Today please welcome my friend from a Western authors Facebook group, Peggy Henderson, to the blog. Peggy writes books set in glorious Yellowstone National Park, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Her books have stirred the longing from a “hankering” to a “must see” category.
|Peggy Henderson, Author|
Caroline: Peggy, Tell us about your self.
Peggy: I grew up in southern Germany, in a little farming community about an hour from Stuttgart. When I was twelve, my parents (my dad was Canadian) moved to the US. Specifically, California. Talk about culture shock! It was either sink or swim at school. I spoke just a tad bit of English at the time that I learned from my dad.
I have a brother and a sister, who are both much older than I am. My brother lives in Germany with his family, and my sister lives just a few miles from me. In school, I was definitely a bookworm, and hung out with the “smart” kids, which made me a pretty decent student due to peer pressure. While most of my friends seemed to come about their grades with ease, I had to work extra hard to keep up with them, but it was worth it. I am not a jock. I’m rather klutzy, actually.
I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we have two teenage sons.
Caroline: What an interesting life you’ve had, Peggy. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Peggy: Historical romance set in colonial America, the frontier, and the old west are my favorite genres. My favorite romance author is Dorothy Garlock. I am also a huge fan of German author Karl May, who wrote many books about the American West, with over-the-top and larger-than-life heroes.
Caroline: Oh, I’ll have to look up Karl May. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Peggy: I like to spend time with my critters. Sitting and watching my two ponies (a welsh pony and a miniature horse) do what horses do is very peaceful and relaxing. And I love to read.
Caroline: I also love to read. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?
Peggy: Wag more. Bark less.
Caroline: What a fun quote! How long have you been writing?
Peggy: I started writing my first book almost four years ago. I spent over two years on it. It was finally published in January, 2012. Since then, I’ve written five more full-length novels. I’ve always loved to write, though. In second grade, I wrote a story about a water droplet, and it’s journey from being a raindrop all the way to the ocean, and its adventures along the way. My teacher singled it out to read to the class.
To entertain myself in junior high, I wrote a full-length novel about a racehorse that came from outer space.
Caroline: A racehorse from outer space, huh? Quite a departure from Yellowstone, isn’t it? Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Paggy: I need absolute quiet from people when I write. I can’t stand distractions. Even worse is when people hover behind me. My laptop pretty much goes with me everywhere, but I don’t get a lot of writing done most of the time. For serious writing sessions, I hide out in my bedroom, on my bed, with my laptop. I do enjoy listening to country music sometimes when I write, to set the mood for certain scenes.
Caroline: I listen to classical music or have quiet when I write. Don Campbell suggests that classical music adds rhythm to your writing. Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Peggy: I am absolutely a panster. I try and come up with a basic outline for a story, but rarely do I follow it. My stories usually begin with a single blip of an idea, and I expand that into a full-length book. For example, the idea for the hero in my latest book that just released last week came from a line in a country music song. By the time I actually start writing the book, about one-third of the story is solid in my mind. I then plow through the second third, and hope that by then, I have my ending figured out. Rarely does a story end the way I originally thought it might. I let my characters lead the way, and I’m just a follower. Very often, the ending comes as a complete surprise to me. In two of my books, the title as I originally intended it took on a completely different meaning.
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Peggy: I love using actual historical events, and twisting them to suit my stories and characters. My favorite one was when I used a modified version of mountain man John Colter’s famous escape from a war party of Blackfoot Indians in one of my books (Yellowstone Redemption). It became a defining moment for my hero, Chase Russell.
Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?
Peggy: When I sit down to write, I sit down to write an entire chapter. It doesn’t always happen, but I usually stick to it until at least a first draft of a chapter emerges (that’s roughly 3000 words). Due to my work schedule, I can’t write every single day, but I think about my stories every day, and I do jot down ideas or little snippets of dialogue as they pop into my head. If I don’t do that, I usually can’t remember it when I do get a chance to sit at the computer. I’ve lost so much great dialogue in the past by not writing it down when I think about it.
