Tuesday, November 19, 2019

RESCUE ROAD, by author Gayle Irwin

Freelance writer Rhiann Kelly shelved romance for years. Her dream of starting an animal sanctuary takes deep roots after finding the perfect location in southwestern Montana and purchasing the property for back taxes. Emergency medical technician Levi Butler knows his elderly friend left the ranch to him in his will. Levi anxiously awaits the probate to be complete so he can plan his retirement and begin his dream of raising and selling horses. 

When Rhiann and Levi find each other at the ranch simultaneously, sparks fly - and not the romantic kind. Yet their mutual attraction deepens, especially after Levi finds Rhiann injured in an accident. Meantime, land developer Dallas Patterson sets his sights on charming Rhiann to obtain the land. 

Can Rhiann and Levi work together to detour Patterson and find a solution in which neither needs to give up their dream or will the fence line of their hearts – and the property - separate them forever? Can their broken paths weave their hearts together as they travel the rescue road?

Some Q & A with Gayle ~

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started writing.

I’ve lived in the Rocky Mountain region for more than 40 years. I majored in journalism my first two years of college and in communications my final years, receiving a bachelor of science degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations from the University of Idaho. My dream was to work as a public information officer for a federal natural resource agency, such as the National Park Service or National Forest Service. That never happened. Instead, I became a journalist, working for small community newspapers in Montana and Wyoming. The closest I came to that dream was serving as editor and reporter for the West Yellowstone News in West Yellowstone, Montana, where I covered national park, national forest, and community projects and issues. 

I was one of a handful of small-town reporters to cover the controversial wolf release in Yellowstone National Park during the mid-1990s as well as a visit to the Park by then-President Bill Clinton. Since those days, I continue to freelance write for magazines and newspapers and even had my own pet column in a few of those publications. Nature and pet rescue are the types of stories I enjoy writing as well as sharing human feature stories.

I started writing my first book in 2003, after a springer spaniel my husband and I adopted two years previously became blind due to a genetic disease. Her story, “Sage’s Big Adventure: Living with Blindness” was published in 2007. The first time I shared the book was at the West Yellowstone, Montana library to a group of children and their families. The story encourages children to be courageous and persevering, no matter what challenges come their way as well as to treat others who are “different” with kindness and respect.
I’ve written and published several other children’s books since then and each one weaves important life lessons into the story, concepts such as trust, friendship, and appreciation of nature.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I like to travel, especially to America’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. I possess a great love for the outdoors and enjoy visiting beautiful places. I also enjoy nature photography and spending time at my mountain cabin or visiting my friends’ ranch.

Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?

Yes, I work part-time for a non-profit.

Where do you get your ideas?

My pets, especially my dogs, have been my primary inspiration since I began authoring books. I have two children’s book manuscripts started that I haven’t yet completed which I hope to do soon. The idea for my upcoming novel came from a writing course I took on writing fiction from the local college. Many of the women in the class were writing romance, or at least having romance as part of the narrative, and since I’d never written a romance book, I challenged myself to do so. Now, six years later (not as easy as I’d originally thought!) and many rabbit trails and revisions later, the story is ready for publication, to be released November 8, 2019.

Rescue Road developed from the many dog transports I’ve done for various rescue organizations and my passion for pet adoption. The story is a clean, contemporary romance with rescue woven into the story. Pages at the back of the book provide resources for people who may wish to adopt a dog or cat in the future.

Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or the decision to write?

When I was a pre-teen, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as well as the numerous animal books published at the time. I visited Laura’s home site in Mansfield, Missouri as a young girl and just this past year, I took a trip to Walnut Grove, Minnesota and DeSmet, South Dakota (yes, the woman still inspires me!).

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

I would build in more time for edits and marketing. I realize how important a plan is and although I started with one, I didn’t follow it very well. All things take time, including writing, editing, and marketing, and the older I get, the faster time goes. Between working a day job, freelance writing, working on the novel, being a wife, pet-parent, daughter, friend, etc. etc., time just ZOOMS!

How do you market your work?

I use a variety of outlets for marketing. Those include guest blogging, social media (I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter – still learning Instagram), attending events such as book signings, craft shows, and rescue group/humane society functions, and speaking at women’s groups, among other ways.

What are you working on now?

Book 2 in my Pet Rescue Romance series; a character that’s introduced in the first book, Rescue Road, is my female protagonist in Book 2, tentatively titled Discovering Love at Compassion Ranch.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?

Yes. I lived in southwestern Montana, which is the setting for the book; I worked in West Yellowstone which is referenced in the book; and I’ve served as a rescue dog transporter, which is one thing my primary female character does.

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

Two actually. 1. A romantic scene between my two primary characters, Rhiann and Levi. He sets up a romantic evening picnic by the river where the two first met, complete with an Italian dinner and candles. They are exploring their attraction for one another, so the scene is critical for these two who kissed dating goodbye many years before. 

2. Toward the end of the book, when they share another romantic scene, waltzing at a fundraising event, I created a lighthearted exchange: Levi tells Rhiann he placed an adoption application for two dogs she helped rescue and she banters with him by saying, “I’m going to have to do a home check and verify your references; remember, I don’t play favorites when it comes to dog adoption.” Readers will find banter like this woven into the story. Romance should not only be giddy and exciting, but also fun, I think, and with two independent characters like Levi and Rhiann, who haven’t dated for several  years, injecting humor here and there seemed suitable during the writing process.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep plugging! A person must have perseverance and must be able to be flexible and willing to learn and implement, not just the craft of writing, but the business of writing.

What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?

I wish I could write fulltime. I love telling stories, therefore, I plan to continue writing and publishing books and freelance writing for magazines, and I hope to expand into more markets for my freelance career. The best parts about writing are twofold: sharing stories to encourage, inspire, and entertain, and working from home where I can be with my delightful pets and wonderful husband.

Place you’d like to travel?

Ireland. My husband and I have Irish ancestry (he more so) and I’ve known people who visited the country and have such wonderful things to say about their experience. I’ve never been overseas, and that is the one country I’d like to visit.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

I hope you enjoy Rescue Road and the other two books I plan for the series, and if your children, grandchildren, students, or other youngsters in your life like to read animal stories, I hope you’ll check out my children’s books!

To connect with Gayle:

In addition to my website (www.gaylemirwin.com), people can find me on my author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GayleMIrwin/, follow me on Twitter at wyoauthor1, or on Pinterest at Waggin’ Tales.

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