Soul Food, a real wedding…and win books.

Getting an eight-book contract for my Hearts Crossing Ranch series meant that a whole lotta little brainstorms had to burst into real stories. Quick. Like spores or viruses. As things progressed, (Book Five Soul Food is out Friday and I’m currently editing Angel Child, Book Six) I was rather amazed at how often my real life mixed into the inspirations that came my way.

Book One, Hearts Crossing Ranch itself is set on a city slicker wagon train trip, not unlike the trip around the Tetons my husband and I recently took. Although I wrote the book first, I’d done enough research so  that details in the book were surprisingly accurate when all was said, done and explored.

In Book Two, Redeeming Daisy, a cowboy veterinarian has to deal with a fatally ill black Labrador, a heart-rending experience I based on the loss of our own sweet Marley. (Here she is, left,  with her brother who also has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Sigh.)

Book Three, Sanctuary, the book of my heart of hearts, glorifies the love, hope and faith of two cancer survivors…based on my own husband (who is four -years cancer free, thank God) and a dear family friend who is battling glioma and desperately  needs your prayers.

Book Four, Right to Bragg, deals with a painful rupture among family members who are supposed to love each other, and sadly, echoes an estrangement with my own sibling that I still ache over. Aw, yeah, I bawled when I got to the end of that one. Maybe next Christmas…

Soul Food, Book Five which comes out on Friday….what to do? I could do no less than name the heroine after my own beloved niece, Kelley. Truth is, the timing is perfect. She was married just last Saturday in a beautiful Art Deco building in Southern California to a real sweetheart named Jason (yes, he lent his name to the hero.)

I had the honor of making her practice bouquet out of her shower ribbons…and to receive a cluster of dark lilies like hers at the reception to honor my hubby’s and my long-term marriage which inspires her!


Although my five-year old grandson chickened out of his ring-bearer duties (he was adorable anyway), I also had the honor of reading the couple’s favorite poem. Although it has nothing to do with Soul Food, I can’t help but reprise it now.  By e.e. cummings. Which likely explains all the parentheticals in my post today.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,  my darling)
i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful, you are my world, my true)
and it’s you  are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
(here is the root of the root,  and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope,  or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart  (i carry it in my heart)

Well, the real Kelley is an artist, not a vegetarian with a failing restaurant, and definitely not a cowgirl. Nonetheless, Kelley, this one’s for you! May your and Jason’s own love story be a million pages long.

Short blurb:

With her restaurant on the brink of failure, Kelley Martin comes back home to Hearts Crossing Ranch both to renew her spirit and make some quick cash as chuck cook on the family’s famed city slicker wagon train adventures. Falling for handsome temporary geneticist Jason Easterday is definitely not on her list of things to do. And despite her wavering faith, Jason’s lack thereof shows her there’s no future for them…even if his kisses indicate otherwise. 

Always on the move, Jason Easterday has lived his life searching for…something. When he meets Kelley Martin and allows God into his life, Jason feels he’s finally found his place. With Kelley at his side, he’ll have a home of his own and a wife to adore. But Kelley won’t give him the time of day, and she’s leaving town to return to her ex. Now, he must find a way to hold  his ground, get her back, and remain where his heart has led him. 

If ya leave a comment today, I’ll draw a name to win Books Three and Four.  They are pdf. (That might get you salivating for Book Five. Yeah!)


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51 thoughts on “Soul Food, a real wedding…and win books.”

  1. The series is brilliant 🙂 Can’t wait to read the new one. Don’t know about you, but its totally different writing an already contracted book with a deadline, to one you can just dip in and out off as the mood takes you.

  2. I emailed the beautiful poem to my 4 children… hoping they will share it with their loved ones.

    Your series sounds fantastic. I would love to read the whole series. I will look for 1&2 and hope to win 3&4!

    I love the tie in of book 5 to your own family, your niece and her new husband.

  3. I love this series and I’m really looking forward to reading Kelly’s story. The pictures of your niece’s wedding are lovely!

  4. Eight book series. Wow, good for you. I love the wagon train trip, and love that you’ve built novels around it. So brilliant.
    I wonder if I can build novels around the 20 mile commute I make everyday, that’s about as close as I get to adventure.

  5. hi Clare, Oh, I do know what you mean! Even when I knew the basic little skeleton of the story, there were still thousands of words to conjure up LOL. Thanks so much for the kind words, and best of luck with your own new series and new release, Monday’s Child! Love you! xoxox

  6. hi Laurie,thanks for stopping by today. The poem was exquisite…although I did retype it for my reading just to make it easier LOL. Added caps, punctuation. But I love cummings so I expected it. Kelley had the poem as her theme: first line on the invitations along with a pair of small birds who were the symbol.

