Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sneak Peek


Time is winding down in a hurry to the Feb. 3 release of my debut novel, The Long Ride Home. To the point that I'm now hyperventilating every few hours instead of once or twice a day, imagining real humans reading the words that I wrote. 

Hair of the dog has always been an old cowboy cure, or maybe just an excuse for week long drunks, but I thought I'd give it a try only in reverse. I figure if I give you a few peeks into the novel and no one boos me out of the arena, I might be able to persuade myself to crawl out from under the covers on release day. 

So first, a blurb from the book so in case you haven't seen it before you know the set up: 

The Long Ride Home

David Parsons is on the verge of making his pro rodeo dreams come true when his one-in-a-million rope horse, Muddy, goes missing. In the aftermath, David loses everything. His career, his fiancée´, his pride.

Four years later, David is clawing his way out of the ruins and back up the rankings when he gets the miracle he’s prayed for. Muddy has been found on Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

But repossessing Muddy is unexpectedly complicated. Kylan, the teenager on Muddy’s back, has had a lifetime of hard knocks. His custodial aunt, Mary Steele, will fight like a mama bear to make sure losing this horse isn’t the blow that levels the boy. Even if it’s at David’s expense.

David is faced with a soul-wrenching dilemma. Taking back his own future could destroy Kylan’s. And ruin any chance he might have with the fierce, fascinating Mary.

It’s a long, hard ride to the top of the rodeo world. And for David, an even longer ride home. Unless he can find a trail that leads to both.

And now, a peek inside the cover. If you haven't visited my website and read the blurb there, you might want to do that first, as it is from the first chapter. The excerpt below is Chapter Three, when David has driven all night from a rodeo in Oregon after a friend spots Muddy at the Montana High School Rodeo, our first introduction to the boy who now has the horse...and of course, his aunt Mary. 

