Born and raised in Scotland, I heard tales of the wild Highlanders who fought battles in little more than their plaids (if that). They slept beneath the stars and brandished swords and clubs, but I’d never heard of a cowboy until I ventured to Montana Territory in search of answers about my family. These men: cowboys, ranchers, horsemen, certainly are interesting specimens and I’ll admit I’ve become rather fascinated by them.
The first one I ever met stood tall and proud and behaved as a true gentleman. Of course, he was wearing strange and dusty clothes and an odd hat, but those deep, blue eyes of his bore through to my soul. His strong hands were warm to the touch, and his gruff demeanor couldn’t mask the heat in those eyes on that cold autumn day. Lucky for me, I married him. I’ve learned a few things since my first encounter and I’m here to share my meager expertise, so listen carefully.
A lady must know that a true cowboy is both charming and dangerous. He’s a little like the wild land on which he lives. It doesn’t take much more than a swish of skirts and a pretty face to get his attention, but he won’t be easy. If a lady wants to hold onto a cowboy, she must be strong and even a little stubborn. She has to show him that she has what it takes to survive in his world, but don’t worry ladies, he’ll make it worth your while.
A hard-working cowboy is independent, stubborn, and even a little fierce. He’ll charm you just as easily as he charms a bull so you’ll want to keep him on his toes. Show him you’re not a lady to be trifled with. He won’t be able to control you, but he’ll certainly want to keep you.
He’ll rarely tell you what’s on his mind and doesn’t like sharing his emotional feelings. If you want to understand your man, let him come to you. Don’t push or prod because he’ll make for the range. If you want to rope him in, you’d better learn how to handle the lasso.
Most importantly, a true cowboy is loyal to in life, and to the death. Be warned ladies—he expects that same in return. Treat your cowboy well and he’ll move heaven and earth for you.
WILD MONTANA WINDS
By MK McClintock
What happens when a mountain man tries to tame the heart of a Highland lass?
Ainslee McConnell turned down every eligible bachelor who asked for her hand, for she knew none could quiet her adventurous spirit. When she travels from Scotland to visit family and seek new experiences, she discovers a life more rewarding than she could have imagined.
Raised in the wilds of the Montana mountains, Colton Dawson lived as rancher, mountain man, and tracker. He was content . . . until one day a spirited Scottish lass crosses his path on her way to Hawk’s Peak. When a moment in Colton’s past revisits him, he fights to keep safe those he loves most.
With Valentine’s Day almost here, my thoughts are tripping around romance and love even more than usual.
In fact, Valentine’s Day always takes me back to the early days when Captain Cavedweller and I had just started dating. We met the day after Christmas (on a blind date), saw each other New Year’s Eve, then he went back to college nine hours away and I assumed that was all she wrote.
About two weeks later, he called to let me know he’d transferred schools and was back in town. After that, I don’t think a week went by that we didn’t see each other right up to the day we married.
Under all that cavedweller exterior, he really is a romantic at heart (just don’t let him know I shared that little secret).
That very first Valentine’s Day, he brought me gifts every day for a week. They weren’t expensive, elaborate gifts, just little tokens of affection that made this hopeless romantic’s heart melt and then melt again.
Fast forward several years to a point where we were both so busy with life, we’d kind of forgotten about what it felt like when we fell in love. The “spark” had been replaced with getting through one day and then another.
Unwilling to fully surrender what had once been an amazing romance to the mundane of everyday life, I decided we’d spend a year going on a weekly date, just like we did when we first met. And since this was an experiment, I thought writing our experiences in a journal might be fun.
You can read about all our dates and my feelings of each one (even when they were getting a little routine) in Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. And it’s free right now on Kindle!
A marriage that lost its spark. A secret journal. And a woman determined to light a fire under an introverted cavedweller.
Share the adventure of one couple’s efforts at reigniting their relationship in this G-rated journey through fifty dates.
Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, USA Today Bestselling author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their marriage.
This journal provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.
And while I’m on the topic of cavedwellers and love, I have to share a little about another book with cavedweller in the title.
