In fact, I love rodeos so much, I have a whole series of books that’s about… you guessed it – Rodeo!
In my latest release, the hero in the story is a bareback rider.
If you aren’t familiar with the sport, bareback riding is much like it sounds. There’s no saddle. No pad.
The cowboy is basically trying to stay on the back of thousand-pound wildly bucking horse holding onto his leather rigging. The rigging greatly resembles a suitcase handle attached to a strap, which is placed on top of the horse’s withers and secured with a cinch.
Some say bareback riding is equivalent to attempting to ride a jackhammer with one hand. Bareback riders endure more physical abuse, suffer more injuries, and sustain more long-term damage than all other rodeo cowboys.
To compete, when the horse and rider bust out of the chute, the cowboy’s spurs must be touching the horse’s shoulders until the horse’s feet hit the ground after the initial move out of the chute. This is called “marking out.” If a cowboy fails to keep his spurs in position, he is disqualified. The bronc bucks and the rider pulls his knees up, rolling his spurs up the horse’s shoulders. As the horse comes back down, he straightens his legs, returning his spurs over the point of the horse’s shoulders, anticipating the next move.
A qualified ride requires more than just strength. The cowboy is judged on his spurring technique, the degree his toes remain turned out while he’s spurring, and his willingness to take whatever comes along during the ride.
In Keeping Christmas, Gage Taggart is a bareback rider on his way to making the national finals. He rides a motorcycle, has the world on a string, and is sure of his future… until a freak accident leaves him at the mercy of his best friend’s sister who just happens to be a nurse.
Here is an excerpt from their first encounter in the story:
There was no way on earth or beyond she was going behind the chutes. The last time she’d done that had cured her on rodeos and rodeo cowboys for life. She had no intention of repeating the experience. The very thought of going back there left her thoroughly disturbed.
She sent a text to Gage, telling him to meet her near the ticket booth. It was only after she hit send that she realized she should have mentioned she was the one there, not Trevor.
Gage would figure it out soon enough, she supposed.
She leaned against the corner of the ticket booth, out of the way, and watched the faces of those coming and going. Through the crowd, she caught a glimpse of a face that looked familiar as a cowboy jogged her way.
Tally sucked in a gulp of air, unprepared for how much Gage had changed since she’d last seen him in person. The boy she’d had a crush on had morphed into a very handsome man. His dark brown hair was shorter, his shoulders broader, his body a finely-tuned machine of muscle. She noticed a scar on his right cheek that hadn’t been there before, yet it only added to his rugged appeal.
But his eyes were the same magnificent shade of blue, and his lips still appeared incredibly kissable. When he looked at a little girl wearing a pink tutu over her denim overalls, his grin kicked up the left side of his mouth just as she remembered.
He didn’t appear to have gotten taller than his already six-foot height, but he looked stronger and more capable than he had all those years ago.
Tally noticed several women eyeing him as he made his way through the crowd. He didn’t even seem to notice them as he scanned the faces, no doubt searching for her brother. She stepped away from the ticket booth and headed toward him.
She tried to catch his eye, but he looked right past her, as though she didn’t exist. Not that it surprised her. Guys like Gage weren’t interested in girls like her — girls who would never be mistaken for a model, had brains in their heads, and held to an unyielding set of morals.
Nope. There was nothing about her that would be of the slightest interest to a cowboy like Gage.
Tally waited until she was standing directly behind him to tap him on the shoulder.
“Gage Taggart,” she said in a voice she used to subdue unruly patients. He jerked and turned around to stare at her.
She could see him struggling to pull her identity from his memories. Insulted he hadn’t yet figured out who she was, someone jostled into her and she bumped against Gage. Something electric and completely unexpected arced between the two of them. Tally wanted no part of whatever it was and moved back.
Eager to get the torturous errand over with, she held the gear bag out to him. “Trevor sent me with this.”
“Where’s Trev?” Gage asked, taking the bag and looking around like her brother might suddenly materialize. “Who was I texting a minute ago if it wasn’t him?”
“That would be me. I’m sure you don’t remember, but I’m Trevor’s sister.”
“Tally? You’re little Tally?” He held his hand down near his waist, indicating the height he thought she should be.
