Montana for Real

The blog also known as Montana for Real.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Release Day Countdown

As the release day clock ticks down, I've been getting some amazing early reviews for Reckless in Texas.  

“Dell’s insight into the world of bull riding is illuminating, and her highly dimensional characters make her a standout in western romance.” Publisher's Weekly

“Dell's writing is notable, and her rodeo setting is fascinating, with characters that leap off the page and an intriguing series of actions, conflicts, and back story elements that keep the plot moving... A sexy, engaging romance set in the captivating world of rodeo.”  Kirkus Reviews

This well-written tale includes strong characters and a detailed view of the world of bullfighting… Readers can look forward to getting a cowboy’s education and a bird’s-eye view on the rodeo circuit.” Romantic Times

"Reckless in Texas was a breath of fresh air!...It was, all around, a really good novel and I recommend it to everyone!" Goodreads reviewer Alecia

Named to the Steamiest and Sweetest Romances of Summer 2016 list.

If you want a sneak peek, pop on over to my website and sign up for my mini-mag, Rock Soup for the Cowboy Soul. Not only will you get to read the first chapter, I will be giving away advanced copies to a few lucky subscribers as soon as I get them.

And if you want to be sure a copy is in your hot little hands ASAP, you'll find the pre-order information at If you send me a proof of purchase of your pre-order and your snail mail address, I'll send you a Texas Rodeo can cooler when I get them.

For those who are visiting this blog for the first time or who'd just like to revisit some favorite posts, I've added a Greatest Hits list to guide you to a few of the most popular pieces over the years (also listed on the right hand menu, unless you're reading this on your phone, in which case, damned if I know where that column goes).

Monday, April 11, 2016



Break out the fireworks! I just finished a quick rewrite of Book 2 in my Texas Rodeo series, which appears to be permanently titled Tangled Up in Texas. I finally figured out what was niggling at my brain about this book, and added a new scene to fix it. Sounds simple enough, except that scene required more research than the rest of the book combined. In it, the hero is driving a truck and talking on a CB radio. At one point I had nine tabs open on my internet browser: several CB lingo sites, a couple of 'life as a trucker sites', Google Earth so I could 'drive' from Raton, NM to Pueblo, CO, the Love's Travel Station site, Mapquest so I could figure distances and times from Amarillo to Albuquerque to Pueblo, and WalMart because I needed to know which exit would get me to the Wally World in Santa Fe. All to write about two paragraphs, which took me most of one day.
At some point during that day my mother wandered through and we had a conversation. Obviously, it didn't take, because at four o'clock I jumped in the car and drove the twelve miles down to the bus stop. Imagine my surprise when ol' yeller pulled up and my kid wasn't on board. And THEN I remembered my mother had said she was picking him up. Which I had completely forgotten, along with calling the school to tell him not to get on the bus, so they had to flag it down and drag him off.
Then it arrived at his stop to find me waiting faithfully. Which is why there is now a substitute bus driver in our school district who is quite sure there is a drug problem up here on the border.

Friday, April 08, 2016

The First Step is a Doozy


You know what they say, the first step is a doozy.
This calf was about five minutes old when the video starts. I cut out all the parts where he stopped to catch his breath between attempts, the original video was fifteen minutes long. He was born breech, which means he was head down, and if you're not Johnny-on-the-Spot to assist the cow by pulling the calf out, they'll usually drown. Even when you are they tend to have fluid in their lungs, so seeing this one get right up and at 'em was fantastic.
I know the birth of a living creature is supposed to be an incredible sight to behold. Personally, I think it's mostly slimy. But this part never fails to amaze me. And to come back an hour later and see him trying to buck...that's downright miraculous.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kicking it Up


This is me today, kicking up my heels in the sunshine because I finally finished the quick, fun (insert eyeroll) epilogue to my novel The Long Ride Home. 

You can find it in my e-minimag, Rock Soup for the Cowboy Soul

Or on Wattpad: The Long Ride Home for Christmas

Now I'm off to frolic in our unusually balmy weather until I have to drag my butt back to my computer and get moving on Hellbent, the third book of my upcoming Texas Rodeo series.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My Grandpa, the Legend

This coming Saturday my grandfather, Melvin Icenoggle, will be inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. He's always been a legend in our minds, and it's pretty cool to see others recognize his accomplishments.

His father died of appendicitis before he was born, so by the age of twelve Grandpa was earning his own keep, exercising race horses at the Tanforan race course in San Francisco and farming with four and six horse teams in Oregon.

As a cowboy, he competed in all three roughstock events, wrestled steers, occasionally roped calves, and put a little extra money in his pockets by also providing entertainment in the form of stunts like Roman riding races, climbing aboard a bucking horse in a steel washtub filled with flour to imitate smoke as the horse blew out of the chute, and one of his crazier inventions, a 'bull chariot'.

As a rodeo producer, he often acted as both stock contractor and contestant. If they were short of entries in any of the roughstock events, he'd ride, then hustle behind the chutes, change shirts, and ride again under a different name, just to be sure the crowd got their money's worth.

