Montana for Real

The blog also known as Montana for Real.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My Grandpa, the Legend

This coming Saturday my grandfather, Melvin Icenoggle, will be inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. He's always been a legend in our minds, and it's pretty cool to see others recognize his accomplishments.

His father died of appendicitis before he was born, so by the age of twelve Grandpa was earning his own keep, exercising race horses at the Tanforan race course in San Francisco and farming with four and six horse teams in Oregon.

As a cowboy, he competed in all three roughstock events, wrestled steers, occasionally roped calves, and put a little extra money in his pockets by also providing entertainment in the form of stunts like Roman riding races, climbing aboard a bucking horse in a steel washtub filled with flour to imitate smoke as the horse blew out of the chute, and one of his crazier inventions, a 'bull chariot'.

As a rodeo producer, he often acted as both stock contractor and contestant. If they were short of entries in any of the roughstock events, he'd ride, then hustle behind the chutes, change shirts, and ride again under a different name, just to be sure the crowd got their money's worth.

My grandfather was one of the founding members of the Montana Rodeo Association and also built the original, wooden jackleg indoor arena that was used at Montana State University and College National Finals rodeos for over twenty years. He was a horse trainer, a logger, a farrier and in his later years, long time custodian of the fieldhouse at Montana State.

We will be gathering in Great Falls on Saturday to celebrate his exploits, and no doubt learn about a whole lot more that can't fit into a press release. Hope to see some of my Montana friends at the induction ceremony, and that you'll stop by afterward as our family gathers poolside at the Heritage Inn.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy Anniversary to Me...and You!


It's already been almost a year since my debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was released, so I'm throwing a little online anniversary party over on Facebook and I've invited three of my best author friends--people who've supported me, inspired me, and whose work I think my readers will enjoy--to join me. I'll be giving away a bunch of their books, a few other trinkets, and a special prize pack called the Glacier Country Winter Survival Kit.

I hope you can join us. Even if you're not available during the live chat portion of the party, you can enter to win. Pop in any time before Wednesday, January 27th for the details:  My Heroes Have Always Been Romance Writers.

Sorry, fireplace not included.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Long Ride Home for Christmas - An Epilogue.....continued


I set out to write a quick little epilogue to my debut novel, to wrap up a few loose ends some readers have been hounding me about. Three chapters later....

Now you see why I spend more time carving chunks out of my novels than I do writing the things. I am incapable of keeping things short.

How long will this go on? Beats me. You'll have to ask Muddy. If you can find him.

Read Part III-Blown Away via my newsletter by subscribing here.

Or read via Wattpad.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's a Miracle!


Zero degrees. I walked out behind the horse barn and sure enough, the temperamental old waterer was dry. Frozen up. I said a bad word and gave it a swift kick. It hissed, grumbled, then started to fill.

That NEVER works.
Usually there's just more swearing, then I limp to the house for jugs of hot water to thaw out the float.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Long Ride Home for Christmas - An Epilogue


How do you tell when an author's new book isn't going well? Pop by their house. You'll find them vacuuming, sorting socks, making croissants from scratch (an eight hour process, in case you ever wondered), cleaning the barn...basically any conceivable chore that gives them an excuse to ignore that blasted blinking cursor and all the white space below it that's supposed to be filled with words.

Or they get a flash of inspiration and decide to write an epilogue to their last book, because then it at least looks like they're being productive, even if it's not exactly the story they're supposed to be working on.

Which is why you can now read Parts I & II of The Long Ride Home for Christmas - An Epilogue. How many parts will there be? Well, that depends on how long it takes me to figure out how to make these characters in my new book play nice with me.

In the meantime, if you've read my debut novel and want more, you can get the epilogue either by subscribing to my newsletter, or by following along on Wattpad. Now I'm off to rearrange my spice cabinet, in hopes of discovering a pinch of inspiration somewhere in there.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

All the News that's sort of News


Just hit send on the latest edition of my mini-mag/newsletter, everything you never really needed to know but might make you chuckle anyway. Plus where to find a signed copy of my novel for that incredibly discerning reader on your Christmas shopping list:

Rock Soup for the Cowboy Soul

Wednesday, December 02, 2015



We have very few house rules (as anyone who has seen the state of my house can testify) but there is at least one that's hard and fast--when Romancing the Stone comes on TV, everything stops.

