Fun with Research for Next Release

IMG_1099Saddle up for some Fun with Research on my Next Release!

If you’ve heard me talk about research in the past, you know I consider it a necessary evil for writing.

The problem started in high school. Yeah, I know, you don’t want to go there. Neither do I, but that’s where it started. Remember those dreaded research/term papers? You had to make outlines, notecards, quote
s, bibliographies, works cited pages and the list goes on. The two worst parts for me were the outlines (I still get nauseous thinking about outlining) and research for the notecards. I honestly didn’t mind reading the books for information, but having to make note cards to PROVE that I did was really annoying. It wasn’t so much I had to prove I did the research as the fact that I wasn’t going to use those cards to write the paper. Once I handed them in for the ‘pre-work’ grade, I doubt I looked at them again.

HOWEVER, over the past few years I’ve come to realize I can have fun with research. Hallelujah!

Nowadays my research is much more hands on. I wrote another post about this subject almost two years ago as a guest on Jessica Aspen’s Blog. I wanted to give you an update on my latest research experience – Guest Ranches.

My current WIP (work in progress) will be the first of the new Masters Men series, Master Security. It features Chance Dugan who was introduced in Her Master Match, and Marley Jasper, owner of the Jasper Ranch. (If you need to brush up on the Masters Men, feel free to click here for information on the first Masters Men Series.) I figured if I was going to feature a guest ranch in my book, I should probably know what running one entailed. Cue research.

Okay, so I had to do a little, very little, searching on Google to get started. It didn’t take many keystrokes to find a place to contact. I sent an email to the General Manager of C Lazy U Ranch. It wasn’t long before he responded and we arranged for a call. I sent him some questions ahead of time. His answers weMain Lodge at C Lazy U Ranchre very helpful, but he suggested I really needed to see things for myself and invited me to visit. My niece went with me so when I ran out of questions or forgot to take pictures she could pick up the slack.

So, we went to the ranch and it was amazing. The C Lazy U is a premier guest ranch in the U.S. located in Granby, Colorado. Our cabin was unbelievably comfortable and had fireplaces in both rooms. We went ho
rseback riding and snowshoeing. We joined others in the community area of the main building for lunch, dinner, and breakfast. All the meals were good, but the dinner was definitely outstanding. All of the employees were friendly and welcoming. There must be a requirement that the cowboys are good looking, because they would all look great on a book cover. Also, the female wrangler (that’s her in the picture at the top of the post) who led our trail ride grew up on a dairy farm. If you remember ChancRiding at the C Lazy U Ranche from his cameo appearance in Her Master Match, he grew up on a dairy farm, too. So, now I have a contact to find out more about how a small dairy farm works. Bonus!

The only issue was the C Lazy U is so much more than my heroine could handle as a family guest ranch. It turned out, that wasn’t a problem either, because David Craig, C Lazy U’s General Manager, also arranged for us to visit a nearby family-owned and run guest ranch, the Drowsy Water Ranch. C Lazy U is huge and open year round while Drowsy Water is open from June through mid-September. That is much more likely what my heroine would be able to deal with as a family-owned guest ranch. Even though Drowsy Water wasn’t open right now, Justin Fosha, one of the owners gave us a tour through the knee high snow as well as giving us a better feel of what a family-owned and run guest ranch would entail.

So, if you want to see what all this FUN RESEARCH results in late this spring, you’ll keep an eye out for the first installment of the Master Security series. While I don’t have a final title yet, the working title is WRANGLING DUGAN. If you’d like a little teaser, keep reading. If you like that title, or have a suggestion for a different one, leave a comment.

Chance waited in silence for Marley to continue.

“Early this morning someone broke into the main house.”

The pencil he’d been tapping snapped in two. He stared at her. “The main house as in the one you and your parents live in?”

She shrugged. “It’s just me. My parents moved to Arizona when dad sold the ranch to me. I guess Colorado wasn’t dry enough for them.”

Chance ignored her attempt to break the sudden tension. “They actually got inside? Your security system didn’t go off?”

“Oh, it went off. As soon as they stepped one foot in the kitchen, I pulled the trigger on my father’s old shotgun.”

“You shot them?” He knew his eyes were wide as saucers, but he hadn’t expected that.

“Maybe, I’m not sure if any of the buckshot hit him or not. I aimed at the door’s frame. It’s a ranch. Shotguns are the security system.”

He rubbed his temple again while he tried to come to terms with the image of her facing off with a would-be attacker in her kitchen with a shotgun.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to check out Sandra’s most recent release, A Chance Event – A Chain of Love novella.

Merry Christmas!

SMJ’s Last Christmas Countdown Entry

Merry Christmas everyone!

Well, it’s Christmas Eve and I wanted to post this since I’ll be busy with family tomorrow as I’m sure you all will be!

