Westerns have been around for a long, long time

I get highly amused when critics attack romance, the most recent instance being a poll on a national bog which, once again, termed romance “bodice rippers.”

Apparently they don’t know — or care — that the romance novel, song, poem have been the most enduring — and beloved — of all literature since the beginning of the writtern word.   Romance in literature can be traced back to 700 hundred B.C. when the Chinese poet, Li Po, wrote romantic poentry.   Romance fiction dates back to the 12th century.    It’s preceded only by epic poetry and the allegorical tale like Esops Fables. 

 Don’t the critics know that “Tristan and Isolde” was a romance, that Alinor of Aquitaine wrote the first extended full scale love stories in the western world, that much of the literature students taught today are romances:  “Idles of the King,” Lancelot and Guinevere,  “Romeo and Juliet,” “Pamela,” and “Fanny Hill?”

Romances then were often banned or criticized by the church because they — horrors — elevated women.    Romance has been shunned by men throughout history but it led to changes in society.   Women demanded more rights, more respect.   They expected more from men, such as cleanliness and fidelity.  

I love this critic’s take on Jane Austen.   He wrote: “I am of a loss to understand why people hold Miss Austen’s novels with regard.  They seem, to me, vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention . . . without genius, wit or  knowledge of the world.”

And about Wuthering Heights, “Here are all the faults of Jane Eyre are magnified a thousand fold . . . and the only consolation which we have is it will never be generally read.”  

It’s not the accounts of battles or religious epics or “literature” that linger in the mind and hearts of centuries of readers.   It’s the romances.

But critics have never wanted facts to get in the way of opinion.

Which leads me to American westerns.

From: “The Cowgirls” by Joyce Gipson Roach:

“From the very beginnings of all three — the dime novels, fiction and movies — the west was equal to other American subject matter.  Those entering the gates of legend and lore, cowgirls included, found themselves enshrined and, for better or worse, immortalized.”

Before 1880, heroines seemed to exist solely to give the hero something to rescue.  Again according to “The Cowgirlds,” a book I dearly love, the ladies managed to get themselves into one compromising situation after another.  Indian attacks were frequent.   “Every reader knew that a ‘a fate worse than death’ awaited the heroine at the hands of the Indian, but in these books it was only a threat.   The Indians of most dime novels were in great awe of maidenhood.  “They might dangle the victim over the coals but, according to one observer, “their honor was as safe as if they were in a convent.  Indians were, all of them, gentlemen.”

But in 1880, things started to change, and women changed from the helpless fragile variety, to active, vigorous women who could not only save herself but the hero as well.

From “Rough Rider Weekly” published in 1906:

“The desperadoes are gaining fast.

“Leave me, Ted,” she cried.   “They will kill you if they get you, and you can escape on Sultan, which can outrun any of their horses.”

“Ted looked at her and laughed.  ‘I guess not,’ he called back.  ‘Keep it up, we’ll win yet.'”

Ted does not leave her.    The couple escapes and not because of the hero.  It’s the heroine, Stella, who knows a solution when she sees one, and Ted is sitting on it — Sultan the stallion.  When Ted is shot out of the saddle and left hanging thereon by the skin of his chaps, Stella catches Sultan by the bridle and suggests he ought to whoa.   As Ted was about to fall, she sprang into the saddle, caught him and dashed away to safety.”

Now this is my kind of western.

It’s typical of what frontier heroines became when, in 1860, Beadle and Adams started issuing their versions of adventure in the form of dime novels.         

The novels helped popularize notions about western cowfirlds and have become a valuable tool for historians.   Like romance novels in the 12th century, they changed society.   The west entered for the first time into the consciousness of a large number of Americans.   They reflected, according to Merle Curti writing for the Yale Review, “a much wider range of attitudes and ideas than the ballad or folk song” and were “the nearest thing we have had in this country to . . . a literature written for the great masses of people and actually read by them.”

The novels, as did those in earlier centuries, encouraged self reliance.  Charles M. Harvey, “Manliness and womanliness among the readers were cultivated by these little books, not by homilies but by example. . . even the taste and tone of the life of the generation which grew up with these tales were improved by them.”

