Over the next six weeks, the fabulous Jodi Thomas will be doing a series of special mini posts to celebrate the release of her next Ransom Canyon book.
And how better to celebrate than by giving away books?
So, hold on to your hats, partners, ’cause here’s Ms. Jodi . . .
When I was attending college at Texas Tech in Lubbock, I often passed a sign a few miles from town that read RANSOM CANYON. For years, the idea of a series about ranches surrounding a canyon played through my mind.
Ransom Canyon is a story about the lives of Texans on the plains of Texas and will grab you by the heart!
Have you ever seen a road sign that set your imagination spinning?
Have you ever visited a canyon?
What interesting landscapes do you have near your home?
To enter for a chance to win a copy of the first book in the Ransom Canyon series, leave a comment below. Winner will be selected on Monday, June 12.
I’ve been working on my series, RANSOM CANYON, for two years now. I’ve completed 6 books and two short stories and have just contracted to write 4 more books.
Though my family has been in Texas for seven generations, and I was raised in a ranching and farming community, I have never made my living at either.
So, when I started the series I spent six months researching, studying, and driving around the Panhandle. A dear friend of mine and author, Natalie Bright (http://www.nataliebright.com) offered to let me come out to her ranch and watch how a big operation works.
The first day I climbed into a pickup with her husband Chris Bright, we crossed back and forth over the land often without a road to follow. At the end of the day every muscle in my body hurt from hanging on, but I not only had a better understanding of the land and the jobs, but I had an idea for my first character, Staten Kirkland.
Chris said that he didn’t really think about owning the land. He saw himself as the caretaker. The pride, the responsibility he felt, the worry and the long hours of work was exactly what I wanted to show in my character.
From Natalie I learned not only terms, and how the work changes as the seasons pass, but she taught me about the etiquette of daily life. I even learned a little about cooking for 45; of course I don’t cook very well for 2, so I had a long way to go.
I spent time on other ranches and talking to brand inspectors and cattle men in different areas of ranching as well as reading about ranch life. I met a woman named Bunny who had her grandparents’ original homestead all fixed up. She even offered to let me stay there. No indoor bathroom and all.
Some friends share pictures of grandkids, but Natalie Bright makes me smile every time she sends me pictures of cows. She’s a writer. She knows what another writer needs to see.
I may have had the imagination and the characters dancing around in my head, but I needed the ‘real life’ as well. As a dear lady Bunny Leathers told me once, “bury me in my Levis, because if I’m fortunate enough to make it to Heaven, I want to go in two-stepping one more time.” Somehow, for her, I think there was a country song playing when she passed the Pearly Gate.
Buy Jodi’s newest book, Wild Horse Springs, on Amazon
I look forward to chatting with you today. Please let me know what you’re passionate about, and I will enter you in a drawing to win an autographed copy of my latest book WILD HORSE SPRINGS, the fifth in my Ransom Canyon series.
Remember: In the heart of Ransom Canyon, sometimes the right match for a lonely soul is the one you least expect…
Now and then I write a book that comes easy and SUNRISE CROSSING flowed like lightning out of my fingers. There were times I was typing as fast as I could just to keep up with the story running in my head.
Part of the reason was I loved the characters in this book. Each had depth and each found love where they least expected it.
But the main reason I believe it came so easy to my imagination was that I spent time walking the land. (See the book trailer below.)
I did my research on the Stanford Ranch near Fritch, Texas. It is owned by Natalie Bright and her husband. She’s a dear friend and a great writer. Check out her website if you get a chance; you’ll love her pictures of ranch life.
I went out to her ranch not to learn everything about ranching but to understand the people. To make stories come alive you have to get the people right.
Then, for my story, SUNRISE CROSSING, I put people together who were from different worlds. For example, a rancher and a woman in Dallas who owns an art gallery. She needs help and the only person she can turn to is a man she barely knows.
“Don’t hang up,” she said again. “I need a favor. A big favor.”
“Can’t you call a friend or family?”
“I have no family,” Parker admitted, “and I have no friend I can trust.”
“I’m sorry for that, lady.” He didn’t sound sorry or interested in talking.
“Stop calling me lady,” she snapped then remembered yelling at him probably wasn’t the best road to take. “I just need you to drive to Dallas. Pick me up at the North exit of the Galleria Mall. You do know where that is?”
“Nope,” he said. “Anything else I can do for you?”
“Yes,” Parker fought back tears for the first time in years. “Don’t tell anyone. Not your buddies or your wife or your priest. Just pick me up and drive back to your ranch. I’ll walk over to my place from there.”
He was silent for so long she decided the guy probably fell asleep. For all she knew he was Crossroads’ resident nitwit. She’d thought of a dozen possible ways to get to her farm but any other plan left a path that could be followed.
