Wednesday, August 15, 2012



Archeologist Dante Covelli is a complicated man with a complicated past he doesn't talk about. His personal philosophy goes something like this: It's up to me to make things right. Of course, Keegan Thomas feels that's her job, so it's no surprise they don't see eye to eye.

Dante thinks Keegan is nosing around and interfering in something that is not her business by asking questions about a photograph taken on the reservation fifty years before. She, on the other hand, feels she's bringing a gift of memory to young Navajos by providing them a glimpse of the faces of elderly family members they may never have seen before.

Dante questions her true intentions as a journalist, and with good reason. He came to Monument Valley in the first place to keep a low profile and avoid contact with the media. He wonders if she's there to bring up that whole mess from his past.

He thinks Keegan is irresponsible and inconsiderate. She wants him to lighten up. He, like Keegan, tends to bury himself in his work to dull the pain of the past, a pain inflicted by people in whom they'd invested their trust.

Monday, May 23, 2011

PICTURE OF LIES - Keegan Thomas

While PICTURE OF LIES was in development, I put a lot of thought into my main character, Keegan Thomas. The journey on which I planned to send her required a certain temperment and personality as I wasn't going to make things easy for her. She needed to have a good amount of courage and perserverence despite some personal character flaws that could easily paralyze someone into inaction.

As an investigative reporter, her goal in the story is to find people in a fifty-year-old photograph, and discover the whereabouts of a little Navajo girl, now an adult, who was kidnapped by missionaries and never returned. Can you imagine the determination required to do this? It's what she finds out during her inquiries that really tests her mettle. So I had to make her extremely extroverted, driven, and aggressive when it came to things she felt strongly about.

And what I like about her most is that she is able to do her job despite the terrible pain she feels over losing her own child. In her mind, she's to blame her child went missing. She feels responsible, feels that if she'd been a better mother, it would not have happened. After all, she was right there on that same foggy beach .

The stress of keeping it together manifests itself in some mild OCD behaviors. In the throes of anger or stress, Keegan finds herself compulsively counting things - the number of people in the restaurant, the number of black cars that go through a certain intersection before the light turns red, the number of uprights in a wrought iron fence. This quirk does not get in her way. Strangely, it helps her focus so she can move forward. She really needs that focus later when she finds herself stranded in the wilderness, and again at the end of the book when she's at the wrong end of a gun.

Have I modeled this character after myself? Well, maybe, but it's a better, stronger, prettier, taller, thinner, more inquisitive, impulsive, and courageous version of me. Oh, and younger.

The story thread about the missing Navajo child kidnapped by missionaries was inspired by a true event. The real kidnapped child was found and reunited with his natural family while I lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation as a VISTA volunteer.

And if you notice the acknowledgement at the front of the book to Two Spirits - that's true, too. Watch Independent Lens on PBS on June 14 for the real story.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

PICTURE OF LIES October 2011 Release

Adance Review copies of my new book, PICTURE OF LIES, went out last week. I love this book and hope you all do, too. The story returns to Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation where THE CHARMSTONE was set. Different characters, but same locale. Readers who were swept away to Monument Valley while reading THE CHARMSTONE may experience the same journey while reading PICTURE OF LIES. I hope so. I certainly was.

Investigative journalist Keegan Thomas travels to Monument Valley seeking people who appear with her grandfather in an old photograph that was found in his belongings after his death. A string of mysteries evolve from that including the search for an Indian child she is told was kidnapped by missionaries and taken to a boarding school, but never returned. This is especially heartbreaking for her as she's been living a nightmare of guilt and grief since her own little girl, Daisy, was kidnapped practically in front of her eyes.

Her courage and persistence uncover a web of deception that stretches back two generations, and the truth she learns about her own family is the most shocking betrayal of all. Nothing can prepare her for the danger she encounters when she becomes the target of a powerful U.S. senator who will do anything to stop her from telling what she finds out about the people in the picture and what they were up to. Some of the events in the story were inspired by my experiences and the stories I heard while I lived in Monument Valley as a VISTA volunteer.

