First, I am in love with historic farming and ranching stuff…
And spinning wheels.
I love seeing the ingenuity that went into these early machines before the Industrial Revolution went BERSERK and changed the face of the world as we know it with manufacturing, mass production, electricity, light bulbs and trains… Oh mylanta, that was a busy century!!! And the next one? The one we just packed away?
Pretty busy, too!!!
My upcoming contemporary Western series for Love Inspired is set in Idaho… because I love Northern cowboys and the world has so many of them thar Texas cowboys… So I like to give my northern folk a shout-out… a chance to show what it’s like to deal with animals and births and deaths all four seasons because the rigors of a ranch winter are pretty rugged. The first book comes out mid-July: “Her Cowboy Reunion”. This series is all about what happens when three Steel Magnolias inherit 75% of a mega ranch in Western Idaho… while the oldest sister’s first love owns the other 25%. It’s a perfect set up for a poignant reunion romance…. one that I love!
And then we follow this up with a surprise Christmas novella with my friend Linda Goodnight… and who wouldn’t want to work with Goodnight? She’s totally adorable which does not stop me from making fun of her… That Western novella (also part of the Shepherd’s Crossing series) hits the shelves in mid-late November…. and then the second sister’s story is being released in February 2019… And that gets us off and running with “Shepherd’s Crossing”!
I’ve probably mentioned this before, the “Last American Cowboy” series, a look inside three Montana ranches… I’ve used this video presentation for some background research (and I use Mary Connealy and her cowboy husband for research, too, because life in Nebraska with cows is pretty close to what I’m playing with… sans a mountain or two!)
But now we’ve got the hope of spring. Around here the hope of spring means one thing. Mud.
A lot of mud.
And mud with big animals becomes, well… mud and cow manure. Or mud and horse manure. And if fields get too wet, animals can ingest nasty little bugs or worms that make them sick…. but while you might get a mention of this in a book, you won’t get too much of the details because there is little romance in smelly mud!
Writers sometimes have to gloss over the down-and-dirty parts of farm and ranch life because they’re not reader-friendly, and that’s okay… but then we have to make sure that we keep the rest of life “real” with asides to the problems of weather and seasonal change, and we can do that with calves getting caught up in mud and needing a rescue.
Cue the hero or heroine!
Or kids tripping and falling into mud and needing a complete hosing… before the bath. 🙂
Authors love dogs!!!
Dogs are great at demonstrating the changing conditions of weather and ground conditions… a wet dog that shakes and soaks people nearby… The smell of wet dog…. a snow-covered dog, or a dog (like mine!) that gets little snowballs along the feathery hairs on her legs… a hot dog, slumped in the shade and unmoving in the heat of summer could be the same muddy dog that won’t be allowed in the house before he gets the hose… Not too many ranch dogs are carted to the dog wash in the suburbs. Making the elements and setting fit the story… and the genre… is part of my job. And you know I love my job!
I’ve got a shameless plug coming below for my current Love Inspired, but right now we’re talking the essence of seasons and how that gets woven through your stories without just stating the season…
The dog barometer and the cattle and horse barometers are really good at this. Kids, too… kids in shorts with dirt-smeared sweaty faces… whiny kids…. cooped up kids…. So many ways you can show the perils of the season via activity… or slop.
But I don’t like to linger too long in the “slop” unless it’s something causing grave harm to the farm or ranch and in that case…
The mud sometimes takes center stage.
Right now I’ve got this absolutely beautiful Love Inspired story in stores and online. It’s a great story of a mother’s sacrificial love and God’s perfect timing…. And while I’m chompin’ at the bit for that next Western,. I gotta confess… I am over-the-moon in love with this sweet story set in the hills and lakes of Western New York… 🙂
So how do you battle or slog through the muddy times of life? Do you bear up? Or want to lash out irrationally? And aren’t we so blessed to have washers and dryers???? Tell us about your taxing season… and it can be emotional, physical or just a pain in the part that sits the saddle… What do you do to make it work?
Josie Gallagher has plenty of reasons to be wary of Jacob Weatherly—considering he’s working for the hotel chain that’s forcing her restaurant to close. But when he shows up there with a little girl by his side—her little girl—she’s dismayed. How has this bachelor wound up with custody of the baby Josie placed with a married couple six years ago? The handsome hotel executive has no idea that Addie is Josie’s biological child, and Josie can’t afford to tell him. As he helps save her business, Josie and Jacob unexpectedly grow closer. But will her secret stand in the way of their happily-ever-after?