Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010


Good news is dripping from the ceiling! I've got a new contract with Whiskey Creek Press Torrid for a novelette titled DRAGONFLY DANCE. Cover images are swimming in my head. No wait...those are moths! More later...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guest blogging!

Hi all! Wonderful author Paige Tyler has graciously given me space at her blog. Come say hi!


I am at fiddle camp today but I will pop on over from T to T.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Bit Drafty

In HOME TO HAWK RIDGE, Steve Rider is a teamster. He's a logger and uses a team of horses to harvest trees. This is big business in some parts of the country. It's a low impact alternative to clear cutting. We used a team when we just wanted a few big trees removed from our property, but didn't want someone to come in and chew up the forest with a big machine.

In my story, Steve's favorite mare is a Percheron. Beautiful Beth, a shining black beauty. Percherons are a draft breed, like the familiar Clydesdales and Belgians. They are also called plow horses, but that phrase conjures up an unfair clumsy image. Does the horse in the photo look clumsy to you? But they certainly are work horses. I'm amazed by their strength and willingness to cooperate with insignificant fleas like us.

Steve handles his team with the ease of an eight-year-old girl handling her bicycle. He's done it all his life. He knows horses and he knows trees. In my story, he's about to get to know a bit of magic.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


An Interview with Katerina Bauer, the heroin in my latest release, Home to Hawk Ridge
I caught up with Kat out at Steve's farm. She pulled her nose out of his bookkeeping long enough to talk a moment.

KAT: (giggles) Seems funny to be called a heroin.

GEM: In my story, you call yourself “a bit of a witch”. What do you mean by that?

KAT: I was raised in a household – not a home – of self-proclaimed gypsy witches. There was always talk of spells for this or that. My heritage, on my mom’s side of the family, has a long history of herbal magic. From as early as I could remember, I heard about how I would need to create my personal enchantment potion. Every gypsy witch has one. And it was made very clear to me that mine had better be a whopper, because I had very little charisma of my own.

GEM: You’d been sort of programmed into a life of self-doubt. Why do you think your family did that?

KAT: Of course I didn’t realize it growing up, but now I think the aunts resented my mother’s strength and independence. And of course—I look different than anybody else in the family! I’m a fair blonde in a household of dark beauties. It was pretty simple to single me out and make me feel like a freak. Steve thinks that it was because I was the most beautiful—Layla was jealous. He has an especially strong resentment of her. Can we move on? I’m not a Bauer anymore.

GEM: Sure. So do you still call yourself a witch?

KAT: Hmm. No, but I still do simple charms every now and then. Especially on Steve’s horses. They respond so nicely to natural magic and Steve appreciates their improved moods. I don’t fascinate people.

GEM: Really….?

KAT: Okay so maybe a little bit—to get a good table in a restaurant or extra whipped cream in my latte.

GEM: I work hard to give my characters a recognizable character arc. I want them to grow as the story progresses. Did you grow in Home to Hawk Ridge?

KAT: I did! Very much, thank you. I am much more confident in myself and happy with who I am. I came to Hawk Ridge with no compass—no direction. I knew my aunts were deceitful and what they did was wrong. I wanted to make a fresh start but didn’t trust myself. The first thing I did was a right out of the gypsy handbook! I cast a spell on Steve. That was wrong. Magic is still a part of who I am, but it’s not the answer to life’s problems. Not for me. Honesty and courage are more powerful.

GEM: Does Steve let you drive his team?

KAT: Heck no! He's so powerful with those big horses. I take Beth out for long rides though. I have a wonderful connection with her.

GEM: Good luck Katerina. You’re a beautiful person, inside and out. Say hey to Steve and Dorothy and the McBeth’s!

KAT: Will do. Thanks Gem.

Monday, August 9, 2010


It was sorta clunky, but I really did have my dog pick a winner. I printed out all the blog commentors and wrapped the slips of paper around a chunk of dry dog food. Vange in Colorado won! Perhaps she is dog-lover. I will send her a bottle of Fresh Grass scented lotion, one of my calendars and an ecopy of Green Grass. Thanks to all who commented! More contests to come!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

They are making by book into a movie!