Captain Cavedweller and I celebrated our 25th anniversary back in December. Way last spring, I started thinking of something unique and special I could give him as a gift. I finally decided it would be fun to write a book inspired by him. Then I landed on the idea of making the book about a time-traveling cavedweller.
Oh, my gracious! The book was such fun to write! There’s the handsome cavedweller, a ranch with cowboys, and so much more!
Rob Foote, the amazing illustrator I hired to illustrate my children’s book and the covers of The Friendly Beasts of Faraday, took my whackadoodle ideas along with a wedding photo, and turned them into this fantastic cover.
I was so nervous when I handed CC a wrapped copy of the book on our anniversary. Would he love it? Hate it? Would he get that it was written with a heart full of love?
He opened it and started laughing. And laughing. And he totally got that whole love part of it, too.
Can true love endure beyond the constraints of time?
Archaeologist Hannah Clayton has the unique talent of clearly imagining the past as she unearths artifacts in the present. When she stumbles across a cave with a wall of hidden petroglyphs, she’s giddy with excitement. At least until a man dressed like a caveman appears out of nowhere and scares her witless.
Inexplicably drawn to the cavedweller who calls himself Thor, Hannah has to decide if he’s involved in an elaborate hoax or if he’s a walking miracle. Thor is unlike any man she’s ever encountered. From the moment they meet, she knows nothing will ever be the same.
He acts as though he adores her, makes her laugh, and fills her world with more joy than her heart can hold. But are the bonds they share strong enough to keep Thor beside her and prevent his return to the past?
I love a good rodeo. There’s nothing quite like the excitement that snaps in the air while watching athletes, both human and animal test their skills as they compete.
It was while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all rodeos – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – several years ago that the idea for a series came to me. We were sitting in the airport, surrounded by cowboys as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t help but ponder how fun it would be if a cowboy fell in love with a girl he met at the airport.
From there, the Rodeo Romance series was born and I recently released book six – Racing Christmas!
She’s racing to save the ranch
He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again
Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.
Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.
With the holiday season fast approaching, will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?
This sweet Christmas romance warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and touches the soul with its message of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Don’t miss it!
Brylee opened her eyes and tipped her head back, watching as the pickup men rode into the arena. One went to catch Rocket while the other hastened her direction. The announcer and the clown told a joke as the medical team hustled toward her as fast as they could make it through the mud.
Frustration battled with anger as the pickup man approached. The last person on earth she wanted to see was that man.
“Maybe today would be a good day to die,” she muttered as she tried again to move her foot from beneath the fence. If she freed it before he reached her, she could crawl over the fence and make her way back to her trailer without speaking to him.
Why couldn’t he have gone on ignoring her like he had the last five and half years? Why tonight, of all nights, was he going to force her to acknowledge him? Didn’t she have enough to deal with, like missing her opportunity to claim the winning title? Or the undeniable fact she looked like a half-drowned kitten that had been dragged through a pig wallow?
She thought of her wasted entry fee. Not to mention the hours it would take to get all the mud scrubbed off Rocket and her tack.
Wasn’t a no-score enough punishment without being forced to face the most arrogant, self-centered, childish man she’d ever known?
Trapped on her back in the mud, it seeped through her clothes, chilling her and making her fight the need to shiver. She questioned how she could exit the arena with even a shred of dignity when her pants oozed soupy mud like a toddler’s soggy diaper.
The slap of boots hitting the mud in the arena drew her gaze upward. A handsome face appeared above her as the pickup man leaned over her. Gray-blue eyes twinkled behind thick lashes and a smile full of even, white teeth gleamed in the arena lights. Shaun Price braced his gloved hands on his thighs and offered her an infuriatingly cocky grin.
Why couldn’t she have at least passed out and awakened far away from the infuriating, irritating, Adonis-like cowboy?
“Well, Bitsy, I see you’re still racing Christmas,” he said, his voice sounding as deep and rich as she remembered.
Brylee glowered at him. “You know I hate that name.”
“Yep, I sure do.” Shaun chuckled and stepped back as the medics surrounded her.
If you love cowboys as much as I do, I hope you’ll take a look at my Read a Book, Help a Cowboycampaign, too! It’s a great way to help injured rodeo athletes who need a hand up!
