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Blog on New Title Releases

After many years as a best-selling contemporary author, developmental editor, and writing instructor, it’s a great pleasure to announce the release of my fourth historical novel.

The Harper Ranch Series features sweet, sweeping historical romance with high emotion and realistically-rendered settings in 1880s Montana Territory, including research sources and notes. The series is published by Montana Sky Publishing.

Restless Heart 26 FINAL COVERWhile I’m writing Book Five, Royal Rescue, the new Restless Heart is here! Book Four of the Harper Ranch Series….

Once adversaries, now forced to be partners to bring back her abducted son…

Near the battlefield of Custer’s last stand, a devoted mother, Margaret,  and a free-spirit federal agent, Taylor, must overcome their months-old animosity and mistrust to find Margaret’s three-year-old boy, who was abducted in the wilds of Montana Territory in 1887.  A bitter scoundrel’s revenge, a second chance at love, and a life-changing decision about the future create a memorable romantic adventure not to be missed.

Special  surprise from my friend and colleague…

Debra Holland’s 9th Montana Sky historical romance, Montana Sky Justice, features  an extended cameo of Taylor ten years later as he and the heroine-sheriff of Sweetwater Springs pursue bank robbers. An exciting read!

Redemption RoseBook Three in the Harper Ranch Series

Woman in Victorian dress, London UKSusan Harper, a beautiful spinster with a scandalous past, must find the courage to love again.

From the Wild West to the steamy jungles of Panama and across the American Territories, shipping scion Joseph Rawlins courts the eldest Harper sister, Susan, through correspondence. His letters are fascinating, romantic, and above all safe. While she’s drawn to him, Susan fears the discovery of a past scandal will not only hurt him and ruin her, but also damage her sisters’ reputations and jeopardize the political career of Joseph’s father. A rose plant from Joseph’s match-making mother ironically foreshadows Susan’s inner journey to healing. In the striking conclusion, as wedding preparations begin for a sister, Susan confronts the past and finds it’s not just her who hides secrets that could destroy a family.

Rebel Love SongBook Two in the Harper Ranch Series

What will she do to keep up her secret suffrage writings in the face of government pursuit?

Jessamine Harper, a suffragette like her mother and a ranch hand Rebel Love Song retitled 20 FINALon the family ranch, scours newspapers (a scandal in itself for a Victorian woman) to find victims of cruelty at the hands of husbands, clergy, politics, and unfair work practices. Taylor Temogen, government land agent for Southern Montana Territory, is committed to stopping Jess’s insurgent writings so women will brave the rigors of homestead life to settle the West. Bethesda Janes, a Jewish goldminer, closet cellist, and gifted artist with iron and steel, who loves Jess but feels unworthy, must forgive the sins of his father to find the courage to claim love. What breaks the threads that bind these three in struggle are decency, courage, and abiding love.

And here’s the book that started the whole series:

Rye’s Reprieve, my first historical novel, Book One of the Harper Ranch SeriesRye'sReprieve Retitle 2018 by Hill

A doctor with a secret discovers that truth is the only medicine that will heal the heart

Gifted surgeon Rye Rawlins is trapped by a tragic secret so painful that he denies his profession and buries himself in a gold mine in Montana Territory. But saving people is second nature, whether it’s doctoring a man mauled by a mountain lion or battling a wolf to save a child. Veterinarian and horse rancher Missouri Harper suffers through the worst winter in Montana history to provide for three beautiful sisters and an ailing aunt. Dangerous storms, privation, and wild predators make survival precarious.

Rye comes to Missouri’s aid, putting his life in danger and Missouri in his debt. As they fall in love, his secret and her promise to remain a spinster to protect the land for her family force them to look within to discover the cost of love.

I hope you enjoy the Wild West adventure storylines and find a moment to post a review on Amazon. All the books fall into the category of “sweet” or G-rated historical romance.

