Category: rodeo

When Good People Make Bad Mistakes by Laura Drake

 

‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

– Al Franken

I’m fascinated by what makes good people make horrible decisions. I mean, we’re all doing the best we can, given what we know at the time, right? I explore this theme in a lot of my books, but never more than in my December release, The Last True Cowboy.

Carly Beauchamp has loved cowboy Austin Davis since first grade. Ask anyone in their dusty, backwater New Mexico town of Unforgiven, and they’ll say, “Carly and Austin” the way some say, “big trucks and country boys.” But after years of waiting for a wedding ring, Carly’s done with being a rodeo widow. She dumps Austin (again), but after a month she’s a pressure cooker, ready to blow. She heads to Albuquerque, where she’s not half of the C&A franchise. No heartbroken, “poor Carly.” Just an anonymous chick in a generic country bar. There she meets a man with ice blue eyes in biker leathers. They have nothing in common—except heartbreak. They pour out their pain while pouring the booze.

Horror hits when Carly wakes alone, but vaguely remembers she didn’t go to sleep that way. She calls around, to find that her mystery man never existed. He lied. About his name, his job . . . everything. She takes a morning after pill and goes home, determined to put this huge mistake in the rear view mirror. And she manages—more or less—until the doctor confirms her pregnancy.

Austin never meant to put his career on the circuit before Carly. She’s always been his future, his one and only. But now that she’s moved on, he’s beginning to see where he went wrong, and he’ll do anything to win her back. The only thing is, Carly’s suddenly acting differently, and she’s definitely hiding a secret—one that will test the depth of their love and open up a whole new world of possibilities.

So what do you think, P&P readers? Have you ever made a mistake that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Laura is away print copies of Nothing Sweeter and Sweet on You to one lucky winner picked at random from those who leave a comment.

Buy Laura Drake’s books here. 

Heart and soul. Cowboys and rodeos. Laura Drake has the amazing ability to give you all of it and leave you wanting more at the end.” Carolyn Brown, NY Times bestselling author

“Brilliant writing, just brilliant”–NYT bestselling author, Lori Wilde

 

 

Updated: July 31, 2018 — 10:26 am

Cowboy Fever – Rodeo Style

Hello Everyone!

It’s exciting to be part of Cowboy Fever week! I love small rodeos, so today I’m sharing with you some candid shots showing what happens behind the chutes before the rough stock competition begins. The time behind the chutes is surprisingly quiet, considering what happens after the gates are open and the broncs hit the arena bucking.

The cowboys tape up, put on their chaps, practice their form.

They also saddle their broncs, usually alone.

Then they wait near their chute and their horse until it’s time for their ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, of course, they ride.

Then make a graceful exit from the arena, ready to do it all over again the next chance they get.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look behind the chutes during Cowboy Fever Week!

Kari Lynn Dell: The Inadvertent Jogger!

It seems to be the nature of women to take any wonderous occurrence and turn it into a cause for stress and self-deprecation. So it is with my novel, Tougher in Texas, being named as a finalist in the Long Contemporary category of the 2018 RITA® awards by the Romance Writers of America®, awarded at their national conference during a glitzy ceremony. I had barely absorbed the news when I got a congratulatory call from my awesome writer friend Laura Drake, which immediately devolved into the inevitable panic.

“Oh my God, what am I going to wear?

Private online discussion groups were set up for all the finalists, and by noon on day one there was one thread about dresses, and immediately on its heels another about losing enough weight to fit into the dresses, and immediately after that a Facebook support group for everyone trying to lose weight.

Somehow, I don’t think this happens leading up to the Self-Important White Man Book Awards ceremonies, of which there are several.

But I am no better or worse than my sisters, so now that the snow has cleared I am endeavoring to carve off a few of the pounds acquired while telling myself I needed the extra calories to stay warm during the long, bitter winter. And of course this has to involve some form of exercise.

