In Farewell to Freedom just days before Christmas, 47 year old Cheyenne Stevens flees to Las Vegas with her friend Kathryn to escape the heartbreak of a failing twenty year marriage. While there, she meets a cowboy named Rowdy Harrison from Freedom, Oklahoma, who’s in Vegas attending the National Finals Rodeo.
Upon returning home from the sinful weekend in Vegas, she accepts an invitation to visit Rowdy in Freedom. Their love affair quickly blooms into a business relationship when Cheyenne buys into his fledgling bucking bull business. They initially live together in a run down bunkhouse on Rowdy’s elderly father’s ranch.
She quickly tires of her surroundings, investing heavily, she builds a log lodge, restaurant and rodeo arena, buys a 3500 acre ranch and begins to operate a dude ranch business in Northwest Oklahoma. They raise bucking bulls who perform at rodeo’s and PBR events across the country.
Cheyenne initially believes that living life in the country with a cowboy will take her back in time to a childhood place where she was once her happiest. However, the elements and daily struggles of her life there eventually take a toll on the city girl and her escape to Freedom becomes far more than she’d bargained for.
Has Cheyenne made a mistake by leaving friends and family and her perfect world in Washington State to start a new life with a cowboy in Freedom?
Tell us something about yourself.
I am originally from Omak, Washington, a small town in North Central Washington where I grew up spending time on my grandfather’s ranch. He was a well known stock contractor. Rodeo and cowboys were a part of my young life. I spent many hours listening to my Grandfather Leo tell vivid stories about the west and the cowboy way of life; and enjoyed story telling from a very young age.
I moved from Omak at age twenty attending a business college in the Seattle area. I worked for several years as a paralegal. I’ve owned a variety of businesses in my lifetime allowing me to use my writing skills in marketing my ventures which resulted in several articles being published in local and national news media. While on my ranch in Oklahoma, my marketing efforts attracted the attention of Warner Brother’s Studio who was interested in doing a reality television show about life on a dude ranch.
I’ve always had a passion for writing and have written several short stories, some of which have been published on the internet an in local and national media. My book Farewell to Freedom is my first novel. I’ve also written a screenplay based on my novel Farewell to Freedom. I have a passion for writing and recently made it my full-time occupation. I’m working on a second novel which I expect to be ready for publication by the fall of 2012.
What inspired you to write this book?
The 13 years I spent living on my ranch in Freedom, Oklahoma. The day to day routine of existing in such a remote part of the world was the inspiration for writing my first novel. Although my book is fiction it is largely based on my own personal life experiences.
How did you choose the title?
The title “Farewell to Freedom” was chosen because of the locale of my ranch. My business Cedar Canyon Lodge was built six miles south of the small town of Freedom. When I finally got my fill of the deception going on around me; thirteen years after I’d arrived, I left Freedom, Oklahoma in the dust. Thus the title “Farewell to Freedom.”
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The hard part for me was the two years I spent writing the novel. Once it was finished and I began the process of sending out query letters I thought it went exceptionally well. After receiving about 20 rejections I was accepted by Strategic Publishing Group as one of their authors.
I overcome all obstacles by sheer persistence. I’m not one to give up easy. I truly believed that I had a story that needed to be told.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, from letters when I was a kid, to short stories. People seemed to react to my writing and it kept me interested in writing more.
I got started on my novel simply by sitting down at the computer and letting my fingers do the talking.
Do you have any writing rituals?
When I was in the throws of writing Farewell to Freedom, I had no specific routine. If I awoke in the middle of the night with an idea in my head, I got up, turned on the computer and wrote. My writing seems to come in spurts; and, when I’m inspired I can write for hours at a time.
I try to write at least 5 or 6 hours a day 3 or 4 days a week. In between if thoughts occur which I feel will be important to my writing I immediately go to the computer and write notes to myself.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I wanted to have a western name for the female and knew that the Cheyenne Wyoming rodeo had been one of my grandfather’s favorites, so I named the lead female character Cheyenne Stevens.
Rowdy is a name that I’d heard before somewhere in the southwest. Although it’s kind of “cheesey” I thought it fit my male character perfectly. As I thumbed through my collection of old rodeo programs the name Rowdy jumped out at me. His last name “Harrison” came as I watched “The Bachelor” on ABC … I took it from Chris Harrison the host of the show.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Yes. I learned that writing can be quite theraputic. It helps to release pent up emotions, to re-live good and bad past experiences; and, for me, to let them go.
I enjoyed the research on the proper way to write a manuscript; and, re-learned much about punctuation and formatting.
I learned that persistence pays off and that there is a huge world of people out there who will support you if you are passionate about your writing.
Most of all, I learned patience. It takes a lot of hard work to perfect your writing and no matter how many times you read your work over there will always be another mistake pop up. I learned the hard way that editing is a difficult job…and that sometimes it’s more important to trust your intuition than to place your trust in an unknown editor who may or may not always have your best interest at heart.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
It has been such a learning process that I doubt that I would have done much of anything differently. Although, I may have been more persistent in attracting an agent who could have introduced me to a larger publishing house. I was anxious to see my book in print and chose to go with a smaller “print on demand” publisher which I’m yet to be convinced was the best choice for the overall success of my book.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I enjoy biographies, real life adventures, romance, and history. I enjoy reading authors like Danielle Steele, Dan Brown and John Grisham.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m working on a second fictional novel which I’m finding is a bit harder to write since I’m unable to rely upon my real life experiences in telling the story. It’s been a completely different experience from my first novel.
It’s a story about a Texas woman born into a wealthy disfunctional family. She’s not loved or wanted by her jealous mother; and, is heartbroken as she watches her evil mother destroy her weak father. Fleeing to Arizona, to attend college, at the age of 18, she doesn’t return to her large family ranch in Texas until after her mother’s death some 40 years later.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Just go for it! If you have a story to tell, sit down and write. It’s not easy, but can be very rewarding in many ways.
is the perfect reader for your book?
Adult men and women alike who enjoy the thrill of reading a modern day western adventure wrangler/love story based on true life characters and situations.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Readers may visit my website: www.farewelltofreedom.net where they can read great reviews and learn more about life in Freedom, Oklahoma. They can order an autographed copy of the book on my website and/or ask for the book at their local book store or library under ISBN #: 978-1-60911-932-4.
Wholesale buyers may buy the book by emailing: BookOrder@AEG-Online-Store.com.