I’m sorry for getting this out late, but on November 15, 2007 I had to put my beloved Labrador retriever, Maxine, to sleep. She’d been in our family for twelve years. The cancer she had returned with a vengeance over six months, and the past week had been too much of a strain on the poor girl. On the advice of her vet, we decided to end her suffering.Maxi had been my loyal friend, an inspiration for my writing, and a constant companion when I sat down to write. She reminded me to take time out to play, to take walks, and to dream.
When I wrote my first book, Angels Among Us, a paranormal romance, I based my heroine’s canine companion Baxter, a yellow Labrador retriever, on Maxi. Her loyalty, protectiveness, and zaniness provided material for Baxter’s personality. He added a touch of humor to the suspense created for the heroine, Kay Lassiter, and her guardian angel, Eviance Angelique, who helped her solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths as well as the threats presented by a former murderer. Baxter also helped Eviance to rekindle the romance between Kay and her brother’s best friend, Jake O’Malley, the proverbial “boy next door”.
Wildflowers, a western historical romance published in June 2007, animals are part of the cast of characters. Ryan Majors, the book’s reluctant hero, a mountain man turned trail guide, has a close friendship with his faithful horse, Daisy. His half Native American background provided him with the skills and talents useful for leading a wagon party to the Oregon
Territory. Respect for the natural world and living creatures echoed through the novel along with the romance between Ryan and the minister’s daughter Johanna Wade.
My interest in the pioneer era, the Native Americans, a love of horses (I’ve ridden out West –Oklahoma and the Canadian Rockies and here in the East), added to the plot and the characters of the book. Having Maxi in the family made me realize the special role of pets in our lives. Consciously or unconsciously I’ve included animals in some way in all my books. They provide a touch of humor, add to the suspense, or show us how to be better characters ourselves. You can read more about Angels Among Us or Wildflowers at the publisher’s web site, www.wings-press.com or at my web site www.cag06angel.com
Hello Everyone!Thank you, ladies of Petticoats and Pistols for letting authors of western romance be guest bloggers. I’ve been scarce making comments this week because my two daughters and their combined four children – all under the age of four – have been at my house since last Saturday. While it’s fun having them- it puts a crimp in my usual daily activities. Such as blogging and writing.
My newest release is a contemporary western set on a cattle ranch in SE Oregon. This book was the easiest to write because I didn’t have to do as much research as I do with a historical. My husband and I raise cattle, so the day-to-day worries and work were easy to write. Our little “hobby ranch” is nothing like the one in my story.
Perfectly Good Nanny is set in a remote area of sagebrush, rabbit brush, and bunch grass. It is harsh land that requires diligence on the part of the rancher during calving season.It is a part of the country where the cattle had to scrounge to find feed all year round until the invention of irrigation pipes. The hero and heroine are thrown together by a 12-year-old girl, tired of taking care of her 2 year-old brother, and a meddling Klamath Indian neighbor. The two hire a nanny without the father knowing. When the woman shows up knowing everything about his family, Brock Hughes is not the least bit hospitable. But between the nanny and the girl they manage to get him to agree to the one month the neighbor paid for. Sparks fly and two people who’d given up on love learn to love again.
My story depicts the daily lives of remote ranchers. To some extent though they have the newer equipment a lot of the day-to-day chores are the same as a hundred years ago. Before haying and equipment, herds were moved to the higher range in the summer to eat the grass, saving the lower, taller grass in the meadows to feed the cattle during the winter. They also hayed, but would not reap as much feed from their hard work as they can now with the modern equipment.
Grass was cut, usually from a meadow that was watered from a creek or a spring. A hand-held scythe was used to cut the grass. And later on in the 20th century a ground driven sickle was pulled behind a horse to cut the hay. By the late 1800’s they used a dump rake pulled by a horse to “rake” the hay into piles.Those piles were then forked onto wagons or sleds.The hay was then either forked into a barn or loft or a large outside pile. In the winter, this pile was pulled onto low sleds and dragged by a team of horses. These piles were then towed to the pasture where the cattle were wintering and forked off to feed.
In the 1800’s just feeding the cattle could take half a day or longer if they were scattered among several fields. Of course, if it was a large enough operation, they would have several feeding sleds. Being from a ranching family, I find the historical aspects of ranch living more interesting than the day-to-day lives of people living in the cities in the 1800’s
What is something you have always wondered about? What kind of bathroom facilities people living in apartments in large cities in the 1800’s had? How long did it take to make soap or actually weave enough cloth to make a garment, or even how long did it take to sew by hand a dress or shirt? That is what I find so fascinating about writing historical stories, the research that answers these questions. Why do you write or read historical romance?