Runners often rhapsodize about something called an ‘endorphin high’, which apparently occurs when you punish your body until it begins to crank out its own painkillers in self defense. As thrilling as that sounds, I usually pass. My lungs are not meant to bleed, so I keep it to a nice stroll that doesn’t make my shins feel like they’ve been stuck with daggers. Given all that, you can see why I was amazed to find myself jogging the other night.

Obviously, I hadn’t planned to jog. If such a plan had crossed my mind, I would have had the sense to stay on my couch until it went on its merry way, as most of my thoughts are prone to do. On this particular evening, though, my husband asked me to bring his tool pick-up out to the far north hayfield, so he’d have something to drive home when he finished up for the night. It was a lovely evening, so I decided rather than having someone follow me over on the four-wheeler and bring me home, I’d just hike back.

I had to cross a pasture to get to the hayfield, but our small band of Longhorns were clear out in the farthest corner, so I left the gate open on my way out. I should know better. Longhorns can smell the breeze blowing through an open gate from a mile away.

I parked the pick-up and set off for home. Halfway across the flat, I realized the Longhorns had stopped pretending to graze and were marching directly toward the gate, with a big black spotted cow taking the lead. I could practically hear her calling out cadence to be sure everyone stepped along smartly. The bull, I noticed, seemed a little testy, rumbling and growling and shaking his horns.

Yikes.

I broke into a slow trot, blundering down the rock-strewn trail on one side of a large draw, hopscotching across the bog at the bottom and chugging up through the buck brush. When I staggered, rubber-legged and huffing like a steam engine, up the other side, the Longhorns were dead even with me. Worse, I was in the center of the pasture and the bull was glaring at me with evil intent. The lead cow, recognizing my dilemma, made a swift command decision. Forget the gate. She led them south instead, cutting off my direct line to the corrals.

Luckily, a smaller draw intersects the main draw and I was on one side of it with the Longhorns on the other, moving parallel. Ignoring the complaints of my oxygen-deprived body, I kicked into a brisk jog. The lead cow also picked up her pace. I stumbled over mounds of bunch grass and into gopher holes, my vision beginning to blur, but didn’t dare slow down. The side draw ends a quarter of a mile short of the fence and we were on course to collide at its head.

I drove my shrieking legs and hemorrhaging lungs onward, assisted by a healthy dose of adrenaline. The bull was twenty yards behind when I dove through the fence and sprawled on the other side, gasping for air. The Longhorns gathered to sneer at me, elbowing each other and snickering, then wandered off in search of other entertainment.

I shoved my aching body into an upright position, plucked wild rose thorns from my knee caps and examined a row of small puncture wounds from the barbed wire. My chest felt like I’d snorted cayenne pepper, my calves were starting to cramp, and I reflected once again that if this is what joggers call a natural high, I’d hate to see what they consider a low.

As for me—if this is what it takes to trim down, I’ll just go ahead and order that dress in a larger size. 

For more visit KariLynnDell.com or find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/karilynndellbooks.

 

Note from Ruthy! Kari has generously offered one paperback copy of “Tougher in Texas” and one e-copy of “The Long Ride Home” to two happy readers! Leave a comment to be entered!

My Western Bucket List

I love seeing new places. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous as Yellowstone National Park or a little, out-of-the-way museum hardly anyone has ever heard of. There are so many places I’ve yet to visit that I would love to experience firsthand, but today I’m narrowing my list down to Western locations on my bucket list.

Yosemite National Park — Covering nearly 750,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada of California, this park is known for its granite cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls. About 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness.

U-shape valley, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Guy Francis, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon National Park  — One of the most impressive natural features on the planet, the canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. It has more than earned its name.

Grand Canyon from Pima Point. Photo by Chensiyuan, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Cheyenne Frontier Days — An outdoor rodeo and western celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming that has been around more than a century.

Mesa Verde National Park — Home to some of the the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan architectural sites in the country. Can you imagine walking in the footsteps of those who lived there more than nine millennia ago?

