Tamara G. Cooper, Author

Suspense with a Touch of Romance

Rosie Won’t Stay Dead

This has been a long journey. I’m so excited about “Rosie Won’t Stay Dead”–Book 2 in the Brothers of Texas series–coming out soon.

“Luke McKenzie needs a break from ranching and dealing with his father’s unsolved murder. He heads to the Colorado Rockies for a month of hiking alone. Sarah Morgan wants to learn to live without fear after a vicious assault changed everything for her. She travels to the Rockies to hike in the hopes of recapturing the person she used to be. But… a very dangerous man has other plans for them.”

That’s the back blurb of “Rosie”. Sometimes, we have no idea what we’re walking into. We can have the best-laid plans to enjoy ourselves on a trip “just for me”. But danger exists. Would you be ready? Discover the journey of two strangers caught up in the evil plans of a very disturbed person.

It’s June!

…and that means that Book 2 of the Brothers of Texas series will be coming out soon!

I don’t know what happened to May. It’s always a busy month with three boys in school, end of school year things to take care of,  and writing when I can–usually at night when the boys and dogs are asleep.

But it’s summer now, and I’m so excited about the second book. I have the best editor a writer could hope for, and I’m hoping you will love reading Rosie Won’t Stay Dead… coming soon!

It’s Quiet Tonight

During the day, my house is never quiet. Boys and dogs make it wonderfully loud.

But right now, the boys are at church [I hurt my back wrestling dogs in my front yard a few days ago], the dogs are exhausted after a playful day and are asleep, and the only sounds are the air conditioner coming on, an occasional bird singing out back, the hum of my desktop computer, and my fingers on the keyboard.

At times like this, I try to contemplate the important things of life. But all I can think of is, “What should I do be doing?” Oh, that’s an easy one: laundry, putting the dishes away, clearing the Legos off the dining room table, sweeping the floors (the dogs always bring in dirt from the back yard where Buddy, our mini dachshund, has dug holes), reading a good book, watching tv, folding clothes, checking to see if the washer actually spun (spinned?) this load, etc. You get the picture. But here I sit, doing nothing but this.

Or I could go outside on the porch with a cup of coffee and just listen to all the sounds of the back yard. Oh, that’s a great idea! So, I’ll go out there for a little while. And then I’ll pick up the boys from church. The noise will be back. But that’s a good thing, isn’t it? No, it’s a wonderful thing.

Busy, Busy–Dogs, Dogs

Time really does fly when you’re busy! Besides writing, three boys, and life in general, two things keeping me busy lately are Frisky and Buddy, our two smaller dogs. They’ve been getting out of the back yard. Buddy’s the digger, of course, as a miniature dachshund, and Frisky just follows him through the hole he’s dug. Frisky’s body is about the same size as Buddy’s, long and lean. But Frisky’s legs are four times longer. This morning, for the first time, Frisky jumped over our fence. Then he ran around to the front of the house and wanted back in. We walked around the back yard, searching the perimeter for his means of escape. Not one hole could we find.

Then, he got out again. We walked the perimeter again to find his escape pod and didn’t see one.

Hmmm…. we walked it again. Didn’t find a hole. So I looked behind a tree and a shed in the corner of our yard. Both actually hide the corner. One gargantuan limb is very low to the ground, so I ducked and went under. There in the corner, I noticed that the land goes up at the fence line and to fly over the fence would be easy for Frisky. So I let him out in the back yard. Sure enough, he went straight there, and before I could even get down the steps, he was on the other side. Just glanced at me and stood there, like, “Now what do I do?” Well, he left, that’s what he did.

After about twenty minutes of hoping he’d come home, we got in the car and searched for him around our very quiet neighborhood. Frisky was nowhere to be seen. We drove home, and there he was, waiting for us in the driveway. We opened the car door, he jumped in, and I held him and took him inside. The back door was open, but he didn’t go outside. I watched. And waited. And watched. About ten minutes later, he went to the back yard and headed straight for the same spot. But, in the meantime, I had wedged a huge folded box into the tree and the fence; it covered the entire area where he was getting out. He came out from the corner, looked at me, and started walking the perimeter for another place to get out.

But, hey, I stopped him this time. Score one for the human.

Aftermath

My first novel launched last Friday, and I have mixed emotions. There is relief, yes, after all the years of hard work learning the craft of writing and publishing my first novel. But mixed in with all the Snoopy dances and the giggles and the sense of pride at finishing something that I’d worked hard on for a long time, there was something that surprised me–a feeling of loss, believe it or not. I’m finished with “Who Killed Brigitt Holcomb?” now. That book has been with me, in one form or another, for a long, long time. An old friend. The characters in the book have become cherished, old friends.  I can re-visit them at any time. That’s the nice part. AND…I will see them again in the two books following.

It’s a happy time for me. Being a new published author isn’t the end; it’s the beginning. And I’m so excited about what is coming down the pike! In June, the 2nd book in this trilogy will be published. In September, the 3rd book. Still a lot to do. Still a lot to dream.  Still a lot to write! 

