Before we get into the specifics of the story, let’s have fun with an author interview of Barbara White Daille.
What drew you to being a writer?
When I was little, I often saw my mom sitting at night with a book in her hands. Even before she explained what was between the covers, I was curious about these things that seemed to fascinate her. Once I learned about the stories and fairytales, I was hooked. We spent plenty of time in our local branch library, where she checked out books to read to me until I learned to read on my own. I started “writing” when I was about four, too young even to know most of the alphabet yet.
What drew me to being a writer? First, the opportunity to share the stories running through my head. And then, the desire to honor all the authors whose books I loved by (hopefully!) giving other readers as much pleasure as those authors gave to me.
Do you have a muse?
I do. And she’s female, finicky, and fickle. 😉 There are times she refuses to work, and at first that used to upset me. But I’ve learned she’s got her reasons—which include keeping me from moving too far down the wrong road or forcing me to look back to see why I headed in the wrong direction in the first place.
The finicky part of her nature means she won’t give up until I’ve gotten things right.
How do you come up with a story line?
My stories sometimes start with something small—a character, a line of dialogue, a setting or situation that flashes into my mind. For another of my Christmas books, Court Me, Cowboy, I saw a man standing alone, tossing a wedding ring up in the air and catching it over and over again. That one image sparked enough for me to write the entire book.
Other times, I may come up with a character or plot already fairly complex, so the progression of the story line is more complicated. For example, the first Hitching Post Hotel story, The Cowboy’s Little Surprise, included introducing matchmaker Grandpa Jed and his scheme, weaving in his three granddaughters, and showing the challenge he issues to them to help revitalize the Hitching Post as a honeymoon hotel.
Since readers frequently ask, I’d just like to add that the books in this series—and all my books—are standalone stories. They might have recurring characters and overlapping plot threads (such as Jed and the hotel renovations), but the main story in each book is wrapped up by its final page, by which time each hero and heroine always find their happy ever after.
Are you an outliner, a write by the seat of your pants author, or a combination?
A combination. I call myself a hybrid writer, a plotster—half plotter/outliner and half seat-of-the-pantser. This has changed over the years as I now submit outlines to my editor as opposed to complete manuscripts. But even with my full outlines, I still leave room for my imagination (and my muse!) to come up with some surprises.
What are you currently working on for your next book?
I’m thrilled to say I’m under contract for three more books in the Hitching Post Hotel series. Currently, I’m working on the first of the three, a story about a heroine who has been divorced not once but twice before.
As the book opens, she’s the single mom of a toddler and a newborn and is down with a serious case of the flu. She hasn’t seen her first ex-husband since he walked out on her and left town years ago, and the last thing she needs is for him to come knocking at her door again. But that’s exactly what happens.
What was your most challenging book that you’ve written?
I would say Rancher at Risk, one of my Flagman’s Folly books. The heroine, Lianne, is deaf, and I wanted very much to portray her as a woman like any of my other heroines—which means, like any other woman.
At the same time, I wanted to show the struggles a deaf woman can have in a hearing world. The challenge was in finding the right balance, being true to Lianne’s character, and letting go when she frequently insisted on taking the lead.
How did you come up with your title for your new release?
Since my readers love cowboys and ranchers and sheriffs, I wanted to show this was a story about a law-enforcement hero from a ranching community. My editors scheduled the book for a December release, so of course a holiday is important to the story. And my heroine—a widowed single mom—is fighting to prove she can stand on her own two feet…which means I needed to make that impossible for her.
Being forced into a fake engagement with the boy she once left behind leads to complications with her matchmaking grandpa, who is determined see this fake engagement become real.
And there you have it: The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal.
What was your favorite scene in this book?
What a tough question! There were so many faves. I’ll pick the scene where circumstances push Mitch and Andi into leaving town and sharing a hotel room for the weekend.
Their first-night dread…or the anticipation?…is prolonged while they have to kill time waiting to check in. As the book shows this much better than I can tell it, I’ve included part of this scene in the excerpt below.
What was the hardest scene to write in the book?
The scene where Mitch faces losing everything: his self-respect, the only job he’s ever wanted, and the girl who once left him and now refuses to love him again.
What in particular made you write this book?
The hero and heroine.
Mitch, due to the conflicts he’s facing. And Andi, because, of Jed’s three granddaughters, she’s the one with the most traumatic history and the biggest emotional hurdle to overcome.
Do you have a favorite character and why?
I can never answer this question, because it’s like a mother having to choose one child over another. 😉 And I would just go on and on trying to decide among my heroes and heroines and all their respective kids and most of their nosy neighbors.
Instead, for the Hitching Post Hotel series, I’ll choose Jed Garland as one of my favorite characters. Behind all his meddling and scheming, Jed is simply a loving grandfather who wants to see all three of his granddaughters happily married and settled down—and giving him more great-grandkids.
BLURB – The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal
A husband for Christmas?
Mitch Weston’s back in Cowboy Creek, and self-proclaimed matchmaker Jed Garland has his single granddaughter Andi on his mind. Mitch is a lawman, good with the little ones and easy on the eyes. He and Andi were high school sweethearts, for heaven’s sake! Why can’t they see they’re perfect for each other?
Because Andi already lost one husband to a dangerous job, and now she’s all about playing it safe, for her sake and her children’s. Being a cop is everything to Mitch. After discovering Jed’s plan, Mitch and Andi come up with their own: they’ll pretend to get engaged and then break up due to irreconcilable differences. Jed’s got his work cut out for him—because this match needs a Christmas miracle!
EXCERPT – The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal
“You’re not too hard to please, are you?” Mitch asked.
“I think I am. I have very high standards.”
“Oh, yeah?” That let him out. She fingered through the napkin rings, trying to find ones she could accept. Smiling, he shook his head. “You know, you really ought to stick around the Hitching Post. Jed could use your expertise.”
“He’s got Jane and Tina. He doesn’t need me.”
I need you.
He rubbed his chin and swallowed hard. The dryness of his throat made him wish they had stopped in for one of those cold drinks he’d wanted.
She turned back to the napkin rings, and he went back to watching her.
But like a fool, he had promised her no strings attached to this engagement. And so he’d sworn to himself he wouldn’t touch her. That he would sleep on the couch or on the floor or in the bathtub if he had to, but he wouldn’t go near her—provided she even stayed in the room.
All those promises had seemed like good ideas…at the time.
“Looks like you’re going to be here a while,” he said. “I’ll probably cramp your style while you’re chewing down the prices.”
She laughed again, and his heart thumped in response.
He had to think for a moment to recall what he’d planned to say. “I’m going to take a walk.”
“Okay. If I’m done first I’ll wait outside for you.”
“I won’t be long.” Just long enough to cool down some. Outside, it was still a balmy December in New Mexico, but the temperature couldn’t come close to his own body heat right now.
He couldn’t resist reaching up to touch her hair, to skim his fingers down her cheek and brush his thumb near the corner of her mouth, still curved from her smile.
He didn’t bother to fight the urge to kiss her.
Barbara White Daille lives with her husband in the sunny Southwest. Though they love the warm winters and the lizards in their front yard, they haven’t gotten used to the scorpions in the bathroom.
Barbara’s new series, The Hitching Post Hotel, features a matchmaking grandpa determined to see his three granddaughters wed. The series debuted in April 2015 with The Cowboy’s Little Surprise and continues with A Rancher of Her Own (July) and The Lawman’s Christmas Proposal (December). Watch for more Hitching Post Hotel books beginning in 2016.