Memoirs of a Wannabe Cowgirl

We’re happy to have another wonderful guest with us today. Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they recently moved overseas.

Welcome, Myra!

I wasn’t always a city girl. The first four years of my life were spent on my parents’ farm outside Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. My two brothers, already adults when I came along (surprise!!), lived on the property and had their own horses, Red and Rusty.

I still remember my first “cowgirl” initiation. My mother set me on Rusty’s bare back, ostensibly for a lazy ride around the corral. But I had other ideas. I gripped Rusty’s mane, gleefully leaned toward his ears, and commanded, “Go, Rusty, go!”

He did. Except Mommy still had hold of my ankle, which pulled me off Rusty’s back and headfirst into, um, something very, very soft and squishy.

Next stop: the bathtub.

So began my lifelong love of horses—with one significant problem. Shortly before I turned four, my dad passed away, and soon afterward Mom moved us into town. From that point forward, my future as a city girl was fixed.

It wasn’t long before both my brothers left the Valley and settled in the Texas Hill Country. The younger brother, married with three children, had a small ranch with horses and cattle, so whenever my mother and I visited, I got to be a country girl again, even if only for a few days.

The years passed, and when I was a young teen, circumstances brought my mother and me back to the farm that was my first home. Still, my mother wouldn’t agree to having a horse—too much responsibility, she insisted.

Then one day a stray horse wandered up our driveway. My mom placed a lost-and-found ad, but for days no one responded. The horse looked gentle enough, and I was itching to try riding him. Finally I talked my mom into helping me, so with an old rag rug for a saddle and makeshift rope reins, I carefully climbed onto his back.

For the next few days, we enjoyed leisurely strolls down the lane, and I was the happiest girl in the West—er, South—until a woman and her and two ecstatic children arrived to claim their missing horse. I cried to watch him go.

More years passed. I grew up, got married, and had kids of my own. Horse adventures were limited to the occasional trail ride while on vacation . . .

. . . until the year I signed up to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. Working directly with the horses was a dream fulfilled, even more so when another volunteer encouraged me to take dressage lessons (not exactly cowgirl-type horsemanship, but nearing 50 by then, I was okay with a tamer kind of riding).

My volunteer friend eventually introduced me to a horsewoman who owned a sweet old gelding that needed extra attention. When she offered to let me ride him for lessons and practice, it was the best of both worlds—a “free” horse I could ride whenever I wanted, without the responsibility of feeding, mucking stalls, vet care, etc.

Those years of dressage lessons and volunteering at the therapeutic riding center also brought knowledge, skills, and priceless firsthand experiences. Besides the basics of horse care and tack, I learned ground driving and lunge-lining, and I exulted in the thrill of “joining up” with horses in the round pen. I could even harness a horse to a small carriage for a ride down the lane!

After seven wonderful (and wonder-filled) years of such experiences, my husband and I moved far away from Texas and my “horsey” friends, and for the past eleven years I have been utterly horseless [cue the violins]. My only recourse has been to write books with horses in them, and there have been several, including my “Horseman” trilogy, set in North Carolina and featuring three handsome horsemen and the women they love.

My recent Love Inspired contemporary romance, Her Hill Country Cowboy, returns to Texas and is set on a small guest ranch in the fictional town of Juniper Bluff, about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio. I’m delighted to give away two copies today (U.S. postal addresses only, please). You can read more about the story below.

So let’s chat. Do you harbor a cherished lifelong dream? Has it come true? If so, in what ways? If not, what can you do or have you done to fill that empty place in your heart?

About the book: Single father Seth Austin will do anything for his children. So when he discovers the new housekeeper his grandmother hired for their guest ranch is a former social worker, he plans to keep his family far away from Christina Hunter. Seth once almost lost custody of his beloved kids because of an overzealous social worker. Problem is his children adore Christina and her sweet service dog—and he’s starting to fall for her, too. Recuperating from an accident, Christina is determined to slowly ease back into her old life. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that her future might be with the cowboy and his family.

