Dylann Crush and Her Cowboy Playlist

Howdy! I’m Dylann Crush, USA Today Bestselling author of small-town and cowboy romances that will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love. I’m excited to stop in today! I want to chat about how I use music to inspire me while I’m writing.

Some authors associate a certain scent with their characters and some find visuals, such as photos, to represent characters or locations. I tend to rely on music to suck me into the story I’m writing.

Since I write small town contemporary and cowboy romance, I like to listen to music that reminds me of the locations and characters in my books, and thankfully, there’s no shortage of country songs. I’ve found the easiest way for me to connect to the emotion of the story I want to write is to create a playlist to listen to when I’m writing. This works for me on a few different levels.

First, it’s fun for me to spend some time thinking about my storyline and characters as I search for tunes. I’ll imagine the emotions my hero and heroine feel during different points of the story and pick songs that convey those feelings. For example, in my upcoming release, Kiss Me Now, Cowboy, my hero Justin is a professional bull rider. When building my playlist, I made sure to add some tunes that really make me think about the cowboy life like “Boys ‘Round Here” by Blake Shelton and “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” by Big & Rich.

My heroine Emmeline is a teacher, but she’s country through and through, so I added songs that make me think of a sassy, southern heroine. A few of my favorites are “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean and “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful” by Sammy Kershaw.

Em’s worried about her best friend returning to bull riding too soon and wants to get him away from the pressure he’s facing. She figures out a way to get him to agree to a trip to Paradise Island, a fictional island I created off the southern coast of Texas. I absolutely had to have some

Kenny Chesney on my playlist. His songs “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” and “Because of Your Love” make me think of the sun and sand and the ocean breeze.

Finally, Justin and Em go from best friends to lovers over the course of the story and listening to a few of the songs like “Yeah, Boy” by Kelsea Ballerini and “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” by the amazing Carrie Underwood helped me capture the range of emotions they experience as they fall in love.

My trick is to set up my playlist, then listen to it over and over again until I don’t even hear it anymore. As a mom of three two-legged kiddos and four four-legged kiddos, I’m always on the go and am constantly being pulled away from my work. So many distractions can make it difficult to hop in and out of the story. One benefit of having my book playlist is being able to listen to it when I’m out and about. I can hit play and my brain subconsciously continues to process the storyline while I drive kids around, cheer my youngest on at his sports events, or try to exercise my hundred-and-forty-pound Great Dane.

If you want to check out my playlist for Kiss Me Now, Cowboy, you can find it here.

Professional bull rider Justin Forza might have to trade his cowboy boots for flip flops to win the woman he loves.

Forzas aren’t quitters. That’s the motto professional bull rider Justin Forza’s dad has drilled into his head since the first time he climbed into the bucking chute. After a serious injury, doctor’s orders are to stay out of the arena. But if Justin can win one more championship, he’ll be able to continue the family legacy, set himself up for life, and finally confess his love to his best friend Emmeline.

Emmeline Porter lives by one rule: never date a bull rider. She’s seen the damage a bad ride can cause. As a last resort to stop Justin from returning to the rodeo circuit, she convinces him to take a trip to Paradise Island, a tropical haven off the coast of Texas. She hopes cutting Justin off from the pressure his dad is laying on him will give her best friend the clarity he needs to walk away for good.

The close quarters and island adventures put their friendship to the test, and it’s not long before real feelings surface and threaten to sweep them both away.

Pre-Order now: https://geni.us/KissMeNowCowboy


I’d love to gift one reader a signed paperback copy of Kiss Me Now, Cowboy when it releases in August! For a chance to win, just let me know which song you think would be a good addition to my playlist!

(Only US addresses eligible for signed print copy. International addresses eligible for e-book.)

Do You Read Series?

Readers tend to love series. But you may not know that there are more than one kind. Here are the basic types:

Dynamic Series – follows the same character or group through the series as they try to accomplish a large goal. The story arc is too big for one book and is fleshed out over multiple books.  Think: The Hobbit, or Harry Potter.

Static Series – each book is more an individual event or installment in the characters’ lives than a series of related events. Think: Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, or Babysitters Club. You know, Cozy mysteries.

Anthology Series – tied together by a world, a setting, or character relationships. The series can be made up of dynamic and/or static series. Think: Marvel or Hogwarts.

That ends the education part of the post, promise.

I only write the last type – mostly because I’m not smart enough for the first two! I’ve written three small town series – they’re popular and especially well adapted for Westerns.

