Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wyoming Escape by Kate Wyland: Character Interview and Excerpt


My name is Harry Holden and I run the Dude Ranch portion of the Triple H Ranch in Big Horn, Wyoming. If you want to be a stickler about it, the name on my birth certificate is Harriet, but NO one ever calls me that. I guess it could’a been worse. My folks had a thing for “H” names and they might have stuck me with Henrietta or Hepzibah—now wouldn’t that have been lovely. As long as you stick to Harry, we’ll get along fine.

My son Jeff runs the cattle operation of the ranch. Originally, my brother Hank—see what I mean about “H” names—was the cattleman, but when he was killed, almost twenty years ago now, my sister-in-law asked my husband to take over. Frank managed the stock until his death five years back. Now Jeff does a bang-up job.

Tell us more about your Family.


I already mentioned Jeff. He and his wife Liz and their three boys live in the main house on the ranch. Except, of course, when the weather gets too severe. Then they move into town, so the boys don’t miss school. I love that they are so close and I get to see them grow up. Just wish my daughter Paula wasn’t so far. She lives in Denver.

My sister-in-law Celia still lives in their family home in the southern part of the ranch. Her oldest, Shawn, is a Marine officer and is due home on leave shortly. Her older daughter is an attorney in Cheyenne, but the other lives in town, near the clinic she shares with two other doctors.
Then, of course, there’s my other family—the people who work at the ranch. Most of them have been with us for years. The majority are summer hires, but several are full-time and live here on the ranch too. I love having the college kids around. They keep things lively and me up to date. By the way, I’m in need of a cook for the summer. If you know anyone good, give their names.

Recount for us the scariest moment of your life.


Let me think about that. Growing up on the ranch, you learn to deal with things that city folk never encounter. On the other hand, some of the stuff I see on TV would turn my hair white.
I wasn’t directly involved in one of the most frightening things to happen here, but I was definitely upset by it. An injured grizzly bear wandered out of the hills and decided the pickings were easier at the ranch. Not a good situation for the stock or the guests. Even though we did everything we could think of to discourage him, he continued to hang around. One day he went after one of the men and if my nephew Shawn hadn’t been a crack shot, Charlie could have been seriously hurt or even killed. Thank goodness nothing like that has ever repeated.

What helps you unwind and relax?


Since I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, all I need to do is step outside to see nature’s gift to us all. Nothing more relaxing than that. Of course, during the height of the guest season, things become hectic and sometimes I need to get away by myself for a while. While the urge to hop on a plane can be awfully appealing, I have to content myself with a ride in the hills or maybe a relaxing massage in town.

Once we close up for the winter, I can indulge my wanderlust and head for warmer climes. Not that I’m a beach bum. I’ve been too active all my life to lie on the sand for long. No, my passion is exploring. I love to find and learn about new places. Next winter I’m going to Tibet. I’ve always wanted to see the Himalayas. Celia, my sister-in-law, is going with me. I can’t wait.

What makes you happy?


That’s simple—my family and my ranch.

What one word that best describes you?


Down to earth. Guess that’s actually three words. I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


Can you tell us something surprising about you?

I hadn’t originally planned on running the Dude Ranch. I planned on being a writer. Even majored in Creative Writing in college (with a minor in Business, to be safe). I figured Frank could do the guests—he was a real people person—while I wrote and raised our kids. Hank’s death altered that dream. Life rarely goes the way you plan. I still dabble on occasion, but mostly my creative energy goes into pleasing our visitors.

Any writer or book you’d recommend?


There’s a new gal who just wrote a book about an incident that happened last summer. Her name is Kate Wyland and the book is WYOMING ESCAPE. It’s a pretty accurate and exciting description of what went down. Hope we don’t have anything like that again.
I hear she’s got another book coming out soon. FOREWARNING is about Kasey Martin, an alternative healer, who must regain her faith in her psychic abilities and then use them to protect herself and those she loves.

Lastly, what’s a favorite quote.


Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.


With two people dead and fearing she's next, city girl, Mikela Richards, flees her home and finds temporary refuge at a Wyoming Dude Ranch. There she encounters the no-nonsense owner, a woman named Harry, and her nephew, Shawn Saunders, a compelling, on-leave Marine.

Back from Afghanistan to heal both physically and emotionally, Shawn recognizes the type of fear in Mikela's eyes—it's one of the things he's come home to forget. Even though he knows it's a bad idea, he can't stop himself from trying to help her, while she's even more afraid of letting him.

When the killer finds Mikela, she must decide if she can trust Shawn and his ranch family or if she should continue to go it alone.

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The gunshot reverberated through the cool morning air and jolted Mikela Richards to a halt. At a second ear-splitting crack she plunged through the button bushes to hide behind an old hickory tree. Breathing hard, she scanned the wooded trail but saw nothing. Who the heck was shooting in the park? She’d spent enough time on the firing range with her grandfather to know that it hadn’t been someone plinking at a tree with a twenty-two. Those reports had come from a large hand gun, probably a nine millimeter. Her heart rattled her rib cage while she listened for another blast.
She’d been coming to these woods outside Providence for the past two years and had never heard of any problem. She even felt safe enough to run alone in the quiet and solitude. Now some idiot had decided to play games with a gun?
No further shots disturbed the forest and the birds began to chirp. Mikela took a tentative step from her hiding spot. At the sound of heavy footsteps pounding toward her, she jumped back into the greenery.
A slim man in a leather jacket ran into view, headed toward the parking area. He looked somewhat familiar and her shoulders relaxed until she caught sight of his glazed, panicked expression.
And the black nine millimeter pistol in his hand.
Her heart thumped so loudly, she was surprised he didn’t hear it. But something caught his attention. He jerked to a stop and backed around in a small circle, peering into the bushes, and brought the gun up into the firing position she knew well.
Thank heavens she’d worn her navy tights and top, instead of her usual bright colors. If only the shadows cast by the oak trees would screen her blond hair. Completing his circle, the man lowered his arms and jogged up the trail.
She sucked air into her starving lungs. Had he fired those shots? Or had someone shot at him? She reached for her cell phone, then swore softly. Of all the times to leave it at home. Her insides contracted. Even if she had the phone, would she really call the police about a couple of gun shots? After what she went through before?
Mikela stepped out of her hiding place and hurried down the path, away from the intruder and his gun, taking an alternate route back to her car. She jogged on tiptoe, listening for sounds that didn’t belong in the forest. When the trail junction appeared, the tightness in her chest eased.
She turned onto the new path and slammed to a stop. A strange mound lay near the flowering azaleas a few feet away. A dreadful sense of déjà vu swept over her and she had to force herself to move.
Not again, please God, not again.
She took a quick glance then looked away, fighting to control her stomach. A dark-haired man lay sprawled on his back by the side of the trail, his eyes wide open. A dark red stain spread from the middle of his tan polo shirt. The air reeked of blood and human waste. She gathered her courage and inched toward him, then bent to touch his neck. His skin was warm, but no pulse moved against her fingers.
Not again.
A rustling in the woods jerked her upright and around. At the sight of a dark form advancing through the trees, Mikela bolted. The crashing of underbrush and a man's curse goosed her even faster.
Wishing for the umpteenth time she had longer legs, she sprinted up the trail, unsure where to go. Even if she made it back to her SUV, the signs advertising Mikela’s Kitchen, her catering business, would tell her pursuer who she was. Hers had been the only vehicle in the lot an hour ago. Had others arrived to provide some cover?
The footsteps following her faded. She glanced over her shoulder as she rounded a bend and spied no one. Had he stopped chasing her? Or had he used the shorter trail? She reached the edge of the parking lot a few minutes later, paused behind a bush and peered out. No one was in sight.
