Friday, February 27, 2015

Decisions, Decisions

Earlier this week, people were talking about going to the Georgia Romance Writer's conference, Moonlight and Magnolias, this October. I love the conference, the people, the hotel, and so much more. Always a lot of fun.

I came so close to pushing the button to sign up. Then a few things came to mind. Number one being where will I get the money? In June, I'm taking the family on a beach vacation and then in July I'm going to the National conference in New York.

Sure I have a credit card, but I've been working hard to pay it off, and this would get me back to ground zero (the opposite side actually). So I started thinking about the pros and cons about going to the conference and came up with a list. The first question is worth two points, all else is one point.

Do you have the money?

Vacation time available at day job or/and babysitter for that time?

Is there an agent you want an appointment with or network with?

Is there an editor you want an appointment with or network with?

Are you presenting a workshop?

Are you on an author panel?

Are you giving a speech?

Do you have a new or current paperback book for the signing?

Do you have a way to sell e-books at the signing?

Is one of your books a finalist in their contest?

Are you up for an award? (Industry, member, etc.)

If you answered 7 or more no, then you should save your money.  If you answered yes to 7 or more, then go for it!

Of course, if you have the money and you want to go no matter the number of questions answered with a NO, I say go and have fun! Be sure to put pictures on Facebook, so I can live vicariously through you.

What would you add to the list?


Word is out Katerina Savalas has found a map that leads to a long-lost Union shipment of gold. She can’t take the chance of someone breaking into her home again. So she decides to hire a washed-up Circle operative to protect her home. 

Jack Drago wants to be left alone in his drunken misery. When he receives an unusual offer from Katerina, he accepts. What red-blooded heterosexual male with a death wish can turn down a chance to have a mob boss’s daughter in his bed?

Carla Swafford
Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Staying Positive

I thought I'd revisit a post blogged on my Tumblr account. Being positive is always appropriate and gains great results in our daily lives. I found this quote surfing the internet while experiencing a particularly low moment in my life and adopted it.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, February 23, 2015

If This Then What?

I'll admit it--I looove technology.

I love the way it wants to sit me down, make me a cup of tea, and do all my tasks for me. Technology has made life for the modern human comfortable, easy, and amazing.

Take for example one of my favorite internet sites: If This Then That or IFTTT.

Literally, this site allows you to automate almost every online thing in your life. If you connect your phone, you can automatically mute it when you get home. If you connect your Facebook account and your Dropbox, anytime someone posts a picture of you on Facebook, it will save a copy in your Dropbox. Connect your Google gmail and when you star an item it will setup a reminder for it. If you have Phillips Hue lights connected, IFTTT can flash your house lights whenever your favorite NFL team scores a touchdown. The possibilities are endless.

Some of the services you can connect are, Box, Buzzfeed, Craigslist, Digg, ESPN, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Entertainment Weekly, Evernote, Fitbit, Foursquare, Github, Instagram,, LinkedIn, MixRadio, Nike+, OneNote, Pinterest, Pocket, reddit, Square, Storify, Vimeo, Wordpress, YouTube, and sooooo many more.

And here's a recipe of my very own that every reader and tweeter of this blog should try:

It automatically posts to Twitter each time a new Romance Magician's post goes live. Like this one you're reading.

If you'd like to try it out for yourself, sign up at and connect your Twitter account, then click the Add button below.
IFTTT Recipe: Tweet the Romance Magicians blogposts connects feed to twitter

It really is easy to automate your life.  ;)


AIDEE LADNIER is a writer who loves quirky characters. You can visit her website at or meet her at some of her favorite social media sites:
Twitter  |  Tumblr  |  Pinterest  |  Facebook

Friday, February 20, 2015

Events for Romance Readers in Alabama

Romance readers in Alabama have plenty to keep them busy this year.  There are three wonderful events showcasing not only national bestsellers, but also fantastic local romance authors.

