April Smith, author of the Ana Grey Mystery Series and other books.

Behind the Book

Home Sweet Home
I always travel to every place I write about to get the look and feel of what my characters will experience. One of the most pleasurable stops along the way to conceptualizing Home Sweet Home was the Moore Longhorn Ranch, a working ranch and agrotourist destination where you can go on a cattle drive and get to know the affable owners, Joe and Nancy Moore.

Welcome to Bucklin, Kansas. This is it.

White-tailed deer accompanied me through the woods, but they were camera-shy.

Whiskey is a red heeler, bred to boss cows around. He was so amazing that I gave him a cameo in the book. You’ll recognize his moves.

Every day Nancy and I gathered these gorgeous eggs. Truly Easters colors. The yolks are bright and the taste is rich. Now at home we only eat organic pasture-raised and they are a treat.

Working quarter horses.

The author doing research. You’ve heard of ropin’ and ridin’ but this is a new one: ridin’ and writin.’

This calf and born late and needed TLC. It’s suck was so strong it nearly bowled me over.

Nancy is businesslike about her lambs. I was a broken-hearted fool to learn this one was ready for slaughter.

Texas Longhorns are mostly bred for rodeos, as well as ornamentals for folks who like the look of the old west in their fields. They’re a hardy breed that’s not particular about what they’ll eat and a good record for delivering live calves. You can also raise them for meat (I know you were wondering) which they say is low cholesterol and healthy, but frankly, after hanging out with them, I’ll pass.

One day Nancy said casually, “There’s a baby being born if you want to see it,” and kept on walking. Watching this birth inspired an important scene in the book.

Branding takes two. Thank God we weren’t also neutering.

Let me tell you, NOTHING’S better than a cold beer at the end of a long day on the ranch.