Cathy with her novella prequel as Donna Cronk holds Cathy's first full-length wholesome cowboy romance novel at the author's first Barnes & Noble signing in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Cathy has now released her third full-length cowboy romance, available on Amazon. Read on to learn about her writing process.
It’s a pleasure to introduce my friend and colleague, author Cathy Shouse. Cathy’s latest wholesome cowboy romance novel is the fourth in her Galloway Sons Farm series, including a novella prequel. And she's only getting started. More Fair Creek Romance novels are in the works.
Before we discuss the new book, meet Cathy and learn about her creative processes. I had planned to craft a feature story from our written interview, but since she gave me props for the questions, and I see no need to paraphrase her on-point answers, here’s our exchange.
Q. Cathy, you’re a resident of Fairmount, Indiana, and native of nearby Upland. Tell us about your childhood and how it influenced your work as a journalist and author.
A. My two siblings and I grew up on a small farm. Shetland ponies, being around cows, driving around to see how crops were doing, and listening to farm reports on the radio were the norm.
After writing long letters, at a young age, to my aunt who lived far away, and reading multiple books I’d checked out weekly from the library, my involvement in the high school newspaper wasn’t a surprise (started by selling and designing ads, ended as editor in chief my senior year).
Q. How did you decide to attend Indiana University Bloomington? Your major?
A. Since I was also an avid oboe player, and I didn’t get great career guidance, I graduated
with a BS in music and business. IU is a world-renowned music school. A highlight was Leonard Bernstein conducting our college orchestra. The story I wrote about that appeared in the Marion paper.
Q. What kind of work did you do after college, and where?
A. Post graduation, I worked in the business field, and as a “single girl,” I lived in a fantastic historic neighborhood in Indianapolis called Woodruff Place, which inspired some settings in my early stories. My husband, Jim, and I met when we were 29. We married about a year later.
Q. One important life theme you speak of often is that you married and had children at what you consider a later age than many peers.
A. This subject might be a novel in itself! But suffice it to say I’ve gone on some very bad, and some downright unusual dates. Here’s to my date who drove up in a crashed-up car to a hole-in-the -wall “restaurant” in Bloomington and “forgot” his wallet.
Maybe I’m more appreciative of romance because it didn’t happen right away for me. Our babies didn’t come along on schedule, either, although they were perfect in God’s timing.
I’d always wanted to write, and after my second child came along, I took that as a sign I should stay home and write, so that’s what I did.
Q. How did you come to live in Fairmount? The small, charming town is significant in your writing. Your first book is a history of the town. Was writing a book always a goal?
A. All the books I’ve read have influenced my life, not only the nonfiction but also the fiction
books. Relationships in fiction are great ways to learn. We can get into someone’s shoes and experience what we haven’t in real life. So having that phenomenon repeatedly, as a reader, made me want to offer it to others through my writing.
In college, I wanted to write books, and took creative writing as an elective. Also, I’ve had numerous people tell me I have a unique take on things (putting that in a flattering light) that might help others.
My life lessons might show up in my writing, although my most important goal as an author is always to entertain and give someone an escape from everyday life. Those two things are my prime motivators for reading and that’s what I hope to provide readers.
But writing fiction is a separate college course I never took, so in the meantime, when a bookseller at a writing conference reported that certain photo history books were “flying off the shelves,” I received good advice that Fairmount, with its famous people like James Dean and Garfield the Cat creator Jim Davis, might be a good basis for one.
Like the community in my novels, the people of Fairmount rallied around, starting with the Fairmount history museum, and helped find photos and tell the story of Fairmount. The rest is history!
When my husband and I wanted to rear our family in a small town, we thought of Fairmount, my parents’ hometown (they went to school with James Dean, even). The location worked well so we went for it. Multiple cousins and aunts still live here, and because we hung out with them every weekend when I was a child, we’re very close. There are reasons my characters have lots of cousins and aunts.
Q. Fairmount, population 2,655 in 2021, has been home to international celebrities. What influence do they have on your writing?
A. James Dean grew up with his extended family in Fairmount and became an iconic movie star before his tragic death in a car crash at age 24. (He was, in part, the inspiration for the cowgirl movie star in the third book in my series, Best Friend.)
As a local reporter in Marion, I wrote so many stories about James Dean that when they wanted to save his old high school, I once started an essay, “Jimmy and Me.” In the process, I learned how hard James Dean worked to get his acting "breaks,” and became a huge fan.