She nodded and Gage broke into a wide grin.
“You were always such a cute kid with those big gray eyes, sturdy little legs, and chubby cheeks.” He reached out and playfully pinched her cheek. “You haven’t changed a bit. Aren’t you like, fifteen, maybe sixteen?”
For a chance to win a digital copy of Keeping Christmas, please share one thing that is bringing you joy today.
When I was thinking about a title for today’s blog post, of course my brain went right to Cowboys and Christmas. But from there, it tripped along over a fun old Christmas song. Emmylou Harris’ version is my favorite and the one playing on the soundtrack in my head this morning.
Truthfully, I’ve had Christmas on the brain for months and months (okay, maybe it’s been there since last Christmas!). But I have a good reason. Well, several good reasons, but I’m excited to share three of them with you today.
The first reason I’m so excited for the holiday season is my newly released non-fiction book – A Cowboy Christmas.
The book features interviews with rodeo and ranch families who share their favorite holiday traditions. Readers will find holiday how-tos, gift ideas, decorating tips and recipes (more than 70 of them). Some of the recipes are my family favorites and others come from the ranch and rodeo families. I tested (and tasted!) them all. I also had fun taking all the photographs of the food and how-tos. It was a great learning experience and one I’m so happy I had the opportunity to explore.
Several of the families mentioned in the book have had their lives touched by a special organization called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF steps in when a rodeo athlete sustains a catastrophic injury and is unable to work for an extended time. They’ve provided $8 million in funds to more than 1,100 athletes, giving the cowboys a hand up when they need it most. And every dollar donated goes directly into the fund without any administrative fees removed.
Back in 2013, I was working on the first book in a new series and reached out to the Justin Sportsmedicine Team with some questions. They kindly helped me and that’s when I first learned about the JCCF.
This is the sixth year I’ll donate ten percent of my book proceeds to the fund.
Any Shanna Hatfield book purchased between now and Christmas counts and will help benefit a great cause.
There’s nothing like a little Christmas glow to light up a holiday romance. . .
When the bright lights and big city lost its luster, Carol Bennett returns to her Montana hometown disillusioned and ready to embrace a simple, quiet existence. After she takes over the Christmas Mountain bookstore, she is determined to forget the glitzy world that left her with broken dreams. The store provides the perfect place to hide from her past while indulging her secret joy of reading sappy romances.
Then she encounters a cowboy too handsome for his own good and too insightful for hers. Although she adores his grandmother, rancher Tim Burke is stubborn, bold, and opinionated. He refuses to let her hide when he sees her all too clearly and does his best to draw her out of her protective shell.
In spite of her determination to detest the man, the sparks sizzling between them could light up the town’s Christmas tree. Carol has to decide if she’ll choose being brave and latching onto happiness or staying safely tucked away in her store.
Will two such opposite people be able to find love somewhere between romance and Christmas?
Also in its sixth year, I’m thrilled to invite you all to join me for the annual Cowboys and Christmas party taking place on Facebook November 7! There will be guest authors, game, giveaways, and so much fun! Hope to see you all there!
What about you?
What is one thing you are looking forward to about the holidays?
Post your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of Between Christmas and Romance!
Irish lass meets wild Texas cowboy in Christmas with a Cowboy. A one night stand in Ireland comes back to haunt them both when they’re thrown together in Texas this time. Throw a baby into the mix and the story gets even more complicated.
Maverick Callahan is a freewheeling Texas cowboy who loves to hit the honky tonk on Saturday night, dance with the pretty girls, and maybe get lucky once in a while. But a year ago he fell head-over-heels with an extraordinary woman that still haunts his dreams, and keeps him from being totally happy. He didn’t even know her last name so when she appears on his doorstep like a Christmas miracle he’s determined not to waste his lucky break.
Bridget O’Malley’s world had done a 380 degree turn around since the previous Christmas. She’s lost her beloved grandmother and is now the guardian of her best friend’s baby daughter. She’s thought about Maverick from Texas, but she didn’t even know his last name, and then her grandmother’s friend invites her to Texas to help her out for a while. If she’d known Maverick would be on the same ranch, she might have refused the offer, but it was too late once she was there.
