A Hero to Come Home To

A re-blog from Marilyn Pappano.



I’ve got my first review for A Hero to Come Home To (coming 25 June), and it’s the kind of review that makes an author jump up and down with joy!  First, it’s a great one!  Second, it’s a great one from Publisher’s Weekly!   Third, it’s a Starred Review  from Publisher’s Weekly!   They just don’t hand those Stars out too freely, so I’m absolutely thrilled to get this one!  Read on and share my happiness!

“Pappano shines in this poignant tale of love, loss, and learning to love again. Teacher Carly Lowry wants nothing more than to find peace after her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Jeff Lowry, is killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Two years later, what’s sustaining her is the Fort Murphy Widows Club, aka Tuesday Night Margarita Club, based at Fort Murphy, Oklahoma. On one club outing, Carly meets a man who captures her attention: Sergeant Dane Clark, who lost a leg in combat and who can’t quite believe anyone will want him again. Can the two overlook their losses and build a new life together? Pappano creates achingly real characters whose struggles will bring readers to tears. Well-placed secondary plots seamlessly set the stage for additional books in the series.”

And it got a STAR!!!!!



OWFI Conference . . . I’m There!

Okay, it’s been way, way too long since I’ve been to a writing conference. (I’m in Norman at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference.) I’m having SO! MUCH! FUN!!!

I feel like a dog who can’t wag her tail fast enough. “Oh!” pant “Hi!” Wagging tail. “It’s so nice to meet you!” Pant, pant. Tail wagging faster. “This is so cool! Isn’t it?” Panting as fast as tail is wagging. “Don’t you love this?” Pant, wag, pant, wag. “Isn’t this the best speaker/breakfast/group/whatever?!?” Passes out from hyperventilation and tail exhaustion.

Okay, I’m not quite that bad, but do tend to run out of exclamation points when I talk! (lol)

I know you won’t believe this, but sometimes I don’t get to talk. (Yeah, they lucked out.) Writers love to tell stories, so they kind of pile up on each other. I have a whole scorpion story I didn’t get to tell last night.

Funny how much there is to learn at one of these places.  And how many people there are to meet.

I’ve gone to workshops I didn’t think I’d particularly like and been bowled over. So far, my favorite speaker has been Jane Friedman. Not that I didn’t love the others, but she was fantastic! And the fact that I had lunch with her (along with the other Smart Women who’re here) and we got to chat a while had nothing to do with it. 🙂

And I’ve met lots of nice, nice people, such as my very first editor, Rhonda Penders, who just happens to own my publishing company, WILD ROSE PRESS! She was so nice and had so many great stories to share. (And she has three sons, kinda like moi, so she’s good people!)

Jodi Thomas is also here. (I have a lunch-time workshop with her today.) While she was talking to Wild Rose Rhonda, Jodi told her, “Wild Rose isn’t a small press anymore.” And she’s right. (I think Rhonda is going to have a pillow made with that on it . . . or maybe T-Shirts.)

The only bad part? Days are kind of long at these things. (Giving us our money’s worth, though!) Workshops started yesterday at 9:00 a.m. and the Buzz Session I was in last night didn’t finish until after 11:00 pm. There was a lot of information flying around. I just hope I caught the part I needed. 😉

Everything is going so smoothly, it looks as if the conference runs itself. But having been in charge of a few conferences, I know how much head-banging work it is. (Thank you to whoever did this. Wow! Great, great job!!!)

How about you? Do you enjoy going to conferences?

What’s your favorite part?

(Mine? Meeting people! wag, wag)

Writers Write, but Do They Conference?

Terminally Curious is taking over the blog post today. (Sorry about that, but she insisted.)

Okay, everyone knows the definition of a writer–one who writes. Right? BUT do real writers, biggie writers, the ones who make their entire living by putting words on paper, go to conferences?




The answer is probably, “Depends on that writer.” *sigh* Don’t you hate answers like that?

I’m not a writer who makes her entire living by putting fingers to keyboard (I have too much fun going to my day job) but I LOVE conferences. I love meeting the people face-to-face instead of just online. I enjoy learning, plumping my brain cells by adding more stuff to them, and I’m crazy about getting someone else’s take on how to do something. (Plotting, anyone? Please???) And I enjoy getting to know new people.

