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summer 2002

Hello, Readers and Booksellers,

Sorry to disappoint you, but it's Shirl again. This time I have a special reason for writing what is usually my husband Jim's newsletter to you. Oh, he'll be along in a month or so to regale you with tales of our annual trip to Colorado and our friends horses whom he believes are involved in a conspiracy to kill him, but I digress…

As I said, this is not the normal newsletter. Rather, it's a call for some critical comment and feedback. Remember earlier this year I mentioned that I was attempting to persuade Jim to try his hand at writing a romance novel? Well, for years he has helped my associate Carol Reynard and me out, not just by editing our books, but by writing entire scenes for them and even supplying plot outlines. Some we have actually turned into books, such as McCrory's Lady, which has recently been reissued by Leisure.

The past year or so, he's been driving me crazy (well, crazier than usual). He's dumped no less than eight full-length plot outlines on my desk. Some of these are as long as 25 pages--single spaced pages! And you know what--half a dozen of them are really quite intriguing.

To preserve my sanity, to save my desk from collapsing under the weight of critical mass, and to allow me to get on with my own work, I picked one of the proposals Jim gave me and told him to write me three chapters of the story. I threatened not to allow him to put so much as a birthday card on my desk until he at least experienced what a fiction writer goes through to produce a book. I refused to take no for an answer. After all, when he was an English professor, the turkey published four scholarly books and a ton of journal articles.

After months of struggle, he has just finished those three chapters of The River Nymph. I think they are quite good. In fact, the main editing I had to do was to delete a lot of the cuss words, a fault Jim's hero shares with his creator. Now I'd like to see what you think. The story begins with a rather bizarre card game on a river boat moored on the St. Louis levee in 1875. From there Clint and Delilah have a number of funny and some not-so-funny adventures as they travel up the Missouri to Fort Benton in Montana Territory. Along the way they meet some fascinating and colorful characters such as Liver-eating Johnson (made famous in an old Robert Redford movie) and a group of strutting Teton Sioux warriors whom Clint just about cures of their nicotine habit in a "bang-up" fashion.

Click over to the "Upcoming" section on this website and read the chapters. Then please email me your verdict. Does Jim have a possible career as a historical romance writer? Or, should he give it up and go back to rolling drunks? Seriously, don't get me wrong. I'm lucky. Few romance writers have husbands who not only care about their work, but can really give them useful assistance. Still, even chocolate peanutbutter ice cream (my absolute fav) gets to be too much of a good thing when it's served up by the dump truck load!

Happy reading and keep cool this summer,


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