Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Guest Post by Kristina O'Grady

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Once upon a time I lived on a ranch surrounded by wild things. Grasses such as blue gamma, june grass and needle and thread covered the sandhills of my youth. Whitetail and mule deer bounded into corpses of poplar trees and moose rose from the coolness of water toughs as we rode by on horseback. I miss the calls of the piping plover and long-billed curlew. Not to mention the frantic but beautiful dance of the prairie chicken.
I’ve been away too long but somehow, when I write about cowboys and the wildness of southwest Canada I come home, if only for a brief moment.
I write about the land I grew up on. And about the people I lived with. The characters I write about are fictional but there is some ‘realness’ in each one. A trait I remember from the home-town appeal they all hold. So even though these characters aren’t actual people, they are the friends I grew up with in a way. At least they feel like that to me.
I think I write cowboy romance because it is what I know. I grew up with the real thing, not some watered down version. I lived that life once, years ago and I can still hear the call of it rushing through my veins.
Sometimes I want to move back to the familiarity and leave the exotic location where I now live. But I think the memory of it all is sweeter than the reality and I fear it won’t be like it was.

When I was a kid I would write stories in a journal. I’d carry it around everywhere I went. In fact if I wasn’t reading, I was writing. It wasn’t until recently that I remembered this about myself. I was thinking about something totally unrelated when the image of my worn red journal popped into my mind.
The stories I scratched into it were little pieces of my soul. My darkest fears, my most dangerous dreams. Stories of war and death favoured heavily in my earliest scribbles. I’m not sure why. I suppose I was fascinated by it and probably wished to scare myself. Later came the romance. And the cowboys.
The first complete story I remember writing was about a cowboy and a cowgirl. I can’t remember what it was about, and honestly it probably wasn’t about anything, but I do remember pouring my heart into that story. I’ve always been better at putting my thoughts and feeling to paper than I am to spoken words. What I say is often misinterpreted. I lack an internal filter. At least with writing I can erase what I say the first time until I have the meaning down just right. I remember the euphoria of discovering I could relay my thoughts so clearly on paper when I would hesitate over my speech.
The same proves true today. Although those who know me will attest that I do love talking too. But I love writing more. If I could write full time, I would be happy. Well actually, I’m happy now, but the thought of getting to write all day fills me with joy. In reality though, I’d probably just waste more time on Facebook. ;)
I often dream of the office I would have in my ideal life. It would overlook the green hills on which we live and out towards the ocean. The walls would be covered in bookshelves and I’d have a comfy leather couch to laze on. And the desk. Ah, I dream of the desk.
When I was a teenager my great aunt died and her estate sent her furniture over from Denmark. In amongst all the boxes was a desk. It had a large surface and had intricate carving around the edges. It was the deepest brown. In a word, it was beautiful.
I want that desk.
It’s not mine, and it never will be. My brother was lucky enough to inherit it. But it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about it. I do wonder though, if it’s a normal dream to have. Most people dream of vacations and new cars. I dream of an office and an old desk.

Have you ever ridden a horse? Ever felt the wind rush past you as you flattened yourself against its neck as it ran full speed across the plains? With the smell of sagebrush and aspens thick in the air?
I recently discovered that a close friend of mine is afraid of horses, their big bodies terrify her. I suppose growing up on one has sheltered me from this reaction and although I find it foreign I can understand it. I’ve been away from horses for a few years now and when I do get the opportunity to get close to one, they do seem bigger than I remember. Taller and more muscled.
There was a time when I rode a horse every day. Twice. We as kids were sent out before the school bus arrived to check the cows during calving and again when we got home. No wonder I was in such good shape back then. No wonder I still don’t mind getting up before dawn as long as there is a reason. (My kids waking me up in the middle of the night doesn’t count) These days instead of getting on a horse at 5 in the morning, I get out my laptop and write about cowboys before my children get up. I live vicariously through my youth, remembering what it was like living on a ranch, surrounded horses and nature and most importantly, cowboys.
Of course now I sound like an old lady sitting on the porch in my rocking chair. I’m not. I suppose I’m missing home at times like these, when a new book comes out. Having people read about a fictional home that isn’t so far removed from my memories of growing up, makes me long to visit that place. Makes me long to climb back up on that horse and run like the wind across the field. I can almost hear the pounding of the hooves and feel the jarring of each step. I can taste the wind and yes, I miss home.

My sister and me with our horses Smokey and Emerson at home on the ranch.

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to fall in love? I ask myself this question all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I know what it’s like for me to fall in love, because I’ve already done it. But what about you? Or the person who sits next to you on the train or the one walking towards you on the street, or even your neighbour next door.
What is it like for them to fall in love? Is it all the same? Do we all feel the same way? The sweaty skin? The sick stomach? The racing heart? Does it happen slowly or is it fast?
Questions like these plague me every day. I want to know how you fall in love. I want to hear your stories. I want to feel what you feel.
It was fast for me.  A lightning strike. I fell before I had even been introduced to him. I didn’t even know his name. But I knew I belonged to him. I knew he belonged to me.
Alright, I admit that I sound a bit crazy. How could I know that? How can someone fall in love with someone else with never even having met them? Not possible many would say. It was only lust, would say others. But I was there. I can tell you it’s true. It wasn’t lust, although that was definitely part of it. And it is possible. It happened to me. And I haven’t even looked at another man since. Of course it could have had something to do with the fact that my man’s a cowboy and looks mighty fine in a black hat and a pair of wranglers. But it was more than that. It was like coming home. It was as though I already knew him. And maybe I did. Maybe there is something to be said about past lives. How else do you explain the connection?
I have always been fascinated by these questions, even before I fell in love myself. I think that’s why I write romance. I’m trying to figure it out. Why is someone’s reaction different to someone else’s? Why do some people fall out of love? Why are some people in love with each other for years and years? Every story I write is different because, like real people, my characters are different. Of course they all fall in love, it is romance after all. But how they fall in love is different and why they fall in love can vary just as greatly. As long as I can still feel the magic, I can imagine what they might feel like. And that, I know, is as close as I’ll ever get to knowing how other people feel as they fall in love.
My cowboy and me back when we were young and good looking.

Blurb: Is it time for a second chance at love?
When Lily left her home town – and the love of her life Wade – 8 years ago to start her acting career she had big plans to make her dream a reality. However, a few dead end jobs and one dead end relationship later she is back to make a fresh start with the only good thing to come out it all – her unborn baby.

Lily soon realises however that the heart wants what the heart wants, and hers clearly still wanted Wade Copeland! Can they overcome the hurt and pain of the past to allow themselves a future?

The third novel in the sizzlingly sexy Copeland Ranch romance trilogy from Kristina O'Grady

About Kristina O'Grady: Kristina O’Grady has always loved telling a good story. She took up writing at a young age and spent many hours – when she should have been doing her math homework – scribbling romance stories in a book she hid in her sock drawer. 
She grew up on a cattle ranch in Western Canada and loves reminiscing by writing about cowboys and their horses.
In 2000 Kristina met her own knight in shining armour/cowboy who swept her off her feet and across the world to New Zealand, where she now lives on a sheep and beef farm with her amazingly supportive husband, three gorgeous young kids, seven working dogs and one very needy cat.

All for You is her fifth book.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8119512.Kristina_O_Grady 


The giveaway is for £15/$20 Amazon Voucher.
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