Lou's Logo

Snuggle & Read in This Cold Weather

One desperate young woman.
A chance meeting.
A life-changing outcome.

You might think that’s the promotional hook for one of my own novels, but you’d be wrong. It’s from Caroline Clemmons’ Amanda’s Rancher, one of eight stories on sale at Amazon and featuring strong heroines, gorgeous heroes–books full of danger, twists, cry-out-loud woe, plenty of romance, and feel-good endings. While the snow swirls and the surf pounds the shore, snuggle up with one of these delightful historical romances, on sale through January, and get lost in the lives of courageous pioneer women. The books are well-written, sweet romances set in Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World locations, Sweetwater Springs and Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory.

The Complete List of Engaging Titles

On Sale for Less Than a Buck The Author’s Facebook Page
Loving Matilda Elizabeth Ayers
Hope on the Horizon Cassie Hayes
Amanda’s Rancher Caroline Clemmons
Slater’s Bride Patricia Thayer Wright
Rye’s Reprieve Louella Nelson
Nolan’s Vow Linda Hubalek
Thorpe’s Mail-Order Bride Cindy Woolf
Laced by Love Linda Carroll-Bradd

News Item: All Kindle World books are now in Kindle Unlimited.

For a complete list of Debra Holland’s Montana Sky novels, click here.
For a complete list of other authors’ novels set in Debra’s Kindle World, click here.

Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention my own book on sale, Rye’s Reprieve, and its metamorphosis.

I woke up one chilly morning at four AM with a complete scene whining and begging and crying to be written. I obliged, of course.

Rye's Reprieve (3) Final - CopyWhen the scene was polished, I sent it to best-selling author Debra Holland, for whom I serve as developmental editor for all her fiction. She read the scene on the plane en route to a writers’ conference in New York and meetings with Amazon’s editorial personnel. There, they hashed out the details of launching a new Kindle World based on the many successful Montana Sky novels she’s written, and Rye’s Reprieve came into being on February 8, 2016 in the first KW launch.

The book rose to #5 in Amazon’s Top 100 Historical Romance list and for weeks was in the first two slots for KW Westerns and KW Romance. It gets even better.

Through a private Facebook group, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting the authors who have joined Debra’s Kindle World. We now have a map of one of the town settings, Morgan’s Crossing, where my own Harper Ranch Series is set, and many pages of a “bible” in which we list out titles, characters, date-span, and settings to keep them straight. We often collaborate by including some of the other authors’ (or Debra’s) key characters in our own books. It’s fun, and the readers love the huge “family” we’re building and visiting with in the books.

There are now five pages of our Montana Sky Kindle World book titles on Amazon, and I’m currently working on Book Four of my Harper Ranch Series.

It’s cold outside. Get under your favorite comforter, snuggle up with a cup of tea or cocoa, and enjoy these wonderful historical romances.

An Exciting, Atmospheric New Mystery

book cover

Cameron Harvey’s first novel

The Evidence Room is a debut police procedural mystery by my former student Cameron Harvey. Her prose is rich, evocative, and full of the nuances and subtexts we expect from someone who loves the written word and has the prodigious brainpower to raise language, image, and character above the mundane and into the realm of great fiction. The author is particularly bold in her characterizations, especially of the scratchy workaholic medical examiner who opens the book but also in the cherry supporting roles that linger in memory like a fine Bordeaux. Readers who anticipate being swept into a maze of unexpected twists and turns in pursuit of whodunit won’t be disappointed. Above all, setting is where the author deploys her paint box of metaphor and atmospherics, making the bayou a place where terror and the sublime coexist and where the artist’s brush plumbs the depths of our emotions. My prediction: If Ms. Harvey keeps on the way she has begun, she will end up in the ranks of the finest mystery writers of our time.

“This atmospheric and beautifully written police procedural is set in Florida where a murder of a young mother shook a small bayou town to its core,” reads a description of the work on Amazon. “Twenty years later, the victim’s daughter returns to the scene of the crime and learns that the tragedy of her past has very real consequences for her future.”