Not really. But that was fun to type....
So, as writers we like to indulge in that fantasy. We sit around and ponder who would play our characters. I saw this model in a newspaper ad -- don't even remember what store -- it was Kevin Shepherd, right down to the dark curls and sculpted cheekbones. I cut it out and taped it to my computer. Now there is this character on the TV show Old Christine. He plays Christine's brother. His name is Hamish Linklater. He reminds me of Kevin. Maybe not quite as cute as Kevin.

Adrian Culpepper...holy smokes. Who would play her? A petite blonde. A cute blonde. Is Dakota Fanning old enough? Kate Hudson? Oh, oh -- Hayden Panettiere!

Oh this is so exciting. Any movie execs out there reading this? (yeah, right...) Let's put these two lovely people togehter in my movie, Green Grass. Starring Hayden Panettiere and Hamish Linklater. You provide the set, the camera thingy, some donuts. I'll bring the script. Meet me in Maine.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Essentially, oils are difficult to get at

I like to dabble in aromatherapy, herbal medicine -- even crystal healing. I really believe there are hidden energies in plants and rocks and trees and everything else, all around us. But alas, my senses are just too 21st century to lock into anything but radio waves. I took a fairly down-to-earth herbal medicine course once -- lengthy and thorough and I started using some of the teas and tinctures for healing. I tackled only the simplest of ailments. Stomach aches, menstrual cramps, head colds. My daughter had cradle cap and I concocted a salve to "heal" her. She had a green scalp for months. (I like to think she is more clever now because of it :)

The one thing I have tried with some success is distilling essential oils from plants material. That's what Adrian Culpepper is up to in my latest release, Green Grass. She's a self-taught chemist. She brews huge batches of flowers and mixes up massage oils. OK, so here's my experience. I've done the easy stuff -- orange peels. I boiled down a pile of peels and collected the condensate. I got a tiny thimbleful of limonene. Smelled great. Then I tried a large flask full of lavender flowers and -- well I burned them and it stunk for days. I tried a flask full of simple green grass and got nothing more than a smear of oil. But that one did smell fresh.

Bottom line of this blog post? Distilling essential oils from plant material is tough. You need huge amounts of plant material to get a little bit of anything even remotely resembling an oil, and even then it's probably full of impurities.

I created Adrian to learn the art at her mother's knee, and a lot of trial and error. Read the book and see what her future holds! Essentially, it's a happy ending!

later - Gem

Friday, July 30, 2010

See that bottle of lotion? Top shelf, right? It's massage lotion from Garden of Eden! I'm giving away a bottle of that! I picked the custom fragrance of...you guessed it. Fresh Grass! No kidding. It smells like a dream and surely something Adrian would brew up! Also, I willthrow in a nifty desk calendar and a pdf copy of Green Grass for one lucky winner. All you have to do is leave a comment here, on my blog during the next week, August 2nd-8th. I will pool the emails and select one winner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I recently did an interview with the hero of my new release, GREEN GRASS. (Out today from Whiskey Creek Press Torrid! http://www.whiskeycreekpresstorrid.com) If you want to check out the interview, it's over at my author page at Coffee Time Romance.

It's great fun to "talk" to your characters. Dang, they can be clever. But here's the rub. Get really close to the monitor, because I am going to whisper something....they are not real.

At some point the conversation becomes inevitably ridiculous.
"So Kevin, do you wish I would have given you a bigger dick?"
"Ah, yeah Gem. Why so stingy? And I want to be a body builder, not a scientist."
"Too late to change you."
"Will there be a sequel?"
"Perhaps, but some body parts I can't change."

It's all in good fun. Honestly, relating to my last blog about writing conflict, I think it might be good writing technique to interview all the characters BEFORE you write them. Get them on the couch. "So tell me all about yourself. What are your goals? Your motivation? Your conflicts?"

Wow, I am onto something here. Gotta go. I'm going to do some interviews....

Check out Green Grass!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Writing Conflict

That title has multiple meanings. I am having a writing conflict lately. I sit and write endless dialogue -- some of it really pretty darn good. Page after page turns into chapter after chapter. What's the problem? No conflict. My characters are just blathering along, happily, with occasional angst. We are getting to know them, we are getting a sense of place, setting, emotional involvement. JUST NO CONFLICT.