So there, critics!!!!

Hopefully this gives you some ammunition for the next person who says, “I don’t read those books.”    We help change society and have for many, many centuries.

What exactly have they done?

Do you have any stories about those poor misled people?   And great comebacks. 

 

 

Aloha! Jill Marie Landis’s Drawing Winners

Thanks so much for being our guest this weekend, Jill. The Fillies in Wildflower Junction will surely miss you, so stop by often!

And now the moment you’ll all been waiting for. All your comments are in the cowboy hat and (if Felecia’s mules didn’t eat ’em) we’re drawing names for winners!

Yee haw! Here are the lucky drawing winners:

ANITA MAE – an autographed copy of DESTINATION MARRIAGE

KIMMY L – an autographed copy of HOMECOMING

AMY – an autographed copy of HOMECOMING

Congratulations! Please send me your address ASAP at SaintJohn@aol.com and Jill marie will send those books out to you.

Midnight Bride & Starbucks Gift Certificate Winner

Well, Tanya was about all the excitement some of these Fillies can handle of a weekend, wasn’t she though?  All the comments are in the cowboy hat — I have to hurry, this cowboy here wants it back —

And the winner of Midnight Bride and the coffee is….

Cheryl C

Congrats!  Please post me at SaintJohn@aol.com with your address for me to pass along to Tanya!

Jill Marie Landis Talks Story

First of all, a huge thank you to the writers on Petticoats and Pistols Blog for inviting me to share a bit of time with you and your readers in Wildflower Junction. I’ve known many of these fine writer friends for years through Romance Writers of America.

I’m now living in Hawaii, over 2,000 miles from the mainland and even farther from the Wild West.  Living here is a dream I’ve had since we bought our home in 1978. Now it’s a reality. Though I live in a tropical paradise, a part of my heart will always be Romancing the West.

My latest book, HOMECOMING, from Steeple Hill, is set in Texas in the 1870’s.  HOMECOMING is both a return and a departure for me. It’s a return to writing Westerns, my first love and where I started over twenty novels ago. It’s a departure because it’s my first Inspirational novel.

If you have never read an Inspirational romance, this might just be the one to try. Aside from adding the element of faith as part of the plotline, in HOMECOMING I’ve been true to the things that my previous books have been known for—memorable characters, page turning tension, emotion and historical detail. If you loved shows like DR. QUINN MEDICINE WOMAN, BONANZA, and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE, then you’ll enjoy HOMECOMING.

In fact, the story was inspired by a movie, THE SEARCHERS, which starred John Wayne. It was made in the early sixties (or the late fifties) I’m not certain. (Mental pause.) It’s the story of a Texas Ranger who spends years searching for his niece, who was taken captive by the Comanche when she was a child. He finds her years later and takes her home.

I’ve always wondered…and then what happened? Did she stay? Did she assimilate back into the white culture? Did she try to run back to the Comanche?

HOMECOMING is the story of a young woman who was taken by the Comanche as a child. She is raised by them, cherished and adopted by them. When she is “rescued’ twelve years later by the U.S. Army, she is handed over to a mother and son, the Ellenbergs, who are to care for her until her identity is established and her relations are located.

In the mean time, the young woman who only knows herself as Eyes-of-the-Sky has been thrust into a confusing, terrifying situation.  Hattie Ellenberg is a woman who has suffered much at the hands of the Comanche herself, but her faith helps her forgive. Her son, Joe, (naturally, the devastatingly handsome hero) has no faith. He has no dream. He’s living his life one day at a time and working the family ranch. He’s virulently opposed to taking in a Comanche captive who thinks she’s “Comanch.”

I think the story that unfolds is one that will bring a tear to your eye. I’ve been told it’s truly a page turner. Please, do give it a try.

When it rains it pours, they say, and so it is with my publications this summer. In June, DESTINATION: MARRIAGE, an anthology of wedding stories from Harlequin, was released. Although it’s not set in the Wild West, my short story, “Trouble in Paradise” is set on Kauai (which is about as far west as you can get without leaving the states). If you’re looking for a quick, funny beach read, you might enjoy it. The other two stories are by Jo Leigh and Jackie Braun, both multi-published Harlequin authors.

