Captured Secrets:

At some point, we have to release the secrets that keep us captive

Carmen Peone is debuting her new Christian Romance series this week, with Captive Secrets. Welcome to my blog, Carmen!

I want to thank Heidi for hosting me today!

Why do you write, what is it that makes you do it?

I write because I enjoy telling clean romance stories with a purpose. Most of all, I love the research aspect of writing: learning new ways of life, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. It’s such a fun and rewarding process.

What is your writing process?

I start with Susan Mae Warren’s SEQ or Story Equation. This helps me find the character’s goals, flaws, superpower, moral center, wound, greatest dream, dark moment story, lies, and competing values. This teaches me the heart of the characters. From here, I go to SMW’s LINDY HOP, a light plot of the main story elements, including romance. Writing is as smooth as a lake’s surface during calm early morning hours when all these key factors are in place.

Is there a specific part of the writing process that you find to be the easiest or most difficult for you?

Coming up with obstacles the character must overcome can be hard. Writers don’t always like to see our main characters get hurt in any way, but we have to for our reader’s sake. Who wants to read safe, boring books? Not me.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer, and how did you cope with or overcome that challenge?

My greatest challenge was to believe I was good enough. I went to college and received an abnormal psych degree, not an English, journalism, or creative writing degree like most of my fellow writers. I’ve been completely self-taught by taking classes, studying books on craft, reading the kinds of books I’d like to write, and going to conferences.

Many of your books have a Native American theme. How much of your experiences play into your stories?

The reason most of my books include Native Americans is because I’m married to a Colville Tribal member, have a full-blooded mother-in-law, and reside on the Colville reservation in northeast Washington state. My kids and grands are also enrolled members. Living on the rez has given me a wealth of experiences. When I coordinated the after-school program, we brought in various elders to teach traditional ways of life. I’d also worked with an elder to learn the Salish language (specifically Arrow Lakes) and cultural traditions as well. 

Tell us a little of what Captured Secrets is about?

The book opens with Sydney and her sister sending off their folks for a much-needed vacation. But, unfortunately, they are in a fatal car accident and don’t make it to the airport. Sydney’s goal is to save the ranch from financial ruin.

Luckily, a handsome photographer lands on the ranch’s door steps the day of the accident. On a working vacation, his plans take a turn when he decides to stay and help Sydney save the ranch.

Secrets come to light, including her abusive ex-husband and the daughter she’d given up at birth. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story. But the ending is a happy one.

How did this book come about? I understand it’s based on a true incident from your family.

Captured Secrets is actually inspired by my niece’s murder. Also a Colville Tribal member, she was beaten to death by her husband fourteen years ago. So the Seven Tine Guest Ranch Romance trilogy is about three Native women who escape their abusers and find safety at the fictional guest ranch located on the reservation. They find healthy relationships with cowboys and learn what love is: gentle, caring, and healing.

Did you do a lot of research on the subject matter?

Yes, I did. I went to a ranch near the place I set the fictional ranch and interviewed a rancher, I interviewed my veterinarian for horse illnesses and medications, and I researched and talked with women who’ve been abused.

What would you say the theme or “take away” is from the book?

This is a Western Christian romance. Your previous books have been Young Adult. How did you decide to write in this genre?

These books advocate for abuse, domestic violence, and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. My message is to Get Help! Get Out! I don’t want another woman to die at the hands of her abuser. And I don’t want a family to experience what mine has. You can find resources for abuse on my website:

I wrote my teen books for one reason: to leave a legacy of culture and faith for my kids, grandkids, and other family members. I knew I would switch genres at one point, and I knew that switch would be to romance because I love…love. I love happy-ever-afters. And I love healthy relationships.  

What is next?

Book 2 of the Seven Tine Ranch Romance series will release on Oct. 3, 2023, and book 3 will release on March 6, 2024. I’m currently working on a trilogy about rodeo queens and rodeo cowboys. This will be a fun change because there were many tears while writing this current series.

I relived the images of my niece’s battered body, the week in the hospital before they took her off life-support, and the trial.

Though it was worth writing this trilogy, I’m ready for something fun and spunky. I love the western lifestyle and have/show/compete on my horses. Well, I don’t do much competing anymore, but I still ride all the time. My husband and I have rodeoed (we met on a college rodeo team) so this is a natural fit for my writing.

How many books do you have published?

I have twelve books published, including three workbooks that accompany my teen books and a “how to write fiction” workbook for teens.

Where can we find your books?

You can find these books anywhere books are sold or on my website: You can also sign up for my newsletter. By doing so, you will get by novella for free: Gentling the Cowboy. Sign up here:

Links to social media:

Website and Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub


Carmen Peone is an award-winning author of Young Adult and Contemporary Western Romantic Suspense and lives with her husband in Northeast Washington and on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation.

She had worked with a Tribal Elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes Language and various cultural traditions, which led to her writing career.

With the love of history and the western woman’s lifestyle, she weaves threads of healing, hope, and horses into her stories. With a thread of romance.

Published in: on March 10, 2023 at 7:00 am  Comments (6)  

Meet the Author: Carmen Peone

I met my guest, author Carmen Peone, recently at the Silver Spur Western Gathering in Spokane, WA, and read both of her delightful Young Adult books, Change of Heart and its sequel, Heart of Courage.

Change of Heart Synopsis: After fighting with her sister, thirteen-year-old Spupaleena bolts from their Arrow Lakes pit home into the dead of winter. Spupaleena doesn’t know where she is going but knows she canno longer live at home. Haunted by the deaths of her mother and baby brother, Spupaleena runs until she falls over a cliff.

