The View From Here…

By Anne B. Howard

Walt Whitman said, “The secret of it all is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood of the moment—without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote—wrote, wrote…by writing at the instant, the very heartbeat of life is caught.”

As a writer of memoir and narrative nonfiction—engaged in an illicit affair with post-it notes—I couldn’t agree more. At my age, memories and important ideas come in fits and starts. I need a net… and places…to do my best remembering. How to describe the view from here? Which view? I use them all, but for different reasons.

For the serious work of Araphel Grace, my first full length book and thus far, a three year project, I get along best in the office where I can spread out on an oversized desk…a very messy desk, (I love messy desks, nothing OCD about me), littered with the objects of my affection: post-its, journals, photos, piles of reference materials, editing instructions, and a monstrous manuscript laid out in chapters screaming for revision. “Scalpel, please!”



Adding insult to injury is the fact that the current work is never the only story we have rattling around in our brains, clamoring for attention. And if I’ve learned anything in my years of writing, it’s that if I don’t take it as it comes, oftentimes, it won’t come back. Hence, my love affair with the indispensable post-it note, or the grease pen, or the back of my hand, the grocery receipt, napkin, just about any blank space big enough for two or three words, an important idea, something too good to lose.

To these random ideas—my unruly children—I offer one hour uninterrupted, first thing each morning…pen and paper close at hand as I sip the morning coffee, water flowers and admire all interesting creatures on the pond just outside our little townhouse door. What a miracle it  is that two or three fleeting words scribbled across a napkin, if given the right amount of time and love, can evolve into something much bigger—like the context of a life lesson I’d almost forgotten.




Of course, there are other times when I’ve suffered enough—telephone  ringing, doorbell chiming, dog barking, the neighbor stopping by to gossip, and a husband suddenly home looking for the lunch I haven’t prepared. This is when I pick up the IPAD with the nifty new keyboard  and head for absolute solitude—my secret place—where nothing matters except getting the words out of my head and onto paper.

I’ll be honest with you. This seductive little disappearing act feels very, very naughty. Private and forbidden. Scandalous, treasonous, delightfully selfish. Just me and my post-its, “…writing in the gush, the throb, the flood of the moment….” Just me and my post-its, alone at last.



Writing About Sex vs. Romance

By Marlette Bess

Writing about sex is fraught with danger; for every reader and every writer it is subjective, depending on their personal point of view.

Writing about romance and sex are two different things. Romantic encounters may lead to sex, but you don’t always need romance to write a sex scene. In writing, romance is often tame and sex is the body unleashed. My characters generally have a sexual encounter that advances their relationship thus advancing the story, but not every sex scene makes it into the book or even needs too.

Sex scenes used to be called smut or bodice rippers, like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence. Now we have erotica and women’s porn, for example, Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James.  Character development is the basis for all good stories and all good sex scenes. If the characters are not well developed then the sex scenes almost always end up as nothing but titillation. 

Romance is written by innuendo, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks and draw their own conclusions. Describing graphic sex, where nothing is left to the imagination, is on the opposite end of the spectrum. When I write, my description of a sexual encounter depends on the connection between the characters and the evolution of their relationship.

 In all my storylines, the buildup of tension begins with the spark between the couple.  I continue, along with my characters, to learn new ways to express intimacy.

Marlette Bess

The View From Here…

By Gail Ranstorom

Hello world, and welcome to my view!

Montana born and raised, it took a twenty year sojourn—sixteen in Southern California and four in Sunny Florida—for me to realize there’s no place like home. Dorothy got back to Kansas faster than I got back to Montana, but my journey was nearly as strange.
Dorothy and I have much in common. I, too, have a cairn terrier, a family waiting for me to come to my senses, and an assortment of very odd friends. (Well, perhaps not so odd when you consider that they are writers.) They all, however, have huge hearts, boundless courage and are the smartest people I know.


My Office and Jane - 2

Why, yes! That is a little Jane Austin standing on my desk by the flowers. She is my inspiration as well as a constant reminder to not get diverted by the views and myriad other distractions that snag my attention—anything shiny and bright. Or funny. Or furry. Or breathtaking. Or… well, you get the idea. Jane has her job cut out for her here in Montana, because those beautiful, breathtaking moments are just a glance out my window and every day is a new adventure.

Neighbors Drop By - 3

Which brings me to my writing. Because my life is so wonderfully uncomplicated, I like to explore dark themes fraught with romance, mystery and suspense in my novels and set my characters on adventurous paths. From my first book, A Wild Justice, published in 2002, to my next release, Sweet Treason, scheduled for release in September 2013, I make my characters earn their happy endings.