Last but not least, I noticed in May, Elizabeth Lane sent in photos of herself belly dancing. What fun. I can truly relate to her passion. I dance hula and have been doing so for nearly twenty years. I dance with a great group of ladies of all ages (most fifty and over). We’re called the Hui Hula O’ Halelea. We love to perform for groups at luaus and parties, day care centers, long term care facilities, at pancake breakfast fundraisers and recently we danced at a bowling alley during a tournament buffet!

Dancing hula gives me a chance to get away from the computer and enjoy myself to the lovely sound of Hawaiian music.

I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be giving away one autographed copy of DESTINATION: MARRIAGE and two autographed copies of HOMECOMING, to three readers who leave comments today here at Petticoats and Pistols.

 

You can also read more about my previous titles at my website: www.jillmarielandis.com

Thanks for letting me “talk story”—as they say here in Hawaii—about my books, my hula, and what inspired me to write HOMECOMING.

Aloha hui hou, (aloha until we meet again)

Jill Marie Landis

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The Luv Wranglers of Ventura County, California

There’s cowboys in them thar hills near my homestead. Fictional buckaroos from TV and movies. Ghosts of real-life vaqueros from days long past. And present-day hotties who wrangle beeves not far from a bustlin’ freeway.

 We call that last wild bunch The Luv Wranglers.

 More on those guys in a bit.

My homeland, Ventura County CA abuts packed, frantic Los Angeles to the southeast, but you’d never know it. Ventura County is full of western lore and rural flavor. There aren’t many places in Southern California where you can see the beach, suburbs, strawberry fields and avocado groves, foothills and the Topa Topa mountains in one fell swoop. Our own little cul-de-sac used to be a lettuce field, and it isn’t unusual to share a busy street with a tractor.   

Not far from my house, rancher Don Raymundo Olivas built a sprawling hacienda when he received a land grant of 5,000 acres in 1847. Here he raised 21 children (poor Doña Teodora) and made a fortune raising cattle to feed gold miners, and tanning hides for the military. The historic Olivas Adobe, a rare two-story adobe, is beautifully preserved and hosts Cowboys, Heroes, and Outlaw Day each June. To my hubby’s delight, however, much of the ranchland is now his favorite golf course.

To the northwest a little deeper into the hills, hearty Western men more than a century ago drove stagecoaches across a “turnpike” built by Chinese laborers and now called San Marcos Pass. They’d pause long enough at Cold Spring Tavern to change horses and let their passengers catch some grub. The structure, built in the 1860’s, exists today and serves the best chili burger ever. Every time I need a Western fix, my hubby takes me out to lunch there. Antique Franklin stoves warm us up, and there really is a cold spring tumbling nearby.

At the cusp of LA and Ventura counties, the Western movie set Paramount Ranch straddles the hills where cowboys shared “Colorado Springs” with Dr. Quinn and rode the trail in movies as recent as Prairie Fever. The Carradines did a lot of “Wild West Tech” episodes there. And I recognize it in tons of other Westerns I watch. I look for it every time. It’s a great place for a picnic or hike.

But my real deal today are three real-life, real-time cowboys who wrangle cattle in the foothills. Brad, Rich, and Tucker.

Now how about those for tailor-made cowboy names? And how’d they get their soubriquet: the Luv Wranglers?

Well, my friend, RWA writer and reporter, Kim Gregory Lamb, features their down-home wisdom in a “Dear Abby” format every once in a while in our local paper, The Ventura County Star. Kim has kindly let me share their witticisms and advice on womenfolk and romance with the fillies and friends of Wildflower Junction. These are some things local inquiring minds presented to the Luv Wranglers not long ago:

Dear Luv Wranglers : What’s one thing that a woman does that’s guaranteed to tick you off? 

Tucker: “Bein’ late. I hate that.”
Brad: “They’re always late.”
Rich: “They gotta change their clothes eight times.” 
 
Dear Luv Wranglers : Why don’t you guys ever put the seat down? 
Tucker: “When I gotta use the bathroom, most of the time I just walk right outside. We don’t have no neighbors.”
Brad: “I don’t even git off my horse anymore.”
Rich: “Men never go to use the outhouse on a ranch. ‘Course, it backfires on you when yer kids drop their drawers in the parkin’ lot.”

 

 

 

 

Dear Luv Wranglers:   When do you think it’s appropriate to bring or send flowers?

Rich: “When somebody dies.”

Brad: “When you’re in trouble. I’ve sent an awful lot of flowers. My florist and I sent two of his kids to college.”          

When the 78th Annual Academy Awards rolled best flick nominee Brokeback Mountain down the red carpet, the Luv Wranglers had plenty to say, as you can well imagine.


Q: Will you be watching the Oscars?

Brad: “What’s that?”
Tucker: “I didn’t even know they were on TV.”
Rich: “I had a dog named Oscar once.”
Brad: “Oscar’s on “Sesame Street.”
Rich: “He was a good dog.”
Q: Have any of you seen the cowboy flick and best picture nominee, Brokeback Mountain?”
Rich: “I was happy to hear those guys were not cattle ranchers. They were sheep farmers.”
Brad: “We all know about sheep farmers.”
Q: The shirts worn by the two lead actors in “Brokeback Mountain” commanded $101,100.51 from a collector. What do you think of that?
Rich: “I’ll sell ’em every shirt in my closet for $500 apiece.”
Q: If you could choose one Hollywood movie actor to play you in the story of your life as a cowboy, who would you choose?
Brad: “Mel Gibson. We have a lot in common.”

 

Rich: “I’d pick the only actor in Hollywood who still has morals and integrity: SpongeBob SquarePants.”  

 
 
 

 

When Valentine’s Day came around, Kim trusted her instincts and asked the Luv Wranglers to ride in from the range to help all the local tenderfoots rustle up some romance for their guys and gals. Here’s a bit of Valentine’s Day advice our favorite cowboys, dished up at Rich’s dining room table over Cheez-Its and beer.

 

Rich: “I thought Valentine’s Day was a take ‘n’ bake pizza place down on Seaward Boulevard.” 

Brad: “That’s Valentino’s.”

Tucker: “Every day, a man screws up, so Valentine’s Day is to fix all the screw-ups you do all year.”

Q: What was the most romantic thing you’ve ever done on Valentine’s Day?

Brad: “Showed up.”

Q: What presents should you give a woman for Valentine’s Day?

Rich: “As a cattleman, I’d say a cross-bred gift: a cross between what she wants and what she gits.”

Tucker: “Git roses. If you git ’em, like, the night before, you can hide ’em in yer truck.”

Brad: “I’d hide the roses in the kitchen cuz she’ll never look there.”

Q: What special rodeo tricks should you master for Valentine’s Day?

Rich: “We’re not sure, but there will be ropes involved.”

Tucker: “I wonder why Rich doesn’t have a date.”
 
 
 

 

Q: If your relationship is shaky and you’ve been thinking about cutting it off, what do you do about Valentine’s Day?

Brad: “Work late.”

 

Tucker: “If it’s shaky and you’re gonna dump her anyway, might as well dump her on Valentine’s Day. She’ll never fergit you.”

Rich:
“I can’t even remember last Valentine’s Day.”

Their spurs jingled as Rich, Brad and Tucker clumped across a wooden porch in dusty boots after a recent day of cattle roping.They settled in chairs on Rich’s back porch, which overlooks the Ventura backcountry, and prepared to wax poetic for Kim’s latest installment for the Star. Since not one of them has a lick of book-learning about psychology and such, they tapped their common sense and a 12-pack of Coors Light for answers.

 

 
Dear Luv Wranglers: What’s the difference between the care and feeding of a regular guy as opposed to a cowboy?
  
Brad: “Regular guys are health-conscious. We need carbs.”

Brad again: If we put gel in our hair and put on an Abercrombie shirt, we’d look like every other guy.

 

Dear Luv Wranglers: Why do guys stay with women who treat them really bad? Do they just like the chase or what’s the deal, when there’s women (who) want to treat them great?  

Tucker: “Sometimes guys don’t know how to get out of it. They don’t know how to whip ‘n’ spur fast enough.”