Cameron graduated from Stanford University and UCLA Law School. She completed novel-writing coursework with me at UCI, was a long-time member of my Tuesday night critique group, and not that long ago, she won the Editor’s Choice Award at the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference. The awarding editor from Minotaur Books (a division of St. Martin’s), Kat Brzozowski, saw the book into print-and-release today in both hardcover and electronic editions. P.S., Ms. Brzozowski, the cover art is stunning!

I wish Cameron phenomenal success with this book and many more. I’m exceedingly proud of her accomplishment.

April 4th 99c Special on 20 Books

Twenty books for less than $20 on April 4, 2014!

My friend Jacqueline Diamond, author of more than 90 books, invited me to participate in a book promotion. Since I have two new short stories for Kindle out on Amazon–“Cora Lee” and “Falling for the Prosecutor“–I was eager to be involved. For the promotion, we reduced the price of our book or story to $0.99.

Our readers are the beneficiaries. The topics and writing styles are eclectic–offering something for every reader, whether you like literary, romance, paranormal, or suspense. Support your local Orange County writers. Buy and review the books. We all thank you!

See Michelle Knowlden’s blog below for the list and links.

Michelle Knowlden writes...

I wanted to be part of something special this week because: (1) I’m publishing Riddle in Bones , the third Abishag mystery and (2) my Dad would have been 81 on April 4th.

On April 4th, the books listed below will be available on Amazon at 99 cents. Twenty books for less than $20.  Books of all flavors: mystery, adventure, fantasy, romance, Young Adult, paranormal, women’s fiction, historical, and western.

Indelible Beats copy-001Including my short mystery, Indelible Beats, the sequel to Sinking Ships.  At this low price, why not send the book to all your Kindle-owner friends with April birthdays AND other family, friends, and mystery-loving acquaintances just for fun?  The release of Riddle in Bones, the third in the quartet of Abishag mysteries, approaches.  Great time to buy the first.

I’m scouring my own gift lists to take advantage of this wonderful deal.  Thank you for your support!

Kathy Bennett, A Deadly…

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Standing in the Lee of the Wheelhouse

Dixon fishing boat

The Dixon, Dan Rear’s high-liner oldie

Like people, some of the oldie fishing boats are the best-looking because of that subtle, aged condition called character. In the most ancient oldies, it’s as if all the capability and success and hard times have been reduced down; the residue of experience is carved into weathered lines that impart a humble authority, a grace.

Years ago, my brother Dan Rear had a forty-two-foot horse-shoe-stern fishing boat called The Dixon, built in 1910. She’s sunk now, young hands lost, but at the time I came aboard, trying with impossible optimism to heal from divorce, Dan fished out of Pelican, Alaska, a boardwalk village with a cold storage that bought his fish and half a mile of road that led to the dump where the bears fed.

When you were underway  on The Dixon, if you stood on deck behind the wheelhouse, you caught diesel exhaust and it made you ill. But if you stood on the bow, you saw all the wild beauty of the Inside Passage; you heard the scream of the eagle overhead; you felt the thrum of the old engine and the vibration of the whining winch when fish were on, and these were solid things that felt real.

Dan caught a lot of salmon on that old beauty. Here he is on The Dixon, his first fishing craft, and I can’t tell, and can’t recall, whether he’s checking some busted gear or getting that port beam pole down.

Either way, it takes me back, this photo. It makes me feel the passage of time and how distant is that optimism—and that grace. Maybe I’m just not old enough yet. Or perhaps I’m still standing in the lee of the wheelhouse.

