Cowgirl Come Home: Debra Salonen

debprMontana Born’s new summer series is off to a great start and the Facebook party on Thursday was a huge hit with readers.  Thank you to all of you who could attend!  I love that so many of you were there to enjoy the fun and the giveaways.

Book two in the Marietta Fair series, Cowgirl Come Home by Debra Salonen is available today and I couldn’t be happier.  Debra’s such a great writer with a strong voice and such wonderful talent.  I love that she’s a Tule author as it’s always a treat to read one of her books!  I knew I had to invite her as a guest on my blog and she agreed.

Here’s Debra Salonen to talk to us about Arts and Crafts, Fair Style.  Welcome, Debra!

ds1My July 18th Tule Publishing release, Cowgirl Come Home, is part of the Big Marietta Fair series. My heroine, Bailey Jenkins, is an artist who works in jewelry. Under different circumstances, Bailey would have entered her pieces in the Arts and Crafts competition, but blue ribbons don’t pay bills. So, instead, her work is on display in Exhibit Hall-A, with the other Marietta vendors.

When I go to our local County Fair every year, one of my favorite exhibits is: Arts and Crafts. I am completely blown away by the creativity within my small community. Inevitably, there’s one photograph that reaches out and pulls me into a story, a candid moment in time. If there’s no Blue Ribbon or Best-in-Show sign hanging on my favorite, I use the power of my “People’s Choice” vote to pick.

Ten or so years ago, my hubby won Best of Show for this photograph.  (image) It’s called, simply: Blue. The fellow in the picture was an old-time cowboy, who tended the two-hundred-acre ranch behind us. Everybody called him Blue. He appeared in my very first published short story, which came out in Country Magazine in 1990. The title of the piece is: The Bulls That Fell From the Sky.

Until his death four years ago, Blue lived in a little trailer without electricity or running water–just him, his dog and his rattletrap truck. (I use that expression with affection–it did rattle.) He was our friend, and this photo hangs on my wall where I see it every day…and smile.

This year, I’m hoping to see my ten-year-old granddaughter’s painting displayed at the fair. She entered the Young Master’s contest through our local Arts Counsel earlier this spring and won First Place in her age group.

ds2My daughter won Best of Show for an oil painting when she was the same age. I’ll never forget the pride and validation that ribbon gave her. “I’m an artist, Mommy,” she said to me.

Now, she’s giving back by teaching young budding artists like her niece. I love the full-circle feel of this and I can’t wait to visit the Arts and Crafts exhibit at the Mariposa Fair this year.

What about you? What’s your favorite part of the fair? (There is no wrong answer here.) Even if you’re not fond of fairs, please reply to be included in the pool to win this prize.

Two Deb Salonen backlist titles (if you’ve read either or both of these, let me know and I’ll try to find others), The Princess Bride DVD, cookies, notecards, post-its, gel pens and great Tule swag. ds3 And please look for Cowgirl Come Home on July 18th. It will be available as an ebook at Amazon and in print from Createspace.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]
Some dreams come with a big price tag.
Bailey Jenkins left her hometown of Marietta, Montana, at eighteen, poised to take college and the rodeo world by storm–despite Paul Zabrinski. On the eve of her great escape, at the top of the Ferris Wheel at the Big Marietta Fair, he invoked his great-grandmother Hilda’s curse. “If you do this, Bailey Jenkins, I will hate you forever. And I’ll call on my great-grandmother to curse you. She was a Gypsy witch, you know.”
Fifteen years later, Bailey’s back–shattered, humbled by fate and bruised at the soul level but determined to rebuild–once she helps her parents get back their feet. She didn’t expect her Paul Zabrinski to meet her plane, but seeing him strong, handsome and successful is somehow fitting. After all, Bailey didn’t need Paul’s gypsy great-grandmother to put a curse on her–Bailey already had the worst luck on the planet.
Never say never.
One look at Bailey Jenkins–his first love, the woman he adored…and cursed–and every emotion Paul Zabrinski felt fifteen years earlier comes rushing back. The love of his life broke his heart and made him hate her…or so he thought. The line between love and hate is very narrow, with only so much room for forgiveness. But Paul Zabrinski owns Big Z Hardware and Construction. If anyone is capable of building a bridge for them to cross together, it’s him.
From award-winning journalist to nationally bestselling author with 26 published novels for Harlequin’s Superromance and American lines, Debra Salonen brings humor and heart to her stories. She was named Romantic Times Reviewer’s Career Achievement “Series Storyteller of the Year” in 2006. Her popular Indie release, Are We There Yet?, has been called “laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and just plain fabulous!”


