Today I welcome the talented and wonderful Autumn Piper to the blog… Why don’t we start off with you telling us little about yourself?
I’m 93 (no, not really. Take off half a century or so. But I got your attention, right?), have two teenagers and three husbands (not really—one husband is enough!), two cats, a box turtle (really! And she’s actually an entertaining pet), a bajillion giant house plants (because oxygen is not overrated), and a yellow Jeep. I write under 2 pen names—all romance, some more racy than the others—freelance edit, publish some books with small presses, and indie publish others. Romance is the chief executive in my life, and comedy is the veep.
Whatever became of your very first book?
After I wrote it and started researching what it takes to get published, I learned it was about the length of 3 full novels. So I started whittling. As I rewrite and cut the really awful parts, it’s now down to about the length of 1 ½ novels. Which was still too long for most publishers. But…after I get through it once more, I might send it to my editor and then self-publish it.
What advice would you give to new authors?
A) Skipping is for kids. Whether you intend to self-publish, or get contracted somewhere, don’t try to skip critiquing (you learn as much from giving them as getting), beta readers, or editing.
B) Rushing is for water. The publishing business has evolved and everyone advises to get as much “product” out there for sale as fast as you can. But they have to be quality books. Readers can tell if a book is rushed out the door. Do a good job on your story, when it’s finished, give your brain a break from it, then go back and do your best edit on it. Get it in front of beta readers, critique partners, and at least one editor, if not two. (I know this is repetitive from what I said above). Do a nice job with it, give it your best effort. Don’t. Rush.
What is your favorite part?
My favorite scene was when Kiersten finally (finally!) met her nemesis, CJ Howell. The meeting wasn’t at all like I’d expected. Lol Or like what she’d expected. Neither was he. And I think Kiersten was different than he’d imagined, also.
Who was easier to write–Hero or Heroine? Why?
I had a blast writing Kiersten’s point of view. To steal a term from my daughter’s friend, she’s an “Attitudy Judy.” A bit prickly here and there, with good reason. But I enjoyed writing Cleve even more. He knows exactly what he wants, and acts accordingly, in such a manly fashion. He’s a true alpha gentleman. 🙂
Now for some fun questions…
What’s your favorite TV show or movie of all time?
It’s tough to narrow down to one. But probably the one I’ve watched most of all is “The Wedding Singer.” Lol I know it’s a goofy movie, but it has such a cute romance, and all the 80’s fashions and music really crack me up. Both of my teenagers quote lines from it all the time. (We also quote a LOT of “Napoleon Dynamite”)
If you could choose a period in history to be born in, what would it be and why?
I honestly can’t imagine being born any time other than when I was. The 80’s were a hilarious time to be a teenager. So I’ll stick with what I’ve got. Weird, right?
What was the most embarrassing thing your husband/boyfriend/partner/friend ever did to you in public?
I have to claim partial fault for this one: While we were engaged and after a long day of wedding planning stuff, my dude and I decided to have dinner at Wienerschnitzel (It’s okay to wonder why. I still do. Lol). We both went to the restroom at the same time (this was an old-style drive in, with tables outside, where the vehicles actually drive through part of the building, and the restrooms were around back.) The minute I went into the restroom, I knew something wasn’t right—someone had wasted an entire roll of toilet paper by soaking it in the sink. Women just don’t do that. But I did my thing and when I went out—exactly the same time as my man came out of the other restroom, we realized we’d both gone in the wrong rooms. Not only that, but a crowd of teenagers were standing out back, watching, and laughing. But whatever. Somebody had to be the biggest dork of the night, right?
What is the one place you have never visited but would love to?
I can’t narrow this down to one. My bucket list has a lot of travel destinations: Greece, Ireland, Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, Miami (been there, but only as a kid), Oregon, Yellowstone (crazy that I haven’t been there when I live in Colorado), Hawaii, Bora Bora…. The list goes on!
If you were stranded on a desert island and could choose any famous person (living or dead), who would you choose to be stranded with you and why?
How about MacGyver? He’d surely be able to build us a raft out of something on the island!
Cake or Chips
Steak or Veggie Burger
Chocolates or Roses
Boxers or Briefs or Nothing at all
And since I write both, I have to know which you prefer… Vampires or Cowboys
Cowboys. Although, maybe if I read a book where a cowboy was turned, I’d be more into vamps. Hm…
Lone Star Trouble
One tough rancher-girl plus one hot cowboy adds up to trouble.
Kiersten Day hates all things Texan – including and especially one CJ Howell. The cattle rancher gone real estate mogul has set his sights on her tiny Colorado ranch, trying every dirty trick in the book to make her sell. When his manager stoops to threatening her, Kiersten prepares for the fight of her life. Enter Cleve: tall, handsome good-guy, who she falls flat on her Texas-hating face for. The problem? Cleve is Howell’s son, and doesn’t believe his father is behind all the sinister things happening to her. How could he be the offspring of the monster she’s been battling?
Cleve never imagined love could be so complicated. Of all the girls he could fall for, it had to be one bent on hating men. Kiersten is the only person who’s ever stood up to his father’s Texan guerrilla business tactics—and won! She’s possibly pregnant, oblivious to her best friend mooning over her, determined to keep the family ranch despite increasing threats, and the prettiest little thing he’s laid eyes on. It just couldn’t be easy, could it?
Content warning: a hot cowboy, an overprotective grandpa, a meddling BFF with his own love-life troubles, a woman set to win the battle no matter the cost, and frequent use of cowboy four-letter “French” words.
This couldn’t be good. She never ran into other people up here. And after yesterday’s confrontation… Why hadn’t she strapped on her pistol before she left the cabin?
