A Tale of Many Cowgirls

In 2016, I wrote the first draft of Cowgirl Rescue and then found a lovely cover for it and bought it. That was in July. I didn’t know for sure what the title of the third Selkirk Family Ranch book would be, so I had the cover designer dummy up the cover with a working title.

Since then, other projects have intervened, and I’ve only recently come up with a better title and finished enough revision passes to feel that the story is ready for the world. It’s a good feeling. Not such a good feeling is the discovery that other authors have since discovered the same wonderful piece of western romance cover art, and also licensed the right to use it.

Models participate in shoots and do multiple poses and then photo licensing companies sell licenses, whether to major traditional publishers or private individuals, to use the photos. If there’s a very big budget for a cover, an individual or company can arrange and pay for an exclusive model shoot, and then own all the rights to those photos. But more and more, you’ll commonly see book cover and interior photos that are non-exclusive. In fact, the background photo for the print edition of Crisis at Comicon is the very same photo that Sirius XM Satellite Radio uses on its site. There’s a guy with a pained look on his face whom I’ve seen on at least half a dozen romance and thriller book covers. And just recently, I saw an interior still photo in a college textbook that a television network uses in full version as a video house ad.

So…the cover to Cowgirl Rescue is based on a photo that is non-exclusive, which means that other people can use it, too.  And they do.

In the spirit of sharing, here are all the covers I have found so far that start with the photo I used on Cowgirl Rescue:

Let me know if you find some more!

Read the Blog Post, Take the Survey

In my newest guest blog post talking about writing, I discuss writing series books. As you may know, I’ve been writing the Selkirk Family Ranch series for a while, and I’m currently finishing up Book 3.

At the end of the post, I mention that I’m looking for opinions and possible new ideas for the title of my third Selkirk Family Ranch romance. I even included a list of possible titles and a link to a survey. My very first Google Form! It took me hours to create, so I’m quite proud of it.

Check out my guest blog post at Mary’s Garden to learn more about this new romance novel. Or, just click this link to go directly to the survey and voice your opinion about which title appeals to you–or add your own clever new idea.




Marvel Comics Original Art, the Topic that Keeps On Giving

Recently, I was tagged in yet another discussion in a private Facebook group about Marvel Comics original artwork. These discussions usually rehash what is known and what is imagined about the large body of Marvel original art drawn by Jack Kirby. They include what is publicly known about legal cases, return of art to artists, quotes from documents, speculations, rumors, gossip, and more.

I commented that people are all too quick to assert that any Marvel original artwork was stolen if it happened to be published prior to 1974 cover dates. I worked for Marvel Comics starting in 1974, and I was the first person there tasked with the official return of original artwork to artists and writers. The returns were done by a formula that divided up the pages among the penciler, the inker, and the writer. Those pages were rubber stamped on the back, with a date added, and the recipients had to return a signed acknowledgment.

However, before 1974, there were some artists who received their original art back from Marvel via other arrangements, arrangements to which I was never privy because I didn’t work at Marvel at the time. Some artists got their originals back and everybody knew it, such as Jim Steranko. He was no longer drawing for Marvel by the time I worked there. There may have been others.

As part of the Facebook group discussion, someone linked to this article:

The Stolen Art

by and © Glen Gold

From Jack Kirby Collector #19 that appears online from Two Morrows Publishing.

I don’t know Glen Gold and I never heard of him being around fandom or the comics business at the time I was, in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. His summary of the original art story seems to be mostly correct until he gets to a paragraph that takes a bold swipe at the accuracy of the inventory I did for Marvel in 1976.

Glen Gold says,

“[S]everal people inform me that the master list was wildly inaccurate. If it said, for instance, that an envelope contained 22 pages of X-Men #4, it might not really have that at all.”

This is completely wrong.

The master list I created catalogued every piece of original art in the Marvel Comics warehouse at the time. Every package was opened and the pages were identified and counted. I say “package,” because the art was not returned to Marvel in envelopes, but in brown paper simply wrapped around the art and then taped shut, the title of the comic and the issue number scrawled on the front. No page count. Sometimes, pages from other comics were casually tossed into those packages, too.

As a key part of the inventory, the original art was removed from every package, identified and counted, and put in a fresh, actual envelope properly labeled with what was inside.

So, if an envelope ever existed that was labeled “X-Men #4, 22 pages,” that would be because when that art was put in that envelope, there were in fact 22 pages of X-Men #4 in the envelope. Not 15 pages, or 3 pages, or pages from any other comic.

What happened next to those pages I cannot attest to, because once the original art was not my responsibility, other people did whatever they did. But I can and do say that my master list, my inventory, was 100% accurate on the day it was done, and for some considerable time—nearly four years—afterward, until I gave up being responsible for the Marvel Comics warehouse.

The story of what later became of the Marvel Comics original art that I inventoried is wild enough without people making stuff up or believing any implausible bit of gossip, especially gossip repeated by people who were not there at the time.

Where to find my articles on writing

I acquired, edited, and wrote stories for MyRomanceStory.com and most of the posts on its blog for a number of years. In addition, I wrote a series of articles under the heading of Writer’s Resources. Surprisingly, they still contain some useful advice for the would-be published author of romance.