Thank you for participating today.Leave your comments and I’ll pick one person to win an autographed copy or their choice of either my current contemporary western “Perfectly Good Nanny” or one of my previously published historical westerns.
Also check out my website www.patyjager.com to enter my November contest and read my reviews.
An unwritten code of the west was that any cowboy caught on the trail at dusk could pretty much count on finding a hot meal and a bunk at any ranch.Being a research junkie and nosy to boot, I decided to look into this open-door policy a bit deeper. I wasn’t surprised to learn that some ranchers welcomed American and European sportsman to use their ranch as a base while they hunted big game.In fact, they courted these guests to come to the West.The reasons were varied and yet practical.Even with the railroad going coast-to-coast soon after the Civil War, news tended to travel slow.Having “big city” or foreign guests was especially welcome in an area where newsworthy items were, for the most part, spread by word of mouth.
Of course, there was another benefit to these visiting sportsmen, or “dudes,” and was that they could help control the wild game that preyed on their herds, thus saving ranchers time and resources.I suppose that constituted just another way to “pay one’s way.”
It’s said that paying guest ranches came about in the early 1880s when a visitor at the Custer Trail Ranch in the Dakota Territory was enjoying himself so that he offered to pay the Eatons to extend his stay there and also grant him the use of a horse.Word of such an arrangement spread, and other ranchers began providing guest quarters.
By the 1890s, more visitors ventured west to partake of the western hospitality and thrill of the hunt on the ranches that welcomed guests.
Being raised on a farm, I know full well that some years farmers barely eek out a living.Running a guest ranch quickly became more lucrative than raising cattle, especially in light of the devastating winter of 1885-86 when hundreds of thousands of cattle died in the blizzards and ranchers were facing bankruptcy.For years after that devastation, many ranchers held on to their land simply by opening up their ranch to paying strangers.The guest ranches were fairly split on what they offered visitors.Some, like the Gros Ventre Lodge in the late 1890s, was noted for their big game hunts that attracted sportsmen from the U.S. and abroad.Others, like the Custer Trail Ranch, maintained a working ranch so visitors could get a taste of authentic ranch life, from the mundane activities of ranching to the cowboy exhibitions held on ranches, which were the forerunner of the rodeo before it was an organized and recognized sport.
By the turn of the century, the railroad and ranchers teamed up to advertise guest ranches.It was a lucrative deal for both parties, and today dude ranches are going strong all over the U.S.The Eaton brothers knew a good thing when they saw it back in the 1890s when the started the first guest ranch.They moved their operation from North Dakota to Wolf, Wyoming in 1904, and soon provided extensive guided trails into the Yellowstone region for men – and women.It’s the latter that snared my attention.
After seeing a picture that included lady “dudes” sitting before their tents knitting in the wild, I knew I had to include this bit of history in a novel.Of course, I took free license and made my guest ranch exclusively for woman – a surprise that my cowboy hero Gil Yancy was none to happy to be involved in.I choose Wyoming as the setting for One Real Man, my April 08 release, partly because I love Wyoming, and partly because it offered women far more freedoms in the 1890s, starting with being the first state where women could vote.
My heroine Josie desperately needed freedom, and Gil had his mind set on taking control of her ranch – and her.Ah, both had a lot to learn and a lot to give up in order to have a happily ever after. But oh, the rewards.
To get the comments going, have you stayed on a guest ranch before? If you had your preference, would you rather stay at a working ranch, or a resort ranch?Me?I’ll take the real cowboy any day.
I’ll give away an autographed copy of my March debut, One Real Cowboy to one of the commenters.You’re welcome to stop by my website (www.jankenny.com) to read more about my books, and me.
What I tried to do in Petticoat Ranch is get inside a man’s head.
I’m lucky I got out alive.
The comedy in Petticoat Ranch comes largely from my heroine Sophie thinking like a woman and my hero Clay thinking like a man. They have even less exposure to the opposite sex than is usual.
Well, Sophie’s had exposure, she’s just come away with a very dim view. Clay grew up around men in the Rocky Mountains. He’s completely lost.
