Weaving with Words, Riding with Spurs…

Weaving creates an image, doesn’t it? No matter how you apply the word, we envision yarn or threads being moved in lock-stitch by hand or machine. We see the flash of success as the weft threads pass through the warp threads, and a foot treadle bounces the threads up and down in clockwork precision.

That’s kind of what it’s like when we write a story.

Umm… NOT THE PRECISION PART!!!!

I’m a pantser, a writer who begins with the idea of how I see the story and characters and then I create… and I add and subtract as I go. Not all writers work like this, some like notes, charts, timelines, etc… I do better by avoiding all that as completely as I can.Β  But what all authors have in common is the weaving of the word… and when I’m writing a Western (like my upcoming Shepherd’s Crossing series with Love Inspired or my Double S Ranch series with Waterbrook) I weave with a different set of threads. Some are coarser. Some are thicker. Some are rugged because carving a living off the land requires not only skill but fortitude. And I love folks with fortitude! (I just listened to the full recording of Peace in the Valley this weekend… Barbara McCullch did a great job with this Western and the character voices!)

I want my Westerns to sound authentic. Not contrived. Not over-done. If a rancher is educated, I want them to sound that way with a distinct twang as needed. πŸ™‚ There’s nothing like an Ivy League educated cowboy (Colt Stafford “Back in the Saddle”) that comes across when he faces the heroine and does nothing more that touch the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat.

No words needed.

πŸ™‚

He said it all with one gesture, a gesture he wouldn’t have used in Lower Manhattan but one that is quite effective in Central Washington. Colt’s a coming home character, a man returning to his roots out of necessity, a man surprised to find he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be… at last.

Mary Connealy taught me years ago that cowboys aren’t generally the talkative type. She’s right.

Like so many hard-working men, they grunt a lot, and then they’re surprised when those around them are at a loss to read their feelings. And then you go and read a Paul Harvey poem “So God Made a Farmer” and you realize you need to go beyond words, to actions.

There’s a book that talks about love languages, and it’s so stinkin’ true in many ways… not all people speak in poetic license.

A lot of men have to choke out “I’m sorry” or “I love you”… the dolts! πŸ™‚

But sometimes those same men will go the distance to make sure the wagon seat is smooth enough to not snag a pretty dress…

Or extra warm potatoes to keep a historical heroine’s feet from taking a chill…

Or run to school to pick up a sick child of a single mother so she doesn’t lose her job at the diner…

Or dig the grave for his daddy’s old Golden Lab, gone home to heaven. I love that scene in “Saint Maybe” and used a similar scene in one of my first books “Waiting Out the Storm”… because acts of sacrifice transcend genre and touch a reader’s heart and soul.

There are so many ways to show emotion as we write. Some require few words. Some require a pause in the action. A long moment. Unshed tears. Or gut-wrenching sobs…

While others show the frontier or pure country joy… a single flower, tucked in a Mason jar on the heroine’s table. A pair of pumpkins, set on a porch with a tuft of corn by their side. A walk with a calf, or a foal, or to bottle feed lambs…

Love on the ranch or the farm or in the country isn’t always shown the same way as on the coasts. Fancy meals and pricey nights out are usually not the norm. And while those are good in their place, there’s something more soul stirring about a pot of stew and fresh bread. A homemade pie. A pretty scarf that the hero buys because it matches the heroine’s eyes…

When I’m writing Westerns, I make sure my mindset is on animals and kids first, because honestly, when dealing with a farm or ranch and animals, they have to come first. They can’t fend for themselves… That simple admission leads the reader into the heart of the rancher, the devotion of the hero and/or heroine. The words I choose to set the scene or ride the wave of emotions have to ring true to the reader, no matter where he or she lives… or what they do for a living.

Word weaving… it’s what makes an authors voice distinctive, and what makes a story memorable or forgettable. Those words create and follow the rise and fall of emotion and that roller coaster ride should be as real as we can make it… so the reader gets the full price of their ticket!

Do you have favorite book scenes that have stuck with you over years? I’d love to hear about them… comment today because I have a beautiful copy of my newest Love Inspired book “The Lawman’s Yuletide Baby” as a giveaway… and I think you’ll love this beautiful story of healing and hope and sacrificial love.