Chapter Three

The Sunday afternoon performance was well under way when David pulled into the Kalispell fairgrounds. He’d left Sisters as quick as he could get his rig rolling, but it had been an eleven-hour drive, and he’d had to stop a couple times to give Frosty a break.
His hands fumbled with latches and ropes as he unloaded the horse, hung a bucket of water and a hay bag on the side of the trailer and then took off for the arena. His instinct was to rush straight to the roping box, find the horse that almost had to be Muddy, but he forced himself to steer clear. The middle of a high school rodeo was not the time or place to make a scene.
He worked his way through the warm-up area, the mob of kids trotting circles, double and triple checking ropes and cinches, but there was no sight of Muddy. Around the infield side of the arena, he found a spot to lean in the shade of the bleachers. Just in time. The calf roping had started.
He watched half a dozen runs, barely noticing whether they were good, bad or otherwise. Then Kylan Runningbird rode into the arena and all the air in the Rocky Mountains wasn’t enough to keep David’s head from spinning. He knew that dirt-brown horse as well as his own face in the mirror.
Muddy, in the flesh, looking exactly as David had last seen him. Fit, glossy and cocky as all get out.
David tore his gaze off the horse long enough to check out the rider as the announcer prattled on about Kylan Runningbird. A high school junior, state finals rookie, and here he was in fifth place so far with a solid shot at qualifying for nationals. The kid looked soft, slouchy, the brim of his beat-up hat crooked in the front, the tail of his shirt slopping out of his jeans on one side.
He also looked too nervous to spit.
Muddy, on the other hand, was all business, whipping around in the box and slamming his butt into the corner without waiting for the kid to steer him. The kid’s head jerked, enough of a nod for the gate to open. Muddy exploded out of the corner and arrowed in behind the calf.
Man, what a pup. A little pot-bellied Hereford loped out, head up, practically screaming rope me. Kylan took two swings and threw. The loop bounced on the top of the calf’s head and, by some miracle, fell over his nose.
Muddy stopped, as quick and hard as the slam of door. The sight of it made David’s heart skip. Kylan flew off his side, more of an ejection than a dismount. His legs buckled and he went to his knees, but he got his left arm hooked over the rope. Muddy hustled backward, pulling the calf so when the kid stood up it was right there under his nose. Kylan fumbled it onto its side, strung his piggin’ string on the top front leg, gathered up the hinds, applied three deliberate, two-fisted wraps and a hooey and then threw up his arms.
The crowd went wild. One section of it anyway, a cluster of at least fifty people seated on the end of the grandstand. From the way they cheered and pounded each other on the back, David guessed they hadn’t expected Kylan to come through in the clutch. He could see why. The kid wasn’t much of a roper. Lucky for him, he was riding the best horse on the planet.
David’s horse.
Fury exploded in his head, as white hot as those damn fireworks in Cody. David spun on his heel and strode around to the back of the arena, drawing startled looks from the people he shouldered past. By the time he got there, Kylan was surrounded by a huddle of friends, all slapping palms and bumping fists with him like he’d won the state championship instead of barely edging into fourth place. And there was Muddy, tugging at the reins, impatient as always to get back to the trailer now that his job was done.
The kid spotted someone in the mob of people streaming down from the grandstand and started that direction. David stepped into his path. Kylan squinted up at him, confused.
“I need to talk to you,” David said, voice hard, muscles knotted as he fought the urge to yank the reins out of the kid’s hand.
Kylan looked past him, as if for help. David glanced over his shoulder to find two girls with their arms around each other, their smiles fading as they saw his expression. The smaller one pulled off her sunglasses. Her face was freckled under the brim of her baseball cap, but there was nothing childish about those eyes.
Not a girl. A woman.
“What do you want with Kylan?” she demanded.
The tiny part of his brain still capable of logic could see she wasn’t old enough, but David asked anyway. “Are you his mother?”
“Close enough.”
“Good,” David said. “Maybe you can explain why your kid is riding my horse.”
She flinched. Surprise? Or guilt?
“Who are you?” she asked, recovering fast.
“My name is David Parsons. That horse was stolen from me four years ago in Cody, Wyoming.”
“Nu-uh.” Kylan stepped back, arms extended as if he could hide the horse behind them. “He’s mine.”
The younger girl edged around David and grabbed the kid’s hand. “Don’t worry, Ky. He’s got the wrong horse.”
“No, I don’t.” David stared down at the woman, daring her to argue. “I’m betting you don’t have any papers on him.”
A crowd had begun to gather, the inner circle mostly dark-haired and dark-skinned, Kylan’s friends from the Blackfeet reservation and their parents.
“Do you?” the woman asked.
“Not with me,” David admitted. “I wanted to be sure it was him. Now that I am, I’ll have his papers faxed up to the sheriff’s office.”
At the word sheriff, a murmur went through the crowd, which had grown as bystanders realized something serious was happening.
“He’s mine!” Kylan was breathing hard, almost sobbing. “We bought him fair and square.”
The woman gave David a stony-eyed stare and spoke to the kid. “Take your horse back to the trailer, Kylan.”
“Just do it. Go with him, Starr.”
Kylan hesitated, but the girl hooked his elbow, wheeled him around and dragged him away toward the contestant parking area, darting worried glances over her shoulder. Muddy trailed along, supremely unconcerned with the whole drama.
The wall of people closed off behind Kylan and several of the men looked more than willing to take David on if he followed. He seriously considered trying it anyway.
“I’m Mary Steele,” the woman said, pulling his attention back to her. “And, yes, I do have a bill of sale for that horse, so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m skeptical. You get your papers and whatever other proof you have, and then we’ll see what’s what.”
“Fine,” David said. “I will.”
She gave a slight nod. “In the meantime, stay away from my nephew.”
She angled past David. The crowd parted to let her through and then closed ranks again. Over their heads, David watched her leave, her stride confident, her shoulders square. David watched until she disappeared into the maze of pickups and trailers in the infield and then faced the angry mob.
“You got no right accusin’ that boy,” a woman declared.
“I’ve got every right,” David said. “Give me an hour and I’ll prove it.”

Available Feb. 3, 2015. Ordering information at:  KariLynnDell.com


Monday, January 12, 2015

As long as the football season is over...


Because, yes, the Broncos have broken our hearts again, but at least this year I sort of expected it, unlike last year when I was already making smoochy faces at the Superbowl trophy. And now I'm going to be one of THOSE people who jump on the winning bandwagon and become a Seattle Seahawks fan.

Hey, I lived in the Pacific Northwest for ten years, during which they were the only team on my television and mostly sucked. I've earned my stripes. Or wings. Or whatever. 

Or we could all just go settle in on the couch with a good book. I've been doing a lot of that lately and I've been on a real winning streak of my own when it comes to picking up some great stories. 

The first one was a sure thing. One of my favorite all time series has been updated and re-released as a boxed set of ebooks. Christmas with the McRae's, Book 1,2 &3 by Teresa Hill. A real tear-jerker, but some fun moments, too. 

