Hope everyone learned some things about the rodeo. Miss Jodi is a great teacher.
Ah put all the names in my floppy old hat that I wear to ride my mule.
The winner of Jodi’s new book is………….
Ah’m tuckered out from dancin’ so ah’m giving you the thumbs-up sign, Dina! Woo-Hoo! Please send your mailing particulars to email@example.com and we’ll get the information to Miss Jodi. Ah know you’re chomping at the bit to get your hands on this book. It’s a great story.
Miss Jodi sends her love to each of you. She’ll be back again before you know it.
Throughout history there has been that certain kind of man—the hero? The daredevil? The fool who risks death? — Who rushes in when other men would have hesitated.
In my writing I often create heroes who fight for what is right, who win battles, who save the day, but there is another kind of man born for adventure. In flight, we call them the barnstormers. In the Army, they might be the Special Forces who go in when the odds are against them. And in rodeo, they are the bull riders.
I once did research on pre-WWI pilots. I found that some were gamblers playing with death but most loved the thrill of skating on the razor’s edge. (The book was CHERISH THE DREAM) These kinds of men are like mountain climbers and people who do extreme sports.
For the past few months I’ve been doing research on bull riders. Just by accident one afternoon I was talking to a man in his early forties who was a fireman. We were both waiting for a play to start. I mentioned that I was writing about rodeo bull riders. He tugged up his sleeve and showed me a long ugly scar running up his arm.
“That’s just one,” he said. “There are others.”
The character in my latest book is named Noah. I watched this fireman sitting beside me and in my mind my Noah came alive before my eyes. All at once this man became an older version of Noah. The fireman might be older and wiser than my young man, but the love for the rodeo was still there.
I watched him move to the edge of his chair as he talked, widening his long legs as if getting ready for the gate to open.
“I started college,” he said. “Into my sophomore year I got to going with a friend to rodeos. At first we rode to pick up a little extra money and for the thrill. Then we got our cards and took it seriously. School became less and less important as I began to ride every weekend. It was almost like a drug. We lived for the ride.”
He laughed and said, “It’s been almost twenty years but I can feel the adrenaline running through my body just thinking about the ride. If I thought I could still ride, I’d be in line to draw a bull right now.”
I kept talking to him because I was no longer in Lubbock waiting for a play; I was talking to my Noah from Harmony, Texas.
Only my Noah is 21 and he’s been hurt for the third time, and this time he’s afraid to climb back on and ride. His dad was a national champion. The whole town thinks he’s a hero living the life they’d all love to live.
Once in a while reality and fiction mix for me and I love it.
Noah was called Preacher in WELCOME TO HARMONY because when he rode in high school rodeos he got religion. In SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY coming out on Nov. 2, 2010, he’s started riding pro. In my third Harmony book, he’s hurt.
Come along with me and Noah and Reagan’s journey. I promise you’ll fall in love with them and the town of Harmony, Texas.
Contest: In my story Noah rides once using a Suicide wrap. Leave a comment and tell me your stories of attending or being in a rodeo. If you include the definition of this kind of wrap, you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY. We’ll draw a winner on Sunday.
And let me know how you like the video.
Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 31 novels and 8 short story collections. As of July 2006, she was the 11th woman to be inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. She is also currently serving as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
It’s such a treat to be back here in my old stomping grounds, visiting with the fillies again. I’ve missed you, ladies, and am thrilled to see your blog and your westerns thriving.
I’m still writing the English-set novels but am excited that my earlier Texas-set novels which have been out of print for years now will soon be available (November 9) in electronic format through AvonBooks. With their re-release, I’ve been taking some treks down Memory Lane.
Sweet Lullaby holds a special place in my heart because it was my first book to sell. One night when I was working on it, my husband glanced over my shoulder and saw my hero’s name. “Jake?” he asked. “Couldn’t you come up with a better name than Jake?” All I could do was look at him and say, “Jake is his name.” How do you explain to a non-writer that characters have their own names and you can’t change them willy-nilly? It was quite satisfying the afternoon when I called him at work to let him know that Jake’s story sold. Jake put me on my career path and several years later, when we bought a house, my husband surprised me with a plaque that hangs on our patio. It simply says, “The House that Jake Built.”
Jake gave me my start in this wonderful, wacky, crazy world that we call publishing. Jesse followed Jake. Then Clay, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. I always think of my stories as belonging to the heroes. It’s their journey to redemption and love.
