Today I have DeAnn Smallwood, author of historical romance Wyoming Heather on Wednesday Writers. Welcome, DeAnn, and thanks for being here today. Could you tell us a bit about the book you are showcasing today?
Wyoming Heather is about an independent woman, living alone on a ranch left to her by her parents. A woman doing a man’s work, running a ranch that everyone said couldn’t be done, not in this untamed, vastly unsettled land, in the mid 1800’s. Not only was Heather doing it, but she was doing it well. The ranch had everything she needed except water. But she’d managed to overcome even that. She stole it from a neighboring abandoned ranch watched over by a lonely cabin and a grave.
Whip rode alone, coming back after five years to an empty cabin, a run-down ranch, and a grave on a hill. A former Texas Ranger burnt out on life and afraid to love. Whip had spent five years hunting the man that took his wife’s life and left him to die. He vowed he would take up his dream abandoned five years ago and make his beloved ranch profit and put aside the sweet linger of all memories shared by him and his wife. He had no time or desire for a woman, much less a pair of runaways from The Orphan Train—stowaways in Whip’s wagon and onto the Powder River Ranch.
Whip and Heather meet in an explosive moment on the banks of the Powder River, reacting to one another like fire and wind. But, underlying the tangles over property rights and water, there’s a chemistry between the two.
But fate heeds no one or no thing. The criminal from Whip’s past reemerges in the present. Now, Heather is in danger and Whip stands, once again, on the cusp of loss. Fate shows a strong, willful woman just what she’s missing in her life and it shows a calloused Texas Ranger that Heather and love does flourish on the Wyoming plains.
I’ve read this book and loved it. How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I came up with the concept for this book because I wanted to write about a Texas Ranger and because my granddaughter, Heather, wanted to be a character in one of my books. The one criteria Heather asked of me was to make her have beautiful thighs and legs. Hmmm. I hope I came through there. I do like my two characters. Whip is a man every woman dreams about and Heather is a strong woman full of love and the ability to heal. She is a healer of animals much like my granddaughter that is a vet tech and supervisor of a no-kill animal shelter. I’d also done research about the Orphan Train and wanted to incorporate it into the story.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I’m currently working on another historical novel, Montana Man. It’s about a young man recently released from Yuma Territorial Prison for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s set in the late 1800’s. There’s no release date for this book but I think anyone that is following my historical romances will really like this story. I’m also waiting to hear on a recently submitted historical romance, One Shingle To Hang. It’s about a woman lawyer during the time era when women weren’t allowed to sit for the bar exam.
Do you write in more than one genre? If so, why?
Yes, I write in more than one genre. Under the pen name of D.M. Woods, I write suspense/thrillers with, of course, romance thrown in. I have two books out in what will be a series of three. They are, Death Crosses The Finish Line and Death Is A Habit. My third in this ‘death’ series is, Death Walks C Dock, and is a work in progress. However, my love is my historical romances so I’ve put Montana Man to the front of my wee brain. I like to write in the two genres because it challenges me. Both areas are so different, it requires me to really think.
Ooh. Your Death series sounds interesting. Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two? Do you revise on paper or on the computer?
I compose and revise on the computer. Thank heavens for computers because my thoughts often run ahead of my fingers and I rely on spell check to keep my work readable. I also forget to put in commas and those other pesky punctuation gizmos. My editor saves me. Wow, does this woman have a gift for grammar and helping me put my thoughts in order. I dislike revisions. After reading my manuscript for the umpteenth time, I want to scream and throw it out the window…except it would just land on my patio and I’d have to go out and pick it all up.
LOL. I love the patio comment. Character names are important in writing. How do you choose your characters’ name?
I agree, character names are important in writing. I don’t choose my characters’ name as much as they choose me. Names pop into my head and I know immediately if they are a fit or not. I do have one quirk, okay, maybe more than one, but the one I’m referring to is, I have a character named Jesse in every one of my books. It can be male or female. I do this in memory of my precious daughter-dog, Jesse. When I lost her I felt as if a part of me died. I keep her alive by making her a part of every book I write. I think pet lovers out there will know and understand what I’m saying and how a loss of a pet hurts.
What snacks, if any, are in your office right now?
Snacks in my office—get outta here, and don’t tell Weight Watchers. Okay, I’ll confess, I snack while writing. Right now, beside my computer, is my trusty can of diet cola. I try to limit this to two a day, but it’s a challenge. I also snack on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m in love with them. I can my own jelly so it’s gooood. I do count my intake points so I have to be careful.
