I grew up in the Episcopal Church, attending St. Paul’s in Visalia, and then the odd Bible Camp, crusade or revival when I could find one. I spent years doing correspondence bible courses after attending a Billy Graham crusade, and then at UCLA was rebaptized Easter Sunday my sophomore year at Santa Monica Beach in the Pacific Ocean because I worried that infant baptisms didn’t count. I carried my Bible around UCLA. Wouldn’t dream of going on a date without it. Was I the most popular girl at UCLA? Probably not.
For all my religious fervor, my family didn’t often attend church on Easter Sunday as we were rarely home Easter Sunday. Our Spring Break was usually at our ranch outside Paso Robles in the coastal foothills. But just because we were at the ranch for Easter, it didn’t mean we didn’t have a church service. We did, and it was run by the kids. Well, run by me. We’d put on an Easter play or pageant, reenacting the events between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. I’d assign parts, select appropriate scripture, find hymns and then round up everyone to stand on the hillside for the worship service. My brother Thom’s best friends, Will and Charles Winn, were often there with us for Easter and so we’d have plenty of people for the roles of Herod, Christ, Pontius Pilate, Mary, soldiers, mourners. I loved directing. I liked the good roles but could on occasion share. After the service, we’d hunt for the Easter eggs my dad hid on the property–eggs tucked in corral nooks, gopher holes, rocks by the stream, in low branches of massive oak trees.
I loved the ranch. I love the country. She’s Gone Country is an ode to my father and Texan grandfather’s love for the land, too. I can’t wait for the book to come out this summer and see what you all think, but in the meantime I thought ‘d give away the other book I wrote that features a ranch setting, The Secret, a book in the Harlequin continuity series called Cooper’s Corner. My book was one of four direct mail books, which means it was never sold retail and very few people read it but it’s a fun story—a mix of rugged cowboy and Hollywood glamour as my hero’s Nevada ranch is being used for a movie shoot. To celebrate my memories of Easter at our family ranch near Parkfield, California as well as this Easter in Hawaii (the 7th Easter anniversary since meeting Ty in 2004), I’m giving away 6 copies of The Secret, my Cooper’s Corner novel, a Starbucks drink card, and lots of JP reader goodies. Interested in winning my Easter Celebration prize? Tell me what you’re doing today, or share your favorite Easter tradition or celebration and you’re entered. I’ll draw 6 winners Wednesday morning. Good luck, and Happy, Happy Easter!