Tag: Dee Burks

Add One Hot Cowboy and Stir

We’re delighted to have Dee Burks with us today. She’s filling in for Phyliss Miranda who’s out of town. Dee is immensely talented and infuses her stories with humor that will make you laugh out loud. This Christmas-themed book is sure to please. She’s also giving away three copies (winner’s choice of format!) So, help us welcome Dee!

It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I write contemporary westerns and I think I have the best job in the world.

I’ll be happy to spur you outta the chute, Cowboy!

How many times have you wanted to shout that at a smoking hot guy in Wrangler’s? Actually I think I did once, or maybe twice! Cowboys you run across these days are just as exciting and interesting as they were back in the old west and I love writing about them. There is truly nothing more enticing than a smart, sexy, wickedly funny cowboy romance set in the mountains. When I decided on the setting for this series, I chose the beautiful Moreno Valley in far Northern New Mexico. It is one of my favorite places – full of ranchers, cowboys and beautiful scenery.

Beyond an awesome setting, I knew I wanted more than your average ranch cowboy to be the hero of this first book. I wanted something different. Something that would interest readers and give the book an added dimension.  One day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, a guy I knew in high school (ahem…like over 30 years ago) posted some photos of a set of custom spurs he was making. I thought, “What an awesome occupation for a former rodeo star!” And the idea for Custom Made Cowboy was born.

I sent Quint Finney, spur maker extraordinaire, a message and asked him for an interview which he graciously granted. He also sent me a pair of custom-made spurs that I could examine and take pictures of. I feel that sort of authenticity is something you can’t replace as a writer. To hear the excitement in the voice of someone who actually does this work, allows me to add nuances I couldn’t get any other way. I feel it is that real, down to earth voice that makes my hero, Trampas Woodburn, leap off the page and into the hearts of readers.

A former bull rider (yes I interviewed one of these too!) Trampas is trying to start a new life away from the spotlight but still stay connected to his rodeo roots. A leather and spur making business is what he dreams of, he just needs a quiet place to relax and get things off the ground. While he is starting a new life, my heroine, Angie Martin is desperately trying to keep her life together.

Angie is a painter and owns a little art studio in Eagle Nest, NM. I now live in Northern New Mexico, and can tell you firsthand that art is everywhere and so are great artists. I’ve had the opportunity to sit and listen to artists talk about what it feels like to create great works and the struggles that go along with making a living from that art. Giving my heroine a teetering art business to try and salvage while dealing with an unexpected, hot cowboy adds layers of humor and tension to this book in every area.

I chose two very strong willed, determined people who aren’t looking for romance at all to show how unexpected and powerful love can be. Their connection to one another is palpable, to the point readers may feel as if the pages will burst into flames on occasion!

Being a writer is a great excuse to talk to gorgeous, knowledgeable cowboys and I do a lot of it – which I, of course, will use in a book at some point (wink, wink).

I hope you all enjoy this book and to get you started I’m giving away 3 copies of Custom Made Cowboy (winner’s choice of format.) To enter the drawing, leave a profession in the comments that you think would suit a cowboy – beside chasing cows!

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About Dee:

She’s a bestselling author who brings to life today’s true west with feisty heroines and heart melting cowboys. A multi-generational Texan, she now lives in the gorgeous mountains of Northern New Mexico infusing all her settings with authenticity of the southwest while crafting love stories spicier than the hottest green chili!

Her favorite pastime is writing as the snow falls over the Sangre De Cristos, hot cup of coffee on the desk and sweet pup Charley at her feet.  When not writing, she travels the west collecting ideas and indulging her passion for fly fishing.

Getting the “Lay” of the Land with Dee Burks

 

Hi Everyone! Linda Broday here. I was supposed to blog today but western author Dee Burks is taking my place.  Miss Dee has taught writing classes at Amarillo College for several years. And in addition to being a romance author, she’s the owner and publisher of TAG Publishing Company. We’re so happy to have her with us.  See her giveaway at the end of the blog.

YOurs_again_cover_with_vic_bannerThis is about a 1880s brothel madam named Tilly and the cowboys she plowed……

Just  kidding, but before you get all excited about this being some sort of historical take on “50 shades” let me assure you it’s not, although now that I think about it, the idea has some merit! No, this is a blog about an often underutilized aspect of a story’s setting and that is the topography of the area or “lay of the land”. As a writer it is natural to think of the setting of a story in terms of vegetation, season and general climate attributes.  But topography is another aspect to setting that can greatly enhance the buy in for readers. This is especially true in a historical novel as getting from one point to another was quite the challenge, much more so than in a contemporary setting. 

When I was researching the setting for my new River City Series, I revisited the area of Northern New Mexico known as the Enchanted Circle. This area rings Wheeler Peak (elevation 13,159 ft) and includes the towns of Eagle Nest, Angel Fire, Taos, Questa and Red River. This area was a boom area in the late 1800s as mining first took off and brought many new people to the region. I was very familiar with the reality of the topography of the area as my family went on vacation to Red River almost every summer in the late 70s.

One afternoon last fall, as my DH and I were tromping up a steep incline to yet another old cemetery on the former site of Elizabethtown, it occurred to me how much we were both affected by the attitude. We are from Amarillo (elevation 3700 ft) and I have to say the treadmill incline can’t make you sweat and huff air like a short walk up a hill in thin air! The first book in the River City Series (Yours Again) has a villain chasing my heroine from Boston all the way to these same mountains over a few days and I quickly realized that the altitude change would greatly affect him. There is no way even a grown man who is used to sea level elevation can tussle with a squirming woman, run though town and then ride off through the mountains without almost passing out!

New Mex Topography MapI worked this into the story using the effects of altitude sickness to add humor and make it easier for the hero to rescue the heroine. It seemed so obvious that traveling in and around a mountainous area would cause physical problems, but think about how many books you’ve read where is seems like everything happens on perfectly flat ground? No one has to slow horses down for steep inclines or slide though mountain mud on unsteady footing. Adding just that little touch of realism can be the difference between a reader feeling like they are ‘there’ and them just skipping over passages.

The good news is that thanks to the US Geological Service, topography maps are available online. You can access them through a quick Google search of the area you are interested in followed by “topographical map”.  You can even access historical topographical maps of certain areas. This is useful because it allows you to see exactly the type of terrain and environmental obstacles characters will encounter. Here’s an example:

Years ago, one of the first classes in writing I ever took was taught by the great Jodi Thomas and she was a stickler for having description within a story include all the senses: smell, taste, touch, sight and sound.  I still hold fast to that advice and remember that setting the scene is much more than simply creating a still photo in the readers’ minds; it’s about allowing them to experience the lay of the land as well. In this way they walk beside the characters every step of the way as if they are part of the story and not just an observer.

Whether your story is set in the mountains, by the sea or in the dusty canyons of the west, the incremental changes in topography and a writer’s ability to convey that scene in a real way, will add a tremendous amount of realism to the story and sweep readers off their feet with every turn of the page.

 

Website:

www.deeburks.com

The Kindle version of Yours Again is on sale this week for only 99 cents! Get your copy here:HERE

 

Contest Giveaway:

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF YOURS AGAIN! BE THE FIRST PERSON TO POST THE ELEVATION OF ELIZABETHTOWN, NM IN THE COMMENTS. HINT: ELIZABETHTOWN LIES BETWEEN RED RIVER AND EAGLE’S NEST!

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