Holding Out For a Hero

linda-sig.jpgHappy April’s Fool Day! I regret that I don’t have any tricks to play on you to celebrate the holiday. Just can’t think of any and I’m too nice anyway. Ha! If you only knew me. I’m sure you don’t mind it though that I’m going to talk about a favorite subject–heroes and the different types. My Filly sister, Elizabeth Lane, touched on this subject a bit in her Thursday blog but I wanted to approach it from another angle. Besides, I already had this one written and it’d be a pure sin to waste it. lol

guns3.gifAll of us can agree that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. We have our dark brooding kind, the fun-loving ones, the ordinary men who have hero status thrust on them, and the professional men who are born heroes and can’t be anything different. A lot of heroes are a combination of several types and that’s interesting.

charles-bronson.jpgThe dark brooders are those who’ve seen a passel of grief and wouldn’t know a smile if it bit him on the butt. Life is serious business for these men, but he’s more than capable of handling whatever it throws at him. He’s had to learn things the hard way. This is my favorite kind of man to write. My hero, Duel McClain, in Knight on the Texas Plains was a brooder. But my ultimate bad boy was Brodie Yates in Redemption. Brodie was even more dark and tortured. Both Duel and Brodie had been through hell and back and didn’t see much sense in pretending they hadn’t. Yet, their spirit was unbroken by life’s trials. In fact, the trials had only served to make them stronger and more determined. They were men few would dare cross.

little-joe.jpgFun-loving heroes are interesting and a joy to write. They come across as men who are full of tomfoolery. They like to joke and laugh, but underneath all the merry-making lies a gritty toughness. Men of this nature can deliver stiff punishment to those who trample on their idea of law and order. Any man would be a fool to think these heroes are soft or weak. I’ve only written one hero that falls in this category. That’s Luke McClain in The Cowboy Who Came Calling. Luke had so much heart and a need to be helpful that it sometimes got in the way of listening to the heroine’s desires, especially when it came to taking care of her farm. Luke could charm the horns off a Billy goat in nothing flat. Fun-loving heroes are simply irresistible.

nathan-kamp-face.jpgOrdinary men who have hero status thrust on them are great characters to write. They can be shopkeepers, blacksmiths, ranchers, or plain old dyed-in-the-wool saddle tramps. They really have no desire to achieve glory or to be anything more than what they are. They only want to do their jobs and live their lives. It’s when they run up against bad men that they find strength they don’t know they have. Ordinary men can be formidable when it comes to writing wrongs. Payton McCord, my hero in The Love Letter of the “Give Me a Texan” anthology was this type of man. He had no desire to be anything more than a good cow hand, tend the cattle, and draw a fair day’s wage. But when everyone turned on the woman sheep herder and tried to run her off her land, he had to step in to help her. And he does it in fine fashion I might add.

clint-eastwood.jpgThe professional hero, the toughest and most rugged, is a man who hasn’t had to learn his skills. They were simply born to him. He’s not a brooder, although he does brood. To put it simply, he’s a doer and a seeker. It’s his job to fight injustice wherever he finds it and he feels his duty deep down in the marrow of his bones. He has a strength and power that is unequaled. No one is going to get the best of him without a heck of a fight on their hands. He can outshoot, outfight, and outwit the meanest of the mean. This kind of man is fun to pit against a stubborn, god-awful determined woman. Makes for some searing sparks. I use this type of hero in my upcoming story, Texas Tempest, which is part of a new anthology called “Give Me a Cowboy.” McKenna Smith is a gun-for-hire with a conscience. He can handle anything life dishes out. . .except for a beautiful widow who’s buried five husbands.

So there you have it without the April fool. What kind of hero are you holding out for? What kind makes your heart flutter and your knees go weak? Inquiring minds want to know. 

Winner of The Preacher’s Daughter Drawing!

There’s so much excitement in Wildflower Junction! Congratulations to Sue Pickering for winning the Spring Round Up basket of awesome goodies.

I drew a name from the fishbowl, and I will be sending Lori Barnes an autographed copy of The Preacher’s Daughter, providing she doesn’t already have one.

Lori, please email me at SaintJohn@aol.com with your address, and I’ll get your book out to you.

john-harkness.jpgThis is the picture I posted on my blog today with a link to my blog here. So many people asked who it was, that I’m posting him here, as a little gift to you … ’cause I’m just thoughtful like that.

FYI, his name is John Harkness.  Better than the fishbowl pic eh?  Picture him in a Stetson.

