Give It Up For The Weekend with Gayle M. Irwin ~ Nature Inspires Creativity and Restores One’s Soul

The post Gayle wrote me is worth a whole lot. Honestly, it’s amazing.

Gayle M. Irwin is an author, writer and speaker with a strong background in animal welfare. She is a contributor to seven “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults, including her first romance novel “Rescue Road,” released in November 2019. Her writings reflect life and faith lessons learned from her own pets as well as canines and felines she has met. 

Her works include children’s books “A Kind Dog Named Mary,” “A Town Dog Named Mary Visits a Ranch,” and “A Dog Named Mary Visiting Yellowstone National Park,” all about her therapy springer/cocker mix Mary;”Jeremiah Finds a Home,” about her rescued Shih Tzu; “Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest,” which encourages children to spend time exploring outdoors; “Sage Finds Friends,” about friendship and trust, and “Sage’s Big Adventure” about the courage and perseverance of her blind dog, Sage. 

She’s also written adult nonfiction devotionals: “Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog” – a topical devotional-style book that explores the various faith lessons learned from Sage, and “Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God” and “Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice,” both of which are 31-day devotionals correlating inspiring dog stories with Scripture and prayer. She has also composed a collection of helpful tips for owners of blind dogs for a guidebook titled “Help! My Dog is Going Blind, Now What Do I Do?”, in which Mrs. Irwin encourages owners of blind dogs through her own experiences with Sage. 

Her first novel, “Rescue Road, a clean, contemporary romance that weaves pet rescue into the story, releases November 2019. It is the first in a series called “Pet Rescue Romance.”

Gayle also freelances for magazines and newspapers and blogs about pets. She has served as a public relations and humane educator for several nonprofit organizations, and currently volunteers for several pet rescue organizations.

Nature Inspires Creativity and Restores One’s Soul

By Gayle M. Irwin

         The amber sun rises above the shadowy hillside. Standing on the wooden porch of the white-framed home, cup of steaming Costa Rican coffee in hand, I hear mourning doves greet the early spring morning. I’m about to start the first day of my self-imposed writing retreat – witnessing this tranquil sunrise is an inspiring way to start, and one reason I keep returning to this place.

Wyoming’s majestic landscapes spark my creativity, and at the JKL Ranch along the Powder River I find that inspirational ignition. Therefore, I take self-imposed writing retreats here each winter and spring. My friends, Judy and Kevin Lund, graciously open their guest house to me, and from this location I compose short stories, magazine articles, and pet-oriented books for children and adults.

Tranquility abounds at this semi-remote location. Daylight street noise and nighttime light pollution don’t exist. Cell service is limited, and internet isn’t an option here. Therefore, interruption from vehicles, door-to-door salespeople, telephone, text, email, and social media are absent. I’m able to set aside hours for idea generation, writing manuscripts, and editing my works without disruptions or distractions.

Solace also comes from the land itself. The acreage sits amid bluffs above the river to the east, and the snow-covered Bighorn Mountains rise in the distance toward the west. These surroundings revive, restore, and reveal. Writing at my friends’ Wyoming ranch opens the windows of my senses and stirs my creativity.

I love the Powder River Guest House, the endearing term I’ve christened the Lunds’ property and home at which I stay. I also love the forested area and wood-sided cabin my husband and I own. With towering lodgepole pines and wildflowers of pink spring beauties, yellow arrowleaf balsam root, and purple lupine, the serenity and majesty bring peace and inspire creativity. I birthed my children’s book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest at this special spot. Other writings have also been crafted here.

Nature has inspired me from my childhood years on a small farm in Iowa. Later, as an adult, that feeling revived in magical settings such as Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Denali national parks. I now reside in the Rocky Mountain region, and whether I travel locally or long-distance, my adventures involve natural settings.

I spent nearly ten years in and around Yellowstone as my writing career began. More than two decades later, a story I wrote about the value of America’s national parks published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. Other essays I’ve composed about nature’s inspiration have also published, and a children’s book I created titled A Dog Named Mary Visits Yellowstone encourages kids and families to spend time in nature, whether America’s first national park or their own backyard. So much of our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, are spent on screens – we need the wonderment, majesty, and solace nature provides. Our lives need to slow down; we need to “stop and smell the roses” as the old saying goes. Perhaps we can’t travel to a national park or forest, but we can spend time in our own yards and in our community’s botanical gardens and city parks. Our souls need refreshment only nature provides: through bird songs, through wind blowing among the trees, through the scent of flowers and shrubs in bloom, through a squirrel’s chatter. Soak it all in. Relish the air. Listen. Observe. Touch. Relax your mind and body. And encourage your family to do so as well.

When we take the time to appreciate the nature around us, or travel to towering peaks or rushing rivers, we experience life again – the excitement, the power, the awe. Such adventures carry away the doldrums and reawaken the mind, body, and soul. Make this weekend your time to get away … however far, however close, and delight in the tonic of nature.

My latest clean, contemporary western romance book, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is set in northwestern Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park. Whether scenes take place at night or during the day, the setting is an integral part of the book, as you’ll note from the excerpt provided.

Be inspired by the natural beauty around you … or embark upon an outing to replenish your muse and restore your life. Nature will not disappoint.

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Gayle brought with her the latest Novella in the Per Rescue Series, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch: A Pet Rescue Romance Novella. It released a month back in the Western, Women’s Fiction, Sweet Romance Genre.

A ranch like no other … Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs.

Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary.

Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again? 


Erin heard the sound that escaped from Mike’s mouth, even with his lips sealed over hers. She attempted a step back, but the wooden fence, and Mike’s body, ensnared her. So did the feelings which resurrected. The only man who had kissed her in more than twenty-five years had been Daniel. He hasn’t even been gone two years and look at yourself, Erin’s brain raged. She pulled her mouth from Mike’s. Immediately warmth drained from her. She placed her hands on Mike’s brawny shoulders.

            “I’m sorry, Erin,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that. I just … I’m just so attracted to you and seeing you here, so filled with compassion and grace, your loveliness just shines, and I’m drawn to you like I haven’t been to anyone since I lost Elizabeth.”

            “You’re so sweet, Mike, I just don’t know what to say. Except I …” Her hands dropped to her sides. “Daniel’s been gone less than two years. I’m still processing …”

            “I completely understand. That’s why I’m apologizing.”

            He backtracked toward the gate and held it open for her. “Here, let’s step out and talk for a bit.”

            Erin gave one more pat to Hope before stepping out of the enclosure. She walked to a whining Winston, untied the dog’s leash from the post, and picked him up into her arms. She carried him through the open barn door and stopped near the corral. Erin gazed at the sky, filled with twinkling stars. A full moon overhead shone like the sun upon the landscape, topping the nearby mountains with golden glitter. Shadows of pine trees fell upon the landscape. The quiet of the night enveloped her and the attraction toward Mike danced within her surroundings and entangled within her heart, beckoning her to join subtle music. Erin sighed.

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