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.
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:
Remember, your REVIEWS keep writers writing!
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