Laura Haley-McNeil

1/27/19, Ranch House

Hello, Everyone!

I hope you’re all in good spirits and are staying safe as we weather through January. Better yet, I hope you’re cheating and have escaped the cold to enjoy sun and fun! Winter vacations are a wonderful time of year to forget the cold weather for a week or two.

Because I now live in a cold climate, I tend to base my books in this area. I’m most familiar with mountain ranches and created the Whitloch family. Rose Whitloch, the matriarch of the family, grew up on a ranch in Wyoming so when she became the fourth wife of Max Whitloch, Sr., she moved to his ranch in Crystal Creek, Colorado. She was right at home. She’d helped her parents run their ranch. Her sisters married ranchers and her nephews, though currently fighting overseas, are born and bred cowboys.

As I wrote the Crystal Creek books, I visualized what the ranch would look like as well as the various ranch buildings. The ranch where my father grew up was built one hundred years ago. The ranch house is plain on the outside, made from lumber cut from the nearby forests. The stone porch stretches across the front of the house. The chimney and the fireplace are made from the stones found in a nearby river.

Inside, the house seems magical to me. The walls are lathe and plaster with eight-inch baseboard. My grandfather built big bins in the kitchen so the cook would have flour, grain, sugar and other staples at hand while preparing meals. The narrow staircase leads to four upstairs bedrooms. Because my grandfather was the postmaster, one bedroom was the post office where he received and sent letters and packages to and from the neighbors. Because my grandmother was a pianist and the church organist, my grandfather built a room off the dining room for the music room. My grandmother taught piano to my father, his brother and two sisters. The piano is still in the family.

When my father was young, a doctor approached my grandfather about building his vacation home on the ranch. My grandfather agreed and that was the basis for Imagine the Kiss, Book 7 of the Crystal Creek Series. Phineas St. Cyr can no longer endure a life in the public. When he sees the beautiful setting of the Crystal Creek Ranch, he knows this is the beauty he wants to surround himself with. When he approaches Rose with his proposition, she agrees, but tells no one. This is a surprise to Teagan Whitloch Munroe, a violinist, because she likes to practice in the woods on the ranch. It’s during a practice session when she learns that a mysterious stranger hikes nearby.

Have you read the Crystal Creek Series yet? I hope you have, and I hope you love the books!

I hope you’re having a wonderful January and that you’re finding fun things to do if you have to stay indoors. Have a healthy, happy and blessed week!