Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toward The Sky: Into Each Life

Fred Dawson yanked his face from the onslaught of cold water thrown by a passing car, but otherwise, he didn’t bother to acknowledge it. After what he’d been through the past few months, icy dirty water gushing over him was almost laughable. Except he’d yet found a good reason, or even the tiniest excuse, to laugh since he’d been home.

Home. He supposed it was home. It was at least as close as he had. Why he sat on a saturated wooden bench alongside the road past one a.m., in the rain no less, when he had a comfortable warm apartment waiting for him was anyone’s guess.

Truth be told, he did know. He would never admit it to anyone, but he did know. Life brimmed to the top out here. It was everywhere he looked. Normalcy. Shops with closed signs in the windows, the edges highlighted by security lights within. An all-night convenience gas station with an occasional customer stopping and dashing through the rain to get whatever he had to have at this time of the morning. Protection from a last-minute romantic encounter, maybe. A case of beer to get through the rest of the dark before daylight.

And the rain. It had a life of its own as well as producing and supporting life. He watched it run along the road in search of a drain to empty into. He focused on how it panged his bare arms and slid off, leaving goose bumps in its wake. He blinked it off his eyelashes, tasted its crispness on his lips.

The wet cold held a magnificence he would never be able to explain to anyone who hadn’t been out there in the desert, in the dry cold, the lifeless cold. The cold from which there was no escape, even huddled around the heater in the center of the tent. He never bothered to huddle. It did no good. Even when his outside was warm, his inner core was always cold.

So starts Toward The Sky, my short moment in time story accepted by Classic Romance Revival for its premiere anthology.

Rain is an oft-used metaphorical device in fiction. There is so much it can say to a reader without having to actually say it. We’re all familiar with the verse: “Into each life, a little rain must fall.” Sometimes, it’s much more than a little. Some of us feel too many torrential downfalls or too often.

At the start of Toward The Sky, Daws has just come home from a very long deluge and sitting in the rain inviting it is a reflection of both his past and his personality. At some point, the strong who have been drenched often enough already simply raise their hands and say, “Okay then, bring it on.” This is Daws.

I stole Daws for Toward The Sky. He is actually the antagonist in my November 2009 novel, Off The Moon. That’s the one where Ryan, my young pop star with much to learn, is thwarted in his attempts to be as self-centered as he wants to be (or as part of him wants to be) by his bodyguard, Fred Dawson, aka Daws. There is more to the story of Daws and his relationship with Ryan than I could put in the novel, however, and so, this story came about to re-introduce him. This November during Nanowrimo, I plan to write his story, a love and redemption story, as well as a deeper look into Ryan’s past.

CupidDiaries-MomentsinTime In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading this 2,000 word romance to find out what happens to Daws while he’s sitting in the rain along the street at the dead of night, go check out CRR’s The Cupid Diaries: Moments In Time. For only $2.99, you get stories by 13 different authors. It’s a great way to find “new to you” authors of all different romance subgenres. 

And be sure to follow the mini blog carnival this week and read entries by some of the other anthology authors about their contributions!

CRR will draw 10 winners from those commenting on the blogs during the carnival to win a copy of The Cupid Diaries, so be sure to let the authors know you stopped by!

Oh, and just as the rain, that so often signifies sorrow and distress in fiction and yet feeds the earth’s soul, my fiction often deals with sorrow and distress, but it always ends upbeat, and it hopefully leaves a bit of food for the reader’s soul.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Marketing: A bit o’ luck be with you

fourleafclovers-LKH04I’ve come to think much of marketing is nothing but luck … a gamble that may or may not work, but then, you know you won’t win if you don’t play. Odds are something will work if you keep playing and adapting to the game. Right?

As I mentioned yesterday, my early attempts seemed pointless so adaptation became necessary. I wanted to know what worked for others, what prompted readers to spend their hard-earned money on certain books, where my time and hard-earned dollars would be best spent. I’d been on a few Yahoo lists for some of my interests, so I thought it was time to start looking up lists of readers, specifically romance and literary readers. The first I found was Coffee Time Romance and I started slowly, with the one list, to check it out and see what was going on. What do you know? Not only were lots of readers there talking about books and reading, but so were lots of authors sharing their work!

I timidly began sharing bits of promo about my own work and received a nice enough reception that my lists grew. Many authors are on as many as 20 lists and keep up with them regularly. I’m not organized enough for all of that, so I’m still limited to the few I’m on. Still, along with readers, it’s been a great way to meet other writers. I recommend to authors not on lists they may want to find a few.

