No doubt about it. I am a California beach girl. Somehow, though, the heroes in my books always seem to end up cowboys. For that “wild west” reason, the fillies here in Wildflower Junction let me be a member of the corral for almost nine years.
However, in June 2017, family matters demanded I put writing and blogging on hold. Some good stuff, like a baby granddaughter. Others, not so good, like a still-ailing mother-in-law. But the fillies assured me I’d always be welcomed back. And after twelve months of catching my breath, four amazing inspirational authors invited me last summer to participate in a Valentine anthology. It released January 11, so—here I am!
Thank you, fillies!
Timing was perfect. Jumping back into the writing saddle with “Heart of Hope” was a great ride. Since the keystone of each of our novellas was a recipe, nothing else would do but the directions for my late Aunt Grace’s historic banana bread. And well, that itself led to the hero having an Aunt Grace…
Of course, nowhere else would do for my setting but my beloved California. I decided to return to a place I’d used before, fictional Rancho Lorena inspired by the real-life Central Coast town of Santa Ynez, established in 1882.
It’s a favorite place to visit, and rich in history. In 1858, the Overland Coast Line stagecoach ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the Santa Ynez Valley area just about smack dab in the center. Sometimes travelers stayed on or came back, and civilization grew into a true microcosm of the American West with saloons, mercentilers, blacksmiths, and tillers of the soil. By 1887, the Pacific Coast Railroad roared through.
The valley and town likely took the name Santa Ynez from the nearby Mission of Santa Ynes, established by the Franciscans in 1804 and named for Saint Agnes of Rome.
Then and now, the near-perfect climate is ideal for raising cattle, olives, and fruit. These days, 20% of the valley’s land is cultivated for wine grapes.
This photo I took is the tree that lends its name to my hero, Akron McCrory’s, ranch, the Leanin’ Tree. I have no idea why it’s bent, but I liked the idea it somehow could have been a trail marker left by the native tribe.
The Thyme Arbor Inn, where Akron and Bree run into her sneaky ex Marshall, is inspired by this restaurant:
The California coastal oaks are one of the area’s hallmarks. I think you’ll see some in my story.
As well as these horses on Akron’s ranch.
If you want to get into the Valentine spirit early with some sweet reads filled with love and romance, food and family sprinkled with faith, please check out our anthology.
From today’s commenters, I will be pulling one name out of the Stetson to receive a digital copy of Love, Sweet Love, so don’t be a stranger. Please and thank you.
So to get you in the sweetheart mood, what do you prefer giving/getting—flowers, a mushy card, or CHOCOLATE?
And before I ride off into the sunset, I need to publicly thank Mary, Dora, Delia, and Zoe for all their hand-holding. Thank you, Mary Manners (head of the project), Dora Hiers (aka my rock), Delia Latham (who designed all our covers) and Zoe McCarthy (made this old lady want to go skiing again.)
Here’s a bit about HEART OF HOPE.
He gave Bree her first kiss, but can he give her a future? She’s back in Rancho Lorena but not to stay—until Akron steals her heart. For good this time. But his ranch is in financial trouble, and she’s a rich developer. A recipe for disaster. Until they find the missing ingredients of love, happiness, and hope when they help out together at a home for young women in need.
LIKE A DANCE by Delia Latham
A former celebrity dancer with a child she adores. A successful but burnt-out therapist to Hollywood’s rich and famous. When they show up in Hummingbird Hollow at the same time, sparks fly… but can they fan the flames?
LANDING IN LOVE by Mary Manners
Erin Mulvaney is comfortable in front of both crowds and cameras. It’s the tango of one-on-one relationships, especially when it comes to men, that ties up her tongue. When handsome Kyle arrives to renovate her family’s restaurant, can she conquer her fears to cover the project alongside him?
HER VALENTINE VET by Dora Hiers
Veterinarian Murphy Denton doesn’t trust people. Heiress Micaela Stanford would donate her fortune to care for abandoned animals. Her generous spirit crushes his defenses. Will his dysfunctional past prevent them from a happily-ever-after?
GOOD BREAKS by Zoe M. McCarthy
Life has dealt a mammography tech and an entrepreneur bad breaks and led them to a small North Carolina ski town. A new bad break introduces them. Can they share more than a love of skiing? Or is she intent only on fixing his flaws?