The first event is tonight.  The Homewood Public Library in the Birmingham area is hosting Love in the Library.  USA Today Bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks will kick off the evening with a talk about her Love at Stake series, her historical romances, and what she’s planning next. She’ll also introduce you to some of the many local authors writing contemporary, romantic suspense, paranormal, and historical romances. A light reception and book signing will follow. This event is free and open to the public.  There will be numerous Southern Magic authors in attendance.  This event is going to be a real treat.

But the fun doesn't end there!  North Alabama loves romance as well.  On June 13, 2015, the Heart of Dixie Romance Writers of America Chapter will host its 18th Annual Romance Readers Luncheon at the Westin Hotel in Hunstsville.  Heart of Dixie will be hosting New York Times best seller Sylvia Day. Sylvia is the #1 New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of over 20 award-winning novels sold in more than 40 countries. She is a #1 bestselling author in 21 countries, with tens of millions of copies of her books in print. Her Crossfire series has been optioned for television by Lionsgate, and she has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Author. There will also be numerous local and regional authors hosting tables.  This event has been written up in Publishers Weekly, and is a "must attend" for any romance reader.  Tickets go on sale March 1! 

And we can't forget Southern Magic's Readers Luncheon (or #MagicLunch as we like to call it on social media).  Magic Lunch will be served by keynote speaker Darynda Jones and welcome speaker Lexi George in Birmingham, Alabama on November 7, 2015.  
Join local authors for lunch, followed by welcome speaker Lexi George and keynote speaker Darynda Jones. Attendees receive goodie bags with books and are eligible for door prize baskets. Enjoy a day with people who share your love of reading! Click here to register. The link will take you to a registration page at  This event also has caught the attention of Publishers Weekly: and 

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Holt Medallions, a RITA®, and a Daphne du Maurier. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin's Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy.

Our welcome speaker is RITA finalist Lexi George. Lexi writes paranormal romance set in Hannah, Alabama, a town rife with romance, sexy hunks, zany characters, and supernatural weirdness. Publisher's Weekly says, "George serves up memorable Southern one-liners, while upping the stakes in this satisfyingly funny series installment." Southern Magic is proud of call her one of our own. You can find her at

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chance Meetings, New Friends, Partners & A Release- Curious yet?

In July 2013, I attended my first RWA National Conference in Atlanta. While waiting for a pitch appointment, I met another aspiring writer named Christina Kirby. We exchanged business cards (Who knew those would be so handy before I was published?) and a few weeks later, she emailed me to ask if I would be interested in a critique partner. We've been bleeding all over each other's work ever since.

This week, we're celebrating together because her debut novel is now available from Soul Mate Publishing. Stop by the Facebook party on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 from 6-9 PM CST for guests, fun, games, and prizes.

I'll share my interview with Christina below, but first check out her cover and blurb.

Driven by fear and desperate to protect her family, Samantha is forced to leave Chicago and everything she’s worked to achieve, only to start over by tossing a dart-at-the-map. The Georgia townsfolk’s true Southern charm is the unexpected prescription needed to heal her soul, and the sexy carpenter who touches her heart are distractions she didn’t plan on, but they might offer her a chance at a new life, if she can let go of her past. 
Town heartbreaker, Spencer Malloy, isn’t looking for anything serious. His days are perfect working as a contractor, attending his nephew’s baseball games or taking him fishing. He never expects to fall for the big city girl, Samantha. She’s not his type, timid and closed off, but in her unguarded moments, he’s intrigued by the woman he can’t get out of his mind. The urge to get closer to her grows stronger each day, and when the shadow of evil resurfaces, he vows to protect Samantha, even if it means abandoning his home and joining her on the run.
When confronted by the man who’s bent on revenge, Samantha must choose between running again to save the people she loves, or if she has the strength, to stay and fight for her new life.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Evolution of Fiction

(Unfortunately, this will be my last blog post for Romance Magicians. Priorities have forced me to curtail some of my current commitments, and although I’m sad to go, I plan to stop by periodically for comments.)

