ROAD TRIPS, AS INSPIRATION (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by VONN MCKEE

 

I’m  honored to present my first blog for PETTICOATS & PISTOLS! I’m friends with several of the “fillies” and have loved reading P&P posts over the years. Now, I’m not known as a romance writer, but you know how it goes. Romance sneaks into most stories, whether it’s happily-ever-after, unrequited, reunited, or any other brand of amour.

I just returned from a trip to Colorado for a convention and spent a few days on each end of it knocking around the gorgeous Centennial State. I passed through time-capsule mining towns, the Mile-High City, curvy mountain passes, aspen groves … and I hit a killer jewelry sale in a little shop in Estes Park. It got me thinking about road trips.

I once dated a guy who said that taking a road trip together was the true test of a relationship. Come to think of it, he and I never took a road trip together … and, all these years later, we’re still friends. Perhaps it was best that we never tested the limits of a perfectly good relationship!

There have been many tandem excursions over the years – most pleasant, some spectacularly bumpy – but I’ve always been especially fond of hitting the road solo for relaxation, research, or seeing friends and family in other states.

As a writer, I get tons of inspiration when I’m riding alone in my SUV, also known as “Bluesy.” Sometimes it’s a song or short story idea, or I’ll see something that relates to a novel WIP. Several years ago, I was driving with my mom through northern Iowa and we passed a two-story white farmhouse with a corner tower, set back from the road on a bit of a hill (similar to the one in the photo). I can’t tell you why, but a story idea suddenly whooshed into my head. I could imagine a woman looking out from the tower’s top floor window at a man riding toward the house. I sensed that the woman mistook the approaching rider for an old lover.

It took a while for me to get around to writing the short story, “Wren’s Perch,” about a goodhearted Iowa man who marries a broken-hearted woman. It turned out to be a personal favorite of mine and was a 2019 finalist for Western Writers of America’s Spur Award. It still gives me a little shiver when I remember passing that farmhouse and having the elements of Albert and Lydia’s story rush into my conscience … as if they were waiting for me to drive by.

I often tell friends and family members who are about to embark on road trips to “look for something you’ve never seen before,” even if the route is familiar. After all, I had driven past that Iowa farmhouse dozens of times, taking my parents to their lake cabin in Minnesota. But one day, it told me a story.

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Because I’m so thrilled to be with you all today, I’d love to give away TWO books. The story I just talked about, “Wren’s Perch,” is included in Five Star Publishing’s anthology, The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories (with other fine short fiction from heavy-hitter Western writers like Michael Zimmer, Johnny D. Boggs and Matthew P. Mayo). Also, I’ve released a collection of all Vonn McKee stories called Comanche Winter and Other Stories of the West.

If you don’t happen to win a copy of either book, here’s are links to purchase:

The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories
Comanche Winter and Other Stories of the West

Remember, your REVIEWS keep writers writing!
Thanks for stopping by and please say howdy in the comment section!

All the best,
Vonn McKee
Website | Facebook

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50 thoughts on “ROAD TRIPS, AS INSPIRATION (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by VONN MCKEE”

    • I live in Tennessee, too, Denise. There are some charming little towns scattered throughout the countryside. Thanks for saying hello, neighbor!

      • I don’t live in Tennessee, but I’ve visited so much over my lifetime. My grandparents lived there, and now my my parents are on the homestead. It’s my second home.

        I’ll be there in a few weeks.

  1. Welcome Vonn- I love road trips and seeing new things. I know what you mean about driving the same route and then one day, POW!!, I see something that I’ve driven past numerous times.
    I love how you described that their story was just waiting for you to drive by and see them.
    Happy 4th of July to you & your family.

    • So you know exactly what I’m talking about! And the inspiration can come from a broken-down tractor or a child’s smile or …

      Nice to be here with you all.

  2. Hi! I know what you mean about unique homes that reach out to tell a story. My husband and I were on a road trip and got caught in a winter storm in North Dakota. We passed a homestead that had been abandoned and i wondered what stories lived through the years there. Thank you for coming today. I enjoyed meeting you!

  3. Good morning Vonn, thanks for stopping by P&P! I love road trips but I rarely get to take them anymore. Life on disabilty & having MS hasn’t allowed many in the past 2 decades. Most of my road trips are just going back to my hometown to visit my parents & other family. My step-moms name is Yvonne but everyone calls her Von!

