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.

SMJ’s Christmas Countdown Day 7

Decorating the Christmas tree. Yippee!

Sorry, everyone but I have to interrupt the tree decorating post for a special announcement.

I met SANTA CLAUSE!

Sock and Santa at Christmas Party

Remember I told you about Henderson Management donating a bunch of goodies for our Christmas packages? Well, they also host a Christmas party for children of their tenants every year and I attended. My mom works for them. Anyway, she asked if I could get my picture taken with Santa and they said yes! I was SOOOO happy.

Okay, SMJ and Christmas Lightsback to decorating the Christmas tree.

Like everyone else, I started with the lights. Obviously, that didn’t go so well. I was trying to untangle them when someone plugged them in. It startled me and I ended up in the middle of the tangled string of lights. It took quite a while for mom to get me untangled. By the time they freed me and we got the lights on the tree, I needed a break. So, mom fixed me some hot cocoa.Sock with Hot Cocoa in Sandra's favorite mug.

Mom’s the best. She even gave me extra marshmallows! Can you read the mug? We borrowed it from Sandra. It’s her favorite mug. My mom gave it to her as a gift one year because Sandra always says her characters talk to her until she writes their stories down. I like to use it once in a while in the hopes that characters will start talking to me and I can become a writer like Sandra.

Okay, if you haIMG_20151116_093513ve been following the countdown, you know I really decorated my tree earlier. You remember the picture with me hanging the shoes from the Mastering the Brides book on the tree? No? Here’s a picture of me with the shoes and other ornaments I wanted to put on the tree. It took some time to talk mom into puttiIMG_20151116_094218ng shoes on the tree, but I pleaded my case (and maybe whined just a little) and she gave in.

Of course, she wasn’t thrilled when I climbed up the tree to hang them. She told me I was supposed to use a step stool or some such thing. Personally, I thought climbing was fine, but then, I AM a monkey. 🙂

Next post I’ll show you some of the Christmas treats I made.

So, do you have characters talking inside your head? Or, have you silenced them by writing their stories? Any Christmas stories?

Until next time, this is SMJ signing off.

Day 3 of Christmas Fun with SMJ!

Ready for more of SMJ’s Christmas Countdown?

Christmas Lights and a Sock MonkeyWe’re ready to do some work with the lights. Yes!

As you can see here, Lil Sock really likes bright shiny things. It took a while to dig him out of that bowl of bulbs. Do you remember the episode of The Big Bang Theory with Sheldon in the ball pit? You know, the one titled, The Einstein Approximation. Leonard tried to talk Sheldon into getting out of the pit so the security man could lock up, but Sheldon kept diving under the balls. then Leonard had to dive in and try to find him. Bazinga! That was me with Lil Sock in this big bowl of bulbs. This little guy is fast! I did finally get him out, but it was a chore.

Christmas cocoa mugs and 2 Sock Monkeys

Of course, afterward he wanted a treat because he was hungry, thirsty, and tired from playing. he ran over to the tray Sandra had set up with mugs. He thought the Sock Monkey figure holding a picture frame would help him argue his case. I guess he doesn’t quite have a grasp on real and play figurines. I know what you’re thinking. We’re monkeys made out of socks, we’re not real. Don’t get me started. Have you had the adventures I’ve had? Just check out my uncle Sock’s journey and my adventures ever since. Then we’ll see who’s real and who’s pretend.

Sock in Christmas Tree with the Browns Santa

Back to hanging lights. I gave up on the battle with my cousin and Sandra made us some hot cocoa. After we finished, I thought he would get back to work. No such luck. He ran to the tree and climbed up to the branch where the Brown’s Santa (that’s Sandra’s hubby’s favorite ornament) is lounging in a chair. I know, I know. Santa is supposed to be getting things ready for his big night of special deliveries. Calm down. It’s okay. He just took a few days to soak up some vitamin D and rest. He said the elves at the North Pole have been running him ragged.

You’re probably thinking, that’s not Santa. Santa is bigger and he always wears red. Take a minute and think about it. He’s trying to get some rest. If he went on vacation as he normally looks, kids would be lining up to talk to him everywhere he went. He wouldn’t get any rest. So, he used some of his magic Christmas snow from the North Pole and temporarily shrank himself and his beach attire. I promise, he’ll be back to regular size come Christmas Eve. Unlike Lil Sock, Santa takes his job VERY seriously.Lil Sock with a Christmas Sock Monkey

I guess Sandra finally put her foot down, because the next thing I saw was Lil Sock zinging around the tree moving the lights and hanging all his favorite ornaments. Of course, one of his Christmas Sock Monkeys visited with him. That’s Orna Sock Monkey with him in the picture. Some of his other ornaments are in the picture, too. Up at the top you’ll see a stick horse. Sandra’s mother-in-law made that a long time ago. Lil Sock really likes to ride it around the house during the holidays. He’s always tripping someone up when he does. Then there’s the little teddy bear ornament behind him. He likeIMG_20151116_094938s to use that one as a pillow for naps after all the hard work of decorating.

I did finally manage to get a couple of things done at my house. This first picture is black and white because I thought it made the cat’s eyes look like Christmas lights. I can’t remember which cat it was as we have four running around and two of them look almost identical. This is one of the twins as I call them. IMG_20151116_094218

This second pic gives you a better view of my tree. Isn’t it pretty? This is me hanging the first ornaments. You have to look close to see what they are. Yep, you guessed it, they’re shoes. These shoes are part of the cover for Sandra’s next release, Mastering the Brides.

As you can see we were quite busy yesterday. Lil Sock was busy being silly and I was busy running around after him trying to get him to help with the decorating. These crazy kids can wear a monkey out. Then again, they make all the holiday preparations that much more fun. I mean, who can’t laugh when they see a sock monkey next to Santa in a Brown’s shirt on a lounge chair. Am I right?

