Tell us about your story in the Silver Belles anthology
"A Hard Candy Christmas" is a story that's very close to my heart. I set it in my hometown of Del Rio, Texas, and I've included railroaders along with sheep ranchers because the railroad in the early days of Del Rio was a huge boost to the local economy.
My father was a railroad engineer in Del Rio when I was growing up, and our life revolved around his train schedules. Another interesting fact about Del Rio is it was originally settled by ranchers, but not cattle ranchers—sheep ranchers. The climate is arid and the soil is poor and mostly grows brush and some prairie grass, so the original ranching families learned they could run more sheep per acre than cattle. My sister married into one of the pioneer families, the Bakers, and I spent several of my summers on their ranch, working sheep on horseback and helping out around the shearing shed.
The story centers on a young single mother, Abigail, whose husband has deserted her. She has an eight-year-old son. They're dependent on her demanding and miserly father, a railroad engineer, who also owns a boardinghouse, which she runs for him. Given her relationship with her husband and her father, Abby has been hurt and is fearful of men. She goes to great lengths to avoid men--until Clint Graham, a sheep rancher and the local sheriff, rents one of her rooms. Even though they're caught between the railroaders and sheep ranchers in a local feud, Abby and Clint learn they have a lot in common. And Clint's steadfast devotion to her son helps to dispel her fears about men. Their romance blossoms, but then Abby's long-absent husband shows up.
What inspired you to write "A Hard Candy Christmas?"
Summers spent on the Baker ranch and Devil's River, along with growing up in a railroad family and adapting to its peculiar lifestyle.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
Is there such a thing as a typical writing day? I wish there were, but I find I have to fit my writing schedule around my family, household stuff, my new granddaughter, and social media. However, if you ask what my ideal writing day SHOULD be, I would say, it's getting up, brushing my teeth, etc. and then immediately sitting down at my computer to write and ignoring everything until I've reached my page count (I'm old fashioned, I still use pages, not words, for my daily quota). My preferable page count is around 8 to 10 pages per day, six days a week. But if I'm on a deadline, I will write any time and burn a lot of midnight oil to make the deadline.
Abigail Kerr Sanford is a single mother struggling to raise her child. Sheriff Clint Graham is a man scarred by his background and family tragedies. Drawn into a bitter feud between ranchers and railroaders, Abigail and Clint work together to resolve the feud, learning to respect and trust each other. And as their feelings deepen, they recognize their love is the most special Christmas gift of all.
“Don't! Don't say it.” Abigail covered her ears with her hands. “I can't stand it.” She rose and stood before him, tears trailing down her cheeks. “Too much sorrow, too much grief. There aren't enough words, there isn't enough…anything.”
Clint rose and put his arms around her waist. And she didn't pull away. Instead, she slumped against him and buried her face in his chest.
Talking about what had happened made the grief fresh again, like a knife cutting out his guts. But at the same time, he felt a breath of relief, as if he'd cauterized a gaping wound, and stopped the bleeding.
He rested his chin on the top of Abby's head and sighed. Her hair was soft and silky. And holding her in his arms helped—just touching her. He hoped she felt the same way.
She lifted her head and gazed at him. “Kevin reminds you of Timothy?”
He nodded. “Yes, being with your son is the only thing that's helped. I took the sheriff's job to make money and restock my ranch. But the real reason was to get away from the river. I couldn't stand to look at it—to be reminded of what happened.”
He trailed his fingertips along her cheek and down her throat. “I know I'm a crazy man, Abby. But being around you and Kevin makes me less crazy.” He snagged her gaze. “That should be a good thing, right?”
“Yes, Clint, a good thing.” She ran her pink tongue over her ruby-red lips.
And God help him, he bent his head and touched his lips to hers.
At first, she started to pull away, but he made himself go slow. He brushed her lips lightly, gently. She sighed and leaned into his embrace. He caressed her lips with his, angling his head this way and then that, but careful not to seek entrance to her mouth.
She might be the mother of an eight-year-old boy, but she acted like a virgin.
He cradled her and she snuggled closer, offering her mouth to him.
Would he ever get enough of her?
Hebby Roman is the multi-published author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance.
Hebby is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and the past president of her local chapter, North Texas Romance Writers. She was selected for the Romantic Times "Texas Author" award, and she won a national Harlequin contest. Her book, BORDER HEAT, was a Los Angeles Times Book Festival selection.
She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas in Austin and was selected for inclusion in the first edition of Who's Who in American Women.
She is blessed to have all her family living close by in north Texas, including her family's latest edition, her granddaughter, Mackenzie. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and maltipoo, Maximillian.
Hebby on FACEBOOK
Amazon Author Page
Getting to Know Hebby
Favorite animal would have to be dogs with horses a close second.
Biggest fear is probably any of my family or friends being in a terrible car accident on the highway.
Easiest person to talk to would be my three closest girlfriends, all of whom I've known over 20 years, one of which was a college roommate.
Favorite song would be Chris Botti's "Indian Summer."
Favorite book would be "Gone with the Wind."
Ghosts, are they real? Yes, I think certain places that have deadly or notorious histories, tend to encourage spirits to "hang around."
Hometown is Del Rio, Texas.
I'm in love with my husband and son and granddaughter. Boring, aren't I? Well, there is "Downton Abbey." I love that series.
Middle name is Lynn, as in my mother, who when she was mad, would screech: "Hebby Lynn McCuller (maiden name), you get over here and…"
One wish would be to visit Venice before I leave this earth.
Reason to smile anything that lampoons egotistical people.
Song you last sang was "England Swings" because we were in Great Britain and that old 60's song kept playing in my mind.
Underwear color Really? Who cares? But again, I'm old fashioned, so definitely white.
Vacation destination Again, Venice and anywhere along the Mediterranean.
Favorite movie is "Charade" with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Worst habit is snacking, late at night, while I'm reading, even though I'm not really hungry.
Favorite food is beef stroganoff.
Zodiac sign: Virgo.
Thanks so much for visiting us today, Hebby!
You can read Hebby's story in the:
SILVER BELLES AND STETSONS ANTHOLOGY