A handful of years ago, Captain Cavedweller and I attended an outdoor living nativity performance. It was held in the parking light next to a drive-in burger place. The temps were below freezing. But there, among the people dressed in bathrobes and fake beards to create a wise man costume, along with a few bleating sheep and a cow who seemed more than ready to go home, stood a camel.
Not just any camel, mind you, but one who was clearly there to steal the show. He loved the attention tossed his direction and eagerly accepted the affection of his new fans.
As I stood there and watched CC pet the camel, the idea for a story began percolating in my imagination. Then, just as suddenly, the words to a Christmas carol began floating through my thoughts and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wouldn’t write just one story, but a series inspired by the Christmas carol.
If you’ve never heard The Friendly Beasts, it’s a lovely, old carol about the animals that gathered around the manager when Jesus was born. The verses include a camel, a donkey, a cow (all red and white, of course), a sheep with a curly horn, and a dove in the rafters high.
How fun would it be to write a sweet romance series including all these animals… but have them be the matchmakers?
Super fun! It was super fun to write this series.
The only thing was that it took me a while to be able to sit down and write an entire series all at once. In fact, when Christmas came and went last year without a moment to work these stories in, I decreed I wouldn’t write anything else in 2018 until I finished these stories. Which is what I did. I created a fictional mountain town named Faraday. If it actually existed, it would be near Mount Hood in Oregon.
The first draft to the books were completed by February. The four stories include a camel, a donkey (with a puppy named Bacon as his sidekick), a cow and her baby, sheep and a dove.
I reached out to the illustrator who did such a wonderful job on my children’s book, Steve the Mule. He brought my goofy, wacky, lovable Friendly Beasts to life.
Aren’t they so cute! Jasper the dove is sitting on Ivy, there’s Lolly the camel, Bacon, Shep the sheep, and Pete the donkey.
The books will release every Friday beginning this week, November 16!
No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic
Cedar Haynes has a choice: change her high-pressure lifestyle, or end up dead by the time she’s thirty. Not one to do things by half measures, she quits her demanding corporate job, swaps her sports car for an SUV, and moves to the peaceful mountain community of Faraday. She envisions a quiet, peaceful Christmas, surrounding by silence and sparkling snow. When a camel takes up residence on her porch, she realizes small-town life may be more quirky and complicated than she imagined. Thankfully, the local mechanic seems to have all the answers – plus good looks, bad-boy charm, and a mysterious aura that leaves her wanting to know more.
Rhett Riggs left big city life behind the moment his small-town uncle needed his help. To make ends meet, he takes over Faraday’s one and only garage and gas station. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when Uncle Will passes away, leaving Rhett a run-down farmhouse, a wacky camel named Lolly, and a deep-rooted love for the community he considers his home. With the holidays approaching, he watches with interest as a new neighbor moves in next door. He waits for Lolly to send the woman running, like she has the last handful of residents. Only this time, if his beautiful neighbor leaves, she’ll take his heart with her.
Between spilled secrets, mistaken identities, and a camel determined to spread a little love, it will take more than mistletoe and holiday magic to help Rhett and Cedar find their happy ending.
Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, and a big-hearted man
prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season?
Quiet and unassuming, Drew Miller is more than just a mail carrier in the small town of Faraday. A typical day on his route includes fetching cats out of trees, changing flat tires, and good-naturedly enduring the pranks of the octogenarian crowd. Unexpectedly, he rescues a lovely young woman in distress. Drew’s convinced she’d never make the tiny community her permanent home, but he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.
Among the brightest, happiest memories from Joy Cooke’s childhood are the days she spent with her grandparents in Faraday. When she inherits their home with a stipulation requiring her to live there for six months, she eagerly moves to the mountain town. Then a freak snow storm leaves her at the mercy of the mail carrier, a handsome man she’s spent weeks watching out her office window. Through his steadfast care, she learns the true meaning of giving and selfless love.
