A Tale to Treasure

————————————————We experienced a wonderful weekend with Oghma people. Some came in from out of the country. I’m impressed to see so many authors actually engrossed in their career. I don’t know of another publisher who holds retreats for its board and authors. We had a great time at Sky Vue up on the mountain only a scant four miles from my home. But I stayed there for the entire get-together. What fun to compare our work and our experiences.

Writing is an unusual and trying career with its reputation for fame and fortune, ie Stephen King. All sorts of things are imagined by the non-writing population. People lined up for books and autographs, being chased through the super market, attending fancy balls, etc. I can tell you, there is little fortune even if most of us are recognized in the small puddle where we splash out our lives. While we may be large frogs in that small puddle, we aren’t known in the next puddle over. Yet I can’t think of another career that would please me more, and I have had a few before settling on writing

Take those 20 years I worked and wrote for newspapers. Probably the next best career. Though it encompassed writing, there is also the other aspect. For four years I served as city editor for one of the newspapers, which is a trying job. One edit I missed and became famous for was one I had written in a story about Doug Jones, the famous Arkansas author. I said his latest novel was a adventuresome story contained within 85 thousand pages. It should have read of course 85 thousand words. That was probably the worst mistake I let slip through while editing. And it was my own work. Not unusual, as we writers can seldom edit our own work without making mistakes.

Of the snakes I handled and the tigers I petted, and the airplanes I flew in, including the well-known B 29 bomber Fifi, I cannot choose my favorite experience. I loved them all. Now, in the winter of my life I have tons of memories to look back on. The people I met over those years remain with me in my memories and always will. Many of them remember me as well when I meet them on the street.

You would think making memories would have ended for me as I pass the aged of 80, but because I can’t stop writing, I continue to make them, thanks to the people who give me a hand. My next experience will be Ozark Creative Writers in Eureka Springs where I’ll make more memories. This will be my 32nd year to attend this conference. Tess Gerritsen will be there. Will she remember meeting me at a huge writers book signing back in the 90s? Perhaps not, for it was my first one as a fledgling writer for Penguin, but I remember her and I’m sure we’ll find something to talk about that will stick in my mind.

No scrapbook is large enough to hold all the marvelous experiences I recall so vividly, but I don’t need one, for each is pictured vividly in my thoughts, as if I were experiencing it at the moment. Names I have trouble remembering, but lovely, sad, happy, concerned, compassionate faces remain within those paintings forever contained in my mind. Many of them have gone on. I expect I’ll meet them again, being a firm believer in the continuation of our spirit. I look forward to it. We will have a lot to talk about. This gorgeous animal and I locked spirits. What exquisite images in her mind

white tiger (2)

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That Cat Won’t Hunt

Bobbi is 12 years old. My daughter brought her to me as a feral kitten, abandoned or lost from her mother. We could only guess at her age, but she barely had her eyes open. My daughter warned me that she might not bond with me but when she handed this tiny warm baby to me I held her over my heart and she lay there for a moment, mewling softly, then she crawled up around my neck and began to suck on my ear lobe.

I’m telling this story for several reasons, the most important is that two members of my writer’s group recently lost loved furry companions and it made me worry about what will happen to Bobbi if I pass on before she does. I’m 82 and tend to worry about things like that. My sweet daughter has five cats, I believe at last count. What if Bobbi can’t fit in with them should I go first? We discussed this fear at our group meeting Saturday and I said it would be best if she goes on before me even though I would grieve painfully.

Then today I sat in my living room and listened to a darling little bird who bounced around on the rail of my deck singing the most beautiful song. I laughed while I watched and enjoyed listening to her song. Surely she must know there is no danger for her here even though a large orange and yellow bob tailed cat often lies on that same deck.

