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    9/07/2006
    Why I wrote A REASON TO LIVE
    Yes, I've read everything you all have about the western being dead and, to add insult to injury, I've also heard serious books are "out" and lighter, fluffier books are "in."

    So why do I continue to write emotional western romances? Either I'm a masochist or just plain stubborn. Or I simply refuse to believe readers are that one-dimensional. (And I'm very fortunate to have an editor who feels the same way.)

    A REASON TO LIVE is both a western and a deeply moving story of one woman's quest to deliver soldiers' deathbed messages to their families.

    It's also about a man who's lost the last of his family and bears the guilt of their deaths. Laurel Monteille Covey and Creede Forrester both have to find "a reason to live."

    The idea for this story came from a painting of a Confederate soldier getting ready to leave his wife to fight in the War. Around this time I also read an article about how women who were nurses during the Vietnam conflict suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. So, could a Confederate nurse suffer from PTSD? That was the plot kernel that became so much more than simply a western romance.

    A REASON TO LIVE is the most emotional book I've ever written. It was draining for me to write Laurel and Creede's story, along with all the scenes of Laurel delivering her messages to a variety of families. However, the book was well worth it and I'm very proud of it. The book I’m currently working on features Creede's brother Rye, and is titled A REASON TO BELIEVE.

    Excerpt from A REASON TO LIVE By Maureen McKade

    Creede Forrester drew back on his horse's reins, stopping the sturdy mare. He removed his broad-brimmed hat and dragged his forearm across his sweat-soaked brow. The light breeze ruffled his shaggy hair, cooling his scalp and the back of his neck.

    Squinting up at the sun's position, he reckoned it was mid-afternoon sometime in early September although he'd be hard-pressed to come up with the exact day. What did it matter if he didn't know if it was a Tuesday or a Saturday? The last day he had more than a scant recollection of had been the day he received the telegram. It had been the eighth of March, and gray clouds holding the elusive promise of rain had scudded across the sky. He could even recall how one of those clouds had been shaped like a smithy's anvil. Funny how he could picture that easier than he could remember his son's face.

    He slapped his hat back on his head and urged his mare into motion once more. He idly wondered if he was on a fool's errand, yet what difference did it make if he was? What did he care if his cotton farm languished under the scorching Texas sun? There was no son to leave it to, no wife to give him another child. At thirty-eight years old, Creede was back to where he'd started twenty years ago.

    "Leave me alone!"

    The woman's cry straightened Creede's spine and, before he made a conscious decision, he dug his heels into his horse's sides. Coming around a tree-lined bend, he immediately sighted a mule-drawn wagon flanked by two men. One of them was attempting to drag a woman out of the wagon.

    Creede reached back and pulled his rifle out of its casing. Even before his horse stopped, he fired two rounds into the air. For a second, the frozen scene was almost comical with the men's mouths gaping and the woman's eyes wide. Then the man shoved the woman back and she flailed as she fought to keep from tumbling out of the wagon. Regaining her balance, she dropped heavily onto the plank seat.

    Before Creede could draw a bead on the outlaws, the scraggly men fled in the opposite direction. He considered chasing after them, but suspected the woman might need some assurance. Kneeing his horse forward, he neared her slowly, careful to keep his arms open and his expression non-threatening.

    The woman regarded him warily as she re-adjusted her bonnet, tucking long wheat-colored hair beneath it. Even though her face was the color of ripe cotton, her brown eyes were steady and her chin raised.

    "Thank you," she said with an amazingly strong voice.

    Creede slid his rifle back in its scabbard and inclined his head. "You're welcome. Did they hurt you, ma'am?"

    Her gaze darted away but returned to him almost immediately. "No. You arrival was most timely."

    He replayed her words and the cadence of her speech in his mind, and it struck him that there was an absence of the genteel southern drawl. "You're not from around here."

    She appeared, for the first time, uncertain. "That's right."