Jim Davis, who created Garfield, grew up in Fairmount. Davis tried other cartoon creatures but Garfield, by far his most successful, has been called a barn cat with attitude. Simply realizing that a creative life can spring from a small-town setting is inspiring!
Through researching the town’s history book, I learned that all kinds of exceptional people started out here, from college presidents to artists to national news reporters. These tidbits find their way into my novels.
Q. Tell us about your work as a writer for newspapers and magazines.
A. When I wanted to realize a dream to write, I started by reconnecting with my high school journalism teacher, who freelanced for the Marion newspaper. With his endorsement, I took on small assignments and ended up working on features, then went on staff part-time.
Over time I continued freelance, writing for five separate publications at one point, from Ft. Wayne to Muncie to Anderson. After writing thousands of articles, I’ve honed my craft and pitched magazine articles.
I was published in Family Fun, Indianapolis Monthly, and The Saturday Evening Post. More recently, I’ve written for Travel Indiana, and now am a contributor to Senior Life and Glo, free monthly newspapers in Ft. Wayne. I contribute to my community with weekly stories in the Courier, distributed in Fairmount and two nearby towns.
Q. How did you decide to pursue wholesome cowboy romance? You’ve published a novella prequel and three full-length cowboy romances.
A. Finding readers for my work has always been important and when I learned these types of stories have a following around the world, I decided to keep going.
Seven books are currently planned, and after that, I’ll likely start a spin-off series.
When Wyatt, Leo, and Gage Galloway inherit their family farm in Fair Creek, their father’s wishes bring them back home to Indiana. Meet the Galloway Sons and enjoy three inspirational novels about cowboys, family, and coping with life’s challenges.
Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Second Chance (Book 1) Single dad and businessman Wyatt is a widower struggling with life’s scars. Seeing diner owner Sierra Delaney again could be the start of his healing.
Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Triplets (Book 2) Artist Leo has lost himself in his work and returns home for a break. But the busy life of his best friend’s little sister, future single-mom Kristin, may renew him.
Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Best Friend (Book 3) International journalist Gage isn’t sure what home means anymore. But his high school best friend Bree Murphy’s life-changing news about their farewell encounter inspires him to figure it all out.
Q. Why do you find that cowboy romance is popular? Do you read books in the genre?
A. I’m glad you asked! Recently, I had the opportunity to delve into the first question in the Facebook group, Clean Cowboy Romance readers. Like me, others grew up watching TV westerns, and I guess that spawned an entire movement of readers who love cowboys. I find myself reading more inspirational cowboy romances.
I aim for my brand to include life’s challenges but to be on the lighter side, especially in the character personalities. When I turn the last page, I want to feel good and maybe that I learned something. That’s what I hope to offer readers.
Q. Which of your four cowboy-themed books is your favorite and why?
A. I’ll always love the novella prequel because it got me started in the publishing world. Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Twin Heirs is a Christmas story, which I love.
The novella has one of my favorite “meet cute” scenes when Caleb and Annie’s paths cross. Also, a mentor who became a dear friend edited it and she’s now passed away. I associate writing Twin Heirs with good memories. Since I offer it for free to give new fans a taste of my stories, more readers have read and reviewed that one. It’s an introduction to the Galloway Sons world, where many have chosen to continue with the other books in the series.
Q. Is the “billionaire” cowboy a specific genre? For example, is there middle-class cowboy fiction? Your cowboys seem down-to-earth with good core values.
A. Yes, “billionaire” is a genre and I think “cowboy billionaire” might be, too.
If you really think about it, land ownership often means wealth. But my books focus on cowboy values of appreciating the land, family, community, and having a strong work ethic and faith.
I also like their awareness of the seasons. They deal with winter. Spring will come. There is darkness and light. All of us are involved with seasons and nature but those who work outdoors are more so.
Q. Christian faith is also a part of your stories. Tell us about that.
A. Years ago, I was exploring fiction and started many stories, one of which ended up as the prequel to the series.
A reason I came late to writing about faith is because I think it’s a private matter. I didn’t
want to seem preachy or like I was judging others. I come from it like someone who’s still
trying to figure things out, and maybe my readers are too. Faith is a part of their everyday lives.
Q. What advice do you have for would-be authors?
A. I think the biggest thing for me was figuring out why I wanted to write. Only after a session
with a writing coach did I nail down my “why” for writing fiction, which helped me to find the courage and determination to publish my stories.