It’s not exactly a silent night, but imagine us singing it to you.

 

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Until next year this is SMJ & Sandra saying have a blessed Christmas and a

joyous New Year!

 

Christmas Countdown Post by SMJ

Christmas Countdown, Behind, But Still Trying!

I know, I’m lagging behind again. Sandra’s been writing like crazy and won’t let me near the keyboard! She also isn’t done with her holiday baking or shopping. That’s the only reason I don’t feel TOO bad. Actually, she just pulled four mini loaves of Cranberry Orange bread from the oven. I might have to see if I can sneak a piece after I finish this. With my luck, Lil Sock will beat me to it, though. That kid has a terrible sweet tooth. It doesn’t hurt that he lives with Sandra, too. Sock Mittens & Shovel

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a peek at the outside here. We got a little more snow last night. Here’s a pic of my buddies, the Mitten Sock twins. They just finished helping Sandra shovel the driveway and sidewalk. They don’t get out much except in winter. Sandra loves how they keep her hands toasty warm in the winter though. They’re her favorites on cold days that she has to go outside.

HeBirdhouse & sidewalkre’s a shot of the sidewalk and step to the front door. I think they did a pretty good job, how about you?

They worked extra hard because they wanted it to be safe for the mailman/woman, or any other folks who might be delivering packages. Those folks all work so hard. They shouldn’t have to trudge through snowy and slippery sidewalks. Sock Munkees salute all the U. S. Postal Service men and women for the extra hours and friendly greetings they share during this super busy time. Hats off to UPS, FedEx, and all the other delivery service personnel who try so hard to get everyone’s packages to them before Christmas. I added some links to these folks so you can check holiday dates and deliveries.

For now, Sandra’s clammering to get back to work. She’s almost done with the Valentine’s Day novella. Yeah! Anyway, here are a couple of more pictures of our snowy day here in Colorado. It’s not so much cloudy today (though it looks like it) as still foggy. If you don’t have any snow, you can use these pics to make it feel more like Christmastime for you.

Catch ya later!   SMJ

Hidden moutains

This is to let you see how the mountains have disappeared in the fog. Sorry about the screen being in there, but it didn’t really matter. The Rocky Mountains can’t be found. LOLSMJ

backyard snow

The view from our backyard toward the big field out back. This one is to show you how foggy it is. Those tracks in the snow are from Rudy playing.

front porch shot

Here’s our front patio. Since we don’t use it in the winter, we don’t shovel it. The foot prints are from fixing the fireplace vent. 🙂

 

 

 

An SMJ Christmas Countdown Moment

Giving Hope at Christmas!

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Good morning from the little village and lowly manger at Sandra’s house. I love this display Sandra puts up every year. I asked her for a picture and she sent me this one taken first thing in the morning with the lights on. Isn’t it awesome and peaceful at the same time? It helped remind me of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place (it’s Jesus’ birthday!) after my crazy shopping frenzy the other day, so I wanted to share it with you. I hope you don’t get too carried away with all the parties, shopping, and craziness of the holiday season like I did. Remember to take some time and think about the event that started it all.Sock sharing w Salvation Army

After you do, maybe you’ll feel like giving someone else hope this Christmas. I have a great and easy way to do that. Drop some change or bills in the Salvation Army bucket. I met the man in the background and a lady who was too shy to be in the picture, ringing bells for the Salvation Army the other day. They were so friendly and happy. They were giving of their time to ring the bells and said Merry Christmas to pretty much everyone who walked by. You didn’t even have to put money in to get a smile from them, but it always got a little bigger when someone did.

The Red Kettle fund drive began in 1891, by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee in San Francisco. He wanted to give the large numbers of poor a Christmas dinner but needed a way to fund it. A memory from his sailor days in Liverpool England gave him the idea. The story of how he started the Red Kettle campaign is really interesting. I think you will enjoy reading more about it. Just follow the link to learn more. Here’s an interesting piece of trivia. This is the 125th year for the Red Kettle Campaign. It was kicked off at the Dallas Cowboys vs Carolina Panthers game on Thanksgiving Day.

I had a lot of fun hanging out with the bell ringers that day. I hope they raised a lot of money to help others in need. IS the season of giving. How have you given hope or volunteered this season?

Catcha later!

SMJ

SMJ’s Christmas Countdown is Back!

Another edition of SMJ’s Christmas Countdown!

