Retired rodeo rider Jessie Leigh has one more trick to pull off: partnering with ex-husband Payson MacCormack to save her ranch. Hope's Ride offers horse therapy for children, and Payson is a pediatric surgeon at the hospital set to certify the program. Their split wasn't exactly amicable, but Jessie's determined to make it work…even if Payson's presence sends her heart racing. With a promotion on the line and a passel of kids in desperate need of Hope's Ride, Payson should be focused on prepping the program for the hospital's review. But he can't concentrate on anything but Jessie. Payson's career and Jessie's ranch are depending on each other, but will working together bring the surgeon and the cowgirl closer together, or drive them apart for good?
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A former innkeeper and radio talk show host, Heidi Hormel has always been a writer. She spent years as a small-town newspaper reporter and as a PR flunky before settling happily into penning romances with a wink and a wiggle. While living in the Snack Food Capital of the World, Heidi has trotted around the globe from forays into Death Valley to stops at Loch Ness in Scotland.
JAN SCHLIESMAN: How often to you get lost in a story?
HEIDI HORMEL: As a reader, I get lost in a story with nearly every book. I love reading and will think I’ve been sitting for 20 minutes, then look at the clock and an hour has gone by. In fact, if I don’t get lost in a book, I usually put it down and move on to another—is that bad to admit?
JAN SCHLIESMAN: How long have you been writing?
HEIDI HORMEL: I’ve been writing for a long time. In junior high school, I taught myself to touch type, so I could write down the stories as quickly as I could think of them. I did not get serious about fiction writing (I had been a reporter and PR writer) until about nine years ago, when I quit my job and became a freelance writer and editor while working away on a number of manuscripts before I finally got THE CALL and, more importantly, the CONTRACT.
JAN SCHLIESMAN: You’re one of several top ten finalists in the 2013 So You Think You Can Write contest who went on to sell to Harlequin. Was it easy for you to post that first chapter or did you have some trepidation?
HEIDI HORMEL: Because I’ve had my writing out in the wide world for a number of years, I didn’t have a lot of trepidation, plus I’m kind of a ham (get it: Hormel ham). I did have jitters when I hit send, as I had that stomach-sinking feeling that I’d missed huge grammar gaffs and forgotten essential plot points.
JAN SCHLIESMAN: I’m gonna jump right in and ask the question everyone wants to know…is Hormel your real name?
HEIDI HORMEL: I am a proud Hormel … it’s on my birth certificate and everything! The family “story” is that my great grandfather who emigrated from Germany to the U.S. was related to the founder of the famous food company. I’ve never seen a penny from all of those cans of Spam sold around the world, though! Yes, I do eat Spam! (The Hawaiian-themed can is my favorite!)
JAN SCHLIESMAN: You’re very active in community theatre. What’s the best production you’ve been a part of?
HEIDI HORMEL: I have had three parts that stand out for me (and for audiences, too). The first was Mamie Yokum in Li’l Abner – that musical is such a hoot and I had a great time playing a bow-legged curmudgeon. Next would be M’Lynn, the mother of Shelby in Steel Magnolias. I usually play comedic roles and this one made me really stretch and dig deep to pull the audience into the character’s grief and joy. Finally, was a role in a lesser known show, Sylvia. I played the title role which is a dog (who talked and acted human like, except when she was in heat). I loved the freedom and enthusiasm that character took.
JAN SCHLIESMAN: Does your heroine have any of your character traits?
HEIDI HORMEL: She might have a smidgeon of my stubbornness (I was voted most stubborn during my first year at college).
JAN SCHLIESMAN: Most writers have to find their zone before the words start flowing. Describe your ideal writing day.
HEIDI HORMEL: I’m a get-up-before-the-birds sort of writer so … I’d get up before the sun, get my coffee, sit in my recliner, put on the Top 100 station, and write. And, miracle of miracles, I would not have to fight with the cat over space on the recliner (see Betsi’s morning face).
JAN SCHLIESMAN: Being a reporter in your previous life must have helped you on the road to publication. Care to share some wisdom?
HEIDI HORMEL: Deadlines are not to be broken and they inspire the muse. Or something like that. As a reporter, I had to write every day whether I was “felt” like it or not and there was no excuse (except hospitalization) for not getting a story in on time. That sort of workwoman-like attitude has kept my behind in the chair (or recliner) and my fingers on the keyboard. I also had a news editor tell me (after I’d tried to get “fancy” with an article): Just write the story. I remind myself of that advice and make sure that I’ve told the story, not just strung together a lot of pretty words.
JAN SCHLIESMAN: Do you possess geeky computer skills or are you technically challenged?
HEIDI HORMEL: I am pretty geeky with computers, and I even had a job at a printing company where I wrote out long strings of code for the typesetters to use. I still enjoy looking at the html and computer code. It’s about the only foreign language I know. Being able to read code (in a very rudimentary way) means that I’ll dig into my Website and Word documents without fear.
AND MY FINAL QUESTION:
HEIDI HORMEL: Chubby Hubby from Ben & Jerry’s (Sorry but it’s got pretzels and I do live in the Snack Food Capitol of the World where I regularly smell pretzels baking and potato chips frying). I’m also partial to soft ice cream (frozen custard) and a local old-fashioned drive-in ice cream/fast food place has butter pecan … yum!
FIND HEIDI HORMEL:
Heidi's next release is: The Convenient Cowboy, Harlequin American Romance, out Aug. 2015. In 2016, I will have three additional books from Harlequin American Romance, tentatively titled: The Cowboy in a Kilt, The Kentucky Cowboy’s Baby, and The Christmas Showdown.
HUGE THANKS to Heidi for sharing a little bit of her world with us! Heidi is giving away TWO copies of The Surgeon and the Cowgirl. See the Rafflecoptor below for all the ways you can earn extra entries. In addtion, she'd love to know:
Do you eat Spam? And what’s your fav cooking method or recipe? I go for fried Spam on toast but one day I’ll try my hand at musubi (see pic – this is a really popular snack in Hawaii).