When I began writing Texas-set stories, I wanted to provide as realistic a flavor of Texas as I could. To that end, in Sweet Lullaby, I included a jousting tournament. The pageantry of medieval England became popular in Texas following the Civil War. The tournaments were usually held during Fourth of July picnics or other holidays. The local residents would gather as the young men transformed into knights.
These tournaments were highly anticipated and the young men would not only practice for weeks before the event took place, but they also had special costumes that they wore. Black shirts and trousers were trimmed in silver while plumes decorated broad brimmed hats. In Plano, Texas, it is reported that the men also wore a long sash of colored ribbon with a large rosette positioned where the sash crossed.
In West Texas, the young men would assume a different name such as “Morning Star” or “Black Warrior.” In the Dallas area, the participants represented their location and were announced as “Knight of Plano” or “Knight of Spring Creek.”
The track that the horses ran would vary in length from one hundred to three hundred yards. Five posts were positioned along the length of the course. Each post held a ring that dangled from a crossbar.
The spectators would gather along the track. An announcer would yell, “Knight of Plano! Ready! Ride!” and the first contestant would gallop his horse the length of the track and attempt to catch the ring using his long, spiked steel lance. Each challenger rode the length of the track three times and the one who gathered the most rings was proclaimed the Plumed or Champion Knight. He chose a lady to be his queen for the remainder of the festivities, which often included a ball or a square dance.
The British are credited with bringing this tradition with them when they came to settle in Texas. Ivanhoe was also a popular book at the time and fired many a young man’s imagination.
[Sources: Christmas in Texas by Elizabeth Silverthorne, copyrighted 1990; Plano, Texas, the Early Years compiled by the Friends of the Plano Public Library, copyrighted 1985.]
I still love reading books on the history of Texas. Texas is such a large and diverse state. I love the tough and gritty cowboy. And I love the fillies! Thank you, ladies, for having me visit today.
Anyone who comments today will be entered into a drawing for a $20 gift card from Amazon, B&N, or Borders—winner’s choice. AND three lucky winners will receive a copy of the western anthology My Heroes Have Always been Cowboys.
Avon Books is rereleasing all six of Lorraine’s Texas-set historicals! Visit Lorraine’s website,www.LorraineHeath.com, to see the new covers of her westerns, coming November 9, 2010, as well as all of her latest releases fromAvonRomance.
Miss Jodi Thomas will return to the Junction once again come Saturday.
The talented lady and dear friend has boarded the stage and will arrive in plenty of time for a get-together. Ah know you’ll want to give her a warm welcome.
Miss Jodi has a new book out called SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY. This is her second book in the Harmony Series. Don’t know about you but ah know ah’ll be the first in line to buy it. Ah’m already chomping at the bit to get back to the little town of Harmony, Texas. No two ways about it.
Don’t rightly know what Miss Jodi will talk about, but whatever it is will suit me to a tee. One subject ah never get tired of discussing is cowboys. Hee-hee!
So shake the lead out and get a move on. We’ll be waitin’ for you at the Junction.
Have you ever given a surprise party? Have you been the guest of honor at one? Several months ago my sister-in-law called me about a surprise party for my brother’s 50th birthday. They live in Denver, so it’s been awhile since we’ve all gotten together. No way would I miss it! But oh my goodness! Keeping the trip to Denver a secret for that long nearly did me in. I had visions of talking on the phone and blurting, “See you in September!”
Well, I managed to keep quiet and I’m so glad I did. My sister-in-law planned the best-ever surprise. She sent my brother on a scavenger hunt with a series of clues. Instead of finding trinkets, he found people. I was Clue #5. The clue directed him to the place were he works and told him to look for a loved one. He saw his wife first and said, “Where’s my clue?”
“I don’t have it,” she answered. “Keep looking.”
My brother works at a western supply store. Among other things, they sell cowboy boots. I was seated on a bench with boots in hand. To anyone else, I looked like a customer trying on a pair of Tony Lamas. They were cool boots but not nearly as cool as the moment my brother spotted me. It’s not often you get a chance to completely shock someone, but that’s what happened. I’ll never forget that moment…It was the highlight of my trip to Denver.
The good times just kept coming. After the big birthday bash, we did a mini-tour of the mountains around Castle Rock. Some of you will remember Bounty Hunter’s Bride and the final scene with Beau Morgan and outlaw Clay Johnson in a canyon. The book is set in Castle Rock, Colorado, so a lot of my research consisted of calling my brother for info on the terrain. A cowboy at heart, he’s ridden all over the area and he told me about a particular place on the Platte River.