Debra, thank you for sharing with us!  Readers do grab your copy of Debra’s new story, Cowgirl Come Home.  You’re going to love it!  Leave a comment here to welcome Debra and share about your fair experiences and you’ll be entered to win the fabulous prize package Debra mentioned!  Have a great weekend!


  1. It looks like a great story! We haven’t been to a fair since our kids were little but it is funny because the fair we went to was in the same town where our son ended up going to college many years later.

  2. The vendors. I have bought some unique belts, purses, sunglasses, and various knitted and quilted items most times I’ve attended.

  3. I love fairs. The games are fun, but the food is the best part, especially the greasy fried selections.

  4. My favorite fair activity is of course the food! Followed by the animals. Love the petting zoo and my daughter the pony rides!

  5. My favorite is the food and the Crafts exhibit.Thank you for the opportunity to win.I enjoy reading your books.Have a wonderful weekend. Cowgirl Come Home by Debra Salonen is a wonderful book.

  6. I don’t have many fair experiences. I did like going when I was a kid but I don’t really enjoy it anymore. The one here isn’t very nice.

    1. If a fair isn’t fun or nice, it’s not worth wasting the money to go. That’s for sure. Hope you’ll enjoy the Big Marietta Fair vicariously. Much cheaper, very clean and a lot of fun!

  7. The Fair is so much fun. I love cotton candy, funnel cakes and corn dogs. I love to see the animals and the sows. Wonderful memories of childhood and a day at the fair with my grandparents.

  8. Cant wait to read your book. Love the whole series. Wish I was talented but am not, love country fairs, especially the food.

    1. Diana Kaye, you’re obviously a very talented reader. 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you love the series. Jane has a whole bunch of wonderful stories coming your way, including 3 more from me.

  9. My favorite part of the fair are the animals and the 4-H exhibits! That and just spending time with the family!!! <3

  10. Just took the grandkids to the county fair a couple of days ago. We will hit the fantastic Ohio State Fair in a week or so too. I love the fairs, the livestock, vendors, and always the food… and the kiddy rides… lol

  11. I just bought this book and I can’t wait to read it. I read Debra’s book before and I like her writing.

  12. I remember a lady who made the most amazing jewelry out of tiny dried wildflowers under glass. I was fascinated by that and always loved the quilts.

  13. I would have to say that I love the feeling the Fair gives me. It rushes back all those memories of being a kid, so filled with fear and excitement all mushed together! The dizzying thrill of the rides, tantalizing smells of the food, laughter, and music! Now I get to experience all those amazing things through the eyes of my children!

  14. I was lucky to read an ARC of Cowgirl, Come Home and I really enjoyed it.
    In Israel we don’t have fairs like in the US but I wish we had because they sound like so much fun.

  15. I love the fair… best part is the food…gotta diet for a week just to eat the fried food at the fair. I also love the arts/crafts. Love to support the local arts and crafts people.

  16. I love our county fair! I love to ride the Ferris wheel with my youngest son, get funnel cakes & cotton candy, watch the demolition derby & look at the animals.

    1. our county fair is pretty awesome. i love to watch the truck and tractor pulls, and eat cotton candy!

  17. I love the food at fairs. The animals are fun too – but the greasy fried foods are the best!

  18. The handwork. we all learned embroidery, crocheting, knitting, sewing. some in 4-H, so it would be there….

  19. Hi. Sounds like an interesting book and by an author I have not previously read. Would love to win.

    1. Good luck, Cindy. And thanks to Jane for introducing me to some new readers. If you win, you’ll get two of my Superromances. I love bigger stories with secondary characters who have stories of their own.

  20. Oops, forgot about fairs in my comment. I actually have not been to affair in years (health issues). But my home town had a yearly fair and it was fun to go and see friends, family and relatives. And school friends you had not seen all summer. I do miss going to the fair.