A sweaty buckskin gelding topped the hill, then halted.
Time for another confrontation.
The cowboy dismounted and made a thorough visual examination of her.
Freckles. The first thing he’d see would be her freckles, since she never bothered with makeup except for trips to town. Add to that her big messy ponytail, and she couldn’t believe the guy was taking a second look. And a third? Well, he wasn’t exactly looking at her face, now was he? Warm from her hike up the hill, she’d unzipped her jacket, exposing the only curves on her body—her breasts. The tall stranger all but ogled them.
Not in the least appreciative of his silent admiration, she tugged her jacket closed.
With a small cough, he cleared his throat. “Howdy, neighbor. I’m Cleve. You must be Miss Day.”
Another Texan, but clean shaven, with light skin, short dark hair and nearly black eyes. He wore a red flannel shirt with a blue t-shirt under, tucked cowboy-style into his Wranglers. Around his waist he sported a plain leather belt and everyday buckle, not a shiny gold-and-silver number like the guy she’d met yesterday. Brown boots, and the straw cowboy hat he’d removed when he introduced himself.
It was hard not to meet his wide, open smile with one of her own. Too hard, in fact. “Hi. Kiersten.” A tiny gold hoop hung from his left ear, odd on a cowboy, but nothing blame-worthy. And he was definitely fine to look at—if she’d been interested in looking at men anymore.
He took her hand in his and shook it with big, friendly strokes, settled his hat back atop his head and looked around. “Some view up here.”
She nodded. “See that peak over there, the darker one? It’s in Utah. My Grandpa said it’s about a hundred and fifty miles away.”
Cleve whistled behind her. “You walk up here?”
She grinned at how winded he was from riding horseback up the mountain. “I walked the fence line, checking for snow damage. I’ll be hanging it back up in the next few days.”
“What kinda fence is that?” The wire net lay flat and ran parallel to an army of steel posts marching straight as an arrow into the horizon.
Cattlemen marked the edge of their property with two or three simple strands of barbed wire, rather than the net fencing sheep ranchers used. “It’s a fence to keep my nuisance sheep in, and your fat cows out, since the law says I’m responsible for both.”
He rubbed his chin with the back of his fingers. “I meant, why’s it on the ground?”
“Seven feet of snow on a hillside tends to make a mess of a fence, come spring. Used to come up here and find this part of the fence crumpled up way down there.” She pointed at a stand of aspens about twenty feet down the hill. “Might find several steel posts bent over flat. One of the other old-timers came up with the idea of unhooking the wire from the posts in the fall. Keeps the snow from leaning on it for months on end, and the elk from getting tangled in it.”
“Pretty good idea, then.”
“You’ll find I’m not stupid, in spite of what your boss might think.”
“Ah…Boss?” He scratched the back of his hair, tipping the front of his hat a little.
“Yeah. Charles. The world’s last remaining male chauvinist pig. Boss Hogg, in a Cadillac truck instead of his trademark white convertible. Give him my regards.”
Her middle fingers raised in another rebellious salute.
His eyebrows lifted. “Doesn’t sound like he put his best foot forward.”
“Just let him know that next time, his foot better have a bullet-proof boot on, cause I’ll be comin out with my twelve-gauge. And let him know I thought over his offer.”
Cleve’s eyes lit. “And?”
“You’re probably shy about giving your boss the bird, even though it’s a message, so just tell him, ‘Not everybody can be bought, and there are a million five reasons why,’ okay?”
His eyes widened. “Ah. Wasn’t too persuasive, then?”
“Definitely not a people person, that Chaz. I thought his lawyers were bad. You must be his new, what, manager? Ranch foreman?”
Big fingers rubbed over his chin.“Somethin like that.”
Why was the guy so confused? Maybe the thin air starved his brain of oxygen. Seemed nice enough. Too bad he’d gotten hooked up with such a peckerwood. “Well, it’s been nice meeting you, Cleve. Good luck with Boss. Is there a Mrs. Hogg—I mean Howell?”
He grinned. “Not yet.”
“I’d say his chances keep getting thinner as his waist gets thicker, and women get more crazy ideas in their heads about equal opportunities, all that Women’s Lip nonsense.” The mere thought of Chaz’s asinine ideals had sent her hands to her hips again. Damn. “I need to get back and do something domestic around the house now.”
With a wave over her shoulder, she started back down the hill.
“Wait!” Cleve followed down the hill on his side of the fence. “You want some help when you put up this part-time fence?”
Work with the cattlemen? She’d be damned if she’d ever take help from Chaz, but Cleve seemed friendly. And cute. Shaking off cute, she shrugged. “Sure.”
“Wanta do it tomorrow? Same time?”
“I’ve, um, got a…date.” And why did she say that? Why should she want him to think she had a date? “How ’bout Sunday.”
“Sunday it is,” he answered with a smile.
Damn fine smile he had. George Strait fine.
As she walked away, she called back, “Don’t forget your gloves!”
Criminy. She stopped again.
“You startin at the top, or bottom?”
“Top. If we get to the bottom, I’ll feed you lunch.”
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Hey, Texas.” She leaned toward him, elbows on the table. “Let’s not go back to work today.” — Kiersten
Born and raised in itty-bitty Rifle, Colorado, Autumn Piper studiously avoided trouble…but is now inclined toward it, particularly in her novels. She thinks the best things in life are funny, and the runners-up, romantic.
An admitted carb addict, Autumn writes, edits, manages two teenagers, one husband and many supersize houseplants, and does the cooking and cleaning when forced to.