    I love that house! It is my “dream” kind of house! I think it’s the porch that draws me the most! I wish stories I could write just out at me or swam out in my head. I’ve heard authors say that same thing so I guess many of us just weren’t meant to be authors. I’ll have to be happy being an avid reader! I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books! A giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list! I hope you have a very Happy 4th of July!

    • Hey, visits to the old hometown can be the richest of all when it comes to writing inspiration. I’d love to have a house like that, too. I’m a porch kind of girl. Well, give my love to your step-mom Von! There aren’t many of us around.

      Personally, I think everyone should write (journals, essays, etc.) whether they consider themselves authors or not. Not only does it bring clarity at the end of the day, but it creates a record for future descendants. One of THEM might decide to write your story!

  4. when my husband was alive, we took lots of road trips. Some long and some only one day.

    • Road trips with your partner make great dates! I’m sure you have tons of sweet memories to treasure from those drives with your husband. By the way, I love your name, Estella.

    • Isn’t it gorgeous? I always think of the old Western song, “If God Doesn’t Live in Colorado (I’ll Bet That’s Where He Spends Most of His Time).”

      Nice to hear from you, Debra.

  5. When I was younger I use to enjoy road trip, now not so much. I have back issues so riding for very long is hard on me. I always wondered were stories come from so now I know it could be anything like a house. Looking forward to reading your books.

    • I hear you on the “riding for very long” issue. I get a little stiff myself. But then, I’ve been known to drive 600-700 miles in a day, which is a bit ambitious.

      Yeah, we writers get story ideas from all kinds of weird places. Thanks for saying hello!

  6. Hello! Road trips are my very favorite form of travel, and I’m in the midst of one myself.

  7. I have not been on a road trip in many years, and I was just talking about it last night… I hope one day to make one. I just read a book about Route 66 and It’s on my bucket list.

    • A Route 66 trip would be fantastic. I’ve only traveled parts of it. There are still some original diners and motels on the old route. Americana at its best! Hope you get to go soon.

  8. Welcome and the books sounds amazing to read just, because you drove by for thier story. We have done day trips and weekend trip to see and learn new things. Have a fantastic 4th!

    • Thank you, Kristi. I just throw the stories out there and hope folks enjoy them. You know, we can learn an awful lot from traveling … about the places, people and cultures outside our own turf. Happy 4th to us all!

  9. Road trips are so wonderful. They give me great enjoyment and are always a surprise. The road trip to Colorado several years ago was memorable and I still can feel and see the fascinating area and the historic towns.

  10. When we were young we drove to a lake for summer vacation and this introduced me to the different areas. I look forward to road trips since they are unique, special and unforgettable. Especially seeing another locale and the history involved is always interesting.

    • When my brother and I were kids, my parents threw us in the back seat of a ’62 Thunderbird and drove all over the country. We had picnics in little parks (and sometimes cemeteries!), stayed in quaint roadside motels. What a great childhood experience! Aren’t we lucky?

      Thanks for stopping by, Ruth.

  11. Welcome today. Good to have you here. Sounds like you and your mom had a fabulous time. I love this house. What a great idea for stories. My husband and I love to take road trips. When the kids were little we would always start out at dunckin doughnuts and get coffee or chocolate milk to eat in the car as we headed out. Now my husband and I start out with breakfast at a wonderful breakfast restaurant and then head out.

    • Lori, my mom and I had some fabulous road trips. Our first stop was for coffee and either donuts or biscuits with jam. When I was a kid, she made sandwiches and passed them back to my brother and me while my dad was driving down the highway.

      You are making wonderful memories. Nice to hear from you!

  12. Your book and the inspiration of the house sounds wonderful. When the summer arrives I am itching to drive somewhere new and explore old towns which gives me hope and happiness.

    • Aha! Someone else who understands “itching to drive somewhere new.” You’re right about the hope and happiness. It’s comforting to see that other folks (past and present) have met and overcome some of the same struggles we do. Hey, at least I don’t have to drag out a wringer washing machine on Mondays like my aunties did! Keep road-tripping, Sharon.

  13. I personally was never to Tennessee but my niece was and the pictures sent me were just incredible. Would love to visit someday. It’d be a great road trip or fly trip.
    Would love to read and review your books in print format. Love books like this and love the idas
    Hope I Win

    • Well, y’all come! There is a lot to see, aside from Music City, from the mountains in the East around Gatlinburg to the sights, sounds, and tastes of Memphis. Dry rub barbecue at its best! Nice to hear from you, Crystal.

