Real-Life Inspiration for My Books Contest #1

As you know, I draw from my real life for soooo many scenes, people and tidbits in my stories.  And although many of you may have heard this story before, I’m going to tell it again, and then see if you can guess which tidbit this real-life event inspired for one of my books.

IMG_0108Way back in 1995 (before most of you were born…just kidding), it was a lovely July afternoon and our little family was enjoying a nice visit with some of my cousins.  We were down at my Mom and Dad’s place in the North Valley in Albuquerque…just chit-chatting away.  (Here we are on that very eventful day-at right-Kevin, Mitch, Me, Trent, Sandy and my cousin, Brice).

Brice’s parents (my Uncle Russell and Aunt Linda), and Brice’s little nephew were visiting from Colorado and we were all having a wonderful time just talking and laughing together.  Mitch was 5 years old, and Brice’s little nephew was perhaps two or three years older than that, and he and Mitch were playing out in my parents’ backyard.

At this point, I must give you this little piece of information:  That being that my mother is truly a saint!  And that she never, ever, ever raised her voice to any of my kids, and simply spoiled them rotten with love and fun adventure.

That’s why, when I suddenly heard my Mom rather screeching with a sort of panicked intonation, “Mitchel Lee!  You get in that house right now and scrub your hands with hot soap and water!” I was astonished!  (And she really did say, “hot soap and water,” not “hot water and soap,” which further testifies of her sense of panic!)

Immediately everyone raced out onto the back porch just as my mom hauled Mitch into the kitchen, lifting him up to the kitchen sink and beginning to wash his little hands.

In the interest of time, I’ll just skip to the chase:  Mitch and Brice’s little nephew had been adventuring around in an old shed on one corner of my parents’ property.  Inside the dilapidated old shed that was beautifully swathed in honeysuckle, over near an old wooden piano crate, the boys had found…the carcass of an old, dried-out-to-mummification cat!  AND Mitch had thought it was an old toy and carried it up onto the back porch to show my everyone!

Now, once my mom had disinfected Mitch’s hands, she went back outside to investigate the find…and was naturally uber-intrigued by it!  Believe me, a mummified cat was/is right up both mine and my mom’s alleys!  It was a fascinating thing, in truth…and of course my mom made sure to slather Mitch with praise for finding such a treasure, as she both apologized and explained why she had been so freaked out when he’d first offered it to her. So it ended up being a way fun find for him after all…and for my mom, too!

IMG_0107This is a photo I took of the cat once my dad had scooped it up with a pitchfork.  It’s not anywhere near a true vision of how incredibly interesting the old gal really was…but it gives you an idea.  Furthermore, I would’ve initially freaked out at least as completely as my mom did  if my five-year-old son had handed it to me instead of to her!  But it was pretty darn awesome, and many years later, it DID inspire me to incorporate something into one of my books…a similar experience by a few of my characters.

Do you know which “something” and scene it inspired and in which book?  Well, if you do, or even if you have a good guess, just leave a comment here, on Facebook, Goodreads or via e-mail at and you’ll be automatically entered in my contest this week!

But before I let you know what the prize/prizes will be for this week’s blog contest, however, I better let the winners of my last blog contest know that they are winners!

I loved everyone’s posts, so it was way hard for me to choose!  But for some reason, “Misti Dawn’s” and “Nichelle’s” post popped out to me today!  Therefore, Misti and Nichelle, if’ you’ll please e-mail me your snail-mail addresses at, I can get your copies of Our Tree Named Steve shipped of to you, okay?  Thank you EVERYONE for your name stories!  I LOVE each and every one of them!

surprise book coverAs for this blog’s prize/prizes…I’ll be giving away 2 hardcover copies (1 to each of 2 winners) of the book that includes the “something” that was inspired by the mummified cat my son Mitch found in 1995!  What’s so great about that?  Well, for one thing, this book has never been in hardcover before, AND for another, it has a GORGEOUS new cover to boot (which will premier Monday)!  (There are some hints in there about which book it is, if you haven’t already guessed!)  Thus, this particular blog contest will end Sunday night…so don’t delay in leaving your entry comment!  Your chances of winning are VERY high…being that my last blog only had a total of 18 comments…so don’t despair, and go ahead and guess, okay?  You don’t even have to guess correctly to win!  Ha ha ha!  So, see you in a few days to announce the winners…and here’s hoping you enjoyed this little tidbit about a real-life incident being stranger than fiction!

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33 Responses to Real-Life Inspiration for My Books Contest #1

  1. Erin says:

    That is a hilarious story! It inspired the scene when Cherry brings home a coyote carcass in Sweet Cherry Ray! Ahh that is so cool that the book is getting a new fun cover!

  2. Amy says:

    I can’t decide if it is Sweet Cherry Rae or By the Light of the Lover’s Moon. Those are my guesses 🙂

  3. Carol says:

    Was it Sweet Cherry Ray? I remember she brought home a dead something….I’ll have to go back and see what it was 🙂

  4. Anna says:

    My first thought was Under the Honey Suckle Vine. Weren’t the boys always digging up and boiling dead animal bones? Didn’t want to enter since I recently won, but I had to say, what a great story!! I love that you got a picture of the cat too! Did you do anything with it? It would have been neat if you could have found out how old it really was! Beautiful picture of your family by the way!