I also run every day, every warm day that is.
Yum. Homemade jelly. haven’t had that since my mom died.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so, what did you do to break it? If not, what’s your secret to keeping it at bay?
Knock on wood, I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. I think it’s because I’m always writing in my head. I have seven published books and many more jotted down and saved on my computer for future writing. I don’t outline, I think I’m what’s called a punster. If I feel stuck, I go for a run, bounce an idea off my husband, do more research, or sit down and read one of my favorite authors.
Tell us about your writing space.
My writing space is a bedroom I’ve taken over for an office. I have three large bookcases crammed full of books, mostly fiction. I have a smaller bookcase filled with my old medical books that I use researching my historical novels. These medical books are textbooks written by doctors in the 1800’s. I love yard sales and pick up a lot of my easy reading books there. I read about a book a day as a way to relax. I also get gift cards from my family so I buy books, too. I’m a bookaholic. I love being surrounded by them. Books are everywhere in this room. I happen to be quite fond of wolves so my walls have pictures of wolves on them. There’s wolves howling at the moon, running in a pack through the snow, and wolves peering at me through trees. The two windows look out onto our patio, garden, and driveway.
I like a nice view to look out on too.
What’s the book you are reading now?
I’m currently reading a Nora Roberts novel. She’s one of my favorite authors. I also enjoy Maeve Binchy, Julie Garwood, LaVeryle Spencer, Brad Thor, James Patterson, Lee Child, Steve Martini, Linda Howard, David Baldacci, and the list goes on and on.
What’s the first book you ever remember reading as a child?
The first book I read as a child hmmm… I don’t really remember. I read before I went to school. I do know one of my very favorite childhood books was Little Women. I was and still am quite fond of fairytales. Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew were among my favorites. I read every one of their books.
How often do you read non-fiction?
I’m ashamed to admit I rarely read non-fiction unless I’m doing research on one of my novels. I know I should, but reading is a way to relax and let my mind roam free.
Most writers love books—our walls are lined with them. Name 3 favorite writing craft books on your shelves, 3 fiction books (and the genre), and if you have them, 3 different magazines you read regularly.
I agree, my walls are lined with books. Three fiction books I have are: Lee Childs a suspense genre novel, Nora Roberts/romance, and Linda Howard/suspense with romance. As I mentioned above, I have books by Maeve Binchy/ set in Ireland, LaVeryle Spencer/romance, and so many others. Romance is mixed in with suspense/thrillers. The books I use that are necessary to my writing are my old doctor books, medical books, books on herbs, veterinary books, books about pioneers, and others that I have found help me in researching a current story.
Sounds like you have an interesting library.
Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I have no day job. I’m a retired health care administrator. I do quite a bit of volunteering at our local migrant center and hospital. I’m also involved in my church.
I love going to the movies. Do you? If so, what was the most recent movie you’ve seen?
I do like going to movies, but I’m picky. The last movie I went to was, Twelve Years A Slave. I really got a kick out of Saving Mr. Banks. I’m waiting for Heaven Can Wait to come to our area.
Writing is such and sedentary job. Do you do anything to keep in shape?
Writing is sedentary. To keep in shape I run. I try to average three to four miles a day. I really shouldn’t say run…I jog. I’m slow, but I seem to have endurance. Love to run…it’s a high for me.
Do you like reality shows? If so, what’s your favorite one?
Okay, I admit it, I like reality shows. I watch, Pickers, Swamp People, and some of the buying real estate shows. Guess those are reality shows. I don’t watch much television. I’m hooked on football though, NFL teams. A good Sunday is football at 11:00, 4:00 and 8:00. Three games and chili, such a deal.
I’ve never seen Pickers or Swamp People, but I do like the real estate shows. I think it’s because I’m a closet decorator and love looking at other people’s homes.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy?
Here’s a poem I have had hanging on my wall in various offices throughout my career and now as a writer. I read it often and it has helped me through rough spots in my life.
If you think you are beaten,
If you think you dare not,
If you’d like to win, but think
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
By Walter D. Wintle
Thank you so much for this opportunity.
It’s been my pleasure, DeAnn.
