Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Birth of a Blogger

I'm shy but that possible?

I Promise to Only Tell my Story Once...

Write an intro blog? About myself? Oh, this could be interesting. Or worse yet, not interesting at all, but I’ll do my very best not to bore you to tears. Let’s see, me in a nutshell. Avid reader, cancer survivor, non-wicked stepmother of 3, married to my knight-in-shining-armor (finally), animal advocate, 2 time hole-in-oner, country music fan, John Denver groupie, pizza hound, & lover of the HEA.
I was born and raised on a small family farm in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is known for hot, hot summers, bad air quality, great Mexican and Basque food, and the Bakersfield Sound’s very own Buck Owens and Meryl Haggard. Nashville of the West! Here's some other fun, quirky facts about my hometown. Thanks to my friend, Beth Cheatwood, for posting this on FB .
My grandparents were adventurers. My parents were members of the real Children of the Dustbowl, Grapes of Wrath migration to California from Alabama and Texas back in the late 1930s. At age 16, they fell in love and married only miles from where they first met at the Weedpatch (farm labor) Camp. My mother, the oldest of six girls, suffered at the hands of an abusive, alcoholic father. My father, the second oldest of six children, rescued her from that desperate situation to form the first true love story I’d witness in my life.
Vision of the Dustbowl, photo from article
I’m the youngest of three children, the baby. Sounds awesome, unless you’re the child left to do all the farm chores, and there were a lot. I complained then, but now I treasure those memories and all the things I learned along the way. My early morning riding sessions with Dad and the long hours of learning the family recipes in our little kitchen with Mom. Those were the good times. My parents were among the generation of geniuses who did everything themselves. No tradesman ever visited our home. If something needed to be done, they figured it out themselves.

~Things I took for granted when I was young~

' Eating fruits and vegetables straight from the garden
' Watching shooting stars laying on a blanket with my dogs
' Riding my horse Cricket in the foothills
' Reading to my animals
' Christmas Eve sleepovers with all my family
' Watching my dad play guitar as my mom sang along
' Family volleyball, badminton & softball games (they got crazy)
' Mom’s cooking
' Dad’s homemade ice-cream
' My dog Sam
Me trying to ride our ornery boy, Jobo.
I was the first of my family to earn a college degree. Philosophy and French Literature. Yeah, I know, why? I was lucky enough to study what I wanted to learn, rather than what would get me a good job. My plan was to attend law school and make my parents proud, but cancer sidelined that dream. Thank goodness it did. In an odd sort of way, cancer saved me. My recovery was comprised of moving to the Sierra Nevada mountains and writing out the pain and fear I’d buried inside. I spent hours on warm, flat rocks in Yosemite Valley, just breathing and feeling and writing as though my pen performed some sort of emotional exorcism, shredding through notebook after notebook. It was the first time in my life that I felt truly connected, spiritually. Journaling is the answer - just saying.
Yosemite Valley - where Bill and I were married in 2005!
Life took me in many strange directions from stock broker to hospice worker, but the writing bug continued to grow. I never planned to become a writer or write romance, but IMO every good book needs a powerful, blissful, lustful love story, so I’m excited with the way my career is going so far. Naturally, I pull story ideas from my own life, growing up in the country with horses, and dogs and various other critters that kept me company. It’s fun to put my characters through things I’d never be able to endure and see them win out in the end.

My first novel, Our Last Day, was never meant to be anything but a cathartic story, filtering my own fears of death and dying to figure out how I might have handled my own closures and goodbyes if things had gone differently with my diagnosis. Turned out a writer friend of mine demanded I submit it to agents, just to see what would happen. I got three interests and a contract within a month of sending out the query. So, I became a writer writer, not just a closet writer. Publication in 2019! 
But that was only the beginning of my journey. I could write, but I knew nothing of the craft and discipline of writing. I didn’t know there was such a thing as head hopping or how writing in a passive voice could put a reader to sleep. I had no idea that the editing process would feel like I was dissecting my very own child. Writing a synopsis nearly put me off writing for good.  Stephen King’s, On Writing, Anne Lamont’s, Bird by Bird and Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, kept me from tossing my laptop over a cliff. A heartfelt thank goes to all three of them, along with many others who supported me along the way.   
My first published novel with SoulMate Publishing came in November 2016, with Return to Ruby’s Ranch – Book 1 of the Ruby’s Ranch series. It’s a western romantic mystery set in the Kern River Valley in California. The series covers the lives and loves of each strong matriarch in the family. Book 2 - Escape from Ruby’s Ranch, was published in July of 2018. Book 3 – Legacy of Ruby’s Ranch is currently under the pen. I love, love these unique, troubled, passionate women. Oh, and their cowboys are pretty yummy too.

Health Nut CafĂ©, my first venture into paranormal romance, was published in December 2017. It’s not the creepy cool kind of paranormal we saw in JK Rowlings world, but a super fun, thought provoking love story written around the idea of soulmates. It’s the book-love of my life, so far, so I can’t wait to delve back into the crazy lives of Jonathan and Becca.

Dutch, Ruby and Geddy - my writing assistants.

As of April 2018, my own knight-in-shining-armor, handsome husband Bill and I moved 2200 miles away from our hometown to stunning northeast Georgia. The country of blue skies, thick green trees, cicadas singing you to sleep, crazy Georgia Bulldog fans and sweet tea at every restaurant. We love the southern charm and welcoming people and lots of new adventures. After almost fourteen years working in hospice care, I am now writing full time. When I’m not writing, I’m fussing over my three gorgeous furbabies, 2 pug sisters, Geddy and Ruby and our freaked-out-by-thunder, 115 pound Labrador named Dutch. Golfing with my KISA. Exploring the beautiful South and thinking up the next mystery to be solved by a handsome cowboy and his lady love.

Our new home in Georgia - my writing sunroom is on the far right! 

Me and my gorgeous KISA cowboy, Bill

I want to thank the awesome group at Cowboy Kisses and also the lovely, Julie Cerniglia Lence, for inviting me to participate. If you have questions, subjects you’d like me to cover or would just like to chat, drop me a note at!

Enjoy one of my favorite family recipes!

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Kristy McCaffrey said...

Welcome, Rhonda! Thanks for sharing your journey. Lots of ups and downs. Your pups are adorable. Cheers.

Julie Lence said...

Welcome Rhonda! We're so happy to have you join our blog. Hugs, Julie

Jacqui Nelson said...

Welcome to Cowboy Kisses, Rhonda! Loved reading your blog.