  21. I love the fair! I like going to the Western Washington State Fair (I think that is what is now called – formerly known as The Puyallup Fair). I love to look at the collections, the piglets and other animals, walk through the vendors, “slice it, dice it, etc”, and to sample the not good for you food. Scones are the best here. I went last year with several close friends, and we had such a good time that we plan to go again this year. We watched a friend show her horse, and that was interesting since I have never seen it before.

  22. My favorite part of the fair is looking at all of the hard work the 4-H kids have put into their projects. Everything from building models to sewing, from baking to raising an animal. All of it. I know that these kids will take the skills they learned and use them later in their lives.

  23. I like the idea of the fair, but it always is during the most humid hot time of the year… which I just can’t take anymore.. I miss that glorious fair food!

    1. We sometimes have to deal with high heat. That’s no fun, but we can go at time when it cools down. Sorry you’re missing out. But you can read six books that will bring you right into the heart of the fair–no humidity. I promise. 🙂

  24. I love the food & the people watching! The Ohio State Fair is always fun but I loved the Puyullup Fair when we lived in Washington. Ten years later, I still order boxes of the Fisher Fair Scone Mix to make the scones from that fair at home (my all time favorite fair treat).

    1. Scones, Michelle! I don’t consider those a fast food nor bad for you. I love scones. There’s a great recipe on my blog from an Australian author. It’s called Lemonaide Scones (their lemonade is our 7-Up.)

  25. I love the greasy food, where you don’t have to feel guilty and the memories it immediately brings of going as a child. I won a little stuff black bear once and loved that thing til the stuffing fell out. lol

  26. I finished your book last night and loved it. My favorite part of the fair has to be just walking around and watching people. I never was into the rides when we used to go to one country fair I used to enjoy going in the building and seeing the different crafts and the certain food they always had. it was a bigger one and happened at a race track in NYstate. haven’t gone in years don’t know if they still have it or not. Now the only one I go to the shore one once a year and that one I love the one vendor has good sausage and pepper sandwiches also we always get funnel cakes and share that.

  27. I like fair food–kettle corn, lemonade, corn dogs, pineapple whip, etc. However, I’m not particularly fond of the Missouri State Fair because my husband has to be there–through his work–all eleven days. And it’s usually miserably hot! Great prize (would you even believe that I still haven’t seen The Princess Bride?!?). Thanks for the chance. 🙂

  28. Debra, your family is very talented. I enjoyed reading your book. It was really good. I don’t really have an exciting fair story to tell. I didn’t go often when I was growing up and still don’t go but maybe every 5-6 years. I mostly enjoy looking in the buildings, at livestock and people watching. My husband partakes in the food stuff since I get an upset if I eat more then one experimental item.

    1. Thank you so much, Janine. So glad you liked the book. I am surrounded by talented/gifted people. I feel very fortunate. I’m cautious about exotic foods for that very reason, too.

  29. I love fair food. Corn on the Cobb!! AZ fair has nothing on WA fairs. Took our kids to the Evergreen Fait every year and now they take their kids.

  30. I would LOVE to read these books! Have never read any of Deb’s books, but they are on my list, now! 🙂 I know this will shock most, most people gasp as I tell them…I’m 35 years old and have never seen The Princess Bride! I hear it’s fabulous. Have a good weekend everyone!!!!

  31. Your book seems very delightful and one which would cause me to lose track of time. My favorite things about the county fair are lemonade, corn on the cob and funnel cakes!

  32. used to love going around looking at the entries for pies/baking/jams/quilts etc. and who got what ribbons

  33. Your book sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it. I haven’t been to a fair in years. I can remember going to the state fair with my girlfrind when I was your. We had a blast.

  34. Your granddaughter is very talented. Amazing lines and colors. She deserved her win! When the kids were younger, school always started with the annual Church fair: they loved it for the rides and hanging out with their friends; I loved it because of all the Italian food and the Filipino food.

  35. Can’t wait to read Cowgirl Come Home!! My favorite part of the fair would be the animals. Horses and calves! We have a state fair and a few years back they started a birthing barn. Love it!! And of course each year they have the Budweiser Clydesdales and you can’t go wrong checking them out!

    1. The owners of the alpaca ranch where I did research for my next book have to Clydesdales. Gorgeous horses.

      I hope you enjoy Cowgirl Come Home, Heidi! Thank you.

