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When I started writing western romances with cowboys and cattle drives, I stumbled across these toy cows in our local Peavy Hardware store. I wanted one because it would be inspiration for while I wrote, and my husband happened to be with me when I was struck with the idea. He got this wistful look on his face and said all momentously, “Yes, I will buy you a cow.”

I didn’t really understand his response. It was a plastic cow meant to inspire my books about cowboys, but he baffles me on a regular basis, so it’s par for the course, really. I was happy to bring it home, stick it on my desk, and use it for inspiration.

Meet Daisy.


My husband took a picture of the little figurine and sent it to his family. They all responded, gushing with admiration.

“You are so romantic! I can’t believe how romantic you are!”

And I thought that was a little strange,  too, but knowing how much my husband loves me, I figured I was missing something in their conversation (that happened in a different language, so I tend to miss a lot anyway.)

It took a few months before my husband clued me in to why he’s such an amazing romantic…

In my husband’s home country in East Africa, cows are very significant. The country was a farming country originally, and cows were considered wealth. But it went deeper than money. A beautiful woman was described as having eyes like a cow. The herders that care for the cattle are gentle and tender with them. That sense of emotional importance around cattle has remained in the culture and in the language, and people will still give each other cows as meaningful gifts. In fact, a bride is often gifted with a cow by her in-laws, as a gesture of acceptance and approval.


When Mr. Johns and I first got married, I asked my father-in-law if he’d give me a cow, since I heard it was tradition. Much later, I learned that asking for a cow is horribly rude! (Oops!) Luckily, he understood my intent to simply be part of things, and he very happily gave me a cow from his herd. It’s had babies, so I have multiple cows in Africa now. And I think it’s really neat! One day, I’ll have to go see them myself.

Anyway, I hadn’t made the connection between a little cow figurine and all the other deeper meaning because it wasn’t a real cow, or in Africa. But once I did, I went all gooey, too, and said, “Oh, honey… You’re really a romantic! You gave me a cow!”

So Daisy holds a special place in my heart, and a special place on my desk. She’s definitely inspiration for my romance writing!



Have you read my March release yet?

4.282079.512.9781335510570He’s always been the one…

She’s always been just a friend!

Grace Beverly spent years hopelessly in love with her best friend, Billy Austin. Now he’s back in Eagle’s Rest, Colorado, determined to provide the best life possible for his four-year-old daughter. He’s just not sure how. Helping Billy navigate the world of parenting is a one-way ticket back to heartache. Yet how can Grace say no to her oldest friend?