Monday, March 31, 2014


By Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Where has the time gone? In the midst of trying to do line edits on a book scheduled for release, meet another book deadline, prepare for an intense writing class and research trip to Colorado, as well as read eight (8) novels as a judge for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA contest, I came to two daunting conclusion.

First, I had way too many irons in the fire. Secondly—and something I should have realized long before now—I am not empowered with superhuman, multi-tasking abilities. Despite my best efforts, the items on my ‘To Do’ list were taking longer than I expected to complete – and time was running out. The word ‘failure’ started flashing in my thoughts like an incessant, internal panic sign.

However, with some necessary shifting of book deadlines, I focused on fulfilling my judging commitment for the RITA contest, and then prepared for my March trip to Colorado. What started out as a hectic, stressful month soon became one of the happiest, most productive months of my life. My trip to the Rocky Mountains not only empowered me as a writer, but as a person. And I would like to share with you some of the reasons why.

Enlightenment with Margie Lawson

On March 7th, I traveled to the beautiful mountains of Colorado where I attended my second Immersion Master Class (IMC) with the remarkable Margie Lawson. For writers who haven’t had an opportunity to take classes (either online or in person) with Margie, I cannot recommend her highly enough. The insight she provides into deep editing techniques (including emotion, body language, dialogue, setting, tension, and a multitude of other strategies) is unparalleled.

Like a heat-seeking literary missile, she analyzes the writing of her Immersion students, and meticulously instructs them how and where to identify problem areas and strengthen their writing to NYT heights. Margie Lawson has worked with a multitude of aspiring authors, award-winning and published authors from a variety of genres, as well as highly respected and (okay, famous) New York Times Best-Selling authors.

Margie’s IMC classes are small, held at her mountain top log cabin home overlooking the Continental Divide. The level of instruction is intense, and prerequisite lessons are required beforehand to better prepare for the class. You will be challenged. But each day is exciting, productive, and fun. The small size of each Immersion class also creates an atmosphere of family-type camaraderie and bonding with other seekers of Margie’s wisdom. I can honestly say I have met some amazing writers in both my IMC classes, and feel that genuine, lasting friendships have been created – for which I am thankful.

I also got to see ‘snow’. And for this Texas gal, that was a wonderful surprise.

For more information about Margie Lawson and her Immersion Master Class schedule for 2014, visit her website at Please note Margie also travels to various parts of the country (and even different countries) to teach her Immersion Class for those who may find it difficult to journey to Colorado.

In fact, I will be hosting Margie for an Immersion Master Class at my home in June. There are some openings remaining. Margie will also be presenting a workshop at RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio this July.

In Search of Buffalo Bill Cody

You may recall from previous posts that in SPIRIT OF THE WIND, the upcoming second Windswept Texas novel, the legendary Buffalo Bill Cody will play an integral role. I love incorporating real-life historical figures into my novels. Of course, putting a person from history into your book involves extensive research into that individual, as well as where they were logistically during the setting of my book.

I have been doing research on my own for quite some time, including reading William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody’s personal autobiography. However, I have longed to tour the Buffalo Bill Museum in Colorado and check out their research materials. I had planned to visit the museum during my trip to Colorado, and arrived a day early to do so. Much to my surprise, the thoughtful and very dear Mrs. Lawson and I had lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange, a National Historic Landmark restaurant and Western Museum founded in 1898 and once frequented by Buffalo Bill Cody.

Artifacts and photographs about Buffalo Bill and the founder of the restaurant, H.H. Zietz, are on display, including a beautiful display of antique firearms, assorted photographs and memorabilia, as well as a lock of Buffalo Bill Cody’s hair.

Henry 'Shorty Scout' Zietz was a famous cowboy, and one of the youngest members of Buffalo Bill Cody's band of famous scouts. He was also a big game hunter, and the Buckhorn Exchange restaurant has quite a display of over 500 animal and bird mounted trophies on display, including a rather ferocious mountain lion that looked like he wanted to pounce on me and Margie where we dined.

Afterwards, we went to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Gravesite in Golden, Colorado. I might add, a heavy snowstorm was underway at this point, making one feel as if they’d stepped inside a wondrous snow globe.

As the snow accumulated on the mountain roads, the kindness and understanding Margie had for my desire to further my research on the legendary hero of the American West touched me deeply. I will never forget how she went out of her way to help me further my research. Pictured is a pair of Buffalo Bill's buckskin riding gloves with beautiful Indian beadwork that he wore during his famous Wild West Shows.

Here is a photograph I took of Buffalo Bill Cody's western attire he wore during his Wild West Show.

The Buffalo Bill Museum documents the life and times of William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody. Located in Lookout Mountain Park, the museum features an abundance of information and personal items that belonged to Buffalo Bill, as well as memorabilia from his internationally renowned Wild West Show.

We had a great visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum, and I was able to learn more about him, view some amazing items that were part of his life and times, and obtain some terrific research books, too. I will share more information and photos about this remarkable individual next month.

The 2014 RONE Award Nomination for WHISPER IN THE WIND

While in Colorado, I received some exciting news. InD’Tale Magazine notified me that my best-selling Time Travel Romance, WHISPER IN THE WIND, has been nominated for a 2014 RONE Award – for Best Paranormal Romance of 2013. A sensuous time travel set in 1885 Texas, WHISPER IN THE WIND was my first Indy published novel. And since the RONE Award "spotlights the very best and rewarding excellence in 2013 Indie and Small Publishing", this nomination is such an honor. Finalists for each category are selected by Readers who vote for their choice online following a set weekly schedule.

