescued me from our horrid aunt in Chicago who was holding me prisoner and brought me here.

What does a typical day entail for each of you?

Aundy: Garrett and I live on the place I inherited from Erik. Our day starts early in the morning with chores. I still don’t like gathering the eggs because our rooster is a nasty little fellow, but I enjoy everything else on the farm. My favorite thing is riding my horse Bell with Garrett, or sitting on the hill above the pasture watching our sheep. Thanks to our Chinese cook, I don’t have to spend a lot of time in the house.

Caterina: Kade and I live just outside of town with his behemoth dog, Ike. We ride into town together in the morning. He goes to work at the sheriff’s office and I go to my restaurant where I create Italian food that reminds me of my family.

Aundy: She’s an amazing cook. You really should drop by sometime for dinner. Her ravioli is divine.

Ilsa: And you have to try one of pastries. In fact, if I don’t stop eating there so often, I’m going to have to let the seams out of my dresses.

Caterina: You could always learn how to cook…

Ilsa: (Shakes her head) I’d rather sew.

Aundy: (Smiles sweetly and bats her eyelashes at Ilsa) We all know she eats at the restaurant so she can ogle Caterina’s handsome brother.

Ilsa: I don’t ogle Tony! (Huffs indignantly) Returning to the question, I have a dress shop just down the street from Caterina’s restaurant. I design and create clothing, primarily for women. I used to sew for the most elite in Chicago’s social circles, but I’m excited to bring high fashion to the women of Pendleton and Umatilla County.

What’s one thing people might not know about your town?

Caterina: It’s growing faster than we can imagine. In the two years I’ve been here, there has been a boom in new businesses and enterprises, like Ilsa’s boutique and my restaurant.

Aundy: There’s also a boom in less savory businesses like those in The Underground.

What’s the Underground?

Caterina and Ilsa both look at Aundy.

Aundy: There are tunnels running beneath a section of town that connects several businesses and provides a place for unsavory characters to quench their thirsts, play cards, and engage the services of… um… (Aundy leans close and whispers) women of ill repute.

Ilsa: And you should never, ever stand on top of the grates set in the boardwalk because some of the men in the tunnels will try to peek up a lady’s skirt.

That’s certainly scandalous. Have any of you ever been in the Underground?

 Caterina: Gracious, no!

Ilsa: I should say not! It’s no fit place for a lady.

Aundy: Oh, goodness, look at the time. We really should be going. Thank you so much for inviting us here today. We’re so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to connect with your readers.

 Thank you for joining us. Any parting words for our readers?

Ilsa: If you enjoy historical fiction, clean romances, or a good western, I hope you’ll consider reading our stories in Aundy, Caterina and Ilsa.


 Shanna Hatfield is a hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure. In addition to blogging, Shanna Hatfield 2eating too much chocolate, and being smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller, she is a best-selling author of clean romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Find Shanna’s books at: Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords 

Follow Shanna online: ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Email Shanna at shanna@shannahatfield.com

Cholama Moon Book Giveaway!

Congratulations to fellow Women Writing the West member, Anne Schroeder, who has just had her debut novel, Cholama Moon, published by Wild Oaks Press. Following is an excerpt from that novel. Please leave a comment with your contact info, and your name will be entered in a drawing for a copy of the book!

Synopsis: Homesteaders struggle to establish ranches in Central California in the 1870s, amid earthquakes, drought, banditos, remoteness and human failing. Young Virginia Nugent’s privileged life ends with the death of her mother and her father’s guilt-ridden descent into addiction. She is conflicted in her love of the ranch and her desire to escape until an old cowhand’s loyalty and a Southerner friend of her late mother offer hope that she can change her destiny.