Of course the fact that it’s my 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY is a wonderful milestone!!! πŸ™‚ I brought coffee and hot chocolate because things are cooling down here in Western New York… and some homemade double chocolate chip cookies, because while Pumpkin Spice everything is fun… nothing beats double chocolate chip. And it don’t pay to argue with me, because I’m armed… and dangerous, my friends!

Cookies for everyone!

 

 

Ruth Logan Herne
Multi-published, bestselling, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne lives on a small farm in Western New York surrounded by grown kids, cute grandkids, cats, dogs, chickens, frogs, toads and snakes. That's why writing Westerns doesn't scare her. Not one smidge. Because she's surrounded by critters of all sorts, and has been known to teach lessons on snakes as available... She started writing Westerns by accident/invitation, and L-O-V-E-D it... matched with her love for both historicals and contemporaries, Ruthy's working on a new Western series for Love Inspired, New England mysteries for Guideposts and her historical Westerns for the indie market in 2018. She loves God, her family, her country and absolutely, positively loves what she does!
Updated: October 29, 2017 — 7:52 pm

43 Comments

  1. Ruth loved your blog. I’m still in book hangover from Back In The Saddle. I absolutely loved this book. Colt, Angelina and the entire family and ranch hands stole my heart. Especially Noah. Can’t wait to ride back into the Double S Ranch. You have an amazing talent with such wonderful spiritual wisdom. You have an amazing day.
    Love & hugs, Tonya!!!! ???????

    1. Tonya! I’m so glad you loved “Back in the Saddle”. I love that series, it was so much fun to write and it’s touched a lot of hearts… and it made the inspy bestseller’s list for almost two months, I think… maybe longer. And what a nice thing that is for an author to say! All three of those books (Home on the Range and Peace in the Valley) hit the list and stayed there, so I’m delighted. Thank you!!!!

  2. I really enjoyed your post today. I can’t think of a scene off the top of my head that has really stayed with me.

    1. Janine, many of mine are from coming of age stories… Or classics. Isn’t that funny and kind of right all at once? A Day No Pigs Would Die… The Yearling…. Anne of Green Gables…. Understood Betsy…. And then as an adult, I have to say that “Sweet Hush” by Deb Dixon is a book I’ve never forgotten. Hush Thackery’s story hit home with me, and her hero… “Jakob”… was perfect for her. I felt like every beat of that book worked.

      But of course, that comes back to personal opinion and life experiences! So glad you stopped by today….

  3. Really enjoyed your post. The image of touching the tip of his index finger to the brim of his hat needs no words. That action to me says everything. I can’t think of a scene right now but those visuals to me make a scene. Thank you for sharing.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Carol, the no words thing works a lot… especially when a character needs to think. Or needs to romance quietly. πŸ™‚ There’s something about the strength in silence (or just the fact that men are not generally chatterboxes!) that rings true!

  4. Hi Ruth. I am so glad to see you here today. Many years ago I fell in love with the book The Secret Life of Bees/and it was because of the 14 year old girl who had grown up believing she had killed her mother as a very young child. Her father is abusive and she is taken in by a family of sisters who show her love, compassion and the joy of having mother figures. Near the end of the book her father reyurns, still angry and still unloving, but Lily calls him Daddy and asks once again if she was the one that killed her mother. Even though he affirms that she was the one the author lets us see that Lily finally knows that this may not have been the case but either way she us going to be okay!
    Thanks for the chance to win your book.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. I remember that story hitting the shelves. It resounded! And yes, Connie, that’s the kind of thing that sticks with a reader because we can see so much in the story. I’ve never read it, but it sounds like my kind of story!

  5. Yay for cookies and hot chocolate!!! Congrats on the book. You certainly do know how to weave a story. I am a farm girl and love how you paint the country life. It IS different than coastal country life. Thank you for being a fabulous story teller! I don’t know that I have a favorite series (I love so many!) but yours is at the top!

    1. Oh, Susan, thank you so much! I’m so glad you love my stories, that makes me smile! And I’m okay with being at the top of your list and sharing it with others… That’s like the best honor ever!!!! Good to see you over here…

      And isn’t that the truth about the variances of life/lifestyle? As I work in different regions of the country, that comes through more and more. The coastal country/rural still has a slight flavor of coastal living in its mettle…. whereas the Midwest and North and South are all very different. And then the Southwest is a place unto itself! So those regional likes/dislikes/patterns are really part of the fabric of the story, even if they’re only used a little… because like those threads, if you miss that part, it’s like a hole in the garment.