Superhero Super-Sale July 8-10



It turns out I’m not alone in the universe. There are other people writing about superheroes. Golly, who knew?

A bunch of us have gotten together a super discount weekend sale just in time for solidarity with a certain comic book-inspired convention on the west coast. We name no names, but you do know what I’m talking about, right?

Anyway…Temporary Superheroine is proudly taking part in this special sale. Check out all the cool superhero books by clicking the words Superhero Super-Sale!

Women’s Fiction versus Romance

I write both romaSummer2nce and women’s fiction novels. They are very different even though they may contain many of the same elements. A romance has to focus on one key romantic relationship above all. A women’s fiction novel can be about multiple relationships and characters. My women’s fiction novel, Summer in the City (which is on super discount this week only for 99 cents at Amazon), is a good example of the differences between women’s fiction and romance. In a romance, there is only one right answer: the two lovers find their Happy Ever After. In Summer in the City, I show three very different approaches to love and marriage among three old friends who reunite for a summer in Manhattan.

One of the women has led a very conventional, long-married life, and is hesitantly seeking a change. She has no clue what that change will be. She’s certainly not looking for love, even though she finds it. Her best friend has been having random affairs for decades to fill the hole in her heart since the blow-up of her big love affair. When her old lover re-enters her life, she’s unsure what he wants of her and what she needs from him. And the third friend, the one with the seemingly perfect life, has a constantly unfaithful husband whose latest outrage pushes her to take drastic action. Whether to save her marriage or to end it is anybody’s guess.

The romantic lives of my three characters are very important to this story, but the fantasy of a summer of freedom and change in Manhattan is equally important. New York is the undeclared main actor in Summer in the City. Many of the characters’ dramatic moments happen at fabled locations in New York. The glamour and excitement of life in the Big Apple is front and center even as they grapple with personal issues as varied as alcoholism, mental illness, cougar romance, and hostile step-children—just to name a few.

Then there’s the reality that not every problem can be solved. Romances typically dwell only on problems that have clean, neat solutions. Women’s fiction can and does include issues that don’t have easy answers, problems that won’t go away entirely even if a heroine grows and changes and finds true love. An example of that is battle one of my character has with the bottle and with hoarding tendencies. At the same time, in women’s fiction, characters are not burdened to do the impossible. Facing challenges, working on life problems, and coming to equilibrium with seemingly intractable issues are proud personal achievements that give these stories a hopeful glow. Women’s fiction stories are not the fairy tales that romances often are, and they can be richly satisfying because they deal with life’s problems head on, yet in a positive manner.

Summer in the City is a fun story. I hope you’ll take a look at it on Amazon and see for yourself.

Do You Have Superpowers?

For the second Temporary Superheroine novel, Crisis at Comicon, I dreamed up several over-the-top action sequences, culminating in one big blowout of a scene. Writing the third Temporary Superheroine novel (which is currently without a title), I’ve sent my reluctant but intrepid heroine Chloe back to the mirror universe, where she has plenty of superpowers at her command. But she can only use them if she knows she has them, and that’s a theme worth thinking about.

I don’t recall a story in which Superman or even Superboy discovered and tested his range of powers. He was always aware of them already in the Silver Age tales I read. Sometimes he discovered that he had lost his powers, or that one or more of his powers wouldn’t work, usually because of red Kryptonite. But he wasn’t exploring powers. The 1950s television show with George Reeves did have one episode in which Superman tested (as I dimly recall) whether he could walk through a wall. Otherwise, Superman knew what he could do and what he could not. In fact, he could do so much that in the early 1960s, the story “Superman under the Red Sun” introduced a huge new limitation to his powers that had never existed previously. Superman’s big struggle in that story was dealing with a world in which he did not have superpowers, something he had never fully experienced before. By that time, he was already a veteran superhero with years and years of superpowered exploits behind him.

By cTemporary Superheroineontrast, Chloe is a beginner. A fairly reluctant beginner, as she often says, but I think she’s getting into the groove and realizing that her innate superpowers make her a stronger person than she thought she was. The duality of having powers in one universe and not having them, and needing the intermediary of a jewel to access powers, parallels Chloe’s dual images of herself as lacking power in our real universe, and yet having power from another place and when she is in that other place. Many of us struggle with the concept that we lack power, when in fact we have plenty of power within our family or friend circles, and we have decision-making power, too, that affects the wider world. We have more power to act or to affect events or situations than we think we do. Despite our power, we often think of ourselves as disenfranchised little guys, which leads to feeling helpless or irrelevant to the direction of our society. And it makes us feel really, really useless on some level, too. Chloe’s superpowers force her to confront her innate power.

As a female, Chloe has the additional burden of struggling against the flow of male power that dominates our world. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise. Yet despite this, Chloe has the advantage of experiencing efficacy as a superpowered heroine. Her connection to the paranormal world of superpowers allows her to do stuff other people cannot do. Being able to “do stuff” is what adults do, and as Chloe transitions from a very young woman who merely thinks she’s an adult to a genuinely adult woman, she grows into her power. Which is not to say that she will not experience threats to her power. She will. Yet her growth as a superheroine will help her discern the lines of power around her and help her settle on her role in her world. Whichever world she decides that is.


Choe’s superpowered adventures are chronicled in Temporary Superheroine and Crisis at Comicon. Book three is in the works!