If you are so inclined and enjoyed WHISPER IN THE WIND, please take a moment to vote for it as Best Paranormal Romance of 2013. Voting for Paranormal begins today -- March 31st -- and ends on April 6th, 2014.

Subscribers to InD’Tale Magazine can vote for WHISPER IN THE WIND by visiting this link:

If you are not a subscriber to this free, exceptional book review magazine, you can still subscribe and cast your vote. Or, if you do not want to register for a free subscription on the website, simply email your vote for favorite Paranormal to Ana Smith at

Puppies and New Beginnings

Last but not least, some of you may remember that our family lost Kane, our beloved 13-year old German Shepherd in July of 2013. His little brother and best buddy, our 12-year old Scotty named Patrick passed away in his sleep two days after Christmas. The loss of these two wonderful pets (both of whom we raised since they were babies) has been so painful. We miss them every day and always will. Someone told me that when you are ready to welcome a new pet into your lives, you will know.

Well, that time came on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Permit me to introduce the newest addition to our family, a Grand Pyrenees puppy named Loki.

Through the wonderful work of a rescue organization called SPIN (Save Pyrs In Need), we found our new family member. I must add that the very talented YA author Ellie James, who is not only a sweet friend but a foster home volunteer for SPIN, played an instrumental part in helping us find Loki. Isn’t it amazing how cherished people and pets come into our lives, and help us in ways we can never express in words?

I cannot think of a better way to close the month of March 2014 than with the addition of this beautiful, lively, mischievous, loving, and joyful puppy.

So, as you can see, March has been an interesting month for me personally and professionally. Granted, it was challenging, stressful, and hectic, on many levels. But through perseverance and patience (especially with myself and my goals), it proved empowering, enlightening, and exciting.

Spring is here. A time for new beginnings. May we all continue to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be, and to pursue—as well as achieve—our dreams. Remember to take a moment each day to embrace the natural beauty of our world, and the people (and pets) whose path joins with ours on life’s journey.

I would also like to add a personal note. Just like this sign, remember it is okay to yield now and then. To take time for yourself, even if you think you don’t have time to spare. Stop worrying about that ‘To Do’ list. Stop stressing about deadlines or the mountain of work you need to finish. Stop judging your productivity by how many things you can tackle at once. Instead, focus on what challenges you and brings you joy, as well as a sense of accomplishment. Take a moment to relax. Take a deep breath. Hug a puppy. Watch a sunrise or gaze at the stars. Most of all, I hope your trail is a happy one. ~ AKB

For more information about Ashley Kath-Bilsky, visit:
You can also follow her on Twitter at, and on Facebook at:

WHISPER IN THE WIND is available for purchase in Print and Kindle at: .

It is also available in Nook, Apple, and Kobo formats.


  1. Lovely post, Ashley. We also have a new puppy--a much smaller one than yours. Ours is a Chihuahua Dachshund cross called a chiwienie. We've never trained a dog before, and we're being challenged. Glad your trip to Colorado was a success. Congratulations on the RONE award.

    1. Thank you, Caroline. Really looking forward to you being in the June class with Margie. It will be wonderful. Speaking of Margie, she has a miniature Dachsund who is so sweet and super intelligent. But yep, the Puppy stage can be a challenge. Still, the months without a dog in our home were so lonely and quiet that we are super excited and happy that Loki has come into our lives.

  2. Ashley,
    A wonderful post. It made me take a deep breath. And Loki is a doll. Pets can't replace each other, but they can help to move forward. All the best.

    1. Thank you, Kristy. I am happy the post resonated with you. We try to do so much that it can be overwhelming. Then feel guilty we aren't doing enough, right? And yes, the dear pets who cross that Rainbow Bridge will be forever missed. Being a writer working out of the home and not having them with me has been a constant ache. It is lovely to smile again and realize how much love a pet can bring into our lives and how much they need us, too.

  3. Wow, what a great post. I so want to attend that class in Colorado. I want to look it up. And congrats on the RONE award. Awesome. Most of all, hugs and hugs and HUGS upon losing both your pups and welcoming the new addition!

    1. Hi Tanya - Thank you so much. Definitely check out Margie's schedule. And hey, if you sign up for the June 14th class at my house, Caroline will be there. We could have a mini Sweethearts of the West get-together and Immersion class. The format is the same, just at my house. Maybe we could get Cheryl to drive down from Oklahoma??? ((Hugs))

  4. What an amazing trip to the Rockies and that looks like such a relaxed atmosphere in Lawson' s cabin. The classes sound pretty intense.
    Congratulations on your nomination and good luck.
    Your new family member is so cute I could eat him up.
    I wish you all the best

    1. Hi Sarah - The Immersion Master Class is intense but fun, and exciting. It is such an eye-opening approach to writing and editing. Writers come from all over the world to study with Margie. She is simply the BEST!

      And thank you for the congrats on the RONE nomination, and our new puppy. I am honored by the nomination and cannot stop smiling about Loki.

  5. Congratulations on the nomination for the RONE award and the puppy. You have so much going on in your life, it's like reading a novel!
    The photos were wonderful, and I enjoyed being in on your life for a brief moment.
    Thanks--sorry I'm a little late!

    1. Thank you, Celia. I am very honored to be nominated with so many talented authors for the RONE Award. And super excited about our family's adventiure with our new puppy. He will definitely keep me on my toes. :)


Thank you for visiting Sweethearts of the West!