I live in Colorado with my husband and my two Yorkie kid dogs: Stormy, four pounds, and Eli, six pounds. I’m a native of Colorado, but I’ve lived several years in Wyoming and Montana. My historical romances are: Montana Star, Sapphire Blue, Unconquerable Callie, and Wyoming Heather. Tears In The Wind is a contemporary romance. I have just contracted for another historical romance, One Shingle To Hang, that should be published fall of 2014l Then I changed genres from my beloved romances and wrote, under the pen name of D. M. Woods, my first suspense/thriller: Death Crosses The Finish Line. The second book in this ‘death’ series, Death Is A Habit, came out January 8th, this year. I am currently working on the third book of this series, Death Walks C Dock. Truly, I mean it when I say my greatest pleasure next to writing is having my books read and enjoyed. There are many more stories just waiting to be written.
Wyoming Heather Blurb:
Heather is a spirited, independent woman living alone on a ranch left to her by her parents. She is also a healer of animals, domestic and wild. A woman doing a man’s work, running a ranch that everyone said couldn’t be done, not in this untamed, vastly unsettled land, in the mid 1800’s. The ranch had everything she needed except water. She stole that from a neighboring abandoned ranch watched over by a lonely cabin and a grave. He rode alone, coming back after five years to an empty cabin, a run-down ranch, and a grave on a hill. A former Texas Ranger burnt out on life and afraid to love. Whip had spent five years hunting the man that took his wife’s life and left him to die. Whip and Heather meet in an explosive moment on the banks of the Powder River. Both lonely, both drawn to one another, and both stubbornly fighting the attraction.
Whip vowed he would take up his dream abandoned five years ago and make his beloved ranch profit and to put aside the sweet linger of all memories shared by him and his wife. The ranch would be a jealous mistress occupying his every thought and every minute. He had no time or desire for a woman much less a pair of runaways from The Orphan Train, stowaways in Whip’s wagon and onto the Powder River Ranch.
But fate heeds no one or no thing. The criminal from Whip’s past reemerges in the present. Now, Heather is in danger and Whip stand, once again on the cusp of loss. Fate shows a strong, willful woman, full of love and compassion, just what she’s been missing in her life. And it shows a calloused Texas Ranger that Heather and love does flourish on the Wyoming plains.
Excerpt from Wyoming Heather
No lantern shown in the window to welcome him home. The cabin looked gray in the moonlight. Gray and ghost-like in the shadow of the mountains and the full moon. The corral was empty, poles missing. The barn door hung to one side, held in place by a single leather hinge.
Whip Johnson leaned back in his saddle, shifting his weary body. His hand rested on his right thigh, his fingers absently circling the indentation of puckered flesh. The wound pulsed, the imbedded piece of lead seemed to seek out and rub against bone.
The saddle creaked as he leaned forward and patted the buckskin’s neck, his eyes never ceasing in their vigilance. He took a deep breath, drawing in the land, the mountains, and the pungent smell of sagebrush. The faded chambray shirt pulled tight across his back. He sat tall in the saddle, every six foot three inches of him hard muscle. Close to his hand, gripping the reins, a rifle rested in the scabbard. Nestled against his right hip was a holster, the butt of the pistol tilted at an angle for easy drawing. Like the man, they looked used. His long, tanned fingers left the warmth of the buckskin then rose and tiredly rubbed across his jaw, the day’s growth of whiskers rasping in the quiet of the night.
Heather brushed the dirt from the front of her pants. Rising, she gave the rope a practiced jerk and freed the calf’s hoofs, releasing the bawling animal to find its mother. Her mouth was dry, her clothes filthy. She was wearing not only the dust of the land, but hair and blood from the calves she’d spent the morning branding. Hair, blood, and dust.
Some perfume, she thought with disdain. I’m a real lady. Still, a part of her burst with pride as she surveyed the small herd of calves and cows milling in the field. She was halfway through with the branding and dog-tired. In some ways it was a blessing the herd was small. In other ways, like money, it was bad. Bad, and darn worrisome.
Arching her back, she gave a groan as she straightened out the kink from bending over the smoldering embers of the branding fire. She’d been warned a woman her size wasn’t made for roping, throwing, and holding down a bawling, squirming calf while applying a hot iron to its hind quarter. Well, she’d proved them wrong. Of course, she’d had help and her gaze wandered warmly to the sturdy cutting horse standing there, patiently waiting for her to mount and throw her lariat over yet another calf.