Let’s Talk About Love

Now that it is February, everyone’s mind is turning toward Valentine’s Day. Hearts, flowers, roses, boxes of chocolate, sappy greeting cards. The one day a year we are reminded and encouraged to pay special attention to the ones we love. And yes, I know many of us say we don’t need a Hallmark holiday to remind of us of what’s important, but we still participate because we enjoy it.

Before the internet gets overwhelmed with Valentine’s greetings and stories about Cupid, I want to talk about a different perspective on love. One that isn’t all hearts and flowers.

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The matriarch of our Oghma Creative Media family is known for writing romantic stories. Velda Brotherton has been writing hot and steamy stories for years. Whether the setting is the Ozark hills, the western plains, or somewhere in between, her writing is said to be sexy, dark, and gritty. She does just write romances, but those are what I want to talk about today.

Because I’m working on a couple of projects with her, I’ve had the chance to spend a little more one-on-one time with Velda, and get to know her. She’s been around a little longer than some of us have, and experienced a few more things. And no matter how arrogant we are, we’re going to have to admit that she’s bound to know more about love.

I don’t know much about Velda’s personal life, and all that she has been through, but I do know that she was married to one man for many years, and was always true to him. Think about that. One man. In today’s world of transient relationships that’s something special.

Right now Velda is working on a sequel to a book she wrote in 1985, but didn’t publish until a few years ago. This book is called Beyond the Moon, and is dear to her heart. Recently I read this book for the first time, and I was stunned by the depth of love portrayed by her characters.

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Beyond the Moon is the story of a Vietnam POW who comes home and ends up in the local VA hospital because he just can’t find his way back to the world. It is the story of an artist who recently lost her husband, and is trying to build a new life without her longtime partner. It is the story of these two people finding each other in a world that is new and strange to both of them, and learning what REAL love is. It is not always hearts and flowers. Sometimes it is tears, and nightmares, and fears of the unknown and the unknowable. It is standing beside the one you love, not because you should, but because it is the only thing your heart will let you do.

Beyond the Moon is a book I would recommend everyone read. If you’re a woman, a man, a person who’s been in love, a person who thought they were in love once, a person who’s never been in love—this book is for you.

Yes, there is romance. But above all, this is a love story.

 

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The Best Characters are Real

The advantage of working in the publishing industry and meeting writers from different genres is that I get to meet the most interesting people in the world. I have the opportunity to learn more about different geographic areas, different time periods—past, present, and future—and meet incredible characters.

As readers, I know that you have favorite characters. Characters that you just can’t get out of your mind, that steal your heart, that you wish were real and you could learn more about after the book is finished. If you are very lucky, the character is part of a series that you can follow along with. If you are incredibly lucky, the character you adore is real.

In January 2018, I became an incredibly lucky reader. I met a character in a book, a young girl named Avery. Avery is very real, and very brave. Let me introduce you to her.

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Avery lives in Canada, a country that I dream of visiting someday. A few years ago her mom Jodi looked at Avery’s back, and noticed that it looked, well, different. Jodi noticed that Avery’s spine appeared to curve a bit more than it should, and in a direction that it probably shouldn’t. A visit to the doctor confirmed their fears. Avery was diagnosed with scoliosis.

Personally, I knew very little about scoliosis before reading this book. I thought it was just something that people lived with, or at worst they might have to wear a back brace for a while. But not in Avery’s case. Her prognosis was so severe that surgery was her only option.

Imagine if this happened to you. You’re going along in life, don’t even feel like anything is wrong, and the doctor tells you that you have to have surgery. And not just a little surgery, like having your tonsils out, or your appendix removed. The doctor wants to cut your back open along your entire spine.

Now add the fact that you are a preteen girl. I don’t know about you, but I’d be terrified.

