Monday, January 30, 2012


West Texas - where there are
"miles and miles of miles and miles"
 HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a sweet contemporary set in West Texas near where I grew up. My uncle and cousins were farmers who also sometimes raised cattle. Can’t keep all your eggs in one basket, right? Not with Texas weather so unpredictable. My husband had several uncles who were ranchers and farmers, and some of his cousins still farm. Although we live in a rural area now, both Hero and I grew up in the “big city” of Lubbock.  If you've ever been to Lubbock, you realize that's a joke. It's about 250,000 people, and it still has a small town atmosphere. But since it's the largest town for 120 miles, it's a major shopping and business center.

Lubbock Cotton Field
 To raise money to build their new house, my father-in-law raised cotton on a field at the edge of town and my husband helped. Large-scale farmers had lots of equipment, but my father-in-law had to hire someone to plow the land for planting. The rest was accomplished by hand--Hero's, his dad's, and eventually his younger brother's hands. Hero remembers initially clearing hundreds of tumbleweeds from the land and burning them to ready the plot. Needless to say, he hates tumbleweeds! After several years, the family had saved enough cash to buy a lot-and-a-half and build a house on it, with my father-in-law as contractor and doing some of the work himself. Once they’d saved enough to build, that was the end of their cotton farming. My husband was grateful. I'll bet his dad was even more grateful, because he did all this farming while holding down a full-time job.

Texas Tech Univ.
is in Lubbock
During the time Hero and his brother worked in the cotton field, when they came in dirty and tired, their mom would tell them that if they didn’t go to college, they’d be doing back-breaking work like that forever. Hero said he didn’t know then what his degree would be, but he knew that he was going to college so he’d never have to farm again. He graduated from Texas Tech with an electrical engineering degree that he used in the aeroapace industry. So what did we do as soon as he reached the peak of his career? You guessed it! We bought a small acreage in a rural area, and here we are today. Life certainly plays tricks on us, doesn’t it?

Here’s a video about tumbleweeds even my husband can’t hate.

About the time my future husband was burning tumbleweeds, “chopping cotton” (hoeing weeds from young cotton rows) and "pulling bolls" (harvesting the cotton), my family moved to Lubbock. Dad had been managing cotton gins, but he was making more money buying and selling cotton. No, he didn't have to cart the bales around. The process involves samples of each crop for grade, which is where the term "fair to middling" originated. (In West Texas, when you ask someone how they're doing, often the answer will be "fair to middlin'.")

Lubbock, Texas, dubbed the Hub of the Plains
First, my dad bought our house near the same edge of town as where my husband's family lived. We were so pleased to have our own new home. When I was small and we lived in California, Dad had built houses. But each house supposedly built for us ended up sold because of a local housing shortage. He and Mother could never turn down a tidy profit. Anyway, in Lubbock we were happy to finally own one similar--though not nearly as well constructed--to those Dad had built in California. The first year we lived in Lubbock, cotton plants came up in our flowerbeds because the housing development was carved from a cotton farm. We thought that was funny. Yes, we lived simply and took pleasure in simple things.

You can see that even a contemporary book about that area might be close to my heart. Here’s an excerpt from this modern day Cinderella story in which a Dallas city girl, Courtney Madison, inherits property and investments in West Texas. The set up is that hero Derek Corrigan had arranged for his best friend Rusty to be Courtney’s date for a neighborhood potluck the previous Friday. Derek might have asked Courtney himself, but he’d already arranged a date with an old friend, Janelle, before he learned of the party. Things didn’t go well for Derek and Janelle at the party, and now it’s Monday morning. It helps if you know that the house Courtney inherited is the one in which Derek grew up and that it was Derek's adopted father, Sam, who left Courtney the legacy, but the will binds Derek and Courtney to work together for a year. Derek now lives across the road.

Family-oriented contemporary romance.
Cover represents Derek and his two children,
Meg and Warren. Courtney's dog is named Bingo.


Derek Corrigan
After wrestling with himself all weekend, Derek had come to apologize to Courtney. The two of them had to keep working together for the better part of a year. Somehow she’d found out he’d set her up with Rusty and misunderstood. She left a message with Rosa that she’d arranged for the repair of his truck and that Jimmy would be working off the cost of repairs. Didn’t even ask to speak to him.

He figured she was still mad, but he didn’t see why. What was so all-fired wrong with setting her up with a nice guy like Rusty? Hells bells, he’d just tried to help her get acquainted. Where’s the crime in that?

At church yesterday, she’d evaded him or looked right through him. That wasn’t even Christian. And just when he was getting used to having her to talk to. Of course, for Rusty she’d been all sugar and cream. Derek smiled in spite of himself. She’d made Janelle spitting mad with that little imitation act. He’d never seen anyone get the best of Janelle, but Courtney had. Everyone got it, and laughed. Except Janelle.

Oh, no. Janelle didn’t laugh at herself. She’d sulked the rest of the evening. He vowed never, but never, to ask Janelle anywhere again.

In Courtney’s house the next day, Derek grabbed a cup of coffee as he passed through the kitchen. Courtney was in the living room consulting with two painters. He stopped dead in his tracks. What the hell did she need with painters? Hadn’t this house been plenty good enough for Maggie and for Sam just as it was? Sure it had, and plenty good enough for him too. Why did Courtney have to go changing things?

