Sunday, January 24, 2010
I went forward to accept Christ at a Lowell Lundstrom Concert when I was sixteen. http://www.lowelllundstrom.com/ I went and looked him up when I started answering this question. But I remember really believing in Jesus, understanding—much younger. So, although that was my public profession of faith, I don't really count it as my salvation experience because I knew the truth already.
How did you and your spouse meet?
My husband and I were high school sweethearts. Our Junior prom was our third date. We dated for nearly four years, until I graduated from college, and got married and I moved in to a home three miles from his parents and ten miles from mine. He farmed and ranched with his dad and two brothers. We'll be married 33 years January 29th. A great family centered life.
You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Lena! We have talked about this mean question before. Okay, who would I really like to spend time with? Could you make the rule that they have to be nice to me, please? This is your fantasy after all. I'd say…Mel Gibson's wife. I've heard the woman is a saint. :) Don't know if she can write. Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Love that woman's blog. Bill O'Reilly, in the hopes he'd talk about my book on his show. Rachael Ray, she could cook for us. But she couldn’t distract Bill. She's got her own platform.
Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
No, please God, I could not possible dislike something this much and be called to do it. I've gained some comfort answering questions but giving speeches…nightmare.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
Oh, all right. Yikes.
Here's one I'm willing to talk about.
I was in radio and TV when I was in college. I once started laughing on air on the nightly news. I was the anchorman. Horrible. The teacher came out of the control booth screaming at me…after going to a commercial, and threw me off the set. It was terrible, seriously. Just writing about it is causing my brain chemistry levels to go off track. It's been thirty-four years and now I can look back on it and laugh. (no, forget that laugh part, I'm still traumatized)
I took a radio and TV production/direction course, too. My favorite thing was running the TV cameras, which were much larger all those years ago. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I have a kind of standard answer I give lately. I say, "There are two separate parts to writing a book.
1) There is the mindset/personality type/temperament that will allow you to sit for long stretches of time, alone, makin' stuff up.
2) And, there is the craft of writing.
You can't be a writer without the first and I don't think you can learn it. It's either how you are or not and if you're not that way, just be grateful because it's not very normal behavior. But if you have the first, you can learn craft.
Tell us about the featured book?
Silas Harden just lost his second ranch because of a woman. The first deserted him when times got tough. Now he’s had to quit the whole state of New Mexico to avoid a trumped-up shotgun wedding and the noose of matrimony. He’s learned his lesson. No more women.
Belle needs hired hands to move a cattle herd late in the season and there’s no one around but seemingly aimless Silas. She hires him reluctantly.
Silas signed on, glad for the work, though worried about a woman doing such a thing as hiring drovers, only to find out he’s the lone man going with five woman, including a baby still in diapers. After the cattle drive is over, he might as well shoot himself to speed up the process of being embarrassed to death.
A fast approaching winter.
The toughest lady rancher you’ve ever seen.
A cynical cowboy who has to convince five women he’s right for their ma. . .and then convince himself.
And one thousand head of the crankiest cattle who have ever been punched across the backbone of the Rockies.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The Husband Tree
Belle Tanner pitched dirt right on Anthony’s handsome, worthless face.
It was spitefulness that made her enjoy doing that. But she was sorely afraid Anthony Santoni’s square jaw and curly dark hair had tricked her into agreeing to marry him.
Which made her as big an idiot as Anthony.
Now he was dead and she was left to dig the grave. Why oh why didn’t she just skip marrying him and save herself all this shoveling?
She probably should have wrapped him in a blanket, but blankets were hard to come by in Montana. . .unlike husbands.
She labored on with her filling, not bothering to look down again at the man who had shared her cabin and her bed for the last two years. She only hoped when she finished she didn’t forget where she’d buried Anthony’s no-account hide. She regretted not marking William’s and Gerald’s graves now for fear she’d dig in the same spot and uncover their bones. As she recalled, she’d planted William on the side nearest the house, thinking it had a nice view down the hill over their property. She wasn’t so sure about Gerald, but she’d picked right most likely because she’d dug the hole and hadn’t hit bones. Unless critters had dug Gerald up and dragged him away.
Belle had to admit she didn’t dig one inch deeper than was absolutely necessary. Maybe a little less than was necessary. This was rocky ground. It was quite a chore. Her husbands had made too many chores for her over the years. Digging their graves was the least of it.
She’d risked her own life to drag her first husband, William, out of the cattle pen, the one any fool would know was too dangerous to go into—which Belle always did, not being a fool. Rudolph, their longhorn bull, was a mite cantankerous and given to using his eight foot spread of horns to prove himself in charge of any situation.
Then Gerald had gotten himself thrown from his horse. His boot had slipped through the stirrup, and judging by his condition, Belle figured he’d been dragged for the better part of the three-hour ride home from the Golden Butte Saloon in Divide by a horse whose instincts told him to head for the barn.
Anthony’s only good quality was he’d managed to get himself killed quick. They’d been married less than two years. For a while there Belle feared he’d last through pure luck. But stupid outweighed luck. Stupid’ll kill a man in the West. It wasn’t a forgiving place. And Anthony was purely stupid so he didn’t last all that long.
Between William and Gerald—that is between being married to ’em—Belle had changed the brand to the T Bar. Known as the Tanner Ranch from then on, it never changed, regardless of whatever Belle’s last name happened to be at the time. She’d also had a real smart lawyer in Helena draw up papers for Anthony to sign so the ranch would always belong to Belle, and if something happened to her instead of a worthless husband, Belle’s wishes would be carried out.
She tamped the dirt down good and solid. About the fifth tamp she admitted she was using more energy than was strictly necessary. She’d whacked it down especially tight over Anthony’s pretty boy face. Three sides of the the Husband Tree used up. She wasn’t up to puttin’ up with a live one or buryin’ another dead one. The tree roots wouldn’t appreciate it.
And neither would the children.
She said a quick prayer for Anthony, reflecting silently as she spoke that knowing Anthony as she did, it was doubtful there were enough prayers in the world to save his warped soul. Never had it been necessary for God to perform a greater miracle, and Belle asked for just that, though she didn’t hold out much hope.
She finished the service in one minute flat, not counting the digging and filling which had taken considerably longer. It had been early in the day when she’d found Anthony dead beside the house. Planting him had interrupted chores, but there was no help for it. She couldn’t leave him lying there. He was blocking the front door
Mary, you are a hoot. I've got to read that book next! How can readers find you on the Internet?
Petticoats & Pistols
Once again, we had a wonderful time, Mary.
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