On Sunday we piled into his big truck and and drove to the place he described. What a glorious feeling to kick off my sandals, wade into the river and feel the reality of my characters from the book! I could picture Beau riding up the river and then into a side canyon. The dirt was as red as I’d imagined, the walls of the canyon as steep. Rocks jutted just like my brother had described. Fiction came alive for me in those moments.
It also came alive in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Wyoming Lawman is on the shelves now. The first chapter takes place in a fictional place called the Dryer Hotel. Before the surprise party, my husband and I detoured to Cheyenne where we spent a night at the Plains Hotel. The lobby has been maintained in the style fitting the year it was built. I could practically see my hero and heroine sitting on the chairs while the heroine made braids for the hero’s five-year-old daughter.
The last stop on the Wyoming journey was the Wyoming Territorial Prison. My all time favorite hero, the Reverend John Leaf from Abbie’s Outlaw, spent time in this place. Online research provided the facts, but walking through the prison yard, seeing the monstrous walls and the dying grass, brought the place to life in a new way. The cells were what I’d imagined, and I got to see where the women were housed. Did you know the first chaplain for the prison was a woman? She’s definitely blog-worthy, if not a heroine worthy of her own book.
So that’s my trip to Cheyenne and Denver . . . I had a great time combining research with a family celebration. About the boots I was trying on when I met my brother . . . I wear them all the time and I love them!
Our old friend and former Filly Miss Lorraine Heath is making a return trip to visit with us. She’ll gallop into the Junction and spend the day on Friday. We’re happier than a dog with two tails!
Miss Lorraine will catch us up on everything that’s been happening to her. One piece of news is that six of her previous westerns that are no longer available are re-releasing in e-book format. Yippee!
In honor of the occasion, Miss Lorraine has come toting prizes. She’ll give away a $20 gift card along with three copies of “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” All you have to do is show up and leave a comment to get your name in the pot. Sounds easy enough. You have four chances to win.
Don’t you forget now! Shake the wrinkles out of your bustles and get a move on.
Location. Setting. Why is it so important to the stories we love to read and write? It seems obvious in some cases. In others, there could be a ‘hidden’ agenda. It can actually become another character.
Fifty years ago, the choices were limited. Regencies and Westerns were prevalent sub-genres in the historical category, and mysteries and detective stories captivated the ‘contemporary’ nook. Science fiction was still relatively uncharted.
The setting of a novel was a definitive device, separating the genres as clearly as any other element of writing.
The glittering ballrooms and colorful gowns and jewels whisked historical romance readers away to faraway, exotic locales. Sagebrush, cactus, and danger awaited heroes of the western genre, a male- dominated readership.
But something odd happened as time went by. The lines blurred. Rosemary Rogers combined the romance of exotic places with the danger of an action plot, and an unforgettable hero in Steve Morgan that, had a man picked up ‘Sweet Savage Love’ and read it, he certainly could have identified with.
By the same token, the male-oriented scenery accompanied by the stiff, stylized form of western writers such as Owen Wister (The Virginian) and Zane Grey (Riders of the Purple Sage, The Last Trail) gave way to Louis L’Amour (Conagher, the Sackett series) and Jack Schaefer (Shane, Monte Walsh).
Why is the evolving change in description of location so important? In older writings, many times the location of a novel was just where the story happened to take place. Often, the plot of the story dictated the setting, rather than the two forming any kind of ‘partnership.’
But with the stories that came along later, that partnership was strengthened, and in some cases, location became almost another character in the plot.
Take Louis L’Amour’s ‘Conagher.’ As good as the movie was, the book gives us so much more insight into the characters’ thoughts and reasoning. As he describes the heroine’s (Evie) dismal hopelessness at the land her husband (Jacob) has brought her to, we wonder how she will survive. Yet, Jacob has plans, sees the possibilities that Evie cannot, or will not see. The underlying message is, “The land is what we make of it.”
As the story continues, she begins to appreciate the beauty of the prairie, while acknowledging the solitary loneliness of her existence. She plants a garden, nurturing the plants, and gradually she sees the farm being shaped into a good home from the ramshackle place she’d first laid eyes on.
The land is beautiful, but unforgiving. Her husband is killed in a freak accident, and for months she doesn’t know what has happened to him. She faces the responsibility of raising his two children from a previous marriage alone.
In her loneliness, she begins to write notes describing her feelings and ties them to tumbleweeds. The wind scatters the notes and tumbleweeds across the prairie. Conagher, a loner, begins to wonder who could be writing them, and slowly comes to believe that whomever it is, these notes are meant for him.
At one point, visitors come from back East. One of them says to Evie something to the effect of “I don’t know how you can stand it here.”
