A few years ago Mary picked up LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and became hooked on romance. Mary discovered Harlequin Superromance and knew she wanted to write these heartfelt stories of love, family, perseverance and happy endings, about very human heroes and heroines graced with backbone, strength of character and hope.
She loves that moment when, even though it looks like these characters will never be able to make their love work, they then, against impossible odds, do.
Y’all can visit Mary’s website at www.marysullivanbooks.com
Hi! I’m Mary Sullivan and I’m so happy to be here today blogging on Petticoats & Pistols!
In preparing for today’s blog, I wondered what historical readers would want to know about writing a contemporary cowboy story, especially from someone who has never met a cowboy, has never been on a ranch and has never ridden a horse! So, I took a look back through the research I started when I decided to write cowboy romances.
I learned so much about modern cowboys, and wondered how much they had changed over the years and how they had stayed the same. The one constant I discovered was the cowboy’s character.
Cowboys are tough. They trail cattle through hard terrain, often in foul weather. They have to think like a cow in order to find the cows, calves and renegade bulls that need to be reunited with their herds. These days, they use pickup trucks and dirt bikes and handheld radios and ‘Japanese quarter horses’—ATVs—as well as horses. Cowboys have to be nearly as tough as the animals they tend.
They work long hard days. I remember a saying from years ago that ‘a woman’s work is never done’. Being a feminist, did I ever resent that the first time I heard it! Now, though, I would apply it to a cowboy’s or a rancher’s or a farmer’s work, male or female.
I found out that some cowboys are poets, as versatile with words as they are with their hands.
I learned that there are times when cowboys are called on to be heroes, most often in the small unnoticed deeds that daily life requires of them.
There truly does seem to be a Code of the West, first developed in the cowboy culture that started in the nineteenth century, when too few written laws forced cowboys to create laws of their own—about fair play and loyalty and respecting a person’s right to privacy.
This code still survives today in rules that are tacit yet understood universally throughout the culture.
Two items in the code caught my interest.
Take pride in your work. Nobody wants to re-do the job you should have done correctly the first time around. In the past, the price paid for the offense of shoddy work was ostracism, which must have been devastating in a world that was hard to survive even with others watching your back.
Live each day with courage. I really like this one.
The hero in my Superromance NO ORDINARY COWBOY, Hank Shelter, lives each day with courage. Every month of the year, he brings young children who are recovering from the ravages of cancer to his ranch and treats them to a few weeks of fun and Hank’s particular brand of tender loving care.
I’ll leave you to read the book to discover why this takes so much courage on Hank’s part. Suffice it to say that Hank overcame a lot to do this. He teaches my heroine, Amy, everything she will ever need to know about living a courageous life.
There are two more points in the Cowboy Code that tickle my fancy.
He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. There’s something touching about a big, tough guy who treats children, the elderly and animals tenderly and with respect.
He must respect women.
I found this delightful quotation on the Internet: “If [American men] fell grievously short [in the matter of certain manners], in another they maintained without any exception the character of gentlemen.
The men, one and all, showed the utmost attention and politeness to our sex. Old or young, rich or poor, well or ill-dressed, every woman was treated with respect and kindness…” A Lady’s Journey Round the World, Ida Pfeiffer, 1855
I like this, too.
I’m thinking of modern-day cowboy, Ty Murray, on Dancing with the Stars and the way he always held and touched Chelsie Hightower with a gentleman’s respect.
Hank Shelter is a gentle man and a gentleman, two absolutely gorgeous character traits. He’s also a hell of a cowboy.
To celebrate the June release of my first novel, I’m giving away a copy of my Superromance, NO ORDINARY COWBOY, to one lucky person who leaves a comment. It’s so great to ‘meet’ everyone here!