Fiction categories and genres have changed so drastically over the years that I often wonder if I have a finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not. In fact, I nearly missed my chance to write the category I now believe I was meant to write.

When I was a teen, the spiciest young adult novel I could find in the school library was Forever by Judy Blume. Even by today’s standards, this book is a bit racy. But many teen girls, including myself, found this book a breath of fresh air. The author spared us the usual sugar-coating of first love, and at the time I read the book, I desperately needed this candid point of view. And because Judy Blume is … well, Judy Blume, she was allowed to publish Forever, despite many parents wanting it pulled from the shelves. I looked for more books that would be as truthful but could only find more sugar and spice and everything nice. I gave up on trying to relate to teen books and immediately turned to adult books.

I started writing adult romance when I was twenty and continued to do so until I hit burnout some twenty years later. For whatever reason, I’d hit a wall and no longer enjoyed writing. I was about to quit when a fellow writer and friend suggested I try my hand at writing young adult. I laughed and promptly explained how no teen could relate to my dark sarcasm and direct, sometimes gritty writing. Me? Writing a teen novel? No way.

Her reply? “You’ll be perfect for it.”

Apparently, things had changed a bit since I last read a teen book and she had a few suggestions to get me back into the YA frame of mind. Titles she thought I might enjoy. I was skeptical when I picked up Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols. Now don’t get me wrong. I know Jennifer Echols. She is one of the funniest people I've ever met. It’s why I chose Going Too Far as my first teen book to read.

I wasn’t a page into the book when I became hooked. The protagonist was sarcastic, hilarious and she had blue hair. Blue hair! There was underage drinking, mischief, and the topic of sex wasn’t something glossed over as if nobody thinks about it in high school. I finished the book in a day and promptly sent Jennifer a thank-you-for-such-an-awesome-book email. I then picked up another YA book and another.

I haven’t looked back and I'm having a blast writing again.

Recently, I found myself in a situation where I've had to read several adult romances again. This worried me since I haven’t read adult in a few years. How interesting to discover a few of those genres have changed and not just a little!

What changes have you noticed in the genres you read?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fortune's Horizon - A Fantastic Debut Romance Novel by My Writing Hero and Lucky Charm - Andrea Stein

She risks everything to deliver gold to the Confederacy.

Lillie Coulbourne marks time in Paris while the Civil War rages back home. While translating dispatches for the French Finance Ministry, she accepts a spy mission through the Union blockade. When the captain of the only blockade-runner headed back to a Southern port won't deal with women, or spies, she sneaks aboard as his cabin boy.

He refuses to risk his ship, or his heart.

Blockade runner Captain Jack Roberts has never been caught and he's not about to let a spoiled American heiress ruin his perfect record. After he discovers her deception, he fails miserably at keeping her at arm's length and vows to send her packing on the first mail ship back to England.

When she surprises him with her skill as a seaman and navigator, he grudgingly allows her to finish the run. But ultimately, he has to choose what is closer to his heart - Lillie or his ship.


After Martha swept out of the room, Lillie jumped off the bed to find Giselle laying out her clothes. A steaming tub of water tempted her in the far corner. She shed her mud-soaked traveling dress and sank into the water with a sigh of relief. Her maid held her hair up and began skillful spot repair of the mud damage in her heavy, dark curls.
Nothing like a short nap and hot water to lift a girl’s spirits. She had begun to rally her strength when there was a knock at the door. Her maid adjusted the screen around the tub and went to investigate.
“Lillie, you’ll never guess who we’ve drawn for partners.” Sarah’s bright, annoyingly chipper voice floated across the top of the screen.
“Please,” she groaned. “Tell me it’s not the ‘odious one.’”
“Yes, and I’m to go in with his friend, Edward.”
“Is there a gun anywhere out there?”
“Of course not. Why would you ask such a horrible question?”
“I was hoping you could just shoot me and get it over with. At the rate this whole affair is going, I’m probably going to be shot as a spy eventually, anyway. If we do it now, then I won’t have to endure all the torture in between.”
“It’s only dinner,” Sarah said. “We can maneuver them between us at the table so they’ll talk to each other and ignore us.”
Lillie stood, reached for the drying sheet her maid handed her, and moved resolutely toward her clothing.