I did learn some things about marketing from the chats and networking.

~~ Most readers love to get bookmarks from authors! So, I switched from business cards and postcards to bookmarks. I have them for all of my books (except one and there’s a story with that not worth telling) and since I spent money on the things, I started forcing myself to take them into bookstores and asking if I can leave them. Most of the time, I got a very gracious acceptance. A couple of times I didn’t, and I didn’t return to those places.

~~ Hot romance sells better than mild romance. *shrug* There’s not much I can do about this one, since I don’t write hot and don’t have any interest in doing so. It did tell me I shouldn’t be overly worried about my sales being lower than some, since my fellow “not hot” writers all mentioned the same.

~~ The description “mainstream” is being used differently in romance circles than in other literary circles. It’s important to keep up with the terms and ins and outs of your particular genre. Going against that grain is of course your call, but be aware it’s a harder sell.

~~ The term “literary” will chase most romance readers away. Again, not much I can do about that except to call my work something it’s not, and I don’t believe an author should ever be deceitful. If it helps short term, it can be harmful long term, and long term should be the big focus if you plan to stay in the business.

~~ What you say online anywhere, particularly on lists and blogs and social networks, can follow you forever. I found myself turning away from even giving an author’s work a chance when she was rude online, or when she said she “doesn’t read” or so on. Be very careful about your online presence in general. It can be stored forever.

~~ Readers want excerpts. Make them available! I was already doing this at book signings, since after my first one was so slow, I wanted something to give away so they would at least know what I was writing. I also learned from other authors that bookstore signings are usually slow and most often the biggest attention you receive is to be asked where the bathroom is. Don’t let it get to you, and decide if it’s worth your time before you jump in.

~~ If you’re asked to join an author blog, make sure to accept if it fits your books and if it’s at all possible to keep up. Group blogs are a great way to meet a different audience. I’m a member of two group blogs:
Lindsay’s Romantics &
Classic Romance Revival
(In order to be asked, take part in conversations on blogs and lists so the owner will see your marketing potential, your interest in chatting with readers, and the quality of your casual writing.)

As this is again long enough, I’ll leave more for another day. Tomorrow, I’m part of Classic Romance Revival’s Blog Carnival for the Cupid Diaries anthology (cover and link is at the right) and will leave that highlighted for a few days.

If any of you authors dropping by here have other hints that you’ve learned from networking, feel free to add them in the comments!

Oh, and about that Irish luck? I’ve been to Ireland and it’s gorgeous. However, it’s also cold and rainy on a near-constant basis and the land is nearly all rock that took much effort to clear in order to be able to farm. Still, they thrive. How? Because of that effort against the odds. Because they stand out in the cold windy rain and keep fishing as though they don’t notice the weather. Because when they were getting their farms started, they used those big rocks they pulled from the ground, stacked them atop each other at the edges of their property, and let them become what are now: beautiful, strong, stalwart fences defining their land and their country.

It’s like my grandpa once said when someone was wishing for the luck some other guy had: “Tell you what, you go out there and work as hard as he does for as many hours as he does, and you’ll have his good luck, too.” That’s the luck of the Irish.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

THAT bad word: Marketing

greatjobThis frustrated little guy is how most of us writers feel about marketing. UGH! Just the word “marketing” is likely to lead us to the nearest, hardest wall.

I’ve been trying to learn how to market since 2003. In truth, I mainly ignored that part of the process for some time after my first book came out. A not exaggerated fact about me: I’m social phobic, and have been for many, many years (yes, I am that old). I don’t mean I’m only kind of reserved. I mean according to the DSM-IV (psych manual of disorders), I’m full-blown social phobic. Well, or I was full-blown. Now I’m only half blown. Uh.. or something like that. Either way, I can talk to one person in a casual setting who I am familiar with and still fight shaking hands and voice tremors and heart rate increase. Add several more people in a group who are looking at me and expecting me to speak and all of that increases, along with the warming face and swirling head that feels like my brain’s in a Tilt-A-Whirl underground with water rushing in.

So, when I read the plethora of expert advice on marketing that all led to … UGH! … public speaking, I just figured I would never sell books other than to family and a few close friends because there was NO WAY in the world I was going to voluntarily speak in public.