What’s not to love about a conference?

I’ve been to lots of conferences in the past. Romance Writers of America’s yearly hoopla is amazing! (And expensive!!!) I went to a regional conference in Texas, once, I’ve been to a few sort-of-conference-things in T-Town and Claremore, Oklahoma.

My writers group even presented one a few times. (That experience nearly put me off conferences forever.)

This year, I’m going back to Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc’s conference, again. I’ve been a few times in the past, and always really enjoyed it. The conference is taking place in a few weeks, and I’m stoked!

While I’m there, if nothing changes, I’m going to get to meet my first ever editor, Rhonda Penders. I know she’s a sweetie because she edited my first book, TO SCHOOL A COWBOY,


and didn’t once threaten to come to Oklahoma and shake me. In fact, she asked if I’d be interested in a job as editor for The Wild Rose Press. (I had to explain I had a really good critique group. LOL)

I’m going to hear people speak I haven’t been around in years.

And I’m going to learn a ton. (Hope to, at least!)

Terminally Curious is still wondering, though, if real earn-your-living-by-writing writers go to that kind of thing or if they think it’s a waste of time (unless they’re getting paid to be there.)

Anyone know?

BTW: Look at all the great articles I found about writing and conferences! Now I’m going to go read them. 🙂

How I Know Fall Is Here

— The temperatures here in Oklahoma have dropped below 90.

— Instead of iced coffee, I find myself thinking of hot cocoa.

— The trees that survived the summer heat and drought are ever so slightly changing colors.

— All I have to do is walk outside for ten minutes, and my allergies kick into high gear.

— I’m thinking I need to stock up on necessities for the likelihood that we’ll get iced/snowed in on the hill: firewood, propane for the campstove, bottled water, enough Dog Chow and books.

For me, nothing says “winter” better than a hot fire, a cup of something steaming and a fully-charged, fully-loaded Kindle. I got mine out the other day and cleaned it up, archiving some titles, filing others in appropriate folders, downloading still more. My to-be-read folder is currently bursting with 92 books. 92! I mean, wow! How cool is that?

The longest we’ve ever been stuck up here on the hill was something like eleven days. That was pre-Kindle, and I was just as concerned about running out of reading material as I was about running out of firewood or food. Not so this winter. Bring on the snow. I’m ready for it.



Thank You, God, For Garth Brooks

Do What You Gotta Do

Do What You Gotta Do

Even though Garth is from Oklahoma, and went to college in Stillwater (which isn’t too far from C-Town) he doesn’t know me from Adam’s off ox. But God, and Mr. Brooks, have given me a lot of encouragement, and today I’m going to share it with you.

In 1991, my mom died suddenly. Now my mom was one of those women who saw what she wanted to do and went after it. Sew a dress? Bam! Here it is. Build a rose garden? Whack! There you go. Open a dress shop? Wham-o! You’re welcome.

She told me once she loved getting up in the morning when she had a project going. It gave her day zing.

At her unexpected death, even she had things she hadn’t done. Travel, for one thing. Books she planned to read (although she did read a ton.)

At her passing, I had an epiphany. Now is all I have. Not tomorrow. Not even later today. Now’s the time.

I was going to finally do (yep, I know I split that infinitive, but if Star Trek can do it . . . ) what I’d dreamed of doing all my life.


Before my “all I have is NOW” awaking, when something I was doing proved to be a problem time wise for the others in my family, I’ve given my thing up. Sororities, clubs, teaching Sunday School, manage the dress shop, and on and on and on. When pressures arose, I stopped.

After all, that’s what a good wife and mom does. Right? (Sound familiar?)

But I couldn’t give up writing. I wouldn’t give up writing. In my soul, I knew it was what I was meant to do. I had too many stories inside me. God had given me those stories for a reason.

So I started writing. Not doing a good job, but trying at least. I met another writer in Pryor Creek and she gave me some help, but not what I needed.

But God stepped in again. (Yep, it was a God thing.) He sent a wonderful mentor and a few fantastic critique partners who helped me find my dream.