Author Andrea K. Stein lives and writes at 9,800 feet in the Rocky Mountains, just fifteen minutes from the Continental Divide. A retired newspaper editor, she is a USCG certified sea captain who spent a number of years delivering yachts out of Charleston Harbor to destinations up and down the Caribbean. Many nights her ships were moored near the site where blockade-runners took on loads of cotton for the run back out through the Union blockade during the Civil War.

It's Friday the Thirteenth! Are you superstitious?
 Sailors’ Superstitions - Andrea Stein

Are you superstitious? Do you take extra care on Friday the Thirteenth? Do you go out of your way to avoid the path of black cats? If so, you’re not alone.

However, there is one line of work where superstition isn’t limited to a special day. Seafarers hate to leave on a long voyage, not just on the Thirteenth, but any Friday.

Many seagoing superstitions began centuries ago when men left port for months, or years, at a time. The primitive means of navigation and rescue available then meant they were at the mercy of the elements. The ancient mariner’s mind was fertile ground for all sorts of good luck, bad luck scenarios.

The cat some may avoid on land is more than welcome on a sailing ship. This notion probably came from early voyages where cats ate rodents that damaged ropes and stores of grain. However, if all rats disappeared, it was thought the ship was doomed.

Whistling supposedly challenges the wind to bring about a storm. Fletcher Christian is said to have used a whistle as the signal to begin the mutiny on the HMS Bounty.

The presence of women on ships was thought to distract sailors from duty. However, naked women were okay, because they “calm the sea.” Which explains the bare-breasted figureheads on the bows of old wooden seagoing ships.

According to British naval historian Andrew Lambert in an article about eighteenth century life at sea on the BBC History site, “…large numbers of women went to sea. Usually they were the wives of the petty officers - mature women who played important roles, including those of providing medical treatment and handling ammunition. In 1797, Admiral the Earl St Vincent issued an order demanding that women reduce their consumption of water. If not, he proposed sending them all home on the next transport.
Bell sounds were associated with funerals, so the ringing of a wine glass had to be stopped before its reverberation ended. Ships’ bells didn’t count when signaling the changes of watch, but if they rang of their own accord during a storm, death would follow.

The anchor tattoo is supposed to keep a sailor from drifting away if he falls overboard.

Many centuries ago, blood sacrifices were poured on the decks of newly launched ships. Later, wine was used, and now, champagne is the beverage of choice for nautical christenings.

A shark following a ship is considered an evil omen versus lucky, playful dolphins.

On one troublesome delivery, no electronics worked on the aging boat except a small light illuminating the compass. The third crewman became so ill that only two of us were left to split 24 hours of watches. Although becalmed during the day, we steered through squalls all night. I became so exhausted I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. Bellowing out every Beach Boys song I could remember to stay awake, I was suddenly surrounded by chattering dolphins – six of them. They were lucky for me.

What superstitions do you heed – just to be safe?

Five years ago, the last time the RWA National Conference was in New York, I found myself in need of a roommate to share expenses. I posted a note on the RWA Roommate Forum and, if you are the superstitious type, Fortune smiled on me. This nice lady in her sixties from Colorado - a non smoker and an aspiring romance writer - answered my post and the rest is history. Andrea Stein and I have been rooming together at every RWA National Conference since.

And the nice lady in her sixties? She is hell-on-wheels, a champion Spanx wrestler, and a take-no- prisoners conference attendee who gets more out of each day than most people get out of a lifetime. Just don't sit down to have drinks with her and the disreputable Louisa Cornell woman. They'll stiff you for drinks. Don't believe it? Just ask Joanna Bourne and Grace Burrowes.