Mama told me that I came from Irish ancestors and that my great-great-great-great-great grandmother, Miz Martha Cummins, came over here from Ireland. Mama kept Grandma Martha’s wedding ring in her little cedar jewelry box, and it’s been passed down to me. It’s nothing fancy, just a little band that her groom made for her out of a coin, but in our family we tie it into the girls’ wedding bouquets for their “something old.”
According to my DNA Mama was right, so it was a real treat to get to get to know Bridget since she comes from Cork County, Ireland. Of course, Maverick has Irish ancestors, too, so that made it doubly fun to write. I fell in love with Maverick in Cowboy Rebel, and throwing him into a situation with Bridget was so much fun. Hopefully all of you will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it—there’s always a little magic in the air when I’m writing a Christmas book.
And all y’all get a double cowboy Christmas present because my good friend, Sara Richardson is including, Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas in my book. So happy reading to all y’all!!
I’ll give away a signed copy of Christmas with a Cowboy!!
Linda Broday and I are celebrating the publication of our new book Longing for a Cowboy Christmas.
This is the second book we’ve done together. Last year, our stories appeared in Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms.
That’s the exciting part. The fun part is this: We are each giving away something special to one lucky reader. We can’t wait to see who you are.
“Brimming with holiday magic, this feel-good anthology of historical romance novellas, all centered on the cowboy mystique and second chances, will delight and charm.” Publisher’s Weekly
Margaret’s Story:A Love Letter to Santa
She turned his life upside-down. Could she really be the right woman for him?
Holly Sanders plans to make this the best Christmas for a town hard hit by the drought. Okay, maybe she’s overdone the bows, baubles and garlands. But is that a reason for the new blacksmith Tom Chandler to declare war on tinsel?
Tom doesn’t mean to play scrooge. But when his dog’s objections to the endless caroling gets them tossed out of his boarding house, he decides enough is enough.
The escalating battle takes an unexpected turn when he spots Holly struggling against the wind with an armload of presents and rushes to help her. Before he knows what happened, the green-eyed beauty recruits him to play Santa’s helper. After helping make one small boy’s Christmas wish come true, he’s utterly hooked, and suddenly has a wish of his own! But convincing Holly he’s the right man for her would require a miracle—and maybe even a little help from Santa.
Linda’s Story:The Christmas Wedding
As a late November storm batters her sod house, Rebel Avery’s thoughts are on the man she loves and plans to marry. Eight months ago, Outlaw Travis Lassiter had been captured and she fears he’s dead. To occupy her worried mind, she tells two small orphans she’s taken in how she used to celebrate the Advent and gets an idea.
The fledgling town of Hope’s Crossing has never had a Christmas celebration, so Rebel and the other women decide to make the entire town the Advent calendar. On their designated day, each home gives the children a treat. Day after day passes and it becomes increasingly apparent that Travis will not return. Rebel befriends a lonely recluse and gives her the only thing of value that she possesses—swaths of red satin fabric she’d saved for a wedding dress.
As they move toward the holiday, sagging spirits are renewed, a makeshift family is formed, and Rebel finds that through troubled times, love endures and conquers all.
Now tell us, are you an early Christmas shopper or do you wait till the last minute?
Linda’s prize Margaret’s prize Collections make great hostess and teacher gifts (hint, hint).
I hope you had a fabulous Christmas full of love, joy, and loads of fun (and goodies – goodies are so important)!
I adore the holiday season. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes – the magic that dances in the air and the hope lingering around each corner.
In fact, I love the season so much (and my readers), I hustled to write one more Christmas novel and release it before the end of the year.
So here it is! A brand new historical romance releasing today.
I hope you’ll take a look!
He needs a holiday miracle. . .
She’s prepared to deliver one
Claire Baker does nothing halfway. She makes it a point to follow her heart, even when it leads her to a small Eastern Oregon town to stay with relatives. In truth, she loves Hardman and the people there. Which is why she wants a recluse she met in the woods and his adorable daughter to join in the community holiday celebrations. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes she’s fallen hopelessly in love with both of them.