All Clay knows about women he’s heard or made up. He expects quiet, polite little women folk to stay clean, stay inside, cook his dinner. He doesn’t quite get it that they’ve been living on their own on a Texas ranch for years.
All Sophie knows about men is from her worthless husband. She had to do most of the work when he was alive and keeping him happy—a hopeless task—was just one chore she didn’t have to do after he was dead. She expects little or nothing from her new husband.
I suppose it’s risky to ever believe you know what a man is thinking but I feel like I had a little better chance than a lot of people because of my husband.
Ivan comes from a family of seven sons. His mother is a saint. That woman can tell stories of blood and destruction and mayhem that would make Stephen King run screaming.
Now Ivan and I have four daughters. Watching the mystified way he reacts to the girls is funny.
If you’ve got sons and daughters both you know how brothers are. They torment their sisters for entertainment.
“Yay! I made her scream!”
“Yay! I made her cry!”
“Yay! I embarrassed her in front of her friends!”
Little brothers learn to not only accept those crying, screaming moments from sisters, they revel in them. But to a man who’s never had a sister to torture, females remain very much a mystery. I’ve decided it’s one of those things you learn as part of your childhood development…or you never learn it at all.
So, once when one of the girls was crying over some trauma…I think she got called out in a softball game…or maybe benched…or scolded by the coach, I can’t remember. I was hugging her and listening to her cry it out and just generally doing this, “Oh, honey, oh sweet baby, you poor thing”…routine until the tears stopped. That’s what they seem to need.
Ivan came in and he saw her crying and he was furious. Injustice! Who made you cry? Why I oughta….
When his growling didn’t make her stop crying—shocker—he pulled out his billfold and offered her twenty dollars.
Well, my daughter is a bright little thing and after all, it’s not like she’d never lost a ball game before. She snatched the twenty and cheered right up.
Later, I had a little talk with him about the wisdom of teaching the girls that crying in front of a boy earns you money.
Hello emotional blackmail!
Hello romantic comedy novel.
Hello ‘Petticoat Ranch’.
I did research for the place—Texas. The history, the flora and fauna, the clothing, the ranching, the lingo. But the kernel of the story comes from my real life Petticoat Ranch.
What do you think? Are heroes harder for women authors to write? Do we really know what’s going on inside a man’s head? Are our heroes all romanticized? Are they doing what we wish they’d do instead of what a man really does?
I’m going to have a drawing for an autographed copy of Petticoat Ranch today. Everyone who leaves a comment has their name thrown in the hat.
I was raised on Westerns. Bonanza, Rawhide, High Chaparral, The Virginian, The Big Valley and Lancer just to name a few. For me as a child, the Wild West was as close as my TV and my imagination. My favorite toys were my Johnny West, Jane West, Chief Cherokee and their horses, Thunderbolt, Thundercolt and Flame. I even had the cardboard bunkhouse and all the accessories. It’s really too bad a basement flood destroyed all that.
My fantasies were about Heath Barkley, Little Joe and oh my gosh, Johnny Lancer. Does anyone remember the scene were he jumped his palomino over the fence when the opening credits came on? My heart broke when the actor, whose name escapes me at the moment, lost his arm and leg in a motorcycle accident.
Then came a more modern western. Alias Smith and Jones. Both guys were hot and some fancy camera work made Kid Curry the fastest gun in the west. Yummy. And I was so in love with Pete Duel who tragically killed himself.
John Wayne movies could always be counted on for a great mud-slinging, name calling fight, usually with Maureen O’Hara winding up in the mud. And one movie was so good they made it twice, the Rio movies, one with a young hot James Caan and the other with a young hot Ricky Nelson.
Then suddenly westerns disappeared. Occasionally, you could catch one on a Saturday matinee on some random cable channel but they were hard to find until the Hallmark channel came along.
Thank goodness for Silverado. And while I’m not a big fan of Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting abilities, the cast was awesome. Brian Dennehy, who was so good, Scott Glenn, a young, hot Kevin Costner, Jeff Fahey as bad guy personified and James Gammon as the leader of the outlaws who had the best line in the movie. “I think there’s only a couple of guys up there and this asshole is one of them.” Loved it!
Young Riders. Young Riders fulfilled my Western needs. With a cast full of hunky guys who knew how to shoot and ride I was hooked. It also got me to thinking about my childhood western fantasies. The one about a girl named Jenny and her brother…
And Chase The Wind became a story. A six book series about cowboys and Indians and the joys and desperations of living and building a nation. I was inspired by Cowboys.
