From age four to ten, my family lived in Billings, Montana. My two youngest brothers were born while we lived there. My love for storytelling started there. After a big snowstorm, my oldest brother and I went under the back porch and picked up the lint from the dryer vent that lay on the snow. We used twigs and the lint to make people, and we made up stories. When I was in second grade, I wrote and performed a play with friends that was pretty much seat of the pants. That’s the way I still write my books.
Although it has been decades since I lived in Montana, I have vivid memories of that time. The first house we lived in had no indoor plumbing when we moved in, so we had to go to the outhouse. I’m sure the weeds alongside the path that led to the outhouse weren’t six feet tall, but they sure seemed like it to my four-year-old self. We took baths in a big steel tub with water heated on an old black stove. Not long after we moved in my dad added another bedroom and a bathroom to the house, then built another house on the adjoining acreage, and we moved into that house soon afterward. My good friend Connie moved into the house next door. We walked to and from school together no matter what the weather. I remember walking over a mile to school when it was really cold, bundled up in coats, gloves, hats, snow pants, and boots. I remember getting in trouble for spending too much time playing in the snow on the way home. Our parents were worried that something had happened to us. Blizzards, tall snowdrifts, sledding, building snowmen, and ice skating were a normal part of winter.
I’ve probably mentioned before that when I started writing books, I decided I would set at least one book in every place I’ve ever lived. When I set out to write the adult stories of three teenagers who were secondary characters in some of my early Love Inspired books, I decided to set one of those books in Montana. Brittany’s story became Montana Match, first published by Love Inspired and now republished as A Match to Call Ours, the first book in my Front Porch Promises series.
I relied on my memories of living in Montana in writing this book. Although I didn’t live on a ranch, we had a mini-ranch just down the street from us. Our neighbor raised cows, horses, and goats. We got fresh milk from the lady who lived at the end of our lane. My oldest brother and I even saw a calf being born. A year or so later, we moved to a house several miles away, but I still went to the same school.
Eventually, we moved to the other side of Billings. That meant a new school and new friends. One of those friends in my fourth grade class was Rose. She had Crow Indian ancestry, and I used her as a model for the twins that my hero adopts. I even named one of them Rose. I put my hero on an isolated ranch about an hour’s drive from Billings. He has isolated himself on his ranch to keep from interacting with the people who believed the false accusations against him. He refers to himself as a gentleman rancher. He lives on the ranch, but he has hired hands who do the actual ranching. He is self-employed as a medical writer, and he’s in desperate need of a nanny to take care of his six-year-old twins.
The ebook version of A Match to Call Ours is on sale 99 cents. Get your copy at the links below.
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Thanks for sharing in my memories. What special childhood memories do you have?
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