As seen in the December issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.
Uncaged: In The Christmas Cowboy, we meet Tate and Kenzie, a book full of romance, the rodeo, and a feel-good ending. What inspires you to write in the Western romance genre? I’ve been a horse owner most of my life so I’m intrigued, do you have a background in the western way of life?
I grew up on a farm and always had a horse to ride. My family would probably tell you I was a bit of a horse crazy girl. When I was about three or so, I was supposed to be napping and snuck out of the house so I could ride my pony. I didn’t get the riding pad tight and ended up clinging to it upside down beneath the pony when my mom finally found me. (A girl just wants to ride, right?)
During most of my childhood years, my oldest brother worked as a buckaroo on remote ranches located on the edge of nowhere. He’d return home full of adventurous stories and sometimes bring along a cowboy or two who could use a home-cooked meal and a few days of “civilization.” They’d walk in the house smelling like sunshine, horses and leather and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.
The western way of life is one I greatly admire and enjoy.
Uncaged: This is our holiday issue – can you tell us of some of your holiday traditions and some things you love to do during the Christmas season?
The holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year. Growing up, we always made a trek to the woods (which was about an hour and a half drive) to spend the day picking out the perfect Christmas tree. We often hosted Christmas at our house for all the extended family, so we’d go sledding and ice skating and have such fun.
One tradition I started a few years ago is making home-made cinnamon rolls. I try to deliver them to friends and neighbors while they’re still warm, and the frosting is melting over the cinnamon-filled rolls in sweet, delectable puddles. Also, I love to decorate for the holidays and have a theme for each room in the house.
My husband, Captain Cavedweller, and I wed during the holiday season, so it’s just a wonderful, magical, romantic time of the year for us.
Uncaged: You also write in other genres, can you tell us about the different series you have published along with the wonderful holiday selection you have written?
I started out writing sweet contemporary romance then I decided to give writing historical romances a try. Goodness, I love writing both so much! I also have a few humorous books out (one based on my adventurous growing up on the farm), four recipe and entertaining tips books, and my first children’s book, Steve the Mule recently released.
One contemporary series I write is the Rodeo Romance series (The Christmas Cowboy is the first book in that series). The fifth book just released a few weeks ago and all the stories involve hunky rodeo cowboys, sassy women, laughter, heartwarming moments, and holiday cheer. Grass Valley Cowboys is another contemporary series I enjoy writing. It’s been popular with readers. The setting is a ranch in central Oregon owned by the three Thompson brothers. Among the characters are their widowed mother, a few cousins, and their close friends, the Morgan family. (The Morgans just happen to be cousins to Tate Morgan of the The Christmas Cowboy.) The first book in the series, The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan, is about a city girl who needs a change of pace so she comes to Grass Valley to visit her aunt. Trey Thompson needs a new cook and housekeeper after his retired, so he hires Cadi and from there, the holiday fun and romance begins.
I also have a World War II series called Hearts of the War. So far, there are two books out in it, but I have plans to write more. Historical accuracy is very important to me, so it takes a lot of research for these books, but I love every minute of it.
Historical series I write include Pendleton Petticoats, Baker City Brides, and Hardman Holidays. The Hardman Holidays series has been likened to Old West fairy tales and is such fun this time of year. The sixth book in the series, The Christmas Confection, releases December 5. It’s a story about a man in need of redemption and a baker determined to make him smile. Three fairy-godmother like aunts arrive to add to the chaos and holiday escapades.
Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews?
I do read a lot of reviews and appreciate people taking the time to write them. Everyone is so busy, so when people actually take a minute to share their thoughts about a book, I think it’s important to read it. A well-written, thoughtful review can be so helpful to an author, even if it is pointing out something specific the author can do better. Constructive criticism is a great thing. Destructive – not so much. And the great reviews truly buoy our spirits and lift us up when we need a little boost.
Uncaged: Can you tell us what you have coming up next?
Plans for 2018 include releasing books in several of my series. The next installment in the Pendleton Petticoats series and Baker City Brides series will be out in the spring. Most likely, I’ll have a new Hearts of the War book out around autumn. I do plan to release new stories in the Rodeo Romance and Hardman Holidays series, too. Additionally, I have a new secret project I’m working on and hope to have completed before the end of the year.
Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know?
I love names that are different (that might derive from having a name most people don’t pronounce correctly). If I happen upon a name that is unique or different, I save it to a file I keep with character names (and those names include humans and pets!). Some names are inspired by people I know. The name of the heroine in Chasing Christmas is inspired by my niece.
As for developing characters, when I first started writing I tended to draw quite a bit from people I knew. Now, though, I let the characters blossom as I write. Each character is so unique and different, but I usually start by thinking about their personalities and go from there.
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?
The favorite part of being an author for me is writing the stories. I absolutely love sitting down and letting the words flow, the characters develop, the story reveal itself. And I feel exceptionally blessed to get up every day and so something that makes me so ridiculously happy.
My least favorite part would definitely be keeping up with social media trends and trying to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of promotion.
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Beyond curling up with a good book, I love to bake and try out new recipes. I enjoy photography and like to snap a few photos when time permits. Home decorating and crafts are things I also like to play with. Pinterest is somewhere I could hang out for hours, studying craft projects, home ideas, and beautiful gardens.
Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved? The last book you wanted to throw against a wall (good or bad)?
One of my readers recommended a book to me and I loved it. It’s called the Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof. Just a touching, wonderful story full of love and hope.
As for one I wanted to throw against a wall, I couldn’t do that to a book! I will admit, though, that if a book doesn’t pull me in by page three, I set it aside and don’t come back. I have such limited reading time just for fun, a book really has to grab my interest from the start or I won’t invest my time in it.
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Fans are awesome and fantastic and so appreciated!
If any of them would like to join my Street Team, we hang out on Facebook at Hopeless Romantics where we share recipes, craft ideas, have weekly giveaways, and I shamelessly promote my books and expect them to do them same.
I love connecting with readers, so I hope to see you online!