CJ Carmichael

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Finding Your Happy Place

Back in 2013, in a search for a place where we could “get away from it all,” Mike and I stumbled across Flathead Lake, and a charming 3 bedroom cottage on the south side near Polson. When I sat on the deck and looked across at the view of lake, islands, trees and mountains, I said, “I don’t want to leave this place.” The realtor replied, “You don’t have to.”

glacier-national-parkAnd so, eventually, after much soul and pocket searching, we bought it. And our cottage in Montana has become my “happy place.” To get here from Calgary, we often drive through Glacier National Park, another one of my “happy places.” Because for me, being in nature, close to mountains, lakes and trees always makes me feel vibrantly alive and at the same time calm and peaceful.

As a writer one of the ways I can get to the heart of my characters is to understand where their happy place is. For the Carrigans of the Circle C novels it was important for me to figure out what this place was for each of the sisters.

For Sage Carrigan, in Promise Me Cowboy, it’s the kitchen of her Copper Mountain Chocolate store where she taps into her creativity and the sensory delights of excellent chocolate, pure ingredients and time-honored technique.

Sage’s oldest sister, Mattie, has bonded to the ranching community of her husband, Wes, and the Tennessee Walking Horses they breed and raise at Bishop Stables. In Good Together, Mattie risks losing everything she cherishes when Wes suddenly announces he’s had enough.

Second eldest sister Dani, with her PhD in psychology, eschews the ranching world where she was raised. For Dani, the hallowed halls of a university, and the cramped confines of the lab where she conducts her research, are what matter most. In Close to Her Heart, however, Dani discovers there are some thing she loves more than her job.


Cousin to the Carrigan sisters, Eliza Bramble isn’t sure where she belongs in this world, and that’s why she comes to Mariette Montana to help her great-aunt keep the family home by turning it into a bed and breakfast. It is only when Eliza takes a backcountry ski trip and is Snowbound in Montana that she discovers more about who she is and what she really wants.

The youngest of the Carrigan girls, Callan, has always loved her home, the Circle C Ranch, and has never wanted to live anywhere else. In  A Cowgirl’s Christmas, however, an untimely death and a shocking will, have her contemplating a future much different than she planned.

Where is your happy place? If you’re a fabulous cook, maybe it’s your kitchen. If you love to read, it could be your public library, favorite bookstore, or the comfy couch at home. Perhaps places don’t matter that much to you—as long as you’re with the important people in your life.

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