I don’t mean to minimize the effect of this news on her parents, or on her brother. This is their story too. This is the story of an entire family and how they acted and reacted to the diagnosis. As a mother, and a former preteen girl, I followed their story with trepidation and couldn’t help but think of how I’d react to the situation. And let me say, I don’t think I would have been as strong as they were.

1976993_10153022632186393_2067770278_nOne of the things that they did was turn to the internet for information. Not just medical insights—the doctors could provide that—but real-life anecdotes about what to expect during the process. And you know what they found? Almost nothing. So in an effort to help others, as well as deal with their own fears, they started a blog. On the blog, they took turns telling their story, so readers got different perspectives. And from that blog grew this book.

But don’t worry—this book is much more than a collection of blog posts. Yes, there are a sprinkling of blog posts throughout. This is a great way to experience the thoughts and feelings of the family throughout each step of the journey. The book also includes medical information about the journey and pictures. Lots of pictures. Pictures of the family, and before and after pictures of Avery’s spine.

15676397_10155426083881393_4236558607674142387_oThat’s right folks—this determined girl not only courageously faced major surgery, she allowed her family to take pictures of her back, both before and after surgery, and she allowed the pictures to be shared. With total strangers. Around the world. Because she wanted to share her story with others who might be facing the same thing.

I don’t know about you, but there are very few pictures in existence of me at that age. I was awkward, and shy, and did not want pictures taken at all. And certainly not pictures this personal. And if someone did take a picture, I didn’t want anyone to see.

26994281_1848231171904836_4567534554302099517_nThe title of the book is Bent But Not Broken, which perfectly sums up Avery Butters. When you get your copy of the book, you’ll notice that she graciously allowed her father Andrew to place his name as the main author, and her mother Jodi to have her name as an author as well. They did contribute significantly, and they wrote many of the words between the covers of the book.

But Avery is the real author of this story. She lived it, she wrote it, she shared it with the world.

So buy her book—she’s a character you’ll never forget. And best of all—she’s real.

 

The Cowboy Rides Away…

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As I sit down to write this, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve always been told to start the story at the beginning, yet I’m not sure where the beginning is in this case. Did it begin with me growing up in the hills of Northwest Arkansas? Or my love of horses, rodeos, and all things both country and western? Did it begin when I first got to meet my local cowboy hero, Dusty Richards? I’m not sure where the story begins.

Today, just a few days after I wrote about the passing of Pat Richards, beautiful and gentle wife of legendary author Dusty Richards, I learned that Dusty Richards himself passed away. One of my first blog posts was about my excitement over meeting one of my childhood heroes, and finding out what a real-life hero he has been for so many people.

Dusty was larger than life, yet always humble. An expansive  storyteller, as well as a great listener. A teacher, yet always willing to learn. A mentor, a friend, an inspiration. When I asked him how he got started writing, he said he always wanted to write, and had done a little now and again all his life. Writing western stories was his dream. One day, he made the decision to make that dream a reality. His advice to all was “If you want to write, you just have to do it. Write. And keep writing. Keep writing as long as the stories are in there.”

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And that is exactly what Dusty did. He wrote, and he wrote, and he wrote. Story after story, novel after novel. And the stories just kept coming. Dusty Richards was a master storyteller above all else. Not just the written word, but spoken words as well. Stories about cowboys, both real and imagined. Stories of his life, his travels, and his family. Stories of adventures with his beloved wife Pat.

The last few times I visited with Dusty we spoke about writing his biography together. His emails contained stories he remembered and wanted to include in the book. Although he didn’t get a chance to tell me all the stories he wanted, in the past few weeks, I’ve heard hundreds of stories from people across the country. Stories of Dusty and Pat, and their love and generosity. Stories of Dusty helping writers, and farmers, and friends. Story after story after story.

Although our hearts may be heavy down here on Earth, I have no doubt that Dusty and Pat are rejoicing together tonight. Dusty finally has the chance to meet his cowboy heroes and swap stories, with his beautiful bride of 56 years by his side. And I have no doubt that he is still telling stories, because I’m sure he wasn’t finished.