Caroline: I think also about my stories when I’m not writing. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Peggy: For starters, I hope I can entertain my readers for a few hours with an engaging story that will draw on their emotions. The initial uncertainty of meeting someone you’re attracted to, to the excitement of falling in love, the pain of potentially losing that love, and then the HEA. I try to send my readers on an emotional roller coaster ride, while putting my characters through the emotional wringer. Also, since I love writing time travels, I hope to bring a somewhat new and unique spin on the genre.
Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Peggy: I just hope to continue writing, and hopefully come up with somewhat unique and original story ideas.
Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Peggy: I’m getting ready to write the first book in a trilogy called the Teton Romance Trilogy. Book 1 will be titled TETON SUNRISE. It’s sort of a spin-off of my Yellowstone Romance Series. I’ve had so many people ask me to continue that series, but I think it’s run its course. With this trilogy, I can bring in some of the familiar characters for “guest” appearances.
Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Peggy: Absolutely get yourself a critique partner. Not someone you know personally, or a friend. A critique partnership often develops into a friendship, as it did with mine, but it is crucial to have someone look at your writing with an unbiased eye, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, and point out things that may be flawed in your writing.
Caroline: So, true, Peggy. And it has to be someone who is trustworthy and matches strengths to your weaknesses. What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?
Peggy: English is my second language.
Caroline: I admire anyone who can write great books in her second language! What’s something about you that would surprise or shock readers?
Peggy: I live in southern California, about ten minutes from the beach. I haven’t been to the beach in almost twenty years. I prefer mountains and rivers and streams. I can’t stand the sand at the beach.
Caroline: I love the beach in the evening when most of the crowd is gone and the air is cool. But I also love the mountains. Are all your books part of a series?
Peggy: My new release, COME HOME TO ME, is the first in a series called the Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series. I’m not sure how many books I’ll write in this series. It’s pretty open-ended. The idea is for a set of stand-alone stories, with one mysterious old man as the common link between all the books, granting second chances to a select few who have wandered from their destined path.
My last series, the Yellowstone Romance Series, was a family saga that spanned two hundred years.
Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about COME HOME TO ME?
Peggy: Jake Owens is tired of life on his parents’ Montana ranch, catering to city folk who want a taste of old-fashioned country living. He enjoys life in the fast lane, with fast cars and even faster women. When he falls in with the wrong crowd and is accused of murder, a stranger’s bizarre offer at a second chance might be his only hope to clear his name.
Rachel Parker is highly devoted to her family. A tragedy prompts a daring move to the Oregon Territory for a fresh start in a new land. After meeting the wagon train’s scout, the meaning of a fresh start may be more than she ever imagined.
Jake can’t believe he’s been sent back in time to act as scout for a wagon train headed for Oregon, and given the added burden of keeping one emigrant woman safe during the journey. He and Rachel are confused by their attraction to each other. Jake’s ill-mannered, unconventional ways are overshadowed only by his notorious reputation. Rachel’s traditional values and quiet, responsible character are the complete opposite of what attracts Jake to a woman. When their forbidden attraction turns to love, what will happen at the end of the trail?
Caroline: Fascinating and a beautiful cover. How about an excerpt of COME HOME TO ME?
Peggy: Here it is:
“Yup, that’s him. Fits the description all right.”
“Sober him up, Jeb.”
Strange voices echoed in Jake’s mind, even as the blood pounded in his ears. His head felt as if his skull would split in two, and the only other times he could recollect such a feeling were the mornings after Sandra’s all night drinking parties. Damn! He never wanted to touch another drop of liquor in his life. How did he end up hung over this time? He groaned and rolled onto his back, and something jabbed him between the shoulder blades. He forced his eyes open, just as a wave of cold liquid washed over his face and chest.
Jake sputtered and coughed, and leapt to his feet.
“What the hell,” he yelled, and swiped his hands across his face, then shook his head as water streamed off his hair.
“Sober up, son, you got a job to do.” One of the voices rang in his ear. Jake blinked the water from his eyes, and stared into the face of a man who looked like he walked right out of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. His tan trousers, the bottoms of which were stuffed inside a worn pair of leather boots, were held up by leather suspenders over a blue flannel shirt. A weathered-looking cowboy hat sat on the man’s head. His face betrayed no emotion under his walrus mustache.
