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HiDee Ekstrom


Linnea, I love your food analogies!

I am gradually reading through the other homework posts, but I want to do my own homework first so I am not influenced by the others in sharing my thoughts.

There are so many different perspectives out there. I love reading for craft (one can never have too much knowledge, right?), but what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. I previously had the Ah-Hah! moment of realizing I have to take what works for me, what speaks to me, and come up with my OWN process or way of looking at things. This lesson reinforced that for me.

I have never written a prologue for any of my stories, but I am aware they exist. Just another tool on the shelf!

I chose to do the alternative beginning because the other options were not my style. J

The Cowboy Next Door by R.C. Ryan


Monroe Ranch—Spring—Sixteen years ago

The calendar said it was April, but in the hills above the town of Haller Creek, snow still trickled from low-hanging clouds.

“Over here,” Mackenzie Monroe shouted as he and his crew of wranglers moved among the cattle milling about, searching out cows in need of help with birthing. It was calving season, and the grass beneath their boots was a sea of mud.

His three newly adopted sons, twelve-year-old Ben, eleven-year-old Sam, and ten-year-old Finn, were spending their first spring on Mac’s ranch.

These troubled brothers, after years of separation in the foster care system, were struggling to adjust to this strange new life. Though they’d finally achieved their goal of being reunited, they weren’t ready to trust adults, especially Mac, who expected them to handle ranch chores alongside his wranglers and the three old men who also made their home on Monroe Ranch.

Otis Green, a black man born on the south side of Chicago, may have looked like a fish out of water in the hills of Montana, but in truth, he’d found a forever home here.


For me, this works to the settings and strong sensations categories. It should be spring-like because the calendar says April, but it’s snowing. The weather could turn worse at any moment. The characters are in the middle of calving season, working long hard days, and the ground is muddy and most likely cold to boot. I get a strong sensation that Mackenzie Monroe expects respect and hard work from his newly adopted sons, even if they are young. On a ranch, chores begin at an early age. The opening resonates with me because I’m fascinated by the west, by ranching and horses and cows and that whole life. Admittedly, the life is probably much harder than I can imagine, being a city girl.

My brain craves more because I’ve always wanted to spend some time on a ranch. I want to ride horses and take in the landscape. I want to see wranglers in action. I anticipate that Mackenzie Monroe is going to shape the lives of these three young men in ways none of them ever expected, and I want to know their stories. Why were they in the foster care system? How were they finally reunited? I want to meet the three old men who also make their home on the ranch. They must be good solid people or I get the feeling Mackenzie Monroe wouldn’t have them there, because I’m willing to bet those three old men will also play a big role in the life of these young men!

PS – I love this series! It’s fun seeing the men those young boys grew into!


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