Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? by Andrea Downing #western #TWRP #romance

The author is sponsoring an ebook giveaway of Dearest Darling, so please comment to enter. The winner will be chosen at random from comments.

The most common question I get asked as an author is, where do you get your ideas?   Sometimes I feel like saying, I wish I knew!  Characters creep into my subconscious and take over, then tell me their story like a movie running in my head.  Usually, several different things come together at once and the story takes shape.  This is certainly what happened with my latest western historical romance, Dearest Darling.

Sometime ago, I was re-visiting Grand Teton National Park and came upon the Cunningham Cabin.  It's in an area of the park most would consider desolate, an isolated spot looking out onto the Tetons across the high plains.  It struck me then that it would be a great place to set a story—a couple had lived there, braving the winters and raising cattle, even having a shoot-out on the property they owned.  But it was the isolation, the loneliness that struck me most of all.  At about the same time, my daughter's long-time boyfriend asked to be put into one of my books.  Since he is Colombian, his name wasn't quite right for a 19th Century cowboy, so I adjusted it slightly to be Daniel Saunders instead of Daniel Saffon.  So then I had one 'lonely' cowboy living out by Kelly, Wyoming, at the base of the Tetons.  Next, The Wild Rose Press put out a call for its Love Letters series, and the first thing that popped into my mind was, what if the love letter goes to the wrong person?  And then, how does one address a love letter?  Surely it must be Dearest Darling?  But what if the heroine's name actually was Darling?  And so my heroine, Emily Darling was born.

Authors are very observant people.  We put whole remembered telephone conversations into our books, people we've watched in airports or restaurants, memories of events that transpired long ago.  But a line from a song can also set off a story—country and western songs are particularly good for this since they always tell a little story themselves.  At the last Wild Rose Press Retreat, we were given single lines and several minutes to write something following on from that line.  I remember one prompt was the single word, "thunk."  You'd be amazed how many different stories came out of that one word; as for me, I immediately envisaged a stagecoach driver throwing down baggage from the top of the coach, "Thunk!"  Authors often talk about 'writer's block' and I've certainly grappled with it off and on.  But these sorts of prompts can get the creative juices flowing.  Writer's Digest has a number of prompts on line at and sells several books with prompts as well. 

My best advice when you face that blank white page is to relax, take a look out the window, breathe deeply, and let the muse strike.  You'll be amazed at what comes into your mind that can go straight into a story.

Author:  Andrea Downing
Genre:  western historical romance
Publisher:  The Wild Rose Press

Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.

He strode back out of the barn to the house. A yellow glow shone through the back window, an inviting warmth, and he edged closer with care. The net curtain hardly gave Emily the requisite privacy for a bedtime routine. She sat on the edge of the bed, back to him, in her nightshift, brushing her hair.
He stood enthralled, transfixed as the brush came down the length of her hair, that wheat-straw hair, plowing lines through it as the brush made its way, and then rose to the top once more to start its path again. It was like silk, waves of silk or satin, and he could only imagine what it might be like to touch it so, to feel lengths of it, have it slip through his fingers, have it fall over his face if she lay above him.
His manhood hardened at these visions, a yearning in his groin. The desire for her ran through his blood as he remained still, observed the way her hand held the brush, her thumb running the length of the handle, her fingers gripping, moving the brush through her hair, the fine strands like filaments caught in the lamplight. And when she stopped, tossed her head faintly, the very slight motion stirred the curtain of hair as one, over her shoulder. He gasped, had to catch his breath.

Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born,  instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and comes out Oct. 8th and Dances of the Heart, another full length novel, comes out in the next few months.

Links to Social Media
Twitter:  @andidowning

Buy Links:

"Dearest Darling is a well-plotted, excellently written story in which author Andrea Downing word paints Jackson Hole, Wyoming in such a way that one feels, sees and experiences the vastness of the prairie between mountain ranges. …Several surprise twists keep the pages flying. Clever plotting, nice ebb and flow of dialogue, action, and tension. Not a word is wasted.

Throughout Dearest Darling I cheered for Emily and Daniel, hoped they’d find resolution. Andrea Downing has outdone herself with this clever tale of crossed stars. Loved it, highly recommend it."  Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, award-winning author of The Dividing Season

"The romance was pitched perfectly, lots of "do I, don't I" moments, subtle looks and indecision that had me wanting to lock them in the bedroom until the sorted things out!

I loved the twists that appeared, they weren't obvious or expected. These led to a fantastic ending that left me satisfied with the story. That takes a lot of skill to pull of in just 26,000 words…

Overall I found this novella to be an adorable story and get away from life for a little while. It was an easy read to boot, allowing the reader to get straight to the story. Despite its short length, Dearest Darling had well drawn characters and a plot that felt complete and finished.

I give this a 5 for being a good all rounder."  --Laura of Lurking reads

Tags:  western historical romance, cowboys, Andrea Downing, Wyoming, Jackson Hole


  1. Hi Andrea,
    Welcome back to the Snarkology. Thank you so much for visiting with me.

    Is Dearest Darling a sequel to Loveland? The covers have a lot in common. :-)

    1. Hi again Melissa, and thanks so much for having me here today. No, Dearest Darling is not related at all to Loveland--I think they keep the covers similar for purposes of branding! Thanks again--always a pleasure to be here!

  2. I like a good historical romance - would like to read this! (hint hint)

    1. HI Reba, and thanks for stopping by. You're in the running...

  3. I love that you get your inspiration from all around you, especially from real people whose lives intrigue you. And what a fun way to add a twist. Loved the book BTW... highly recommend. :)

    1. Thanks Abigail. Soooo good to know you enjoyed it.

  4. I love how ideas come to fruition. And I wish I could go to the Tetons and see the cabin. Congratulations on Dearest Darling!

    1. Thanks Vicki. I hope you get there one day soon.

  5. I echo what Reba said above. As for ideas.. that question always makes me smile, I

    1. Oh, Brenda, did that get cut off? I'm wondering what that "I" on the end was going to be!

  6. Thanks for the blank page advice and congrats on the rave review!

    1. Thanks Ashantay--let's just hope the muse does strike as we breathe in!

  7. What wonderful insight into the foundations of your story, Andrea! And I can't think of a better place to set a western than the Tetons. Gorgeous. I hope Daniel likes his story. Sounds like a winner to me all around,

  8. What kind words, Tanya. And Daniel did like his story!

  9. I am really intrigued with how my fellow writers get their ideas. Very interesting, Andrea! Especially since Jackson Hole used to be in my neck of the woods. And thanks for such a providing such a great blog, Melissa.