Square Tower House at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Photo by Rationalobserver, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Roswell, New Mexico — It might be kooky and touristy, but I’d love to visit the site of a supposed UFO crash. Plus, I’ll admit I loved the show Roswell, too. It’s also home to interesting history other than the famous UFO incident, including the fact that cattle baron John Chisum’s famous Jingle Bob Ranch, once the largest ranch in the country, was nearby.

Arches National Park — This park near Moab, Utah is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. I’ve seen the edge of this park in the distance while traveling through Utah on Amtrak, but I’d love to explore the park’s starkly beautiful high desert landscape.

Updated: April 1, 2018 — 11:35 pm

Read a Book, Help a Cowboy

What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common? 

Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…

Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.

This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.

Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.

As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.

On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed.  Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.

Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.

I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.

The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).

But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.

I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.

The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. 

Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.

After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.

This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .

~ GIVEAWAY! ~

For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question:

What’s one thing that made you smile today?

A New Book and Inspiration

It’s hard to believe that my book that is out this month, Her Texas Rodeo Cowboy, is the 16th story I’ve set in my fictional town of Blue Falls, Texas. It’s the 12th full-length book with that series name attached to it, but there were also a Christmas e-novella (A Cowboy in Her Stocking) and a previous trilogy, The Teagues of Texas, that introduced the Hill Country tourist destination.

Her Texas Rodeo Cowboy examines that age-old conflict that occurs when someone with deep roots on the land where they grew up falls for someone who lives the life of a tumbleweed. However will they solve the conflict to find their happily ever after?

With actress Rachel Skarsten, the inspiration for my character Sloane Hartley.

Sloane Hartley is deeply rooted to her family’s ranch in Blue Falls, Texas. So she isn’t about to risk falling for a tempting tumbleweed like Jason Till. To Sloane, Jason is a handsome heartbreak waiting to happen. Like all rodeo cowboys. If she ever let herself love again, she certainly wouldn’t pick someone like him!

Jason only has eyes for one prize—the steer-wrestling championship. And he can’t afford any distractions. Certainly not a blonde beauty with trust issues like Sloane. She represents everything a cowboy on the circuit can’t have anyway—home, family, a real relationship. Everything he thought he didn’t need. But when he’s with Sloane, Jason can’t remember why winning at the rodeo seemed so important.

With actress Adelaide Kane, the inspiration for my character Arden Wilkes.

When I begin plotting a book, I tend to base the characters’ physical descriptions on an actor or actress. So it was really cool when I went to DragonCon over the Labor Day weekend and got to give signed books to two actresses who inspired recent heroines in my Blue Falls, Texas series. They were both from the show Reign, loosely based on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots. Rachel Skarsten, who played Queen Elizabeth I, was the model for Sloane in this month’s release. Adelaide Kane, who played Mary, was the inspiration for Arden, the heroine from In the Rancher’s Arms, which was out in April. Both seemed to think it was pretty cool to have had a book heroine based on them.

My question to you: What actors do you think would be good models for my future cowboy heroes?

Updated: September 28, 2017 — 3:35 pm

A Special Kind of Crazy

 

Please welcome our guest Laura Drake. 

Laura is giving away three eBook copies

of When Things Got Hot in Texas in Kindle or Nook–winner’s choice! So be sure to leave a comment.

(Contest guidelines apply)

 

 

Hey y’all!  For any who don’t know me, I’m Laura Drake, a Contemporary Western Romance author. But I mostly write about a specific kind of cowboy – the crazy ones – bull riders.

I’m a city girl from Detroit, but I married a Bigger-than-life Texan. On my first trip to Texas, he took me my first rodeo and I fell in love! Then I found out bull riding was on TV every Saturday and I was hooked! There’s something about a guy having the courage to get on a one-ton animal that wants to stomp his guts out that gets me. I’ve met a bunch of them, and my faith in the younger generation was bolstered; they’re down home country boys who still say ma’am and sir, and use the manners their mamas taught them. Well, and then there’s always the Wranglers in chaps!

