Hello! I’m so excited to be here. Thanks to all the WWC ladies for having me!
They always say, write what you know, and I knew cowboys. In fact I used to dress in full cowboy garb as a child, complete with chaps, spurs, boots, and a cap gun. John Wayne was my hero, which might have been a strange hero for a six-year-old girl, but my family embraced it. Yep, that’s me in the picture!
Being from Wyoming, when I sat down in front of my legal pad many years ago and started to write my first book I drew on my local landscape. Wyoming Solace is set in the Snowy Range mountain range. There’s a little guest ranch at the foot of the mountain called the Vee Bar. Now when I wrote Wyoming Solace, I had no idea that I’d finish the book, let alone send it to a publisher. Otherwise I would have come up with a completely fictional place. (I did contact them for permission by the way.)
In my book, the heroine Elise Vickerson decides to sell her late father’s ranch to finance her escape from her abusive husband. Cody Campbell, a neighboring rancher, swears the V-Bar is his. Here’s a little excerpt, where Elise and her butler Daniel meet Cody for the first time:
“We’re prepared to stay here for an extended period, Mr. Campbell.” She forced a smile. “Who knows, we may end up falling in love with Wyoming and remain indefinitely.”
Cody’s lips tightened. “It’s a well-known fact around here that my father and I are the new owners of the V-Bar property. I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to go up against us. When my father returns, he’ll show you the proof of our ownership. You must realize that undertaking the enormous amount of repairs the property would need to become sellable, let alone profitable, would be counterproductive.”
“You don’t know anything about my property—”
“It’s my property.” He spoke slowly. “And I know everything about it. I wouldn’t have purchased even a dairy cow without knowing full well what I was taking on. I know that the stable roof is all but falling in, the well pump is missing vital parts.” He ticked off a finger for each point made. “The barbed wire is rusting and deteriorating in many places along the line. There are alkali patches all over the land, meaning crop selection is limited.” He waved negligently around the room. “I won’t even mention the work the home itself needs. More than is financially practical. That’s why we plan on leveling each and every structure.”
Elise’s blood drained to her toes. A strange emotion tugging at her heart. Level the V-Bar? There were so many memories in the house—the floorboards which held scuff marks from the spurs of the few cowboys who had suffered the wrath of Carolyn Vickerson for their carelessness; the lavatory mirror, where she watched her father shave; the kitchen stove, where Elise helped her mother stir gravy. No. They couldn’t tear down this house. This home.
She straightened her shoulders. “I could very well have the property sold before your father returns. The documents in my possession are legal and binding. I would much rather sell the home to a family who will appreciate it. Not level it.”
“You can’t sell something that isn’t yours.” He enunciated each word.
“It’s mine until you prove that it isn’t.” Elise stood, punctuating her outburst and not so delicately ending the visit.
As manners dictated, both men stood also. Cody took a step close to tower over her, a tactic she recognized as a show of power. She lifted her chin, refusing to back away.
“I don’t know how things work where you come from, but around here, a man’s word is worth more than a piece of paper. I came here today to save you time, expense and the embarrassment of discovering that you are trespassing.” He stressed the word enough to make her wince. “I’ll tell you what, ma’am. Fight the bit to your heart’s content. Since you refuse to believe that this is now my property without the deed and to show you how neighborly we are around these parts, I’ll allow you to stay here until my father’s return. Go ahead and spend your time and money on my holdings.” He moved away from her while she struggled for words.
Before I even finished Wyoming Solace, I had my next several books in the works. One of them a contemporary western about a dude ranch visitor and the man who runs the place. It’s a reunion romance, so I titled it Retreat. Just for fun, I used the same setting, and just revisited the V-Bar 100 years later. I added a small little Easter Egg during story-time around the campfire that relates back to Wyoming Solace, but if I reveal that here it might spoil parts. I also included a factual campfire cowboy story, because truth is definitely stranger than anything I could make up.
Last year, I wrote a prequel to Retreat, and put it up as a free read. Check my website to find Treat at your favorite e-tailer.
Okay, I don’t want to take up too much webspace, so if you’d like to read the first chapters of Wyoming Solace and Retreat, I’ve got them on my website. Come and visit! Now I’m pondering another western set at the V-Bar. What do you think? One set in the 1930s? Or one set in the 2500s?