Chapter One

By Anne Schroeder

CF - Cholama MoonThe herd stallion stood with its neck arched like a golden statue while rays of sunlight danced across his back. Nearby, his mares milled nervously, their ears jutted forward at the rumble of the earth beneath them. A piebald mare let out a scream and bolted, eyes wild. In the gathering madness a cloud of dust wafted up from a crack in the adobe earth. The mare reared, flaying her hooves in terror as the Great Tulare basin buckled and rolled toward them. Giant oaks crested with the undulation and returned to their places, their deep roots intact. Pine trees toppled, their shallow roots no match for the disturbance. Hawks screamed and took flight. Dust emerged from a dozen gashes in the earth and filled the air while the shaking continued. When it was over, the mare sank to her knees.

In the charged stillness, Sancho Roos felt the earth relax.

Minutes later, an aftershock split a crumbling bank and a thin ribbon of water escaped and flattened out across the sand. Sancho’s gelding fought his control. He reined it hard left, in a tight circle until the land settled and fear calmed. When it seemed that the earth was in no danger of splitting beneath his horse’s hooves, Sancho turned his attention to the strange valley they had just entered.

Four young vaqueros worked the mustang herd, calling out to the horses in soft voices that held no fear. The boys were good choices—native Californios more used to the earth’s quaking than their gringo bosses. Sancho spit a stream of chew onto the ground and spurred forward. Time enough for palavering later. They’d be recounting this day for some time.

A shout from one of the vaqueros—the mares had bolted. Some were running at full speed, saliva foaming from their mouths. The rest followed. “Hold ‘em back. Arrimate! Pull up! Pull ‘em up,” Sancho shouted. Their hooves plowed the trail into fine dust that settled in his eyes. Sancho coughed and spat another stream of spittle, wiping his mustache with the back of his hand at a dead run while he held his rein in the other. Suddenly a whiskey colored mare took off up the rise. From the corner of his eye a roan raced past. The herd stallion. It screamed a warning and charged after the mare, biting her hard enough that the mare squealed. As quickly as it began, the stampede ended.

“Hold ’em up, amigos. Bunch ‘em at the creek. Keep your eyes peeled for trouble. Been a hell of a day so far.”

Stirred by the April breeze, the glistening silver leaves of the cottonwood played across the stallion, darkening its coat to a blood red. The next aftershock passed with only his disdainful snort while the vaqueros pushed the mares. Trampling the narrow bank, the stallion kept watch as the mares lowered their heads and began to drink from the Big Cholame Creek.

“Yeeeeeeyeiiii!” A lean vaquero raced past. His silver conchos jangled as he crashed into the water suspended from the side of his horse, his lithe body held up only by a boot wedged against his left tapedero, his fancy covered stirrup, and the pressure of his knees. His right hand grasped the horse’s mane. His left hand, dangling inches from the ground, disappeared in a spray of water.
In the flick of a quirt the boy cleared the opposite bank. In the space of a blink the boy sat astride again, drinking from his cupped palm. The boy’s scarf, the color of a yellow billed magpie, fluttered in the breeze as he glanced around with a grin for anybody who was watching. Satisfied, he tipped his flat-brimmed hat and let out another whoop before he rode off, followed by his cheering amigos.

Sancho’s disgust brought the taste of bile to his tongue. A fool stunt on the heels of the earthquake—but what else could he expect. The boss had taken on four strutting bantams not old enough to shave, with their worldly fortune in their silver tack, tooled leather britches and buckskin jackets.

“Confoundit!” His growl was lost in the noise of the vaqueros’ laughter. A moment later he softened. Crazy, maybe, but they knew their horses. Already they were saying the earthquake was a good omen. Maybe they were right—a day for celebration.

Anne at Cuesta ParkAnne Schroeder made a recent move with her husband of 45-years and two dogs from her beloved Central California in search of new adventures. She now lives in Southern Oregon where she writes and hikes.

She is President-Elect of Women Writing the West and contest chair for the LAURA Short Fiction Contest. She has had dozens of published short stories and essays about the West published, and two memoirs, Ordinary Aphrodite and Branches on the Conejo. Cholama Moon is her first published novel. The second book of the series, Maria Ines, will be released later this year.

Don’t forget to comment for a chance at the Book Giveaway and leave your contact info!

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