    I hope your kids love it as much as I do. I do appreciate your support of my stories!

  7. Hi Maria, oh, she was glorious. Her gown and style just fit the environment, too. I’m kinda sad it’s all over…we had so much fun in the planning stages, and then three days celebrating with the family and friends. SO happy you came by today, and so much thanks for your kind words about my books.

  8. hi Mary, aw come on! Nebraska? Remember, I went to college there LOL–absolutely life changing. And I clearly remember the photo you sent when your ranch was SNOWED IN last year. That, to me, is total adventure LOL. So happy you came by today and so appreciative of your kind words. xoxox

  9. Hi Tanya, I’m so looking forward to digesting eight stories in one setting. Each return will be like going back to camp in the same place but with new friends. Best wishes!

  10. Hi LoRee, aw, thanks. I do love the ranch and the people so much. Turning in the last Book (eight) was really sad LOL. So wonderful to see you here, sending hugs!

  11. Looking at the picture of your labs was like looking at our dog Olivia. She was a black lab mix we had to have her put to sleep a little over a month ago. It was really hard. She was 16 and one of the best dogs we have ever had. We still have our terrier, oddly enough named Marley.
    Best wishes and prayers for your husband and friend. Cancer is such an insidious disease. My husband is a 20 year survivor of a type of cancer with on a 15% chance of 5 year survivability. Our son -in-law was diagnosed with melanoma on the optic nerve 3 years ago. We are still hoping and praying things will work out. They have a new baby that adores her daddy and needs him around for a long time. One never knows. My mother died at 47 only four weeks after they found her cancer, and my husband’s mother beat both breast cancer and colon cancer and died at 89.

    Your niece and her new husband make a lovely couple. It looks like it was a lovely ceremony and sounds like you had a wonderful time.

    I guess it should be no surprise that what an author writes reflects their life experiences or what is going on in their life at the time. That personal connection to the story helps give it a depth and feeling that might not otherwise show through. I am certain this will be a lovely read as will the next book. I hope there will be many more in the future.

  12. Hi Tanya – the wedding looks wonderful. What a great looking couple!! And the practice bouquet came out great! Fun stuff. Glad the wedding went off well!!

  13. Tanya–this is my second try to finish reading your post. The Sears man came to do the semi-annual checkup for our air/heat unit, and now he has the house so cold I have to put on a sweater.
    Anyway, I couldn’t pass up this post about the real wedding and how you used events in your real life to concoct a story. I wish I could do that. Nothing even happens in my life, I guess, to use it for a plot!
    Your talent is amazing.So prolific–which I did for a few years, and now can’t seem to get even a short story finished.
    Your books sounds so good…I’m proud of you.

  14. Hi Patricia, may God bless your family with cures and continued health. Wow, cancer is indeed a scourge. I know, having a new little grandson sure was an incentive for my hubby to fight even harder.

    I’m so glad you commented today. It’s always wonderful to see you here, and I appreciate your good wishes.

  15. Hi Charlene, it was so fun. And like all of ’em, went way too fast. They are two real sweethearts, and I know they’ll have a HEA for sure.

  16. Hi Paisley, I love weddings, too. This is the last cousin so I guess no more weddings until the grandbabies grow up. But it’s sure been fun. So glad you could stop by today!

  17. Patricia, forgot this. Condolences on the loss of your sweet dog. It’s been several years now for us and my heart still aches. We’re waiting to heal before getting another pup. Sending hugs your way…

  18. hi Christine, thank you LOL. Since most times I think I’m the most boring person on the planet, I guess there are some kernels of goodness somewhere LOL. Thanks so much for the post! Hope to see you soon. xox

  19. hi Celia my friend. I too am enamored of weddings. I even watched every second real-time of Kate Middleton marrying Will last year LOL. I think I know where you’re at right now. I’ve been working on something for the new Honky Tonk series at TWRP and I guess I’m letting either ADD or real life get in the way. I should have been done by now! And it should be an easy one: I’m using the TWRP in Bandera TX as the backdrop Sheesh.

    Well, reading you today inspired me to get on the stick with that one! Thanks for the post and good luck with your Texas series. I’m so glad I got to go there!

  20. Hi Tanya!

    The wedding looks amazing, and I love the poem. I think it’s wonderful when authors put a bit of themselves and their experiences into their writing. It seasons the stories and makes everything more real and personal…guess because it is. :o)

  21. What gorgeous pictures, and lovely memories, T! Awesome post – and I can’t wait to have me some Soul Food!!! Clare’s right – this series is completely fabulous! 🙂 God’s blessings, sweetie!