My strength as a writer is in character development. I've also "been told" that I can create a feeling -- put you there with the characters. Mood... So we are are warm and fuzzy and feeling the mood. Yawn.

Story ideas pop into my head like daisies. They really do. I've heard other authors talk about a lack of ideas. That's not my problem, but I can't seem to get beyond the initial story line. I imagine all my characters are in position, sitting around the bonfire that I have so painstakingly created and then suddenly all eyes are one me.

"What do you want us to do? Roast wienies and sing songs?"

No that won't work. How about somebody stand up and strike another with a baseball bat. Yikes -- not my style. WHERE'S THE CONFLICT?

I'm in a pickle. We live our lives every day with little conflicts arising. Makes me realize how insignificant our daily strife really is. We should always ask ourselves -- when it seems the world will come to an end when the person in line ahead of us takes the last cupcake -- would this make for an interesting plot conflict? If the answer is no, we should let it go. In life and in writing.

Later - Gem

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Green Grass has a cover!

The artist captured the feeling of this book PERFECTLY!

So you're stealing from me, eh?

I've gotten a lot of notices lately about piracy and dogs copying books to sell or give away. That's pretty low. Very low. I make enough on my ebooks to buy a pack of gum occasionally, and they are stealing from me? I work for months to perfect a manuscript and tease out the emotions of my characters. And some fuck-up is stealing from me?

What I have to wonder in all this is -- where's my publisher? This is the one thing I think they should do for authors. I mean really, they need to intervene on their own behalf. It's costing them too. More, probably. What exactly are they doing for their 65%?

I suppose I will keep filling out the forms and asking nicely for these places to pull my stories down. I got nuttin' better to do. But maybe a big publisher could use some muscle -- maybe collaborate with others -- and put an end to this.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

How totally self-indulgent! I love these "get-to-know-me" question thingies!

(x) Shot a gun?
( ) Gone on a blind date.
(x) Skipped school.
(x) Watched someone die. I worked in a nursing home when I was in high school.
(x) Been to Canada? Thunderbay
( ) Been to Alaska
( ) Been to Cuba
( ) Been to Europe
( ) Been to Las Vegas
( ) Been to Mexico
( ) Been to Florida
(x) Been on a plane
( ) Been on a cruise ship
( ) Served on a jury
(x) Been lost. Literally and figuratively
(x) Been on the opposite side of the country. Does that mean south? I live in the upper midwest.
(x) Gone to Washington, DC. As a dopey teenager. Didn't appreciate it.
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
(x) Played cowboys/girls and Indians
(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only?
(x) Made prank phone calls.
( ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose.
(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(x) Danced in the rain
(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus
( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x) Watched the sunrise with someone.
( ) Spent a day in bed with a friend/lover
(x) Blown bubbles
(x) Gone ice-skating
(x) Gone snow skiing. Cross-country only. I'm a flatlander.
(x) Camped out under the stars.
(x) Spent a rainy day curled up with a good book and didn’t even get dressed
(x) Seen something so beautiful that it took your breath away?
(x) Are or have been Married? Are
(x) Children? One
(x) Have a Pet? Many
(x) Been skinny dipping outdoors
(x) Been fishing
(x) Been boating
(x) Been water skiing
(x) Been hiking
(x) Been camping in a trailer/RV But a tent is better – I love camping.
(x) Flown in a small 4 seater airplane
( ) Flown in a glider
( ) Been flying in a hot air balloon
( ) Been bungee-jumping Are you insane?
(x) Gone to a drive-in movie
(x) Done something that should have killed you
(x) Done something that you will probably regret for the rest of your life

1. Any nickname… nope

2. Mother’s name – Ruth

3. Favorite Drink? ice cold beer

4. Body Piercing? Yes, ears. Tattoos? No

5. How many of the 50 states have you been in? twenty or so, but many just passing through Lived in? 2

6. How much do you love your job? Un poco

7. Birthplace? Earth

8. Favorite vacation spot? Home
9. Been to Africa ? Not yet!

10. Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Yes

11. Ever been on TV? Yes

12. Ever steal any traffic signs? No.

13. Ever been in a car accident? Yes

14. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? Well yeah...