Big Spring Round-Up Contest Winner!!

prizes.JPGFor all you pretty gals out there holding your breaths . . . . and without further ado . . . . Oh dear, I wish you could see the Fillies. They’re clapping their hands and making silly fools of themselves. Even the durn milk cows, the chickens and the mules are sitting up and taking notice. All right, all right enough with the suspense. We’re proud to announce the winner of our big Spring Round-Up Contest.

 The lucky name is Sue Pickering!!! 

Woohoo! Congratulations, Sue.  We’ll be getting in contact with you for your address.

Thank you all so much for entering. We wish every single person could win, but it doesn’t work that way. Look for more contests coming your way very soon. And keep dropping by Wildflower Junction often!

How I Came Up With The Preacher’s Daughter

the-preachers-daughter.jpgReaders often ask how writers come with with stories, so I thought I’d share the process for one of mine.

I had wanted to write a story for Benjamin Chaney for a long time.  We saw him as a boy in The Doctor’s Wife and again at seventeen in The Lawman’s Bride.  Because of his past, I knew that a relationship with a woman would be difficult for him–especially the physical aspect.  And I wanted to develop his growth and see him become the man I knew he could be.  But all along I knew it would take a special woman to break through those barriers of the past and show him he was worthy of love. 

benjamin-chaney3.jpgOccasionally I would ruminate on Benjamin’s predicament, but the right time was coming.  When I decided it was time to write his story, I developed it the way I always do.  I start with a grid on which I chart the characters, one for each of them, and I listed the things I knew about him.  He’s competent and stubborn and inside he’s filled with anger.  His motivation is all about sex and self-control.  In his eyes passion is a weakness.  He has sworn to honor and respect women.  He’s kindhearted, but jaded.  He knows the dark and seedy side of life and feels tainted.  He has to learn how to be a man, the good man he wants to be. 

A woman would have to come along of course.  A woman who would challenge his strictly held beliefs and rattle his all-important self-control.  Being a good man has been easy until now.  Until this woman.  So who would she be? 

After much deliberation I came up with three possibilities.  I drew three columns on a sheet of paper and headed each one. 

Prostitute’s Daughter.  Preacher’s Widow.  Preacher’s Daughter.

Under each heading I listed the reasons she would create emotional conflict for Ben.  The prostitute’s daughter was obvious–his mother was a prostitute.  This person’s seen as much dirt as he has.  She’s the last woman he’d ever want.  All good.  The Preacher’s Widow didn’t have much going for her.  She provided another man for Ben to compare himself, to, but that’s about it.  The preacher’s daughter on the other hand had a list: She’s untouched, pure and innocent; He’d place her on a pedestal; She’s his heart’s desire; He’s see in her all he values; He’d believe she was perfect; He’d feel unworthy; She grew up in a life he only dreamed of.  Oh, yes…. 

My working title was The Perfect Wife.  (Great title, and Victoria Alexander just made #1 on the NYT list with her story by that name!) 

lorabeth-holdridge.jpgHer name came next.  Prudence was obvious, but not pretty.  I liked Carrie because it was sweet.  But Lorabeth…now there’s a name that brings a picture to mind.  You can almost see her by her name, can’t you?  She’s hungry for love and affection — love he’s doesn’t know how to give.  She’s passionate — eek!  She’s impulsive and expressive, warm and emotionally intense.  Thirsty for life.  Her greatest fear is that she’ll only wanted and loved because she’s perfect. 

I found my perfect visuals, a picture of him and a picture of her that hung above my desk.  And then I placed the two of them together and let them develop their story.  It was a delightful experience.  Once I created and defined Ben and Lorabeth, they did all the work.  Er, sort of…

cheryl_stjohn_logo.jpgI’m giving an autographed copy away to one of you today.  If you already have The Preacher’s Daughter, I’ll fill in a book from my backlist that you don’t have.  I’ll draw names tonight.  Simply comment to have your name in the fish bowl.

 Are you excited to hear the winner of the Spring Round Up Contest?

Big Spring Round-Up Contest Winding Down

prizes.JPGHello again, Darlins. Tomorrow is the big day for the drawing of our Big Spring Round-Up Contest! Ah can’t wait to see who wins that enormous pile of prizes. The lucky person will need a buckboard to haul them in. I do declare, I haven’t seen such a bounty since I stumbled onto a mess of luscious blueberries and had to make myself a pie! Sure was good. Check back tomorrow to see if your name has been chosen. The Fillies are wishing everyone the best of luck. 

