Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for both children and adults. Her first novel, a clean, contemporary pet rescue romance titled Rescue Road, released November 8, 2019. The follow-up book, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, released in May 2020. She subtly weaves important life lessons within the lines and pages of her stories, including the importance of pet rescue and adoption. An animal advocate, she volunteers for various dog rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Gayle resides in Wyoming with her husband and their adopted animals. She creates a weekly blog and a monthly newsletter. Find her blog and learn more about the author, her writing endeavors, and her pets at her website:
Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?
Gayle: I began as a children’s author, writing inspirational pet stories which teach important life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. I spent a few years taking additional creative writing classes at the local community college, and last fall I released my first clean, contemporary western romance called Rescue Road. The story takes place in Montana, a state in which I used to live and where my parents still live. The love story revolves around pet rescue and adoption, an issue close to my heart. Rescue Road is the first in a series I’m calling Pet Rescue Romance. My desire through my books is to educate, entertain, and inspire, whether the
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Gayle: I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a teenager, at which time I composed stories based on my favorite television shows. I studied journalism in college and began my writing career as a reporter. A few years later, I became an editor and freelance writer. My work as an author started in 2007 when I wrote and published my first children’s book about my blind dog titled Sage’s Big Adventure: Living With Blindness. The two most influential people in my life were my junior college journalism instructor, Arlene Larson, and, when I pursed my bachelor’s degree at the University of Idaho, Lois Melina; she even hired me to help her with her Child Adoption Newsletter during my last year of school. I feel blessed to have been tutored and encouraged by both of these creative, strong women during my formative years.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Gayle: Spending time in nature and being a volunteer animal rescue transporter. I was raised in small towns and on a small farm in Iowa, where my parents and I lived until I was 17. We then moved to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. I was raised to appreciate nature and I’ve been an animal-lover since childhood. Those facets of my life remain strong. I enjoy traveling and visiting America’s national forests and parks, and I possess a passion for helping animals in need; therefore, I serve as a volunteer transporter for rescue organizations, helping animals go to their adoptive families and taking animals from kill-shelters to rescue groups. My pets (2 dogs and 2 cats) are rescues, and nothing delights me more than to know a cat or dog that’s been abandoned or abused find a new loving home.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Gayle: No, I’m not a cartoon person.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Gayle: Betty White because of her love of animals and her tireless work on behalf of animals in need. Plus, she’s so funny! I loved her character in “The Golden Girls!”
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Gayle: I would rent a cabin in the mountains for the night and relish the tranquility and scenery … and write!
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Gayle: I recently released another book in my Pet Rescue Romance series. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is the story of Erin and Mike, who knew each other in high school, but haven’t seen one another in more than 30 years. They reconnect at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Erin stops by to volunteer for two weeks, and Mike is the ranch manager; both lost their spouses during the past five years. Compassion Ranch may provide a second chance at love for them, just as it provides a second chance for the animals.
The next project is a Christmas novella set in the Jackson, Wyoming area. The title of the book is In the Shadow of Mount Moran: A Christmas Pet Rescue Romance. The book will be available mid-to-late November.
All three books of the Pet Rescue Romance series are set in the Yellowstone National Park area. Rescue Road is set in southwestern Montana; Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is set in northwestern Wyoming; and the Mount Moran book will be set in western Wyoming, near Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone. I lived in West Yellowstone, Montana for about four years, and I lived in the area where Rescue Road is set for nearly seven years. I love this part of the country, and I plan to write this series based upon locations in Montana and Wyoming.
Blurb for Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:
A ranch like no other …
Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs.
Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary.
Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again?
Excerpt from Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:
Erin heard the sound that escaped from Mike’s mouth, even with his lips sealed over hers. She attempted a step back, but the wooden fence, and Mike’s body, ensnared her. So did the feelings which resurrected. The only man who had kissed her in more than twenty-five years had been Daniel. He hasn’t even been gone two years and look at yourself, Erin’s brain raged. She pulled her mouth from Mike’s. Immediately warmth drained from her. She placed her hands on Mike’s brawny shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Erin,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that. I just … I’m just so attracted to you and seeing you here, so filled with compassion and grace, your loveliness just shines, and I’m drawn to you like I haven’t been to anyone since I lost Elizabeth.”
