You gotta love a rancher…and dogs.

Hey, friends,

I’m guest blogging today at Pistols And Petticoats! If you’ve never visited this wonderful and very popular blog, please check it out. I’m really excited to have been invited to join them. Since the theme is all things western, my topic is: ranchers.

Here’s the first rancher I fell in love with–my uncle, J.W. “Jiggs” Thompson.

Deb Salonen rancher blog photo 1

The hero of my new holiday book, MONTANA MIRACLE, grew up on a small ranch. And even though he’s never considered himself a rancher, the rancher ethos is in his blood. You see it in everything he does, including the way he cares for the animals that were abandoned on his property. The last thing my hero wants is another animal depending on him but when a stray mutt shows up…he names him Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law).


The main reason I mention this guest blog is I’m giving away a $25 donation to the winner’s animal rescue of choice as a prize. All you have to do to be entered is comment on my Pistols and Petticoats blog: HERE. Good luck. I’d love to see one of my Storybroads friends win. :-)

Next Friday is Christmas. I plan to spend the day with my family, so I’ll take this chance to wish you all the most wonderful holiday ever! In case you missed my FREE holiday story, HER FOREVER GIFT, you can download it on the format of your choice here: GIFT.

Christmas FB Header

Merry, Merry!!!



Holidays on the go?

In case you haven’t heard, Christmas is TWO weeks from TODAY!!

Eek! Lucky for me, this year we’ll be sticking close to home. But that isn’t always the case.

Growing up, I can’t remember ever going anywhere for Christmas. My parents, who owned a taxicab company, celebrated by not taking any taxi calls during the three hours that we spent opening gifts on Christmas morning. In my husband’s family, his parents packed all five boys into the station wagon and drove to Grandma Salonen’s tiny house in a tiny town forty-five miles away. When we ran across some old photos of that time I was amazed to see Grandma’s TV on while there were opening gifts. The Munsters were invited to Christmas? Who knew?

old xmas at grandma

My husband and I try to mix things up. We’ve done the mega-family thing at my late brother’s house. Once, we took our two then-teens to San Diego for four days before Christmas and drove home on Christmas Day. I’ve heard them tell people it was the most memorable Christmas of all, but sometimes, you can’t beat the simple, quiet gathering at home.

Xmas at home

Since our grandchildren arrived, we’ve done the traditional celebrations, as well as a few exceptions. Five years ago, we rented a house on the coast in Aptos, CA. No tree or mantel for the stockings, but we improvised. And Santa found us! We also enjoyed sand, redwoods, beach bikes and games in front of the fire…we all took home a lot of great memories from that one.

xmas on the go Malte

But not everyone has those kinds of memories. The hero of my new book, MONTANA MIRACLE, has set December 25 as his deadline to bid goodbye to his old home. He fully expects his last glimpse of Paradise, Montana, to be in his rearview mirror. He’s headed somewhere warm and completely new in the hopes of creating unique memories to replace the many painful ones. He’s fixing on celebrating with margaritas instead of eggnog…until he meets a very determined pastor who isn’t about to let him turn his back on Christmas.

Welcome to Paradise

Where is your favorite holiday memory located? I’d love to hear. Hope this year’s holiday–wherever it is–shapes up to be one of your best!



PS: LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS Holiday Quiz at Goodreads. Take the quiz (I did really poorly) and you’ll be entered to win 12 books– one from each of the participating authors. How fun is that? Winner will be announced on 12/15. ENTER



Too close to home


On Wednesday morning around 8AM, a student at nearby UCMerced pulled out a hunting knife in a classroom on campus and started stabbing people. By the time the whole thing was done, 4 people were being treated for stab wounds–two seriously enough to be transported by helicopter to a trauma hospital–and the 18-year-old student who initiated the attack was dead.

My nephew is a parking guard at the UC. He works mornings. My first thought, of course, was: Is Michael okay? I also have many wonderful friends and several book club members who are faculty and work at the school. Were they all safe?

Luckily, the answer to those questions is: YES.

But safe doesn’t mean they were untouched by what happened. As Jamie, Michael’s wife who also works at UCMerced but at an off-campus facility, put it in a Facebook post, there’s plenty of heartache to go around in the aftermath:

So many of Mike‘s family and our friends contacting me to check on us today. The parents and staff at my girls’ school checking on his safety, and if the girls were worried and ok. To say that the events of today were shocking or sad is such an understatement. But the outpouring of love and support has filled my heart and I want you to know how appreciative we are. Neither of us were on campus when it happened. By some strange twist of fate, I had asked Mike to take Parker to her orthodontist appointment this morning. He normally begins work at 6:45. Selfishly, I’m so grateful that he was not there during the attack. He was later let on campus and my heart is heavy for the heartache he had to witness in the aftermath.
My heart is breaking for the families of the victims and the witness who now are dealing with experiencing such a tragic event. There are many stories of heroism, kindness, and love today. Please please please let these affect you more than the fear and sadness. 

This attack made national news, so you’ve probably heard as much as I have about the details: As days go on, we’ll have more details about the who, how, when, and where, but what we may never fully know is the why. Revenge may have been his the motive, but why wouldn’t some sort of failsafe kick in to tell this young man that what he plotted was a very bad idea–that he could wind up dead if the acted on his bizarre plans? A very bad idea, indeed.

My heart is still heavy, but, taking Jamie’s advice, I’m going to try to stay positive, focus on the good around me and hug my loved ones. You have to start somewhere.



PS: I have something new and fun happening on my website. My publisher, Tule, has set up an interactive sort of contest that allows readers to participate in “unlocking” chapters of my not-yet-released book, MONTANA MIRACLE. Chapter 1 is already open. You can download it here: 

Clean it up!

I’m not talking cuss words. I’m talking junk words.

Useless words

I turned in the line edits for my holiday story, MONTANA MIRACLE, yesterday. I love the editorial process because it helps me spit-shine and polish my work. When a writer is in the creative mode, the internal editor needs to stay in the backseat…with earbuds on…listening to rock music. When you hit Editville, the two should switch places.

I have two heavy crosses to bear: passive tense and junk words.


Junk words take up space, distract and fail to impress. Here’s an excellent blog on the subject by BookBub blogger, Diana Urban. She also gives you step-by-step tips on how to seek and destroy these junk words in your masterpiece. 43 WORDS

Passive tense is a curse because most of the time it’s easier to describe something that happened rather than get down and dirty in the action, experiencing the grit and gore, pain and pathos. But action is where the story lives!!!

As my friend, Annie Jones advises: Don’t let the zombies catch you writing in passive voice.

passive zombies Annie Jones


Writerly advice complete. Have a great reading and/or writing weekend, my friends. If you haven’t snuggled up with a rogue yet, MONTANA ROGUE is available on all platforms.

BTW, update to last week’s blog: hubby and I LOVED “The Martian.” Listening to the audiobook while driving made the miles fly past. We even have a date night planned to see the movie.