Campouts in Someone’s Back Yard

Ah, the words of summer. Hot. Pool. Sweat. Running. Napping. Swimming. Fishing. RVing. Vacation. But there’s one term I dread more than any other, even ‘mosquitos’–or ‘skeeters’ as we call them here in east Texas:

Camping out in someone’s back yard.

Y’see? I understand the lure of my three boys wanting to sleep under the stars. Building a camp fire. Telling ghost stories. Being afraid of a sound and then laughing themselves silly for being afraid. Roasting hot dogs. Roasting marshmallows. Eight scrunched together in two three-person tents. Root beer. Pop tarts. Oreo cookies. A great night of memory making.

So, I get it. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? For the boys, it probably is.

But I’m a mother. This is the first campout together for my three boys, with about five more boys around the same age. They’re all probably asleep by now. It’s 2:09 in the morning, for heaven’s sake, and I’m wide awake. My imagination is running wild. They’re out in a field, for heaven’s sake. What if snakes are already out and about, with all the warm weather we’ve been having? It’s only March, for heaven’s sake, and our trees are already leafing (is that a word?), the grass is green, the dogwoods are in bloom, as are the redbuds. It’s beautiful. But what about my boys, out in that field? Are snakes out yet? Are the boys too cool, with the nighttime temp at 60? Did one of my boys have on shorts, sleeping out there? The weather report said there was a 20% chance of drizzle. I didn’t even know anyone could forecast drizzlefor heaven’s sake! And two of my boys forgot their pillows. Will they come home with cricks in their necks? Oh, and talk about the aftermath! Grouchy, grumbling, complaining, sleepy boys are going to be in my house in the morning!

But…okay. So they’ll also be laughing and telling me all kinds of stories about what happened and maybe a grump or a growl will slip out during the day. I can take it. But right now, I’m tired. And, okay, I’m getting a little grouchy. And I have nothing like the excuse they’ll have in the morning. It is no fun sitting at home, worrying. So I’m taking my tired self to bed. I have no real hope of falling asleep. It’s supposed to drizzle, for heaven’s sake! What if they get wet?

Barking Dogs

I’ve learned so much about myself since we acquired three dogs, one at a time. One is a German shepherd mix named Copper. One is a Jack Russell / Chihuahua mix named Frisky. And the master of the house is a purebred miniature dachshund named Buddy. Even though Buddy can walk under Copper who clears him by at least 10 inches, Buddy is clearly the alpha dog. I’ve enjoyed watching their interactions with each other. Even though Copper could easily eat Buddy for lunch, there is a respect in the two youngest dogs (they both just turned one year old) toward Buddy, who is four. Size doesn’t matter. The decibel level of the bark doesn’t matter. The who-can-run-the-fastest gauge doesn’t matter. Buddy is clearly the master. Buddy is the king of this house.

With these three in the house, I’ve learned to tune out the barking, the playful snarling, the plop-plop-plop of dog bodies hitting the floor in rough-housing.  I’ve learned to pull myself out of the book I’m writing to give a quick kiss or pat, enough to satisfy the dog checkin’-in with me, and get back to my work. My three boys don’t need as much every-two-minutes attention, but they check in, too. They tell me what they’re reading, watching, doing on the computer, a game they just heard about, a place they visited in the neighborhood with some other boys, etc. But the boys’ decibel levels in speaking are far less, of course, than the dogs’.

Buddy barks at everyone and every thing. In the middle of the night, he’ll bark at a cat walking by our house, or a gang of dogs sniffing out the trash cans in the neighborhood, or a car driving too slowly on our street. All the dogs bark at the squirrels running on the wood fence in our back yard, or a squirrel flying from limb to limb in our trees, or a cat that got caught on the back porch. I can tell you what they’re barking at by the sound of their barks. No kidding. Barking at a squirrel is a “yap”. Barking at a cat is a “yelp”. Barking at the stray gang of dogs is a growl and then a wild chorus of frantic barks. I love the different sounds of their barks. It means home to me.

But right now, our three boys are taking the three dogs for a long walk. About an hour. Not a sound in the house but my fingers on these keys, typing away. It’s so quiet. Too quiet. I can hear their echoes in the house.

I look toward the front door and listen for sounds of them returning, but I hear nothing. I wonder just how much longer they’re going to be gone.

Release Day!

So many thoughts are going through my head today. After years of writing, my first novel is now, today, published on Amazon.  You might think that I’m doing Snoopy dances and giggling a lot today. No, I did that yesterday… 🙂 I’m a little pensive today, hoping for a good reception of my work. I’ve already received four Amazon reviews from people who purchased the book early, and they were thrilling reviews! Check out what they had to say under “Reviews”.