So many people consider cats evil hunters, but this is not my Bobbi. She has never killed anything, has no interest in chasing mice, birds, or any other animal. I have no idea why, that’s just the way she is. I’ve seen it for myself. Once a small mouse got in my house and I think something might have been wrong with it, but it sat in the center of my dining room, tiny black eyes in a panic, but frozen in place. Bobbi came through, stopped, went over to this mouse and patted it on the back, then turned and strolled away as if it were beneath her to kill it. Often she lays in the yard while squirrels dart about teasing her, daring her to chase them and she has no interest. I swear this is true. She’s also smart. She has learned to open the screen doors from the inside and outside and comes and goes as she pleases during the summer months.

Another strange thing is we are convinced she is part bobcat. Her father passed through the area during the time when she would have been conceived and my husband got a good look at him. He was huge and definitely part bobcat, and a few months later a nest of kittens, several bob tailed, turned up in the wilds of our used-to-be farm. Ten acres located in the heart of the Arkansas Ozarks. Luckily for us our daughter was able to rescue one who is very smart and does not like cameras. There are other humorous stories about Bobbi, which I will share occasionally.

It’s been very difficult for me to get back to blogging after a full year of fighting health problems, doctor visits, tests and rehab stole time from what I wanted to do. Though I am so grateful to all those people who helped me. I don’t want to write about that. There is still much joy in my life that is well worth sharing, and so I thought I would begin my return to regular blogging by telling this one. I know there are many cat lovers out there, and also some who do not love them. Perhaps you’d like to share your cat stories, funny, strange, good, bad, and ugly.

Oh, here comes Bobbi to tell me it’s time to take a break.

From Camera 0317 019_NEW

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CATCHING UP WITH LIFE

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking what could have been as opposed to what was in my life. That’s a strange occupation that often brings tears, but then I shake myself and order a reboot. Time to remember all the good times and discard the bad. Bad only brings on regrets. On thinking about it I hope I didn’t do too much stuff that I’ll regret. Okay, order number one. Discard regrets and concentrate on those memories that bring rainbows and flowers, smiles and joy, love and passionate thoughts.

It’s taken a year to come through some really hard times. But when I think back on that year you know what comes to mind first? All the smiling faces of those who helped me through. My daughter and the rest of the family come first of course. Without them I would never have made it. Never be sitting in my own small home perched out here on the side of the mountain, and not locked up in a one-bed-room with no birdsong or view of flowers and trees out my windows.

Then there are the faces of all those who are responsible for my still being alive and kicking. The heart specialist in Little Rock who made me one of the first 100 to undergo a new heart surgery in Arkansas that saved my life. As they told me, gave me ten more years. And that ain’t bad considering I’m 82. Those who drove me back and forth and back and forth till we accomplished what they set out to do.

This all began though back in December a year ago with a surgery for what looked like a tumor and could have been cancer but wasn’t. Then we went on to the heart surgery in late April which we’ve already talked about. Two days after I was released as okay I took a dive from my walker in the bedroom and broke my left arm. No, I didn’t pass out or faint or anything dramatic like that. I simply turned the thing around too fast and it threw me. Across the room missing furniture that could’ve done me in.

Now I’ve ridden horses for a portion of my life and never been thrown. Certainly not like that. I was thrown off my bike a few times as a kid, come to think of it. Anyway, off we went to the hospital, tended by some of the finest people in the county, our first responders from the Boston Mountain Fire Department. They’ve been involved in my life for a while too. Scary times cause I couldn’t walk and now I only have one arm to use. And my therapy at Health South was finished, thanks to many wonderful therapists, nurses, etc. Now there was discussion about taking me out of my home. How could I cope living alone?

What happens next in a situation like this might be of interest to my readers. If so, I’ll post the next chapter next week to keep this blog from being so long. I do hope I’m back to posting weekly and will move away from health issues to what I hope will be of more interest to regular readers.

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Years with Dusty

 

90s Book Signing

 

Dusty and I joined many other writers at a book signing in Branson many years ago

The day of his funeral and I waited in the front row. His closed casket held the cow hide he often had on his book signing table, a pair of his boots polished to a brilliant shine, and his black hat. We rarely saw him without one on his head. My continuing thought. Will I be able to view him when the time comes? The previous week I had been told I could visit him in the hospital that Friday. It didn’t happen, for that day he decided it was time for him to join his beautiful wife Pat, who, only a week earlier, had gone on to prepare their new ranch for his arrival.