Finally, the cowboy cleared his throat. “I can’t tell a priest, I’m Baptist. I don’t have a wife. She died a month before you bought the place next door. As far as my buddies, it would be a waste of time to tell them a secret, two beers and it’d fall out of the back of their heads.”
She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Can you pick me up or not? Can you keep it a secret?”
“Noon tomorrow. Remember North door of…”
“I got it, lady. I’ll be there.”
“I’ll be happy to pay you.”
He swore right into the phone. “Don’t insult me, Parker. It’s a favor you asked for. I’m not looking for job.”
“How will I spot you?”
“Blue pickup. You can’t miss me. I’ll be pulling a trailer load of hay.”
“Thank you, Mr. Montgomery.” She whispered after she heard him disconnect. “You don’t know it, cowboy, but you may have just become my best friend.”
I don’t know everything about anything, but I’ve spent my life trying to understand people. Because people make my stories. Readers will forgive a little mistake if your people come alive, and to do that, you have to understand where they come from.
I would love to hear about your favorite “unexpected” love story. I will be giving away an autographed copy of SUNRISE CROSSING, so leave a comment to enter. And remember you can order my books at my website: http://www.jodithomas.com/.
Come back with me to Ransom Canyon in my new book SUNRISE CROSSING.
Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can’t stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting?
The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy…
Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he’ll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.
Look who has come for a visit to Wildflower Junction!
Please welcome New York Times Best Selling Author ~
Miss Jodi Thomas!
Living in the Panhandle of Texas I often feel very close to the past and to the land. There are places I can see wagon trails and on a ranch I often visit, an arrowhead isn’t impossible to fine.
When I begin writing a new story, I always do something I call “walking the land.” I take a few weeks, or sometimes a few months and wander through museums, bookstores, old houses, cemeteries and the stories begin. Since I’m doing books set on modern day ranches, I visit several ranches. My favorite is the Sanford ranch near Fritch, Texas. I also like to go to rodeos and sale barns, etc.
And now and then when I’m listening to a windmill or trying not to smell the cows, a character walks by and my story begins.
Last month I went to the Dove Creek Ranch and Equine Rescue. I was tagging along with a friend doing an interview but within minutes of driving down into the small canyon, stories were popping in my mind. The lady who owned and ran the place had a true love for horses and spent a great deal of time helping horses that had been abused and abandoned.
She told me the first thing she does when she gets an animal who has been left alone in a small corral or barn for sometimes months is she lets them roam the land with the herd. She says they’ve forgotten how to be a horse.
I was around horses growing up and I’ve spent my time riding and brushing them down, but I’ve never seen them until I saw horses through her eyes. She said, “After my husband died and I was raising kids and trying to run the ranch, I would sometimes go out at night and just walk among the herd.”
Then, she made my day. She asked me if I wanted to go with her. We slipped through the fence and walked onto ranchland that used the walls of the canyon as its boundaries. We moved slow, not directing the herd, not invading, just joining. We moved closer. Just letting the horses slowly surround us.
I think it was one of the most peaceful, alive feelings I’ve ever had. She probably thought I was an idiot because I couldn’t stop smiling.
As a writer of over 40 books I sometimes feel I don’t live, I just do research. Like a person who doesn’t see Paris because he’s too busy taking selfies, I’m too consumed with stories dancing in my head to sometimes stop and enjoy the grand, wonderful things in life.
Like walking with a herd of horses on a cloudy day when the wind still whispers winter and the grass crunches beneath your boots.
I may never make it back to Dove Creek Ranch, but you can bet I’ll go there many more times in my mind.
So, walk the land of RANSOM CANYON in my new book, LONE HEART PASS. You’ll fall in love with the Texas plains and the people who live and love there.
Please leave a comment to enter a drawing for a copy of LONE HEART PASS.
With a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubalee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and its abrasive foreman are all she’s got.
Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubalee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic.
Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. When he leads an injured Steeldust horse to a ramshackle ranch, he needs help. A horse-stealing ring is on his trail and the sheriff suspects him…and his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable
I come from a long line of farmers and ranchers who settled in Texas and Oklahoma after the Civil War. Since all my ancestors had big families not much was passed down to me.
But I have one metal music box that plays ‘Here Comes the Bride.’ I’ve always loved it. When I’m holding it, I can almost feel my grandmother’s hands around mine when she used to show it to me.
In researching my keepsake I discovered that the song was part of an 1850 Wagner opera called Lohengrin. The irony is that in the opera, the ‘Bridal Chorus’ is sung as the bride and groom enter the bridal chamber and the wedding party prepares them for their first night together.