Seth Stafford loves every square inch of the ranch where his grandfather raised him. He’s built a good life there, even if it does get lonely. But he doesn’t have time for such nonsense as dating. If the crazy redheaded woman who terrorizes him when he drives into Portland for supplies is any indication of the available females, he’ll stick with tending his cattle. When his grandfather sustains an injury and requires extended care, Seth is forced to open his home to the woman. He just has to decide if he despises or loves her.
Nurse Holly Jones has never had a real home or stayed in one place for more than a year. She never wanted to, until she took a job in Portland working with the elderly. Surprisingly, she finds herself living on a remote ranch outside the small town of Faraday. There, among the cattle, horses, and cowboys, she considers all she’s been missing with her nomadic lifestyle. What would happen if she gave up her wandering ways and allowed her soul to set down roots or her heart to fall in love?
Can a cow named Ivy and a meddling grandfather nudge a reluctant couple together?
The first thing he intends to do is make her fall in love
Veterinarian Angela Carol escaped her past and started a brand new life in the friendly community of Faraday. Her charming little boy, Nick, a thriving practice, and a comfortable home are all she needs to be happy. At least that’s what she continually tells herself. But her traitorous heart longs for Nick’s teacher, a man who’s become her best friend. With no intention of falling in love again, she struggles to keep her thoughts and heart in line where Drake is concerned.
Drake Miller had plans to be the next NBA star, but when an injury left him sidelined in college, he decided to teach and return to his hometown of Faraday. There’s nothing he enjoys quite as much as shaping the minds of the first grade students in his classroom, unless it’s making Angela Carol smile. The first time he saw her, he knew he was a goner, but the widow has made it clear she has no interest in getting involved in a relationship. How can he prove to her that it’s worth taking a chance on love?
The unlikely team of Nick, along with his pet sheep, Shep, and a dove named Jasper, work to spread a little romance along with holiday cheer. Will their efforts be enough to unite Drake and Angela in time for a Christmas miracle?
Last year, I joined with a group of authors to create a series of fall-themed romances. The books were all set in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon.
We had a great time writing the sweet contemporary novellas that involved a common theme of not only autumn, but also pet adoption.
This year, six authors from the Welcome to Romance series joined together to bring readers a new collection of sweet Christmas novellas!
The stories begin releasing November 1.
Between odd animals, lost loves, second chances, hidden identities, a secret Santa, and bickering senior citizens, it might just take a miracle to bring everyone a happily-ever-after for the holidays.
Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance is my contribution to Christmas in Romance. It releases Nov. 1.
You’re never too old to fall in love . . .
Will two over-the-hill neighbors embrace a holiday romance?
Rancher Jess Milne lost his wife years ago, but he’s finally ready to give love a second chance. It’s a shame the one woman in Romance who captures his interest is a prickly, wasp-tongued she-devil. She used to be one of his closest friends until he asked her out. Her vocal, vehement refusal made her thoughts on dating him crystal clear. Despite her animosity, Jess can’t help but be attracted to her fire and spirit.
Widowed more than ten years, Doris Grundy tries to convince herself she’s content with her life. Her recently married grandson and his wife bring her joy. The ranch she’s lived on since she was a young bride gives her purpose. She’s an active member of their close-knit community. But the old coot who lives down the road continually invades her thoughts, keeping her from having any peace. Doris will be the last to admit she longs for the love and affection of her handsome neighbor.
When the two of them are unexpectedly thrown together, will they find a little holiday spirit and allow the love of the season to ring in their hearts?
As the story begins, Jess and Doris can hardly stand to be in the same room with one another. Then Doris’s grandson volunteers her to take care of Jess while he recuperates from knee surgery.
She can’t believe Blayne would do that to her, but he and Jess’s daughter have made devious plans…
“Did he see you sneak out here?” Blayne Grundy asked, peering around the edge of the barn door as he lingered in the shadows.
Janet Moore shook her head and tugged her sweater more closely around her in the nippy November air. “No. Dad is zonked out taking a nap. He’s been exhausted since he came home from the hospital. Who would have thought the mighty Jess Milne would sleep more than a toddler after having knee replacement surgery? At least the doctor said he’s doing well and should have a normal recovery.” She stepped out of view of anyone passing by, moving closer to Blayne. “I never thought we’d resort to holding a clandestine meeting in the barn to discuss the love life, or lack thereof, of my dad and your grandmother.”
