Tuesday, July 23

Sara Walter-Ellwood and Texas

Why Texas?
Thank you, D’Ann, for having me today on Word Wranglers!
This is a question I get every time I tell people what I write—contemporary western romance set in Texas.
Anyone who knows me knows I was born, raised and have always lived in Pennsylvania. In fact, it’s a joke some of my western writer friends know that I’ve never been west of Ohio. Yet I love to read and write about it. But why Texas? Colorado is a beautiful state as is Montana, the other common setting for us western romance writers. I chose to set my stories in Texas for one basic reason:  I’ve always been fascinated with the Lone Star State. Once upon a time when my first love was history, I devoured anything about the history of Texas.
Today, I’m not as much of a history buff. Instead, I’ve discovered contemporary westerns and fell in love with cowboys. So, it just seemed logical to me to set my stories in the state I’ve been studying for years.
I may not have ever been to Texas, but I’ve read so much about the areas where my books are set, that I feel I’ve lived there. And according to my readers who are from the great state of Texas, I’ve hit pretty darned close to the truth about the lifestyles, culture, the layout of the land and climate.
When I chose the setting for my fictional town of Colton and county of Forest, I found the perfect place in the Central Texas town of Clifton which is located in the county of Bosque. Before I ever wrote a word, I read everything I could find about this county. And from that reading I found some inspiration. For example, Clifton was founded by four families who settled the town in the 1850’s—Colton is founded by three families in the late 1860s. One of the three founding families of my Colton—the Fergusons—is named in honor of Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first female governor of the state. I could name more examples, but I’m writing a blog article, not a book...LOL
What about you? Is there an area you love to write about, but have never visited?
Gambling On A Heart
Book 2 of The Colton Gamblers
She once lost his heart on a bluff. Will she risk everything to win it back?
Beautician Tracy Quinn spends her days making the women of Colton, Texas beautiful, while living down the nickname of Olive Oyl, given to her by the only man she has ever loved—Zack Cartwright. She spends her nights alone, despite what her ex husband wants their friends and neighbors to think.
Ex-rodeo cowboy. Ex-bad-boy. Ex-Marine. Widower and single dad Sheriff Zack Cartwright can describe his life in exes. One ex in particular reminds him of what’s missing in his workaholic life: Tracy Quinn. For years since she broke his heart, he’s practically made avoiding her a second job. He still wants her, but can never go after her.
When cattle rustlers target her brother’s ranch, Tracy and Zack are stuck working together. Her son could use a positive male role model, and his daughter is wild for a chance at a “substitute” mom. But Tracy’s ex threatens to sue if she lets Zack near her son, and the Colton grapevine is abuzz with rumors about their past relationship. Is it worth the gamble to see if what they have is more than lust?
“I was hoping you could keep me company this afternoon.” He skimmed his fingers over her cheek.
Her insides, heating up like lava under the surface of the earth, pooled in her low belly. Her lips parted.
Against her lips, he whispered, “Tracy, I want you.”
She had thought of little else since he’d left her standing on her porch Friday night. He was asking her to enter into a sexual relationship without any hope of a future--without love.
But she was already in love with Zack.
Both of their kids would benefit from them being together. Hadn’t that been what she’d decided while she tossed and turned in her big, empty bed?
With her gaze locked on his, she murmured, “I want you, too, but I have a stipulation.”
He leaned back. “What is it?”
“I’m no one’s bed-buddy, Zack. I know what my reputation is in this town, but it’s all wrong.” She swallowed her rapidly thumping heart back into place. “I’ll only go through with this, if you promise to treat me as a serious girlfriend. That means we date, we visit with our families and we share our kids.” When his expression hardened, she quickly added, “Mandy likes me. And I adore her. I’d like to bring her here, to the shop, for a few hours and play. And take her shopping. I know your mom tries, but she’s busy with her foundations and charities she does for the Junior League.”
The breath she sucked in was full of Zack’s scent of sage and leather. “Meanwhile, you can teach Bobby how to ride and maybe take him to the sheriff’s department and show him around. Jake won’t like it, but I’ll deal with him.” Having laid her demands out on the proverbial table, she held her breath, waiting for him to tell her what she could do with herself. After all, a man of Zack’s caliber could have any damned woman he wanted. Tracy was just handy, and according to the gossip of her ex-husband and mother-in-law, she was easy.
He studied her for a few moments. “That’s more than one stipulation.”
“Take it or leave it.”
“Tracy, it won’t change what I told you Friday night. I’m never getting married again.”
His words stung as much now as they had the other night, but she didn’t show him how much. She kept her face determined, as if she were haggling over one of his horses, rather than her body and soul.
“Fine. But I’m not a floozy. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. But I have my son to consider. And I’d hope you’d feel the same about Mandy. They’re bound to see us together. What do you plan on telling your six-year-old daughter when she asks about me? That I’m your friend with benefits? I know that isn’t what I want to be teaching my son.” Moreover, she didn’t want to give credence to Jake’s claim that she had no sexual morals.
“Okay,” he said at last. “We’ll play the game your way.” He pressed her against him. “Luck would have it I’m off this afternoon, too. I’ve already put in sixteen hours.”
When his lips captured hers, she knew she’d made a pact with the devil, but she couldn’t stop the elation surging through her. There was something he wanted from her. Sex was a big portion of it, but something else kept Zack from walking away and hooking up with any one of the many available women in town.
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.
She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.
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  1. Hi! I know Texas very well. My family goes way back to the Texas Independence. A lot of misconceptions is what is a Texas cowboy. The cowboys in my family don't wear the cowboy hat. They wear gimme caps. And they don't wear boots to work in. They wear strong as nails workboots.

    Texas is diverse in its zones, too. I love being here.

  2. Hi, Sara. Part of my next book is set in Maine--I also want to go there!

    I did spend part of a summer in PA when I was 13 and have seriously considered placing a book in Roaring Spring just because I loved the name of the town.

  3. I would love to write a story set in Maine! One if my dreams is to go there during lobster fest. But I keep my stories set in Atlanta, or a totally made up world. Atlanta is full of quirky people.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful read. I don't think you have to be from Texas to write about or love Texas. All the best!


  5. I'm a third generation Texan & Houstonian. We have everything from city to country folks. I saw on a kids' show they had Houston as being full of hills and cows - the only thing 'hilly' in Houston is the man-made freeways and skyscrapers.

    I've written about Ireland and Egypt, but have never been to those places either. I think when you connect/love a place, you can share that passion with readers in your story.

    Great post!

  6. Hey, Sara. I'm homegrown Texas. My parents are from the country then moved to Dallas in the 60's. I read a lot of stories set in Texas by authors who've never lived here and I don't tend to mind.

  7. There is just something about Texas! i was born there- El Paso. Lived there 12 years. It's different than most of Texas, but it's still my homestate!

    I haven't written about places I haven't visited yet. Well my current series is set in a fictional Texas town....haven't visited there! lol

  8. Thank you, D'Ann, for having me today. And thank you all for stopping by!!!

    Liz, I have to add that I grew up in the town just west and "over the mountain" from Roaring Spring, PA... In fact, I was born in the hospital there...LOL