Who Killed Brigitt Holcomb? is the first of at least three books. The fourth book hasn’t been written yet; I’m pondering over writing Patrick’s story (if you read Brigitt, then you’ll know who this is). For now, the Brothers of Texas series is a trilogy. It is romantic suspense–mostly suspense, with a little romance. Here is the description for Who Killed Brigitt Holcomb:

When Marianne inherits her uncle’s remote ranch and arrives to claim her inheritance, she hopes to begin a new life far from the unhappiness in her past. She quickly learns that she can’t escape from trouble—she is shot at, stalked, and terrorized by unknown enemies. Mac, owner of a neighboring ranch, tells Marianne about three unsolved murders over the last seventeen years, including her uncle. Despite the threats to her life, Marianne decides to stay and find out who is targeting her and why, drawing the attention of ruthless people who want their deadly secrets to remain buried. The past crashes with a vengeance into her present. Her brutal enemies close in. Mac will stop at nothing to protect her—but will he be able to save her life?

Today’s the day!  Okay, so I giggled again. And here comes another Snoopy dance!

Words Matter

With more than a little trepidation, I climbed onto the bus. I’d never ridden a bus anywhere, so I sat right behind the bus driver, hoping that if I had any trouble, he’d be close enough to help me. I was in my early 20s, headed to somewhere important (although, I can’t remember where now), and carrying my treasure with me–a large manila envelope full of all my poetry. Scraps of papers, napkins from restaurants, yellow lined papers torn in two, a small wire-bound notebook filled with words, envelopes with my scribblings on the back. It was stuffed full of my poems and first attempts at writing from the age of eight or nine. I hugged my treasure for a while, and then set it on the seat beside me.

The scenery of Texas zoomed by as I tried to immerse myself in the different stories before me. A stooped elderly woman leaning on a cane, trying to cross the street–did she make it across? Kids riding bikes in the summer heat, not noticing or caring that their shirts were stained with sweat, their faces wet with streaks of dirt/mud. A woman dressed in shorts and a tank top, holding an opened umbrella above her head as she walked in the shaded walkway of a downtown area. Cattle in pastures, hugging trees for shade. I wondered what they would think if their owners installed a water spritz station to cool them off; would they like it or would they run like the dickens away from the spitting contraption? So much to see. So many stories to write.

“So much to see. So many stories to write.”

The bus stopped. Several people filed down the center aisle and departed the bus. While they did, I admired the scenery. It was only after the bus had started up again that I looked down on the seat next to me, where I had placed my treasure of poems. My manila envelope was gone! My heart stopped. I patted the seat as if maybe it would suddenly reappear. I slid to the floor and looked under both seats and the seats in front of me and behind me. I looked as far I could see, in front and back. But it was gone. Someone had swiped it up as they walked by. I imagined this person thinking he had stolen something valuable. Then he looked in it, found scraps of paper, read one out loud and, laughing at my silliness, tossed my treasure into the nearest waste bin.

I cried, of course. Quietly, so no one would see or hear me. My heart ached for my poems, for my loss.

To this day, I think of those poems. I tried re-writing them, sitting there on the bus, but I couldn’t remember but one, and it was sketchy. I thought the words I’d written would be with me forever.  I’d love to go back and see them again. Today, when I write, because of technology, the words will be there for a long, long time, an old friend just waiting to be re-visited. And that makes me smile.

 

Night Time

Our old 1904 house has a big porch with four pillars, and it rests on a knoll on our street. It’s a great place to sit and think. Mac, a character in Who Killed Brigitt Holcomb? (the book coming out in one day, March 17, 2017) loves the sun “comin’ or goin’, doesn’t matter which”. He gets that from me. I love the sunrise and the excitement of a new day coming, or the sunset and the peace that comes with the night and a job well done. But we don’t always have that sense of peace, do we? We don’t always enjoy that sense of a job well done. I don’t. I’m the kind of person who is driven to accomplish short-term goals; that way, I have a better chance of getting them done. Night time reminds me that this day is gone, but morning is on the way.

At night, when I’m sitting on my porch drinking my hot tea (either Rooibos or Dandelion Root; I know, I know–they sound disgusting, but both are absolutely delicious without a thing in them) and listening to night settle in, I think of what’s coming, not what happened during the day. I look forward to the next day, to the next morning.

I don’t dwell on regrets.

Regrets are little reminders of our failures. Sometimes, they grow into monsters that chase us and nip at our heels. Sometimes, they stay small but are just as powerful as they nip at our hearts. And sometimes, they motivate us to forgive ourselves and move on. I’ve been in all three positions. I prefer the forgiving scenario. It’s the one I strive to live in most of the time.

It would be so easy, in the quiet of the night, with no one around but that small voice in my head, to start checking off the you-didn’t-do-this-and-you-didn’t-do-that list. But most of the time, something in my brain shuts down those thoughts; maybe it’s a defense mechanism. Maybe it’s a gift from God to keep me keepin’ on.

Night time brings quiet. It brings peace. Reflection. Forgiveness. A cloak of comfort and calm. I accept these gifts and enjoy them. And regret? It isn’t allowed on my porch any more.

« Older posts