Upon discovering Spupaleena’s body, Philip Gardner, a trapper, brings her home to his cabin. His wife, Elizabeth, does her best to help heal Spupaleena, although with a broken heart and a mangled body, she is not likely to survive. See Trailer for Change of Heart.

Carmen, your bio says you live on the Colville Indian Reservation and work as a substitute teacher there. Is this background what inspired you to write your books?

Yes. I had studied the Sinyekst or Arrow Lakes Language, that of my husband and sons’ tribe, with elder Marguerite Ensminger for three years. Having lived on the reservation for 26 years now, I knew I had to write these books if nothing else but for my sons; in honor of their culture and our faith. I also co-coordinate the after school program at the Inchelium school. I love working with youth and is the main reason I write for the young adult audience, although every age has read them (third grade up to the 70 and 80 year olds). The cultural aspect is historically accurate, which I think is what draws readers of all ages, as does the Native language.

Are the books based on stories the elders told you? No, although in Heart of Courage the story about the turtle and coyote is a story pasted on for many generations. Everything else is a story that came to me many years ago.

The books contain many authentic words from this Native American tribe. Tell us how you learned them, and can you speak the language?

I studied the language for three years with elder Marguerite Ensminger. She actually taught my oldest two sons in school before she had strokes, causing her to retire her volunteer services at the local school. We came to be good friends while both serving on the Inchelium school board. Marguerite pestered to me come to her house and take lessons, and finally I did until she could no longer give them due to a major stroke that sent her to live in a retirement home. Not long after that she did pass away. At one time I knew much of the language, although not fluent, and now I speak very little. Not many people speak the Arrow Lakes Language. Okanagan, which is similar, is what is taught in the area now and is spelled much differently.

What would you say is the theme of your writing?

The theme of my writing is that no matter how hard life gets, there is hope in God. I like my girl characters to be strong, but not disrespectful. There are many life lessons in my writing and hope youth take these lessons to heart and learn from them.

You include strong messages of faith and courage. How does your personal faith influence your writing?

I write because of my Christianity. In my early years I struggled with esteem issues and want my readers to understand that all things are possible with God. Too many times, a false perception of self is our biggest struggle. We were created with all the tools we need to succeed; we just need to work hard to achieve our desired goals. Nothing really is impossible. It took me a long time to figure that out and I still struggle with those “I’m not good enough” issues that try and pop up at times. Then I think of my successes, give it to God, and move forward.

Tell us about your writing journey, how you got started and how you came to be published.

I never intended to be a writer. Over ten years ago I began writing Change of Heart and had to put it on the back burner and finish raising my sons, who at the time were in junior and senior high school. Once my youngest left for collage, he pestered me until I finished the manuscript for Change of Heart. During the course of the ten year stint, I took an online non-fiction writing class and didn’t really care for the craft of writing articles. I then took an online fiction course with Writer’s Digest. My instructor helped me get the manuscript for Change of Heart in order and off to a good start. Once it was complete, I searched various publishers and was accepted with Tate Publishing and Enterprise as they are big on first time authors. I decided to keep on with Spupaleena and her adventures in honor of the culture and the youth I work with. I believe the Native language is what makes my books unique. I want to leave that as my sons’ legacy to the Native men God created them to be.

Who or what has inspired your writing? Any favorite authors?

I am an avid reader. There are so many inspiring authors, but Gary Paulson’s young adult books have encouraged me to write for youth, especially because God has always given me a heart for them. I eventually want to write western adult romance. But because I have fallen in love with my characters, I will continue on with them for a few more stories. Another author who has really inspired me is Mary Connealy. I love her humor and characterization. She is a master at keeping a story flowing.

In your second book, Heart of Courage, Spupaleena is endeavoring to race horses against young men. I understand you raise Paint horses and are in a riding group called the Saddle Sisters. Tell us more about your love for horses.

Yes, I have paint horses, but quarter horses also. I always knew horses would be in my books. I have shown horses with my youngest son in 4-H and open classes in Western Pleasure. My Paint gelding was born and raised on the reservation. He has some thoroughbred blood in him and loves to move out. So I bumped him up to extreme challenge competitions were he has to slow down and think. We actually won an ACTHA competition in Spokane, WA and placed Second at Ride the West also in Spokane, both last year. I am pleasure riding only this year with my Covada Saddle Sisters as I’m focusing on marketing and writing the books this year.

The reason I chose racing in Heart of Courage, is because it is a big sport on many reservations. A few youth my sons grew up with now race. My next book, out in 2013, will include Spupaleena racing with a team against other relay teams, which is also big in our area. It’s called the pony express racing, or relay racing. It is big at our Ferry County fair in Republic, WA and in Pendleton, OR as well as surrounding venues.

Heart of Courage Synopsis: Knowing she encompassed the skills to race against young men, Spupaleena begins her intense training, despite her fellow racer’s cruel insults, and her father’s opposition to this unconventional sport for women. She draws her strength from God, but does she have the spirit to compete and win? View the Book Trailer for Heart of Courage.

Change of Heart and Heart of Courage are available as print or e-books at Tate Publishing , or can be ordered at your local bookstore or as audio books at The Audio Book Store.

A third book of the series, working title Heart of Passion, will be out summer of 2013, and is a continuation of the first two. There is more horse racing but in a relay setting. Revenge, hate, hope, and forgiveness all encompass Spupaleena’s world.

See Carmen’s Website, and connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter at carmenpeone@authorcarmenpeo 

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