15. Favorite number? 21

16. Favorite movie?

17. Favorite Holiday? Thanksgiving – The only time I really like to cook
18. Favorite dessert? Bread puddings of all sorts
19. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Watching my daughter graduate from college
20. Furthest place you will send this message?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Man's World?

Who's in charge here? I mean really. Who running the planet? I guess overall -- it's men.

My current work in progress has me thinking of this. My character is a female in a male-dominated profession. She's a wildlife biologist. But she could be a police officer, or a fire fighter or a corporate CEO. Goodness, it would be easier to list the female-dominated professions. A much shorter list indeed.

This woman works hard every day to conduct her research and struggles like everyone else to get the job done. But she has an additional burden in that she always has to do her job better than everybody else. She thinks so anyway. If she is not better, it will automatically be because she is a female. If the men in her group do a half-assed job, it's because they are fuck-ups or just having a bad day. If she goofs something up, it's because she was born without a penis.

I'm in bad place with this right now and maybe I need to write this story and get it off my chest. My female hero needs to rise above it and bring me with her. I don't think my percetion of this is all wrong but perhaps times have changed. I'm going to go out and do more research. Maybe some interviews.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who do I think I am?

An author? An artist? This year as we tumbled through TurboTax, for the first time I had to claim a bit-o-income from my books. There was a box to fill in as to the nature of my business. I think it was a drop box, and among the choices I picked "author".

Who do I think I am? It would have felt about as comfortable to put "plumber" in the box. I'm an author? Since when?

I'm fairly well educated. Have a pile of post-secondary years of schooling, a few degrees. I've taken creative writing classes, but have little formal training on how to write a kick-ass story. Everything I know is from reading and reading.

Two kinds of reading. I know a good book when I'm in the middle of one. I've taken to analyzing great books to see what makes them tick. It seems I can't even bury myself in a novel anymore without asking, "Now why did the author do that?" Damn, I even make notes in the margins of my paperbacks.

I read books on how to write. Some purists think this is for rookies and maybe it is. I'm a rookie and I learn a ton from textbook how-to's.

Is it a skill that comes more naturally to some than others? Maybe. Honestly (and I'm not bragging here--no way) in my first manuscript, I did so many things RIGHT. Things that I didn't know were power hits until long afterwards. Then of course I wrote some stink pots after that, just to stay humble.

In my daily life, I spend a lot of time crossing back and forth between right brain and left--analytical to ctreative and back again. I think crafting a story requires both strengths.

I keep thinking I just got lucky. I have four books out on the street (figuratively and almost). That's it for me. I'm done. I've written the last piece of publishable work. I'll go back to whoever I was before I became an author.

I hope that's not true. I've got characters standing in front of me with thier arms crossed, tapping thier toes. "Write me." There are days when I want bundle those characters up, throw them in the car and drive them over to a real author's house and tell her to write the stories. They're worth telling.

I'm going to shop the book store today for a new how-to book. I hope I don't end up in the plumbing aisle.

Gemini Judson

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brand New or Redo?

What's more fun? Starting a brand new story? Or rewrites? I find I'm an ideas person.
Big picture concepts spring into my head. Titles spring into my head. Book covers spring into my head. Honestly, the image of a kitten with a bucket of bouncy balls seems appropriate. I chase after one, then another, then another. My ideas folder abounds with story threads.

But threads do not weave themselves into blankets.

I feel overwhelmed when it comes to penning that first wobbly chapter. For the past two days I have been using this Snowflake Method of story development. Familiar with it? Man, it really forces one to flesh out the plot. It's a great exercise, but difficult for a pantster.

On the flip side, I just finished "nuance" writing of a nearly complete story. Far more enjoyable for me. Yes, I found a plot whole (as opposed to a pot whole -- also very common in Minnesota this time of year). And yes, I found a sex scene that hit the floor with a thud. But I like dealing with these things.