And as close to a sure thing as you can get: I've been plowing through everything Joanna Bourne has ever written. This is a tricky series because, as she freely admits, the order in which the books were released isn't actually the best order to read them in, as they didn't come to her in chronological order. So you'll want to start with The Forbidden Rose, then The Spymaster's Lady, then Rogue Spy, then My Lord and Spymaster, then The Black Hawk. And no, I don't care if you don't usually read historicals. Neither do I, and I am totally hooked on this series. They are intense and hilarious and so incredibly well written they make me feel like I should toss my laptop in the nearest snowbank, (aka, onto my deck because we're still debating who has to shovel this time). If at all possible, get the audio books. Kirstin Potter is AMAZING as the narrator. 

The happy surprise of my vacation reading (well, listening, as I'm an audiobook junkie) was a book called Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven. This one is what we're now calling New Adult, what used to be Chick Lit, so it won't appeal to everyone, but again, the writing is razor sharp, the characters are so real you want to go meet them for drinks. 

And here's one you'll all want to snap up IMMEDIATELY, though you won't be able to read it until February 3. Now available for pre-order on Amazon:

Picture me doing a happy Snoopy dance around my living room. All of you with Kindles or tablets or phones with the free Kindle app can now rush out and reserve your copy before they run out!

Oh, fine. I know they won't run out of ebooks. I swear, the digital age has ruined the entire 'hurry and buy now' marketing scheme. But pre-orders do make my publisher think happy thoughts about me because they all hit the bank on release day, plus they make Amazon think I'm cool and consider bumping me up the list when someone searches for things like 'western romance' or 'cowboys', so a pre-order is a great way to give a brand new writer a boost.

Also, when I get home from vacation next week I'm going to give everyone who sends me a copy of their pre-order confirmation a chance to win something. What, you say? Well, as usual I'm a little unorganized and haven't figured that out yet, so I guess we'll all find out next week.

For more info about the book, visit my spiffy new website: KariLynnDell.com


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Huckleberry Heaven


One of the coolest things about the internet is how it has allowed me to 'meet' writers from all over the world, including the fabulous, RITA award-winning Fiona Lowe. After hanging out here at the blog for a while, she decided to set her latest series of books in our area, which has resulted in flurries of emails between us about everything from which wildflowers bloom in July to whether our libraries have self-checkout. As luck would have it, the first book in her series, Montana Actually, came out on Tuesday, which was the same time as mine was available for pre-order, so we're celebrating by doing a giveaway of Made in Montana delicacies over on Facebook. Which I, of course, forgot to mention here on the blog until now.

So hopefully you're checking in here before 9 pm EST on Friday, January 9th, so you can pop on over and leave a comment and get yourself a chance to win a whole bunch of heavenly huckleberries. Oh, yeah, and a couple of books, too. And Canadians, ignore the US residents only part, I live closer to the nearest Alberta post office than I do my own, so I'm happy to include you.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Right--No, Left--No, Right Side of the Bed


Okay, show of hands. How many of you who sleep with another human being on a regular basis have a dedicated side of the bed? (No, the cats and/or dogs don't count because everybody knows the dogs always take the middle and the cats sleep on your head).

Before you get married, people tell you that you'll argue about money and who does the dishes and the laundry and the whole toilet seat up or down thing, but nobody warns you about the hand-to-hand combat over who gets which side of the bed. After twenty three years you'd think we'd have this settled, but we've always been a little slow.

To start with, neither of us really cared all that much. I ended up with the left side of the bed. Then, just when I got settled in, we switched bedrooms. (This was back in South Dakota when we actually had such a thing as a spare bedroom. My husband says the longer he's married to me, the smaller our houses get. I say we're trying to reduce our carbon footprint. He says...well, we won't get into that.)

Anyway, in the new bedroom the right side of the bed was closest to the door. As a new bride I came equipped with a red tick coonhound named Weezy who didn't believe in drinking water from a bowl. She'd get up in the middle of the night, wander into the bedroom and shove her nose in my face, her way of asking me to come turn the bathtub faucet on for her. The first night we slept in the new room she strolled in and slurped the ear of the person closest to the door. My husband was not amused. I was immediately relocated to the right side of the bed.

This lasted for a couple of years. Then one day I roped a calf in our practice arena and my breakaway hondo malfunctioned, and instead of the rope flinging harmlessly off to the side it zinged straight back and nailed my mare, Scotty, in the nose. She reared and fell over and I landed on my elbow, doing bad things to the bursa and tendons in my shoulder. Suddenly, laying on my right side was not an option and I am incapable of facing toward the middle of the bed while sleeping. Once again we swapped sides of the bed.