July Sunset - 4

And they lived happily ever after….


Digital CameraHAVE you noticed how many times Montana is mentioned in movies, commercials, and country songs? The implication seems to be that somehow life is better in Montana. After twenty years of being inspired, awed, and befriended by her majestic vistas, remarkable animals, and amiable neighbors, my family heartily agrees. However, the differences in living in Montana are not limited to its natural resources, wildlife, and people. Native Montanans have a different mindset than those of us who are transplants from whirlwind hubs like Atlanta, Houston, or Los Angeles.

According to the encyclopedia, Montana is in the Rocky Mountain Time Zone. Those of us lucky enough to live here know life often unfolds according to the unwritten time concept affectionately dubbed, “Montana Time.”

I first became aware of the practice of living life according to Montana Time when we were building our log home. The carpenters would show up around 10 a.m. and would leave by 4p.m. When questioned, they explained that the fishing was best early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Admittedly, I didn’t see the connection between fishing and getting my house built. The craftsmen took pity on me. With great patience, they explained the concept of Montana Time, so that I wouldn’t remain forever clueless in Montana. Why, they wondered, would someone move to this breathtaking Eden and not take the time to enjoy its cornucopia of delights?

During my first fifteen years here, I didn’t fully appreciate the Montana Time concept. I was busy running my retail store, raising children, and writing my novel. Today, the business is sold, the kids are grown, and Breaking TWIG is out in paperback and ebook formats. Now, as I make my way around a family of wild turkeys and head for the hammock to contemplate the new novel swirling in my head, I realize a subtle conversion to a different view of how to make the most of my time here on planet Earth has seeped into my psyche . . . a conversion to Montana Time.

Thanks for stopping by,


P.S. How do you enjoy your Montana (or its equivalent) Time? Leave a comment by August 7, 2013 and be automatically entered into a drawing for a free copy of my novel, Breaking TWIG.


Patti Glacier

 I am looking at the most beautiful one hundred and fifty year old French desk. The view from the bay window where it sits takes on the flowers on my porch and the shrubs and trees beyond. It is a place where I can see what is going on in the neighborhood.  In the morning I have a cup of tea by the desk and touch the rich brass ormolu that encases the wood. I felt I just had to have that desk that belonged to an ambassador of 20130718...39 DESKFrance or I would not be able to write without it. From time to time my laptop perches there and likes it so much it leaves deep marks in the original leather. My living room is much like the desk – a perfect place to have soirees that nobody comes to except a few stuffed animals. I found out you have to invite them. In that room that I love so much there is a hand painted breakfront with grille work on the doors filled to capacity with my treasured leather books. I hauled it all the way from Italy where it was made. Although I have had the desk for twenty or so years I must admit I have never written anything sitting there…a lot of dreaming and I have stored many thoughts in its drawers. The ambassador is probably overwhelmed with grief that it isn’t a ‘working’ desk and has to take an extra bit of snuff and rearrange his wig when it distresses him.

 The view from my office is very soothing no matter the season. The trees and shrubs sway and dance with glee. A long table sits under the window and is covered with the most beautiful linen cloth with yellow flowers that a friend brought me from Europe. Tons of books surround the room and yet another antique cabinet takes up space brimming with office supplies and stationary items. Yes, I am a stationary freak.  I have so many pens and pencils that Staples called and wanted me to bring some back because they were running out of stock.  I told myself that I had to have this office just the way it is to write. I must admit I have never written anything of importance in my office but maybe pay a few bills. I love it though and it is so me.

 Now, this is where I really write. I am almost embarrassed to show you my favorite spot – the bedroom. I sit on tons of memory foam and have provided many pillows of various shapes and texture. I share my bed with notebooks, color coded of course, papers, magazines, clipboards color coded as well, calendars that I never use,  research material and transcripts, paper and tablets of every size and color although I don’t ever make lists and probably the reason I miss so many events.

This writing area covers about one third of the bed. I don’t clear it off at night or when I’m done in the morning – I arise every day at 5:00 a.m. and when I am finished writing I just simply cover it up with the beautiful silk spread…You can see why I have lost a few husbands and men friends but for God’s sake I’m a writer.20130718...17 BEDROOM WORKING AREA

I have written in my head my entire life and thanks to my writing sisters and Authors of the Flathead I started my first novel at the end of last year. It is going well.

 When I look through the window – the window of my soul, I have an infinite number of views to choose from.  Heraclitus in 475 B.C. wrote “The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts…The content of your character is your choice. Day by day what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.”

Patti Dean 7-22-13