Thank you for this opportunity to guest blog on Petticoats and Pistols! Although I don’t get to comment as often as I’d like (I’m usually on late night), I love this site and am learning so much here.
By way of introduction, I’m Mildred Colvin and sometimes write under the pen name M. J. Conner. All eight of my books are Christian romances published by Heartsong Presents at Barbour Publishing. I enjoy writing for Barbour because the stories are fun, yet the conflict the hero and heroine must work through are often the same that many readers face in their spiritual lives. My aim and my prayer is to write in such a way that those who read my books will find laughter and tears within the pages but mostly the gentle touch of God’s love.
In my newest release, Joanna’s Adventure, Clay Shepherd rides back into Cedar Bend, Kansas, hires on at the Circle C Ranch and literally sweeps Joanna off her feet. He doesn’t realize that he didn’t have to carry her across a mud puddle to get her attention. No siree. Joanna has been dreaming about Clay ever since he left town six years ago when they were in their teens. Joanna fell for Clay the first day he slid into the back seat of the old schoolhouse, so his return stirs more than memories. Of course that first kiss under the mistletoe back then didn’t hurt one bit. In fact she still has the pressed sprig of mistletoe in a keepsake box so she will never forget her one and only kiss or the handsome, exciting boy who gave it to her. She sees the grown up Clay as more than exciting. He is romantic and unpredictable with a touch of mystery that tells her just how enticingly dangerous he can be. Joanna doesn’t know what it is, but Clay has something that draws her, and that something is cowboy charisma.
Like Joanna, I’m not immune to the appeal of a cowboy, so when I think of Clay, the term cowboy charisma pops into my mind. What is cowboy charisma? The dictionary defines charisma as “a special magnetic charm or appeal.” So what’s appealing about a guy who tends horses and cows and scoops manure? Could it be those snug-fitting blue jeans with more swagger than stride crossing the barnyard or street? How about the wide-brimmed cowboy hat pulled low, lending an air of mystery when it hides the expression in those dark shadowed eyes? Or maybe the tug of a grin when he notices a pretty gal standing alone at a barn raising and says, “Howdy, ma’am. Care to dance?” What about the thrill at a rodeo of horse and rider who seem in tune as they dance the age-old competition of dominance and submission? After a mere eight seconds that lasts forever the cowboy leaps to the ground with both arms raised in victory with a cocky grin on his face. Who hasn’t experienced a little heart flutter then?
The list could go on and on with physical attributes we find appealing in a cowboy, but like everyone else, the cowboy is more than a shell. He is an inner man with feelings, emotions, and a certain way of thinking. Each man is an individual, but when I thought about the cowboy heroes I’ve brought to life in my stories, I realized they have a lot in common. Maybe that’s because they all adhere to a set of unwritten rules commonly known as The Code of the West. This code is similar to The Golden Rule – do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.
Seems the old time cowboy valued his freedom and believed in minding his own business. He asked no questions of strangers because he wanted to give no answers about his private life. When a cowboy welcomed the stranger at his campfire or table, he expected to be welcomed in turn. His job wasn’t easy to say the least so he learned to cowboyup or in other words, get back on the horse that bucked him off, whether it was an actual horse or life itself. Although the code often became twisted to justify the individual’s need or desire for vengeance and justice, the true cowboys believed in honesty, loyalty, generosity, and fairness. They admired courage, diligence, plain speaking, and commonsense. They respected and protected their womenfolk. In fact one of their rules was that they would never shoot a woman no matter what. Now I like that rule!
Romanticized or not, I am drawn by cowboy charisma. I do enjoy writing a story that has a hero who respects the heroine as well as all women and, imperfect as he is, follows a code that doesn’t always put him first. What do you like to see in a hero? When you read a book or when you create a hero for your own work, what is more important to you? The immediate attraction of the physical or the moral code that drives the man? Maybe both are required. Maybe not. What do you think? Can a hero be unattractive on the outside, but so appealing in his moral code and the way he treats the heroine that we still see a heart-stopping, mighty-good-to-look-at man?
Two names will be drawn from those who comment to each receive an autographed copy of my newest book, JOANNA’S ADVENTURE.