Hallelujah! Drift Down to Music Greatness

by Louella Nelson This blog reveals a little-known anecdote from my past and highlights a few of my favorite songs and troubadours. Skip this one if you don’t want to drift down the corridors of sound-magic; click urls to hear greatness; or are just too damned busy to STOP–which covers most of us. I understand. I’m doing this. You don’t have to. Thinking of music, it occurs to me that I haven’t written anything about my ex before. Among his many artistic talents, Merrill had a gift for mixing contemporary music, which, back then, was folk, rock, and acid guitar.  You know how an artist or writer needs her tools to create art? My ex had his palette and brushes, his Air Mac if you will: an awesome McIntosh sound system, a Teak reel-to-reel, a Rabco turntable. Kick my own butt for giving a lot of it away later, when I was a single mom with limited space. houseAs a family, though, we’d have Sundays. We opened all the doors and blasted the music into the valley below, where we sometimes rode in the sandy washes and switchbacks of the dry Sweetwater River Valley.  We’d let the horses loose, those Sundays, and they’d gallop through the acre-plus of avocado, pecan, and macadamia nut trees, crossing the hill in front of the old Spanish manor house we lived in, clattering across the drive, lunging up the west side of the property, and back around.  While Merrill cooked breakfast, a Sunday tradition I respect in a man, Stacee and I watched those horses getting in touch with their wild, and the music filled us…Hendrix, the Eagles, the Beatles, Zeppelin, Joplin, Croce, Dylan, Moody Blues, Baez, Pink Floyd, Simon’s “Kodachrome,” Lightfoot’s “Sundown”…. I gotta stop because there are too many legends to list. During my time on Earth, I’ve loved the torch songs of several great female singers, including— Patsy Cline (“Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces”) singing the immortal “Crazy”: Miss Brenda Lee’s early rock presence in “I’m Sorry”: Joan Baez’s “Sweet Sir Galahad”:

Joan Baez
Joan Baez
KD Lang

KD Lang

And OMG—truly, readers…KD Lang.  In L.A. one year, I heard KD’s concert version of “Down to My Last Cigarette.” None of the studio recordings compare, and still, in my memory, it’s right up there with my favorite arias.  One of the most moving vocal artists of our time, KD Lang sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and gives his own wonderful, moody concert version a run for its money: Recommendation to renew the spirit: Close your eyes and listen.  If you’re in a nostalgic, music-craving mood, drift down…. My favorite music moves me deeply. The lyrics—the story—they get me; but the impact of the song’s message can’t be separated from the body-slam of emotional resonance, the tone and texture and depth of the singer’s vocal art, the rhythm, and the notes themselves. Give me full-body-contact with my music. How I play a CD at home hasn’t changed. When my roommate is gone and it’s the middle of the day, I play it on full crank, just the way we played Led Zeppelin on Sunday mornings in the manor house in Bonita. Oh, and, yeah. The guys made an impression, too. Andrea Bocelli’s “Nessen Dorma” from Central Park on a cold, rainy night:  I have to add, hearing this number standing 30 feet away from him in the darkened Honda Center in June 2013, with Stacee, was even more spell-binding. Compare Bocelli’s genius to the same piece by Pavarotti; I owe the late-tenor a debt for making me fall in love with this aria. That he owned and loved Arabian horses only adds, for me, richness to the intrigue of his artistic spirit: And–oh, hell, now that we’re on the men singers, I gotta add this favorite. Willy Nelson and the late Ray Charles (remember the watershed album I Can’t Stop Loving You?) make us feel something old and reverent and sad in “Seven Spanish Angels”: I can’t get enough; the arrangement is brilliant.