  6. Congratulations on your 20th Love Inspired story! I just loved your blog and all of the images you invoked, beginning with what’s said with the tip of a hat.

    One of the book scenes that stays with me is the opening to Maggie Osborne’s Silver Lining when the character Low Down nurses miners with the pox and then subsequently finds herself in the middle of a lottery for getting her a husband. The other book scenes that stay with me are the opening ones in Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter where shy, wallflower Evie first beards the rake Sebastian in his den and then the following scenes of them in their rough carriage ride to Gretna Green. What both have in common is out-of-the-ordinary, inauspicious beginnings to marriages of convenience. I love that it’s supposedly the men making the sacrifice in both stories!

    1. Eliza, those sound like great scenes… they stayed with you in detail! And who doesn’t love the shy wallflower taking the big guy to task???? Ruling the roost is a wonderful thing! And I love marriage of convenience stories… because they aren’t as rare as we think!!!

  7. Congrats on your 20th LOVE INSPIRED STORY!!! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Colleen!!!! πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Ruth,
    I enjoyed your post so much! My first time through writing a story, I just get the words down, and then I have to go back through and take out half of the hero’s words because I KNOW men don’t talk like that! My husband is one who talks about 1/4 the amount that I do, and I am not much of a talker! Sometimes I’ll run dialogue by him, asking if a man would say a certain word. Basically, if I question it…I need to take it out LOL.

    My favorite books scenes–there are so many! One that always stuck with me was in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott when Jo reveals that she cut her hair to sell it for money (to help her mother)–and then cries because she misses it. I thought that was so poignant.l

    Congratulations on your 20th book!

    1. Oh, I remember that scene with Jo so vividly…. and I loved it in the movie. What a wonderful book… and I love the scene in Downton Abbey when Cora exclaims “Daughters! You think it’s going to be all “Little Women” and then they’re at each other’s throats all the time!”

      Oh, I died laughing at that because it’s true.

      And yes, about the talking. It’s a rare kind of man who yammers… and I don’t generally see yammering as hero-friendly. But maybe it could work and I’m being NARROW MINDED!!!!

  9. Ruthy!!!! So good to see you here πŸ™‚

    I’m reading a book now where the hero has never been a father and doesn’t know what to do with kids (he’s very uncomfortable). Well, as you can imagine where I’m going here, the heroine has guardianship of a six-month-old girl because her mom was killed. Anyway, the first time he holds the little tike, her warm brown eyes just melt him and he begins to babble nonsense stuff…lol! He describes her touch as soft as butterfly wings. I should add, he’s a Texas Ranger. I love, love, love when a big burly tough guy gets slain by a little child…they just melt like hot butter! I

    I’ve read so many good books over the years that can paint a whole picture in my mind with just a gesture on the characters behalf (ie: the touching fingers to a hat brim). I love when an author can evoke the emotions without anyone saying a word πŸ™‚

    Thank you for the giveaway chance, I love your stories, you always completely immerse me in the pages!

    1. I love melting a big, burly hero’s heart with a BABY!!!! Men need to be able to tone it down and just fall in love with babies, don’t they??? That’s how we know they’re keepers!!!!!

      Trixi, I love being over here in my Western boots and my cowgirl hat. Yeeeeee Haw!

  10. Congratulations on your 20th Love Inspired book Ruthy!
    A scene that sticks with me is where Mr. Kightly is admonishing Emma for her treatment of someone of a lesser station. Of course when Mr. Darcy “proposes” to Elizabeth Bennet in the most unflattering, insulting way is quite memorable as well. I also love when Jane Eyre returns to Thornfield Hall.
    It seems I have classics on the brain today. I love that you are a “pantser.” I haven’t read all your books but I love the ones I have.

    1. Oh, Jane Eyre! I LOVE JANE EYRE!!!!! Poor Mr. Rochester…. stuck in that crazy life with the crazy wife…. and I remember crying my eyes out when I read that as a teen…. Oh mylanta, I wanted them to be happy…. and when he saw that hint of blue of her dress… GADZOOKS! Happiness abounds!

  11. Love your post, Miss Ruth! Congratulations on your 20th..that is great! Rhett and Scarlett had many memorable scenes.

