Visiting me today is best selling author of western historical and time travel romance, Peggy Henderson. Please make her welcome.
About the author:
Peggy says, I never thought I’d be a writer, much less publish a book some day. I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I guess life just had other plans for me. When my husband and I decided to start a family, vet school pretty much went out the window. I used to work with a vet who had three children while going through vet school. To this day, she is my hero.
I live with my husband and two teenage sons in southern California. I have a Welsh pony and a miniature horse (down-sized from a barn of six horses). A crazy Labrador retriever who is a food vacuum, three cats, two parakeets, four bearded dragons (my compromise with my sons when they wanted a snake), and a small flock of chickens complete our menagerie of critters. I can’t imagine my life without my animals. My dream is to live in Montana some day.
Four years ago, I began writing a story that, for whatever reason, was stuck in my head for almost a year. I have been an avid romance reader for a long time, and the idea took hold to – why not? – write my own! What a simple idea, right?
It has been a long and difficult journey from my first sentence to a completed, and hopefully polished, manuscript. Today, I have a completed series of 5 books and a novella in what I called The Yellowstone Romance Series, a first book in my new Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and I am currently working on the final book in a trilogy set in the Grand Tetons.
Life does have a way of changing our plans. What about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser? And please tell us why.
I am an absolute panster. I start with a blip of an idea, and I just start writing. I’ve tried plotting before, but the ideas simply don’t come to me when I try and write an outline. I’ll jot down ideas for specific scenes, but that’s as far as my “plotting” goes. I usually don’t know the ending to my story until I’m about two-thirds of the way done, and sometimes not even then.
Do you have critique partners and/or beta readers?
I started out with my critique partner back in early 2011 after I wanted some feedback on a story I had written (Yellowstone Heart Song). Since I published the book in January of 2012, I’ve added several beta readers to my team. I’ve had a few other writers critique some chapters in other books here and there, and I have about ten beta readers on my current WIP.
Do you play any sports? What about hobbies?
I’ve never been an athlete. The closest to sports I’ve done has been horseback riding (specifically dressage) which, if you are a serious rider, is definitely cardiovascular in nature, and I don’t mean the increased heart rate because you’re sitting on, and are under the illusion that you are in control, of a 1000 pound living creature with a mind of its own.
For hobbies, I go hiking and camping with my husband. I also enjoy drawing and painting. I used to sell pet portraits professionally.
Hiking and camping sound athletic to me, and dressage? Wow! That’s fantastic. If money was no object, what extravagant thing would you do or buy? (I bet I can guess your answer.)
LOL! You probably can, Lyn. If money was no object, I would buy (after I buy a log cabin with acreage somewhere outside of Yellowstone National Park) a Grand Prix level dressage horse. Years ago, I rode dressage in the “western town” I lived in, and was laughed at by all the cowboys next door on their roping horses, chasing their cows around. I never had the money for a “fancy” horse, only my little off-the-track Running Quarter Horse. I trained him and took him as far as his physical abilities could take him in dressage. To this day, I would love to ride (much less own) a world-class, finished dressage horse.
I guessed the Yellowstone location, and I hope you get your “fancy” horse. Quick change of subject: Do you prefer writing and reading books in a series, or “stand alone” books?
Well, the first book I ever wrote, Yellowstone Heart Song, was supposed to be the only book I ever wrote. I never expected to write another book, and it was written as a stand-alone. I did have an epilogue that actually opened the door for a sequel, and so that’s what I decided to write when my critique partner asked me what I was writing next (after Heart Song was done). Well, the sequel turned into a trilogy, which turned into a five-book plus a novella (to date) series. And I’m currently working on the last book in another trilogy, and the second book in an open-ended series.
As a reader, I love reading series, or books that are connected, because when I enjoy a story, it’s nice to see the characters again in other books, or to see the story continue. I inject that into my writing, as well. I love to revisit the characters I’ve created in previous books.
We have that in common. Do you hear from your readers? If so, please quote your favorite fan letter.
It was difficult to pick my favorite, but here’s one from a reader who is now one of my beta readers.
“What did I do this Labor Day weekend? Finished one of the best romance/historical series I have read in a long time! I zipped through all five books in a week, they were so good, I just couldn’t put them down (although, now I am sad I read them so fast since there aren’t any more!) Terrific job!
I really love all the characters, the description of how they lived and the beautiful place where they lived, the realistic dialog…everything was just spot on. The heat in the love scenes was good and I especially appreciated that the characters were actually in LOVE with each other first!
These characters sure stay with you. I hesitate to start another series right away, since I’m still thinking about this family.”
What a wonderful compliment from your fan! I’m sure she loves beta reading for you. Can you tell us what aspect of writing makes you happiest? And what frustrates you most about writing?
What makes me happiest about writing is when I get feedback from readers of how my stories have impacted them in a good way. It always amazes me when readers tell me they really want to go visit Yellowstone after reading my books.
The most frustrating thing about writing is when the words don’t flow or come together on screen the way I see them in my head.
I so agree with you! What project(s) are you working on now?
I am currently working on Book 2 in the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, and the final book in the Teton Romance Trilogy. After that, I’ve got something top secret up my sleeve, then the third book in the Second Chances Series, and I’m mulling over a series of historical western romance novellas as well.
Top secret? Ooh, I can’t wait to find out what that is! Now, I’m sure my readers would love to sample one of your books if you’d like to share.
I’d love to. Here’s a little taste of YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG (Book 1 Yellowstone Romance Series)
Passion ignites when the past meets the present in the wilderness we now know as Yellowstone National Park. Aimee Donovan, a modern-day nurse and avid outdoor adventurer unexpectedly travels back in time to encounter the ruggedly handsome mountain man, Daniel Osborne. Can their love endure the test of time, or will untold secrets tear them apart?
Daniel wasted no time and sprinted across the camp. With a vicious roar, he lunged at Françoise, just as Aimee hit the ground. His body collided with the Frenchman. The impact sent them both to the ground. They rolled in the dirt, and Françoise frantically struggled to gain the upper hand. Daniel threw his full weight against the Frenchman. He straddled the man’s hips. Francoise stabbed wildly in the air with his knife.
“No man touches her and lives,” Daniel snarled. Françoise’s eyes widened in terror. His knife made contact with Daniel’s upper arm. Daniel grabbed hold of the man’s wrist and squeezed. The Frenchman’s sweat-soaked face turned red from strain. His arm trembled. Turning Francoise’s wrist so that the knife now pointed downward, Daniel pushed the man’s arm until the sharp weapon plunged deep into Francoise’s chest. The Frenchman looked up in surprise for a split second before his face froze. His body went limp.
Daniel pushed himself up off the ground, and caught his breath for a moment, hands on his knees. He swiped his arm across his forehead, then looked around to where Aimee had been thrown to the ground. She had pulled herself to a sitting position and watched with wide, fearful eyes. He approached her slowly. Had he been too late? His beautiful, brave little wildcat had once again amazed him with her quick thinking and actions.
“Aimee,” he said softly. He dropped to his knees in front of her. She wordlessly held out her hands to show him her bound wrists. Cursing, he pulled his knife from its sheath, and with one quick move, sliced through the leather ropes binding her hands. Like a coiled spring that had been released, she threw herself at Daniel and wound her arms tightly around his neck. The impact almost knocked him off balance. With an anguished sigh, he wrapped his arms around her, and crushed her against his chest.
Her body shook in his embrace and she sobbed into his chest. Silently, he held her and let her cry. He gently stroked her back, and combed his fingers through her loose hair. His mind reeled from one emotion to the next. Anger, fear, joy, love.
He wanted to kill those two bastards over and over again for what they had done to her. He reveled in the joy of holding her close to him, knowing she trusted him. He feared what might have already happened before he found her. Consumed by a burning love for this woman he held in his arms, he suddenly realized he couldn’t let her go. The thought of losing her today had tested his strength and endurance to the limit. Daniel knew he would do it all over again if he had to.
After what seemed like hours, Aimee stirred in his arms. She sniffed and wiped her nose and face on her sleeve, and raised her head from his shoulder. He cradled her dirty, tear-streaked face in his hands while his thumbs caressed her cheeks. His eyes devoured her.
“You came for me.” Her voice was a mere whisper.
“I would follow you to the ends of the world if I had to,” Daniel said in a sultry tone.
Aimee smiled weakly and touched a trembling hand to his cheek.
Daniel cleared his throat, and slowly rose to his feet. “I’m afraid my legs are numb from kneeling so long,” he said with a tentative smile. He held out his hand to help her up. She placed her small hand in his, her eyes on his face. He pulled her to her feet, and she cried out. Her knees gave out, and she sank back to the ground. Startled, he reacted purely by reflex. With one arm under her knees and the other at her waist, he scooped her up and held her close.
“What is it?” He searched her face for answers. What had those animals done to her?
“My legs are so sore, I can barely stand,” she answered with a weak smile.
“Did those bastards . . .” he hissed, unable to finish his question, dreading her answer. Aimee shook her head.
“No, they didn’t . . . not in that way.” Her words alleviated his fear. His tense muscles relaxed. “I haven’t ridden on a horse in years, and muscles that I didn’t know existed are protesting.” Aimee gave him a reassuring smile.
Daniel set her feet down on the ground gently, but held her at the waist. She sucked in a deep breath, and her hands reached out to hold on to his shoulders for support. His gaze locked intently with hers. “No man will ever touch you again.” Then, in a whisper, he added, “No man but me.”
His hand reached up to gently cup the side of her face. His thumb stroked her satiny cheek, tracing where a bruise appeared from being struck by the Frenchmen.
“Daniel . . .” She breathed his name. Slowly, he lowered his face to hers. He hesitated for a moment. Searching her face, he waited for her to tell him to stop, waited for her stiffen. When she did neither, his lips brushed hers gently, and Aimee let out a soft moan. Her arms crept up around his neck, and she leaned into him. His heart pounded in his chest. Daniel deepened the kiss, and wrapped one arm around her waist to draw her closer to him. His fingers caressed her cheek, her eyelids, her forehead, and finally entwined in her hair, then he cradled the back of her head. He groaned as Aimee returned his kiss with equal passion. The hunger for her that had been building in him for weeks threatened to overtake him again, but he remained in control of his emotions this time.
He savored her mouth, nipping, tasting, cherishing. When he could bear no more, he pulled back. He was not going to take advantage of her. And he would be taking advantage. The way she clung to him and kissed him back was almost more than he could stand. He trailed a few more light kisses along the side of her mouth, her cheek, and down her neck before pulling his face several inches from hers.
How often had he dreamed of holding her, kissing her, making love to her? He cursed himself for the timing. He released his hold at her waist, and took a step back. With a heavy sigh, he said, “We should get away from here. I know where we can make camp and you can rest for the night.”
Aimee grabbed his upper arm. “Daniel.” Her eyes turned large and round, the deep blue pools shimmering with need. “Daniel . . . I . . . I want to be with you.”
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Follow Peggy on twitter: @ynpdreamer