Posted by: Helen De Prima | April 16, 2021

“Steel Magnolia” – 52 Pickup, #19

Craig’s secondary characters add so much richness to his books — Ruby, for one and Lonnie Little Bird for another.

Longmire Book Club

Question #19, 9/18/18

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby

from Carolyn J. Althoff:

“Can we talk about Ruby? She’s always in the background but always seems to be a step ahead of Walt. Kind of like “radar” from MASH. Where does she come from? Is there a back story?”

Hi Carolyn,

Ruby’s back story is touched upon in the second book, Death Without Company. There’s a scene where Walt is sleeping in the holding cell and Ruby wakes him up with a cup of coffee and Walt begins questioning her about a relationship that Lucian may or may not have had in the distant past. As it turns out, Ruby at one time appears to have had a liaison with Lucian, also… This comes as something of a surprise to Walt and is one of the themes of the novel—that people aren’t the way they seem when you first meet them, that they’ve…

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Posted by: Helen De Prima | December 24, 2016

High Road Home revisited

Hanging for the moment at the final editorial stages of Luke’s Ride, the third book for in the Cameron’s Pride series for Harlequin Heartwarming, I decided to dress up the image of my first novel, The High Road Home. I published HRH independently with Amazon’s Create Space; it remains the story closest to my heart, based loosely on my own family relationships in Kentucky and my early experiences in Colorado.

Since attending a class on book trailers at the New Hampshire Writers Project, I’ve toyed with the idea of creating one for HRH, using my own photos and a sound track borrowed from Apple’s Garage Band app. I’m far from computer-savvy, maybe comparable to the fifth-grade reading level. A lot of coaching went into the project from a whole team at various Apple stores plus a final heave over the top by my daughter, a publishing/editorial pro, but I’m pretty happy with my first effort. I hope you enjoy the result and that it will entice you to take a look at The High Road Home, available from both Amazon and Barnes&

Posted by: Helen De Prima | August 13, 2014

You Can Go Home Again.

Thomas Wolfe warmed You Can’t Go Home Again, and friends cautioned me not to expect too much on returning to Focus Ranch after a 45 year absence. I knew they were right, but . . . They were wrong.

The old feeling of anticipation kicked in as soon as the mountains closed behind us west of Denver and stepped up when we left the eighteen-wheelers and big RV’s on I-70 to head north toward Steamboat Springs. By the time we stopped at the Quarter Circle Saloon in Kremmling, Colorado for lunch, we were deep in cattle country.


South of Kremmling CO.

South of Kremmling CO.


The true magic began where the pavement ended. Thirty-four miles of gravel road winding through Routt National Forest northwest of Steamboat Springs guard the ranch from 21st century encroachment. When Sheep Mountain loomed on the western horizon, I finally let myself believe that the ranch still existed, that it hadn’t disappeared like some Western Brigadoon.


Yes, faces from the past were missing, but the present owners Terry and Maureen extend the same warm hospitality I remembered. The original log ranch house had finally deteriorated beyond rehabilitation, but a new one much like the old sits backed against the mesa for protection from the north winds. The big red barn still holds the aromas of horses and leather, and the Little Snake River sings its song under the old bridge.



Some guests come to Focus Ranch for the excellent trout fishing, but for my husband and me it was all about horses and ranching. Once the wranglers decided we rode well enough not to be a nuisance, they gave us good horses and put us to work. We helped sort cattle, move cattle, and look for cattle that were nowhere to be found in dense thickets and aspen groves. At meal times we listened with rapt attention while Terry described the intricacies of running a top-notch grazing operation. And I discovered that Maureen had worked as a public health nurse on the western slope about the same time I was a Visiting Nurse in Larimer County on the eastern slope of the Rockies — tales swapped of weather hazards and cantankerous but loveable patients.


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The week went by way too fast. My husband loved playing cowboy, putting in a full day in the saddle. Although I couldn’t handle as much time on horseback as I had while in my teens and twenties, I was able to make the giant step back in time to some of the happiest days of my life. Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you can go home again.