Willie Nelson, Ray Charles
A still from the Sony music video featuring Willie Nelson and Ray Charles

We haven’t even gotten into the superb guitarists.  Ry Cooder gives us his gritty bluesy ironic “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live”: I defy you to remain unmoved. Leo Kottke! Compare his late eighties when I saw him in San Diego on a university stage, to the current Here is the complexity of the gifted classicist I also saw in a concert in Southern California, before he passed away at age 94, the late Andrés Segovia: Also passed, far too young—and missed—is the rarely-mentioned song-man B.W. Stevenson: “My Maria” Holy cow, shut me up and tell me to go write my book. I am drenched in memories and sound. I have not taken a music appreciation class (yet), and studying the piano for a few weeks in fifth grade back in New Hampshire, before the family moved to yet another town or state, doesn’t qualify me to wax eloquent on composers, lyricists, singers, musical instruments, or anything in the music category. But like all great art, great music does not require a degree for enjoyment, especially when it moves the soul, makes the heart thud, and carries one away to mystical paradise, which is pretty much how I react to the performances linked here. It just requires you to stop and listen. These links and memories are brought to you via the miracle of YouTube, with my gratitude. Special thanks to the copyright holders of this art for keeping it available to the public; to the photographers, videographers, support crews, and producers. My original link to a live performance of Jimi Hendrix’ “Star Spangled Banner” was blocked due to notices to YouTube of copyright infringement. However, I was able to find this performance at the iconic Woodstock Festival of 1969. Enjoy it for as long as it remains available: It’s appropriate I close with a passionate paean to the word that launched this blog, “Hallelujah,” from the scribe himself in Montreal in 2008—though the London concert was also very fine: Support your artist—buy music! Feel free to comment or share links to your favorites. Apologies for the commercial ads that keep you from greatness for seconds four, three, two….

No Fleas! Silver Aces Out Flea Meds–Finally

Louella Nelson

October 24, 2019 Update to Original Post:

Correction to July 7 update: I have not used flea meds on my cats since the summer of 2011, eight years ago. Instead, I have used colloidal silver in their water.

My cats are still flea-free.

Tuxedo has gone on now. Papa Joe and his son Mamba Joe weathered the loss of our friend well and have been enjoying the garden about once a day for a couple of hours, before coming inside to be safe from weather and any wildlife that may somehow get into our fenced and secure yard.

And now we three have a new delight, a June 2019 tabby kitten we call Rain. She’s feisty, intelligent, and about as pesky to the elder gentlemen as a baby sister of the human variety would be with older brothers. She, too, drinks water with colloidal silver.

I’m currently putting a dropperful…

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Debra Holland’s Starry Montana Sky honored

book cover

Holland’s winner

The second in Debra Holland’s sweet historical romance Montana Sky Series has been named for Amazon’s Top 50 Best Love Stories list. Among the other honorees are Pulitzer-winning Michael Chabon and Margaret Mitchell for Gone With the Wind.
“I’m over the moon, disbelieving, humbled by being included in such impressive company, and very, very grateful,” says Debra. “Amazon picked a book per state, and Starry obviously represents Montana. Wow! What a wonderful early Valentine’s Day present!”
I am Debra’s writing teacher, editor, and mentor and couldn’t be more proud.
Read Debra’s blog to find out the juicy details on the development, launch, and success of Starry Montana Sky:

Out of the Box: A Steampunk Event

Notes from an Orange Bookfaire panel discussion at Chapman University
Report by Louella Nelson

James Blaylock (Homunculus,The Aylesford Skull, and others)
Tim Powers (How to be Among the Graves; NYT best-selling author)Suzanne Lazear (Innocent Darkness and others)

The cover of a French translation of a Blaylock novel showing the ubiquitous airbus

James Blaylock and Tim Powers hung around with Phillip K. Dick in the 70’s and steeped themselves in beer at the local pub in Orange, California, while they discussed the “greats” in literature as prelude to an as-yet unheralded fiction genre, steampunk. The Victorian Era fascinated these men and provided the foundational setting for many of their novels and themes.

Dick says of Blaylock’s prose, “A magical world, magically presented…having journeyed there you will not wish to leave, nor ever to forget.”