TodaIMG_0946y has been a busy day. I got up early, had a breakfast of hot cocoa and peanut butter graham crackers so I would have plenty of energy. See, it’s getting late in the season and I haven’t finished shopping for my family and friends. By doing it today, I think I’ll get in just under the deadline to receive it before Christmas. If I’m lucky, and being a sock monkey I usually am, I might get it a few days early so I’ll have time to wrap them up. And, yes, I know that’s another one of Sandra’s favorite mugs, but she let me borrow it since it’s been so cold outside I wanted to be reminded of warm weather. She said I could use her Ron Jon mug from Cocoa Beach, Florida. I think it added to my energy thinking of all that warm air and sunshine.

So, after that scrumptious breakfast, I ran downstairs and hopped on the computer. You have to get uSock online shoppingp early to get on before anyone else. Here I am typing in my order on one of several websites I visited. I have a long list of gifts so I need to visit a lot of different online stores. If I can’t find everything online, I’ll have to sweet talk Casey into taking me out. Don’t worry, she will. She loves hanging out with me.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to type on a keyboard when your fingers are as stubby as mine? Well, let me tell you, it’s not easy. I had to back space and correct a bunch of times before I got the item number entered correctly. I had a feeling this was going to take a while and I was right. By the time I finished it was time for lunch.

In need of some fresh air, I called up a friend and we met for lunch at McDonalds. I think he supersized his meal. He SM lunch on way to COis a pretty good sized monkey. Quite a bit bigger than me. I’m more of a Happy Meal kinda guy. Besides, you get cool toys to play with while you wait for everyone else to finish eating.

When we were finished with lunch, my friend dropped me back at my house because I needed to finish shoppinSock at the computerg.

As you can see, I’m hard back at it. With these fingers I’m not sure I’ll ever get finished. I guess I should focus on one thing at a time, so I can finish. I’ll sign off for now.

Oh, one last thing. Are you done with your Christmas shopping? If so, leave me a comment letting me know how you did it so I can do it that way next year.

Catch ya later, alligator!

SMJ

SMJ’s Christmas Countdown Continues

Apologies, Apologies for missing so many days of the Christmas Countdown!

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I really have to apologize. There is no excuse for my lack of posting the past few days except…no, there’s no excuse. Can I make it up to you by giving you some M&M’s? I don’t mind sharing even though M&M Peanuts are my favorite.

You’re probably thinking, what’s he doing with M&M Peanuts. Didn’t he just recently make chocolate chip cookies?

I know, but I needed a change from cookies. Besides, I know I’ll be making more cookies over at Sandra’s someday soon. She likes to bake up a bunch of different kinds of cookies. I can’t wait to find out what we’ll make this year. One cookie she makes that I really like looks like a candy cane. They’re fun to make and eat. If she makes them, I’ll try to remember to post a picture. I’ll also see if she’ll share the recipe with you, though I can’t promise. You know how people can be about ‘secret’ recipes.

So, while there are other things to tell you about, I thought I would show you what I was doing yesterday when I should have been posting. See, it was a SNOW DAY for most of the schools in the area. You know what that means, right? We hChristmasTreead a bunch of snow! I mean a bunch! Oh, first, let me show you how snowy and cold it was with a picture Sandra sent me. I know, I know, it’s another Christmas tree picture, but look out the window behind the tree. That’s not just snow on the window, that’s how hard it was snowing outside. The little dog at the bottom of the picture is Rudy, Sandra’s dog. Here’s a fun piece of trivia. Rudy is a rescue from Japan. Yep, you read that right, Japan. Before you ask, no, he doesn’t bark in Japanese, silly.

As you can see from that picture it was pretty crazy weather. We had to wait until the afternoon to go outside and play because it was too windy. When it stopped snowing and the wind eased up a little bit, some of my Sock
Munkee family here at Mom’s house and I went outside to play in the snow.

IMG_20151215_052233Yes, yes, that is a reindeer Sock Munkee, but it isn’t the one from the last post. I’m still hoping Mom might bring him home for Christmas. Although, as long as he finds a good home, I’ll be happy and I know Santa will make sure he does.

This is only part of the crew. They pushed past the rest of us and ran out the door. Then they all jumped in the snow and started singing. Silly, silly, monkeys.IMG_20151215_052159

Over to the right, you can see a couple more of the family. See the one with the orange sweatshirt? He never takes that thing off. He’s such a Syracuse fan. He watches or listens to all the games. When they don’t win or at least play well, he is not fun to be around. He pouts and grumbles for hours. Now that I think about it, he acts kind of like Sandra does when her Yankees don’t do well. Sheesh, sports fans are a little crazy.

FIMG_20151215_052447or now, here’s one more picture of all of them after we came in from playing.
I’m not in the picture, because I took it . I’m getting to be pretty good with the camera. Don’t you think so? It’s a pretty good family pic, but there’s still more family. I’ll have to remember to get Mom or Casey to take one of all of us for Christmas so you can see everyone.

I promise to try and do more catching up tomorrow. What did you do on your last snow day?

Later!

SMJ