I tend to jump in with both feet, but even I admit, I got carried away. I’ve been to ten regular events, and four World Finals in Vegas, one after breaking my leg in a freak fly fishing accident. Hey, I’m a dedicated fan….and it was a bonus that the handicapped staging area was right outside the guys locker-room!

A couple years later, I was writing a Women’s Fiction about the first woman bull fighter in the PBR (there’s never been one in real life). I felt like I should have more of an insider view of the skills involved, so I went to bull fighting School! No, I didn’t get in the arena with a bull, but if I’d been ten years younger, I would have!

I wrote a three-book series set in the world of pro bull riding. When the first one came out, I called in all my markers, and got with Jory Markiss, who at the time, was the #10 bull rider in the world (and he’s pretty darned cute, besides).

Speaking of seriously cute, for the model for my last hero in the series, Cam Cahill, I used the bull riding legend, Chris Shivers. I mean…whew!

I recently released a novella, Cowboy Karma, in the, When Things Got Hot in Texas anthology. I wanted to explore what would happen if an arrogant love-em-and leave ‘em bull rider tried to reform his bad boy ways.  Meet Stead James:

The When Things Got Hot in Texas was my idea – all five novellas set during a Texas Heat Wave. I contacted my Western Romance buds, and Lori Wilde, Christie Craig, Katie Lane, and Cynthia D’Alba took me up on it!

So, bottom line, yes, I’m a bit obsessive about bull riding. And I haven’t even talked about the bulls! Yes, many fans are there to cheer for them! But that’s a subject for another day.

So tell me, P&P readers – have you ever been to a bull riding event? Do you believe an arrogant man can change, given enough incentive?

 

Updated: June 8, 2017 — 5:04 pm

Welcome Guest – Pam Meyers

 

The Pioneer City Rodeo – A Perfect Setting for Second Chance Love

I’ve loved everything cowboy since I was a child, and dreamed of living where I could have a horse. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t a dream my parents shared, and as I grew into adulthood, I moved on to other interests. Like many in Wisconsin, or Illinois where I live now, I used to think that all rodeos happened in the west. Just yesterday at church a woman was surprised I was interested in rodeo or that rodeos occur so close to us. There are a lot of rodeos going on in my home state of Wisconsin and all around the Midwest during the warmer months. A fact I learned about a dozen years ago when a friend invited me to a rodeo.

The Pioneer City Rodeo, where Second Chance Love is set, is a real event that happens every Labor Day weekend, which I attend every year now. Like in my story, there are rodeos on three consecutive evenings, and we attend all three. Located in the tiny village of Palestine, a southern Illinois town nestled along the Wabash River, the rodeo offers a wonderful getaway to cap off the summer. We meet a lot of the locals sitting around us in the stands and on Main Street during the street fair. Although some of the retail establishments in my story are from my imagination, many are real, including the Back Porch Smokehouse and the Wabash Coffee House, located a short distance upriver from Palestine.

When I decided to write the story, it was a natural to make my hero, Jace McGowan, a bull rider, since that’s one of my favorite events. My heroine, Sydney Knight, is a born and bred Chicagoan and can no more picture herself living on Jace’s Texas ranch than he can see himself hanging up his bull rope and living in a Chicago apartment building. This conflict leads to a lot of tension, but they both have baggage beyond that which must be overcome before they can move forward and learn how much they really do have in common. I hope you’ll read my story to find out.

Second Chance Love

Chicago lawyer Sydney Knight and Texas bull rider Jace McGowan have nothing in common but everything to lose when they are thrust together during a weekend rodeo in rural Illinois. Neither one of them would have imagined two years ago that the deep attraction they sensed during a day-long outing would resurface when Sydney’s boss assigns her to Jace’s legal case.

