Inspiration Comes From Many Places

One question authors get asked all the time is where do you get ideas for your stories. No, you don’t have to worry that if you tell me about running into your old high school crush I’m going to use it in my book. Unless, well, if it’s a really good meet cute …

Never mind. Just kidding. I actually get a lot of my ideas from news articles or human interest pieces I read online. Sometimes, however, inspiration comes from a place I’ve visited.

Many years ago, when my kids were young, we took a trip to Bisbee, Arizona and toured the Queen Silver Mine. While there, I saw an old photo of a mule being lowered down into the shaft (mules were used to haul ore carts and often spent their entire lives in the mines). From that tour and photo came the inspiration for Her Heart’s Treasure. While researching that book, I came across an article about a horrific mining accident in Denver and that became the inspiration for my book, The Gate to Eden. Note: this was back in the days when I wrote Western historicals.

A few years after that, we were vacationing at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. One day, we took a tour of the (replica) Ponderosa Ranch and Western town TV set from the show Bonanza. The scenery was incredible, and my mind raced with ideas. Eventually, I wrote a three book series for Harlequin American titled Sweetheart, Nevada.

When I was a teenager, we used to stay at a Western-themed resort outside of Payson, Arizona called Kohl’s Ranch. As an adult, I frequently visit Payson and have returned to Kohl’s Ranch just to check it out. Of course, a story popped into my head. That story eventually became a four-book series called Bear Creek Ranch that was so thinly disguised I actually had readers email me to say they knew I’d used Kohl’s Ranch for my inspiration.

I could go one and on, but I think I’ll end with the McDowell Mountains. I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and lived for many, many years not far from the Sonoran Mountain Preserve. Once, while walking my dogs, I found myself gazing up at the mountains and wondering if any wild horses still lived there. Turns out, they do! That question launched a thirteen book series, the first one about a cowboy trying to save his ranch by capturing the last wild mustang roaming free in the mountains near my fictional town, Mustang Valley.

Wow. All this talk about places I’ve visited makes me want to travel again. It’s been too long. Wherever I wind up going, I’ll be sure to take my imagination. Who knows? I could be inspired with a story.

Now, what were you telling me about your old high school crush ?

Trick Riding is Much More Than Just Tricks

Good morning!

I’m so excited to be here for my second official post. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a talker, and I love talking about writing. And, yes, anything western and cowboys 🙂

I’m sure everyone reading this post has heard the old saying: write what you know. That’s one of the reasons I love western romances. I’ve spent most of my life embracing the country and western lifestyle. And even though I mostly write contemporaries, that doesn’t mean I get out of having to research something new with every book.

I particularly like giving my heroines horse-related occupations or hobbies that are little out of the norm. In one book, my gal crafts and sells jewelry for horses (yes, it’s a thing). In my book coming out in November, the gal’s a competitive endurance rider. In yet another book, she rescues wild mustangs. I even had a heroine who ran a wildlife sanctuary.

In my most recent release, my heroine is a trick rider. And while I’ve seen trick riders perform at rodeos and horse events, I actually knew nothing about it when I started the book. I guessed that trick riders have years of training and often a gymnastic or dancing background, and I was right. But I learned a whole lot more.

Trick riding originated in the Caucasus and Central Asia cultures and was adopted by the Russian Cossacks who used it during battles. Eventually, Russian Cossacks who immigrated to America brought their trick riding skills with them and started performing as a way to earn money. Sometime around the 1940s, trick riding evolved into a rodeo event, though eventually it became strictly a specialty act for entertainment..

Not only is the rider talented, skilled, and athletic, the horse is, too, as well as needing to have a calm and reliable disposition. The two must form a true partnership in order to be successful and trust each other completely. If not, they’re both at risk of injury. As you can imagine, countless hours of training and practice are required in order to reach a professional performance level, and that training and practice never stops.

Here are just a few pictures of some common tricks. I don’t know about you, but I’m holding my breath watching them.

The hippodrome

Layout fender













One leg stand

Death drag

If you have a hankering to learn more, check out this YouTube video of sister trick riders. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at what these gals (and their horses) can do!

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

P.S. – You can purchase my trick riding heroine story, HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY, here


Howdy, Everyone!

I’m here! My first official post for Petticoats and Pistols, and I have to say, I’m a bit nervous. The lovely, talented, and sweet Margaret Brownley has left some big shoes for me to fill. She will be truly missed, but, like all of you, I wish her love and happiness in her exciting new life.

I’m also thrilled to be joining this amazing group of ladies. I’ve known some of them for years and am becoming fast friends with the other “fillies”. To stand here beside them is…aw, heck. For a writer, I’m at a loss for words. I’m also excited to get to know all of the readers. I promise to do my best responding to comments and answering any questions ?

I thought I should probably tell you a little about myself. I’ve been at this writing business a long time. It took a while to figure out what kind of stories I loved writing the best. As a result, I tried suspense, historicals, rom com, paranormal, you name it. Finally, I took to heart the old saying, write what you know, and sold my first Western/small town book to Harlequin in 2005 for the then American line. It’s been full steam ahead ever since. The American line eventually became the Western line, which sadly folded several years ago. I now write for Harlequin Heartwarming and, starting in 2022, Love Inspired Mountain Rescue Suspense.

My promo material says, “Who Doesn’t Love a Cowboy Romance?” and that sums up exactly how I feel. I’ve lived the country/western lifestyle for as long as I can remember, getting my first horse when I was just a kid. We once owned over fifty “pets” that included chickens, ducks, goats, a donkey, mules, and horses — besides the usual cats and dogs. There wasn’t a day I didn’t pet a velvety nose, smell the sweet scent of hay, collect fresh eggs, and wash out a water trough. I once rode in a mule-drawn wagon for three days from north Cave Creek, Arizona to Young (the state’s most remote town located on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon). In my younger days, I competed in horse shows. And while I have a great love of rodeo and watch it whenever possible, I’ve never participated beyond riding a mechanical bull or attempting to rope a practice dummy (plastic calf). While I, sadly, no longer own any horses, I have friends who let me visit whenever the mood strikes. Yes, that picture below is me with a baby mule taken about six months ago when she was just a few days old.

I pour that love of all things cowboy into my contemporary Western stories, trying to make them as realistic as possible. What a great gig, right? I couldn’t be luckier. I get to wake up every day and do what I enjoy best of all — write books about the life I love.

I can’t wait to get to know all of you and share my stories with you.

Warmest wishes to you and yours,

Cathy McDavid