We’re happy to have another wonderful guest with us today. Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they recently moved overseas.
I wasn’t always a city girl. The first four years of my life were spent on my parents’ farm outside Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. My two brothers, already adults when I came along (surprise!!), lived on the property and had their own horses, Red and Rusty.
I still remember my first “cowgirl” initiation. My mother set me on Rusty’s bare back, ostensibly for a lazy ride around the corral. But I had other ideas. I gripped Rusty’s mane, gleefully leaned toward his ears, and commanded, “Go, Rusty, go!”
He did. Except Mommy still had hold of my ankle, which pulled me off Rusty’s back and headfirst into, um, something very, very soft and squishy.
Next stop: the bathtub.
So began my lifelong love of horses—with one significant problem. Shortly before I turned four, my dad passed away, and soon afterward Mom moved us into town. From that point forward, my future as a city girl was fixed.
It wasn’t long before both my brothers left the Valley and settled in the Texas Hill Country. The younger brother, married with three children, had a small ranch with horses and cattle, so whenever my mother and I visited, I got to be a country girl again, even if only for a few days.
The years passed, and when I was a young teen, circumstances brought my mother and me back to the farm that was my first home. Still, my mother wouldn’t agree to having a horse—too much responsibility, she insisted.
Then one day a stray horse wandered up our driveway. My mom placed a lost-and-found ad, but for days no one responded. The horse looked gentle enough, and I was itching to try riding him. Finally I talked my mom into helping me, so with an old rag rug for a saddle and makeshift rope reins, I carefully climbed onto his back.
For the next few days, we enjoyed leisurely strolls down the lane, and I was the happiest girl in the West—er, South—until a woman and her and two ecstatic children arrived to claim their missing horse. I cried to watch him go.
More years passed. I grew up, got married, and had kids of my own. Horse adventures were limited to the occasional trail ride while on vacation . . .
. . . until the year I signed up to volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding center. Working directly with the horses was a dream fulfilled, even more so when another volunteer encouraged me to take dressage lessons (not exactly cowgirl-type horsemanship, but nearing 50 by then, I was okay with a tamer kind of riding).
My volunteer friend eventually introduced me to a horsewoman who owned a sweet old gelding that needed extra attention. When she offered to let me ride him for lessons and practice, it was the best of both worlds—a “free” horse I could ride whenever I wanted, without the responsibility of feeding, mucking stalls, vet care, etc.
Those years of dressage lessons and volunteering at the therapeutic riding center also brought knowledge, skills, and priceless firsthand experiences. Besides the basics of horse care and tack, I learned ground driving and lunge-lining, and I exulted in the thrill of “joining up” with horses in the round pen. I could even harness a horse to a small carriage for a ride down the lane!
After seven wonderful (and wonder-filled) years of such experiences, my husband and I moved far away from Texas and my “horsey” friends, and for the past eleven years I have been utterly horseless [cue the violins]. My only recourse has been to write books with horses in them, and there have been several, including my “Horseman” trilogy, set in North Carolina and featuring three handsome horsemen and the women they love.
My recent Love Inspired contemporary romance, Her Hill Country Cowboy, returns to Texas and is set on a small guest ranch in the fictional town of Juniper Bluff, about an hour’s drive northwest of San Antonio. I’m delighted to give away two copies today (U.S. postal addresses only, please). You can read more about the story below.
So let’s chat. Do you harbor a cherished lifelong dream? Has it come true? If so, in what ways? If not, what can you do or have you done to fill that empty place in your heart?
About the book: Single father Seth Austin will do anything for his children. So when he discovers the new housekeeper his grandmother hired for their guest ranch is a former social worker, he plans to keep his family far away from Christina Hunter. Seth once almost lost custody of his beloved kids because of an overzealous social worker. Problem is his children adore Christina and her sweet service dog—and he’s starting to fall for her, too. Recuperating from an accident, Christina is determined to slowly ease back into her old life. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that her future might be with the cowboy and his family.
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