My grandfather was one of the founding members of the Montana Rodeo Association and also built the original, wooden jackleg indoor arena that was used at Montana State University and College National Finals rodeos for over twenty years. He was a horse trainer, a logger, a farrier and in his later years, long time custodian of the fieldhouse at Montana State.

We will be gathering in Great Falls on Saturday to celebrate his exploits, and no doubt learn about a whole lot more that can't fit into a press release. Hope to see some of my Montana friends at the induction ceremony, and that you'll stop by afterward as our family gathers poolside at the Heritage Inn.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's a Miracle!


Zero degrees. I walked out behind the horse barn and sure enough, the temperamental old waterer was dry. Frozen up. I said a bad word and gave it a swift kick. It hissed, grumbled, then started to fill.

That NEVER works.
Usually there's just more swearing, then I limp to the house for jugs of hot water to thaw out the float.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015



We have very few house rules (as anyone who has seen the state of my house can testify) but there is at least one that's hard and fast--when Romancing the Stone comes on TV, everything stops.

This is one of my favorite movies of all time, not least because the heroine, Joan Wilder, is a romance novelist. Everybody who remembers the opening scene, raise your hand. Yeah, that was me last week, sobbing over my keyboard as I wrote the big, final 'I'll Love You Forever' scene. The only difference between me and Joan Wilder is that I was writing that scene for the fifth time. Or maybe sixth. But at least this time the rewrite was requested by my editor, instead of just me trying to figure out how to fix the damn thing so someone would buy it.

For some writers life actually is like the movies. They whip out a first draft, make a few tweaks and like magic, it's done. I am not one of those people. There are whole weeks when I sort of hate those people. But even the literary savants don't get to just type The End and never look back.

In reality, that book will keep coming back to haunt you like a bad prom picture. And by the time it goes to print, you'll hate it almost as much. Since I'm in the middle of this process, I thought you might as well suffer along with me.

The order of the steps may vary, but from submitting the manuscript (on the exact day of the deadline, because even if you have it done before then the minute you hit send you will invariably think of something vital that should be changed) to seeing it on a shelf, the process goes something like this:

The first email I generally get is from marketing, along with their wish list. They are collecting information for the sales team and the art department, so the list is long. Character descriptions, a story summary of no more than two hundred words, or maybe a hundred, or maybe just a tagline, or maybe all three. Photos of people who look like you think your characters look, links to any other images that might help the cover artist, an idea of the general tone of the novel--funny, dramatic, dark, etc. An author bio. Links to other books that are similar to yours, or other covers you'd like to emulate. And worst of all--a synopsis--otherwise known as 'take these two hundred and fifty pages and distill them down to two so marketing doesn't have to read the whole book'.

If you look in the dictionary, synopsis is a synonym for 'I'd rather pet a porcupine'. But more painful.

Next, I get my first editorial letter, aka, "We adore your book, now here are all the things you need to change." I call these story edits, because this is when they ask for changes to the plot or how a character is portrayed, or in the case of my latest book, two completely new chapters because apparently skipping the moment when the two characters actually meet for the first time is a big no-no in romance. So you go through all 250 pages again, try to comply with your editor's wishes, and occasionally say, "Sorry, can't do that, it doesn't work for me."

And then you send it back to your editor, looking something like this:

WARNING: Excerpts may contain swears.
And she somehow makes sense of all that and edits your revisions, then sends it back to you with her comments on what worked and what didn't and why, and then you fix it some more and send it back to her, and you repeat this process until both of you are satisfied. And possibly sporting bald patches from tearing at your hair.

At which point you're done! Hah. I wish. No, at this point it goes to a copyeditor, who picks it apart line by line looking for typos and misused or misspelled words (my favorite--the time I called my hero viral, as opposed to virile, which sound very much alike but have a decidedly different effect in terms of sexual attraction), bad punctuation, lousy grammar, etc. When he or she is done splattering it with red ink, it comes winging back to your inbox and you must go through the whole thing AGAIN and decide whether to accept or reject every single edit. Then you send it back and the copyeditor goes through it AGAIN.

And then you're done. Almost. Until they produce what are called galleys, which are a printed copy of what will be your book. As you review the galley you get one last shot at fixing any minor goofs before it goes to the final print.

And THEN you're done. As in DONE, and if I ever have to look at these words again I'm going to douse my computer with gasoline and set it on fire. Or just spill a little nail polish remover on the touch pad. Same end result (she says from experience).

So Monday I sent off my first round of story edits, anticipating at least a week or two before it came boomeranging back at my head with another laundry list of patches that needed to be made. Instead, yesterday I got an email from my editor that basically said, "You nailed it, baby!" Five minor comments to address and that puppy is off to the copyeditor.

It's like I got a 'Get out of Jail Free' card. A whole week worth of work I won't have to do on the old book, so can spend on the new book instead. Hallelujah!

Of course, this also means the copyedits will land in my inbox right around the middle of December, so this will be me over Christmas break. *sigh*