I don’t really care about the opera, I just love holding it because I feel like I’m somehow touching base with those who came before. Maybe it’s because they didn’t have much that the few things that made it down to great-granddaughters like me are treasured so dearly. [The cookie “rustler” I caught (right) is another generation learning to love their own past.]
In the new series I’m working on, RANSOM CANYON, I keep turning back to family heirlooms and memories. The second story in this new series, RUSTLER’S MOON, centers around a necklace, handed down for generations.
This story is about learning to trust in love and I hope you’ll fall in love with the people in Crossroads, Texas, like I have.
One old man in this story touched my heart. He’s long retired and comes to Ransom Canyon every summer to search for a memory from his childhood. You’re going to love Carter.
Thank you all for joining me in this journey into modern day ranching and living in a small town. As we move though the books I hope you’ll begin to think of it as your hometown, as I do.
“On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they are each willing to risk for love.”
This month my 41st novel (not counting 14 novellas) comes out and I’m excited. A new series! The best and deepest I’ve ever written. RANSOM CANYON
Like most writers I get the same question again and again. “Where do your ideas come from?”
Sometimes I have no idea where the seed of an idea started to grow in my mind. But, then I get out Grandma Kirkland’s button box….
When I was little, her big box of buttons always fascinated me. I played with it for hours. Now, in an upstairs room off my office, I gather the grandkids (6,5,4,2) around the old sewing machine. They all get excited as I open the box and let each one pick a button. Old rusty ones, bright diamond bling, tiny pearl ones, some still have tiny pieces of fabric connected from worn out clothes.
Then as each shows his or her button, I tell the story of where it came from.
That was your great uncle Austin’s button. He was called Wildhorse and had three ships shot out from under him during World War 2.
That pearl one belonged to Mema Bailey. She went to church every time the door was open and died at 92 still singing hymns.
That metal one belonged to a pirate who sailed the Galveston coast and buried his gold on Pelican Island. Some say the tree he was hanged from was the very site where he buried his loot, but no one dares go near it because his ghost haunts the place.
That silver one is magic. Just holding it for a minute will make you talk backward. Now it’s time to say, “Night Good.”
And on and on we go. With all the games and videos downstairs, they still love the old button box.
I’ve often said creativity is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve been in the gym of my mind working out all my life.
The idea for RANSOM CANYON came from living in the Texas Panhandle. I wanted to write about the real west of today. I wanted my people to be like the men and women I grew up with, honest and true. Not the cowboy on a book cover who has never been on a horse, but the cowboy who gets up at five to load his own horse and make it to the ranch before dawn. He doesn’t work by the hour, but by the day.
As I began my first book in the series, Staten Kirkland jumped off the page. He’s strong and good, a rancher everyone looks up to, but he’s broken and only one woman can calm his heart.
So come along with me on a series set in today’s West. You’ll love it.
By the way, if you have a Button Box or Jar or Tin, tell me about it. You might win a copy of the first book of RANSOM CANYON. Meanwhile, WINTER’S CAMP is free to download at these links: AMAZON B&N
As I began work on ONE TRUE HEART, I knew my hero would be a very intelligent man living in a little cabin in Twisted
Creek, a lake community near Harmony in the map in my head. Wouldn’t it be interesting if this man had a nutty sister who believed she could see the future? You know the type: Sweet, but not in the mainstream of anything. We’ve all got one in our family. I looked around and didn’t see one in my family so I must be it.
Running through the stories of Harmony I’ve always had a bookstore on the main street. One night, while I was writing, I noticed a sign in the corner between two over-crowded shelves that advertised palm readings the only night the bookstore was open. As the stories went along the sign would change. Once it read: Fortunes, two hands for the price of
Sooo, in the corners of my mind I knew that one day I’d have to put a fortune teller in Harmony. Two years ago I was in a delightful little second hand store in Denison. I noticed a beautiful hand-made doll, a fortune teller complete with cards in her hand and dice in her box tied to her waist. The doll traveled all over Texas with me while I was signing and finally made it home to my desk.
I had so much fun researching gypsy fortune tellers and learned much about the fascinating British Romani people. I especially enjoyed reading about the different types of gypsy wagons. My favorite is the Vardo horse-drawn gypsy wagon and you can view a beautiful one at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LPnAYm9d4g.
While my hero, Drew, is trying to live his normal life, maybe even get a date with a fascinating woman who has returned to Harmony to recover, his little sister is making his life impossible. You see, she was reading a man’s fortune when the sheriff arrested him for killing his wife. She’s the only one who believes Johnny Wheeler is innocent, because she didn’t see murder in his past. Kare defends Johnny and drives him insane while she drags her quiet, reluctant brother into a mystery that might get them all killed.