Posted by: Helen De Prima | July 1, 2014

Poised to leap

heading out

With excitement and apprehension, I’m ready to launch my novel The High Road Home into the challenging world of self publishing. A special event is pushing me to take the big step: I’m heading back this summer to the Colorado ranch where I spent so much happy time as a teenager.

Focus ranch 1957

Although Focus Ranch resembles Keyhole Ranch in The High Road Home only in approximate location, the memories I collected there came back as vividly as yesterday when I began describing its setting along the Colorado-Wyoming border.

I began writing The High Road Home as a memorial gift of sorts to my aunt Willa Holzheimer who gave up her career as a Navy officer to raise me after my mother died. She was always an adventurous child, once hitching a ride in an open-cockpit plane that landed in her father’s hayfield. My grandparents were frantic until she walked in several hours later unaware she’d caused an uproar. She graduated first in her high school class at age 14 and went on to earn her Master’s in chemistry, phenomenal for a woman in the Twenties. When WWII started, she joined the Navy and became a WAVE, one of the first female Navy officers. When asked where she would like to serve, she specified the West Coast; instead she was sent to Key West where she was assigned to work on submarine fuel research until her discharge.Ensign Holzheimer

Because she never did get to follow her dreams of travel, I gave my protagonist Robbie Tolliver the adventures my aunt never experienced, plus some yearnings of my own. I’ll keep you posted as The High Road Home comes closer to reality.


Posted by: Helen De Prima | July 27, 2013

Back in the saddle

Gotta get back in the habit of using my blog — I was shocked to see I haven’t written anything here in more than two years. I haven’t been idle — lots of revising on my first novel The High Road Home and completing Cameron’s Pride, what I hope will be the first in a series about a ranching family in southern Colorado. In between, I made a pilgrimage to somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit: the Four Corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. I didn’t get to the Grand Canyon — that’s next — but we visited Durango and Mesa Verde in Colorado, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Moab Utah and cut across the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona to Santa Fe and Taos. Hard to decide which was best, but I guess I’d have to choose Arches, a truly magical place. Check out my photos — the light there is incredible.


Posted by: Helen De Prima | April 25, 2010

Colorado bound!

I’ve collected all my guidebooks and road maps (I like real paper in my hands), getting ready to hit the road for Kentucky and Colorado. After visiting family near Louisville for a few days, we’ll be heading west for great road food, sightseeing, and the  Wild Wild West Fest in Pueblo, three days of cowboy events highlighted by PBR competition.  Yee-haw!

Posted by: Helen De Prima | February 1, 2010

The Dreaded Head Shot

Because my agent feels we’re getting close to pitching The High Road Home to editors, she asked for a bio and photo. No sweat about the bio, just jot down a few notes about an unremarkable life aside from running a half-way house for critters ranging from bats to beavers to white-tailed deer. The photo thing scared the poo out of me — I hadn’t endured a formal sitting since my wedding portrait. When a friend who works at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in western MA offered to set up a session, I accepted; I had no better plan. My friend introduced me to the instructor who would shoot me — David something. I was too nervous to catch his last name.

David immediately set me at ease, making me a partner in the process as he shot frame after frame, more than fifty. It stopped being scary and became downright fun. He made me a disk for me to pore over at home, instructing me to choose my five favorites for re-touching, and accepted an invitation to dinner as a thank-you.

Over dinner at Gill Tavern in Gill, MA, I finally learned David’s last name.  I’d just had a session with David Turner who photographs Beautiful People like Ralph Lauren, Donald Trump, Kyra Sedgewick, and Sean Combs as well as fashion models too numerous to mention. I damn near fainted. If I had known whom I was meeting, I probably wouldn’t have had the nerve to show up. A little ignorance can be a wonderful thing.

Posted by: Helen De Prima | December 24, 2009

Setting out

All the experts (agents, editors and the like) say an online presence helps sell books. I’ll do most anything for an excuse to keep writing, so here goes. I hope old friends and new ones will join me through the process.


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