Published by Amazon on August 1st 2016
Hatred is Easy. Love Takes Courage.He’s known her his whole life, but he never really knew her until she revived in him emotions he thought had died on the Civil War battle fields.
The Civil War is over, but the battles continue. Callum Latimer returned from the war to a life he didn’t want and with inner battle scars he can’t heal. Banner Payne clutched desperately to the remaining shreds of the life she’d known, but she is losing her grip. Brought together by bad luck and cruel twists of fate, Callum and Banner forge a partnership they hope will keep them afloat even as neighboring Texas ranchers go under and their land is snapped up by opportunists. Fate smiles on them and Callum and Banner find the missing pieces of themselves in each other. Healing begins as their hearts are awakened. Now they must remain strong in their determination to forge a more peaceful existence and not be poisoned by the bitterness of a country still divided.
Do you ever wish you were someone else? Who?
I often like to be my current heroine. She gets to spend time with my current hero! Creating characters is fun, but living in their skin is even more fun.
What did you do on your last birthday?
On my last birthday we spent a few days in Guthrie, Oklahoma. It’s a charming town that was the original capital of Oklahoma. It has a main street with Victorian type buildings. Usually, it’s awful weather on my birthday (Jan. 4), but it was nice that week, so we shopped in Guthrie, saw a couple of plays (they have a wonderful turn-of-the-century playhouse there), and stayed in a charming bed and breakfast inn. That’s my idea of a wonderful getaway!
What part of the writing process do you dread?
It varies from book to book. Sometimes I love plotting and sometimes I dread it. Sometimes I love writing the first few chapters and sometimes they’re torture. Sometimes I look forward to writing sex scenes and other times I really dread crafting those. I guess it depends on my headspace and how the writing is going that day. I will say that the first 100 pages of any book I write are the ones I spend more time writing and rewriting. If those don’t hit the right note, then the whole book will be off-key and never really sing properly.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t have writer’s block and I think that’s because I’ve never indulged in that way of thinking. I have not wanted to sit down and hammer out page after page, but that’s not being “blocked.” That’s just being lazy. I have so many ideas for books floating in my brain that I can’t imagine being stumped about what to write next. Also, when you write for a living you don’t have the luxury of saying you’re blocked. You need the money to pay bills, so you get with it.
Tell us about your latest release.
Solitary Horseman began as a question I had about soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD). I wondered how it was treated in early wars, such as the Civil War. Men and women must have suffered from it, but did medical professionals recognize it? Turns out, it was noted, but not understood. I found it telling that large mental institutions were built shortly after the Civil War, presumably to deal with those who were mentally damaged by their experiences as soldiers and war survivors. Basically, they were warehoused because no one knew how to treat them. So, my new western deals with PTSD in Civil War soldiers and survivors. I also touch on the beginnings of the KKK and other vigilante groups that mushroomed in the South. It’s a story of great loss, great courage, and the great healing power of friendship and love. I’m quite proud of it.
Topping a small ridge, he caught sight of the two cowhands, who were now with Eller and Hollis. Just as well. He didn’t mind that audience for what he was about to do. They needed to know what he would and wouldn’t put up with. As Butter approached them at a lazy trot, they all turned in their saddles to face him. Shadows played across them, but Callum was fairly certain that Johnson and Baines shared a quick and telling eyeball to eyeball exchange.
Yes, boys, time to reap what you’ve sown. Callum slowed Butter to a walk and then reined her to a stop near the semi-circle of cowpokes. He looked toward the mooing herd, some grazing and some lying down to chew their cud. They were all Payne cattle. He could tell because they were underweight by his standards.
“They’re sure on the puny side,” he said, swinging his gaze back to the men and zeroing in on Johnson. He figured that Jeb Johnson was the ringleader and Russell Baines followed along like a faithful hound. “Long way from bringing top dollar at market.”
“We’ll get them fattened up by market time,” Eller said, all puffed up with confidence he sure as hell hadn’t earned.
“We will, huh? That’s good to hear. I’ll hold you to that, Eller. If they’re not, maybe you’d be so kind as to let me dock your pay.”
