For Christmas my wonderful son-in-law bought tickets to the PBR in Wichita, Kansas, which will take place in a couple of months. This isn’t the first bull riding event he’s taken me. They are all a treat and brought to mind the backstory to my $.99 eBook release of the first book in the Kasota Spring Romance series The Troubled Texan. Since this contemporary series takes place several generations later than one of the six Texas anthologies I was fortune enough to be included in with Fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace, Give Me a Cowboy, about a Texas Panhandle rodeo in the late 1800’s, I decided it might be fun to give you all a glimpse into how we developed this book. Without it, there would be no Troubled Texan.
Typically, the publisher matches up authors in a short story collection or an anthology and each author writes their own story based on the house’s criteria. In our case, our editor matched the four of us up and all but this one book had a theme and each of us wrote an individual story.
For our second book, we tried something different. We decided we’d all intertwine our stories around one rodeo. This was really gonna be fun and challenging, so we got together and went through all of the historical facts. The first date chosen had to go because there was no rodeos in the Texas Panhandle until the summer of 1888. Our story changed dates to the 4th of July 1890. The Pecos, Texas, competition occurred on July 4, 1883. One thing about historical writers, particularly writing about your home town, you must stay as authentic as possible. So we needed the name of a fictional town. I was coming back from Dallas, and looked over and low and behold there was a railroad crossing a few miles from Amarillo … West Kasota. In the 1800’s seemingly everything had a Springs attached, thus Kasota Spring, Texas, came to fruition.
Now for the next problem, since there were only four official events in the rodeo at that time, we all had to select one for our story. We were sitting around the work table. Jodi and Linda selected their events, so that left DeWanna and me. I’ve always loved bull riding. Although it was an unofficial event, taking place somewhere far away from the rodeo grounds, we decided to include it. I’d really been watching and studying up on bull riding because I had a fantastic story in mind or at least that was how I saw it. Well, guess what? DeWanna was the next in line to select; and, of course, what did she choose but bull riding and the reason, her brother was a bullrider!
I tried not to act disappointed when the only choice left was wild-cow milking! Yes, just like today in our rodeos. The reason was simple, the ranches had to bring in the mama cow to take care of her youngster who was participating in calf roping. Eventually, someone came up with the idea that if they hauled both mama and calf in why not make an event out of it … so I got wild cow milking.
To tell you the truth, I think my scene in the rodeo was so much fun to write. It rains, so my hero and heroine who were undesirably teamed up, really got to know one another by the end of the scene!
In The Troubled Texan I borrowed, with her permission, several of Linda’s character’s families as founders of Kasota Springs. Two pioneers out of my stories I truly loved were Teg Tegler and Edwinna Dewey (from the Christmas anthology). Here is a picture I took at the Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas, a few years ago. This couple is exactly how I envisioned Teg and Edwinna. I know it’s okay to use their photo, since I got their permission and they asked me to autograph my stories to them as Teg and Edwinna!
The fictional Teg’s great-grandson works on the Jack’s Bluff ranch in The Troubled Texan and Edwinna’s great-great granddaughter lives in Kasota Springs still and has a book of her own as heroine that’s under contract. It’s so much fun for me to write about these folks and their dreams.
How about a few fun facts about the rodeos of the 1800’s.
- Before the 20th century, rodeos were called “Cowboy Competitions.”
- Bragging rights for an entire year were at stake.
- Cowboys tuned up their horses, shook the kink out of their ropes and made final decisions on who mugs and who milks. That was my story. My hero did the mugging and my heroine did the milking in the rain.
- Today, the cowboy winning events earn huge purses; however, in the original rodeos, they won a small purse and blue ribbons from the trim of a girl’s dress or bonnet.
- Jail cells were used as boarding house rooms, since even prisoners were let out of the hoosegow for the rodeo.
- The opening was full of “speechifying”, but the crowd never let it last very long.
- They had chuck wagon competitions, just like today. Fares included beef, potatoes, biscuits and bread pudding.
- There was a lot of music competition. Singers and pickers: guitars, fiddles, and poetry.
- The oldest cowboy in the area always had the honor of shooting the pistol to begin competitions.
- There were no rules that governed the rodeo, like there is today. The grounds were typically near the railroad and/or stock yards, because the main street was needed for parades and competitions.
When the evening was over, usually after a dance, everyone climbed aboard creaking buckboards, dusty buggies, and faithful horses and scattered to resume the tasks of their normal lives and to work on their skills for next year’s competition.
My question to you all, do you like rodeos and what is your favorite event?
To five lucky winners who leave comments,
I am giving away copies of the eBook
The Troubled Texas!