Everything is personal, and I feel vulnerable about it. With so many books in the world, it’s hard to think what any “regular person” writes matters. I decided maybe part of why I’m here is to put my brand of writing out there, and hopefully it would speak to a certain type of reader. That has been the case. My readers and I have a connection and understand each other in a way that’s special on both sides, from the responses I’ve gotten.
Q. In your new book, we meet Gage Galloway, who returns home to become involved with the farm, per his late father’s will. He learns that his high school best friend, Bree, is keeping a secret. How did you come up with the plot that unfolds?
A. When I decided to create a series, I made a list of what I love and what I wanted to include. I’m basically gaga over babies. Babies enter our world in multiple situations.
I’d written about getting the call to be a guardian for twin babies, also about having triplets through infertility treatments. I’d heard “secret baby” stories are popular with readers.
I didn’t find many books with people of faith who had dealt with unexpected babies, so I wrote one, keeping their perspectives in mind.
Q. This fourth book (including the prequel) in the Galloway Sons Farm A Fair Creek Romance series tells stories of four brothers in a wealthy farm family, set in a small, idyllic Indiana town. What’s next?
A. Having the cover of a book ready to go helps me to write the story. Currently, I have the next in line, Her Billionaire Cowboy’s Secret Heir up on Amazon for pre-order. I’ve gotten three more book covers designed so the series will go to at least seven, not counting the prequel.
Q. What do readers enjoy about the Galloway Sons and about the town--which is something of its
A. Hearing reader comments is one of my favorite things. They’ve mentioned that they like how the community pulls together for one another, and the way the characters are dealing with real issues, yet there are humorous conversations.
Quite a few liked that Sierra was coping with a new diagnosis of her disability in the “second chance” story, book 1. Some say they appreciate the faith aspects of my stories.
Q. Is Fairmount the model for Fair Creek? Do locals ask if the characters are based on people there?
A. Yes, the little Indiana town where I live was the inspiration for the series. The town inspires each book, too. If I’m trying to think of ideas, I will sometimes take a drive around town, or go sit at the coffee shop and look out the window, or possibly see local friends enjoying coffee, just as my characters do.
It gives me joy to immerse myself in that small-town feel. None of the characters are inspired by a particular person, although in this latest book, a side character was inspired by a dear friend who recently passed.
Q. Both Gage and Bree express their faith in God throughout the book as they acknowledge His plans for their lives. What’s your process for adding these themes?
A. I’m a Christian and as a journalist I write everything, but have always leaned toward the upbeat and inspiring, whenever possible. For many years, I wrote fiction on my own, with that same angle. But once I started writing stories closer to home and leaning into my heart as a Christian, interest in my books has somewhat taken off.
Getting awarded a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to fund book 1 was early validation that I’m on the right track.
Q. A secondary plot involves Dale Murphy, an ancestor of Bree. Bree is passionate about keeping a museum and town festival going in tribute to the late cowgirl actress. Explain the roots of this storyline.
A. My little town has a famous person associated with it and I wanted one for Fair Creek. As a child, I was a fan of the cowboy Roy Rogers. I read his wife Dale Evans’ book, Angel Unaware. A photo of Dale dressed as a cowgirl made her the perfect muse, although nothing about the book is based on facts about her.
Q. I find your ending satisfying as it gives me hope that we still have good men around who want to love their people and do the right thing. What reaction are readers having to your ending? I liked how you teased us with what I thought would be a big engagement scene.
A. I was headed toward the ending you “thought” was coming (I don’t plot ahead) and then decided this proposal needed to happen in Fair Creek. After all, Gage is an international journalist turned cowboy, and he and Bree worked through a lot to be together, so I opted for a fancier, swoon-worthy ending.
Readers have expressed that they love the story, in general. Supposedly, the way readers feel at the end is what has them reaching for the next book. No one has specifically mentioned the ending yet, but sales for the next book have been brisk!
Q. Another unexpected subplot emerges near the book’s end. This one involves two new characters. Will they play roles in future books?
A. I planned that subplot before I started the book, which is unusual. I’m running out of Galloway brothers, and with all the discoveries I’m hearing about in real life regarding unexpected family, I decided, why not the Galloways?
Insider secret: originally, I planned for one character but since the family has twins in their genes, I went for that theme so there are two new characters.
Q. What else do you wish to share?
A. Want to know my big-picture, pie-in-the-sky dream? I hope readers will love the Galloway Sons of Fair Creek so much they’ll want to come to a reader event, held in my town that inspired the series, of course!
Connect with Cathy:
Facebook: cathy shouse author
Facebook: Cathy Shouse's Reader Chat Group