Connect with Myra:

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

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Guest Blogger
Updated: September 6, 2017 — 9:52 pm

34 Comments

  1. Hi Myra! I really enjoyed your horse themed post. I’ve only ridden a handful of times in my life. Beautiful creatures, indeed 🙂

    This isn’t really a lifelong dream as it is one my husband and I have had for many years: to buy a 5th wheel/ truck combo to live in full-time and travel the States (when he retires). We’ve done a lot of traveling over the years, but not all over. Mostly it’s been in Oregon where we live and many parts in Washington. We love it, we love exploring all the off the beaten path places and unusual sites. Can you say Corn Palace in Mitchell SD?? Though that is a pretty popular place along with Wall Drug 🙂 I know there are so many more places yet to see and we’ve never been farther East than Illinois.

    It’s a dream right now, but we’re praying God will bring it to pass someday! Thanks for the giveaway to and congrats on the new book!

    1. Hi, Trixi! Your dream sounds so fun–freewheeling across the country and seeing the sights! Project Guy and I have had moments when we’d like to ditch the house in the suburbs and take off in an RV. But I’m too attached to my stuff, I guess. But having that option for vacationing would sure be nice! Someday . . .

  2. Hello Myra- What an amazing story. I grew up with horses all my life, I rode before I walked. I never knew how lucky I was until I left home and my horses after college, it was an eye opener not to have my faithful friends at my disposable 24/7. You have a great Friday. God Bless.

    1. Tonya, you were living my dream! Do you have horses again now, or will you in the future?

  3. It sounds like you had a horse of a good time growing up. Horses are such magnificent animals. I live in the country, have for the past 4 years. I see them daily but am not a rider.I’ll admit I admire them from afar. I will also admit to being a lifelong reader and would love to read your newest book, Her Hill Country Cowboy.Congratulations on it’s release. It sounds like a great fun read.

    1. Thanks, Deanne! My Montana daughter lives in the country now, too, and has horses all around her. But she went on a trail ride while vacationing 2 summers ago, only to have her horse spook and throw her. She was care-flighted to a hospital with a concussion and other injuries (even wearing a helmet!). She vows never to get on another horse!

  4. I loved your post Myra. Thank you for sharing. I’ve never ridden a horse . They are such beautiful animals. Living on the east coast in the northern area won’t find any horses. My whole life I’ve wanted to learn to play piano. I never did but my greatest hobby is reading now.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Carol, I wish I’d kept up the piano lessons, but I got too bored with them around the time I entered high school. Big, big mistake. Follow your dream while you can!

  5. Loved your story and your another Texas author! Woohoo! I have to keep my eye out for some of your books! I new to reading novels. I just started reading again after a couple decades. I am on my 77th book since late October and I’m always looking for new go to authors!

    1. Wonderful, Stephanie! You’re really plowing through those books! I do hope you’ll look for more of mine because I’d love to have you as a new reader. Bless you!

  6. Thank you for the very enjoyable blog, Myra. I grew up in the Northeast but I had two friends that had horses–a Tennessee Walker and a pony–so I got to go riding growing up thanks to them.

    A past dream came true. After being sent to Scotland on a student exchange, I fulfilled my dream and went back there to live for a year after college–one of the most wonderful and life-changing times of my life.

    My dream now is to get back on the road traveling the U.S. which I did a lot of in the past. I must have what Merle Haggard termed “white line fever” because I love the road and all the things one can see. Like Trixi, I saw the Corn Palace and Wall Drug! on our way to the Black Hills, the site of the Little Bighorn, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

    1. Eliza, those Tennessee Walkers are interesting to ride. I’ve only had one opportunity, when someone donated a Tennessee Walker to the therapeutic equestrian center where I was volunteering. He was a sweet old guy!

      Wow, your Scotland experience sounds wonderful! How neat that you had the chance to fulfill that dream. And now travel–we would love to see more of the U.S., too!

  7. I grew up “in town” and always wanted a horse. Each year there was a two night horse show and they gave away a pony. I prayed to win but never did. As an adult I realized that my.parents were probably praying that I DIDN’T win 🙂 Thanks for a great post!
    Blessings!!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. I totally get it, Connie! My mom was really not happy I was getting so attached to the horse that wandered into our yard that day.

  8. I grew up with horses and left them behind when I married. With 4 children in 8 years, I was much too busy to miss the horses.

    1. Hi, Estella! Yes, horses take a lot of time and care. And you really have had your hands full with four kids! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I enjoyed your post, Myra. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome, Melanie! Glad you could visit!