A..hem…  Well, I have. To an extent, a very small extent. But we’ll get to that later.

Avoiding that humiliation at all costs, I searched for any way other than that to get the word out. I bought John Kremer’s 1001 Ways To Market Your Books and spent a fair amount of time getting ideas and learning the process. Much of it is geared toward non-fiction or authors with an actual publishing house, so it left me with about 5 ways to market my indie mutt genre books. (Okay, that one is an exaggeration. There were more than 5 left that applied. A few more than 5.) Of course, this was way back before being indie started to be cool.

[Read my post about not so cool indie beginnings here at Lindsay’s Romantics.]

What did I do? Here’s a brief list as I can remember. I don’t remember which ideas I found in Kremer’s book and which I adapted, created on my own. Most of this applied to my second book, Rehearsal: A Different Drummer, since from what I read, I’d lost the “new book” window for Finishing Touches.

~~ I bought my own domain name and used my amateur html and web skills to put up my brand: where the thousands of readers I would reach by my marketing efforts would throng to find more info. (uh..)

~~ I ordered business cards with one of my books featured, along with my web address. (That works best if you have the guts to actually give them out.)

~~ I ordered postcards with the same info, then searched online to find dozens of indie booksellers, printed out the info, and sat addressing postcards each night for about a week, bought post card stamps, and mailed them out. (Please don’t imitate this method. It’s a waste of stamps.)

~~ I started up an indie arts site to feature other indies of different sorts and bought pens with the site address to hand out (or conveniently ‘forget’ to take with me when I was out and used one).

None of it seemed to be even making a dent in getting my name out there, despite some gorgeous reviews from the handful of people who did read my books. I added some of those reviews to my “reworked several times” website and begged a few of those readers to please leave reviews on my publisher’s site! Bless their souls, they sure did, too. Some of them did.

Without results, it was time to go back to more research about how to market. If there’s one big thing I’ve accomplished, it’s that I’ve learned a heck of a lot of “how to” although putting it into practice is another story.

As this is getting long and one thing I’ve learned is to keep blog posts fairly short since online reading attention span is fairly short, I’ll continue this tomorrow.

Come back and bring your friends and I’ll get to how I found techniques that are much more productive than those above.

By the way, I now have my blog organized! Entries are linked in categories. Find what you want to read by clicking on one of the top tabs.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Back to the Basics

Tree graphic ©LK HunsakerSometimes you have to go back to the basics and start at the beginning.

Yesterday, still stuck on my WIP (work in progress), I walked away from the computer, grabbed pencil, binder, and loose leaf paper, and went to work on my front porch. I was distracted with perusing nature for some time, and by a little hummingbird that kept buzzing back and forth between the nearest tree and my porch feeder, but as they say, a writer is working even when she looks like she’s daydreaming.

After a nice relaxation/meditation aided by singing birds and the satisfaction of a pretty, neat yard from the hours of tiring work that went into it, the words began to flow.

There is something about putting pencil on paper that outshines keyboard and monitor by far.

That’s how I started. Way back when as I reclaimed my writer’s soul and restarted a story I’d begun as a teen, I grabbed a new package of college ruled loose leaf paper, found a bright yellow folder to collect the pages, and relished the tactile experience of creating stories. Not only was the pencil in hand and light scratching of ‘lead’ on paper fulfilling, but also the feel of a new package of unused notebook paper and the look of the highly sharpened pencil.

This was in 1996. June 1996. Funny that it should be June again when I returned to that method.

How do I remember it was June 1996? I wrote it, in pencil, on the front of my yellow 3-ring folder. In time, I wrote other things on it, as well: story notes and reminders, quotes, inspirations. It didn’t take long for that cardboard binder to become too full to hold the pages that spilled out of my imagination so fast I could hardly keep up. I had to upgrade to a new binder: a big 2 inch navy blue sturdy thing with see-through pockets. In the same vein as the yellow folder, the pockets were used to host inspirational things: quotes, cut out cartoons, and a small blue page on which I’d copied part of Corinthians 13 onto.

Humble writing beginnings, they were. And the most fulfilling.

Somewhere, part of that soul-quenching feeling faded. Maybe it was turning to the computer for not only transcribing the tons of pages I’d hand written, but for doing the first draft, as well. Maybe it was giving in to how it “should” be done and starting from the beginning and working toward the end, instead of my own unlearned method of writing down scenes as they came to me and putting them in order in that blue binder. Maybe it was trying to produce faster. After all, it was 10 years between starting that story and publishing the first book of what became so long it had to be a series. Maybe it’s the marketing that turns my art into a business.

