The Divorce Ranch is light and fun reading. However, it is also a serious, thought-provoking read. Set in Reno, Nevada, it is based on the fact that in the 1930s, married men or women could get uncontested divorces as long as they could show they had resided in Reno for six weeks. As a result, a booming divorce ranch business was set up exclusively to help rich women spend their transitional status in style and comfort before they get their divorces. This story is set in the late ‘30s when other major changes were in the air – the Depression was settling in, World War Two was at its beginning stages, and women’s thinking were changing.
This novel cast of characters is a sample of the women who lived during that period. They find themselves lodging together on Washoe Ranch, a reputable divorce ranch. What these women all have in common is that they all conform or are made to conform to what is expected of them as women of that period.
Maggie is married to an older man chosen by her mother because he is rich and of social standing. However, he is unfaithful to her. Her mother sends her to Washoe Ranch to get a quick divorce because she wants Maggie to remarry a younger rich man and produce a grandchild for her.
Dorothy is a well-known Hollywood actress, married to another well-known actor, both for the sake of their careers. She surprises herself when she finds a way to change her glamorous life into something much more meaningful.
Claire arrives at the ranch broke and broken-hearted. Her stay is the most dramatic and the change she makes is also the most drastic. She needed to find her true self again and be ready to live the life she is meant to live.
June 1936: The United States is in the midst of a severe depression, sword-rattling is going on abroad, and the divorce craze is sweeping through Reno, Nevada. People flock to the biggest little city in the world to gain freedom from loveless marriages because Nevada offers uncomplicated and painless divorces. Divorce gives Nevada a unique identity, a cosmopolitan glamour, a splash of sin, and a whiff of celebrity midst the callous landscape of the desert and the rugged Sierras. Without the divorce trade, Reno would be just another stop on the railroad track. Instead it is an untamed frontier town and a gambler’s paradise.
Enter Maggie Warner Carmichael. She arrives from New York to divorce her husband because of adultery—his, not hers. The darling of Hollywood, Dorothy Adams’ affair becomes food for the press, and she is sent by her producer to divorce her husband. Claire Brown’s marriage and life crumbles, and to avoid humiliation, she is sent to Reno by her parents.
Staying on the ranch opens up a new world—one with denim, horses, and handsome cowboys. While waiting out their required six weeks, these women form a sisterhood where they help each other through Helen’s death, Claire’s little habit, Dorothy’s romantic encounters, and Maggie’s naïveté. The camaraderie they experience allows them the freedom to be themselves and when their divorces are granted, they kiss the columns and throw their rings into the rushing waters of the Truckee River.
I graduated from the University of the Pacific with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Communication Arts. I started teaching elementary school, and realized a Masters would put me higher on the pay scale, so I earned my Masters in Education from the University of Nevada, Reno. For twenty-five years I taught school, ranging from elementary to college level English. I created the first novel writing course at Truckee Meadows Community College and taught The Artist Way in Community Education. I was the Vice-President of the Romance Writers of Northern Nevada before it disbanded in 2002. My published works include The Jeweled Path, Divine Diva, Comstock Rose, and The Way. I am a Reiki Master Teacher who has pursued the Diva trail for over twenty years and I urge everyone to empower their life by accessing their own power to create the life they deserve at http://www.supernovel.com/blog
After my youngest left for college, in order to avoid the empty nest blues, I resigned from teaching and went into business with my husband. We own and operate Sierra RV Super Center, employing over thirty people. Our dealership offers sales, service, parts, and rentals. I create my own ads; voice my own commercials, and offer tips and information on the RV lifestyle. We are parents of two grown children and have two fabulous grandchildren—the reason we didn’t kill the teenagers!
1. How did you come up with the idea for The Divorce Ranch?
Years ago, I read a newspaper article that talked about the time period and the ranches. I became intrigued and started researching the topic. I discovered two of the ranches were close to my house, so I went and scouted them out. I chose the 30s because of the social and economic conditions, but the divorce ranches actually continued until the mid-sixties. My great-aunt was a secretary on a studio lot in the 1930s and I remember describing the times—hence Dorothy, the actress.
2. What is your writing process like?
I start with an idea, then brainstorm, read, and gather information on the idea and let the story form. Once I have sufficient information and plot ideas, I start writing the “shitty first draft”, which is the frame of the story. This part is the hardest. I’m not a big outliner because I don’t want to not go somewhere in the story because I hadn’t thought about that in the outline. I am not afraid to rip up the story in the rewrite and revision processes.
3. What is your writing routine?
What writing routine? I own and operate a large business with my husband and I write in the corners of my life. Always have. Thank goodness for Dropbox. I can take my work with me. (In the slower periods, I try and write on Tuesdays, staying up on the mountain cocooned in my office with my faithful dog, Lulu.
4. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
I used to teach writing at the college level and I found that most of my students didn’t believe in their own voices. You need to believe in yourself first, then you need to make time to write. Writing is a craft—the more you write the better you’ll become. Also, writers need to read voraciously. It is amazing how many students wanted to write, but they didn’t like to read. There is a disconnect there.
5. What is in your To Read Pile?
I am anticipating the third book of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy which is slated for July. The Book of Life If you haven’t read the first two, I encourage you.
6. What is your favorite place to unwind?
My favorite place to unwind is The Retreat, which is our home. We built this cozy cabin seven years ago. Hiking trails are right out of the front door, the waterfall soothes my weary soul, and the tall pines shield me from the sun.
7. What is your next project?
I am finishing the “shitty first draft” of Romancing the Vines, which is the sequel to Seasons of the Vineyard. This story has taken some interesting twists and turns. From the Sonoma Valley, to Italy, then back in time, then back to California where the reader will discover the truth about Francesca, Enrico, and Giancarlo.
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