Thank 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.”
For 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.
Cowboys 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.
Oddly 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?
Harriet 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?