  36. Welcome Debra. I don’t remember many fairs, but I do remember trying and trying to win a fish by tossing the Ping pong ball in the bowls. I finally won and was so excited until I woke up the next morning and the fish was dead.

  37. OMG, I love going to the fair…. I have ever since my dad took me to my first one when I was a young kid… I love everything about the fair, the vendors, food, candy apples, the unique items that you can only find at a fair. But, my favorite memory would have to be the first time my dad took me for a ride on the ferris wheel, and we stopped at the top, the world looked so vast to me being up there, looking down… It made me realize just how wonderful the world could be.. Thanks again for all of your great giveaways, you are as always a wonderful author.

    1. Linda, where is the Texas STate Fair? Dallas? Austin? The California fair is in Sacramento. It might be going on right now or in August. I’ve forgotten. It was too big for my taste.

  38. I love looking at the Arts and Crafts that the young people enter for judging–also like checking out some food products that vendors bring–such as honey.

  39. I downloaded COWGIRL COME HOME this afternoon. Will have to wait a few days to begin reading as I have 3 books I’m reading right now.
    I think my favorite part of a fair is the arts and crafts area. I like seeing the creativity and skill that is displayed – be it photography, painting, or needlework. I might be more interested in the baking if I could sample the wares – lol. Several years ago, hubby & I actually entered some items in our county free fair – mine was cross stitch, his photos. We both won ribbons, but he got a blue one.
    Best wishes for your granddaughter’s entry.

    1. Thank you so much, Donna EHD. I hope you enjoy Cowgirl Come Home. Congrats on your ribbons. Validation is always nice–it says you did a job well done. It’s like a good review!!!

  40. Congrats on your book release! I enjoy going to our county fair. I like to see all the animals….sheep and rabbits especially. I also like looking in the arts and crafts displays, and all the photographs. I always eat Indian fry bread with cinnamon and sugar.

  41. I love the arts & crafts. Especially the quilts & photography. I’m an amateur photographer, so I am always checking out the competition. The closest fair to where I live is the State Fair, in Minnesota. When my 4 kids were little we would go every year. We had to stop when it started costing us too much in addition to the crowds and the allergies everyone has to the animals became too much. They are now in their 20’s & go with friends when they want to attend.

    Your book has been downloaded on in my kindle. Looking forward to reading it.

  42. I am afraid I am one of those not that crazy about fairs. I do like some of the rides. And I like looking thru some of the displays. And I love the corn dogs.
    But they have made the fair so expensive. Its stupidly expensive. We have not gone for years.

    1. I agree Lisa. Our fair almost closed down from poor attendance but then they cut prices and people started coming back. If you time it right, you can “attend” the entire Big Marietta Fair for just $6 bucks. LOL. (All the books release at 99¢ for two days–or in my case, three.

  43. We love the two fairs which are close to us. One has the animals, the exhibits, rides and all that crazy fair food. The other is centered around a demolition derby, more rides and two huge parades! I think the parade is my favorite part. xo to you, Debra.

  44. I haven’t been to a fair in years. I think the last time was the New York State Fair when I was a kid many moons ago. Maybe it’s time for us to go to the county fair!

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth. This book was a joy to write thanks to my other five fabulous Fair authors–and Jane. She really created the perfect place to write about.

  45. Welcome Debra! I sadly owned briefly visited fairs over the years for the food. But now with little ones, I spend more of my fair share of time at the rides and the animals.

  46. I like seeing old friends with their grandchildren and rememebering how we use to have fun at the fair.

  47. I haven’t been to a fair in ages…since I was a kid. Today, I think I would love the crafts, the food!!, and the horses (still!)…
    Love Cowgirl Come Home!
    Thanks, Jane, for helping us get to know another great author!

    1. So appreciate your kind words, Kerry Croucier. I can’t say enough good things about Jane Porter. Here’s the dedication in Cowgirl Come Home (some people skip the front matter):
      With heartfelt thanks to Jane Porter–brilliant visionary, warrior woman, gifted writer, humble saint and…best of all, friend. Jane’s kindness and generosity prompted a few us to award her the title: Jane of the Giant Heart…and Great Hair. You rock, Jane. Thanks for inviting me to the Tule party.

