Here’s a quick bit about me: With Cherokee heritage and such ancestors as James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, I pretty much inherited the writing bug, as well as my need to write about the Wild West. I’ve ridden horseback over western mountains on journeys up to ten days long.
My first book in The Sierra Chronicles, Love’s Rescue, won second place in the Golden Rose Contest, inspirational romance category, went into its second printing only five weeks after it was released, and landed on ChristianBook.com’s best-selling historical fiction list, at number eleven. Book two, Hope’s Promise, the continuing romance of Jake Bennett and Jessica Hale (now Bennett), is already receiving rave reader comments and five-star reviews—yahoo!
I also judge a number of top writing contests and work as an editor. I’m mom to three teens whom I homeschool. So far, I’ve lived in twenty-eight towns in eight different states, but right now I take off my boots in northeastern Illinois.
So that’s me. By now, you might be wondering about the title of this here article, Passion, Troubles, and a Whole Lot of Fun. Here’s why I chose it. In a recent radio interview, the interviewer asked this question: “In many famous plays that William Shakespeare wrote, he combined love and tragedy, and also humor, and that made those plays unforgettable. You also include humor in Hope’s Promise (it officially releases tomorrow, August 1st!), a lot of it through a character, a ranch hand, named Taggart. Explain how the addition of humor helps to make a story so memorable, especially as it applies to Hope’s Promise.”
So that nifty fiction concept has been on my mind—Passion, Troubles, and a Whole Lot of Fun? Here’s how I answered the question:
“William Shakespeare clearly saw the human condition, all the elements that make up who we are, and what compels us to do what we do.
“Love, tragedy, and humor are three of the main forces that drive us, and that pull us. Love pulls us through tragedy—God’s love, and each other’s—and humor us what drives us to a fresh level of coping and overcoming. That’s why those three forces work so perfectly together in fiction, because they work so perfectly together in life.
“Jake and Jess have terrible challenges in Hope’s Promise—they stand to lose everything they hold dear—just as many of us face terrible challenges in situations during our lives. Taggart is more than the comic relief; he’s exactly the person most of us would want with us during our tough times.
“His is the personality that inspires people to reach past surviving, and to shoot straight for overcoming, to the point where we can laugh and enjoy knowing that the trouble is behind us, or that it will be.
“Taggart is an absolute hoot. Several times, Taggart made me laugh until I was wiping my eyes and holding my knees together (yep, I actually said that on the radio). All three elements—tragedy, romance, and humor—combine to make a powerful and unforgettable story.”
So that’s what I said. If you all remember me from Petticoats and Pistols last year when Love’s Rescue came out, you might remember that I love a good guessing game, so much so, that we’ll do a game of three questions here, and see how well you fillies do. Keep in mind that the focus is on Passion, Troubles, and a Whole Lot of Fun. Those who take a stab at answering one, two, or all three will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Hope’s Promise!
Here’s the first question, based on Passion. Hold on to your saddles—Jake is a tough, hunky rancher who looks like Hugh Jackman. (No drooling. All right, go ahead and drool.) Jake passionately loves his wife, Jessica. Here’s a scene from The Sierra Chronicles book two, Hope’s Promise:
Beyond the bed, Jake removed his shirt and tossed it to the floor beside the tall chest of drawers. Atop the wooden surface, the oil lamp sat, casting warm, golden light over his skin.
He set his hands on his hips, a casual stance which rather nicely emphasized his chest and the arm muscles fully capable of lifting a yearling calf.
Jess wanted to touch him, to feel him against her. She could hardly breathe. “Do you have any idea what that does to me?”
He gave her his slow, crooked grin as he rounded the bed and approached. “My throwing my shirt on the floor? Apparently it makes you sway on your feet in appreciation. I’ll have to do that more often.”
Jess lifted her face. . . .
Here’s the Passion question: What do you think Jess said in response? (What would you say?) Here’s a hint: Jess is a spitfire. It’ll be fun to see your answers. (I’ll answer all three questions at the time of the book drawing.)
Here’s the second question, based on Troubles. And here’s another scene.
“We’re going home,” Jess said, a pleasant tightness in her chest. “I feel . . .” She lifted a hand, uncertain how to describe it. “I feel like a young falcon, about to leap into the wind for the first time.”
Jake smiled his understanding, then suddenly turned tense, alert. He drew his Remington. An instant later, Taggart and Diaz did the same.
A rock burst on the ground beside Jess. The sharp report of rifle fire echoed across the desert. All at once shots exploded, pelting the road around them with shattered stones and dust plumes. Drawing her own revolver, Jess whipped her mare around and looked past Jake to an outcropping of rocks where rifles barked and gun smoke curled away.
The mare abruptly jerked then reared high, spilling Jess’s hat and tumbling her long braid free. The horse teetered on its hind legs then went over backward.
Pain exploded through Jess’s back and lungs.
An image flashed through her mind. . . .
Here’s the third question, based on a Whole Lot of Fun. And here’s the third scene.
Diaz let the straight end trail on the ground beside him and gripped the braided rawhide near his left hip. With his right hand he swung the loop over his head, adding slack, expanding the loop, as he took careful aim at Taggart. “Don’t move none, amigo,” Diaz instructed.
Young Mattie and Grace both giggled, and Jess pressed her knuckles over her mouth.
Taggart propped a fist on his knee. “Ye think I’ll sit by while I’m roped by the likes of ye? You’d sooner find me riding Broom over a pitted roach with a horseshoe in my britches—”
The rope fell neatly around him, not even brushing his hat.
Grace climbed over the corral fence and hurried to Diaz.
Here’s the Whole Lot of Fun question: What do you think young Grace asks Diaz? (Hint: It makes Taggart roll his eyes even more than getting roped!)
You see? Shakespeare had it right— Passion, Troubles, and a Whole Lot of Fun. It’s a great combination.
If you’d like to see the book trailer videos for The Sierra Chronicles books one and two, Love’s Rescue and Hope’s Promise, lope over to:
There you’ll also get to read the blurb for The Sierra Chronicles book three, Faith’s Reward, which will be available in January 2011.
Also, visit http://www.tammybarley.com/index.html to view an extensive list of Western and Prairie Romance Authors and their recent and upcoming releases, complete with links to their log homes on the Web!
Thank you for whiling a bit of time with me! I look forward to seeing what you all dream up as possible answers to today’s questions!