Are you a fan of cowboys and firefighters? If so, then you’ll love my guest today, Shirley Penick. But I’ll let her tell you more!
I am a former techy turned writer. I am writing a small town contemporary romance series based in a fictional town on Lake Chelan in eastern Washington. I have lived in Colorado, Hawaii and currently Washington. I’m a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the local chapters GSRWA (Greater Seattle RWA) and Eastside RWA.
I am a mother of two grown children and the grandmother of two adorable grand-daughters. I started reading at a young age with the Nancy Drew mysteries and have continued to be an avid reader. I primarily read romance in most of the genres.
My favorite past-time is playing with my grand-daughters. I have been a carnation grower’s worker, a trap club puller, a Pizza Hut waitress, a software engineer, an international trainer and a business program manager. And for something really unusual I once had a raccoon as a pet.
Betty: When did you become a writer?
Shirley: I started writing on a whim in 2011.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Shirley: 5 years
Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
Shirley: Funny you should ask. I gave the first 500 words of my very first story to an editor, who came back and said, you’re head hopping. I had no idea what that meant, so she explained and gave me lots of books to read, to teach me the craft. About a year later I realized my first writing attempt had been in the style of Nora Roberts, who can do whatever she pleases, because Nora Roberts, which includes head hopping. I also was influenced by Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, JoAnn Ross, and Julia Quinn.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Shirley: Extreme boredom at my day job, I was severely underutilized for a few months. So, while I sat in front of my computer waiting for something to do, I thought I would give writing a try, with the stories I had in my head.
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Shirley: Fiction, romance, it is my favorite.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Shirley: I really only write romance, contemporary. Romance because it is my favorite genre, contemporary because I don’t have to do ‘as much’ research. About half my stories are about volunteer firefighters, my dad was one and we lived just a few houses from the firehouse. The other half is cowboys, lots of cowboys in my family.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Shirley: Craft books and conferences, primarily. I also submitted my first book to a small publishing house, the editor there worked with me a lot to understand scope, that was invaluable.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Shirley: That even if what you write is crap, keep doing it. You can edit it into something worthwhile, but you can’t edit a blank page. I would have started about ten years earlier if I had known that. I had started a project many years ago, and decided it was garbage, so didn’t pursue it. I wish I had.
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Shirley: Jill Shalvis is one of the authors I followed before I started writing. She mentioned the RWA conference she was attending. I went out and looked at the website to see what she was talking about and found some local chapters, so I went to a meeting. They were so welcoming and encouraging, it really helped to make me realize I could do it.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Shirley: Well I have this whole firefighter series, but the prequel to the series was about a widowed rancher and his meddlesome eight-year-old daughter, named Alyssa. People loved that story so much, that my daughter said, “Why don’t you keep writing cowboys? Start with Alyssa.” So, I did.
A Cowboy for Alyssa is the first book in the Burlap and Barbed Wire Series, set in the mountains of Colorado. Alyssa Jefferson and her cowboy get off on the wrong foot, when Beau Kipling assumes she’s the arm candy of an older man. Beau must earn her forgiveness and trust, while he also interns her on the practices of a veterinarian on a working cattle ranch, during the busy calving season. Tempers flare, right along with desire.
Alyssa interrupted, “Beau, I think you’ve mistaken me—”
“Oh, no mistake about it princess. I just don’t like women who—”
Beau’s younger brother, Chase, came into the barn, speaking before they could see him. “Beau, Drake just called and said he and Mary are running late and will be here in about a half hour.” He rounded the corner and stopped and looked at them. Then he grinned, “You must be Alyssa, I’m Chase. Welcome to the Rockin’ K, I’m glad you made it. Whatever are you doing holding every grooming tool we own?”
He started taking them from her hands and hanging them back up, while Beau stood there trying to figure out what in the hell he’d missed. Mary and Drake? Who was this Alyssa, if not Drake’s girlfriend?
“He was showing them to me,” Alyssa said simply.
Chase laughed out loud. “Like you’ve never seen them before. I’m guessing you started using them before you were out of grade school.”
“Yeah, I think I was in third grade when my father finally started letting me groom my own horse without assistance. Of course, I was probably five when I started trying, if I was old enough to ride, I was old enough to groom,” she said.
Beau frowned. Third grade? Her own horse?
“Was he giving you a test or something? What a kidder you are, Beau.” Chase slapped his brother on the back.
Beau was still confused. Who in the hell is this girl?
Buy link: Amazon
I love a good cowboy or rancher romance! Thanks for sharing the excerpt, Shirley. Looks like a great story!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.