 

 

 

 
 

 

Rich: “Guys always want what’s not good for ’em. Like mashed potatoes, chicken-fried steak and gravy.”

 

Dear Luv Wranglers: Women in 40-up category find men of similar age tend to gravitate to much younger women, when like-age women have lots of experience and like themselves much more. Why, guys? Is it the midlife-crisis thing or what'”

This question came from a group of women from the Red Hat Society that had just attended “Menopause the Musical,” which also was made known to the Luv Wranglers .
 
“What the heck is menopause?” Tucker asked.
 

 

 

 

 

“Never mind,” Brad warned.
Tucker looked from Brad to Rich and back to Brad, who sighed and answered:
“It’s when women git crazy in middle age,” he said. “It’s like when men have a midlife crisis.”
“It’s why we hardly ever ride mares,” Rich added.

 

As for why older men tend to chase younger women, Brad took a swig of Coors and trained a grin on Rich. “It makes ’em feel younger; that right, Rich?” he said.

 Rich grinned back. “It’s cuz you can afford ’em,” he explained.

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed Ventura County’s particular brand of local color today, including our local buckaroos. And I consider myself one sure-fire lucky Star subscriber who can’t wait for Kim’s next installment. And maybe someday you all will read about the Luv Wranglers in the (somewhat fictionalized) trilogy Kim plans to propose to Blaze. Sigh. I don’t know about you, but I think an editor would be a tomfool not to go along with it. Agree?

Of today’s participants, one name will be drawn to win a copy of Midnight Bride and a Starbux card for coffee to read it by

 

Now…what questions would you dare to ask the Luv Wranglers?

 

Best wishes,

~Tanya Hanson

Tanya Hanson loves life in Ventura County with her own personal hero and two black Labs, particularly now that everybody is hale and healthy after a challenging start to 2008.

 

The project she’ll be pitching in San Francisco, Marrying Minda placed first for the Central Ohio Fiction Writers “Ignite the Flame Contest” and is a finalist for the San Antonio Romance Authors “Merritt Magic Moment” Contest. And her last month’s blog for Petticoats and Pistols got syndicated by the Chicago Sun Times!  She’s the gramma of the most incredible 18 month old grandson, and her current release, Midnight Bride, continues to get consistently excellent reviews. One reviewer even compared her to Diana Palmer. So all of this AND BLOGGING THIS WEEKEND WITH JILL MARIE has her as close to heaven as one can be on earth. 

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Random Drawing Winner for Charlene’s Blog Today goes to:

Connie Lorenz!  

Sorry, you don’t get the cowboy… but you win a copy of The Corporate Raider’s Revenge and the western ceramic coasters!   Email me at charlenesands@hotmail.com with your snail mail address!  Congratulations and Thanks All for blogging today!

Please sure to stop by on Saturday for our 2 great Guest Bloggers, Tanya Hanson and Jill Marie Landis! 

Tanya Hanson and Jill Marie Landis Tomorrow

Do you have your comments ready, darlings? If not, you’d best get busy. Tomorrow will be here before you can blink twice. This is a special weekend with a couple of very delightful authors – Tanya Hanson and Jill Marie Landis!

If you don’t know ’em by now just stick around and get ready.

Tanya Hanson tells about some wonderful sights and people in Ventura County, California where she hails from. She’ll be sharing some strange and interesting tidbits about the Luv Wranglers. Bet that tickles your fancy! Or at least arouses your curiosity.

Jill Marie Landis comes all the way from Hawaii to entice you with two brand spankin’ new books. She’ll be talking about those and hula dancing. What a combination! Now, what I wouldn’t give to see a cowboy in his best duds hula dancing! Hee-hee.

Both ladies will be giving away prizes to some lucky winners. Don’t you want to be one of them? Don’t lollygag around then. Get your buggy hitched good and proper and ride on over. 

           

FIVE-STAR TALES

We’re all here because we love westerns, right? 

I remember traveling from New York to California when I was 7 years old listening to my father’s thrilling words of what to expect in the wild, California West.  My imagination ran free. I envisioned cowboys and Indians, forts and teepees, and horses galore. The city folk were going to live in the country, after all.