He left at 8 a.m. that morning. I never got to say goodbye. So many people have to say that when loved ones have passed. So many times we regret that we never expressed our love. But he knew I loved him. It was a love one would have for a brother. He called me Buddy and once in a while Vel. But mostly Buddy. And that’s what we were to each other. For 32 years we worked together. Learning, writing, teaching. The time passed so quickly from that first day we met.

October, 1985, I approached the conference center in Eureka Springs for the Ozark Creative Writers annual gathering. My three novels written over the past few years proved I could put words on paper, but that was all. I wanted to find out if I was truly a writer. Inside the door were all those people who called themselves writers and standing in the crowd, surrounded by listeners, stood this tall man in a cowboy hat. He laughed at something said, then glanced up. I had to smile, that laugh was so hearty, infectious I guess you’d call it. To my surprise, he made his way through the crowd in my direction, and welcomed me. I think he guessed I was new and nervous from the expression on my face. He made me right at home when he introduced himself. “Dusty Richards,” he said and stuck out his large hand.

Thirty-two years later I’m at his funeral and I didn’t get to say goodbye. All those years are gone, as fleeting as smoke from a campfire. So yes, I will take that journey up front where he lays forever silenced. He won’t be there, he’s already ridden off. He’s sitting on the front porch of the new ranch, holding a glass of lemonade Pat has just brought him. She lowers herself into the rocker next to him, moving like a young woman, and laughs at something he says. Maybe it’s about the horses grazing in the pasture across the way, or who will mend the fence on the lower forty. He turns to her, looking so much like that tall lanky cowboy she met so many years ago. The man she spent much of her life with. Together they watch a colt frolicking across the pasture.

He lays his hand over hers. “It’s good to be home.”

In the front row I smile and slowly join my friends moving forward. When I reach him, I pause and touch his vest. And say goodbye to the best friend I ever had. “I love you, Buddy. See you soon.”

 

 

 

 

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Letting Go

Letting Go

This is my first blog since last December when the descent of surgeriesz began. I never thought I’d see so many doctors and land in hospitalsso frequently. Atg 81 I’d only been hospitalized for two births and one major surgery. Add to that a few trips to emergency and one day events. Never took a pill except for high blood pressure till I was over 60. My mother passed away in January of 1996 and I turned 60 in February. That was about to end. The problems began. I don’t want to become an old lady who can only discuss health problems, so I won’t, other than to say it’s been one heck of a year. A hysterectomy and heart surgery followed by a broken arm is all I’ll say to explain the absence of my blog.

Some may not have even missed me, which is fine. I got to thinking the other day about the things I had to let go of to continue being independent and live in my home. Well, really it’s my mother’s home. My home was too big and had a split level so we could no longer live in it. We moved next door into a smaller house. To do that I had to squeeze my eyes shut and watch uncounted books carried out, as well as many other things. My grandmother’s dining room table for one. Then the other day it was going to freeze and a night blooming cerius which had belonged to my mother for fifty years and handed down to me was on the front porch. I sat in the living room and watched the temperature drop knowing it would kill that huge plant. Even if I asked someone to bring it inside I couldn’t care for it and the other plants out there. Carrying water to them on a regular basis was out of the question. I have two huge pots of cactus that I water twice a year. Those I will keep…for a while yet. But I calmly let go of those other plants.

Letting go of them represented a lot of occurrences in my life as I grow older. The most important things I can keep are my family and friends and a comfortable home, thanks to those very people. And you know what? Those are what I cherish more than anything else and I will keep them close for whatever time is left to me.

In spite of all my troubles, several books were published by my two publishers during down time. I managed to finish mystery #5 of the Twist of Poe Series and it will be out next year. This June #4 was published by Oghma Creative Media and number #3 of my Victorian series from Wild Rose Press came out the same time. My novel Remembrance also came out this year, so I didn’t fall behind. I’m beginning work on the sequel to Beyond the Moon.

To catch up on reading my books go to www.amazon.com/author/veldabrotherton  and they’ll all be revealed.