But inspiration is hard to find these days. Open Range was pretty good. I loved the scene were Kevin Costner didn’t waste any time and just killed the bad guy.
Outsider. Tim Daly. Enough said. Nope. Sigh…….Was he great in that movie or what? And somehow my copy is missing. I’ll just have to buy a new one.
And just recently, 3:10 to Yuma. If anything revived the Western, this movie was it. Everything you could want. Well it would have been nice if Christian Bale lived but still, a great, great film. I haven’t seen the new Brad Pitt movie with the impossibly long name but hey, it’s a western and Brad Pitt is in it so it’s got to be good.
In my books I have several cowboys. Jamie, Chase, Ty, Caleb, Jake and Zane. These guys are based on some real life heroes. My sons and their friends. If we lived a hundred and twenty years ago, I’m pretty sure this is how they’d act.
Cowboys. You just gotta love them. I’m pretty sure there’s still several of them around. I even know a few, which is kind of strange considering I live in North Carolina.
Now if I could just find my copy of Outsider….
Cindy Holby author of Chase The Wind
Wind Of The Wolf
Forgive The Wind
And her newest release, Rising Wind, which is not about cowboys but frontiersmen who have their own stories to tell.
Some writers believe that after years in the word business, you don’t have to deal with rejection or disappointment.
But after twenty years and twenty-five novels in print, I’ve learned that the secret of how to succeed may be in learning how to fall. In this game more can be learned from stumbling than from success.
Early in a writer’s career we sometimes look at rejection as a failure. But the failure is in not submitting. Like a boxer, a writer needs to learn how to roll with the punches. In my blog, this weekend, I want to talk about ways to remain on course in your writing even when failure knocks you down.
If I could tell new writers just one piece of advice, it would be: “Learn to fall”. There will be times, thousands of them, when this business of writing doesn’t go your way.
You must learn to stop holding onto the safety strap and jump out into the unknown. Leap and the net will appear.
Developing a Plan for Rising after a Falling:
• Bury the corpse.
If a book is rejected over and over again, maybe there is a reason that it is not selling. Perhaps it is time to put it under the bed and start anew.
Not only the sales and contest wins, but also times you try and come up short.
• Keep learning and moving.
New fields in writing are constantly opening; be aware of new trends.
Phil Price, an accomplished playwright, once said, “I’ve often wondered why sky divers yell for joy and people who fall off cliffs scream. After all, they’re both seeing the same view. It’s only the last foot that changes.
• Chinese proverb:
Fall down seven time; get up eight.
If any writers have advice for how to handle rejection, please let me know.
For example: Keep a jar of expensive chocolates to open only when a rejection comes your way.
Thank you for joining me today. From among those who post comments today, I’ll draw 2 names, each person to receive an autographed of my newest release (release date Nov. 6th) Texas Princess. Here is a blurb about Texas Princess:
With Texas Princess, the second novel in the fascinating Whispering Mountain trilogy, NY Times and USA Today best-selling author Jodi Thomas once again lives up to her reputation as one of the romance genre’s most compelling western historical writers.
Tobin McMurray has hated being around people since he was ambushed, while helping to defend his family’s land, at the age of six. Only because of his love of horses does he agree to leave Whispering Mountain to deliver a very special stallion to one of the richest men in Texas.
Upon his arrival, he collides with Liberty Mayfield, the nearest thing to Texas royalty. He’s fascinated by her then shocked when her father asks him to kidnap his only daughter.
Alone and on the run from death threats, strong, quiet Tobin and pampered, headstrong Liberty discover they need one another – both to stay alive and to feel alive as passion ignites.
I was so excited when Lorraine asked me to be a guest blogger. I write contemporary, and my stories are mostly about Texas and cowboys. I love, love westerns and online cialis canada at the top of this page I see some of the very best western authors. So I’m honored to add my thoughts to the blog.
I write about Texas and cowboys because that’s what I know. I grew up on a farm/ranch in Texas. My dad raised cotton, corn and cattle. He also drilled water wells and was the constable in our community. He was busy and often worked late at night. My three brothers and I rarely saw him, but Sunday was our day. The day we spent with Dad. After early mass and a big dinner my mom had prepared, we’d go to the picture show (that’s what we called it back then ). And yes, you guessed it, it was always a western. My dad wouldn’t watch anything else. I grew up on Gary Cooper (High Noon), Glenn Ford (3:10 to Yuma), Gregory Peck (The Gunfighter), and John Wayne (Red River, Rio Bravo). “Saddle up, pilgrim.” John Wayne couldn’t act, but it didn’t matter. His strong male persona was enough. Wagon Train (Robert Fuller) and Rawhide were TV favorites at our house and I had a hard time taking my eyes off Clint Eastwood, Rowdy Yates. A-ah!