I asked Andrea to tell us about sailors' superstitions because she would know. She is a licensed sea captain. She's also worked with the ski patrol in Breckenridge, Colorado for years. She is one of the most fearless and determined people I know. Andrea is another of my writing heroes. Good Lord, the woman has had a career in newspapers. She's had a career as a sea captain. She's had a career as a ski patroller. And now she is embarking on a career as a published romance author. Why don't you pick something hard, Roomie??? I admire her talent, her tenacity and her complete lack of fear when it comes to this business. And I am the lucky person who gets to borrow that fearlessness because she will not let me quit. When my fear of the unknown - my superstitions about this business make me want to give up, she hauls me to my feet and keeps me looking toward the horizon. She will not let me sink. At 56 I am not washed overboard. I believe that because knowing Andrea has told me so. I can't be when I see the completely dauntless way this lady pursues writing and life. Some sailors get dolphins. I got Andrea Stein, one of the most fearless, amazing, talented and kickass writers I know.

Want proof? Here's a little interview with my roomie.

What’s it like riding with Louisa Cornell in Atlanta traffic?

Like drinking from a fire hydrant while gripping the roll bar. :)

What is your writing process?

  1. A character climbs into my head.
  2. There is an explosion sorta like the inside of an overheated firecracker factory.
  3. Everyone else comes running out in fear of their lives.
  4. I begin extensive research. Otherwise, the crowd now inside my head will keep me awake nights.
  5. Piles of paper grow on every flat surface in my writing room.
  6. I organize everything into submission – in massive three-ring binders
  7. I write the ending.
  8. I block out scenes.
  9. I TRY to write 1,000 words a day until the darned thing’s done.
  10. My Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers critique group tries to hide, but I hunt them down like dogs.

Who are your favorite romance authors?

Louisa Cornell, of course, for great, humorous, off-the-beaten-path Regencies. 
Joanna Bourne – Napoleonic war spies - multiple RITAs
Jo Beverly – Regencies and especially, her Georgian settings - multiple RITAs
And lately, can’t get enough of Susanna Kearsley. She won a RITA for “The Firebird.”

What started you on your romance-writing journey? What have you learned along the way?

I had retired from the newspaper and publishing business, and wanted to learn to write a novel. The only way to do that is … to write a novel. So I blundered through about three-quarters of the way and then got lost. Took an online class from Writer’s Digest on “How to Finish a Novel.” Luckily, my teacher and eventual mentor was Terri Valentine, a romance writer. She told me I wasn’t writing a grand historical novel – I was writing a romance. Duh.

Since then I’ve gotten more advice (bad and good) than a peg-legged sailor trying to launch a boat. Most important lessons – Don’t stop trying, don’t take to heart all the criticism, and never stop learning. You can’t ignore criticism, but you have to filter it. Oh, and here’s a bonus – KNOW your book. It is your sacred responsibility to get that story out into the world as you intended.

Why the Civil War era and why a blockade-runner?

See the above answer about my process. Lillie and Jack climbed into my head when I was delivering yachts out of Charleston Harbor to points up and down the Caribbean. She spent a lot of time at sea, and he was a famous blockade-runner – never caught. Jack wrote several memoirs about his blockade exploits in the American South as well as when he served as an officer in the Turkish Navy. Both are available as Google Books. I got great details from his memories.

I spent a lot of time at the Charleston library while waiting for yachts to be commissioned before delivery. Also spent a lot of time drinking beer with local sailors who filled me in on some of the history of the harbor. If you spend any amount of time in the South, you’re going to hear their stories of the “War of Northern Aggression.” The Union blockade is still vivid in their imaginations more than a century later.

What sorts of things, events, and people did you have to research for “Fortune’s Horizon”?

