Welcome Guest Debra Salonen!!!

Debra Salonen-4341-Color-SmA RANCHER AT HEART

by Debra Salonen

Many thanks to Pistols and Petticoats for welcoming me to this wonderful community today!

I love characters–and people–who pretend to be realists but deep down they’ve never let go of the dream. I believe that brand of tenaciousness is what settled the west. And nobody illustrates that Oh-hell-no! spirit better than a rancher.

Deb Salonen Rancher memeDoesn’t matter if he/she has ten acres or ten thousand, a rancher’s reality is tedium, back-breaking work, worry over ornery beasts determined to get into trouble when you can least afford a vet bill, and then you get to do the same thing all over again the next day. And the next.

Although I was born and raised in a college town in eastern South Dakota, I’ve known many ranchers. The first–my uncle, J.W. “Jiggs” Thompson–captured my heart as a child and continued to be a hero of mine until the day he died.

Uncle Jiggs truly was one of those larger-than-life men who rode hard, lived large and created lasting memories in the lives of the people who loved him. A Lakota Sioux born on a reservation beside the Missouri River, Jiggs was pulled from his family’s arms as a young boy to attend “white” school. Smart, clever and ambitious, he figured out how to succeed in the face of the many obstacles set before him. War took him to the South Pacific, but it couldn’t stop him from returning to the arms of the love his life, my father’s sister, Helen Robson Thompson.

Deb Salonen rancher blog photo 1As a child, I should have been terrified of this giant of a man whose booming voice and commanding nature was so different from the people back home in Brookings. But, I wasn’t. Jiggs loved kids, and he opened his arms and heart in a way that made me feel protected and safe.

I’ve always equated that nurturing quality with the ranching way of life.

I have a neighbor who lives on a five-acre parcel in the foothills of the Sierra, along with four horses, three dogs and two kids. And an understanding wife. This man is not a rancher in the classic sense of the word, but he embodies the rancher spirit in the way he cares for his animals, teaches his children through example, hard work and fun, and shares his love of the western way of life with others. This generous spirit came through loud and clear in the grins on the faces of the children who got their first horseback ride at our fall festival.

cowboy leading a child horsebackAs you may have guessed, I revere the ranching spirit and I’m always delighted when a character with this sort of mettle shows up. Gage Monroe, the hero of my Tule Publishing holiday release, MONTANA MIRACLE, was raised on a ranch in Montana’s Paradise Valley. Not a big ranch, but big enough to feel a deep abiding connection to the land and the few head of cattle his father ran. But circumstance took Gage away from his family’s homestead for many years. He returned to Montana with the sole intention of ridding himself of this last–now, greatly diminished–lodestone, so he could start a new life–footloose and responsibility-free–somewhere warm. Unfortunately, he discovers the last renters left behind a horrific mess, which includes two ancient draft horses and a donkey.

A lesser man might have walked away. But not Gage. He does what needs to be done. And when a stray dog shows up, Gage makes room in his heart for another castaway. And some barn cats. And a woman who recognizes Gage for the man he is–a rancher who lost his way but not his rancher spirit.

MontanaMiracle-LARGEMONTANA MIRACLE is available on all formats here.


I love and admire the sort of hero who puts the care and welfare of animals at the top of his Must-Do list. Every Christmas, you hear about people who give pets as gifts, only to have that adorable puppy/kitten grow up to be a dog/cat that doesn’t fit the harsh reality of the family’s circumstances. Shelters will feel this impact a few months down the road. So, instead of a traditional sort of prize today, I’d like to make a $25 donation to the animal shelter of the winner’s choice. I like to think that by helping animals in need, I’m channeling my inner rancher. Or if the winner prefers, I will send her a copy of one of my previous anthologies (US residents only). To be entered in the drawing, please tell me the name of your favorite rancher–real life human being or book hero/heroine.

Have a beautiful, blessed holiday, my friends! And happy reading in the New Year.





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20 thoughts on “Welcome Guest Debra Salonen!!!”

  1. Thank you for the great post, and your generosity to donate to an animal shelter in the winner’s name.

    As far as fictional ranchers, I guess I would say the Cartwrights of Bonanza fame. In real like, Nolan Ryan (of baseball fame) has a ranch in Texas and so does country singer George Strait.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • I have some great memories. Chief among them was how kind he was when I did something a “city kid” would do. He never yelled at me–just used it as a learning tool.

  2. I love that the prize goes to an animal shelter. And too true about the many animals that will be returned once the “cuteness” wears off. So sad.

    One of the true ranchers that sticks out in my head is Curly from City Slickers. Quiet and deep. That’s how I picture most ranchers.

    • I loved that movie, Michelle. Thanks for the smile. What’s not to love about a puppy, right? But then they get bigger and they chew!!! Our best dog ever was a two-year old adoptee from a shelter. she just passed a few months ago and I still miss her.

  3. My first husbands relatives own a cattle ranch in minnesota. Cool that the prize is going to an animal shelter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  4. I have a dear friend who lives on a ranch in Western Nebraska. You could have been describing his life in your blog. He is rather quiet, tall and thin, and very caring. He and his wife met at a rodeo when he was a bull rider. He worked for many years as a brand inspector for the state and retired when he inherited the family ranch.Watching him care for his animals is a true highlight of a visit to the ranch.

    My husband is a retired farmer. He no longer works our land nor do we have any animals to care for but we do have several cats. I love watching when he goes out to feed them. They are quite a sight when all fifteen of them follow him to the barn.

    • Appreciate that, Kimberlyindy. Happy holiday hugs. I just typed The End to MONTANA REBEL. (PS: rebels are a real pain to write about–they do exactly what THEY want, never what you want. Sigh.)

  5. A great post!! One of my favorite movies is Giant. A few times I would get up during the middle of the night to watch when on late tv, this was before vcrs. Love your Montana Mavericks!!! Merry Christmas

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