  22. I am intrigued reading this. I pray God gives this book to the person he wants to read it. Because so many times he does that to me. I would love to win it. I loved your post – God Bless.

  23. Thank you for sharing the pics and the poem with us! 😀 Congrats on this upcoming release!

  24. Tanya, congratulations on the new book coming out. I don’t know how you do it – 8 contracted books. Whew! That’s a lot of hard work. I’m proud of you. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics of your niece’s wedding.

  25. Tanya, you are one busy woman! How thrilling (and scary!) to get a contract for a series of 8 books! I really admire your brainstorms, girl! And I loved that poem. Beautiful. Lovely wedding pictures, too–congrats to Kelley and Jason!
    Hugs to you,
    Cheryl P.

  26. I love the westerns. I want more and more but not that many get printed each month so I settle. I like the 1850-1900’s and it is like a trip to a place no longer in this life. I read others but enjoy how far we have come and the hardships endured by women. I have these women in my history and I made some myself. Leaving IL and traveling to CA to begin a new life pregnant and hoping for a job. It worked out but it is a story to match some in the wagon train. We dragged our RV and spent our money on a home to raise 2 children and build a reputation with nothing to support us but us. I love the “cowboys” and read them like a box of candy. Keep them coming gals.

  27. Hi Kirsten, you are so right! I even confess to naming characters after just about everybody I know LOL. Thanks so much for the post today! I love the poem, too.

  28. Hi Marianne, my rock! You mean so much, and I’m humbled at your compliments. Actually…since the eds haven’t liked many of my titles so far LOL, I’m pretty happy that they liked Soul Food, which I came up with 🙂 Hope you like it. Thanks for posting and for always keeping my spirits up. xoxox

  29. Hi Jane, so nice to hear from you. And I always hope those who win actually read my stuff. I hope I draw your name tonight! I’m really glad you stopped by today.

  30. Hey Stacey, you’re on my list of people to contact today: last night at our public library, your “Haunted Twist of Fate” was face out displayed on the 14-day special check out rack! I snatched it up. It’s all quiet in there but I wanted to scream, I know her!

    Yeah, 8 books did, I confess, did get a little hectic and taxing at times. But now that they’re all finished (I’ve got some to edit though), I do miss the ranch and the folks. Sigh.

    Thanks so much for commenting, my friend! xox

  31. Hi Colleen, the wedding was really perfect. I couldn’t even fault my little panic-stricken grandson. He did great as our daughter’s ring bearer but he was only 2 1/2 and didn’t know any better LOL. Thanks for the good thoughts today.

  32. Hi Cheryl, Kelley’s really excited about today’s post…but if only she would actually comment LOL. Even my hubby won’t. Oh well. I will pass along your congrats. And thank you always for your friendship and support! xoxox Love ya.

  33. Hi Sally, we love western fans here in Wildflower Junction! Thanks for the post. And your story does sound like a modern-day pioneer journey! I am reading a book right now called “Pioneer Women” by Joanna Stratton, real life accounts of Kansans settling the frontier. Boy, those ladies had stamina and courage.

    A week or so ago, Charlene Sands, Margaret Brownley and I did a panel at a big Cowboy Festival on how women helped tame the west. We are very proud of our gender!

  34. Sounds like a great series. Loved the poem and what wonderful pics of Kelley’s wedding. Very nice Tanya.

  35. Thanks for sharing the poem. The wedding looked lovely and I liked the bouquet.
    I have yet to read any of the books in this series so would like the opportunity.

  36. Tanya, I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three books in the series, especially Sanctuary. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books. Love your characters!

  37. hi Anne, sooo good for you to stop by. Yes, it was a wonderful day. And I hope you get to my series some day. I love your ReRide at the Rodeo. xox

  38. Hi Donna! SOOOOO good to see you here, my dear far-away friend. Thanks for liking my work. It’s even more special when friends do. Sanctuary is indeed my heart’s fondest. Love you and so glad you commented today! xoxox

  39. What a wonderful combination of your writing life and your real life! Congratulations to your daughter and to the proud mother of the bride! God bless! Keep those stories coming! I love ’em!

  40. Hi Donna, my friend. Thanks for your endless support. Writing has brought to me more blessed friends than I could ever have imagined. I so appreciate you commenting today!

  41. Auntie Tanya!
    This post is so cool. Thank you so much for all you did to make our wedding so special. We love you to pieces! Can’t wait to read the new book! Xoxoxo

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