Laura Drewry’s Lucky Tote Winner!

book-tote.jpgThe winner of Laura’s tote that’s stuffed with goodies is…..REBEKAH! Yea! Congratulations, Rebekah. If you’ll reply to lindabroday@live.com Laura will get that sent to you.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment. You helped make Laura’s day. I’m sure we all heard some sayings that we’d never heard before. I know I did. Some were very interesting and some were funny. We all learned something hopefully. Come by Petticoats and Pistols often to see what’s new. The Fillies always have something going on.

Laura Drewry Shares Some Cowboy Wisdom

lauradrewryphoto.jpgThank you wonderful ladies at P&P for inviting me to blog this weekend! I’m so excited to be here, surrounded by other people who read and write western romances. In my opinion, there is no better era to write about than the old west. It was a time of growth and prosperity, of poverty and loneliness. It’s a time I love to read about, a time I love to imagine, and a time I’m really happy I didn’t have to live through.

One of my favorite parts of writing westerns is creating the hero; a man who is larger than life, a man who will do whatever it takes to protect his woman, even if it means protecting her from himself. So I thought I’d talk a little bit about what it is that makes a cowboy….well, so downright yummy.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a cowboy is:

(1) one who tends cattle or horses; especially: a usually mounted cattle-ranch hand

(2) a rodeo performer

(3) one having special qualities (as recklessness, aggressiveness, or independence) popularly associated with cowboys

With all due respect to Mr. Webster, I think Will James (www.willjames.com) sums it up more succinctly. “A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse.”

Heck, even Willie Nelson cuts right to the chase: “Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold.”

cowboys3.jpgFor a man to be the hero in my books, he must be honorable, strong, and dependable, and more often than not, he’ll also be stubborn and single-minded to a fault. The heroine might want to crack him upside the head for being so obstinate, but at the same time, she wouldn’t have him any other way. He never shirks his duties nor does he quit before the job is done. If he says he’s going to do something, then durn it, he’ll do it, no matter how hard, and no matter how dangerous. He’s quick to defend the weak and the young, and though he doesn’t usually go looking for a fight, it’s not in him to back down if he’s challenged. 

cowboyswbluesunrise1.jpgCowboys of the old west lived by rules all their own, and these things are brought to life in our books. A long while back, when I was researching something for a book, I came across this list of Cowboy Wisdom www.cowboyup.com/cowboyup_meaning.html. I haven’t included the whole list, just the ones I enjoyed the most, but I’m pretty sure the world would be a better place if we all took heed of some of these rules.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of influence, try orderin’ around another man’s dog.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Don’t name a cow you plan to eat.

Meanness don’t happen overnight.

Don’t sell your mule to buy a plough.

Every trail has some puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Sometimes silence is the best answer.

It don’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

devils_daughtersm.jpgOddly enough, it’s this last bit of wisdom that leads me to segue into my upcoming book. In The Devil’s Daughter, Lucille Firr is the devil’s daughter who’s used to getting what she wants when she wants it. She is not used to picking up buffalo chips, which is only the first of many arguments with her new human husband, Jed Caine.

Jed is every bit the cowboy. He likes things simple. He wants his wife to be simple, and with everything that’s going on in his life, he doesn’t have time for frippery or a woman’s romantic notions. Good thing Lucy’s not interested in romance. All she’s interested in is seducing the pants off him and stealing his soul. And if that means she has to pick up a few chips along the way then….ugh….that’s what she’ll have to do.

Theirs is a unique marriage to say the least, starting out with a whole lot of lies, unrealistic expectations and many, many failed attempts at making a decent pot of coffee. (When I put it that way, I guess it’s a lot like many marriages, isn’t it? LOL)

Lucy is determined to win Jed’s soul, because the alternative is unthinkable. And given who she is, it really shouldn’t be that difficult. But five minutes after marrying this human, she begins to doubt her abilities. He makes her collect buffalo droppings, he expects her to cook, and despite her best efforts, he still hasn’t made her his wife in the one way she needs. There’s no question he wants her, but he wants more than just her body. He wants her to respect him before he takes her to bed. Who ever heard of such a thing?

And if this isn’t frustrating enough, her foolish and traitorous heart is beginning to want the same thing! How is she ever going to explain this to her father?

devils_daughtersm.jpgHarriet Klausner calls The Devil’s Daughter “devilishly delightful” and Kathe Robin of RTBOOKReviews says, “It reads like the best of Americana, with the right hint of devilishness, proving that naughty can be good.”