Sydney has been through a world of hurt since losing her dad when she was sixteen, then being dumped the morning of her wedding. She’s sworn off romance and instead devotes her time toward a partnership in her father’s law office.

Jace has found faith in God and wants out of his sponsor contract with a risqué restaurant chain that requires him to pose with scantily-clad women. He’s about to bail on the contract and pay steep penalties—something he can ill afford, given that his deceased father left the family with unpaid taxes.

Sydney is determined she’ll get Jace out of his contract and return to Chicago with her heart intact, but Jace is just as determined to help her see they are meant to be together. Can a city girl with roots deep in Chicago and a bull-riding rancher with roots deep in Texas give themselves a second-chance love?

Giveaway!

Pam will give one lucky reader a Kindle version of Second Chance Love. Leave a comment to enter.

  • What is your favorite rodeo event?

Give Me a Cowboy and the Rodeo

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!

 

Updated: February 27, 2017 — 8:03 pm

A Life-Long Love of Westerns

Howdy, everyone! I’m happy to be joining the Petticoats & Pistols as the newest member today, partly because it’s always nice to hang out with other writers and readers but also because of the focus on westerns. You see, I’ve loved westerns for as long as I can remember. I recently had to answer a questionnaire for my publisher, and one of the questions was why I liked cowboy stories. I had to sit and think about it because it was just something that had always been true. As I was growing up in rural western Kentucky, we only had three TV channels and had to go outside to physically turn the antennae if the reception was bad. I distinctly remember that old movies played on Saturday afternoons, and a lot of those were westerns. When I think back on them now, I can identify why they attracted me and why I still love western-set TV shows, movies and books.

  • The landscape was so wide open with impossibly wide skies and a rugged type of beauty. This was completely different than the wooded, rolling hills where I grew up. At that point in my life, I’d barely been out of the state with brief trips a few miles down the road and across the river into Illinois and a Girl Scout trip to Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tenn., both of which looked pretty much like Kentucky. So those western landscapes, even if some of them were created on Hollywood lots, were like a different planet that I longed to visit.
  • Even though it was romanticized and still is to some extent, cowboys were iconic American heroes. They could live off the land, were honest (at least if they were wearing a white or light-colored hat), chivalrous, and a force for good. Even back then in the 1970s and ’80s, I knew that things were rarely that black and white in real life. Reality was more complicated and filled with shades of gray.
  • I love stories set in the past. I haven’t met a costume drama I didn’t love, and westerns — at least for me — fall into that category. It’s a bit like being a time-traveler and being transported to a different time and place, but you don’t have to worry about the lack of hygiene or modern medicine.
  • While I love my modern conveniences, I for some reason have always loved stories about survival and living off the land. When I think about people who set off in wagon trains west, not knowing if they’d make it or if they’d ever seen friends and family again, I’m awed by how much courage that took. Kind of like people who boarded ships in England and sailed for America. Even though modern-day cowboys and ranchers have the modern conveniences the rest of us do, they are still men of the land and work out under those wide-open skies.

While I write contemporary romance, many of which have cowboys as heroes, I still have a great love for western historicals. These were the first romances I read back in high school and continued to read in the years that followed — stories by Lorraine Heath, Kathleen Eagle, Elizabeth Grayson, among others. My first manuscript was even a historical set along the Oregon Trail, inspired partly because of that old video game called Oregon Trail. A friend even got me a shirt once that said, “You have died of dysentery,” which is a familiar phrase to anyone who played the game.

If a new movie comes out that is a western, I do my best to go see it in the theater so they’ll continue to make more. If there’s a western-themed TV series, I’m parked in front of the small screen. My all-time favorite show, Firefly, actually is a mixture of western and my other favorite genre, sci-fi. Yes, space western, and it was awesome!

In the months ahead, I look forward to blogging about various western-themed topics — my trips across the American West, my love for western-themed decor, rodeo, etc. And I look forward to interacting with the readers of Petticoats & Pistols.

Updated: January 23, 2017 — 1:26 am
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