This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not least because the heroine, Joan Wilder, is a romance novelist. Everybody who remembers the opening scene, raise your hand. Yeah, that was me last week, sobbing over my keyboard as I wrote the big, final 'I'll Love You Forever' scene. The only difference between me and Joan Wilder is that I was writing that scene for the fifth time. Or maybe sixth. But at least this time the rewrite was requested by my editor, instead of just me trying to figure out how to fix the damn thing so someone would buy it.

For some writers life actually is like the movies. They whip out a first draft, make a few tweaks and like magic, it's done. I am not one of those people. There are whole weeks when I sort of hate those people. But even the literary savants don't get to just type The End and never look back.

In reality, that book will keep coming back to haunt you like a bad prom picture. And by the time it goes to print, you'll hate it almost as much. Since I'm in the middle of this process, I thought you might as well suffer along with me.

The order of the steps may vary, but from submitting the manuscript (on the exact day of the deadline, because even if you have it done before then the minute you hit send you will invariably think of something vital that should be changed) to seeing it on a shelf, the process goes something like this:

The first email I generally get is from marketing, along with their wish list. They are collecting information for the sales team and the art department, so the list is long. Character descriptions, a story summary of no more than two hundred words, or maybe a hundred, or maybe just a tagline, or maybe all three. Photos of people who look like you think your characters look, links to any other images that might help the cover artist, an idea of the general tone of the novel--funny, dramatic, dark, etc. An author bio. Links to other books that are similar to yours, or other covers you'd like to emulate. And worst of all--a synopsis--otherwise known as 'take these two hundred and fifty pages and distill them down to two so marketing doesn't have to read the whole book'.

If you look in the dictionary, synopsis is a synonym for 'I'd rather pet a porcupine'. But more painful.

Next, I get my first editorial letter, aka, "We adore your book, now here are all the things you need to change." I call these story edits, because this is when they ask for changes to the plot or how a character is portrayed, or in the case of my latest book, two completely new chapters because apparently skipping the moment when the two characters actually meet for the first time is a big no-no in romance. So you go through all 250 pages again, try to comply with your editor's wishes, and occasionally say, "Sorry, can't do that, it doesn't work for me."

And then you send it back to your editor, looking something like this:

WARNING: Excerpts may contain swears.
And she somehow makes sense of all that and edits your revisions, then sends it back to you with her comments on what worked and what didn't and why, and then you fix it some more and send it back to her, and you repeat this process until both of you are satisfied. And possibly sporting bald patches from tearing at your hair.

At which point you're done! Hah. I wish. No, at this point it goes to a copyeditor, who picks it apart line by line looking for typos and misused or misspelled words (my favorite--the time I called my hero viral, as opposed to virile, which sound very much alike but have a decidedly different effect in terms of sexual attraction), bad punctuation, lousy grammar, etc. When he or she is done splattering it with red ink, it comes winging back to your inbox and you must go through the whole thing AGAIN and decide whether to accept or reject every single edit. Then you send it back and the copyeditor goes through it AGAIN.

And then you're done. Almost. Until they produce what are called galleys, which are a printed copy of what will be your book. As you review the galley you get one last shot at fixing any minor goofs before it goes to the final print.

And THEN you're done. As in DONE, and if I ever have to look at these words again I'm going to douse my computer with gasoline and set it on fire. Or just spill a little nail polish remover on the touch pad. Same end result (she says from experience).

So Monday I sent off my first round of story edits, anticipating at least a week or two before it came boomeranging back at my head with another laundry list of patches that needed to be made. Instead, yesterday I got an email from my editor that basically said, "You nailed it, baby!" Five minor comments to address and that puppy is off to the copyeditor.

It's like I got a 'Get out of Jail Free' card. A whole week worth of work I won't have to do on the old book, so can spend on the new book instead. Hallelujah!

Of course, this also means the copyedits will land in my inbox right around the middle of December, so this will be me over Christmas break. *sigh*