Friday, August 3, 2018

Author Interview with Hebby Roman

I'm taking a break this month from my series on the woman of the Wild Bunch in order to help my pal and fellow writer, Hebby Roman, celebrate her release. Let's give her a big Cowboy Kisses welcome!

Hebby Roman

Hello Hebby and welcome to Cowboy Kisses! You have a new release this month. Tell us something about it.

Hebby: Howdy, Patti, and thank you so much for having me on Cowboy Kisses. I appreciate you interviewing me today. Don’t you love the “howdy?” I wonder how many people still use that in everyday parlance?

Okay, my new release, which came out yesterday is the third book in my series, called: “A West Texas Frontier Trilogy.” These books are all set around and in forts in West Texas. The name of this book is: “Mallory: A Mail Order Bride.” It’s my first mail order bride book. I’d never done a mail order bride story, but I’ve read quite a few of them, so I wanted to try my hand at writing one. It was a fun experience.

I consider you a solid writer. Not only do you honed and continue to hone your skills, but I know whether you’re writing an historical or a contemporary piece, that you’ve done your research. You take the reader into new worlds, and I always learn something new. Talk about the kind of research that goes into your work? What are the challenges? How does visiting sites contribute to your books and this latest series in particular?

Hebby: Now I’m blushing! Patti, that’s so sweet of you to say. Yes, I am kind of a research “hound.” I usually find that research helps me to visualize not only the landscape and timeframe, but for some reason, it helps me to come up with characters who are likely to inhabit that time and place. And being an obsessive plotter, I have steps I follow for researching.

First, I will read one or two general books, digital or sometimes, like for certain forts’ histories, I had to go to the library or Half Price Books or other “brick and mortar” bookstores to find print books on them. This happens on occasion for certain specific historical places. Otherwise, I can normally find plenty of digital books on the particular place and/or subject to read. I also love to visit the historical places, if I can, which really give you a great feel for your book.

Fort Davis, the setting for Mallory the Mail Order Bride

In addition, when I’m writing a contemporary subject, I like to visit the place and or event. For example, I grew up around horses, and I used to barrel race when I was a girl, but that was back during the day of flags and horns, etc. to start and end the race. When I decided to do a contemporary romance, including barrel racing, I attended several rodeos to learn all the new “techie” ways the races start, end, and are timed. Very important to have your facts straight when writing for a contemporary audience who might personally “know” what you’re writing about. Don’t try and fake it! Someone will catch you.

Second, I put together primary character “backstories.” As I churn through my character’s birthplace, upbringing, life events, etc., I usually come up with an occupation and/or some pivotal life events that need researching. For example, when I was writing “Mallory,” I had to do some research on the Old South and Savannah, Georgia, right after the Civil War, as that’s where I decided Mallory would hail from. For these specialized items, I do a lot of Googling and reading of articles about various aspects of my characters’ lives. For my fort series, you wouldn’t believe the “antique” digitized military tactics/commands handbooks I studied. They were very interesting; I learned the difference between a cavalry soldier and a dragoon, which I won’t go into, and how similar a lot of the “mounted orders” are to “marching orders.”

Third, as I’m writing the actual book, stuff rears its ugly head that I don’t know about, personally. Back to Google and looking up articles, maps, diagrams, etc. While writing my fort series, I kept an 1870 Texas Fort Map open in one tab. For the first fort book, “Ruth,” I kept open several Comanche language sites and used some their words for authenticity. I’m always looking up fabrics, shoes, etc., too. I’m not big on fashion in my books, but I like to include enough to “ground” the reader in place and time. In Mallory, one tiny bit of information about when the telegraph came to Fort Davis, was absolutely pivotal to the plot. I was so happy to find that simple fact because it really changed the plot line and action. Such are the joys of research.

As for the challenges, finding good information on very specific places, no matter how I Google and/or browse Amazon or bookstores can be challenging at times. Also, when I have a broad topic that needs to be narrowed down, Googling can be frustrating to get from point A to Z. Like the telegraph bit, you can sometimes pick up “jewels” along the way, but a lot of times, in order to get to the one particular piece of information you need, you have to dig and dig and try lots of different search words. And sometimes, no matter what you do, you CANNOT find what you need. Luckily, because you’re writing fiction, you change that detail if you can’t authenticate it.  

You get a lot of support from your husband Luis. Having worked with you before on several anthologies, I know first hand how we’ve relied on his technological skills. How about giving a shout out to him!? Not everyone could work with a spouse. How do you do it? What’s his role?

Hebby: Ah, the hubs, as I call him. For some reason, although he doesn’t read my books, he’s fascinated by the fact I write. Weird, huh? So, slowly over time, since I’m now mostly Indie, he’s become my virtual assistant. Yes, he does all my techie stuff, that’s his love. He’s been an IT professional for 40 years, and he loves to automate stuff. For example, he designed an Access database with a dashboard where I put in all my writing expenses, and at the end of the year, it spits out a report, making pulling my taxes together a breeze. He’s also great at doing memes, he does my newsletter, updates my website, and of course, formats my books. He also keeps track of what works, promo wise, and what doesn’t. He loves to help out with FB ads, Amazon ads, etc. and he’s good at those. I’m okay at paid promo and newsletter ads, but FB and AMS are tricky, so I appreciate his help. Oh, and he tweets, all the time!!! He loves to tweet. I tell him that he’s spamming everyone and needs to reciprocate, and he’s slowly catching on, but for some reason, he loves to tweet.

