My writing journey

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t start dreaming about writing a novel until I was in my early twenties. By then I was married and busy pursuing a degree. I put the writing on the back burner until my grandfather became fatally ill. While I was visiting him in the hospital, I was struck by the brevity of life and felt God pressing on my heart to take the first step. I started my first novel a couple weeks later. I had 2 small children by this time, so I wrote while they napped. I wrote my first 4 books that way.

Why a cowboy story?

There’s just something about a cowboy. It can’t be just me, or there wouldn’t be so many cowboy stories already written. Cowboys are tough and masculine, and the cowboy lifestyle is very earthy and organic—I think people are drawn to both of those things.  A Cowboy story taken us to a simpler time and place—even though the cowboy way of life is not necessarily simple! And Montana is such a beautiful state. I thought my readers might like to journey there with me through story.

On researching a cowboy story

Once I decided to write a cowboy series, I knew I had some serious research ahead! I’m not a cowgirl. I’m not even a country girl. I live in a medium sized city, and the nearest Starbucks is practically walking distance. A research trip was definitely in order. So my hubby and I brought in Auntie Gina to stay with the kiddos then we took off for Big Sky country.

Once we saw the Gallatin Mountains, rolling green hills, and yes, the big blue sky, we were right at home. A kind cowboy and his wife took us in and let me pepper them with questions. They shared the workings of a ranch from A to Z. I learned so much–about breeding and branding, vaccinations and cattle diseases, etc.

But the biggest thing I learned was a huge respect for the cowboy lifestyle. Yes, cowboys are tough and hardworking and persistent, just like you might think. When you sign up to be a cowboy, you sign up for broken bones, you sign up for financial uncertainty, you sign up for frostbite, and bruises and, sometimes, round-the-clock hours. And despite all that, they love what they do. They love living in the saddle. They love working outdoors. They can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.  

I left Montana with an energy and passion for Big Sky Country that carried me through the writing of “A Cowboy’s Touch” and beyond.

What about my heroine?

My heroine Abigail is an investigative reporter who digs up the truth. The fact that she’s a city girl gives a nice contrast to our hero cowboy. I do love a good contrast between the hero and heroine. It ratchets up the conflict, and that’s always a good thing. I thought it would be interesting to have a protagonist whose job it is to seek the truth and have her find out she’s missing the real Truth (Capital T) the whole time. I love the irony of that. Since Jesus is the Truth, a real truthseeker follows Him, but so often we go looking for a substitute when what we need most is the real thing.

Read the first chapter for free

Win a signed copy of “A Cowboy’s Touch” by leaving a message. One winner will be chosen at the end of the day. Here’s a story blurb:

While Abigail Jones is on a break in Moose Creek, Montana she discovers the love of a cowboy and the story of her life . . . only to find that she must choose between the two.



+ posts


  1. Denise your Montana pictures are beautiful! Glacier National Park is my favorite place to go for camping and scenery!!

    I love your storyline, an investigative reporter, finding the man of her dreams, a cowboy and discovering her path to faith along the way too. My son-in-law Dave has been leading us in our search by both word and deed. We are blessed.
    Best wishes for continued success with your writing!

  2. Hi Denise, Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols! I couldn’t agree with you more about cowboy heroes. My husband and I were watching an older western on TV last night and couldn’t help but wish for more movies with honorable heroes. Your book looks great!

  3. Thanks for having me on Petticoats and Pistols, ladies. What a great concept!

    Laurie, thanks for your comments. I’d love to go to GNP. We’ve been to many of our country’s national parks and enjoy them thoroughly.

    I agree, Victoria!

  4. Thanks for sharing your process of story line researching, I have always wondered how. I just know this series is beautiful and magical! 😀

  5. Denise……a big welcome to the Junction. We are really serious about our cowboys here. Love ’em and respect ’em! They don’t have an easy life doing what they do. And I can’t imagine spending days and days on the back of horse. Nothing says the West better than a man in tight jeans, boots, and a Stetson.

    Wonderful book cover! Very nice. I wish you much success with this book and your cowboy series.

  6. That is what’s so great about P&P I get to learn about authors I have never read.

    I can’t wait to check out your books.

    Have a blessed day

  7. Thanks, ladies! I’m so enjoying writing this cowboy series. I’m working on the 3rd and last book in the series now and already feeling pangs of sorrow that it’s almost over.

  8. The West is truly such a special place. We were lucky enough to live in Colorado Springs 3 wonderful years. We traveled around the area whenever we could and have been back several times since. We haven’t made it to Montana, Idaho, or North Dakota yet, but we hope to get there in the next few years. We still have more of Wyoming and South Dakota to see. We need at least 2 weeks on a trip and will take more if we can. There is so much history and natural beauty to take advantage of. We love it.
    There is a different feel to the area and the people. Ranching and farming are not easy ways of life. People appreciate the basics of life. What you are capable of and who you are at the core is most important. No phonies or lazy people need apply to be a cowboy. They won’t last and the real cowboys don’t have time to waste picking up the slack.

    A COWBOY’S TOUCH sound like a good exploration of this. Hard choices are not what we like to face, but the right choice will make our lives so much richer.
    Best of luck with the release of this book. I am sure it will do well.

  9. I love cowboy stories. There is just something special about the west! Our daughter just informed us that she bought tickets for Chyenne Fronteer Days! Can hardly wait!

    Looking forward to reading your book!

  10. Hello, Denise! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I love your insights on the life of a cowboy. There is something elemental, proud, intriguing, and romantic about cowboys. I have loved the Old West all my life. My grandfather was a great fan of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. My whole family loved Westerns, and I still watch the same movies and films that we watched together when I was a child. You may not be a country girl, but surely have the heart of a girl of the West. As soon as I read the first words about “A Cowboy’s Touch” on the web, I immediately visited your website to learn more about the book. I loved reading the excerpt, and I look forward to learning more about “The Big Sky Series”. In “A Cowboy’s Touch”, Abigail and Wade are both seekers, and I’d love to read their story! I wish you much continued success : )

  11. Oh, I love Denise Hunter’s work and would love to win a copy of A Cowboy’s Touch! Thank you for the opportunity! :o)

  12. Gorgeous pictures and they depict a country life for me perfectly. Wide open places and bright blue skies overhead. I can never resist a good cowboy story and I have always been drawn to them. I find cowboys are protective nurturers, whether of animals, people and relationships. It is all a part of their nature, which is very appealing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.

  13. Denise,

    Your books are on my must read list. I love the cover too. Yes, I love reading cowboy stories. Montana is one state I have not been to but it is a must now. The photos just makes me want to go there.

    Thanks for sharing

    Walk in harmony,

  14. I have not had the pleasure of reading your books… you are a new author for me… thank you so much for sharing with us today… what a beautiful cover… book sounds great!

  15. You are a new author for me. I would like to read your book, so you can put me in the hat.
    Montana is a beautiful state. Lots of wide open space. That is why I love the West.

  16. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Denise. What terrific photos, cover and blog. I hope A Cowboy’s Touch is on Kindle because I’m gonna fire mine up right now.

  17. Hi Denise, welcome to P&P I do love me some cowboys and I am sorry to say I have not read your work before but that will have to change. Your book sound fabulous and I will be looking for your book. I love reading new authors to me so you will be on my wish list. Thanks for sharing your book with us today.

  18. Hope your “A Cowboy’s Touch” does well.

    Would love to visit Montana but reading must suffice for now.

  19. Ater reading the firsr chapter, I need to read the rest of the book. I like these kinds of stories so hope I win.

Comments are closed.