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Sexy, Dark, and Gritty

 

Portrait of Poe

Portrait of Poe

 

Do you like to be scared? We were discussing this on messenger recently and decided that if we really didn’t like to be scared we should not watch or read stories meant to scare us. Then it came up: What movie or book scared you the most?

Of course The Shining from Stephen King is right up there on top. Both the book and the original movie are tops in the scary field. My pick for recent movies that terrified me the most is The Ring. What reminded me of this is the recent release of The Rings, which appears to be a sequel to that original of a few years back. No matter how much we try it’s difficult to define why so many people enjoy being terrorized by both books and movies. I have to beg off on Psycho. I didn’t think it was all that scary, but I did like it. And there lies the rub. I like good stories that manage to intrigue and/or scare me.

What is really scary?

Today we are supposed to be frightened by Zombies. To me Zombies are disgusting, gory and tasteless (pardon the pun) but not scary. I do admit to liking the Walking Dead but that’s because the characters and their stories are so very, very good. I often have to shut my eyes during the gorier scenes. But that’s not scary.

The worst thing about my thirst for terror is it doesn’t stop with the good scary stories. The bad ones intrigue me as well. I’ve been known to read some of the dreck along with the best as long as it’s scary. You know the kind. Giant spiders, killer tomatoes, and the like. Bad writing and acting is actually sometimes fun. There’s no explaining that, because I’ll usually throw a bad book across the room, unless there’s something supernatural, or a ghost or demon involved.

Into the Past

Edgar Allan Poe is an example of an author good at scaring me so bad I feel great. In his day Poe was a writer of all genres. He is credited with inventing the detective story in Murders in the Rue Morgue. Arthur Conan Doyle fashioned some of his Sherlock Holmes tales after Poe’s earlier works. And there were Poe’s love stories, The Purloined Letter and who could forget The Raven or Anabelle Lee?

On the other hand, The Tell-tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher were so creepy they were not popular with the readers of his time. They are two of my favorites for that very reason. I get the shivers reading them.

Twisting of Poe

A few years ago I decided since my brand is sexy, dark, and gritty I would write a mystery series. I needed an idea for a theme and settled on titles twisted from Poe’s works. I could sneak in a few scenes or characters harking back to that fantastically talented writer. I began with a twist of The Purloined Letter thus The Purloined Skull was released; I went on to steal The Tell-Tale Heart by titling the next mystery The Tell-Tale Stone; This was followed by The Pit and the Pendulum my title being The Pit and the Penance; and due out in May, 2017, is The Masque of the Rising Moon twisted from The Masque of the Red Death. In the works and due out in May of 2018 is a twist on The Fall of the House of Usher with no title as yet.  None of these are in any way copies of Poe’s works, just that twisted title and the ambiance in places that might remind readers of Poe. Look for them all on Amazon as ebooks or print, and let me know if you enjoy them.

Actually, all the Poe twists are set in fictional Grace County, Arkansas. The stories revolve around my experiences during the ten years I worked and wrote for The Washington County Observer. The books are fictional, as are the town, the characters, etc. But I do include some fabulous personal experiences and twist them all around into these suspenseful tales.

If you like horror, check out A Savage Grace, no connection to Poe, but set on top of the Boston Mountains in Arkansas. Demons in the Ozarks? Hmmm.

Curious about Edgar? Check here.

final-coverThe Purloined Skull

The Tell-Tale Stone

 

 

 

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promises-series-1

On a happy note, I have a fun, sexy, romp in Montana coming out in a six-part series, and I thought you might like to know about it. Read the first now, Montana Promises, and forget all the disturbing things that may be going on in your life. Or not. Back in the 1800s right after the Civil War people had a lot of troubles, but it was an exciting time as well.

Montana Promises begins with sadness and troubles when seventeen-year-old Tressie finds herself abandoned by a father following the gold rush and a mother who dies in childbirth. Imagine having to handle such a situation. But handle it she does and she and Reed, a Civil War soldier on the run help each other survive while walking across the high plains into Virginia City, Montana.

