Every romance needs authentic world-building and for my books, it meant researching Western Washington State in the 19th century. Actually, for my purposes, it was Washington Territory since my books are set in 1887 and 1888. I grew up on a pony farm outside of Everett and at least once a week, my single mother took my sisters and me to see my grandparents who lived in Seattle.On those visits, my grandfather introduced me to Louis L’Amour westerns and I absolutely adored the cowboys who rode through those pages. They fascinated me nearly as much as John Wayne did in his movies. So, when I began writing, it seemed like horses would gallop, trot and walk into my books. Today, those books are considered “westerns,” and I still love my cowboys and the women who claim them. Oh, and you can’t go wrong with a great horse!
While we read westerns and watched John Wayne, my grandfather told stories of growing up in Sequim, Washington shortly after the turn of the century. His widowed mother used to cook for various farmers and logging outfits around the area. She’d put him in his little red wagon before dawn. Then, she’d pull him over trails, muddy tracks and gravel roads to the farm kitchens to start a long work day. At nightfall, when the kitchen was clean, she’d pack the leftover food and my grandfather in the wagon and take them back home.
Meanwhile, my grandmother taught me to cook from her 1908 edition of the Fannie Farmer cookbook – a history lesson in itself. Some recipes still referred to a “fire” meaning a wood cook-stove. She also taught me to love romance – we used to walk from her house in Ballard to the nearest branch of the King County Library and we checked out as many books as we could carry home. I use a derivative of her name for my own romances – I know she’d love it. Josie Malone still rides or should it be writes on!
Between listening to my grandparents and their peers, I discovered how much I loved the real stories of what happened in the past. Eventually when I attended Washington State University in Pullman, I also learned that my grandmother who worked side by side with my grandfather in motels, taverns, hotels and on farms wasn’t an aberration. Women have always stepped outside the norm. To my amazement, I found even more stories about women like Charley Parkhurst who drove a stagecoach through the Sierra Nevadas or Little Jo Monaghan who mined in Idaho or even those who fought in the Civil War.
So, when I started my book, A Man’s World, I played the quintessential “What if” game. What if my main character hid her gender and pretended to be the toughest man around. Now, why would she do such a thing? Well, obviously somebody was trying to kill her. And the story just kept going from there.
I wrote, rewrote, polished, revised and rewrote again. I submitted to contests, editors, agents and rewrote again. Then, BookStrand offered for A Man’s World and I accepted. In that historical western romance, Trace Burdette masqueraded as a man, fooling everyone but new neighbor, ruggedly handsome Zebadiah Prescott. With their love on the line, they had to deal with the past and the outlaw who killed her grandfather and stalked her. By the time that my newest book A Woman’s Place begins, Trace and Zeb have been married for just over six months when renegades rob the bank she owns in the town of Junction City.
A Woman’s Place BLURB:
Trailing a serial killer, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers is thrust into 1888 Washington Territory where she encounters injured Rad Morgan, a ruggedly handsome marshal who believes A Woman’s Place is behind her man. Now, Beth must save Rad’s life, apprehend the killer, and prove herself capable as a law officer.
Former soldier and survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp, Marshal Rad Morgan faces his toughest challenge in Beth Chambers, a determined woman from the future who’s never learned “her place.” But when he is shot and left for dead, he must put himself in Beth’s hands if they both want to survive.
Can these two headstrong people put their pride aside and work together to find the deadly killer and stop him before he destroys this world and their future? As they fight for justice, love helps them discover A Woman’s Place is what and where she chooses to make it.
As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones. On rainy days, I headed for my fort in the hayloft. While the rain thudded on the cedar shingled roof, I read books, eventually trading Carolyn Keene for Georgette Heyer. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell was a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest.
Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State in what was once a summer vacation cabin. It’s been modernized and even has indoor plumbing – woo-hoo! I share the cabin with my two cats or maybe, they share it with me. I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 33 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.
With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!