    The way this woman spoke her words brought to mind a long-ago acquaintance named Boston Bill, who'd been as handy with a gun as he was with fancy words. "You from Massachusetts?"

    Surprise was followed closely by a skittishness that he'd seen in an orphaned fawn he'd found over ten years ago. His son had persuaded him to bring the young deer back to the house and they'd bottle-fed the fawn until it just up and left one morning. Austin had been heartbroken. Creede shook aside the bittersweet memory.

    "Where I come from is of no concern of yours, Mr.--"

    "Forrester, Creede Forrester." He tipped his hat using his thumb and forefinger.

    She narrowed her eyes. "If I were a gambling woman, I'd say you were from Texas."

    Creede almost smiled. "Yes, ma'am."

    "You're a long way from home, Mr. Forrester."

    "You and me, both, ma'am."

    Her lips tilted upward but her eyes remained somber. "Mrs. Laurel Covey originally from, as you ascertained, Massachusetts."

    Lightheadedness assailed Creede as he stared at the woman for whom he'd been searching for over two months. Mrs. Covey was the nurse who'd been working in the hospital tent where his son had died.

    "Are you all right, Mr. Forrester?"

    He blinked her concerned face into focus and the dizziness receded. Part of him wanted answers to his questions immediately, but another part of him lacked the courage. Clinging to the foolish hope that it was all a mistake and his son was still alive, he chose to hold his questions for the time being. He didn't even attempt a smile to reassure her. "Just a touch of heat. So what brings you to Tennessee, Mrs. Covey?"

    She stared over his right shoulder. "Promises, Mr. Forrester."

    Her vague reply brought more questions, but Creede suspected those were questions she had no intention of answering. He hoped she'd be more forthcoming when he found the courage to ask about his son. "Where are you headed?"

    She smoothed her dress over her lap. "Back to town."

    "Is your husband waiting for you?"

    Sorrow darkened her features momentarily then she shook her head. "No."

    Was she a war widow? If so, had her husband been in the Confederate Army? That would explain why a woman from Massachusetts had been a nurse for the South. Creede crossed his wrists on the saddle horn, keeping his questions unasked. "If you don't mind, I'll ride along."

    She turned to glance in the direction the outlaws had bolted. "Do you think they'll return?"

    He shrugged, hiding the flare of protectiveness she engendered. He assured himself it was only because he wanted to keep her safe until he could talk to her about his son. "They skedaddled pretty fast, but it's hard to tell. Besides, I'm going in the same direction as you so it's not out of my way." He paused, his gaze probing to see past her cool composure. "That is, if you don't mind."

    Indecision chased across her flushed features, but when she met his eyes, there was no hint of hesitancy. "Thank you, Mr. Forrester, I accept your offer."

    Relief eased the coil in his belly. "Would you like me to handle the mule?"

    "I'm fine." She smoothed a gloved palm across a bag sitting on the seat beside her, as if whatever was inside was something precious.

    Without another word, Mrs. Covey stirred the mule into motion. Creede rode beside the wagon, close enough to engage the woman in conversation. However, by the set of her jaw, she didn't seem inclined to talk. That suited him fine since he wasn't certain how long he could stall his questions.

    Thirty minutes later the settlement, a haphazard collection of sun-faded wooden buildings, came into view. It wasn't much different than a hundred other towns Creede had come through since leaving Texas.

    "Where are you staying?" he asked.

    "The Brand Hotel. It's the only hotel in town."

    He didn't say anything more but merely continued to ride along until she stopped the mule in front of a livery. Creede dismounted and moved to the wagon. Lifting a hand to her, he waited while Mrs. Covey made her decision. Finally, she laid her hand in his and he held her slim fingers in his palm, grasping them snugly.

    Once down on the ground, she quickly pulled her hand back to her side. Creede didn't blame her for being jumpy. From what he'd gathered, the two outlaws had wanted more than her money.

    She reached up to grasp the cloth bag sitting on the seat. "Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Forrester."

    "Are you staying in town long?" he asked.