A little later today I’ll post our adventure of decorating Sandra’s office. This should be a blast.
So, what’s YOUR favorite Christmas ornament? Is there a story behind it? Tell me. I love Christmas stories.

Oh, and if you hurry, you can be the first one to pre-order the new Masters Men series novella, Mastering the Brides. It comes out the day after Christmas! Hurry, it’s available for pre-order on Smashwords right now. I’ll try and see if I can get more links later.

SMJ

 

Nanny Nikki & 5 Nanny Websites

When I decided to make one of my characters a nanny, I needed to do a little research. I wanted to share some of my thoughts about Nikki as well as some of the research with you. There’s more involved in being a nanny than just loving kids so I’ve also put links with the pictures to give you some more options about childcare. Let’s take a look.

NannyThis image is one that played through my mind often as I was writing about Nikki Bradford and Carson in Her Master Match. I know, I know. You’re saying but Nikki had brown hair and Carson’s was super blond. Well, I say, I’m glad you paid so much attention to detail while reading, but the physical attributes aren’t what I’m talking about here. I’m thinking more of how Carson adored her and loved when she would play with him. This image has the woman enjoying her time with the child. It doesn’t look like just a job. I imagine being a nanny is more like a calling.

Having raised two sons of my own, and babysat for many children growing up, I can tell you it isn’t a picnic. Granted, I Tired Nannywouldn’t change it for the world, but then, the sons were mine. Being wrapped up in loving and caring for them was an amazing blessing. Focusing such intense love and care on someone else’s children all the time, I’m not sure it would work for me. Let’s face it. In this day and age, there are so many small things a person can do that can be misinterpreted with their own children; it would be scary raising kids of your own. Throw the fact that they aren’t your own into the mix, and it gets even more difficult.

Oh, I’m sure there are people out there who ARE nannies but shouldn’t be. I’m also certain there are people out there who would be wonderful nannies but are afraid to do so. Why?

  • Possible accusations of abuse
  • Possible abuse by the family
  • Lagirl w booboock of knowledge in emergencies
  • First aid for injuries to children while playing
  • Broken heart syndrome when they have to leave (yeah, I made that one up, but it would probably be #1 on my personal list).

 

I’m sure there are many more bullets we could add to this list. These were just some that popped into my mind when I was writing the sRedCrossBabysittory. Nikki overcame most of these through practice and education. I know I don’t go into detail in the story, but I did have her work in a daycare facility while she was in boarding school with Gina. Knowing what a caring individual she is I imagined she had also taken classes (as my oldest took the Red Cross Babysitting Classes) and more. Thinking about that made me realize that some of my readers might be interested in more information about Nikki’s chosen career field. Therefore, without further ado, here are five sites I found with various information on nannies.

 5 Websites about Nannies

  •  How to Become a Nanny: Career Guide:
    • “Research the requirements to become a nanny. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in as a nanny.”
  •  Nanny Training Courses & Certifications:
    • “Why do you need nanny training? The 2013 Nanny of the Year, Joanne Barrow, says that the courses she took “immediately doubled my salary and opened up a lot of doors.”  Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro, there’s always more to learn about being a nanny. Luckily, there are lots of certifications, courses and education programs out there to help. While there is no formal training required for nannies to actually become nannies, these specialized classes will turn you into a more professional and knowledgeable caregiver.”
  •  America’s Nannies:
    • “Since 1984, Amerca’s Nannies has been using a unique and careful screening process for both nanny and family to ensure a perfect fit.”
  •  Nanny Institute:
    • “Our database contains a nationwide registry of the best rated nanny agencies in the country and includes all major and small local agencies as well as independent nannies.”
  •  Nanny Agencies in Colorado:
    • Reviews of nannies and nanny agencies in CO from the Nanny Institute.
  •  Be a Nanny Overseas:
    • “Global Aupair & Nanny is a specialized division of The Global Work & Travel Co. working together with various international aupair & nanny agencies to offer you the opportunity to get out there and see the world!”

I hope these sites have given you a new insight into the world of being a nanny. I think broken heart syndrome would be my biggest worry if this were my career. What about you? Do you think you’re up to the ‘nanny challenge’?

 

 

1st Chat with the Masters Men

We’re starting our visit with the Masters men during the celebration week of our country’s independence. So, what better way to kick it off than to chat with a member of the Armed Forces, Major Dos Masters.

I’m pleased to introduce our guest this week, Major Dos Masters from Her Master Defender.

Thank you, Sandra.

Hello everyone. SDos Mastersince I’m not sure if everyone has read my story, Her Master Defender yet, I’ll give you a little background on myself. After a mission to take down a drug lord went horribly wrong, I placed on medical leave and sent home to recover. However, I found little time for relaxation and recovery, when someone tried to break into my neighbor’s business and later her home. I scared them off before they got inside her house, but couldn’t leave her there without protection. The only choice was to bring her and her mammoth dog to my cabin for the night. I thought combat in the desert, and fighting drug lords was hard. Those had nothing on the week that followed my meeting Copper Kerrigan. As we tried to figure out who was targeting her, I found myself fighting more than bad guys.

I’ll be visiting until July 7th and then you’ll meet my brother Tres. I look forward to your questions; however, don’t be surprised if my answers are short, after all, I’m the triplet who prefers to keep to himself. I don’t seek out the limelight so this will be a challenge for me.

You can post your questions or comments on Twitter (#MastersMen @SandraSKerns), or here in the comments section below. I know I said the answers might be short, but to be honest, I’m starting to get a little anxious to see if anyone will ask anything.