Today's the day--the release date for Cowboy Trouble, my first published novel. I'll be celebrating tonight with a launch party at our local Barnes & Noble, where I've worked for the past eight years. Selling my own book in my home-away-from-home bookstore has been amazing. When the book arrived and I opened the box--wow. I can't even begin to describe how it felt to see that handsome cowboy waiting for me!
With the book's release, my characters--Luke, Libby, Cash, and Crazy Mike, among others--will finally be set loose on the world, along with all their attendant critters--Ivan, Penny, the Verminators, and Wild Thing the feral chicken.
First, you'll meet Libby Brown, a big-city journalist who's fleeing a romance gone wrong. She's determined to live a solitary, self-sufficient life, so she moves to the most isolated area she can think of and literally buys the farm: thirty-five acres of sagebrush and a quaint clapboard homestead in Lackaduck, Wyoming.
At the moment, tumbleweeds were her primary crop and grasshoppers her only livestock, but the place was as far from Atlanta as she could get, and she figured a fresh coat of paint and a flock of free-range chickens would make it her dream home--one utterly unlike the one she'd left behind. So far, Wyoming was like another planet, and that was fine with her.
Libby's looking forward to her quiet, peaceful country life--but then Luke Rawlins shows up.
Halloween was three months away, but this guy was ready with his cowboy costume. Surely no one actually wore chaps in real life, not even in Wyoming. His boots looked like the real thing, though; they were worn and dirty as if they'd kicked around God-knows-what in the old corral, and his gray felt Stetson was all dented, like a horse had stepped on it. A square, stubbled chin gave his face a masculine cast, but there was something soft about his mouth that added a hint of vulnerability.
Luke's pretty impressed with his new neighbor.
He'd been worried when they sold the Lackaduck place, but the new neighbor seemed all right. More than all right. When he first saw her tussling with her furniture in the back of the pickup, he thought love might have finally come to Lackaduck. Then he realized all he could see was her backside and decided it was probably just lust.
This guy was no Bubba. He was tall, at least six-five, and looked like a California surfer, with blond hair and pale blue eyes set in an angular face bronzed by the Wyoming sun. Luke was nice to look at, but where Luke was spare and wiry, this guy was solid muscle...The whole package was wrapped in a brown sheriff's uniform, topped off by a shiny, star-shaped badge that reminded her of a bow on a really nice birthday present.
Libby loves her new hometown, but she gets a little tired of writing stories about mutton-busting rodeo clinics and freak heifers. It's pretty sad when your town's only claim to fame is a two-headed cow, so when Luke tells her about the disappearance of a local teenager, she's eager to put her city smarts to work on the town's one and only unsolved mystery.
There's no shortage of suspects in Lackaduck, and no shortage of complications for Libby and her reluctantly resurrected love life. Her simple little homestead takes on a Grand Centeral Station vibe, with tutu-clad muskrats, feral chickens, a predatory veterinarian, and way too many dogs all vying for her attention.
Like Libby, I'm a transplanted Easterner who fell in love with the big sky and wide open spaces of the West. I fell in love with the cowboys, too. When I first moved here, seeing men dressed in boots, hats and chaps was like moving to Austria and finding your neighbors decked out in Lederhosen--only infinitely more attractive. And the longer I live here, the more I see why cowboy romances are so popular. Westerners tend to be very honest and straightforward, with a simple but profound sense of right and wrong. That makes for absolutely wonderful romantic heroes.
So Cowboy Trouble is basically a Wyoming stew, boiled down to its essence with a little spice thrown in. It's a cowboy romance, but it's also a love story about a place--about finding home.
Casablanca sisters: What special places inspired your books and why? And readers, what kind of settings do you like to read about? Do you ever choose a book because it's set in a place you love?