You’ll have to read to find out…unless you are a fortune teller, of course.
Even after over 40 books, I often feel like I step into a story as if it’s already a place in my mind. I meet the people just like my readers do and some nights I stay up writing late because I want to know what is going to happen. I don’t know if I’d believe a fortune teller, but I do believe in the magic of creativity.
I do hope you will enjoy ONE TRUE HEART, so be sure to pre-order your copy at my website at www.jodithomas.com.
Thanks for having me again. Sometimes I think Petticoats and Pistols is my second home. I always love coming here to talk to fans. You all make me feel like we’re family.
In many ways I felt like I was researching people I already knew when I began this book. After writing seven books about Harmony it was easy to write the history of the founding of the town, but I never expected to get so wrapped up in my characters.
I knew Patrick McAllen would be young and marry the first girl who offered to run away with him. I knew Gillian Matheson was already a decorated soldier with a wife he left in the care of her family. They came to the little trading post Ely Harmon owned ready to help start a new town. Full of energy and a love for life. Their romances with their wives was fun and loving just as I knew it would be.
What I never excepted was Clint Truman. From the beginning when a sheriff breaks up a bar fight and orders Truman out of town, I thought he would be my problem character. He hated life because he’d lost a war only to come home and find his wife and child had died. He was a drunk who didn’t care if he lived to see another sunrise. The sheriff tells him to find a wife and head north to Ely Harmon’s trading post or he’ll be arrested.
That night, outside a prison gate, my Truman sees a frail woman, sick and barely able to walk out of jail. She carries a newborn. He knows if he doesn’t help her, she’ll be dead within days, so he steps up and becomes a hero my readers will fill in love with.
The idea for finding his wife from the pickings being released from Huntsville’s prison added a richness to my story that I never expected. I know my readers will love this story.
The Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville is nicknamed “Walls Unit” was opened in 1848.
Originally Huntsville Unit was only for white men. Black men were whipped for crimes or hanged. Women were housed there with the men after the war in 1865 until 1883. After that time they were housed on a cotton farm.
Nationwide, women were often kept in attics where they were left unsupervised and vulnerable to abuse.
In my story A PLACE CALLED HARMONY you’ll fall in love for the first time, all over again.
I’m giving away an autographed copy to three people. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.
The book releases today. You can click on the cover to go to Amazon.
The idea for my new book, BETTING THE RAINBOW, came from the question, “If you had a chance to change your life, what would you be willing to risk?”
My character Dusti Delaney and her sister were stuck on a small farm , on a little lake, near Harmony, Texas. They made enough to live but nothing more. Both had dreams of what could have been if one had been able to finish nursing school and the other had followed her dream of being a professional photographer.
On their once-a-month night out Dusti learns of a charity poker game and sees her one chance to change. Though she has her goals too, she wants to see her sister follow her dream first.
One man knows enough about poker to teach her to win. Only problem is, if she makes it to the final table, she’ll be playing against him. As he teaches her about Texas Hold’em and love, she sees the possibility of her dream coming true.
I think I loved this story so much because I once pushed all my chips in on a dream. I wanted to write but with teaching, going to grad school and raising two boys, there was never any time. Finally, with the help of my husband, I quit, drew out my retirement and lived on it while I wrote. Forty books later I’d say the gamble paid off.
The name, BETTING THE RAINBOW, comes from a poker term when a player shoves in all colors of his chips.
The game of Texas Hold’em originated in Texas. Legend has it that the first game was played by Robstown, Texas in a saloon in back of a mercantile.
Dallas already had card games called “Poker” that were popular. Poker comes from the German word “pochen,” which means, “to knock.”
Many say that Texas Hold’em is a thinking man’s game.
Now, of course, if I’m going to write about poker, I’ve got to learn to play. So I talked a friend of mind into letting me sit in on a game out in the country. The men were very polite and nice. The lesson cost me 30 dollars.
Then, a woman who plays poker in Las Vegas invited me to go along and watch her play. I couldn’t turn that down, so Phyliss Miranda and I flew to Vegas and had a great time.
You’ll love meeting all the people who live on a little road called Rainbow Lane. Three love stories will touch your heart and as always the folks of Harmony will welcome you in for a visit.
Let me know if you know of anyone who ever “bet the rainbow” with their life and if the gamble paid off.
To two lucky readers, I am giving away a copy of “Betting the Rainbow”!
“Thomas is a master at creating damaged yet appealing characters, and their expressions of love—as siblings, as friends, as partners—are intense and beautiful. Their paths to happiness are interwoven in an intricate tapestry with the tournament as backdrop, combining in an epic tale of the kind of love that lasts forever.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)