How do we do it? Hah!!! Lots of tug of war, back and forth, back and forth. He tells me we should do so and so, and I usually tell him why that’s stupid or not such a good idea. Ahem. Then he gets his feelings hurt, and well, if you’re married, you know how that goes. LOL But, in the end, we talk it over and try to find a middle ground that we both like and go forward. Also, he set me up a digital promo calendar where I put everything I need to do and he needs to do, and it sends him reminders, which is pretty cool.

As a writer, there are things I do besides sitting down to actually write, but which support my writing. Sometimes when my mind is quiet and my body is busy I do some of my best writing in my head. I like to ask authors if they have any activities or hobbies that help you be a better writer?

Hebby: Patti, I know exactly what you mean. I’m always one or two scenes ahead in my head before I sit down to write. For me, I do my best thinking, sitting on my back porch watching my fur baby, floating in the neighborhood pool (during the summer), and playing Mah Jongg on Roku.

You write in a few genres. Is there a favorite or one that comes more easily to you?

Hebby: Westerns, since I grew up in West Texas and my sister was married to a rancher comes easiest for me.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Hebby: At 10 years old I wrote a 100 page book on lined note paper about a girl who tames a wild mustang. I set the book in and around Glacier National Park in Montana, and I researched it. I used our Encyclopedia Britannica we had at home. See, I am a research hound!

Locations play such a role in your books. Where does location come into your process? Do you decide to write about a place first, or do you set your story after you’ve worked out the plot?

Hebby: Location is very important, as noted above, that and historical events to compose the story around. For contemps, when I want to write about a certain subject, I try to think what location makes the most sense for that plot and subject.

Do you have a routine and a dedicated workspace?

Hebby: Routine wise, I’m all over the place, though, I do go back and read over the last couple of scenes I wrote, in order to immerse myself back into the story. As for where I write, you will laugh, but due to having “messed-up” knees from bad injections and a knee replacement, I write in bed with my legs stretched out in front of me. Sounds terrible, but otherwise, my knees protest too much.

Hey, I think I went on and on, that’s me, never anything short! 😊 But I enjoyed your questions. It was fun talking about my kooky processes, and I hope some readers will enjoy reading about them. Again, thank you so much for having me on such an awesome western site: COWBOY KISSES!!!

Blurb for Mallory, the Mail Order Bride:

Mallory Metcalf Reynolds and Colonel William Gregor are thrown together under treacherous circumstances. Mallory, a mail order bride who is trying to escape her ruined reputation, has no idea of the dangers facing her at a remote West Texas fort. Colonel Gregor is a grieving widower, who thinks the tender, personal part of his life is over. He’s focused on stopping Apache raids, terrorizing settlers and travelers alike. Facing a web of complex dangers, Mallory and the colonel form a bond of affection. But will the perils of the frontier, coupled with Mallory’s secret past, drive them apart? Can they find safety and love in each other’s arms?


