NEVADA DREAMING…by Charlene Sands


I’m a Californian at heart, having lived in So Cal for most of my life, so the pop culture tune, California Dreaming is a song I know very well.  I love California and once set a series, Napa Valley Vows in northern California. Those heroes were not cowboys, but vintners who had love affairs with women and wine.

For my new series, The Slades of Sunset Ranch, I needed the perfect location to set these three modern day cowboy stories.  I really wanted to move out of Arizona (where the Worths of Red Ridge reside) and I wanted to pick a setting that was a little more picturesque than the flatlands of Texas where I’d set so many other books, so I began my Nevada Dreaming.

For most people, when they hear “Nevada”, they immediately think of Las Vegas, but with me, that wasn’t the case at all.  I’m always thinking of ranches and cowboys and history.  My mind clicked away and I remembered my visit to the Ponderosa Ranch amid tall sugar pine trees, deep green valleys and the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

 The Ponderosa was a fictional ranch owed by Ben Cartwright and his sons, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe not too far from Virginia City, in the immensely popular and iconic western TV show Bonanza.  It aired from 1959 to 1972, having a long 13 year reign in TV land. As a result, many of us became familiar with the Cartwright ranch house and surroundings.  Bonanza was shot on location at the Ponderosa Ranch in Incline Village, Nevada, for the most part and for many years after the show ended, tourists were welcomed to the ranch and given tours of the inside rooms where the television series was shot.  

That’s where my Nevada dream came in.  I thought, wouldn’t it be great to center this new Desire series in a similar type of location… I wanted picturesque and I got it!  I dreamt up Sunset Ranch, a thoroughbred horse farm and Sunset Lodge, an upscale dude ranch, to tell my stories.  Then I tossed in Logan, Luke and Justin Slade into the mix, three love-resistant brothers who run the massive Slade empire.

After that, I invented the town of Silver Springs (although I’m sure there are many real towns with that name) and pulled memories from my trips to the Lake Tahoe area, for the rest.  BTW, Lake Tahoe is where we honeymooned and were lucky enough to see Elvis Presley in concert, so that area does really hold a special place in my heart.    

I’m into my 3rd Sunset Ranch story now, with military hero, Justin Slade’s homecoming, and the landscape hasn’t failed me yet.  Though, I will have completed the three stories in this series soon, I might very well end up writing a fourth one using one of the characters from book two. After all, I know the lay of the land now!

For me, sometimes figuring out where to set my stories is just

as hard as creating appealing characters and a compelling story.  When a writer develops a series in one location they get to know the area inside out and hopefully the setting feels real to the reader…that’s my goal. 

My Nevada Dreaming was chockfull of good memories and beautiful scenery.  


Were you a fan of Bonanza? Did you recognize that interior room and Ben Cartwright’s desk?    Would you have liked to visit The Ponderosa Ranch?  And here’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask.  If you had to pick one, are you a Mountain, Beach or City type of tourist?  What’s your favorite kind of vacation? 


Sunset Surrender – in bookstores and on Amazon now.

Sunset Seduction –  June 2013

Sunsets and Baby Secrets – Nov 2013








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22 thoughts on “NEVADA DREAMING…by Charlene Sands”

  1. Bonanza was a favorite of mine and I would have loved to visit the set. For one thing, I love the mountains and my perfect vacation would be several weeks in just such a home.
    A place where I could enjoy the quiet and the beauty. I can so easily see God’s handiwork in the mountains. I always feel at peace there.

  2. The Ponderosa looks like heaven to me. Log cabin, mountains, trees, a nearby lake. That is my dream vacation spot. Or better yet, the place I want to retire, hide away and write. As long as I can have an internet connection. 🙂

    I love your setting, Charlene. It’s perfect! My family used to travel to Lake Tahoe every Christmas to go skiing. It’s such a beautiful place. Just right spot for some love-resistent men to fall hard for their women.

  3. Charlene, I never missed an episode on Bonanza and even watched it all over again when it came on TVLand. And Lake Tahoe is on my bucket list. I can’t wait to get itno this series. You never disappoint with your locations or your hot love resisent men. I am sure I lived in the west in another life…lol

  4. Hi Connie
    Yes, I can honestly say, that Lake Tahoe and surrounding area is a true display if God’s pallet. We have been to The Ponderosa several times, and traveled to Lake Tahoe too many times to count, and it’s as awe inspiring as the Grand Canyon in my opinion.

  5. Hi Tracy – Ha, I agree about the Cartwrights. For the longest time, it was Adam with me, and of course, I always loved Hoss, and then I sort of fell in love with Little Joe and stayed there…

  6. Hi Karen – It was fun to visit there. Too bad they closed down the site. I’m not sure why…but I was disappointed when we tried to visit to find it wasn’t open to the public any more. Going into the actual rooms in the house was a lot of fun. I would imagine that area is a great place to do some writing…lots of inspiration all around.

  7. Hi Kathleen O – Oh sometimes I feel the same way, that I might have lived in that time period once. Would be great, except for the lack of internet access and the indoor plumbing. I bet Ben Cartwright had their version of indoor plumbing, he was rich enough!!

    And thanks for the compliment on my stories. I think you’ll like Sunset Ranch. Lots of horses too!!

