Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.
First of all, a family situation with my parents has taken over my life the last few days. I hope this post makes sense.
I’ve mentioned before how my mother listened to country music during my childhood. I’ve also said I wasn’t a fan. That all changed when I sold my first book with a cowboy hero and started listening to country music for inspiration.
What I love about country music is how many songs tell a story or contain a lesson. “I Drive Your Truck” (click here to listen) by Lee Brice tells the story of a man coping with a friend or relative’s death serving our country in Afghanistan. (It was inspired by the true story of a man who lost his son.) A song with a happier story is Brad Paisley’s “Mud On the Tires” (click here to listen) . A man’s asks a woman to go for a ride down by the lake in his new truck. It always makes me smile, want to hop in a truck, and go four-wheelin’. Then there’s Billy Currington’s “Good Directions” (click here to listen) where a city girl asks a country boy for directions. It plays every string of this happily-ever-after girl’s heart. (For an extra treat click here to listen to his “People Are Crazy”.)
But the song that’s speaking to me most, keeping me going, and inspiring me lately is Rascal Flatts’ “How They Remember You”. The song contends everyone will be remembered. The question is how, and the lyrics insist the answer is up to us. Dealing with aging parents has me thinking about the past and legacies. The song asks some important questions. The answers to which determine how we’ll be remembered. Here’s part of the lyrics. Click here to listen)
Did you make ‘em laugh or make ‘em cry?
Did you quit or did you try?
Live your dreams or let ‘em die?
What did you choose?
When you’re down to your last dollar
Will you give or will you take?
When the stiff wind blows the hardest
Will you bend or will you break?
We get one life shot. How we use it and what we do matters. Not all of us can save the world, but we can treat those around us with kindness, respect, and dignity. Life can be rough like it is right now. That stiff wind is definitely blowing hard. How do we keep from breaking? As my BFF Lori told me lately, take the lemons and make lemonade or my grandmother’s lemon bars! If we can’t do that, throw the lemons at the fence. At least that’ll burn off stress.
Everyone is struggling, and many of our coping strategies, like getting together with friends, aren’t available. So what do we do? We can text friends to say hello or check on them. Or better yet, call. A dear friend, Cathy has done this during COVID-19. Her call made my day! If you’re like me and have a stockpile of cards, send them to friends along with a note. We need to find creative ways to stay connected and show we care.
And if you think little actions don’t make a big difference, consider this quote from the Dalai Lama. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
To be entered in the random giveaway for an digital copy of my latest release, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment to this question. What is a song (doesn’t have to be a country one) that speaks to you or inspires you?
Take care, be safe, be kind, and tell someone today how much he or she means to you.
I’m so excited for the release this month of the fourth book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy. Mark your calendar. September 28th is the day Zane Logan’s story arrives.
Zane is the playboy in this group of heroes. Women fall at his feet, and there’s never been one he couldn’t handle. Do you see trouble coming? Of course you do, and you’d be right. Here’s an excerpt from To Marry A Texas Cowboy. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to mark your calendar.
“Are you okay?” Mr. Stop Traffic asked, stepping into the light. She must have showered him with champagne because his shirt lay plastered against his chest, revealing his well-defined abs. Oh, my. His chest looked as wonderful as his face.
“I need to get to the generator,” McKenna said, but she’d no sooner gotten the words out when the lights came on.
“What happened? There’s blood smeared on your face and sleeve, and your nose is swollen.”
McKenna resisted the urge to groan, his comment obliterating all her feminine warm fuzzy feelings. While she was thinking about how dreamy he was, he’d been worried about her bloody, swollen nose. She should’ve known something practical accounted for his interest.
“Something hit my nose when the lights went out.”
“Bet it was the cork from my champagne bottle. It got away from me when the lightning hit.” He glanced around. “Mrs. Severance, you’re a nurse. Come check this out.”
Thanks. Call more attention to the fact that I got hurt and probably resemble a rodeo clown, while you, dripping wet with champagne look…marvelous.
McKenna smiled and waved the older woman off. “No need. I’m fine.”
“If you’re sure,” Mrs. Severance replied.
She nodded as Mr. Stop Traffic moved past her, lifted a glass, and filled it with water from a nearby pitcher. Next, he grabbed a napkin, dunked the square into the water, and returned. Increasingly embarrassed and fighting the urge to run, McKenna reached for the napkin, but he pushed her hand away. “You’ll only smear it more.”
His brows furrowed in concentration as he wiped the blood from her face. His green eyes held tiny flecks of gold, making them almost sparkle. He had the most mesmerizing eyes. Paul Newman, never-forget kind, except in green instead of blue. Her breath caught in her chest. She couldn’t think. Oh dear. No man had ever sent such a warm rush of pleasure pulsing through her before. Not even during sex.