    "Not long. Why?" Suspicion colored her tone.

    "Would you be interested in having dinner with me?" Creede preferred to speak with her someplace more private than the livery.

    Laurel stared at him, and opened her mouth as if to decline his invitation. But she seemed to reconsider and smiled slightly. "Thank you, Mr. Forrester. I'd like that."

    Although he'd hoped she'd agree, he was surprised by her acceptance. "Does the hotel have a restaurant?"

    "Yes. Perhaps we can meet in the lobby at six?"

    "That would be fine, Mrs. Covey."

    The woman took a step back. "Thank you again, Mr. Forrester. Until six."

    Creede watched her walk to the hotel but his dark thoughts didn't allow him to appreciate her womanly shape. In a few hours, he'd get the answers he'd ridden over a thousand miles to acquire.

    But would they be the answers he hoped to find?


    [note: beta blogger is being goofy if you have issues posting use the option 'other' and type in your name... if you use anon, make sure you type your name in the post]
    12 Comments:
    1. I read the wonderful review Wendy gave this one and also Rosie really enjoyed it too. I love Westerns and have been reading them for years - and also encourage as many as I can to read them. In fact looking back on the best of the books I've read lately, they have all been Westerns.
      I've been checking with the book stores around here almost daily but this one still isn't out yet. I also have To Find You Again in my TBR pile. I'm anxiously looking forward to reading both of these.

      By Blogger Kristie (J), at 9/07/2006 08:23:00 AM  

    2. I don't think that westerns are dead, nor the serious books. For me, I like to read all types so I don't get bored. I'm glad for the variety that's out there and I still love the western stories. I love the excerpt. Makes me want to read more.

      By Blogger KimW, at 9/07/2006 08:35:00 AM  

    3. Loved this book! Loved it! And Kristie - I believe the laydown date was 9/5 so it might be time to start pestering the bookstore....

      By Blogger Wendy, at 9/07/2006 08:47:00 AM  

    4. I love westerns and the excerpt is very intriguing. Will look out for this one at the bookstore.

      By Anonymous willa, at 9/07/2006 08:47:00 AM  

    5. I haven't read a good Western romance in a long time, and I miss them!

      I'm adding it to my wishlist!

      By Blogger Zeek, at 9/07/2006 09:52:00 AM  

    6. Sounds like a great and touching book.

      By Anonymous Jennifer Y., at 9/07/2006 11:34:00 AM  

    7. A Reason to Live sounds so emotional and wonderful. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

      Sandy

      By Anonymous Sandy, at 9/07/2006 02:22:00 PM  

    8. I agree with you MM - westerns are not dead! Especially emotional westerns - I am a tride and true western romance reader and writer. Syb knows I'm doing my best to publish westerns too. My cowboys are my heart, so I'm right there with you. :)
      Beth Williamson
      www.bethwilliamson.com

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/07/2006 05:00:00 PM  

    9. Sandy--yes, it's definitely an emotional book. I love writing that depth of emotion.

      Beth--I'm with ya, Beth. The westerns (and cowboys) get into ya and it's hard to get them out. ;) Have you been submitting manuscripts?

      By Anonymous Maureen McKade, at 9/07/2006 08:12:00 PM  

    10. Beautiful Maureen. I love those I get emotionally involved in. I never will leave reading historical westerns! I'm always telling publishers I want them! And I've heard from other readers the same thing so we have to keep telling them! Thanks for keeping writing them!
      Cathie
      http://tbranxiety.blogspot.com

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/07/2006 11:03:00 PM  

    11. MM - yes, ma'am. I have four westerns published with Samhain Publishing, and three more in the hopper for publication. I am trying to repopulate the species. ;)

      By Anonymous Beth Williamson, at 9/08/2006 06:56:00 AM  

    12. Beth--That's wonderful!! I'll have to check into them. Yes, we need all the help we can get to repopulate the western romance genre. ;)

      By Anonymous Maureen McKade, at 9/08/2006 11:29:00 AM  

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