We stuck with this arrangement for about a dozen years, despite my campaign to swap sides after our son was born, my side being the one closest to his crib. Then we moved back to Montana, into my parents' bunkhouse, in which the bedroom was originally my grandfather's chicken coop. The roof slants down to the point where the north wall is only four feet tall. After driving his head into the ceiling several times in the middle of the night, Greg begged me to switch sides, which was fine by me because my side was by the door and our son was in his get up at 2 a.m. with leg cramps stage. Sorry, honey, you're closer.

Then Greg got his hip replaced and couldn't lay on his left side so we had to switch again. That lasted just over a year.

At the beginning of this past summer I had one of those female surgeries that plunge you into instant menopause, complete with hot flashes and night sweats. I happened to notice on chilly nights I slept better. And then I realized that, thanks to our crumbling foundation and prevalent north wind, the left side of the bed is always colder, so I made him trade me spots.

So here we are, back where we started. Who knows how long this will last. All I can say it, thank God we never had bunk beds.


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Now available for pre-order from Samhain Publishing!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Tales


I have managed to successfully create my first ever author newsletter, which those of you who've listened to me whine about my ongoing war with technology know is a major accomplishment. It includes one of the all time favorite posts from way back at the beginning of this blog, a Christmas story even, the one about the road trip with the dog and the baby and the tow truck and...well, you just have to read the whole thing.

If you want a few chuckles, take a minute to Subscribe and this and future editions will land directly in your inbox, along with the latest news about my novels. Each newsletter will feature a story, either something like you find here on my blog or, occasionally, a bonus short story that will only be available to newsletter subscribers.

Here's hoping the holidays find you well and happy, or at least well-stocked with booze and chocolate and those frosted sugar cookies that are almost the death of me every year.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Long Ride Home


Those of you who've followed along on this blog for a while know I write books, and I've been trying to sell those books for...well, let's not go into details. Suffice to say, it's been a long ride, mostly uphill and against the wind. So it's fitting that the book I finally sold ended up with the title The Long Ride Home. And wouldn't you know, it's the first I've written that's set here on my home turf, the Blackfeet Reservation.

Ladies and Gentlemen....swooshes back the curtain...meet my debut novel!

The Long Ride Home

David Parsons is on the verge of making his pro rodeo dreams come true when his one-in-a-million rope horse, Muddy, goes missing. In the aftermath, David loses everything. His career, his fiancée´, his pride.

Four years later, David is clawing his way out of the ruins and back up the rankings when he gets the miracle he’s prayed for. Muddy has been found on Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

But repossessing Muddy is unexpectedly complicated. Kylan, the teenager on Muddy’s back, has had a lifetime of hard knocks. His custodial aunt, Mary Steele, will fight like a mama bear to make sure losing this horse isn’t the blow that levels the boy. Even if it’s at David’s expense.

David is faced with a soul-wrenching dilemma. Taking back his own future could destroy Kylan’s. And ruin any chance he might have with the fierce, fascinating Mary.

It’s a long, hard ride to the top of the rodeo world. And for David, an even longer ride home. Unless he can find a trail that leads to both.


The book will be available for pre-order on January 4th at all your usual e-book outlets and released for your reading pleasure on February 3rd. Between now and then I shall be pimping it regularly, which will include prizes and bonus stories and excerpts. If you're a fan of the photos on this blog, you'll definitely want to play along, as I'll be giving away some wall art versions of my favorites. All of that can land in your inbox if you sign up for my newsletter at Tales from the Frozen North

You can also follow along with what's new on my Facebook author page at Kari Lynn Dell. If you do pop by there, please take a second to click the Like button. The more people like me, the more likely Facebook will actually let my posts be seen, and the more likely I'll sell some copies of this book, which in turn makes it more likely they'll let me publish another one. 

Why yes, marketing IS every author's favorite part of the game. Could you tell by this face I'm making? But as long as I have to do it, you might as well benefit. Sign up, sign in, we'll see you down the road. 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Little Icing on Top


We've had two days of miserable, foggy weather with a cold south wind. But this morning the sun came out and we got our reward. My trees are all decorated for the holidays, I can just kick back with a hot chocolate and enjoy the view. Until it warms up and the wind blows all that ice down like buckets of marbles on the metal roof of my bedroom, usually at around 3 a.m.