The next book is already churning around in my head. It's called THE MISSING GIRL, and continues some of the story questions presented in PICTURE OF LIES. You'll see at the end of PICTURE OF LIES where I might be going with that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


How much realism do readers want and expect in a novel? Authors worry about this all the time. Some go so far as to check things like sunrise and sunset time tables, and the GPS location of a certain building in the city where their story is set so their references are accurate.

I say, lighten up my fellow authors! It IS fiction, after all. That's what the willing suspension of disbelief is for.

While I do agree we need to make the guns and explosives accurate, and I do tons of research for my own books, I don't get all bent out of shape if the author of a book I'm reading puts Tom's Tavern in Golden instead of Boulder. In fact, I can't think of a single novel I ever gave up on because the author made something like that up.

After all, it's the story that counts. I try to make my stories compelling and fast moving even if I have to ignore reality at times. I will always put the story first.

After all, one of the first things we learn when we begin writing fiction is that it doesn't have to BE real, it just has to SEEM real.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I recently read an interesting discussion on a writer's blog about book time - how to accomplish everything that needs to happen in the abbreviated time frame of a mystery or romance novel. Characters grow and change, travel, meetings and conversations must occur to move the the story forward, but those events aren't necessarily shown on the page. Still the reader needs to be somehow grounded in time and place to avoid confusion. Well, it's a challenge to a writer, for sure.

Book time is something I'm very aware of when I'm writing, but not so much when I'm reading except when I'm reading romance or romantic suspense. Then I have a lot of trouble with characters who hate each other at the beginning of the book then suddenly love each other. There has to be a darn good reason why she loves him after hating him, and I mean something other than a good sexual encounter. He has to do something really extraordinary to make her change her mind during the space and time limits of a 60,000 to 100,000 word book or I don't believe it as a reader.

Otherwise, when I'm reading I pretty much go with the flow of the story timeline without noticing the book time passing unless it's called to my attention by the author. To be honest, the quick 45 minute solution to most television series is why I don't watch much television. When I do watch a TV series, it's usually one that continues the story from week to week, like "The Good Wife" or "Damages" or "Rubicon" or "The Tudors" or "The Event."

One of the reasons I'm so aware of this challenge in my writing is that some time ago I had a previous agent tell me that the "time tags" I used, you know, those lines at the beginning of chapters giving the date or day of that chapter's events, was too distracting. I had to change it and incorporate the book time passing in the text.

Later, in another manuscript, I had an editor tell me that my book time passing references within the text was a bad habit. So I truly struggle with that in all my writing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Good-bye Droid, Hello LG

I had to say good-bye to my Droid. Oh, it was a great relationship while it lasted! It did wonderful things. I could get instructions for the board games Guesstures and Pictionary. I could search Amazon for books, look up phone numbers and addresses, get driving instructions from MapQuest, find coupons for anything I wanted to purchase, check movie times and TV schedules, and so much more.

But it was a bossy little thing! And it was so sensitive! It took me to websites I didn't want, called phone numbers I didn't mean to, cut off calls I wanted to take, and pretty much had a mind of its own. So I had to let it go.

Hello, my old friend LG! Sorry I left you behind, but I'm back now to pick up where we left off. I missed you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I had some very good news recently from the lovely Jen Long at Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book. My book, SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR (written as Christy Hubbard) is a finalist in the 2010 Colorado Book Award!!

I couldn't be more thrilled. It's quite an honor and I'm in very good company. The Colorado Book Award recognizes outstanding contributions by authors, editors, illustrators and photographers in multiple categories: history, literary fiction, genre fiction (historical, romance, science fiction/fantasy, mystery/thriller), general nonfiction, juvenile literature, pictorial, poetry, and young adult literature. See for the list of other finalists. It's impressive.

SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR, written under the pseudonym Christy Hubbard, looks at the hardships faced by women in the Rocky Mountain Gold Rush towns of the Old West. It's the story of how mothers, wives, and daughters transformed their rough and tumble mining town into a family friendly center of culture and sophistication. Reviewers have called the book a "marvelous tale of hope and possibilities," and an "inspiring, well-written historical novel filled with details that are sure to please western history buffs."

And I am especially pleased this book is being recognized in such a presigious manner because there was someone who did not believe in it - AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Fortunately there was only one. Now I'm not one to say I told you so, I only want to say - thank you Colorado Book Award judges for the recognition. I'm still walking on air.