So not being really a romance writer, and having pretty much washed out of the lists of matrimony personally, I still have managed to write about romance … mostly by pulling in a little bit of inspiration from here and there from real-life couples. For instance, the main romantic couple in my first book, Dr. John and Elizabeth in To Truckee’s Trail were inspired by … you’ll never guess. Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning! A married couple, wildly, passionately, crackers-in-love with each other after twelve years of marriage – why not? The romance doesn’t and shouldn’t end at the altar, but it should go on. I rather liked the Victorians, by the way – they weren’t nearly as prudish as they’ve been painted, nor were their emotions quite so stifled. Robert fell in love with her through reading her published poetry – and lest that sound rather stalker-ish, it worked out. They married blissfully, although she was an invalid and several years older than him. They went off to Italy and were more or less happy for the rest of their lives together, just as I imagined Dr. John and Elizabeth to have been. Men and women alike poured out their souls in letters and poetry, and they weren’t ashamed or repressed in the least, especially when it came to a good manly weep or putting down on paper how they really, really felt.

I didn’t particularly have a literary model for the central romance and tragedy in the Adelsverein Trilogy – that between Magda Vogel, the immigrant German girl, and Carl Becker, the former soldier and Ranger. I did think at first that it might be one of those sparkling Beatrice and Benedict-type confections, where they poured witty scorn at each other, and only later realized that they were in love. There did have to be a romance, of course – between the daughter of an immigrant family, and a representative of the country they were coming to – bridging the two worlds, as it were. But I just couldn’t make it work in that way; Magda turned out to be rather humorless and stern, and Carl was just too reserved. I did recycle the Beatrice and Benedict angle for the romance in the third book of the Trilogy; with Peter Vining and Anna Richter. They both had a sense of humor, and were quite aware that their sharp teasing of each other amused the heck out of anyone who had the luck to be in the vicinity.

Another great historical romance happened between two very real people, and which I put into Deep in the Heart; the marriage between Sam Houston and Margaret Lea Houston, which initially horrified her family and dismayed his friends. Some of them gave it six months, tops. He was twice her age, twice and disastrously married before, had a reputation of being a drunk, a rake and a reprobate, and being the hero of Jan Jacinto and the President of an independent Texas  just barely made up for all of that. Marry a gently-bred Southern girl barely out of her schoolroom? Everyone confidently predicted disaster – and everyone was wrong. They were devoted to each other. She had a spine of pure steel, unsuspected under those fashionable Victorian furbelows.  For the rest of their lives, whenever they were apart – and they were often separated, since Sam Houston spent much time at his official duties as a senator in Washington DC, or campaigning for office – they each wrote a letter a day. Margaret Lea bore and raised a large family of children, made a comfortable home for him whenever he was there to enjoy it, made him stop drinking and eventually to be baptized. His very last words included her name.

And my final real-life romance inspiring a romance between a couple of my characters is that of the painter Charles M. Russell, and his wife, Nancy – who, like Margaret Lea, was very much younger than a husband who had a bit of a reputation. Half his age, a bit prim and self-contained, Nancy also had steel in her spine – and she was a much better marketer and business agent than her carefree cowboy artist husband. C.M. Russell lived for art, and likely would have been no more than locally known as a wrangler-cowhand who had a talent with a paintbrush, but he made a partnership with Nancy, and she put him on a wider artistic scene. And that is the angle for one of the romances in the current book – between a young prospective professional artist, and a woman with a head for business. Because it all isn’t just love – it’s a partnership between a woman and a man, each filling in each other’s lacks and supporting each other in a mutual endeavor called life.

21. November 2012 · Comments Off on Weekend at the Weihnachtsmarkt · Categories: Book Event, Random Book and Media Musings · Tags: ,

All the other authors and publishers whom I talked to over the three days of the Christmas Market agreed – as an author, and none of us being of the NY Times best-seller class – it is profitable and much less dispiriting to do an event like a Christmas craft fair in company with a bunch of other authors. Much less foully dispiriting than doing a single-author event at a book-store, which is usually total ego-death-onna-stick. First and most importantly of all – customers with money and the intention of spending it are plentiful at a craft fair or a similar community market event, especially in the holiday gift-giving season. Trust me; many of them can see books as the perfect gift, and they are inclined to buy. Secondly – it’s a venue where one is in completion with vendors of a wide variety of consumer items – not every other published author on the shelves. And thirdly – in the slack times, there are other authors to talk to.