So, I like imagining, formulating, conceptualizing. I like being on the clean-up committee, dusting and polishing at the end. It's the elbow grease work in the middle that I find difficult. I get 'er done in fits and starts. Thousands of words in a day and then zippo for awhile to recharge and relube the elbows.

So, where are you in the spectrum? Grand ideas to completed manuscript? What's your favorite?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

TAG! I'm it!

I thought I would dissect my own tagline for my latest work, Green Grass. Here's it is:

He needed fresh air. She had plenty.

Like it?

In its development, I thought of the overarching theme of the story. The hero, Kevin, is moving along with his life, a graduate student studying the air quality in coastal Maine. Early in the story we sense ennui. At least I hope we do. He needs shaking up.

Adrian Culpepper (yes she spells it in the masculine form -- ever the rebel) lives in a garage, freezing her toes and fingers off. She has all the fresh air anybody could ask for. When their two worlds collide, we root for them. We want Kevin to rise in passion and become the hero he's intended to be. We want Adrian to catch a break.

My tagline says nothing deep. Does it provide you with that fleeting spark to look a few seconds more at this book? I'm hoping the cover will be the freshest thing since --well GREEN GRASS. You should almost be able to smell it.

Onward..... Gemini

Thursday, February 11, 2010


What fun!

Blurb! Sploosh! Eereek. . . The last one is the sound a squeaky door makes. I love words that sound like stuff. I use them in my writing all the time -- possibly too much. And I drive my editors nuts as they try to figure out if my bleeps and nickity-nicks need to be italicized.

My current writing is about a musician. I'm using tremendous self-restraint to limit my onomatopoeia.

By the way, if you type onomatopoeia in Microsoft Word, and then do a spell check, it asks you if you meant to type tomato. Maybe I did. Tomato is much easier to spell and more people are familiar with the word.

So when my editor say, "Gem, what the heck is scritchity," I'll say it's a tomato.

More TAGS coming soon!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tag! You're it!

Another peruse of the taglines of epublishing. Do you know what I see? Tags are not everybody’s cup of tea. A lot of publishers don’t even have them. Now that I am on the trail…. I miss them.

As a writer, I realize the difficulty of selling a 50K manuscript with one teasing sentence, maybe two. As a reader, a consumer, a shopper, I’m starting to see the value.

Don’t get me wrong. I'm still more visual than verbal, and the cover draws me first. But the tag and the cover can work in perfect harmony to compel me to take the ever important next step. Read the dang blurb….

My next Tag! You’re it! evaluation is a book from Cobblestone Press. Another eye-popping cover on the book titled A Fireman for Christmas by Piper Denna

Here’s her tag:

Every fireman knows the value of a controlled burn...

Holy crap that’s an awesome tag! It’s clever, it’s suggestive, it’s true. I went on to read the blurb, and learned there probably isn’t thing one in her book about fire fighting, but who cares!

What a wonderful lesson. I’ve been truly trying to digest my stories onto the head of a pin and explain them in the tag. Not necessary. Let’s see – I love analogies. I think the tag is the hors d’oeurve before an elegant meal. It doesn’t need to contain the indgredients of every dish on the menu. It just has to compliment the main meal and make you hungry for more.

See ya next time!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TAG! You're it!

I'm starting a new and (hopefully) recurring thread on my blog called TAG! You're it. This idea was suggested to me, probably because I'm not so good at tag lines. A monthly survey of some winners will be good for me. 

Grabbing interest in my story with one line? Yikes. Isn't that like a job interview where they say "tell us a little bit about yourself." It took me several botched interviews to realize they truly meant a little bit. I'd ramble forinutes on end. 

So in book speak, tell me why I should stop here and read your blurb, in one sentence. That's what's really scary. A tag line is PRE-BLURB.

My first tag is a delicious looking book by MJ Frederick. 
Here's her tag:

When past and present meet, secrets lie beneath the surface. 

I have to say, what made me stop on this book, more than anything else, is the cover. It's a winner. Number two is the tag. Beneath the surface of what? The water? The skin? The scum on the gravy bowl? We don't know, but that's not important. We get the idea that somebody has a secret past. 

Combined with a dreamy watery cover, I was convinced to read the blurb. As a writer, I'd be tickled pink to have potential readers get this far.