“You sure this is the fella what’s gonna scout for us? He still looks wet behind the ears. I thought he’d be a mite older.” A second man stood alongside the first. He was dressed in a similar getup. A bushy black beard covered his entire face, and his huge belly protruded out and over his trousers. He hooked his thumbs through the straps of his suspenders.
“He came highly recommended by Reverend Johnson,” the man with the walrus mustache said. “Told us he was the best scout the other side of the Missouri. The only thing we need to be watchful of is our women and our liquor.” They both chuckled.
Jake stared from one man to the other. A horse neighed behind him, and shuffled through the thick straw bedding. His eyes narrowed. Where the hell was he? He’d fallen asleep on the uncomfortable mattress in his jail cell last night, thinking about his strange encounter with his new lawyer. He glanced around. He stood inside an old wooden barn, in a horse stall to be precise. The familiar pungent smell of horse sweat, manure, and hay permeated the air. The equine occupant of the stall chose that moment to blow hot air down Jake’s neck. He swatted an impatient hand at the horse’s nose to make the animal move away from him. He thought he’d seen the last of horses since leaving Montana. How did he get here?
“Where the hell am I?” Jake managed to say. His voice sounded hoarse and raspy, and he coughed to clear his throat. His fingers rubbed at his throbbing temples.
“Did you hear that, Jeb? He’s so dang hung over, he don’t even remember where he passed out last night.” The man with the mountain man beard said.
Jake stepped forward, and happened to glance down at his feet. He wore what looked like leather moccasins. His eyes traveled higher. To his amazement, he was no longer dressed in his orange jail suit. Instead, he had on leather britches, and his loosely fitting shirt was an off-white cotton material just a shade lighter than the buckskin. A leather belt was draped around his waist, and a knife hung in a leather sheath off one hip, a tomahawk off the other side. A revolver that looked like it came straight out of the 1800’s stuck in the belt just next to the buckle. Jake did a double take when he glanced closer at the gun. He was pretty sure it was a Colt Paterson, one of the earliest ever revolvers made.
“Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” Jake growled, and swiped an impatient hand across his forehead as water continued to drip down his face.
“You’re Jake Owens, ain’t ya?” The black-bearded man asked, pointing a finger at him.
“Sober up, son. You need to attend the meetin’ before we head out. The wagon master wants to lay down the law before we hit the trail in the mornin’.”
The other man stuck his hand toward him, and Jake eyed it for a moment before he offered his own hand for a shake. “I’m Jeb Miller, and this here is Elijah Edwards.” He jutted his chin out toward Blackbeard. “Us and our families are heading this outfit, and there’s twelve other families goin’ with us.”
“They says you shoot and ride better’n any man, and can read trail and talk to the Injuns. We’s lucky you agreed to sign on with us and guide our wagons to the Oregon country,” Blackbeard chimed in.
Jake stared blankly from one man to the other. Comprehension began to dawn on him. This was some sort of re-enactment troupe, retracing the Oregon Trail. He’d heard of such groups. Some of them went all out to make it as authentic as possible. What he still didn’t understand was how he ended up here without his knowledge. If he was truly in Iowa, how did he get here?
Caroline: Love western timer travels. Where can readers find your books?
Peggy: My Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006T2R5UG
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Peggy: My blog: http://peggylhenderson.blogspot.com
My facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peggy-L-Henderson-author/254755581267700
And here's Peggy's bio:
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, a Holland Lop bunny, two parakeets, three 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.
Three 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. After entering a couple of contests to get some feedback on my writing (I finaled in one, to my utter amazement), I took the advice of one of my harshest judges, and found a critique partner. She spent weeks going through my manuscript with a fine tooth comb and loaded red pen. The end result is my debut novel, YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG (Book 1 in a series called the Yellowstone Romance Series).
I spent the next six months writing Book 2 and 3, until my critique partner stopped me and said, "no more writing until you publish the first one!" I admit, I was scared to death. Still am. After many conversations with her about traditional publishing - she was getting more and more frustrated with her own publisher - I decided to go the independent route. On January 3rd, 2012, I published YELLOWSTONE HEART SONG on Amazon.
Caroline; Thanks, Peggy for sharing with readers today.
Readers, thanks for stopping by!