Eller grinned. “I ain’t that kind, cousin.”
“Didn’t think so.”
“But we will get these cattle up to a decent weight.” Eller gave him a wink.
Callum switched his attention to Johnson again. “Any of you know what happened to the heifer that birthed the calf we found this morning?”
They all exchanged befuddled glances, shaking their heads.
“I’ve looked for her off and on all morning,” Hollis said. “I found a trail, but it got washed out.”
“Over that rise, out by the Pitchfork foothills?” Callum asked, and Hollis nodded. “I saw that, too. Did you notice that it was the tracks of more than one cow?”
“Yep. Looked like maybe three or four.”
Callum nodded, all the while keeping his gaze shifting from Johnson to Baines and back to Johnson. “Mama cows with newborns don’t wander off with a couple of other heifers and leave their calves behind them.”
“Maybe a coyote was after her,” Baines said.
“No coyote tracks. Just cattle and horses.”
“Horses?” Hollis echoed with a scowl.
“They were mostly rubbed out by someone trailing a branch, making them hard to see. I had to get down off my horse and look real close to find a few of them.”
“Well, hell.” Eller crossed his wrists on his saddle horn. “I don’t like the sound of that, cousin.”
“Only one conclusion to make from it,” Callum said, staring hard at Johnson and watching the sweat bead on the man’s forehead under his hat’s brim and dampen his droopy black mustache. “We have some cattle thieves in our ranks.” From his periphery vision, he saw Hollis and Eller glance at each other and then direct their attention to Johnson and Baines.
“I’ve heard about Yanks roaming in these parts and stealing cattle,” Baines piped up, his dark eyes widening.
“I’ve heard that, too, but I don’t have any Yanks on my payroll.” Callum squinted one eye, taking a sharper bead on Johnson. “You took the Payne’s market money last season, didn’t you?”
“No!” Baines blurted, his eyes growing even bigger, bugging out even.
“We was robbed,” Johnson said, quietly, his face tightening.
“Yeah, I heard that story.” Callum rested his hand on the butt of his gun. “Since then Payne cattle have gone missing every few weeks – a few here and a few there. I reckon you’re in cahoots with another rancher or just hiding the stolen cattle in the brush land by the river. Letting them get fat before you drive them to market. Of course, you plan to hightail it from here before then.”
“You surely ain’t accusing us of stealing,” Johnson snarled.
“No.” Callum leaned closer. “I’m calling you thieving sonsofbitches outright and to your cowardly faces. Men are hung for what you’ve done, but I don’t have the time to catch you at your thieving and turn you over to the sheriff to be hanged. So, I’m telling you to get the hell off this land and don’t ever show yourselves to me again or I’ll put a bullet in your brain pans and not lose a wink’s sleep over it.” He stared hard at Baines and then at Johnson. “Either one of you doubt me? Say so now and I’ll demonstrate on one of you.” He tightened the ivory grip on his revolver and pulled it ever so slowly from the holster.
He could see that he’d made an instant believer out of Baines, but it took Johnson a few seconds.
“You’re plumb loco!” Baines said. “You can’t just shoot a man and get away with it.”
“I don’t see anyone who would say that what I do or don’t do isn’t right and proper.” He glanced at Hollis and Eller. Hollis looked off to the horizon and Eller gave a shrug and another grin.
Johnson stared at him before the blood slowly seeped from his face until he was pasty white. He looked away from Callum’s steady gaze and stared at Eller.
“You got anything to say about this, Hawkins?” Johnson asked.
Eller’s brows shot up. “Seems that Cal’s doing all the talking here. I’m just a bystander.”
Johnson glowered at him for a moment and then spit at the ground near Eller’s horse. “We don’t stay where we ain’t wanted. Where do we pick up our pay?”
Callum had to smirk at that. “You can pick it up in cow dung on your way off the ranch.”
Johnson’s head angled back as if he’d been socked. “You’ve made an enemy, Latimer.” He reined his horse around and gave it his spurs. Baines was right behind him, his copper colored mustang throwing up dirt clods.