          On Saturday mornings, we’d sit together and I’d listen to my dad’s wonderful stories, fully enraptured.  My father always made me the “star” of the stories. I was Sheriff Charlene, or Ranger Charlene, or Goldminer Charlene.  I would giggle and laugh through those tales and I’m sure even he, who loved American history and knew it upside down and backwards, didn’t realize that those wonderfully vivid stories he told stirred in me a deep love of Western Americana and of writing.

          I couldn’t verbalize a story like he could to save my life, but boy, I sure do enjoy writing them!  I love to write the west, both in historical and contemporary settings. 

         

 

A hunky cowboy, is a hunky cowboy, no matter the time period. Right? 

So instead of packing a six-gun, my contemporary cowboy comes armed with a hefty bankroll and cool confidence.  Instead of riding a spirited black stallion over the plains, my contemporary cowboy drives a Chevy Truck over rough terrain. Instead of protecting the town from villainous bank robbers, my contemporary cowboy protects his company from devious saboteurs.  Instead of wearing sexy hip-hugging denims and tall leather boots … um, heck, my contemporary cowboys STILL wear sexy hip-hugging denims and tall leather boots!

What else do they have in common?  Whether western or contemp, my cowboys always come up against spirited women who drive them a little bit crazy, confusing and confounding them. 

But my heroes always win in the end … they get the girl and ride off into the sunset. 

You see, there ain’t much difference between the historical cowboy and the contemporary one.  Only time! 

 

What do you think?  Do you read sexy western contemporary stories too? What contemporary cowboy stories have you enjoyed?  Would you like to give my newest contemporary a try when it comes out next month? 

If so, post a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my January 08 release,The Corporate Raider’s Revenge – the prequel to my new Suite Secrets series from Desire that begins with Five-Star Cowboy. As an added bonus I’ll be giving away this great set of Five-Star western coasters! 

 

Available for pre-order now.

Click on each image if you’d like to purchase.

One Last Chance

Okay, ladies, you have one last chance to enter our Stetson and Spurs Contest. If you haven’t already done it, you’d better get the lead out and get your name in the hat.

Drawing is Monday, June 30th!

We have a whole passel of prizes for one lucky person. Shoot, you may have to borrow our mules just to cart it all home! It’s a rootin-tootin bonanza, no two ways about it.

 

I Hear Music

Some writers create in silence.  Not me.  Most of the time, when I’m at my computer, I have a CD playing in the background.  It keeps me flowing and helps me focus.  Sometimes the right music can enhance a mood or heighten the emotion in a scene—especially if it’s a love scene.

When it comes to music, I enjoy everything from rock & roll to Rachmaninoff.  A peek at my CD collection would leave you shaking your head.  I have a lot of ethnic music, especially African and Middle Eastern.  These I can’t play when I’m writing because they make me want to get up and dance.  But they make great energizers when I need to clean the house.

Show tunes are great energizers, too.  My favorites are “Chicago” and “Man of La Mancha.”  But trying to write with words going on makes me crazy, so I save those for car music.  My other car music includes The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Firewater, a new artist my daughter turned me onto.  I also have Edith Piaf and Billie Holladay and have resolved to buy some Country Western albums just to balance things out.

My classical music collection works nicely for writing—soothing music like classical guitar is nice when I can’t sit still.  But my favorite writing music is movie sound tracks.  I tend to pick a sound track that fits my story and play it over and over and over (hey, I live alone, I can do this).  When I wrote my African book, MACKENNA’S PROMISE, I did the whole thing to the score from “Out of Africa.”

There are more Western sound tracks on my shelf than anything else.  My favorite movie composer is Ennio Morricone.  He wrote all those catchy tunes from the Clint Eastwood westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “A Fistful of Dollars.”  Remember those?  You would if you heard them.  They’re a lot of fun, but Morricone wrote other sound tracks that are just breathtaking.  The one from “Once Upon a Time in the West” almost brings tears to my eyes.  I used another of his scores, “Once Upon a Time in America”, which has a more modern sound, to write my early 1900s book, ON THE WINGS OF LOVE.

How about you?  Those of you who write, does music help or distract you?  What works best?  And all of you, what, if anything, is playing in the background of your lives?