The five or six vehicles now scattered around the parking area reduced her car’s conspicuousness. She dashed to the SUV, ripped off the magnetic signs on each side, and threw them inside. Moments later, her tires squealed on the asphalt as she sped out the exit.
A few blocks away, Mikela pulled up in front of a gas station with a public pay phone. She stared at it for a long minute. Did she dare take the chance? She could ignore the gun shots, but a dead man was different. She’d have to trust the cops couldn’t trace the call to her. Bracing herself, she dialed 911. Talking fast and loudly, she reported the murder and the man with the gun. When the operator asked for her name, she hung up. She knew what could happen after you found a body. She knew the police were not her friends.
She knew that a determined cop could make her life hell.
… (The next day)
Worried about the idea of someone snooping around in her business, she trotted to the entrance and opened the door. A familiar acrid odor hit her nose. What the hell?
She hurried down the short, dimly lit hallway to her office. The smell was stronger there and mixed with another much more unpleasant stench—one she had encountered yesterday. She gasped at the state of the room. Papers littered every surface, her file cabinet drawers gaped open and a dark stain spread across the carpet, emanating from the body of a man lying on the floor.
Sam Braddock, the man from the park, lay huddled on his side, his face slack, his eyes glassy. A gun—the.38 Special her grandfather had given her—lay on the rug near the desk.
She pressed her lips together, struggling not to scream. No one who had lost that much blood could be alive. Yet she crouched over Braddock and felt for a pulse. There was none.
Loud, rapid knocks on the Kitchen front door jerked her head up and sent her heart racing. The knocking changed to pounding and a male voice shouted, “Open up. Providence Police.”
She stood frozen, her mind whirling. The cop she had seen had to have been involved with this. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have just walked away from a crime scene. Given the state of her office, either he or Braddock had been looking for something. If the cop hadn’t found the object of his search and had killed Sam, he’d probably go after her next. If the police took her into custody—given her past and that the gun was hers—he’d be able to get at her with no problem.
A crash sounded from the front of the Kitchen and panic set her scrambling. She grabbed the .38 and bolted for the back door. The sight of the handle turning stopped her. Swinging around, she dashed to the basement entrance. Her shaking legs made it hard to creep down the stairs and thread her way through the cartons of supplies filling the room.
An old cabinet sat against one side, hiding a long-unused connection to the neighboring clock shop basement. Inch by inch, she eased the oak shelves away from the wall. A harsh screech sounded when she pushed the unlocked door open, toppling empty boxes in the process. She stilled, just in case, but given the tramping and loud voices up above, she doubted they’d hear anything less than a small bomb. Pulling the concealing cabinet back in place, she went through, closed the door and restacked the boxes she'd displaced. Thank goodness Stan didn’t come in until noon. She wouldn’t need to explain things to him.


Reading and horses have been life-long passions for Kate Wyland. Now she combines the two by writing romantic suspense stories, usually in a horsey setting and often with a touch of paranormal.
Kate started riding at three years old but as an adult was side-tracked by marriage, children and career. When her youngest turned out to be horse crazy too, she returned to her first love. Throughout the years she’s taken part in a wide variety of equestrian activities. She and her husband own three older, semi-retired horses and can’t image a life without her equine buddies.

Connect with her online at:
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Marsha said...

Loved this interview with Harry. She shocked me though. She loves massages? That's very cool.
Can't wait to read your second book, Kate.

J K Maze said...

I read this and absolutely loved it. I liked Harry a lot and wouldn't want her to have any other name. What's next on the docket for you?

Joan K. Maze
writing as J. K. Maze said...

Hi Marsha,

Just because Harry is an outsdoorsy woman it doesn't mean she doesn't like to be pampered. She certainly loves the ranch hot tub. :-)

Thanks for stopping by. said...

Thanks for commenting, Joan.

As Harry mentioned my next book is FOREWARNING and is about an energetic healer who needs to make peace with the possibility that she may have caused harm and must reclaim the skills she has rejected. It's also in a horsey setting.