Blayne chuckled and leaned against the wall behind him, crossing his arms over his broad chest. “Honestly, it’s never something I envisioned, either. It’s nice of you to use your vacation time to come take care of your dad while he heals. How long are you planning to stay before you fly back to Salt Lake City?”
“Until the first of December, but then I have to get back home. By that time, Steve and the kids will either have learned how to take care of themselves or be living off pizza and take-out food while dressed in filthy clothes. I’m not convinced any of them know how to turn on the washing machine.”
He smirked then tossed her a cocky smile. “You know I had a huge crush on you when you used to babysit me.”
Janet nodded. “Since you followed me around like a besotted puppy, I was aware of that fact.”
“I did no such thing,” Blayne said, scowling at the woman who had been his neighbor, babysitter, and was now a good friend.
“You did and you know it,” Janet pinned him with a perceptive glare. “But let’s figure out what to do about Dad and your grandmother. Do you have any idea why Doris refuses to speak to him?”
“Not a clue. She isn’t the least bit helpful when I’ve asked her why she turns all lemon-faced at the very mention of Jess.” Blayne sighed, removed his dusty cowboy hat, and forked a hand through his hair. “I’ve done everything I can think of to get those two together. It’s obvious to everyone but Jess and Grams that they should fall in love.”
“The problem is that they are both too stubborn and opinionated to admit they like each other. We’ll just have to get creative.” Janet plopped down on a bale of straw. When one of the ranch dogs wandered inside, she absently reached down and rubbed behind his ears. She glanced up at Blayne. “What does your wife think about all this?”
“Brooke is all for whatever makes Grams happy, and Jess, too. She and your dad get along like old friends.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Brooke is fantastic, Blayne. You couldn’t have found a better girl to marry.”
Blayne’s face softened at the mention of his wife. “She is pretty special.”
Janet remained silent for several moments, lost in thought, before she looked up at Blayne with a confident smile. “What if I suddenly had to return home and no one else could stay with Dad? Could you persuade Doris to take care of him until he’s back on his feet? If they had to see each other every day for two or three weeks, maybe they’d get past whatever it is that’s keeping them apart.”
A slow, pleased grin spread across Blayne’s face. “I think, with enough guilt, it might work. I can remind Grams of the number of times she’d lectured me about it being not just a duty, but an honor and privilege to help take care of our friends and neighbors in times of need.”
“Perfect! I’ll see if I can get on a flight tomorrow. If not, the next day at the latest. Steve is going to be thrilled at this bit of news.” Janet hopped up and tugged her cell phone from her pocket. “I just hope our plan works. Doris and Dad have too many good years left for them to spend them alone.”
“Especially when they clearly would like to be together.” Blayne pushed away from the wall. “With a little holiday magic, anything is possible.”
Janet nodded in agreement. “It certainly is…”
Find out what happens in Sleigh Bells Ring in Romance, part of the Christmas in Romance series. And don’t miss the other books in the series!
A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker – It’ll take a Christmas miracle to turn a grudging friendship into true love.
Holding Onto Love in Romance by Liwen Y. Ho – A small town inn owner and a big time pop star need a reason to keep holding onto love.
A Reel Christmas in Romance by J. J. DiBenedetto – Unwittingly engaged in the plot of a classic Hollywood romance, can two email pen-pals find their way to a happy ending?
A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown – A bitter-on-love radio DJ and his girlfriend of romance past need a second chance.
Santa’s Visit in Romance by Jessica L. Elliott – Santa’s got his work cut out for him to help a reluctant couple find love during the holidays.
If you were going to create a fictional town, what would you name it and why?
This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.
I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.
Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.
Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.
Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).
Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.
For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).
One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!
As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.
I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.
I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.
How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?
Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!
Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.
Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.
Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.
To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?
It seems to be the nature of women to take any wonderous occurrence and turn it into a cause for stress and self-deprecation. So it is with my novel, Tougher in Texas, being named as a finalist in the Long Contemporary category of the 2018 RITA® awards by the Romance Writers of America®, awarded at their national conference during a glitzy ceremony. I had barely absorbed the news when I got a congratulatory call from my awesome writer friend Laura Drake, which immediately devolved into the inevitable panic.