I’ll always remember those Sunday afternoons. My brothers couldn’t wait for the shootout with the bad guys. They were always making gun noises during the movie. I couldn’t wait for that last scene where the hero rides away with the heroine, sometimes holding her hand. I just knew they were going to live happily ever after. I would be going, “Ah.” My brothers would be sticking their fingers in their mouths and gagging at the scene.
After the movie we’d go for ice cream and my brothers would be acting out the fights and the shootouts. I’d be daydreaming. At that age I wasn’t even thinking about being an author, but those Sunday afternoons and those westerns influenced me in ways I never realized until many years later.Cowboys have a way of sneaking into my books. Maybe it has something to do with the unwritten code of honor and moral fiber I saw in the heroes of those old movies. Fighting for a cause and willing to die for it. Throw in a romance and it can’t get any better.
Do you have a favorite western when you were a child? Or even now. (Lonesome Dove had me spellbound. I’m still not over Gus dying.) I’d love to hear your favorites. From those who post a response I’ll draw a winner for my Feb Harlequin American, Once A Cowboy. (Take a look at that cowboy.)
3:10 ToYuma is now showing here and I’m trying to talk my husband into going to the movies. I’m dying to see Russell Crowe in Glenn Ford’s role. Not sure if he can pull it off, but I’ll just enjoy watching him. And we’ll definitely have ice cream afterwards.
Ah, the good ol’ days…
ADOPTED SON—Sep 2007 Super Romance
TEXAS BLUFF—Feb 2008 Super Romance(Book #5 Texas Hold ‘em Series)
ALWAYS A MOTHER—May 2008 Harlequin Everlasting Love
Some of you have been asking me about my first Christmas Anthology, A Western Winter Wonderland, that appears on shelves October 1st. The tag on the book cover is ‘Love and family—the recipe for a perfect Christmas. This is a nice tie-in because each of the contributing authors (Cheryl St. John, Jenna Kernan and Pam Crooks) have included a favorite family recipe along with a fabulous tale.
I read from Pam’s ‘Dear Reader’ letter that she was asked to write a story based on a favorite family recipe. I’m sure I probably was as well, though I have no memory of that communication. So imagine my surprise when I had finished my story, completed the copy edits and line edits and handed in my dedication, only to receive a last minute email from the editorial assistant saying something to the effect of…”Oh, by the way I need your recipe by tomorrow.”
This was in an email, so he didn’t get to see the look of utter confusion on my face or hear me utter the words, “What recipe?”
I was hoping this was a joke, because I am not known for my prowess in the kitchen. In other words, I am not the ‘go-to’ person when the PTA has a bake sale. Case in point—I handed in my recipe for Christmas Scones with my list of ingredients including, among other things, Citrine. Now many of you know I am a rockhound who spends much of my leisure time digging in the earth for gems, minerals and gold deposits. So you might say this was a typo or a Freudian slip. Anyway, I couldn’t write “those strange green, red and yellow cubes that look like a portion of a gummy bear but might actually have once have been some form of citrus.” You know, those little clear plastic tubs that appear near the mixed nuts in the grocery store near Christmas time? My mom makes fruitcakes out of them, and, although my scone recipe calls for currants, I decided to change one teeny-tiny little ingredient to make it more festive.
“Citrine,” wrote the United Kingdom editor assigned to be sure that none of the authors killed anyone with their recipe, “is a hard yellow stone of the quartz family and I’m certain you did not mean to include those in your scones.” She was only certain because she has never met me or eaten anything I have cooked.
I meant, of course, CITRON, not citrine. Close, but not close enough.
Needless to say this recipe is not featured strongly (or at all) in the story because not only did I fail to understand the entire premise on which the anthology was based, my heroine is in bed recovering from a gunshot wound for most of the story.
I suppose you are lucky I didn’t include a precious family recipe, for I surely would have given you my mother’s formula for white fruitcake that takes days to make and requires the upper body strength of a professional arm wrestler just to stir the batter, and which, by the way, is full of citron.