Seriously, nothing quite beats the tedium of sitting alone at the Dreaded Author Table in a not-very-well-frequented bookstore, and watching the occasional customer slink into the store trying to avoid your eye. Or worse still, at a large and popular chain bookstore, observing them heading into the computer games or DVD movie section. Which is the trouble with the Hastings chain, as I experienced and other authors concur; the staff are wonderfully helpful, great about ordering and stocking the books, but alas, the client base usually is there for the games, the music and the movies, eschewing the printed word generally. Not even libraries are proof against this; another author told me of participating at a local author event staged at a big public library. He and the other hopeful authors watched as a large crowd assembled out side the library, every one of them anticipating that they would have a wonderful and author-life-affirming event … only to see that every one of those in line headed straight for the library computers.

Yes, the Author’s Life (especially as a not-very-well-known indy author) is full of little kicks to the ego as this – but an event that sells out half the stock of books that one arrived with, is indoors, well-publicized in advance, and mostly-well-attended (although Sunday afternoon slacked off considerably) and having the organizers being quite generous and helpful – this is one well worth recollecting with fondness and returning to again. The good volunteers for the Weihnachtsmarkt even had a vendor’s lounge, stocked with coffee and ice water and all sorts of home-made pastries and baked delights. New Braunfels is Little Germany – they DO that kind of thing here! The whole event is to benefit the local historical museum, the Sophienburg – and it did draw a good crowd. My daughter was afraid that I had pretty well tapped out the market for the Trilogy in New Braunfels; not so, as there were a fair number of fans who came and bought the follow-up books (Daughter of Texas and Deep in the Heart), or asked impatiently about the next book, and even two who bought the German translation as a gift for friends and family who would appreciate a German translation of the first of the Trilogy. In between all these high points though – I spent time studying the interior architecture of the New Braunfels Civic Center, briefly wandering down the hallway to other author tables and the occasional quick foray into the main sales floors. The shops set up in the main ballroom and the annex all featured a great many lovely things that I just cannot quite yet afford.

Ah, well – someday.

It’s nearly here – the German translation of the first book of the Adelsverein Trilogy.  I’ve just now posted the e-book version to, and it will go live in an Amazon Kindle edition in the next few days. The print version will take a little longer to make itself evident on Amazon – but with a bit of luck, I will be able to roll it out at the New Braunfels Weihnachsmarkt, on the 15th of this month. I honestly do not know how many copies of the German-language version I will be able to sell there; I would hope that most of the sales for it are actually in Germany, and that sales are huge, which will pay off for me, and for the translater, Lukas Reck, who worked nearly as hard on putting the book into another language as I did to write it!

Update: as of Friday morning, the print edition is also up at Amazon, but not for sale until the 15th – although they will take orders for it! I’ll have some copies of the German edition at the Weihnachtsmarkt, too! So – if you wanted to order copies for friends in the Old Country for Christmas – now is the time!

23. February 2012 · Comments Off on E-book Revolution · Categories: Book Event · Tags: , , ,

So, having had my books available as Kindle and Nook editions since the very first that Amazon and B&N made that mode available to authors, I’ve decided to go all in with e-books in general and make them available through Smashwords for all formats. Several other indy authors that I know have recommended it highly, and why limit myself to just the two house-specific formats. Of course, I am  several years late, of course, but I’ve never been famous as an early-adapter… unless it was in joining the Air Force when it wasn’t really the hip thing to do, joining the military … and blogging, before simply everyone got a blog … and then, being an indy author. So upon reconsideration, maybe I’m a kind-of early adapter.

The Kindle/Nook readers are getting to the point of being rather popular. My daughter and my business partner now have them, they’re so popular that they’re for sale at Sam’s Club, for pete’s sake, so I think it’s clear that they’ve arrived. People are even readingbooks on their phones! Well, it saves the trees, and publishers don’t have to have a humongous warehouse any more.

Anyway, I’ve done a edition of To Truckee’s Trail; my first novel, and still hands-down the best seller. In March and April, I will make The Adelsverein Trilogy, and Daughter of Texas/Deep in the Heart also available in any-e-book format, not just what is available on Amazon and B&N’s proprietary readers.