“You need medical attention. Your nose is really swollen.”
His words obliterating her sexual feel-good haze, she leaned forward, kept a smile on her face, and whispered, “Stop saying how swollen my nose is. I’ll deal with it later. Right now, I need to do my job.” Then she straightened and announced, “I’m fine, everyone. If I wasn’t, I’d say so. Now let’s get this party back on track and toast the happy couple.”
She placed her empty bottle in the tub and selected another. This one she opened before handing it to him. “Pour. Everyone’s waiting.”
“Hey, Zane,” came Ty’s voice again from the dance floor, “everyone okay back there? You about got that champagne poured?”
McKenna froze. Zane? While that wasn’t a common name, it wouldn’t be unheard of for two men named Zane to be in attendance tonight.
Right, and if you believe that then you’ve got less brains than God gave a fruit fly.
“Don’t get your britches in a knot, Ty. We’ll be ready for the toast in a minute,” Zane replied.
No, she couldn’t have done what it appeared she had—assumed her boss’s grandson was temporary hired help, ordered him around, and spilled champagne all over him.
This man couldn’t be Ginny’s grandson, the video game designer from Los Angeles, because nothing about this man said California. He was all Texas, including Wrangler jeans, a crisp black western shirt, a silver oval belt buckle with Texas written in the center, and freshly polished cowboy boots.
Despite the evidence, she had to be certain. “You’re not Ginny’s grandson Zane, are you?”
“The one and only.”
Despite their awkward first encounter, when Zane takes charge of his grandmother’s wedding planning business and becomes McKenna’s temporary boss, she doesn’t let him run roughshod over her. Zane doesn’t know quite what to do with a woman he can’t impress, and there are plenty of fireworks.
Today’s giveaway is a signed copy of book 3 in the Wishing, Texas series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, and an insulated cup, Less Monday More Summer. Since Zane steps in to run his grandmother’s wedding planning business, to be entered in the random drawing leave a comment what you enjoy most about weddings, a wedding trend you like, detest or just don’t understand.
I hate to admit this, but as a child, I wasn’t a fan of the country music my mother played music. But since I sold my first contemporary western romance in 2011, I’ve come to love it. The other day I thought about how many great songs have cowboy in the title. The first one that popped into my mind was “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” by Willie Nelson. For fun, I ran a searched to find others.
The first site on my search was http://www.myweddingsongs.com. The irony is the day before I wrote this post, I turned in revisions on To Marry A Texas Cowboy which comes out in September. In that book, my hero temporarily manages his grandmother’s wedding planning business! When I went to the website, I discovered the fourth Saturday in July is the Day of the Cowboy. If I’d known, July 25th would’ve found me in my recliner watching cowboy movies. Then I would’ve sat on the patio with a cool drink and listened to cowboy songs.
Since I missed this year’s day, I’m compiling my Day of the Cowboy playlist for Saturday July 24, 2021. Here’s my list so far.
Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys by Waylon and Willie
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? by Paula Cole
Should’ve Been a Cowboy by Toby Keith
Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks
Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) by Big and Rich
Cowboy Casanova by Carried Underwood
Cowboy Take Me Away by The Chicks
The Cowboy Rides Away by George Strait
Don’t Call Him Cowboy by Conway Twitty
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Willie Nelson
The Cowboy in Me by Tim McGraw
Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy by Chris LeDoux
Cowboy Love by John Michael Montgomery
Asphalt Cowboy by Jason Aldean
The Cowboy’s Hat by Chris LeDoux
Cowboy’s Back in Town by Trace Adkins
100% Cowboy by Jason Meadows
Cowboys and Angels by Garth Brooks
My Cowboy by Jessie James
Cowboys Like Us by George Strait
All Around Cowboy by Waylon Jennings
Cowboy Logic by The Charlie Daniels Band
Cowboys Are My Weakness by Trisha Yearwood (Oh, yes! Mine too!)
I Want a Cowboy by Reba McEntire
I Ain’t Her Cowboy Anymore by George Strait
Broken Down Cowboy
And two non-country music entries…
Put the Boy Back in Cowboy by Bon Jovi
I Wannt Be a Cowboy by Boys Don’t Cry
(This has a great video if you love watching Jon Bon Jovi!)
Since I was having a great time and in a wonderful mood after listening to many of the above, I searched for best songs about cowboys, and I had to include these.
Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi
Desperado by The Eagles
The songs that spoke to me as I compiled my list were “Cowboy Logic” by The Charlie Daniels Band, “I Want a Cowboy” by Reba McEntire, and “100% Cowboy” by Jason Meadows. To listen to those, click on the song title. Now I have another way to brighten the day when I’m feeling blue–listen to songs with cowboy in the title!