I. Could. Not. Quit.

No matter who wanted me to. No matter how much of a struggle it was.

And one day, I heard this song. I’m not sure Garth Brooks knew people (like me) needed to hear, but God knew. And just when I needed to hear it, He sent it. Wow.

It became my marching song. No matter how hard it was, I could listen to this and it helped. No matter how bad the rejection or how awful I’d done on the day’s pages.

I must have listened to the song a million times. Now I’m sharing it with you.

No matter who supports you or who doesn’t. Who doesn’t think you can make it. Who wants you to stop your thing and go their way remember, YOU GOTTA–


(Thanks, Garth!)

Song Lyrics

Sometimes you`ve got to take the heat If your gonna` walk down on the mean street Take the heat and you see it through Cause sometimes it comes down to Do what you gotta do

Sometimes it goes right down to the wire And you might have to walk through the fire Walk on, boy, all the way through Sometimes it comes down to Do what you gotta do

Well there`s people that`ll tell you It`s just no use And there`s people that`ll tell you That you`re gonna` lose People tha`ll tell you Anything you`re gonna` listen to Do what you gotta do

Someday they`re going to call your name They`ll come looking for someone to blame What`s your name boy Hey you just tell them true Cause they can`t take the truth from you So do what you gotta` do

Well they`ll call you a hero or a traitor But you`ll find out that sooner or later Nobody in this world is gonna` do it for you Do what you gotta do

There ain`t no body in this world That`s gonna` do it for you Do what you gotta do

Watch the video–


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Where in the Heck is Marilyn Pappano?

No place exotic, that’s for sure. Not even in my head.

Remember the game, “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?” My kiddo and I used to play it together after school. It was an interesting way to learn about other places. I think it’s kind of gone by the wayside now. Maybe it hitmen were tracking Carmen, and she sliced off their body parts in full-color 3D gore every time you got an answer right, it would still be around, but who knows?

Anyway, I’m currently trying to make a map for Tallgrass, Oklahoma, the setting of my margarita club series. I’ve already finished the first book and submitted the proposal for the second, and it occurred to me that I need to know where all these houses, shops, restaurants, etc., actually are.

So I got some graph paper and began drawing. I couldn’t find the big desk-pad size, so these are 8X11 sheets taped together. I had the sense to work in pencil because 1) I can’t draw a straight line (not even trace one) to save my life and 2) I keep changing my mind where stuff is located. All my city blocks and parks and buildings are squares or rectangles because 3) my curves look drunken.

My map is nowhere near finished, but it’s a start. And, typical of maps, there’s no way it’s going to fold neatly enough to fit into the binder or the file box with all the margarita club stuff. But at least for the moment, I know where I am. That doesn’t happen often. 🙂



Always Late

I’m sure there’s a song by that title, but if I go off to google it, I’ll get to so caught up in other things I won’t make it back here to finish the comment. I’m kind of tangential like that.

Oklahoma has had rain this week! Lots of rain! Enough to seep in great puddles into my office again!

I love rain, love rainy days, and I am always grateful for every drop we get (except the ones in my office), and the state has been in various stages of drought for forever, so I would never wish it away.

I just want it to rain on MY schedule. Is that too much to ask? All day with the grandkiddo at my house? I want sunshine and clear skies. Nice warm day perfect for hauling my netbook outside to write for the afternoon? No rain drops, please. My netbook doesn’t respond well to water. Driving . . . anywhere . . . dry pavement, please. Oklahoma drivers don’t respond well to water. (One of the state’s mottos: turn around, don’t drown.)  (Seriously.)

Now a flood of words . . . I wouldn’t mind that at all. I spoke to the newest upcoming member of the Sluts (she’ll be here in a week or two saying hello) who was currently writing 35,000 words a week. (All bow at her feet . . .) There were times, long, long ago, when I could do that. It made me feel rather a slacker in my current quest for 10,000 words a week. I have been getting mini-cascades where the words just flow for a scene or two, and those are always wonderful, but they always come to an end and I have to start thinking again.

And you know how tangential I can get when that happens.