Whatever it is that has caused the fire-squelching in recent years, it had to stop. Reverse.

A couple of days ago, a writer friend  (thank you, Paul)  posted an article link to a writer talking of freehand writing versus computer drafts. It struck a very deep chord.

So yesterday, I walked away from the computer, grabbed pencil and loose leaf paper, and another big navy binder, and sat on my front porch to return to the basics.

When it became too dark to work outside, I simply picked them up, relocated to my daybed, and continued.

I have 5 sheets, front and back, of college-ruled paper full of … scenes. Three different scenes, with whatever I decided to write at the moment.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more fulfilled in my writing career. I can’t wait to get back to it today.

~~ ~~ ~~
Yes, I still have the original folder and binder, and I still use them while continuing work on that series:


Monday, June 07, 2010

What’s in the artist’s name?

SelfPortrait-CarelFabritiusI have a dearly departed friend, also my first editor, who wrote a book called “The Real Shakespeare” several years ago. She joined a large debate of those who believe the man named William Shakespeare did not actually write all of those gorgeous plays. I give all respect to Marilyn Savage Gray for her views and incredible research for the book. Maybe she’s right. And maybe those who say it was actually a woman who wrote them, using his name since women were not accepted as writers back then are right. How do we know?

More importantly, how much does it matter?

Today on’s Facebook page, they bring up a painting called “Girl With A Broom” from 1640, signed by Rembrandt. We all know who Rembrandt is, whether or not we could pick out his work. His name is up there with the masters of art, and well-deserved. They ask, though, was that painting done by Rembrandt? Or was it done by one of his students: Carel Fabritius?

I daresay most of us haven’t heard of Fabritius. I hadn’t. And yet, if you look at his self-portrait posted here (from ), you see quality work and a departure from Rembrandt in that his background is lighter and the painting in general is less dark.

Did you know that many of the masters had students helping to create their art? They were able to complete more work that way, and in doing so, earn more money. I have personal issues against the practice. Once another’s hands are in a work of art, it is no longer as truly pure. How do you know which comes from the named artist and which from students (or editors, for that matter).

Maybe that’s all besides the point. Maybe it’s what’s left behind that matters and not who produced it. I do feel that way about Shakespeare’s works, although if someone else did do the writing, I would like to know that and give that artist credit. (I don’t believe much in ghostwriting, either, although many writers make a good living with the practice and seem fine with not having the recognition.)

Personally, I feel Shakespeare wrote his own work, possibly with editing help or even with “student” assistance such as the fine art masters had. One of the big objections that critics use against him writing his own is that he was “common” and not school educated. Ah well, so was Abraham Lincoln. That point doesn’t hold an ounce of water with me.

I put much more value in self-education, anyway. School education follows a model, attempting to mold all kids to learn the same way and the same things. It’s like Fabritius studying under Rembrandt’s style so much that we can’t tell for sure which work is from which artist. Rembrandt’s name is the better known because he created his own style after learning bits and pieces from others and changing and manipulating the lessons into something different. That’s self-education at its best.

So does the artist’s name matter? Apparently it does if the artist stands out from the crowd instead of following the beaten path.

Shakespeare was not only a principal actor at the time, but he also was in large part an owner of the Globe theater. In this way, he could be considered one of the leaders of self-publishing.  Did he write his own work? I would say yes, at least enough of it to establish his name. If others did no more than follow his style to add to the body of work, does it matter if we know their names? I’m not so sure. At that point, it’s the work itself that matters.

I had the opportunity to go into the Globe Theater a couple of years ago when we visited England. Of course, it’s not THE Globe, since the original burned to the ground, but still, it was a memorable event and I could almost feel myself sitting amongst the crowd watching an original Shakespeare performance on its premiere showing. It’s a powerful thing to surround yourself with largeness and originality and the work of the masters, and take pieces of that away with you to create your own masterpieces.

Globe Theatre ©LK Hunsaker. do not copy

Globe Theater ©LK Hunsaker  do not copy

 Globe Theater ©LK Hunsaker  do not copy

Find Rembrandt’s work on
Find Fabritius’s work on

Find Marilyn Savage Gray’s books Here or at

Friday, June 04, 2010

Protect The Heart: Released!