All Grayson Carter wants is to be left alone. That’s why he built his cabin in the middle of more than a thousand acres of woods, seeking to disappear from the world and keep his daughter, Maddie, safe. Then a beautiful interloper appears and becomes quite determined in her efforts of drawing him back into the land of the living. As she brings him and Maddie Christmas cheer, he realizes falling in love with her could be the best and worst thing he’s ever done.
With Christmas fast approaching, a mystery to be solved, and old-fashioned holiday fun, this sweet historical romance will fill your heart with the joys of the season.
The Christmas Melody, available now on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ya2sk7tr
The Hardman Holidays series is a full of fun characters who celebrate the holidays in a big way in their small town of Hardman, Oregon.
The Christmas Bargain ( Book 1) — As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in teh small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.
The Christmas Token ( Book 2) — Determined to escape an unwelcome suitor, Ginny Granger flees to her brother’s home in Eastern Oregon for the holiday season. Returning to the community where she spent her childhood years, she plans to relax and enjoy a peaceful visit. Not expecting to encounter the boy she once loved, her exile proves to be anything but restful. (99¢ today!)
The 1940s and 50s has been called the golden age of Christmas music, and for good reason. White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Winter Wonderland and Rudolph, The Red Nose Reindeer are just some of the treasures that came out of this period.
Following World War II people were ready for messages of hope and change, and song writers were only too eager to comply.
Some of the greatest Christmas hits have fascinating and even funny stories behind them. Silver Bells, written in 1950, is one of them.
Inspired by the number of different kinds of bells heard at Christmas, the songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evan decided to write a song about them.
They called the song Tinkle Bells.After they finished writing the lyrics, they played it for Evan’s wife and were shocked then she almost fell off the couch laughing.
She then explained that the song might make people think more of the bathroom than Christmas. The two men didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about until she explained that mothers used the word “tinkle” to get their youngsters to use the toilet.
The two men wisely changed the song title to Silver Bells.
Jay and Ray weren’t the only songwriters saved from making a mistake. Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane wrote Have yourself a Merry, Little Christmas for Judy Garland to sing on screen.
What they hadn’t counted on was Judy rejecting their song and threatening to walk off the set unless the lyrics were changed. In the original song, they’d written that the two lovers might never see each other again. Have yourself a Merry Christmas/it may be your last/next year we’ll be living in the past.
Judy knew that wasn’t the message that people wanted to hear in times of war. She sent the song back for a rewrite. Though Martin and Blane were convinced it was a mistake, they gave the song more upbeat lyrics and scored a hit.
Another hit was inspired by a parade. Gene Autry had been invited to be a special guest at the Hollywood Christmas parade.
Fearing that his prewar career success was behind him, he was delighted to be greeted by thousands of screaming youngsters. It seemed he had not been forgotten.
However, Gene soon learned his mistake. The children weren’t screaming for him. They were screaming for the man behind him.
“Look, Ma,” one boy yelled. “Here comes Santa Claus.”
Gene Autry had been upstaged, and his worst fears had been realized. The screaming children had no idea who he was. Later, he recounted the incident to his composer friend, Oakley Halderman.
Halderman laughed. “Sounds like a song to me.”
The two men worked on the song together. Here Comes Santa Claus became Autry’s first hit in a decade, and helped to relaunch his career.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is The Little Drummer Boy. What is your favorite?
Christmas is such a wonderful time to be together with family and share in healthy doses of love and laughter. My empty nest is back to peak capacity with my college student kiddos back home, and this mama is loving it! We have a puzzle going that my daughter and I work on together. We play board games nearly every night. Now if I could just find time to wrap all the gifts stuffed in my closet.
You know what I need? I need a cowboy hero to ride to my rescue and wrangle all those stray gifts, brand ’em with paper and bows, and herd them under the tree. Maybe what I need is this guy:
I don’t write for Harlequin, but I have to admit, this ad made me smile.
And with Christmas right around the corner, I have a great virtual stocking stuffer idea for you.
The Christmas Heirloomis on sale for only $2.99 for the e-book version at all major retailers through the end of December. Stuff your own stocking with a little Christmas cheer or surprise a friend with an e-gift. All you need is their email address to send them a copy.