I like strong women.

That’s not really a surprise considering I was raised around cowgirls. None of them were the sit in the house and play with dolls types. As young girls they were taking care of the animals, hauling hay, and fixing fence. This builds strong, independent types who like having a man around, but aren’t afraid to take the load on their own.

I’ve got a few of them running around my novels.

Jewell Diaz – Jewell is Will Diaz’s spouse. While she disdains the use of the word partner, that’s very much what she is. She can ride a horse better than he can, and can do hard physical labor like he does. While we see her doing a lot of domestic stuff (they don’t own a ranch – yet), she’s up to her eyeballs in her counseling ministry. She works with abused women, urging them to get away from the abuser and then helping them to rebuild their lives and self esteem. She also works with Will’s SRT (Special Reaction Team) when they’re involved with stressful missions. In those occasions, she’s often found in the Emergency Operations Center watching things, and afterwards talking with the team members to determine how they’re doing.

In Family Secrets, she suits up to help her husband and his team hold the line. She finds that she’s the one that builds a bridge between a very abused woman and the police (the woman just doesn’t trust guys, and doesn’t trust Will at all. It seems he’s related to the man who’s been abusing her).

Jewell is going to need every ounce of strength she can find in herself and God. The Family Secrets series will challenge her in a variety of ways.

Pam Harmon – Pam is a Town Marshal for a small community. She’s a cowgirl, and a former Marine where she was an MP. She has two strikes against her in the very conservative town she marshals. She’s a divorcee and a single mother. She finds herself in the bizarre position of leading men (her reserve deputies) who might not really want to be bossed around by a woman. Then there’s the rather trivial fact that she’s a strong woman in a position of authority, dealing with the politics of a town that has a tradition of viewing women as less that a man.

But she’s a valuable asset to what’s going on in the counties about. She’s a certified sexual assault investigator, and runs one of the squads in the SRT. In adventures to come, she’ll find herself thrust into a position of even more authority.

Pam and RJ (Will’s buddy) like each other a lot. They often spend downtime together, but view their relationship as best friends. They don’t realize it, but they’ve formed some kind of a family, and depend on each other a lot.

She and RJ will share an adventure in Dead Cold.

Terri Rice – Will has known Terri since Basic and AIT. It’s established early on that she and several of the others (they call themselves The Regulators) have been through thick and thicker together. The daughter of a wealthy Montana cattleman, she had her sights on Law Enforcement at an early age. We don’t officially meet her till the end of Dead Friends and it’s several adventures before she really plays a standout role.

She is described as very beautiful and the result of several bloodlines coming together. Both these factors tend to work against her. Either she finds she’s been dismissed because pretty girls aren’t supposed to be smart, or her mixed heritage gets in her way. These are the factors she has to overcome and thrive in spite of.

Oddly, she and Will share a common ancestor.

She’ll get her standalone adventure in a few years (assuming I live that long to write it). The working title is Last of the Cowgirls. Briefly, she ends up leaving the FBI to go home and run her father’s ranch when he dies under mysterious circumstances. As things progress, she finds herself up to her eyeballs in a mess.

It will take all her political skills, investigative skills, and friendships to defend what belongs to her and the people around her.

I still have a few weak women floating around. Eva was definitely one, but had learned to stand on her own. Debbie Diaz was abused and reduced to less than zero as a woman and a human being. So, there’s a lot of healing to be done there.

I also have more than a few weak men floating about. Zorro is definitely one, though he learns to be strong again. And there’s others.