“Oh my God, what am I going to wear?”
Private online discussion groups were set up for all the finalists, and by noon on day one there was one thread about dresses, and immediately on its heels another about losing enough weight to fit into the dresses, and immediately after that a Facebook support group for everyone trying to lose weight.
Somehow, I don’t think this happens leading up to the Self-Important White Man Book Awards ceremonies, of which there are several.
But I am no better or worse than my sisters, so now that the snow has cleared I am endeavoring to carve off a few of the pounds acquired while telling myself I needed the extra calories to stay warm during the long, bitter winter. And of course this has to involve some form of exercise.
Runners often rhapsodize about something called an ‘endorphin high’, which apparently occurs when you punish your body until it begins to crank out its own painkillers in self defense. As thrilling as that sounds, I usually pass. My lungs are not meant to bleed, so I keep it to a nice stroll that doesn’t make my shins feel like they’ve been stuck with daggers. Given all that, you can see why I was amazed to find myself jogging the other night.
Obviously, I hadn’t planned to jog. If such a plan had crossed my mind, I would have had the sense to stay on my couch until it went on its merry way, as most of my thoughts are prone to do. On this particular evening, though, my husband asked me to bring his tool pick-up out to the far north hayfield, so he’d have something to drive home when he finished up for the night. It was a lovely evening, so I decided rather than having someone follow me over on the four-wheeler and bring me home, I’d just hike back.
I had to cross a pasture to get to the hayfield, but our small band of Longhorns were clear out in the farthest corner, so I left the gate open on my way out. I should know better. Longhorns can smell the breeze blowing through an open gate from a mile away.
I parked the pick-up and set off for home. Halfway across the flat, I realized the Longhorns had stopped pretending to graze and were marching directly toward the gate, with a big black spotted cow taking the lead. I could practically hear her calling out cadence to be sure everyone stepped along smartly. The bull, I noticed, seemed a little testy, rumbling and growling and shaking his horns.
I broke into a slow trot, blundering down the rock-strewn trail on one side of a large draw, hopscotching across the bog at the bottom and chugging up through the buck brush. When I staggered, rubber-legged and huffing like a steam engine, up the other side, the Longhorns were dead even with me. Worse, I was in the center of the pasture and the bull was glaring at me with evil intent. The lead cow, recognizing my dilemma, made a swift command decision. Forget the gate. She led them south instead, cutting off my direct line to the corrals.
Luckily, a smaller draw intersects the main draw and I was on one side of it with the Longhorns on the other, moving parallel. Ignoring the complaints of my oxygen-deprived body, I kicked into a brisk jog. The lead cow also picked up her pace. I stumbled over mounds of bunch grass and into gopher holes, my vision beginning to blur, but didn’t dare slow down. The side draw ends a quarter of a mile short of the fence and we were on course to collide at its head.
I drove my shrieking legs and hemorrhaging lungs onward, assisted by a healthy dose of adrenaline. The bull was twenty yards behind when I dove through the fence and sprawled on the other side, gasping for air. The Longhorns gathered to sneer at me, elbowing each other and snickering, then wandered off in search of other entertainment.
I shoved my aching body into an upright position, plucked wild rose thorns from my knee caps and examined a row of small puncture wounds from the barbed wire. My chest felt like I’d snorted cayenne pepper, my calves were starting to cramp, and I reflected once again that if this is what joggers call a natural high, I’d hate to see what they consider a low.
As for me—if this is what it takes to trim down, I’ll just go ahead and order that dress in a larger size.
I have a brand new series starting with Love Inspired on July 17th, 2018.
I LOVE THIS SERIES.
It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s fun. It’s diverse. But more than anything else, it’s based on great stories from a solid premise that’s got some wide-open doors for twists:
MAJOR PUBLISHER INDICTED, BILKS FORTUNE FROM COMPANY, BANKRUPTS FAMILY. PRESTIGIOUS KENTUCKY HORSE FARM LIQUIDATED!