  10. Good morning, Myra…..Welcome and thanks for coming! We love all things cowboy and cowgirl here. You had some great cowgirl adventures–all fodder for your stories. I always wanted a horse (in fact I think that’s every little kid’s dream) but I never got one, which was a good thing considering I was a city girl. I love watching shows about horses and the series Heartland on Netflix has shown me so much. That’s a wonderful, very entertaining show by the way.

    Congrats on the new book! What an awesome setting. I love the Hill Country and my dream is to live there one day. But I’m in Amarillo and I really don’t see that happening. Wishing you tons of success!

    1. Hi, Linda! Project Guy and I are hooked on Heartland–love, love, love that show! We’ve just gotten to season 7 on Netflix. Amy and Ty are so fun to watch. And it was clear from episode 1 that the actress playing Amy is a natural horsewoman. My envy meter skyrocketed!!!!!

  11. Myra! Hi! Such fun to see you here! I like the setting for your latest book — there is nothing like the Hill Country carpeted in brilliant wildflowers. Sigh.

    Twenty years ago or so one of my lifelong dreams came true … we moved to what I call the ‘semi-country’ in historically ranching country. I’m not sure the ranchers liked to see us coming, but they’ve been nice about the intrusion.

    Now if I could just accomplish another lifelong dream of being 5’6″ tall … 😉

    Congratulations on all your wonderful writing!

    (Chill’N)

    1. Oh, Nancy, I do miss those bluebonnets every spring! And, um, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’ve probably stopped growing. ? Thanks for popping in!

  12. I lived in Wyoming most of my life, but was a town girl. Then after living in CA for several years, my family moved back to Wyoming, but not to town, onto a ranch where my dad had a job. The boss’s daughter was visiting and invited me to go riding. I was 16, and thought how hard can it be, well we road for hours. I wasn’t told until later that I did it all wrong, and for the next ten days I could hardly move, walk, sit. I had rode against the horse, I gave everyone a laugh. No one bother to stop me and tell me how to ride. Lesson learned, the next time, I did it right. I haven’t need on a horse for years.
    I have read some of your books, and enjoy them.

    1. Hi, Veda! Oh, yeah, I know all about the soreness after a long ride when you aren’t used to it! Ouch!!! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed some of my other books. Thanks for visiting!

  13. I got to see a full eclipse last month.

    1. Wow, Kim! Ours was at about 98% so close. I would have loved to see the “real thing”!

  14. I love horses and the best experience I ever had was at camp for two summers when I was around 9… I was able to learn to ride! My favorite horse was named Jackpot… sadly after those two years, they stopped the riding program… maybe one day, I may try riding again.

    1. Colleen, your camping experience learning to ride sounds fun! So sorry they stopped the program. Horses can be a liability risk, not to mention expensive to keep, so I wonder if that might have been an issue.

  15. I rode a horse as a child occasionally.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Country girl or city girl? Any special dreams you hold dear?

  16. As a young girl I wanted a horse. I even got one for my 16th birthday – a porcelain one on my cake. I got over it when I found out my mother’s cousin was seriously injured when her horse bolted and ran out of the barn. My next passion came into being after hearing President Kennedy’s speech about the Peace Corps when I was in high school. My dream was to become a volunteer. I mentioned it a few times to my family, but I don’t think they were serious. I finished high school and went to college. In my junior year, I applied to join the Peach Corps and don’t think I even told my parents. They certainly heard me when I got my acceptance letter. After finishing college, I spent 3 years as a Volunteer in the Philippines. It was even better than I could ever have imagined. One dream fufuilled and on to my others.

    1. What a wonderful dream fulfilled, Patricia! I’m sure the Peace Corps experience taught you so much, even as you were giving of yourself to help others.

  17. Hey, Myra, nice post. I’ve done several stories on therapeutic riding in my journalism career and can testify, there’s something about a horse. Wish I knew more about them and had ridden in my youth. I’m 60-plus now with osteo, so not gonna happen.
    Grew up on the old Westerns and love ANYTHING set on a ranch.
    Don’t enter me in drawing, I already have “Her Hill Country Cowboy” and am 2/3 of the way through.
    Nice to connect with you in another venue.
    KB

    1. Hi, Kathy! Ah, yes, those old favorites. Bonanza. The Rifleman. Hav Gun, Will Travel. The Deputy. Hope you’re enjoying the book!

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