I still don’t know where the story began—but I have no doubt that this isn’t where the story ends.

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Introducing Michael Lee — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? Michael Lee -What genre do you write in? Currently, American Western fictional history. -What drew you to this genre? I wanted to write about something, I had some knowledge of. -What book(s) have you written? Del Rio completed and at Publishers, in pre edit. I am currently under contract for 4 […]

via Introducing Michael Lee — Ninetoes Loves Books

The Woman Behind the Man

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I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks, because when my emotions are highest, my voice is the softest. As most of you know, a few weeks ago, right before Christmas, our dear friends Dusty and Pat Richards were in an automobile accident. The accident was dreadful, leaving both of them in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.

They were listed as stable but critical, and the prognosis was hopeful but guarded. There have been small gains, and small losses. Our emotions have been riding a constant rollercoaster. We have tried to carry on business as usual at Oghma, but I’m sure you all understand that is almost impossible when family members are going through trials. And Dusty and Pat have been family since the beginning of Oghma.

We worried about their conditions, waited for any and all updates, wondered what the updates meant for their futures, wondered if we were hoping for too much, or too little. We agonized as Pat went through surgery for her back, her arm, her wrist. We waited for news of Dusty regaining consciousness, regaining memories, we wonder if he will ever again be the Dusty we know and love. We agonized over infections, celebrated the removal of ventilators, celebrated as Pat began rehabilitation and we were told she might regain some movement in her legs after all, and not be completely paralyzed.

Last week, unexpectedly, we received the news that Pat had passed from this world. It was her birthday that day. I choose to view this as a positive sign. Everyone who ever met Pat Richards can attest to her strong spiritual nature. What better way to begin a new phase of her spiritual journey than to celebrate her heavenly birthday on the same day as her earthly birthday?

Today we celebrated the life of Pat Richards at her funeral. The family provided photographs of beautiful memories to help us celebrate with them. Wedding pictures, family vacations, community events, glimpses into a life well-lived. Friends and family sent beautiful flower arrangements to remind us that life is indeed beautiful, yet fleeting, and should be celebrated.

Yes, we are devastated to lose her. But our tears are for ourselves, for all of the things we won’t say, the times we won’t see her, the events we won’t enjoy along with her. And we cry for Dusty, who lost his partner of 56 years, her daughters who lost their mother, her grandchildren, her extended family, her friends, and her community. Pat Richards lived a beautiful life, and her spirit was strong, her faith stronger still. There was no need to cry for Pat, because as long as even one person remembers her, she is never truly gone. And knowing she touched so many lives, and so many generations, she will live on for many years here on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

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Introducing J C Crumpton — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? JC Crumpton -What genre do you write in? My most common answer to that question is whichever one I can get paid in. But my favorites are the ones wherein I most often read: science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. -What drew you to this genre? What I love about all three of […]

via Introducing J C Crumpton — Ninetoes Loves Books

Introducing Darrel Sparkman — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? Darrel Sparkman -What genre do you write in? Frontier Western, Traditional Western, Post-Apocalyptic and General Fiction-Action Adventure -What drew you to this genre? No matter the time frame or point in history, it’s all Frontier Writing. Back to basics where a person oversees their own destiny and doesn’t rely on someone […]

via Introducing Darrel Sparkman — Ninetoes Loves Books

An Incomplete Alphabet

This weekend, people around the world were saddened to hear about the passing of author Sue Grafton. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, and now that opportunity has passed forever. From everything I’ve heard and read about Ms. Grafton, she was a wonderful lady and enjoyed meeting her fans. Her illness was kept quiet, and she passed away surrounded by those she loved.

Even if you have never read her novels, I’m sure you are aware of them. She is the lady responsible for the popular mystery series with titles based on the alphabet, beginning with A is for Alibi. Her most recent novel was released earlier this year, Y is for Yesterday, and with her death ended the alphabet series. Fans have long wondered what would happen after Z, and now we will never know.