  5. Sara Jenks says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray did bring dead carcass’ home…
    However, while I was reading the blog, Beneath the honeysuckle Vine came to mind about the boys finding a dead carcass and wanting to boil it down to its bones.

  6. Tori says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray is was popped in my head immediately, so I’m gonna go with it! Love me some Lobo McCoy!

  7. Amy Workman says:

    I commented on Facebook too but I’m so excited I know this!!! Sweet Cherry Ray where Cherry and Billy (and his younger siblings) find a dried up coyote!!! I don’t even care if I win, I’m just stoked tha I knew!!! Yay! I love your books!!!

  8. Stephanie Siems says:

    It is Sweet Cherry Ray, and it was a dried up coyote. I remember that one because I remember thinking that it was something my boys would try to bring home…lol

  9. Julianne Criner says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray!! I love that book!! My husbands family lives on a farm, and one day we found a dead bird! One side looked normal, and the other side was partially eaten, probably by one of the cats that roam around! Anyways it was way interesting… Although I think I would have freaked out if my boy had brought that to me!! ?

  10. Connie Barnes says:

    It was Sweet Cherry Ray when a mummified coyote was found.

  11. Rylee Molck says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray brought home an old dried up red wolf carcus that was in a corner by an old piano box.

  12. Aubrey says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray, pretty sure it was a dried up coyote? My daughter brought me a dead bird once, not petrified, nice and freshly dead and gooey, (not sure if that makes it even grosser?) during a family party and everyone freaked out. She was probably 3 or 4 at the time and there was lots of hand washing after that episode of family fun! 🙂

  13. Crystal says:

    It was Sweet Cherry Ray =) I have a daughter just like her lol

  14. Casandra Helzer says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray, I have enjoyed the audio version of that book, so much! I did not know it had never been in Hard Cover. I am looking forward to the new cover! Your covers are amazing!

  15. Jennilee McCarrey says:

    I think there are a couple,
    Sweet cherry ray with the dried up coyote, totally used to dig in dead bodies when I was younger! Light of the lovers moon with the dead animal that Buddy told them about.
    Also a goodlookin man, when she thought she saw her aunts cat in the sewing room

  16. Shannon Kelly says:

    You have to be talking about Sweet Cherry Ray!!! Such a fantastic book!!!

  17. Jaime says:

    Must be a cowboy book: Sweet Cherry Ray, Dusty Britches…

  18. Misti says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray was the book. Her little friends found a dried up wolf and Cherry took it home and put it on the fireplace hearth to keep it…much to her housekeeper’s horror, I might add! Funny how she loved Lobo which is Spanish for wolf…

  19. Mindy says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray, she finds the dried out wolf, and then falls in love with her own lone wolf Lobo McCoy 😉

  20. Sheri Burrier says:

    It is in Sweet Cherry Ray when Cherry and the Parker kids find the dead dried up wolf in the shed and brings it home to put by the hearth in her house. Great story.

  21. Kasey S. says:

    We totally found a mummified cat while doing some charity cleaning at an old farm back when I was in highschool. So cool. And my answer is also Sweet Cherry Ray 😉

  22. Kasey S. says:

    We totally found a mummified cat while doing some charity cleaning at an old farm back when I was in highschool. So cool. And my answer is also Sweet Cherry Ray ?

  23. Marissa A. says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray. Second I saw the picture I knew.

  24. Amy Cook says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray

  25. Marena Nunez says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray… It is one of the few that I only have in ebook. I keep waiting for the hardcovers of your book so I am stoked it is coming!!

  26. Julie says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray! I just re-read it a few days ago!!

  27. kylee says:

    First guess – beneath the honeysuckle vine, but sweet cherry ray probably gets more of a telling off from her dad for her carcus finding skills. The closest i’d go to something dead is an owl pellet – no mumified bodies for me:S

  28. Mindy says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray… it’s been a while. Might be time for a re-read. 🙂

  29. Susan Parker says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray! She brought home a old dried up coyote. When I was a little girl I found a coyote “asleep” in the trees. I tied a rope/leash around his neck and drug it home. It never did wake up so I put it in our wood pile. I forgot all about it. Weeks later my dad said he could smell something in the wood pile and was really surprised to find the coyote he shot laying in the pile. I remembered and told him I found him and brought him home. Lol I like to think I have a little bit of Cherry Ray in me.

  30. Cari Jorgensen says:

    Sweeeet Cherry Ray! Old Red Wolf!!!! EEEWWWW!!!!

  31. Marie V. says:

    Sweet Cherry Ray!

  32. Denise Moody says:

    since Sweet Cherry Ray is the only one of your books that I haven’t read for some unexplained reason, I couldn’t comment if that’s the book or not. however, the bewitching of amoretta Ipswich also has animals, not mummified, rather slit at the throat, which is what I thought of when I saw that rather disgusting picture. It actually made me think of a dog I saw at one time, which was rather alive at the time, but it looked just like your dead cat.

    Love your books!
    Denise 🙂

  33. Denise Moody says:

    I’m also wondering if it’s light of the lovers Moon. Because that is the one where they go regularly looking for dead carcasses.

    Love your books!
    Denise 🙂

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