by Kate Wyland
Romancing The West welcomes author Kate Wyland, a life-long horse nut who started riding at three years old. While she rode Western as a child, she later became enthralled with Dressage and Quadrille, a drill team type of dressage competition. She also loves trail riding and has taken week-long rides in Ireland, Monument Valley and Wyoming, as well as horse camped in the mountains of California. Kate has three semi-retired horses and can’t imagine life without them. A few years ago, she exchanged her tech writing hat for a fiction writing Stetson. Suspense, romance, horses and sometimes the paranormal are the themes she likes to explore in her books. And she delights in sharing her love of animals and country living.
RTW: Thanks for joining us today, Kate! To start off, please tell us about your book.
KW: One dead body is frightening enough, but a second, plus a dirty cop, sends Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She finds a hiding place on a Wyoming Dude ranch, where she tries to discover if the murders are connected to a mysterious computer memory stick. Her fragile feeling of safety is disturbed by a compelling Marine.
Back from Afghanistan to heal both physically and emotionally, Shawn Saunders recognizes the type of fear in Mikela's eyes—it's one of the things he's come home to forget. In spite of their reservations, neither can resist the pull of their attraction.
To win a copy of Wyoming Escape, please comment at the bottom of the blog. Have you ever stayed at a dude ranch? Would you like to? One winner will be selected at the end of the week.
RTW: Why do you write Westerns?
KW: I’ve always been in love with horses and ranch life. I had horses in the suburbs of Los Angeles as a kid but I wanted to live on a real ranch. The closest I’ve come is when my husband and I had a three acre horse property in a rural area south of San Francisco. While not Texas cowboy country, many of our neighbors raised cattle and horses and had a very different attitude than was typical in Silicon Valley. I also got to ride in some truly wonderful mountain areas.
Wyoming Escape was inspired by a stay at the famous Eaton Ranch in Wolf, Wyoming. The people and the environment were so delightful I wanted keep the experience alive in my memory. So I put aside the book I was working one and started on Escape.
RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why? What did the author do to bring the story alive for you?
KW: One book that has stayed with me my whole life is Smokey the Cowhorse by Will James. James was not only a wonderful writer but a talented artist too. His illustrations make the story of a Mustang colt that grows up to be a top cow horse come alive. Unlike a lot of popular horse books, Smokey acts, reacts and looks like a real horse. I so wanted to visit the ranch where he lived.
RTW: I enjoyed that book, too! Back to Wyoming Escape—why must Mikela take this particular story journey? What does she have to prove? How does the dude ranch affect her journey?
KW: Mikela has learned through bad experience not to trust people, particularly the police. When she realizes that a dirty cop is probably responsible for the two murder victims she came upon, she runs rather than risk being at his mercy. She hopes the memory stick she found in her car will provide answers to the killings, if she can ever open its encrypted files.
Hiding on a Wyoming dude ranch, she encounters a way of life and set of people far different from what she has known before. She also meets Shawn, an on-leave Marine, who won’t take no for an answer. When the dirty cop finds her, she has to decide whether to trust her new ranch family or continue to go it alone.
RTW: Now that you've piqued our interest, set us up for your excerpt, please.
KW: Mikela Richards is jogging in a wooded park when the sound of gunshots sends her plunging into the bushes and behind a tree. When nothing more happens she starts to creep out of hiding, but retreats back when she hears running footsteps.
by Kate Wyland
A slim man in a leather jacket ran into view, headed toward the parking area. He looked somewhat familiar and her shoulders relaxed, until she caught sight of his glazed, panicked expression.
And the black nine millimeter pistol in his hand.
Her heart thumped so loudly, she was surprised he didn’t hear it. But something caught his attention. He jerked to a stop and backed around in a small circle, peering into the bushes, and brought the gun up into the firing position she knew well.
Thank heavens she’d worn her navy tights and top, instead of her usual bright colors. If only the shadows cast by the oak trees would screen her blond hair. Completing his circle, the man lowered his arms and jogged up the trail.
She sucked air into her starving lungs. Had he fired those shots? Or had someone shot at him? She reached for her cell phone, then swore softly. Of all the times to leave it at home. Her insides contracted. Even if she had the phone, would she really call the police about a couple of gun shots? After what she went through before?
Mikela stepped out of her hiding place and hurried down the path, away from the intruder and his gun, taking an alternate route back to her car. She jogged on tiptoe, listening for sounds that didn’t belong in the forest. When the trail junction appeared, the tightness in her chest eased.
She turned onto the new path and slammed to a stop. A strange mound lay near the flowering azaleas a few feet away. A dreadful sense of déjà vu swept over her and she had to force herself to move.
Not again, please God, not again.
She took a quick glance then looked away, fighting to control her stomach. A dark-haired man lay sprawled on his back by the side of the trail, his eyes wide open. A dark red stain spread from the middle of his tan polo shirt. The air reeked of blood and human waste. She gathered her courage and inched toward him, then bent to touch his neck. His skin was warm, but no pulse moved against her fingers.
RTW: What’s next? Is Wyoming Escape part of a series?
KW: Wyoming Escape is the first of a series of books set at the Triple H Dude Ranch. It will be followed by Wyoming Hope later this year.
However, my next book to come out will be Forewarning, the first book of another series, Horses and Healers. Set on an Oregon horse ranch, it tells the story of Kasey Martin, an alternative healer who has closed her practice because she’s afraid she was responsible for her husband’s suicide. One night she finds a badly injured man and is forced to use her rejected skills to save his life.
RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?
KW: I love writing stories that involve horses and the outdoors. I think nature grounds us and connects us to what is truly important.
One lucky commenter will receive a Smashwords coupon for a digital copy of Wyoming Escape. This is good for any ereader. If you don’t have a reader, you can download a free app to read the book on your computer or smart phone.
Don’t forget to include your name and email address, so we can contact you if your name is drawn. Drawing will be held Saturday, February 9, at 9pm Pacific Time. Comment on this post or Kate's Thursday post enters you to win. Comment on both posts for two chances. Good luck!