With Ms. Grafton’s death, the question was switched to “What will happen after Y (as Z is for Zero was tentatively scheduled for release in 2019).” The answer? The alphabet ends at Y. The author never wanted her books used for films or television, nor did she ever want to use a ghost writer. The family is respecting those wishes.

For those of us in the writing and publishing community, this brings up questions regarding our own mortality and legacy that we may not have thought to address before. What will happen to our work after we are gone? What happens if our demise is sudden and unexpected? How do we want our legacies handled—not just the monetary aspects, but the creative aspects as well? Because for most artists, it is the creativity that is most important. Sure, the money is nice if it comes, but if you’re in this business for the purpose of getting rich, you might want to look elsewhere.

The people I know and work with  are driven to write, to draw, to create, to share their creativity with others. What happens if that creativity suddenly ceases to exist through illness or death? Is the end really The End? Or will we see that The Show Must Go On? It is a decision as personal and individual as the person who makes the choice, and I hope each of us takes the time to decide for ourselves, instead of letting others make that determination when we cannot do so.

As for myself, I am perfectly happy to let the alphabet end with Y. To me, that is a beautiful legacy that speaks volumes for Sue Grafton. If the series ends here, it ends where she left it. And her fans should respect that as much as her family has.

Introducing Cecelia Wilson — Ninetoes Loves Books

-What is your name? Cecelia Wilson –What genre do you write in? Non-Fiction -What drew you to this genre? Many years ago, I aspired to be a paperback writer, so I began with fiction. But, after more than a decade as the Feature Writer for Searcy Living magazine, I fell in love with non-fiction. After […]

via Introducing Cecelia Wilson — Ninetoes Loves Books

Oghma Family Gathering

’Tis the holiday season here around the Oghma house.  I’ve told you more than once, and tried to show you as well, that Oghma is one big, mostly happy, family. And just like any other family, we celebrate our joys and sorrows together . Now, right here at Christmas, we have experienced our biggest changes of the year for our family members. As you gather around with your family, we invite you to gather around with us as well.

 

First the celebration. A week before Christmas, our President and fearless leader, Casey Cowan, got married. His new bride Amy is a beautiful woman, inside and out. And I believe she is the rudder that Casey needs to stabilize himself before he burns out in his never-ending pursuit of perfection for Oghma Creative Media. She has already put her proverbial foot down, and commanded that he take time for himself and his family. She has achieved more toward making him take care of himself, and by extension, the Oghma family, than the Oghma staff has been able to achieve all year. They are currently on a honeymoon cruise, and Amy has refused to buy Wi-Fi, making sure Casey has time to rest and enjoy the important things in life. Congratulations Casey and Amy!

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And now for our greatest sorrow this year. A week ago today, our patriarch of the Oghma family, Dusty Richards, along with his lovely wife Pat, were involved in an automobile accident. They are both in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. We know that we cannot be as deeply affected by this as their children are, but I guarantee we not far from those emotions. Dusty has been an incredible influence on many writers, both those in our family, as well as other writers around the area and the country. The Richards family members have  touched countless lives with their kind hearts and generosity, and many, many people have written to ask about their condition, offering prayers and support for them and their family. It is at times like this that one can recognize the basic kindness in the people around the world. Because of the ongoing updates we receive form their children, we are able to celebrate each small victory Dusty and Pat achieve on their road to recovery, as well as keep others updated. We are doing our best to find a balance between informing the fans and protecting the privacy of the family at this difficult time. The family has granted permission for us to share their mailing address, so if you would like to send a card of encouragement, their mailbox is being checked daily:

Dusty and Pat Richards

PO Box 6460

Springdale, AR 72766 USA

It is going to be a long, slow road to recovery for both of them, but we believe in our hearts that they will recover and come home to their family, near and far.

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