  48. I am going to look for your book Deb. And, that is a fantastic photograph that your husband took of Blue…what a great cowboy image. We have a big state fair, but I really enjoy the little ones around that seem more intimate and fun. I always think the contributors a a bunch of creative folks!

    1. Thank you, Library Lady. I think that shot is what they call a: money shot. Only there was no money–only a big purple ribbon…and knowing it immortalized a one-of-a-kind man.

  49. Hi Deb. I have the book and am looking forward to reading it. 🙂

    I always loved the Tilt-A-Whirl…and the food, especially elephant ears, funnel cakes and cotton candy.

    1. Hi, Marcy! Thanks for dropping by. Thanks so much for buying the book. I hope you love it. I’m going to have to break down and ride the Tilt O Whirl with my granddaughters this year. Just to say I did it.

  50. Love the cover. Haven’t been to a fair since the kids were little, but always enjoyed them and the excitement in seeing my kids all excited.

    1. Ruth, I love the cover, too. I love all six of them So fresh and different. Tule’s cover artists are world-class. Fairs are definitely for kids. I love taking my granddaughters. Happy reading! Thanks for your comment.

  51. I can’t wait to read the book! I love fairs of any kind. We lived in a small town and would go to fairs all the time. Now I live in Dallas and love the Cotton Wood Arts Festival that they have two times a year. LOVE FAIRS! Thank you for the opportunity to win such. Fun prize!!!

  52. Your book looks like a great read! At the fair, I love the view from the tippy-top of the ferris wheel, and of course, the funnel cakes!

    1. Hi, Sharon! A reader just sent me a photo of a funnel cake on Facebook. She knew from all these comments that it was a popular choice of fairgoers. Made my mouth water.

      Thanks for commenting! Hope you enjoy Cowgirl Come Home.

  53. I’m looking forward to a great read.

    At any fair I always love to see the craft work, especially the quilts. I stand in awe.

    1. Mary, the quilts always command my attention. My beloved, late mother-in-law was a quilter. I know the time and work that goes into quilting and I love seeing this amazing form of artwork.


    1. Tammy C., I think you’re the first person who mentioned the games. Do you ever win? I am pathetic. Poor depth perception and aim, I guess. I gave up trying years ago. LOL.

  54. I haven’t been to a fair since I was in HS. I like the lights, the Merry Go Round, The Ferris Wheel and people watching!

  55. i know i wont be entered into the context but i still want to answer. my favorite part of the fair is the atmosphere. it makes me feel like a kid again. the smells and sounds bring back so many good memories. i spend a lot of time at the fairs since i raised livestock for the ffa. i wish i could go back to that time and relive it all again

    1. Jackie, your comment made me smile. My daughter was in FFA and I will never forget her and her hog. Such a fun experience watching her show. Thanks for reminding me.

      I’m looking forward to our county fair with new eyes and renewed appreciation thanks to all these wonderful comments.


  56. This has to be over but I don’t see a winner so I’ll answer anyways. 🙂 I love the small town atmosphere of even the largest state fairs..It’s like you step back in time to homemade pies on the windowsill cooling off, jams setting out on the counters and kids running barefoot in the summer..the smell of great food..

    1. Thank you, Kirsten, for your post. I love your comment about walking back in time. I get a sense of that, too, in our county fair. I’m positive we’d all feel that way if we were at the Marietta Fair right now!

      Thanks, too, for reminding me that the winner wasn’t announced. Apparently, that step got lost in the shuffle. I’m posting the name now.

      All the best,

  57. Thanks so much to everyone for the warm embrace and thoughtful comments. You really made me feel at home. Jane has a LOT of wonderful friends and readers.

    The WINNING name was drawn a week ago and emailed to me while I was in San Antonio at RWA. Jane’s assistant has had a family emergency and I didn’t think to post this sooner. I’ve mailed the prize to: Fern Martin.

    I’m sorry I didn’t think to post this sooner, but I do appreciate every comment. You all rock!!!

    I hope to be invited back later this month when the first spin-off from Cowgirl Comes Home is released. The title is NOBODY’S COWBOY. If you’ve read Cowgirl, you’re going wonder why on earth anyone would want to write Austen’s story. As a number of readers have commented: He’s a PITA. 😉 But what’s life without a challenge? LOL.

    Happy reading, all!


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