Blaylock’s website and new title, The Aylesford Skull, mention his roots in the once-unknown genre: “The first new steampunk novel in over twenty years from one of the genre’s founding fathers!”
“Blaylock is a singular American fabulist.”William Gibson

Wearing a feathered hat, waist-cinch, and fingerless gloves, Suzanne Lazear expressed keen interested in fashion. She dresses “steampunk” for her speaking engagements and waxes eloquent on the pleasures of choosing a wardrobe to match her fanciful imaginings and costume her characters. Steeped in the history and scope of the genre, and excited about the possibilities of mixing steampunk with elements from vampire fiction and other contemporary fantasy fiction genres, she acknowledged she was pleased to be paneling with two of the great steampunk authors, Blaylock and Powers.

Some definitions:

Steam = Featuring technology that is anything but electric; steam-driven inventions that take science beyond the Victorian era which inspires the settings of many steampunk novels and films. Some of the common transportation items: air busses, trains, and skate-boards that soar.

Punk = the spirit of resistance and rebellion that characterizes the central characters of the stories–with an underlayment of decency and moral righteousness.

Panelists’ websites:

James Blaylock Also of interest is the Blaylock Wikipedia page:

Disney picked up Tim Powers’ novel for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Tim Powers Also of interest is the Powers Wikipedia page: Of note is that Disney optioned his book On Stranger Tides for the film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Suzanne Lazear And her page on Goodreads:

Other authors to check out:

O’Donnel’s Modesty Blaze

Susan Clay Griffiths’ God Save the Queen

Pavane by Keith

RobertsMayhew’s books for background on Victorian life, especially London street life

William S. Burroughs’ novels (a satirical writer who influenced Blaylock)

Films to check out:

Hugo (2011 based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick pub. 2007)

The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen (1911, 1943, 1988, and others under various titles based on The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe, pub. 1785)

H.G. Wells’ Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1907, 1916, 1952, and others based on the book pub. 1870); Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959, 1978, and others based on the book pub. 1864);

Around the World in Eighty Days (1919 and 1956 based on the book pub. 1873)

Additional research:

Steampunk Scholar

There was a First Annual Steampunk World’s Fair May 18-20, 2012:

EBay sells steampunk “stuff”:

There’s a steampunk “lab” to collect steampunk projects:

There’s a repository for your steampunk inventions:

Here’s an emporium where you can buy steampunk goggles and clothing:

Announcing Fiction Releases

I hope you will celebrate with me the digital release of three writing projects for 2012 that I’ve worked on this spring and summer and another I will release this fall.

On July 9, after extensive editing to add historical events, clothing styles, music, etc. of the era in which it was first published, I commissioned a cover and re-issued Mail-Order Mate, my best-selling novel from 1987.  On August 2, I repeated the process and launched Emerald Fortune with its new cover, a book which initially came into print in 1991.  Author Delle Jacobs from the Seattle area designed the covers.  The glacier on the cover of Mail-Order Mate is a photo I took of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.  Both novels are available on Amazon in all digital formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad/iBook, Kobo, and others.  The third project, released digitally this month, Romancing the Pages, features my story “The Prosecutor.” Meanwhile, I’m working on the fourth project, Days of Fire, as well as The Great Writing Series for fiction and creative nonfiction writers.

Thank you, everyone, for your support through the years.

Here are a few words about each book:

Coming in the fall…  Days of Fire, featuring a romance between two competitors vying for a million dollar purse and the prestigious title “Cutting Horse World Champion.”

Available now…

From best-selling author and award-winning writing instructor Louella Nelson, a tale of romance, deception, and danger in the wilds of Alaska — Mail-Order Mate.


Emerald Fortune,a novel of international intrigue, revenge, and love….  Dangerous, instinctive, his battle-scarred body hardened from months of deprivation, Mickey Stone is a man with a mission.  And love is a complication.  Guys like this one!


Romancing the Pages is an anthology of romantic short fiction conceived by two of my former students as a fund-raiser for the Orange County Romance Writers of America.  This collection of contemporary, historical, and fantasy stories is sure to delight at all seasons and would make a wonderful ebook Christmas gift. Love blossoms at the least expected times.