Lizzie, Melonie and Charlotte Fitzgerald grew up with horses, but their illustrious Kentucky farm was geared for big stakes racing and gilded dressage. When their father sank the three generation publishing ship that made the Fitzgeralds crazy rich, the three women were left with nothing but one car each and college loans. Big college loans. Their Uncle Sean realizes what his good-for-nothing brother has done about the same time his final cancer treatment fails. He wills a 25% share of his sprawling Idaho ranch to each of the girls… and the final 25% to Heath Caufield, a man who came on board when he was thrown off the Kentucky horse farm a dozen years before. Why? Because he had the audacity to fall in love with Lizzie Fitzgerald.
Lizzie and Heath share a past. There’s no way in this world they can share a future, but when those old feelings come to fore, can they look beyond their history to embrace the future God’s laid out for them?
The fun of this story is that it bridges the techno gap of a decade. Ten years ago, it was tough to get cell reception in a lot of out-of-the way places. Now we’re spoiled (or RUINED, but that’s another blog post, right???) because it’s rare that we can’t get coverage in most places.
But that’s a recent change and when big money wants someone G-O-N-E, they generally manage to get it done.
Lizzie comes to the ranch, unaware that Heath is the ranch manager following her uncle’s death… and a co-owner. Her uncle laid out a caveat: The women had to give it a year on the ranch.
For Lizzie this is a no-brainer. She’s got a head for business, a love and skill for horses, and heading up the equine breeding side of Pine Ridge Ranch is an amazing opportunity… right up until she sees Heath Caufield coming her way.
And so it begins….
A story filled with love, with ego, with anger, with emotion and attraction… and a motherless bi-racial little boy named Zeke who can’t help but win hearts wherever he goes.
Sheep ranching has a great history in the hills and mountains of Idaho, so setting this ranch… and others… here fit the storyline and the Western flair.
And bringing three Southern magnolias who are true Steel Magnolias to Idaho was just too much fun. Each girl has her own history, tainted by the loss of their mother as small children, the selfishness of a spoiled, rich father, and the love of a black surrogate mother, a woman who raised these delicate blossoms to be the strong women they are today, a woman who has stayed with them long after the money ran out because raising children isn’t about making money… sometimes it’s just absolutely about love. Corrie Satterly loves these girls like they were her own. And for nearly thirty years, they have been.
But money doesn’t buy happiness and each woman comes west as an individual with her own past, hopes and dreams and goals. All are determined that they’ll earn their inheritance, then sell it back to Heath Caufield, wish him well with his sheep and hay and straw and lambs and dogs and horses… and make their way in the world.
When the good Lord has other plans…. and offers other options…. are they gutsy enough to claim a future in the still somewhat wild West? Or will old-fashioned stubbornness trip them up?
Book one releases in six weeks… and then I was invited to do a novella combo with the amazing and wonderful Linda Goodnight… and so readers will get the second bonus story in December, a beautiful story of a widowed Native American woman with her endearing daughter and a rancher whose sad past colors his present and his future… “Falling for the Christmas Cowboy” in the duo called “A Cowboy Christmas”! (And I love, love, love Linda Goodnight!)
And then in February the third book releases
Today we’re celebrating this upcoming release with TWO COPIES to give away!
Leave a comment below and tell me what grabs you about reunion romance? Those star-crossed lovers that are pulled apart…. and what bridges the gap to bring them back together?
Not like Romeo and Juliet because they were kind of too dumb for words, weren’t they?
(Sorry, I should not give out negative personal opinions on a world-famous blog… except I did kind of wanna slap ’em both. And their families…)
Clearly this is why I love writing inspirational romance and women’s fiction.
I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS!
Life comes with its own set of sad moments, and while I’m okay with sadness in a book… I long for the couple’s happy ending!
I’m excited to announce that Harlequin is reissuing my book Cowboy in the Making, along with USA Today bestselling author Angi Morgan’s The Renegade Rancher. If you’re like me and occasionally enjoy having a traditional book to hold, here’s your chance to get two great books in one! Look for Home on the Ranch: Family Ties this July.
