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
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