    1. Am I a terrible person if I admit I don’t like Scarlett O’Hara at all? That she’s a whiny, stuck-on-herself brat… and that I’m not a Gone With the Wind fan because of it…

      Spoiled brat women are a pain in the neck, Melanie!!!! πŸ™‚

      (Says the Yankee….)

  12. Congratulations on your 20th Love Inspired! That is one awesome cover. I love your blog too. Authors do weave with words. I’ve never heard it put that way but I love it.

    1. Linda, thank you!!!! I was so psyched to think that we’d gotten to 20…. I love it. And regardless of genre, I just love writing. Aren’t we so blessed to have an amazing job like this? As Lenora Worth says… “On the worst possible day I still have the best possible job”!

  13. You are so right. There are words in some books that we just can’t forget or put down. This has happened to me so many times; I will just read a scene over and over. It’s that way with movies as well. I don’t need to reread or rewatch the entire story, I get the feel good feeling just be experiencing my favorite scene again. I remember years ago reading Shogun and going over the same parts over and over, or parts of Atlas Shrugged, or more recently Outlander. Those are just a few.

    Congrats on your 20th, thanks for the cookies πŸ˜‰ and thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Sally, good to see you! And I hope you love the cookies… I do the SAME THING. TWINSIES!!!! Isn’t that so funny??? My favorite parts are my favorite parts… πŸ™‚

  14. Great post! Lots of things to think about.

    1. Thanks, Debra! Glad you stopped by!

  15. Love your post, Ruthy!
    Congrats on your 20th Love Inspired story!!

    1. Britney, thank you! Happy dancing… and writing more books!!!! πŸ™‚

  16. What a nice post. For me the actions, large and small, tell much more about a person than anything they might say. That quiet cowboy, rancher, farmer says more with the slight tip of his hat and a Howdy that any extended introduction in the more formal part of the world.

    As for a memorable scene, there have been so many. Julie Garwood has great opening lines for her books and the scenes that follow set up and define the character or characters and what will happen in the book. Be it a son with his dying father on a battlefield being charged with finding the traitor in the clan, or a little girl being rescued by a visiting teen boy from an irate mother pig, or an English woman waiting for Scottish soldiers to arrive and take her to her groom in Scotland, or a young girl being told goodby by her father and seeing him murdered before his knights help her escape. Just remembering these opening scenes bring good memories of the rest of the stories.

    1. Patricia, so true on all counts. Garwood is a master writer. Beautifully evocative scenes and a way with words that’s all her own.

      I love scenes, characters that stay with us. Best compliment to give an author… that she made you cry… and gave you unforgettable characters. πŸ™‚

  17. Congratulations on 20, Ruth! Here’s to your next 20 πŸ˜‰ And so true about using words to weave lasting impressions and images–that is something on our minds these days as our oldest is working on his college applications and his dad reminds him, “Show, don’t tell!” It’s not easy at all! One memorable scene from a recent read is towards the end of Julie James’s The Thing About Love–the heroine has just admitted she has feelings for the hero, and there’s a heartstopping few moments when she is left wondering whether those are reciprocated… Funny how the author give us that same feeling of anticipation and possible disappointment along with her characters πŸ™‚

    1. It’s all about the timing, isn’t it? The word weave is sometimes about the pause… and sometimes about the moves! And thank you for the congrats. Still grinning here!!!

  18. I have snippets from books–classics to historical romance to contemporary–which have stuck with me throughout the years.

    Congratulations on the 20th book release!

    1. Denise, thank you! And those snippets tend to hit home with us on a personal level… and then stay there.

      Thanks for coming over today!

  19. RUTHY, CONGRATULATIONS on your release of book 20!

    1. Caryl! Thank you so much!!!!

  20. Big congrats to you, Ruth! Loved your post and will gladly enjoy one of those double chocolate chip cookies with some hot chocolate. It’s cold in our little corner of the world today.

  21. Cool thanks for sharing.

  22. Ruth, Congrats on book 20…. Yes, I have a favorite book scene in Western Spring Weddings book that Kathryn Albright wrote, His Springtime Bride. Gage & Riley’s love story touches your heart. They had to find each other again after 14 years apart. She wove how had to was to accept each other again & find love they always knew was their’s.
    For the sake of their son, Brody; they had to love again.

    1. Oh, I love, love, love reunion stories… be still my heart! SWOON!!!!! πŸ™‚

      And I also love when a child brings folks together. Because every kid should be that special!!!

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