There's an old saying that goes you can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl. That'd be me. It's why I love escaping into worlds of regencies and classy, sexy romances but when it comes to writing them - and getting truly up close and personal with my characters, the magic "formula" that finally worked for me was a western. I understand farm life, and it did come down to write what you know.
On Easter weekend I went to visit my family five hours away. My mum was widowed many years ago and has a great new husband - someone we all knew for years. He had a dairy farm until his daughter and son-in-law took it over, and now he and my mum live a few doors away from the original farm and house. On Sunday, when we were arriving back at Mum's after being at my sister, the wind was blowing just right and the scent of cow manure was pretty strong.
I don't know about you, but cow manure doesn't smell bad to me. Maybe because I grew up with it. Then again, I grew up near a chicken farm too, and we did see someone spreading chicken manure on our drive back and the scent was enough to make me gasp. There is something NOT NICE about hogs and chickens. ANYWAY, my girls were like...eeew, cow poop! And my husband looked at me and said, "That's the smell of money."
You see, while my husband was not a farmer, he did work a lot of summers for his uncle, who was, and that saying is straight from Uncle Don.
When we went inside, we talked for quite a while about cows, and the stink of silage, first and second cuts of hay, and general farm stuff. It was really, really nice.
These days farmers are really struggling, and "the smell of money" isn't very accurate. But for all that, it's still the smell of home. And that's nice.
In my current release, Sophia is a city girl who ends up with a pitchfork in hand, cleaning out the barn. I had a lot of fun getting her out of her comfort zone! And of course it helped that there was a reward like Tomas Mendoza at the end of the day!
It's available now at amazon and eharlequin and wherever Harlequin Romance is sold. :-)