“You’re so sweet, Mike, I just don’t know what to say. Except I …” Her hands dropped to her sides. “Daniel’s been gone less than two years. I’m still processing ...”
“I completely understand. That’s why I’m apologizing.”
He backtracked toward the gate and held it open for her. “Here, let’s step out and talk for a bit.”
Erin gave one more pat to Hope before stepping out of the enclosure. She walked to a whining Winston, untied the dog’s leash from the post, and picked him up into her arms. She carried him through the open barn door and stopped near the corral. Erin gazed at the sky, filled with twinkling stars. A full moon overhead shone like the sun upon the landscape, topping the nearby mountains with golden glitter. Shadows of pine trees fell upon the landscape. The quiet of the night enveloped her and the attraction toward Mike danced within the landscape and entangled within her heart, beckoning her to join subtle music. Erin sighed. She sensed his presence beside her.
“Beautiful night,” he whispered.
“Yes, it is,” she responded.
Erin set Winston near her feet and turned to Mike. “I know we have feelings for each other, and we share a common tragedy. I’m just not sure I’m ready to leave Daniel’s memory behind right now.”
Mike placed gentle hands upon her shoulders and looked into her eyes. “I do understand, Erin, believe me. I don’t want you to feel you’re betraying Daniel nor am I asking you to forget him. The two of you shared many years together; Elizabeth and I did, too. I won’t ever forget her. Just as I needed time to accept her passing, you need time to accept Daniel’s passing. I guess what I want you to know is … I loved you when we were in high school. I missed you every day those first few years, and I never forgot you. I let you go because I knew we were both young, but I really didn’t want to let you go.”
“Why didn’t you tell me then how you felt?”
He sighed and glanced to the sky before returning his gaze to her face. “I tried. I did ask you to come to Seattle, if you remember.”
She nodded. “I remember. But all you said was you wanted me to come to Seattle; you didn’t say why or that you loved me.”
“I wanted to, but I listened to my dad and my best friend and kept my feelings bottled up. I focused on my schooling and my career. I made a mistake by not being truthful about loving you. I didn’t know what happened to you, where you were, but I looked for you at our fifth high school reunion. I thought if I saw you there, I could tell you how I felt and maybe we could try again. But you weren’t there.”
She shook her head. “I was planning my wedding then and since I had only attended high school that one year, I didn’t have the inclination to go.” She stared into his eyes. “I actually thought I’d hear from you that first year of college. I did wait, Mike, but by my sophomore year, I figured you weren’t interested after all, and I moved on.”
She shook her head. “Not at first, but I began dating. I met Daniel the start of spring semester. By summer, after meeting each other’s families, we were serious. I figured you had moved on, too.”
He nodded. “I dated a bit, but my feelings for you didn’t subside. I didn’t try to find you because … well, my parents kept pushing me to do well in school and get into vet school and launch my career. I regret listening to them, and not my heart.”
He placed his hands on her face and looked deeply into her eyes. “I still love you, Erin, and now that we’ve reconnected, I want you to know I’m here for you. Whenever you feel ready, I’ll be here. We can stay in touch, visit each other now and then, and see what happens. Maybe you’ll come to love me, maybe you won’t. I’m okay with that. I’m not going anywhere. But, if nothing else, you can know you have a good friend, even a special companion if you want. I’m here.”
Her eyes searched his, and she saw honesty and integrity … and love. She lay her head on his shoulder and felt him wrap his arm around her waist.
Buy Links for Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:
Buy Links for Rescue Road:
Social Media links for Gayle Irwin
My website: www.gaylemirwinauthor.com
My Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleMIrwin/