Tuesday, October 13, 2020

When the Universe Says - Keep Writing by Rhonda Frankhouser

Copyright - My Photo

As I've mentioned (a dozen times) before, I'm back in the 'regular' job world again after two blissful years writing full time. I'm not complaining because I'm blessed to work for a great company with some very patient and kind people, but the universe continues to give me signs that I MUST continue to write. 

The day I was offered a position at Fairway Independent Mortgage, I received two signs. A wonderful notebook with 'writer' written all over it AND a fabulous five star review. 

The next day, I found out that my little Christmas novella was a Finalist in the Uncaged Reviews RAVEN AWARDS. I was beside myself, honestly, because I wrote this book as a practice first Novella AND first Christmas story. Book 4, Christmas at Ruby's Ranch, is a fun, emotionally charged transition story that leads us into the next book in the Ruby's Ranch series, but I'll admit something -  IT WAS HARD TO WRITE! Shorter is NOT easier. I'm sure many of you know what I mean.

My next sign came the night the Raven Awards were announced via Facebook Event. I held ZERO hope that I would win against such stiff competition. For heavens sake, Hildie McQueen's book was running against mine, but I was enjoying following along and watching my friends gather their prizes. 

Copyright - Uncaged Magazine

Mind you, my eyes and head were hurting so bad from hours and hours of training for my job, that I wasn't sure I was seeing the recipient right when my category winner was announced. My husband was on the phone with his father when I screamed out loud when my book was announced. My Pug puppies jumped off my lap and ran around barking. My huge black Labrador ran to the door, sure an intruder was trying to get in. 

"Jesus, Rhonda, you scared me to death. Are you alright? What's wrong?" My husband shouted. 

"I WON, I WON....

                                                          Copyright Uncaged Magazine

"Well," he said, "I guess you better keep writing!" 

I'd been a finalist and a 2nd runner up and a bridesmaid a dozen times, but this win gave me the confidence to push on, even though I still hadn't made it!

I'm telling this story in hopes that it will inspire someone else, who like me, have found themselves pulled away from the things they love. Don't give up! I know I won't.

After winning, I sat down and worked on Revenge at Ruby's Ranch. This is Emma's story. Emma is the sister Ruby never knew she had until the perky eighteen-year-old showed up, arm in arm, with their mother who had disappeared some twenty years before. Will Emma be the one who fulfills the family legacy? Will she fall for Matthew, the faithful cowboy or Shona, the mystical visitor?


Here's a short excerpt. It's still in first draft shape, but I'm sharing it anyway! I hope y'all enjoy.


Revenge at Ruby’s Ranch – Book 5 of the Ruby’s Ranch Series

by Rhonda Frankhouser 

Emma looked up at Matthew, sitting tall in the saddle. The muscles of his stomach flexed against the thin white cotton. “You ready?”

“Not quite yet,” he said, watching her. “You can’t get up here with that mask covering your face.”

She squinted in question. “I need to wear it.”

He shook his head. “Not while you’re on my horse. He might think you’re a bandit with that thing on.”

She couldn’t help but laugh.

“And those gloves.” He pointed.

“What’s wrong with my gloves?”

“Well, if you’re gonna wrap your arms around me for the first time, I don’t want latex between us.”

“What the-.” Her face burned with embarrassment. She stalled, looking around and kicking at the dirt, hoping her cheeks weren’t as red as they felt.

“That’s better,” he said, when she finally removed the gloves and mask and stuffed them back into her purse.

“You’re kinda full of yourself, aren’t you?” She worked hard to keep a straight face.

“I’m not sure what you’re thinking Miss Lattrell, but I’m talking about latex gloves here.” His sparkling blue eyes teased her. When he stacked his hands one atop the other on the saddle horn, strong biceps flexed against his sleeves, causing her stomach to flutter. She could swear he was doing it on purpose, but the sweet look on his face was as innocent as a day old calf.

“Whatever, you little shit. We need to get to Momma.”

“Let’s go then.” He offered a hand, then moved his foot from the stirrup. “Grab on, I’ll pull you up.”

“Umm, you know I’m not much of a cowgirl. What if he takes off when I’m halfway up?”

His smile was disarming. “Trust me.” He curled his finger in invitation. “Just grab ahold, put your foot in that stirrup and pull yourself up behind me.”

“Can’t we just take the ATV?” She reasoned.

“Too noisy. I want to be able to hear you.” He waved again.

Emma pushed her crossbody purse behind her and grabbed his hand. She wedged her sensible gray Sketcher into the stirrup, kicked her other leg over the back of the horse and settled behind Matthew on the saddle. Her face landed square in the middle of his back. Her long legs wrapped easily around his hips.

“See, there you go.” He placed his hand on her knee. “Now, put your arms around my waist and let me have the stirrup. You just let those pretty little feet of yours dangle down. Careful not to nudge ‘im or we’ll be running before you know it.”

She stiffened her legs out straight to keep her feet from touching the horse’s sides.

Matthew patted her rigid hands. “As much as I love having your arms around me, you can relax. He’s not gonna hurt you. I promise.” Then he reached back and touched her legs until they relaxed by the horse’s sides.

She let out an embarrassed giggle. His body was so strong and sure, his scent so calming. Within a few breaths, they were heading toward Momma and John’s cabin at the far end of the corrals. Her heart beat with the gentle saunter. Matthew’s hand warm and comforting on hers.

On Haley’s Peak, a good stone’s throw above Momma and John’s cabin, Emma spotted a single rider atop a handsome buckskin horse. An older man, tall and broad in the shoulders, watched as they approached.

“Who’s that?” She whispered into Matthew’s ear, feeling danger emanating from the ominous presence.

“That would be Ray MacCallister, I assume,” he replied. “He hasn’t moved since your Momma got sick. He watches the cabin all the time.”

Emma shrunk behind Matthew. “What does he want? Has John seen him up there? Why doesn’t Billy get rid of him.”

“We’re all just waiting for him to make a mistake.”

She squeezed in closer. “Well, if that asshole plans on hurting Momma, I’ll be the first to fire a shot.”

“I have no doubt, but I don’t think he wants to hurt her.”

Emma despised Ray MacCallister. She still couldn’t believe the most hated man in the valley, the man who raped her mother, was her biological father.


He reined the horse to a stop and turned so his ear grazed her lips. “Yes, Emma.”

“Would you do me a favor?”

He let out a hopeful, “ah, hah.”

“Would you teach me to shoot?” She asked, her glare still trained on Ray brazenly eying them.

Matthew dropped his head forward, obviously disappointed with her request. “Sure, I can do that.”

She squeezed her arms tighter around him. “Disappointed with the request?”

He sucked in a breath. “Well, I’d be lying if I hadn’t hoped for something else, but I’ll settle for anything that means I get to spend more time with you.”

She paused to gather her thoughts. “You know, I’ve been gone from here along time now. I’m not that innocent little girl you knew back then. You might not want to spend time with me.”

He leaned back against her. “I don’t care about any of that. I just want you to be you, Em. That’s all I’ll ever ask.”

She pressed her forehead between his shoulder blades and whispered. “I don’t really have time for romance. I’m here to take care of Momma.”

He slid his fingers over hers still at his waist. “You’ll get no pressure from me. I’ve waited two years, I can wait forever if I need to.”

“Mercy, you’re a pretty serious guy, aren’t you?”

“Just not planning on letting you leave here again without knowing how I feel about you.”

“Why didn’t you try to contact me in New York? Why didn’t you tell me all this before now?”

He laughed and shook his head. “I’m not shy anymore, Em, but I’m not a stalker either. I didn’t want to start something when you were three thousand miles away. I needed to see you. I needed you to see me. I needed to be next to you. I needed to be able to smell your hair and touch your hand.”

“You’re too sweet for me,” she said through a smile.

“I wouldn’t count on that, young lady,” he answered with a slight growl, as he nudged his horse forward.

A thousand wicked possibilities ran through Emma’s mind. He did smell good, and her arms did fit perfectly around his narrow waist. He was nothing like the high-strung city boys she’d dated over the past few years. That alone gave him at least a chance. 

When she looked back up at the horizon for the lone rider atop the hill, he was gone. Emma wasn’t sure if she was more worried about knowing where he was or not knowing.

Award-Winning author, Rhonda Frankhouser, writes about beloved ghosts, sexy cowboys, and mystical worlds. Born and raised in central California, she now lives in beautiful Northeast Georgia. Follow Rhonda at www.rhondafrankhouserbooks.com



Julie Lence said...

Congrats on the upcoming release, Rhonda, and on that win! What a beautiful, and funny, memory with the pups and hubby. Hugs!

Paty Jager said...

Congratulations! Years ago, when I was first writing, it was the chapter contests in RWA that kept me writing. I'd submit whatever the contest asked for: a love scene, a first chapter, a meet scene. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places I received in those contests are what kept me writing until I finally had a publisher who wanted one of my books. It's the little things in the universe, besides readers, who keep us writing.

kathleen Lawless said...

We have to listen when the Universe speaks. Congratulations!