Twelve years ago, I moved from a small Central California beach town to a small Arizona cowboy town. “Culture shock” doesn’t even touch the transition. My first summer in Arizona, I was working as a reporter for the daily paper here, and my editors sent me to the annual rodeo to write a feature story about the Rodeo Queens. It was July 4th weekend and I fell in love.

Not with the rodeo queens, and not even with the rodeo. But with the cowboys in Wranglers. For the next several years, my friends and I would attend the annual rodeo dance and hit up the western bar downtown, every July 4 weekend. We hung out downtown on the shady square and hiked up mountains to enjoy the views.

And I fell in love with Arizona.

Small-town Arizona is so romantic. The rich, watercolor sunsets, the festive weekend crowds, the cowboys. It’s picturesque. The beautiful historic courthouse, the downtown plaza, the Wranglers.

So when I wrote my first book, “The Dating Intervention,” I set it in my new hometown.

As I prepare to release the book August 1, I thought it would be fun to do a photo tour to count down the final 10 days before launch. Each photo is a real-life scene that inspired something in the book.

I’ve made a few special trips downtown during recent weeks to collect imagery of the town I love, and I wanted to give my blog readers a sneak peek of the photo tour countdown. It begins July 22. Stay tuned for more photos!

count down rachelle

My friend Rachelle and me at the western bar (there’s a real cowboy behind Rachelle!). This is the real-life bar behind Rowdy’s Saloon, where the characters in my book meet for Happy Hour.

count down houses

Some of the adorable houses in the historic district. One of the characters in “The Dating Intervention” lives in a house like the yellow one.

count down dells

Some of my favorite scenery, the dells. This is where the main character in “The Dating Intervention” goes rock climbing with one of the guys she dates – before he dumps her.