This is Evie’s response to her:
“I love it here,” she said suddenly. “I think there is something here, something more than all you see and feel…it’s in the wind.
“Oh, it is very hard!” she went on. “I miss women to talk to, I miss the things we had back East–the band concerts, the dances. The only time when we see anyone is like now, when the stage comes. But you do not know what music is until you have heard the wind in the cedars, or the far-off wind in the pines. Someday I am going to get on a horse and ride out there”–she pointed toward the wide grass before them–”until I can see the other side…if there is another side.”
The land, at first her nemesis, has become not only a friend, but a soulmate. If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.
Within 40 pages of ‘Conagher’, the reader understands that the land, with all its wild beauty and dangers has become enmeshed in Evie’s character. She can’t leave it, and it will never leave her.
I think of my own writing projects. What importance do I give setting in my description, plot, even characterization? In my latest contemporary release, SWEET DANGER, the setting is of utmost importance because of the fact that the story takes place in a neighborhood deli, a normally friendly, safe place to be. Jesse Nightwalker and Lindy Oliver are introduced to one another by the deli owner. On a particularly crowded day, they are forced to share a booth. It’s a “first date” neither of them will ever forget. Here’s an excerpt:
FROM SWEET DANGER:
Jesse looked past her, his smile fading rapidly. As the flash of worry entered his expression, Lindy became aware of a sudden lull in the noisy racket of the deli. Jesse’s dark gaze was locked on the front door, a scowl twisting his features.
“Damn it,” he swore, reaching for her hand. “Get down! Under the table, Lindy…”
But she hesitated a second too long, not understanding what was happening. In the next instant, the sound of semi-automatic gunfire and shattering glass filled the air.
Lindy reflexively ducked, covering her head. The breath of a bullet fanned her cheek as Jesse dragged her down beneath the sparse cover of the small table. He shielded her, his hard body crushing against her, on top of her, pushing her to the floor. The breath rushed out of her, and she felt the hard bulge of the shoulder holster he wore beneath the denim jacket as it pressed against her back.
Her heart pounded wildly, realization of their situation flooding through her. A robbery! But why, at this hour of the morning when the take would be so low? The gunfire stopped as abruptly as it had started. From somewhere near the counter, a man shouted, “Come out and you won’t be hurt! Come out—now!”
Lindy looked up into Jesse’s face, scant inches from her own. What would he do? They were somewhat concealed here at the back of the deli, but these men were sporting semi-automatic weapons.
“There’s a back door,” Jesse whispered raggedly. “Get the hell out of here. I’m gonna be your diversion.” She didn’t answer; couldn’t answer. He was likely to be killed, helping her go free. He gave her a slight shake. “Okay?”
An interminable moment passed between them before she finally nodded. “Get going as soon as I get their attention.” He reached to brush a strand of hair out of her eyes, his own gaze softening as he leaned toward her and closed the gap between them. “Take care of yourself, Lindy,” he whispered, just before his mouth closed over hers.
The instant their lips met shook her solidly. Every coherent thought fled, leaving nothing but the smoldering touch of his lips on hers, burning like wildfire through her mind. Soft, yet firm. Insistent and insolent. His teeth skimmed her lower lip, followed by his tongue, as he tasted her. Then, he pulled away from her, their eyes connecting for a heart-wrenching second.
“Safe passage,” he whispered.
Lindy didn’t answer, more stunned by the sudden sweet kiss than by the madness surrounding them. Jesse pushed himself out from under the table and stood up, directly in front of where Lindy crouched. Only then did she hear his muted groan of pain, his sharp, hissing intake of breath. The blossoming red stain of crimson contrasted starkly with the pale blue of his faded denim jacket as his blood sprang from the bullet wound, soaking the material.
He’d been shot!
Lindy gasped softly at the realization. How could she leave him now? He was hurt. Somehow, it didn’t seem right for her to escape, to leave him to deal with these men while he was bleeding.
Jesse hesitated. Lindy couldn’t be sure if it was intentional, or if the agony of the hole in his shoulder kept him still for that extra instant before he slowly walked away from the table, his hands up.
Lindy crept forward. Looking past where Jesse stood, halfway between her and the front of the deli, she caught her first good look at the leader of the small band of thieves. He stood close to the counter, his hair spiking in thin blond tufts, his stance indicating he was ready for anything. From the carnage around him, his cocksure attitude was warranted.
Three of his gang stood near the entrance, guns held on the few patrons who hadn’t managed to get out the door. The leader’s Glock was trained on Jesse’s midsection, a wide grin on his pale face. Then, he began to laugh, the gun holding steady through it all. “Jesse Nightwalker, as I live and breathe.”
