Fresh out of a Pennsylvania penitentiary armed with a marketing degree, Kate Neilson heads to Wyoming anticipating an anonymous new beginning as a guest-ranch employee. A typical twenty-five-year-old woman might be looking to lasso a cowboy, but her only desire is to get on with life on the outside—despite her growing interest in the ranch owner. When she discovers a violent ex-lover followed her west, she fears the past she hoped to hide will trail as close as a shadow and imprison her once again.
Winter storms blast across the Whispering Pines Guest Ranch, and a cold wind blows through Kate Neilson’s soul. Despite her pain, Kate’s well-being takes a backseat to the needs of loved ones: her best friend, who’s been ensnared by evil; her failing great-aunt, whose dementia care keeps Kate guessing; and Laura and Mike Duncan, whose ranch and livelihood are threatened by a land-grabbing neighbor.
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Q&A with the Author
Where did you come up with the premise for your books?
Thanks, Marlene, for letting me talk about my Kate Neilson series. Although the novels are related, the story prompts originated from different sources. My inspiration for writing the first book, Winds of Wyoming, came one evening as I drove home from participating in a chapel service at a women’s prison. Each time I visited the prison, I was struck by the similarities between the residents and myself. In the same way I loved my absent children, they loved theirs and longed to see and hold them. Other commonalities included our everyday struggles with relationships, forgiveness, transparency, health, finances, faith, and so much more. In some ways, those issues are compounded when incarcerated individuals are released from prison.
I’d been working on a book about a woman who left Pennsylvania to start a new life in Wyoming, but I hadn’t come up with a strong enough motive for the move to create a plausible plotline. The ah-ha moment I experienced driving across the Arizona desert that dark night sparked my creative juices and lit up my brain. The challenges ex-offenders face when they return to society would provide a reason for the relocation and the basis for my heroine’s conflicts.
The idea “seed” for Winds of Freedom, the second book in the series, was planted when my neighbor told me of a relative who walked into an airport restroom and never came out—as far as her husband and children knew. Although they didn’t see her exit the restroom, she must have snuck past them wearing a disguise, because they later learned she’d slipped away to start a new life. Several weeks after her disappearance, she returned to pick up her clothing and other personal items. She didn’t tell her husband where she was living or what she was doing, only that she no longer had to clean house or take care of children. To add to the mystery, she was wearing a collar around her neck.
When did you know that you wanted to become an author?
Many, many years ago, my high-school English teacher encouraged me to go into journalism; instead, I earned a Church Education degree from a Bible college. But before I had a chance to use the degree, I married my college sweetheart and we started having babies. When our first child was just beginning to walk around furniture, I saw a notice in the local paper for a community education writing class. Intrigued, I registered for the class, found a babysitter and ended up writing a couple feature articles for the newspaper, thanks to the reporter who taught the class. I’ve written articles and stories for a variety of publications over the years and published two fiction books and two nonfiction books. I also edit fiction and nonfiction for authors and publishers.
Describe your latest book in three words.
I could say “Winds of Freedom,” ha. Facing Evil Head-on.
What can readers expect from you next?
“Winds of Change,” book 3 in the Kate Neilson Series, will pick up where book 2 left off, back at the ranch, and feature most of the characters from the previous two books. The Whispering Pines gang will tackle even tougher challenges than they encountered in the past and discover that sometimes love is not enough. I’m also editing a fun short story collection that will feature several of my short stories along with those of other authors.
Thank you for stopping by Book Mama Blog. These books sound amazing and the premise behind them make me want to run out and get them!
About the Author:
Rebecca Carey Lyles writes nonfiction as well as fiction and serves as an editor and mentor for aspiring authors. Her second novel, Winds of Freedom is the sequel to the award-winning first book in the Kate Neilson series, Winds of Wyoming.
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