Writing westerns is a lot of fun, but it’s even more fun when I can come to a place like Petticoats and Pistols and chat with others who enjoy them as much as I do. May we continue to enjoy page after page of strong, hot cowboys and the women who put a little hitch in their giddy-up. Thanks for inviting me over!

Do you have any other bits of wisdom from the old west or perhaps a saying that’s been passed down by your parents or grandparents?

One lucky commenter today will receive a book tote that’s stuffed with lots of goodies.book-tote.jpg

The Mystery Man … from Arizona

jd-2006-filmographypagejames-denton.jpg

Is none other than James Denton!

Thanks for playing along everyone!   The first one who guessed right is:

 Andrea W

 Email me at charlenesands@hotmail.com and let me know which book you’d like

from these titles:  The Courting of Widow Shaw, Renegade Wife, Bodine’s Bounty, Chase Wheeler’s Woman or Lily Gets Her Man

PLUS the metal art bookmark.  Enjoy!!

Cactus, Baseball, Old Towns and Art … Arizona in a nutshell.

img_0096.JPGcal2nhyv.jpgI have fallen in love again … with our neighboring state of Arizona.  Our travels last week took us to Phoenix for both research and pleasure.  One in the same for me!  

 Did you know that Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the country?   I hope as the city continues to grow, it doesn’t lose its charm and culture.   img_0090.JPGIt’s a place where rock formations rise up from the flatest of land, jutting with rich red color and names that describe their uncanny shapes like  Camelback Mountain and img_0079.JPG Pinnacle Peak. 

Can you guess which is which? It’s a place where Old meets New.  Scottsdale, the adjacent city next to Phoenix shares a rich history as well as art galleries, modern adobe mansions, golf and country clubs and beautiful architecture. 

We took a drive to see the sights, familiarizing ourselves to the modern culture and the one time old town.  img_0089-5.JPGThe city is more new than old now, but I managed to find a few places to venture that spoke to my love of history.   The art galleries were in abundance and so was the shopping!   One of my favorite places was the old state capital building and museum.  Whenever I visit a new state, I try to see their capital.  The buildings in themselves speak of the culture of the state, and often you get a rare glimpse to the inside workings of how the state came to be.  For a lover of the old west, it’s an undeniable pleasure to see the restored buildings and artifacts from a time when the state was beginning to take shape.Here’s the four story state capital building in downtown Phoenix.  I was enthralled with the artifacts and the restored rooms of the lawmakers.  Is this not a gorgeous building? img_0021.JPG

Here’s the House Chamber where the laws were made.  Engraved on the school-like desks were congressmen’s names and occupations in brass. I went around the room to find the lawmakers held other jobs that brought them their livelihood, such as sheepherders, ranchers, gentlemen, attorneys at law and various other occupations. Note the gorgeous chandelier and the seating for townsfolk that circles the room above.  

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I loved this Bola tie, the State tie, if you can believe that and this stunning piece of turquoise that is the state img_0029.JPGgemstone. It’s actually the size of a notebook, or maybe even a bit bigger! 

 

 

Ostrich plumes created a very unique form of ranching in Arizona. In 1910 plumes from 4,000 ostriches sold for over one million dollars.  Sadly, women’s fashions changed in 1914 and plumed hats were no longer in vogue.  Ostrich ranches ceased to be big money makers.  Today the plumed birds are raised for meat and leather in a resurging ostrich market.img_0040.JPG

 

 

We learned one other thing about Phoenix – it’s a big sports city and baseball is the name of the game this season! There are stadiums galore, many within just miles of each other.  It’s the spring training home to the Oakland A’s and soon to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  We had a good time, going to three games in five days.  I’m a big Angels fan and they played (and beat) the Dodgers.   We also spent time at Sun Devil Stadium, home of the ASU’s team.   My nephew’s #5 ranked UCI team played three tournament games and he now leads the league in saves this season (pitching).  It’s fun to see him play in different cities!

But while we were watching the pro teams play their spring training games, all the ladies in the group gasped when they saw a very handsome, very famous celebrity.   I’m not one to go up and ask for a picture or autograph, but we did get a picture of me, with him in the background! img_0078.JPG

 

See if you can recognize him … the Arizona mystery man.  If you are the first one to guess right, I’ll send you a signed book from my backlist and this lovely metal art Saguaro cactus bookmark. And be sure to check back for the results.   img_0100.JPG

 

 

Hint:  He’s on a very popular series and is standing behind me, wearing a blue hat and tank, speaking with the young boy.

So- do you have a favorite city to visit and who is that mystery man?  

Happy Trails and Happy Reading!!