 When she saw him standing in the kitchen doorway, she paused. “Joe and Juan helped me get our trucks to Buddy’s garage. Buddy will call you when yours is repaired.” She stared, eyebrow lifted. “Did we have an appointment about something else today?"

An appointment? In his own house? He kept forgetting it wasn’t his house anymore. The house wasn’t Sam’s either. A pang of sorrow stabbed his heart and sliced downward. This had been his place with Sam and Maggie—the place they’d built especially for him. That was then; this was now. The whole place was hers and she could make any changes she chose. He had no say in anything she did with the house and farm. Instead, he was now the interloper in her house.

He exhaled. “No, but I’d like a word with you when you have a minute. I’ll just wait in Sam’s, um, your study.”

Ten minutes later she came in and he’d swear the room’s temperature dropped twenty degrees. She closed the door softly behind her. Man, but he had the distinct feeling she’d have preferred to slam it—and hard.

The second the door clicked shut, she launched into him. “Derek Corrigan, I realize you think I’m an incompetent social pariah. However, do not ever, ever take it upon yourself to find dates for me. No matter how nice the man might be. Do I make myself clear?”

Her quick breaths recalled the way she’d looked with only the sheet covering her breasts. Admiring her fire, he wished she wouldn’t direct it at him. Oh, hell. How had she found out about that? Rusty never would have told her.

He threw up his arms. “I thought it would be nice for you to have an escort since you don’t know anyone here yet. Okay? What’s so wrong with that?”

“For your information, I had a date the weekend before the party.”

He froze, and blood drained from his body. Who had she been out with? He’d bet it was that creep Lance Thompson. Damn the man. “I was only trying to help.”

She shook a finger in his face. “You should have asked me first. Do you have any idea how humiliated I was to learn Rusty didn’t ask me on his own? I had to hear from Janelle that I was a charity case.”

Damn, damn, damn. His fingers clenched and he wanted to punch the wall. He should have guessed Janelle was the culprit.

Courtney turned and paced. “And to think I fell for that fake visit to Rusty’s where he just happened to have fresh coffee and a cake from his mother. Oh, brother, I guess you both got a laugh out of that.”

“No, we did not laugh. Hey, you needed to meet him, right? And once he met you he said he would have asked you anyway, so what's the difference?”

When she opened her mouth and stepped toward him, he tried again before she could launch another attack. “Look, Janelle shouldn’t have told you, but you shouldn’t have made her cry, either.”

“Humph.” Courtney narrowed her eyes. “Puhleeze, me make that woman cry? Give me a break. That woman hasn’t cried since she got her first training bra.” She paced the office as if she were being paid by the step.

Man, Courtney had one smart mouth on her when her anger took over. “She cried because you called her a piranha after she tried so hard to make you feel welcome to the community.”

She stopped pacing again. “Your girlfriend certainly made no effort to welcome me. In fact, she did everything within her power to make me feel unwanted.”

Hell, how had he come to be defending Janelle? “She’s not my anything., she’s just gone through a rough divorce.” He suddenly remembered that this was Janelle’s third divorce, but Courtney didn’t need to know that. “Neither of us wants to remarry. She likes to have a presentable escort when a twosome is called for—“

“Please spare me.” She held up a hand. “I’m not interested in the sordid details of your sexual liaisons.”

“They’re not sex…” He swallowed hard. “Not liaisons of any kind, just two people going out with no strings attached. Okay?”

Courtney faced him and jammed fists on her hips. “If you believe that woman is not interested in marriage, and to you, then what I heard was right.”

Anger raced through him. Dear God, how he hated gossip. He’d been hurt too deeply by rumors, first as a child about his parents’ lifestyle and poverty, and later by his former wife’s escapades. No, he’d never speak a word of gossip himself. How he’d like to shut Courtney up now by kissing her senseless instead of waging this stupid argument.

“Oh yeah?” He took a deep breath and glared. “What did you hear?”

She stepped toward him and leaned into his face. “That where making money is concerned, you’re King Midas, but where women are concerned, you really are dumb as dirt.”

“Who says?” He clamped his jaw tight. Damned if he’d apologize now. He’d bet Elaine made that wisecrack. She’d been mad at him ever since grade school when he’d called her a chipmunk. “Was it Elaine?”

“Everyone who knows you says it.” She stamped her foot. “Do you hear me? Everyone!”

“Yeah, well at least Janelle is nicer than that creep Lance Thompson. I suppose you plan to keep seeing him?” He didn’t trust that man and couldn’t understand why she didn’t see through Lance’s fake so-called charm.

“As a matter of fact, I am. He’s an interesting date.”

The ring of the telephone forestalled her next comment. She gave him another of her molten glares before she picked up the receiver. “Hello.”

She staggered backward to a chair. Her eyes widened as color drained from her face. “I’ll be there right away.”

He stepped forward. “What’s happened? Who’s hurt?”

With shaking hands, she leapt up and grabbed her purse and keys. “Jimmy’s been in a fight at school.”

HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is available in print and e-book from The Wild Rose Press at,
and at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online stores. I hope you’ll give it a read and let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by!


Unknown said...

i am looking forward to reading this novel. Loved the background to it! And living on an acreage is not farming, as i'm sure hubby agrees

Morgan Mandel said...

Well, you certainly have enough research in your brain from past experience! Sounds like a great novel.

Morgan Mandel