Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sit-Down Saturday with Helen DePrima

Today we're celebrating Into The Storm, Helen DePrima's debut novel for Heartwarming.

So, Helen, where did you get the idea for this novel?

My agent suggested I write about what I love, so I chose on three of my passions: Colorado, Western horsemanship, and the sport of Professional Bull Riding. Into The Storm is the first novel in the Cameron's Pride series about a Colorado ranch family involved in bull riding. This first book focuses on rancher Jake Cameron as he struggles to carry out his responsibilities as head of the family after losing his wife several years earlier to lupus. His life begins to swing in a more positive direction when Shelby Doucette, a traveling horse trainer on the run from her past, takes refuge at Cameron's Pride.

My favorite scene is quiet but pivotal, the point at which Shelby discovers the strength to confront the tragedy in her past which still threatens her future.

It would be hard for me to chose between Jake Cameron and Shelby Doucette as my favorite character. Both have taken hard blows in their lives, responding with courage and honor so that they deserve a rich reward by the end of their tale. I've tried to draw the secondary characters, especially Jake's sons Tom and Luke, with equal sympathy and detail so that their stories will keep readers interested in the ongoing fortunes of the Cameron family.

I had no trouble finding public figures to visualize as Jake and Shelby. Joanna Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper is the perfect double for Shelby, and retired bull rider J.W. Hart is my ideal Jake.


Researching Into The Storm was a treat, traveling through southern Colorado and attending Professional Bull Riding events to soak up details of geography and speech to lend authenticity to my settings and characterization. Pro bull riding is a sport with a fascinating subculture, colorful characters and language and a crazy magnificence from another age.


Working on my first novel with Heartwarming was an enlightening experience. My editor Dana Grimard shepherded me through the process with wonderful patience and expertise so that we emerged with a much better product than I could have created without her guidance. I just sent her the initial draft of the second novel in the Cameron's Pride series focusing on Jake's bull rider son Tom. I'm currently putting together the synopsis and opening chapters for the third book which will tell Luke's story.

Right now I'm reading Robert B. Parker's Appaloosa in my few spare moments before turning out the light at night.

19 comments:

  1. Add bull riding to my list of things I want to try. It's looks like fun and danger, but I'd give it a try. This coming from someone who played tennis for three hours yesterday after not playing for two months. I was having a wonderful time, but today I feel it.

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    1. Hi Shirley,
      The last thing I'd ever try is riding a bull, but it's an exciting sport to watch. Most of the riders are under thirty years old and some suffer crippling injuries. I love the excellent treatment the bulls receive; contrary to some belief, nothing painful is ever done to them to make them buck.

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  2. Helen, Looking forward to this book. I watch some of the PBR contests on TV, and in general love rodeos. Congrats on your first book with Heartwarming. Enjoy every minute.

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    1. Hi Roz,
      Thanks for your good wishes. PBR is an insane sport but captivating with lots of scope for mining great stories.

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  3. Congratulations on your debut novel, Helen. I love Colorado too. Having once attended a rodeo and watching the professional bull riders, I can see why you chose to write a story about it.

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    2. Hi Jill,
      Colorado has its own special magic, almost like two separate states with the sophisticated vibe of Denver and the ski areas contrasting with the traditional cowboy culture of cattle country. I enjoy exploring the roads less traveled and discovering people and places never mentioned in the guide books.

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  4. Helen, welcome to Heartwarming! This sounds like a fun and fascinating backdrop for romance. Bull riders have got to be some of the toughest characters out there. I love a tough exterior in a hero, especially when they have a heart of gold tucked away inside.

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    1. Hi Carol,

      You're so right -- bull riders and cowboys in general are real softies. Many do charitable work on their own time and are often men of deep faith. I'm always impressed by their accessibility and friendliness toward fans, so different from the downright rudeness of many pro athletes.

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  5. Welcome to the line, Helen! Great to have you on board! The book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to dive in. :)

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    1. Hi Anna,
      Thanks for joining in -- it's been an education passing through the system from rough draft to seeing my book on the market. I hope you enjoy riding along with my characters.

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  6. Welcome, Helen! Your book sound delightful. It's been decades since I hung around Texas rodeos and conversed with professional bull riders. It will be a walk down memory lane for me. One I'm truly looking forward to. And I concur. Our editors are the best ever!! You're going to love it here!

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  7. Hi Catherine,
    Pro rodeo and Professional Bull Riding has come a long way since I was fan as a kid, but the basics are still the same: man versus animal. The cool thing about PBR is that yes, the cowboys are competing against each other for the money, but the real contest is between the rider and the bull. I love watching the men cheering for each other even when someone else's successful ride might knock them out of the money.

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  8. Widower cowboy, a woman with a mysterious past, set in Colorado on a ranch - I'm there. Love that your books span generations. Can't wait.

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    1. Hi Beth,
      I got the idea of a traveling horse trainer after watching the documentary movie Buck about Buck Brannigan; the rest of the elements kind of flew into place from somewhere beyond my conscious control. I'm not an organized plotter -- I mostly turn my characters loose and then follow along recording what they do. They often surprise me with their actions.

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  9. Congratulations, Helen! As a city kid with a fine sense of self-preservation, I would put bull-riding at the bottom of my list of things to do, but I'd love to read about the fearless hero loves it, and the woman who feels a connection to him. Wish you great success!

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    1. Hi Muriel,
      Rodeo competition wasn't on my to-do list either although my cousins and I rode horseback like Indians or cowboys or Cossacks -- amazing we all survived to adulthood. Bull riding is a terribly dangerous sport but so is ranching in general -- many injuries occur, what with both wild and domestic animals plus weather hazards. It was easy to come up with scenarios providing plenty of action and excitement.

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  10. Congratulations, Helen! It sounds like a great read. I love Colorado (and hot cowboys) so this should be perfect :)

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    1. Thanks, Amy -- I hope you enjoy the ride. I loved the excuse to revisit Colorado both in fact and in fiction. The Four Corners area of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona provide so many fascinating stories and locations I couldn't pack into one book, but I'll explore farther afield in the sequels.

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