Friday, July 18, 2008


I love research when it takes me to special places. It's the best of both worlds, a little vacation, a lot of research and a tax write-off. What could be better?

When I got the idea for a Desire mini-series, I knew I wanted the stories to revolve around three Tempest Hotels, locations with such appeal and character, that they would take on a life of their own, much like secondary characters. From the deep russet canyons of Arizona, to southern jazz and historic plantations of New Orleans to the bending palm trees and tropical ocean breezes of Hawaii, each Suite Secret story lures you into a new and exciting world of love and revenge, deception and redemption and of course, secrets!

Five-Star Cowboy launches the Suite Secrets Series this August. Set in the fictional locale of Crimson Canyon, we get Arizona at its sizzlin' best!
I remember visiting Sedona, Arizona and knew one day I'd fashion a contemporary story after that scenic location. As we drove through red rock terrain and jutting mountains in shapes of coffee pots and bells, I started to get an idea for a "different" kind of hotel, a dude ranch with all the expensive luxuries of the Ritz Carlton and Tempest West was born in the fictious locale known as Crimson Canyon.

Now, the only thing I needed was a cowboy! Since I'm partial to cowboys, I had no trouble imagining gorgeous, sweet-talking Trent Tyler to take the reins, so to speak! He's smart and saavy in the business world, yet a man who's just as comfortable in a saddle as he is in a Porche.

My kind of man!

Whenever I research, I try to visit the state capital. We were lucky enough to spend the afternoon in the old capital building in downtown Pheonix last March. Here's a few pictures that really helped me get a feel for the state, the art and culture. I simply LOVE Arizona!

The Capital Building

The State Symbols

Old Town Scottsdale

Loved the galleries and museums.

We couldn't miss Spring Training. Our L.A. teams were playing- Dodgers vs. Angels. Hey, that's research isn't it?

So what's your favorite place to read about? Do you love to learn about the area you're visiting? And if given a choice, would you stay in a Five-Star luxury hotel or a dude ranch in a stunning mountain setting?

Win a copy of the prequel to Suite Secrets, The Corporate Raider's Revenge (or any of my available books) and a sexy cowboy handfan to cool the summer heat!

Five-Star Cowboy available now on Amazon .
Available in bookstores in August!
Suite Reading!!


Cheri2628 said...

I enjoyed the pictures in your blog. We love to travel, and we always buy one of those travel guides before we visit a place. That way we know the history of the place and the best things to see and do. Research is always part of our pre-trip preparations.

Nathalie said...

I love to read about luxury places, mainly because it is improbable I will go visit them!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Cheri and Nathalie,

If you love traveling, you'd love Sedona. Have either of you been there? You can go rustic or luxurious there, depending. They have a cool state part and Slide Rock, nature's own water slide. Fun!

robynl said...

A dude ranch in a stunning mountain setting is something I would love to try. Oh those cowboys!!
We check out the history and great places to visit when travelling.
Great prize; the fan sure would come in handy when reading the Westerns I so love to read. There is need to fan oneself to stay cool, at least cool enough to not combust. LOL.

Laura Drewry said...

Great pictures, Charlene! I've only been to Arizona once, while my DH was at a conference for work. So of course I took myself on a day-trip to Tombstone. Research really can be fun, can't it? :)

Ellen said...

If given my choice of where to stay and if someone else were paying for it I stay in a five star luxury hotel.
As my favorite place to read about -- well living in Texas I love to read stories set here as long as the author has done their research and portrays it accurately.
Loved the pictures especially the first two where there is so much color.
I love to travel.

Jane said...

I love reading about cities like San Francisco and New Orleans. I would prefer to stay in a luxury hotel. I would love to be pampered.

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Robin, Jane, Laura and Ellen,

The handfans will be going with me to San Francisco during RWA's conference. We (Petticoats and Pistols authors) will be giving them out throughout the conference. If you're there, visit me at the Literacy Signing!

So glad you ladies like luxury too. I write grit and westerns, but give me a nice 5 Star hotel and I'm happy!

CherylStJohn said...

Great blog, Charlene!


Linda Broday said...

Charlene, isn't it amazing where a lot of ideas come from? Sometimes they jump at us from the most unlikely places. Beautiful pictures of Arizona. They have gorgeous scenery.

Can't wait for Five Star Cowboy to come out! I know it'll be a keeper.

Aideen said...

It would have to be a dude ranch for me for two reasons;
1. I want to see a genuine cowboy in the flesh.
2. I read an article about Bandera in Texas a couple of years ago and its on my list of places to see ever since.
So, combining both its pretty obvious the 5 star hotel holds little interest for me.
Of course, I'd love to be pampered and waited upon but I can do that on my own Emerald Isle. You don't get many cowboys here in Ireland.
So to stay on a ranch, passing the day on horseback and sleeping under the stars, with the possibility of a camp fire sing song is my idea of a dream holiday.
That and the good looking cowboys providing the scenery!!
Arizona looks amazing, so out of this world.


Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Charlene,

Good to see you here today! I've
only ever been to Arizona once, when
we drove through on our way to Los
Angeles in 1958. From your photos,
it appears things have changed a
little bit since then.

Pat Cochran

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Charlene,
I think Sedona is one of the most gorgeous places on earth...The Lodge at Sedona is one of the most luxurious places ever. And the vortexes are cool, too LOL.

I'm also partial to New England, Lake Tahoe and environs, and for the Anglophile in me, London!

Congratulations on your books. I've read them and they ROCK!

Charlene Sands said...

Hi Pat Cochran,

You were randomly picked for the drawing today! Send me an email at
with your address and I'll send you a sexy cowboy handfan and a book!!