To be entered in the random drawing for the brand wine glass, the wine cover and a copy of Home on the Range: Colorado Rescue, leave a comment stating your favorite song with cowboy in the title and why you like it.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by today to talk about how men and women communicate differently. I appreciate all your wonderful comments. The laughs you gave me were priceless, and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine.
The winner of the Warrior Not Worrier cozy and Home On the Ranch: Colorado Rescue is:
Congratulations! Look for an email from me on how to claim your giveaway. Thank you everyone who spent part of your day with me. Remember—Don’t go jumping any barbed wire naked, and everyone take care and stay safe!
Last week was crazy for me. I played What if…with a lot of you for June’s Game Day. I had a pin removed from my right index finger on Tuesday. The fourth book in my Wishing Texas Series, To Marry A Texas Cowboy, was due Wednesday, and then it was the Fourth of July weekend. Lesson learned? Consult my calendar more carefully when scheduling events and deadlines.
But I have a surprise for you, Today I received the final cover for the book!
Though I don’t have a release dateyet, here’s the backcover copy for the book:
She lives by a set of rules. He aims to break each one.
When Zane Logan returns to Wishing, Texas, he’s shocked to learn that his grandmother has hired an assistant to manage her wedding planning business as she heals from surgery. With five marriages between his parents, just the thought of weddings breaks him out in hives. To look out for his grandmother’s financial interests, Zane takes charge. He doesn’t trust easily, especially when the assistant is prettier than a Texas spring day.
Childhood taught McKenna Stinson an important rule: never count on anyone but yourself. She dreams of working hard to have her own business. Stepping in for a successful wedding planner in a small town known for big weddings is the perfect opportunity…until her employer’s grandson announces he’s the new boss. He’s cynical about love and knows nothing about weddings—so why is she falling for him?
Even worse, Zane’s so hot McKenna has to make up two new rules: don’t date a man more attractive than you and never, ever, date a man you work with.
Being a mom to three sons has helped me create heroes. I learned early on males communicate differently. I wasn’t surprised to learn women use 20,000 words a day and men 7,000. In an interview Clint Eastwood said the first thing he did with a script was cut dialogue. Before I send a book off, I look for where my hero is too wordy. I also check for non “guy speak” dialogue. For example, men don’t use qualifiers. They don’t say “Would you like to…” or “What if we…” Nope. We women do that. Men simply cut to the chase. “Want to get pizza?”
From the book I just turned in, To Marry A Texas Cowboy:
Zane tried to tune out the women talking about how else Susannah would incorporate her color scheme. Who wanted to waste their New Year’s Eve at a wedding? Not him. Why did a bride have to ruin a perfectly good holiday and football night? From the color scheme, they chatted back and forth about whether they should eat or check out dresses first.
Ridiculous. It wouldn’t take him and his buddies a minute to decide. You hungry? No. Me neither. We’ll eat later. Done. Issue settled. But women made every discussion as hard as finding hair on a frog.
There are more ways men and women communicate differently, but I’ll leave those for another time. Today’s giveaway is a Warrior Not Worrier Cozy Sleeve and a copy of Home On The Ranch: Colorado Rescue. To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment about the way men and women communicate differently or your thoughts on my cover or the backcover copy. Basically, just leave a comment and talk with me!
Today, we’re playing a game of What if… As a writer, I do this all the time, especially when I get stuck in a story. Now you get to try your hand at what if. Post your answers in the comment section.
One lucky random winner will receive the cactus ring holder above and a digital copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy.
What if you woke up one morning in the Old West? Where would you be, and what would you be doing?
Here’s my answer.
I had trouble with this, except for knowing I’d be in Texas as I am now. Give me too many choices and my brain shuts down. My first thought was I”d be on a ranch. But doubts crept in. Could I hack working that hard? I turned to other options. Maybe I’d be a teacher, because I had just received my teaching certification when I sold my first two books to Harlequin in 2011. I thought about making lesson plans and not having an adult to talk to all day, and said maybe not. I considered being a Hurdy-Gurdy girl, (shout out to our guest blogger Jo Noelle for that idea) but I’m a lousy dancer and being on my feet that much didn’t sound fantastic. Would I maybe be running a boarding house? I ruled that out. Too much cooking and cleaning. Could I run a restaurant? Standing over a hot stove rated right up there with on my feet all day. I decided I’d be on a ranch. Hopefully with the four strong men in my family–my husband and my three sons. We’d be working the land. I’d have a huge garden similar to the one my Grandma Walter had. I’d be taking care of chickens and out helping care for whatever other stock and crops we raised. Best of all, I’d have horses, something I’ve always craved.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments, tell me where you’d be in the Old West and what you’d be up to.