  14. The fall of 2019 we took a long road trip to visit our sons who were living in Logan, Utah and Portland, OR. We left from central Wisconsin and also stopped in 3 national parks along the way: Rocky Mt (didn’t get a jewelry sale but did see massive elk fighting by the Visitor’s Center), Olympic and Glacier. We also visited the Oregon coast and several of Oregon’s state parks. We traveled over 6000 miles!
    I enjoyed your background information about how the house inspired your award winning story, Wren’s Perch!
    We travel yearly to Florida, 1500 miles. We travel straight through so I don’t get to see too many highlights along the way.

    • Wisconsin is a beautiful state! There’s so much to see in this glorious country, isn’t there? I just visited Estes Park and saw only five elk. Sometimes they stroll around downtown. Never seen a fight though!

      Enjoy your travels and your reading!

  15. I love to go on road trips. There are so many interesting out of the way places and small towns with fantastic museums or historic sites. I have always thought it would be fun to drive from Albany to Albany on US 20. It wouldn’t matter if I started in Oregon or New York. I have driven a lot of it but I have missed a lot of miles, too.

    • Albany to Albany? That sounds intriguing. I hope you cover it all eventually. That would make a nice travel journal with photos and notes.

      Thanks for stopping by, Alice!

  16. Hi , road trips are alot of fun! My 2 younger sisters and I took a road trip the year before COVID hit. We had a lot of fun. Looking forward to doing it again. Have a Great weekend and stay safe. Very nice to meet you.

    • Nice to meet you, too, Alicia. I’m so happy we can plan travel again (with care). I don’t have sisters but that sounds like a fun trip.

  17. I know just what you mean about driving by a place and having questions about its history pop into my head. I have been known to make up my own story to answer the questions. Yes, there are things I haven’t noticed for years even though I have travel a road many times. Sometimes it is a person that I might encounter for only a short period of time that raise questions, but the only answers I get are the ones I make up. You are so lucky to have writing as an outlet for all those ideas.
    Road trips do being out the best and the worst of your companions. My husband and I have been on many trips together over the years. We even spent 2 1/2 months on the road in our RV for a trip to Alaska a couple of years ago. No radio, no TV, no CD’s or books on tape. We just talked and enjoyed the country. We find we usually talk with each other when we travel, even for short trips. This all just reminded me of our first RV road trip in 1983. We were living in Colorado at the time with 2 girls about 9 and 10 and a hyperactive son who was 7 months old. My aunt flew out and brought my 11 year old nephew with her. We rented an RV for 2 weeks and traveled the Southwest. My aunt took the double bed (near the bathroom), our girls slept on the dinette converted to a bed, and our nephew slept on the sofa. My husband, son, and I were relegated to the space over the cab. Couldn’t sit up and our son “slept ” between us. We spent 2 weeks with him not being still, being kicked in the stomach and bumped. There were many adventures along the way, and I was amazed we were still on speaking terms when we finished.
    \Thank you for the interesting post. Old houses are a favorite of mine and something we search out on trips. Wren’s Perch sounds like a story I would really enjoy. Anthologies are a favorite format. I get to fit in a story when I don’t have much time, and can reread a favorite anytime knowing it will be short and sweet.

    • Wow, Patricia! You’re a real road warrior. One of my bucket-list road trips is a drive to Alaska, the only state I haven’t visited. I’m not sure I want to try it with that many people but I’ll bet the kiddos NEVER forgot that adventure!

      Thanks for sharing your stories!

      • Believe me, I was surprised we were all (well almost all) were still on speaking terms after 2 weeks in that camper. Luckily the Southwest has many National Parks to keep everyone busy and out of the RV. The trip to Alaska with just the two of us was wonderful. I don’t think the younger generations can relax and appreciate the scenery and Peace & Quiet. I will say that when I travel by myself, I stop more to take picture and explore. My husband tends to be more of a “let’s get there” destination person, although I can get him to stop and explore.
        I really hope you make the trip to Alaska. Just be warned the road north out of Whistler, BC has a 13% grade. A spectacular drive, but nerve wracking, especially in a 28ft RV. We would definitely find another route if we went that way again, but there are not many options.

  18. I remember that story! So glad you shared the spark. And a jewelry sale? Lucky you! That I would have driven a long ways for. Looking forward to seeing what you purchased at the next WWA. Great blog.

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