Boots ©LKHunsaker 2010

Abraham slung his backpack over his shoulders and headed down the dusty road toward town. His father asked to take him. Begged, nearly. But Abe didn’t want his goodbye, which could be his final goodbye, to be at the train depot. He wanted it at home, on their farm, where by all rights he should have been helping with chores. His father would manage without him. He had always managed. Even through the torturous years of watching Abraham’s mother drift away through the mind-dissolving dementia and then finally leave them for good, his father had managed.

Abraham hoped with every part of his soul he would return to the farm, to his father, and be there to help him manage during his aging days. It would be soon. Charles Luchner showed signs of slowing. It hurt Abe to see it. It would hurt him more to have to see his father watch him leave on that train, standing on the platform managing to control his sadness, his fear.

At the edge of his property, he kicked a rock out of his path. The long walk into town would do him good, help him prepare for what was to come. Not that he wasn’t prepared already. Constant farm chores without machinery to make them easier had built his strength and stamina well. Days of rising before the roosters to take care of the crops and the cows, and to move lines in bitter cold air and knee deep snow and in the hottest times of the summer made him sturdy. He didn’t figure war would be much harder, physically. What he wasn’t sure of was how disruptive it would be to his mind. He had no qualm about fighting as needed. He was raised to stand up for himself and those around him and did so without hesitation. And now he was proud to do it for his country. He’d never actually taken a life, though. He knew how to avoid that risk during a fight.

His father told him to be someone else out there, to tell himself he was doing good and that sometimes evil was necessary to prevent worse evil. “Never let it make you feel bad about who you are.” Charles Luchner’s voice echoed in his thoughts. “Remember your heart is in the right place and that’s what matters.” Lives came and went. They always would. The heart is what lasted. Protect the heart, he’d said.

Abraham adjusted his backpack in an imitation of adjusting his thoughts and wondered how soon his father would find the wood carving at the back side of the house. He’d done it in secret as a message for when he wasn’t there. A heart. Enclosed within hands inside an image of the farm, their farm. Abe engraved it in the back of the wooden bench swing he’d made while he kept it hidden in a corner of the barn. His father loved to sit out behind the house on nice days and simply look over their land, land passed through generations of his family, worked by many hands who loved their bit of America, as his father said. Before he left, Abe wanted him to have a more comfortable place to do it; a place that would leave a part of himself behind for his father to keep. He’d moved it out to the yard just as dawn was breaking.

As he walked, he eyed the light echo of misty mountains in the distance. There weren’t many trees in Snake River country, at least not in his part of it, in southern Idaho. What were there were rather sparse, as compared to what he’d seen during his travels back east. His father had sent him to see something of the country after he earned his diploma and before he settled in to learn how to take over the farm. Abraham’s thoughts often returned to the long train trip where he jumped off here and there to explore different territories and different people. As much as he loved the travel, he also loved the return to his mountains. To his farm. One day, it would be his. One day after that, he would share it with a family of his own. Anyway, that was his plan.

If he returned.

Tires flying up the gravel road from behind broke his thoughts and he moved into the yellowed weeds. They needed rain. But then, they usually needed rain.

The car stopped. “Get in.”

Abe sighed and looked over at Cameron. He wanted the long walk into town to be alone with his thoughts, to be alone in the circle of his mountains.

“Come on. What’re you walking for, anyway? Old man wouldn’t take you in?”

“He tried. Go on. I’ll meet you in town.”

“Have you lost your marbles? Don’t think we’ll get enough walking when we’re shipped out? Get in.” Cameron reached over to open the passenger door.

It would be pointless to argue. His friend was too stubborn. Abe threw his pack in the back seat and lowered into the front.

“So this should be some grand adventure, hey?” Cam threw the car back into gear and skidded the gravel. “A few nights in town and then off on a hero’s journey. Can’t wait to show up at Maura’s in this uniform. Bet she’ll give in to me when she sees it’s going to be real. Don’t you bet?”

“Don’t know, Cam. Haven’t met her but from what you’ve said, I’d have my doubts.”

“Aw, but she’s just scared I won’t come back, you know. And when she sees that could really be, when I show up looking like a real soldier, she’ll wanta make sure we at least have a couple days. Right?”

Abraham didn’t bother to answer. Nothing he said would matter. If Cameron hadn’t taken Maura’s hints by now, more than hints from the way it sounded, he wouldn’t take them from Abe, either. The girl didn’t want a soldier. She wanted someone who would be around. Abe couldn’t blame her.