Clothing – what they really wore at sea sometimes collides with readers’ assumptions. This was the Victorian era, not the 1700s. The industrial revolution was well under way. The simple wool pea coat Jack wears on the cover was exactly what civilian captains of the day would have worn.  Thank you, Kim Killion, my fantastic cover designer. Noncommissioned civilian sailors wore loose fitting pants, shirts, and heavy wool coats when necessary. They were called “slops,” which is what Lillie wore when she sneaked aboard Jack’s ship as his cabin boy.

My favorite part of the research was the ships. In fact, their ship, The Kate, was a character all on her own. I kept a file of all her specs and a schematic. I owe a huge thank-you to the Texas A&M Nautical Archaeology department for publishing online the results of their underwater excavation of the wreck of The Denbigh, a blockade-runner sunk during a run into a Southern port during the Civil War.

For the chronology of what was happening where and when in the Civil War, I relied on the lyrical accounts by author-historian Shelby Foote.

What would most surprise people about sailing in this Civil War era?

The speed of the steamships produced for blockade running. The technology used was far ahead of the strictly sail warships still in use by most navies of the world. Also, the syndicates who built the blockade-runners could realize $1 million – per run – in profits. That’s well over $40 million in today’s currency.

What made you decide to venture into indie publishing?

I have three completed full-length novels. Several have won major awards. Talking to agents and editors in the current publishing environment is an exercise in futility. If I don’t have something they know they can hit out of the ballpark, they’re not going to buy it. So, my question increasingly became “why” in the heck do they request my historical romances, sit on them for three to six months, and “then” tell me they “just can’t sell historical romances.”

I spent the last three years researching the self-pub process and talking to authors. And no – overnight spectacular sales are not the norm. But yes, steady publishing (one title every three to four months) keeps you in the search engines, builds your audience, and eventually may provide a comfortable side income. In fact, one very well known, NYT best-selling author told me if I had to choose between time to write and time spent on social media, choose writing. Because the book you’re writing sells the one you just published. If you self-publish just one book, the odds are heavily weighted against you.

After crafting a business plan, I put together a four-year schedule of four to five book releases a year. They will be a mix of full-length works and novellas, with a boxed set of all at the end of each year. Each year’s titles will have a common link.

I set up an LLC to funnel all expenses and any profits. I’m treating this as a numbers game. “X” number of words a day = enough product to reach my goals. I hire the best I can afford to edit content and design my covers. And the weird thing is now I’ve plotted my course, I can just write to my audience, I don’t have to second-guess myself to please the “gatekeepers.”

Most difficult aspect of indie publishing? What has been the least difficult?

Most difficult? Making the decision to let go of the traditional path to publishing.
Least difficult? Creating the wonderful, supportive network of fellow writers without whom none of this would be possible.

What aspect of indie publishing has been the most surprising?

The availability of top-notch professionals who are eager to help, at a surprisingly affordable price. I’ve hired a pro portrait photographer who devoted thousands of dollars of his time in exchange for a small percent of sales, best pro cover designer on the planet, Kim Killion, who helped me turn a crackpot idea for a cover into something amazing. Danielle Barclay’s publicity company is patiently walking me through the social media maze, pro editor Judy Brunswick out of Minneapolis gives me tons of invaluable feedback, and, most importantly (trumpets blaring) – my bookkeeper, Katie, keeps me financially sane.

How did I find these great people? Through attention to clues from successful self-pubbers on various indie email loops. Also get recommendations from other authors you know. Chat with vendors you meet at conferences. Find a comfort level and then date before you commit.

You are a licensed sea captain. What is entailed in becoming a licensed sea captain?

I have an OUPV “six-pack” near coastal license which requires at least 360 days of documented experience in the operation of vessels, 90 of which must be gained seaward of the (international) boundary line, and within the previous three years.

Which means I can take out commercial trips of no more than six paying passengers up to 100 miles off US shores, on a vessel up to 100 tons. However, the US certification is so respected throughout the world, that international companies recognize it for chartering yachts.