In Montana Treasures follow Tressie as she builds a life and cares for a baby whose mother dies birthing him. Reed has gone on his way trying to clear his name so he can return to the woman he has grown to love.

Every two months you can pick up a print or ebook copy of this series that will continue following other characters living and working in Virginia City. Here’s an excerpt from the first book to give you a taste.

Darkness had fallen to the ground, though the sky gleamed like silver around early sparkles of stars. She heard only the roar of a wild fury that blotted out the nasty burring of a rattler in her path. Quicker than lightning, Bannon hit her from one side, knocking her away as the diamondback struck. She landed hard, gasping to regain her breath. At first she had no idea what had happened, but on rising to a crouch saw Reed Bannon where he’d landed on hands and knees, facing down the snake.

I guess you’ll have to read the book to find out how they get out of this. But even when they do there’s more adventures to come.

I know you’ll enjoy traveling the high plains with my young couple. I’m so pleased to bring you this Montana series that will keep you guessing every step of the way.

Get the first in the series and preorder the second at Amazon. Here’s the ebook link, or order the print here as well. https://www.amazon.com/ebook/dp/B01M9C7J1U

treasures

Here’s number two in the series, Montana Treasures that will continue the story of Tressie and Reed. Pre Order it at Amazon now. I know you’ll enjoy this entire series.

 

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Why Not Me?

 

Having a Party

Who am I?

For a long while now I haven’t posted a blog. Life sometimes takes hold of us by our ears and when it finishes shaking we’re not sure where we’re at or where we’re going. I guess that’s what has happened to me. One thing I have not stopped, no matter what else goes on, is my writing. Funny thing, and this flies in the face of what most writers urge, I have never kept a journal. I think my time has been spent talking to and writing about others so there’s never been time to write my personal thoughts.

In the few times I’ve tried to base a story on myself I’ve found it impossible. Just never works. Oh, sometimes something I think or see will show up in my fiction, but autobiographical stuff has never worked out for me. And believe me, I’ve tried. Just like this blog. I will never be satisfied writing something about me. Sharing my health problems or emotional problems, etc., has never appealed to me. Only my closest friends know those things.

Yes, I’m sharing this about me here, and already I don’t feel comfortable. If you asked me to talk about my writing I could go on and on about that. But that’s not what readers want to hear. What they want reflects today’s social activities. Everyone wants to know something personal about celebrities. Who they’ve slept with or who they fought with or what their sex life is really like.

If I ever became a celebrity I still wouldn’t share those things. Not that there’s anything to worry about there. I’m working on my 33rd book which is contracted. Besides those, others have been written and are hiding under the bed or in plastic storage boxes, never to be read by anyone. Of those, I’ve lost count. And I’m still not famous or rich, just content that I’m doing what I enjoy and a few readers are interested in the results of my labor.

Interesting things are happening in the publishing world today. My earliest published books, the Montana Series originally released by Penguin, have been available on Kindle for quite some time, as have my other western historical romances published in the early Nineties by Topaz. Having all of them still available for new fans to discover is a good thing. This made possible by Kindle.

2cover-300What else is a good thing is that small publishers are taking up the reins dropped by the big publishers in New York who are struggling to remain alive. My latest historical romance, Tyra’s Gambler, will be out soon from Wild Rose Press, where I have five books. The romantic suspense series A Twist of Poe #4 The Masque of the Rising Moon will be released by Oghma Creative Media next May. Friday Oghma will release the first of a six-part Montana series in paperback. Montana Promises will be followed in two promises-2treasures

months by Montana Treasures, available on pre order Friday. Keep an eye out for these quick reads. My books are easy to find just about everywhere books are sold online.

Those are just a few of the books I have coming out soon. Simply examples of why I’m able to continue writing and being published. So if you want to get me started ask me what I’m writing, not how I’m feeling. Read a book and spend time in a very special place created just for you by an enthusiastic writer.

 

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Where have I been?