In Cowboy in the Making, I wove together two of my favorite themes—tackling career struggles/obstacles and exploring the definition of family. After high school Emma Donovan headed for Nashville, her head filled with dreams of a country music career, but life didn’t go as planned. She returned to Colorado both older and wiser. A freak accident sends Jamie Westland to his grandfather’s Colorado ranch to clear his head and sort out his life. But Jamie’s grandfather has a plan of his own—to play matchmaker between Jamie and his best friend’s granddaughter Emma by throwing them together any chance he can.
Both these characters have been touched by adoption, but from opposite sides of the issue. They both wonder where they belong, and wonder what it means to be family. What matters more nature or nuture? What makes us who we are and what are the ties that bind us together?
Here’s an excerpt:
Emma decided she was done fighting what she felt for him. She was tired of being strong, focused and directed all the time. More important, she was tired of being alone.
Not that she thought she’d found her soul mate or anything crazy like that. She believed the soul mate thing was as real as Big Foot—but Jamie made her laugh, something she hadn’t done enough of since her mother got sick, and for right now, that was enough. No harm. No foul. That became her motto.
From that night on, she and Jamie went out to eat after rehearsals and talked about whatever came to mind. Music, their childhoods. She learned he’d secretly listened to country music in high school. Sometimes they worked on music and had even started writing some songs together. A couple of times they went hiking or horseback riding. Nothing special, and yet their time together fed her soul.
Now today Emma stood in the parking lot at Stanley Park unloading tables and chairs from the shelter van for the Pet Walk when Jamie pulled up. He’d been such a rock for her when she found out about Andrew. It would have been so easy to fall apart, and she probably would have if it hadn’t been for Jamie.
He got out of Mick’s battered Chevy truck, looking way too good for this early in the morning, wearing one of the shirts he’d bought when they went shopping. As it happened her favorite, the tan-and-brown plaid that matched his coffee-colored eyes.
Before when he was dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, he’d looked… She searched for the right word. Restrained. Reserved. Almost as if he was apart from everyone and everything around him. Now a relaxed air surrounded him. He appeared at ease. Almost as if she was seeing the inner man for the first time. He looked as though he’d been here his entire life. As though he belonged.
She nodded toward his feet. “Good-looking boots.”
“Do I pass muster?”
Thanks for stopping by today. Leave a comment and be entered to win the plastic, light-up wineglass from my favorite winery Firelight and a copy of Home on the Ranch: FamilyTies, perfect for an afternoon on the patio or by the pool.
As much as I’d like to regularly get to travel in the West, I only get to visit every few years. So as a writer of contemporary western romance, I look for inspiration in other ways — movies, TV shows, reading other authors’ books. Another way is by reading magazines that focus on various aspects of the West. For instance, in my book Home on the Ranch, the heroine, Ella Garcia, was inspired by Amie and Jolie Sikes, the sister duo behind the junking and repurposed decor empire known as Junk Gypsy. As I watched their TV show, Ella started to form in my head. I sent Amie and Jolie copies of the book dedicated to them when it came out. They were sweet to write me back and send me a Junk Gypsy mug which I drink out of all the time. So when I saw this copy of Cowgirl magazine with them on the cover, I had to pick it up.
Inside was more inspiration for characters’ style choices, whether it be western clothing or jewelry, furniture for their homes, or the homes themselves, as well as articles about western life. There’s even an article in this issue about a cattle drive in Florida, the Great Florida Cattle Drive.
The same can be said of magazines such as Cowboys & Indians. Plus, who can resist Sam Elliott on the cover, right? In this particular issue from a couple of years ago, Elliott talks about his Netflix show The Ranch. There are also articles about camping across the West, Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho, and Muscogee/Creek artist Joy Harjo. Even the ads have beautiful imagery of expansive Western vistas, gorgeous Western-style homes and decor, Wrangler jeans (known to be worn by cowboys far and wide), and useful information such as the list prices for ranches that are for sale.
Sometimes all it takes is one image to set a writer’s mind down a path that ends up with a completed novel. I’m a visual person, so I’m continually inspired by the things I see — whether in person on on the glossy pages of a magazine.
Do you all enjoy Western-themed magazines? What are some of your favorites?