  8. Charlene, you sure chose a great location in which to set your new series. You always come up with the neatest things and I think that’s why I love your books so much. But you asked a very difficult question. I would be hard pressed to chose between the beach and the mountains. I absolutely love the sun and sand the sound of the ocean waves. It’s like my soul has come home whenever I take a trip to the beach. But the mountains draw me as well. Growing up in the barren land of New Mexico, I’ve always longed to live in a place that has tall trees. I’ve never gotten to live there but I do enjoy my visits to the mountains. It always gives me a peaceful calm feeling.

    Wishing you tons of success, my dear Filly sister!

  9. Wow, I love this setting, Charlene. If I … ahem … several books from now … use this exact same location for a story…please AVERT YOUR EYES.
    Of course mine will be historical so hopefully the similarities will end with the landscape.
    And you know what?
    I think I need to go to Lake Tahoe for a vacation…RESEARCH TRIP. 🙂

  10. Charlene, I loved “Bonanza” and your setting is perfect, in my opinion. For a vacation, I love the beach, but also the mountains … either, as long as I can get away and enjoy myself with my family and/or friends.

    I have a special connection to Bonanza, as Dan Blocker who play Hoss, was my aunt’s (by marriage) first cousin. He was actually born Bobby Don Block and weighed something like 14 pounds. He had a very interesting background, including teaching school. He’s buried in O’Donnell, Texas, south of Lubbock and they have a museum in his honor. If it’s still there, when you come through the very, very small town there is a huge barn and on the end of it is a large picture of him and it lets everybody know it’s his hometown. Of course, growing up I told everyone he was “my cousin” although technically he wasn’t, but he was the most famous person in my family.

    Can hardly wait to read your new series. Hugs, Phyliss

  11. Hi Linda – thanks for your sweet words!! 🙂 And in my younger days, it was BEACH all the way, but now it’s a toss up, (because I’m shying away from too much sun..though I love it) Mountains are beautiful too, but I also love going to a nice hotel in a big city. I guess, BEACH has it, but not by much.

  12. Hi Mary – oh, yes, please do use (steal) the same location. I won’t have to AVERT my eyes. 🙂 By all means, RESEARCH is sooo important…don’t miss Virginia City while you’re there. Great ghost town…I’ve set two westerns there… It’s a perfect location for any sort of romance.

  13. Hi Phyliss…oh my goodness!! You’re related to Hoss Cartwright? How cool is that. Wow, I hope he sent his mama flowers on Mother’s day, for her birthing such a big baby!!
    Thanks for sharing Phyliss!

  14. I love the mountains. Even though I live in and amongst them, I do miss them when I go somewhere.
    You have picked the best part of the Sierra Nevada for this setting. I of course, prefer the fewer people part, where I live. We lived in Reno while Bonanza was still on and my sons had fits. How could they ride from Virginia City to Reno in an hour? Washoe Valley was in the way, or they went the wrong direction. My boys were sticklers for REALISM. After they got older, they always checked out the gear the cowboy used.
    They are a lot worse now, in their 50’s. Take a road trip with Mary C and do a research trip. She’s enjoy that.

  15. Love your gorgeous cover, Charlene. Congratulations on another great new release. Loved Bonanza growing up. Watched it without fail. But when it comes to NEvada I’m more familiar with the southern part–miles and miles of barren desert.
    I love the mountains, but my favorite spot would be a solitary ocean beach where I could walk and walk. Big crowds of folks baking in the sun? No thanks.

  16. Love the cowboy on your cover! Congrats on your new release! I can’t wait to read it. I use to watch Bonaza a lot when I was growing up. Every now and then I will catch some old reruns of it and watch it again.

  17. Hi Charlene! I remember Bonanza for sure. It was a treat to stay up late on Sunday before school to watch it. I still tune in to the retuns on occasion.

    Vacation choice: THE BEACH. Hands down. Pismo Beach is one of my favorite spots in California. I like Venice Beach, too.

  18. I love the Cartwright brothers…Love their ranch…breath taking….I always wanted to live on the Ponderosa Ranch…I am a mountain girl all the way…Thanks for sharing


  19. Beautiful setting, Charlene! Every Saturday morning I watched re-runs of Bonanza when I was a child. I loved the series, but hated when Adam left.

    Vacation choice would have to be mountains!


  20. Loved Bonanza. Never missed a show. I wanted the ranch and loved the setting. I am a mountain girl through and through. I grew up in the Adirondacks of northern NY, lived in the Rockies in Colorado Springs, and now live in theSmokies of NE TN. Always wanted to visit the Ponderosa, but had heard it closed years ago. We were in the Tahoe area in the 1980’s and I never saw any ads for it. Too bad, it didn’t close until 2004. It was well visited and everything is still there. Hope it reopens.

    Best of luck with the new series. Sounds good as usual.

  21. Hi ladies – Had a full day of babies today and just letting you know I’ve read your posts Pat B, Elizabeth, Mary J, Quilt Lady, Kirsten, Melinda and Vicki!! Thanks for sending along your comments about Bonanza and your thoughts on location. Sounds like most of you enjoy the mountains, even if it’s not your first choice.

    Mine favs are in the this order: Beach, Mountains, City.
    I do love Pacific Beaches and have always lived on a coast. But it’s fun to get away to the mountains too!!

    Thanks for blogging today everyone!!

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