But my very first series is different – because I didn’t mean to write a series! The first book I ever sold was The Sweet Spot,  a reunion story about a divorced couple with a ranch that supplied bucking bulls to the bull riding circuit. In the divorce, he got the bulls, she got their valuable semen. It won the Romance Writers of America RITA award for best first book that year (I’m still squeeing!).

But it sold in a 3-book series. I freaked out. I’d never written a series. I didn’t even know about the types of series above. So I followed the old adage, ‘Write what you know’. If you’ve been reading my blogs here, you know that what I know is bull riding.

So I wrote a series set in the world of professional bull riding. 

The second book, Nothing Sweeter, was about a woman on the run from her past, who ends up taking a job as groom on a remote, failing cattle ranch. She talks them into raising bucking bulls as a way to turn the bottom line to black. Oh, and falls in love with the curmudgeon owner. 

The last book, Sweet on You, is a road trip story. A combat medic veteran can’t stand witnessing soldiers’ pain any longer. She returns stateside, and takes a job as a member of the medical team that cares for injured bull riders at the PBR events – figuring she could do the job, since she had no respect of spoiled athletes. You guessed it, she falls for one.

I’m proud of their overall average star ratings of 4.6-4.8 on Amazon, but I have another reason for bringing them up today:

They’re on SALE!!

The Sweet Spot is $0.99, the other two are $1.99! Not sure how long the sale will last, so check them out soon!

What is your favorite type of series? Your favorite one?

Oh the Research!

I think I win the award for the weirdest research trip ever. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I wrote a Women’s Fiction, Days Made of Glass. My main character is a woman bullfighter. Not the Spanish cape-and-tights kind, the American rodeo kind. When a bull rider is thrown, these guys step between a ticked-off bull and the downed rider.

Yeah, in a word – NUTS.

To my knowledge, there has never been a female professional bullfighter, so the concept and potential for conflict intrigued me for a long time. I was dying to write that book.

As a two-decade-long fan of bull riding, I know everything that could possibly be gleaned from watching it on TV, seeing events in person and talking to bull riders. I corresponded with several bullfighters, who generously offered to answer my questions (the photo above is of one of them). But to write about a woman who attends a bullfighting school, I would need to know a lot more.

Have I told you how much I love the internet?  I looked up rodeo schools in Texas, and came across Lyle Sankey’s Rodeo School. I emailed him, and he wrote back right away, and told me to come on down!

Lyle Sankey (on the ground) and his staff.

My husband and I drove to New Caney, outside Houston, over a Memorial Day weekend. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I showed up at 8 am on Saturday armed with a notebook, pen and tons of questions.

I learned a lot of technique and strategy, not only about bullfighting, but all the rough stock events: bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding. Even if that was all I’d learned, it would have made the trip worthwhile.

But I learned so much more.

The students ranged from 7 (!) to their mid-thirties. There were two girls. Some students wanted to do this for a living, some wanted to try it for the adventure. Lyle and his staff were amazing. Teaching someone to ride a bull requires more than just knowledge — the instructors were constantly watching to be sure that the student wasn’t only listening, but hearing. When you’re scared out of your mind, you don’t pay as close attention as you would otherwise. Many times I heard the bull-riding coach say, “Stop! Look at me.” Then, in a calm voice, he’d make sure that what he was saying sank in. After every ride the coach would go over with the student what he did right, what he did wrong and how to do better the next time.

First, lots of practice

7-year-old Carl, stretches before his ride.

The transformation in the students in three days was amazing. Not only in their skills, but I could see their confidence and self-esteem rise, hour by hour.

Lyle was teaching life lessons along with bull riding. At one point, a teen was getting ready and the bull leaned on his foot against the back of the chute. He whined. Lyle admonished him: “It’s time to Cowboy Up. That isn’t just a slogan on the bumper of a pickup, you know.” The kid was embarrassed and mad. He rode for two jumps, was bucked off and stomped out of the arena. Lyle followed him, talking the whole way. The kid wasn’t buying it. Lyle went back again ten minutes later, when the kid had calmed down and was more likely to listen.

You can’t pay someone to care that much. Lyle is a special man, who really cares about people.

In listening to Buddy Bush, the bullfighting coach, I learned more about what a rodeo life is. They are basically dirt-road gypsies. The life is much harder than I’d realized. But watching Buddy’s face as he told me stories, I could see how much he loves it. He believes he’s the luckiest guy out there. Isn’t that what everyone’s looking for?

Me, with Buddy Bush, Bull fighter and coach

Thanks to the research, and Lyle Sankey, the bullfighting in my book will be authentic.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I didn’t get on a bull, or in the arena with one.But if I were twenty years younger, I would have!

This is the book that came from that research: https://books2read.com/u/b6rz2J