Writers get inspired in all different kinds of ways. Some need to do a certain kind of ritual before they can start churning out pages, others need to listen to music to get in the groove, and still others need to find just the right… pairing… to go with their laptop. Read on to find out how Heather Long, the author of the Lone Star Leathernecks series, found the answer to her writing prayers! SEMPER FI COWBOY, Book 1 in the series, is out today!

Hakuna Moscato – What A Wonderful Phase

Before I dive into this, I promise moscato has nothing to do with Semper Fi Cowboy except that I fell in love with it while I was writing the book. When I was growing up, Nan and Mom both drank beer if they drank anything. I can’t recall a single instance of ever seeing them have a glass of wine. British, they allowed the occasional alcoholic beverage at the table for the holidays and champagne was popular at Christmas, but we weren’t wine drinkers.

As an adult, I really didn’t like wine. It all tasted like vinegar at best or spoiled fruit juice. Dry wines were out for sure. Red wines were not my thing. I could handle a white wine—or Strawberry Hill—you know, the one that comes in the box? That I drank, but I didn’t love it.

Fast-forward to my forties—yes I made it all the way to my forties preferring beer to wine, and that was okay. I even attempted a fantastic wine tasting and pairing with another author. Dude, it was all I could do not to spit out each drink I tried there.   It was an attempt, but I failed to be persuaded.

Then I was at an event at RWA Nationals, and they gave me a glass of moscato. I accepted it only for form: it was an event, wine was served and I sipped to be polite.

Then shocker of shocks—I liked it. I think of this as our meet-cute.

Homework on the Range… of Wines

After returning home, I had to wonder: was this a fluke? Or was that single glass from a bottle I can’t even remember the name of—other than the fact the bartender told me it was a moscato—a real life inciting incident?

Right about this time, I was also working on a contemporary cowboy romance, so I thought, why not grab the bull by the horns? On the next grocery shopping trip, I perused the wine section and identified a couple of moscato bottles. I went cheap first, because let’s be honest, if I didn’t like it? I didn’t want to waste money.

One of the bottles was this specific Italian moscato, very dry and very not my thing. In fact, I took one swallow and spit it out. Then I sat and wrote a chapter. After I finished that chapter, I opened the second bottle—it was Moscato d’Asti. I poured myself a glass and grinned from ear to ear. Definitely fun and games time.

The dancing scene in Semper Fi Cowboy followed this delight. In fact, I had so much fun with the dancing scene, I celebrated with a second glass. I highly approved of this moscato, but it was too smooth and so easy to forget I was even drinking wine.

Barefoot and…Writing

Now, it was a matter of finding a good one that I wouldn’t finish a whole bottle of in one sitting. I’d given away bottles of Barefoot wine plenty of time in gift baskets and what do you know—they had three different kinds of moscato—white, pink, and red. So I tried them in that order.

White was sweet, crisp and fresh. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t so sweet I wanted to finish the bottle, but there was a hint of bite in the aftertaste. I thought, you know, I can live with it.

I wrote some of the first scenes on the ranch while drinking the white Barefoot moscato. Though I found it appealing, it added some briskness to those scenes. Pink was my next, and I can’t say I enjoyed it. At first I thought it was just like the white, only it had a harsher aftertaste, one that made me grimace. I referred to it as the kick in the ass for drinking while writing. Hemingway, after all, said to write drunk and edit sober.

While I was certainly not drinking enough to become tipsy, I just wasn’t enjoying it. Thankfully, Tanner and Jules weren’t getting along so some of the more difficult scenes had a little bitterness thrown in—but don’t fret, I promise this tale has a happy ending, just like a good romance.

Looks Like I Made It…

I was nearly three-quarters of the way through Semper Fi Cowboy when I decided to give the Barefoot Red Moscato a try. I bought a small bottle, put it in the fridge and went back to work. There were some challenging moments, and after the madcap dash to the hospital scene, I was feeling a little wrung out so I opened the bottle.

After pouring myself a glass, I contemplated it. I’d never been a fan of reds, but this was moscato, and it had a great scent to it. Now I have to confess, all those fancy scenes at wine tastings or dinners when a bottle of wine is served and people take a deep breath to savor the scent of it—I didn’t get it.

With this moscato, I suddenly did. It relaxed me and I found it pleasant—so I took a sip.

And the angels raised their voices in song and I could almost hear the climax music playing in a rom con as the lovers raced toward each other, finally able to be together…and I took another drink.

This was the stuff! I’d discovered my hakuna moscato, and it was a wonderful phase. Needless to say by the time I typed the end on the book, I felt a little like Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone as I dug out some tissue, then poured myself a glass and toasted my Lone Star Leatherneck.

Happily ever after indeed!