“So come on up to her place with me. You should meet, you know. It’s about time you did, as you’re my best friend and she’s my best girl…”

“I’m your only friend, and my guess is she’s not your only girl, which could be part of her objection.”

Cam laughed. “That’s Abe. Always too blunt. No wonder you don’t have a girl. They don’t like that. You gotta learn to sweet talk.”

“Some girl might want blunt instead of roundabout truths that sound good.”

“Yeah, maybe. But not the kind I want.” He turned a corner too sharp.

Abe grabbed the dash. “Why are you in uniform already? We aren’t supposed to be. Not till we’re officially signed and sworn.”

“Didn’t you hear me at all? I’m going to go sweep my gal off her feet. Gotta look real.”

Maybe you should be real instead. Abe didn’t say it. He knew he should say it. But he didn’t. Instead, he watched the horizon, the tumbleweeds drifting in the browned flat fields, the cows in the dairy farm they passed with its odor lingering along with them. The town was barely within his view now, the grain silo at its edge a beacon of sorts.

The day before, he’d spent time along the canyon, wandering its edge, peering down the jagged rocks where not much more than a trickle of water snaked along the bottom of the wide crevice. There wasn’t much water this time of year. The way the little bit of it that went through had dredged such a huge canyon in its wake was a magical thing in Abe’s mind. He’d carved images of it now and then, in tree trunks that ended up shaped like the canyon, at least to some extent. One of them he’d sold to a bank in town. They’d topped it with a piece of thick glass, put the thing on legs, and used it as a welcome table just inside the entrance, complete with a plaque stating the “artist’s” name.

Abe didn’t feel like an artist and so it was kind of embarrassing when people made note of it and asked him what he’d done recently. He liked wood. He liked working with his hands. He loved nature. And so the wood carvings just slipped out. He’d sold a couple of other pieces, smaller, that became wall hangings or shelf decorations. He didn’t charge much. His father said he should increase his price, as much as people liked his work. But he would do it even if no one bought it, so he figured getting a few dollars here and there for things he didn’t know what to do with as he finished them was good enough.

He had packed his carving tools, though. He hoped they’d be allowed to travel with him. If not, he’d drop them by the bank to be returned to his father next time he was in town.

So begins Protect The Heart, a home front novel of duty, love, and honor.

This was fully a “write what you know” story, focused on the young woman left at home and swirling around two different kinds of soldiers.

It is also a fair bit different than my other four novels, a short read at 198 pgs (trade paperback), with old-fashioned language, and largely historical, but without a certain historical period pinned down. I’m anxious for readers’ opinions.

As it is a military story, I decided to help support military organizations with it in some way. So, for starters: $1.00 of each print sale directly from Elucidate Publishing, &

$2.00 of each ebook sale directly from Smashwords

will go to, to help loved ones of injured service members pay expenses to visit. I’ll also send books along to help fill their recovery time.

The book is so new, I’ve yet to add the website for it; however, you can find it at and I have posts on two other blogs so far, the first with a different excerpt, and the second with a “behind the scenes” look:

If you are part of an organization that supports the military and would like to arrange a virtual signing for Protect The Heart in support of your group, contact me through the Elucidate Publishing contact page.

If you would like to help pass the word along and take bookmarks to your local library or independent bookstore, I’d be glad to give you free shipping on the print version or put the pdf version on a cd to mail, each would be personally signed. Use the contact page to inquire.

Protect The Heart - LK Hunsaker

Entrenched on his father's farm in southern Idaho's Snake River Valley, Abraham Luchner pulls up roots to join the war effort. Joined by his friend Cameron Terry, an impulsive adventure seeker, Abe determines to sever ties at home in order to minimize distractions. His greatest connection with his beloved canyon and farm is in the form of charcoal sketches he works on each night to escape his present conditions, as well as the letters Cameron reads aloud from his beloved.

Maura Laerty has been claimed as Cameron's betrothed in the eyes of the community. Determined not to become a war widow or caregiver of one more soul who needs her ongoing assistance, she refuses his proposal, at least until he returns. Despite her efforts, Maura soon finds herself saddled with responsibilities that tax her resolve and turn the townspeople away. Her greatest ally comes from a twist of fate as winding and unpredictable as the great Snake River itself.