Each captain you work for has to sign a certified document for the US Coastguard verifying your time. Then you have to take a long test you’re given four hours to complete. The biggest part is navigation. You get a chart (mine was of the waters off Block Island) and a nasty navigation problem to solve. When I took the test in Charleston, I used up most of the time on that section. I nearly panicked when I looked up and realized I had less than two hours left for the remaining three parts of the test. Ackkk. Fortunately, the questions were all multiple choice, and I had studied the heck out of the material. I finished on time and passed the darned thing.

If all of the above weren’t enough, you have to keep current in first aid and CPR and you have to maintain a TWIC certification through Homeland Security. (Please don’t ask me to explain that bureaucratic boondoggle J) At one point I had to fly to the East coast to get my credentials renewed and then argue with a TSA official who said I had to apply at my “home port” in Colorado. He actually believed Colorado is on the West Coast. When he went online to prove how stupid I am, there it was – inland Colorado in all its glory. Glad I could give someone who defends our borders a lesson in geography. LOL

Are there a lot of female sea captains?

No. Don’t have numbers to back this up, but the few women captains I’ve met are really good at what they do. I’m pretty good at Google searches, but I came up dry on the total number of women captains. Not much out there on us.

In the military, they are few and far between, not to mention fairly recent:

1990 – Lt. Cmdr. Darlene Iskra became the first Navy woman to command a ship, USS Opportune
1998 - Cmdr. Maureen A. Farren became the first woman to command a combatant ship in the Navy.
2010 – Cmdr. Nora W. Tyson became the first woman to command a carrier strike group in the Navy.
2012 - Five "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron One Two Five embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as part of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen. They flew an historic flight on 25 January when they participated in the Navy's first all-female E-2C Hawkeye combat mission. Wow – did an all-male mission ever generate this much excitement?

How do male sea captains react to female sea captains these days?

If they are competent captains, they are glad to have an extra competent hand at sea. If they’re goobers, well they’re gonna be goobers J

You are also a ski patroller in the Colorado Rockies. Tell us about your cover model and about the charity some of the proceeds from your book will go to in his honor. And tell us what kind of ribbing he caught from the guys with whom he works.

My model, Chris, is a ski patroller I worked with when I was a full-time patroller from 2000 to 2007. I now do volunteer safety work with a ski patrol group near Breckenridge. He has always been involved with training and handling avalanche rescue dogs. Now he is a battalion chief at a fire department in a high country community west of here. So he’s been a “working hero” for many years. His wife is another “working hero” - a mountain flight nurse. They spend their downtime together hiking, biking and skiing with their rescue dogs in the beautiful Colorado backcountry. His favorite charity, which will receive two percent of all sales of the books on which he’s featured, is the Friends of USAR in Colorado, volunteer dog handlers and trainers who work disasters with FEMA as well as avalanche and other search and rescue. The funds go to support training and dog expenses.

My “working hero” for my second book, “Secret Harbor,” coming out in May 2015, is Drew. He is a snow safety expert who has worked in both Colorado and New Zealand. He makes sure there won’t be any avalanches inside ski resorts. He does that by skiing out in impossibly steep terrain, sometimes alone, many times in early morning darkness, with a backpack of bombs. Yes, that’s how they prevent avalanches – by purposely starting one. He knows how to dig a snow pit and figure out just how dangerous the spot where he’s standing might be. And, bonus for me – he looks just like a pirate-smuggler from the 1700s.

What I really love about these guys is they risk their lives for others, but they don’t have a clue as to how hunky they are. If they decide to be your friend, they’re going to be one of the best friends you’ve ever had. And yes, the ribbing Chris has already taken from fellow rescue workers on Facebook has been epic ever since the cover reveal. I think there may be a tiny element of jealousy there, but that’s just me

See? Amazing, right? 

So, Andrea and I have two questions for you.

What superstitions do you heed – just to be safe? 


Who is your lucky charm, the person who keeps you sailing toward the horizon?