 

 

Good question. No blog for over two months. What’s going on and where in the world have I been? Sometimes I feel like I really don’t know where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing. I’m working as Distribution Director for Oghma Creative Media. At 80 years of age, to say I’m working is fabulous, yet I’m doing more at home than I once did in an office. And each morning I wake up happy to be alive and involved in something so exciting.

Casey asked me yesterday if I wanted to sign a ten year contract for Beyond the Moon so it could be included in the contract we’re signing with Audible for audio books, I had to laugh. While I may not be around ten years, I sure plan on it, so I agreed. After all, what could keep me alive more than having a purpose.

I always worked away from home in business offices until we moved to Arkansas. Then I changed directions. In our mid-thirties and kicking the rut behind us, we started living a back-to-the-land existence. Ten acres in the mountains changed our lifestyle enormously. Too old to be classed as hippies, we nevertheless were living in much the same way.

reporter-mode

My Favorite photo taken at work on The Washington County Observer 1990-1999

Here in this serene place I truly found myself. I’d always told stories in my head. Now I had the freedom to embrace that creativity. Painting, sketching, writing, music, all opened up new avenues for me. In the end writing won out. It came so natural to me that, after free-lancing articles and columns to several area newspapers, I was hired as feature writer for The Washington County Observer. I learned journalism on the job and about the same time finally sold a manuscript to a New York Publisher.

Sometimes we have dreams of what our life might be, often fate can smash those hopes. Mine came true. I was living my dreams with a terrific family and the perfect job. Couldn’t believe I was being paid for a job I loved. Not everyone is blessed in that way. I still love that job. At 80 I just saw my 29th novel published. I’ve lost count of the short stories, creeping up on 20 I believe.ocw-book-table

And I work with exceptional people. Casey Cowan who owns Oghma Creative Media is brilliant, thoughtful, hard-working and successful at what he does. Working with him and other members of the company is a real pleasure.

I have the most wonderful daughter in the world. She and her husband make sure I have everything I need and only recently assured me I would get to remain in my home because they are remodeling it for that very purpose. The rest of my family keep me feeling safe and well loved. I couldn’t be happier. Somehow, I felt it important to let all my friends and readers and family know that.

 

 

 

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Life Can Be Beautiful or Ugly

our house

Could be our house

Lately many people have revealed having lived childhoods of abuse. This makes me realize just how very fortunate I was growing up. Looking back now I see that it could have been so different had my family history gone in different directions. That might easily have happened. For the men in my family, father, uncles and brother were all alcoholics.

But the story, fortunately for me, did not develop as you might expect. My father, with his Cherokee heritage, did not handle liquor well, and after he came home from the war, he soon became addicted to it, as did his brothers. However, my dad was well liked by everyone, no one suspected his secret because he was not an angry or violent man. I guess you could say he was a fully functional alcoholic. For many years he ran a construction business with a partner, a buddy from the Navy.

Dad with plane

Me, my brother, granddad and Dad

When I look back on my life I see how very lucky I was. He loved me and I loved him, never guessing at his secret growing up. It’s difficult to believe because men who drink are often portrayed as loud mouthed, violent, unreasonable and abusive. I never once heard my dad raise his voice to my mother. He never lifted a hand to me. Oh, he set down some strict rules, or so I thought then, but they kept me from making many a dumb adolescent decision.

He fought my marriage because I was so young. Still never any verbal or physical abuse involved. I see now what kind of man he must’ve been to be so kind and well liked and successful despite his addiction to alcohol. As we all do he had his faults, but my mother told me right after his death just after his 61st birthday, that he was the best man she ever knew. The life he chose to live must have hurt her, for women loved him and he often didn’t resist the temptations that brought about. Yet they had a wonderful life together and my childhood is nothing but good memories. He insisted on a summer travel vacation every year and we had some exciting and unforgettable times.

Why did I write this? Because so many harsh stories are being written about abusive childhoods at the hands of brutal men that I thought it was time a better story was told. It’s all far in the past now. My parents are gone, my brother is gone and I miss them still because we were always close and always happy. Life often turns out with twists and turns we have no power over. But what we do control is the way we react to the events that make up our lives. And ultimately, who we blame if we fail to triumph.

 

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