Dazed and trembling, Mallory clasped her arms around the soldier who had rescued her. She felt as if she’d been caught in a hurricane, carried on a high wind and flung to the ground. She couldn’t stop shaking, and her brains seemed scrambled, not fully comprehending what had happened. When she thought about the savages who’d taken her, she wanted to roll into a ball and disappear. But she had to get hold of herself.
Clinging to her rescuer, she burrowed into his back. His chest was broad and muscled. His longish hair, curling over his collar, was brown with shimmers of red shot through it and a few silver stands. He wasn’t a young man, definitely older than thirty, maybe even forty years. But he was strong and capable.
His presence comforted her, though, her stomach still sloshed with nausea and she hoped she wouldn’t throw up again, as she had when the Indians took her. That had been past humiliating.
He smelled good, too, of soap and bay rum, with the lingering scent of coffee clinging to his clothes. He must like his coffee, as her father had.
An hour before, she’d thought her life was over—that she’d be subjected to the vilest of horrors men could inflict upon a woman.
How well she knew what it felt like to be violated.
Disgust dug at her, turning her thoughts to Hiram. But she wouldn’t allow herself to dwell on that dark time—never again. Her tumbling thoughts strayed to Macon, her beloved son.
The stagecoach lurched and rattled behind them. The Indians… the Apache had gone through its contents, scattering some things to the four winds, but mostly, they’d left her trunk alone. If she was lucky, Macon’s picture would still be there, hidden in a side pocket.
Thoughts of Hiram usually made her skittish, making her shy away from men. Despite what had happened today, she hoped she could pull herself together and be a dutiful wife for Mr. Murphy. At least, he wouldn’t see her like this, as there had been no way to tell him which stage she’d be on.  
If she won Mr. Murphy’s regard, she could send for her son, and they’d be a family. If her husband-to-be was a kind and forgiving man. If he was as gentle as she instinctively knew this soldier to be.
For some reason, the soldier reminded her of her childhood sweetheart, Beauregard Jackson, a boy from the neighboring plantation. He’d marched off to the War Between the States and returned, fatally wounded. She’d helped his mother nurse him, but it had been no use. His wounds had been deep and had festered.
She and Beau had been dedicated to each other from childhood, and he was a kind and gentle boy. War hadn’t changed him. Even as he lay dying, he’d been more concerned about her future than his death.
And if he’d known her future, he wouldn’t have passed peacefully.
Had Beau lived, how different her life would have been. But the past was behind her, and she needed to make a new future in this hostile place.
The horse stumbled, throwing her to one side. She clutched at the soldier and burrowed herself deeper into his strong, muscled back, lacing her fingers across his tight stomach.
“Sorry, Miss. I didn’t see the prairie dog hole.”
“What’s a prairie dog?”
“Hard to explain.” He shook his head and glanced back at her. His eyes were a silvery-blue, like storm clouds rolling over the ocean.
“A prairie dog is something like a stout squirrel that lives underground in tunnels. They dot the land with their holes, entrances to their tunnels. We try to keep the main road clear, though, as the holes are dangerous. If a horse steps directly into one, he can break his leg, leaving his rider afoot.”
“Oh, I’d like to see a prairie dog. But I guess I’ll need to be careful when I’m riding.” She couldn’t believe she was chatting with him. They hadn’t been formally introduced, but he had saved her life.
As if he’d read her thoughts, he said, “I think I should introduce myself.” He touched the wide brim of his navy-blue hat. “I’m Colonel William Gregor, the commander of Fort Davis.”
She’d known he was a man of substance. To be rescued by the commander of the fort was more than lucky—it was a miracle. She bowed her head and offered a short prayer of thanksgiving to her Savior.
“I’m privileged and honored to make your acquaintance. My name is Mallory Metcalf Reynolds. And I’m beholden to you for saving my life.”
“My privilege, Ma’am, to be sure. May I inquire where you were headed?”
“To your fort, Commander. I’m a mail order bride. Mr. E. P. Murphy placed an advertisement in the Texas Christian Advocate, a Methodist publication that is widely circulated throughout the south. My good friend, Nancy Aldredge, a minister’s wife, showed me the advertisement. I answered it, and Mr. Murphy and I exchanged letters.”

About Hebby:

Hebby Roman is a New York traditionally published, small-press published, and Indie published #1 Amazon best-selling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection. She has been a RONE Finalist three times and in three different categories. Visit her website at: or Facebook at:


Hebby Roman said...

Dear Patti,
Thank you so much for hosting me on "Cowboy Kisses" and for asking such great questions about my writing process. I really enjoyed doing the interview, and I hope others will enjoy my answers, too.
Every writer is different, as to how they approach writing. It's fascinating to "get inside" their heads and learn how it's done. But in the end, it's a bit like making a gumbo--you throw a lot of stuff in a pot and hope you come up with something that's good!
Happy Friday, Everyone!

Hebby Roman

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

I was delighted to showcase you and your new release. I'm such a fan of both your contemporary and historical romances. I've really enjoyed the pictures of the forts you visited. It made me want to go on a road trip!
I always like to find out how authors work. It's such a solitary pursuit. I can't think of too many professions where you can create a whole world in your head, complete with people, and then go on to share it with others.
Good luck with your new release!

Andrea Downing said...

Great interview, ladies. I never knew Hebby was such a research hound--and that's after working with you both on several anthologies now. As usual, Patti you get to the heart of the matter with your investigative reporting. Thanks! and good luck, Hebby, with the new book--sounds like a winner.

Hebby Roman said...

Thanks to Patti and Andi, two of my most favorite author pals! I appreciate ALL your kind words. And yes, I'm definitely a research nut!

Kristy McCaffrey said...

Wonderful interview! I do love research too. It's easy to get caught up in it. This new series of your looks like a winner, Hebby. Much luck to you. Your husband is such a gem. Mine is like yours -- he doesn't generally read my books (he's not much of a reader), but he does help me with brainstorming. Their support is priceless. Have a great weekend!!

Hebby Roman said...

Hi, Kristy, thanks for dropping by and supporting me! I know you love research, too. And yes, it's very easy to get caught up in research. Lots of fun! I really have enjoyed the forts and writing about them. Because they were a microcosm of the West, you tend to learn a lot of interesting details about how people lived back then and all the challenges and hardships they faced. Learning some of these details, you can't help but admire the soldiers and their families and how willing they were to live under dangerous conditions, in the hopes of making our country safe.
The hubs, as I call him, is a great help. He's not into brainstorming much. But he does love the techie part of Indie pubbing, as well as trying different promotional approaches. So, yes, his help is invaluable. Good to hear that you have an invaluable "sidekick" too.
Thanks again,