“Yeah,” Jesse muttered. “Unfortunately.”
The gunman’s grin faded, and his eyes found Lindy’s from across the room. Mercurial. Hard. Deadly. The Glock never wavered, nor did his stance. Only his gray eyes changed, giving Lindy a silent warning before he spoke.
“Bring that baggage with you, Jess,” he said mildly. “Don’t leave her cowering under the table. There’s a back door to this hole, you know. Wouldn’t want her to get shot trying to do something foolish…like, escape.”
We have a winner! Actually we have two winners — two names came up at the same time. Those winners are: Beth and Joye. Beth and Joye I’m hoping that you will email me privately — firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what books of mine you have and what book you’d like — I don’t have ALL of my books anymore — so we’ll go from there!
I want to thank each and everyone of you who came here today and left a message. Some really insightful messages… Thanks to all.
In an age where youth is almost worshiped, I thought I’d do an about face and talk about those people I admire most — our elders. To that end, I thought I’d pass along some Native American wisdom that has been passed down from the ages.
This is my mother-in-law, Joyce, who taught me patience and the meaning of family. She has departed from us now, but her influence lives on and on. I must admit that I miss her very much. Off to the right is Grandfather George, who is 90. This was taken at a recent booksigning. Grandfather George walks everyday, and I do believe he’s as limber as a person in their 60’s — maybe even younger.
On that note, here are some wise, wise sayings from our Amerian Indian elders:
“The Creative principle of the universe and its organization and intelligence is not an external principle but an internal one.” This is from the Koyukon, Alaskan.
“The air is precious to the red man. For all things share the same breath — the beast, the trees, the man, they all share the same breath… What is man without the beast? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected…” Chief Seattle
Here’s one of my favorites: (I’ve been known to paraphrase this.) “You can’t take care of yourself if you’re taking from others. It will come back on you. The more bad you give out, the more you get. If you give good, you get good because it’s all a circle.” Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah
I love the principle of this quote. Even if we don’t see it, those who deal in suppressing and making nothing of those around them eventually do come acropper. We may not see it, but it is there just as surely as the day is long.
Here’s another piece of wisdom that we don’t often think about in our society nowadays. But this is very wise, I think: “Sex is good. It has such a strong pull that it can cloud your vision. It’s one of the stronger powers that were put here on Mother Earth. But if all you think about is sex, then you’re not going to be doing your ceremony. Give that sex power only the attention it deserves and no more. That way you won’t miss out on all the rest of the things the Creator has for you. Train your mind. You can do it if you don’t let your body lead you.” Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah. This picture off to the left, by the way is of one of the most ingenius men in history, Chief Joseph.
Here’s yet another piece of wisdom from Chief Leon Shenandoah: “The way you live tells everybody what kind of person you are. Your actions speak for you. You can talk all you want, but everybody around already knows who you are. Treat others kindly and you’ll never have to say a word. Somebody is always watching. They’ll want to be like you and you’ll never have to open your mouth. Through you the world will be more peaceful.”
And here’s another gem from Tadodaho Chief, Leon Shenandoah: “”It’s even in our Instructions that a man can’t be a chief if he has killed. People don’t understand what they’re doing when they take life. The person who does it is in for trouble, even if they’re never caught. The Creator know. Our Instructions say that the one who does it gets all the dead person’s karma. They have theirs and the other person’s, too. The one who dies is relieved of their karma and goes straight to the Creator’s place clean.”
Before I leave Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah, let me share this with you: ” One of the Instructions the Peacemaker gave us was for our leaders. They were to work for the welfare of the people. It was not meant for you to build yourself up above the people. It was for everyone to be equal. Our leaders don’t get paid. Even I have to make my own living. So the way I see it with the United States, it seems to me the leaders are making a living off of the people, their own people. That’s not going to work and it’s not working.”
Interesting, huh? What do you think would happen to our country if we demanded that our leaders not get paid. In the beginning, they didn’t get paid, at least not very much. They each had their own income and careers. Interestingly enough our Constitution states that Congress has to meet at least twice a year. Somehow I wish it were still that way.
Oops, how did these get in there in a blog about our Native Elders?
This of course is Michael Greyeyes, a Motion Picture Star, and a very handsome fellow, indeed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the post today. Please come on in and let’s talk about elders and how wise they are to teach us of their experience. I’ll be giving away a free book today to some lucky blogger, so come on in and leave a post. Also, if you haven’t picked up your copy of SENECA SURRENDER yet, please do so today!