Why do I write romance? I haven’t been asked that question as much as I expected, but there’s a simple answer. Life is tough.
I’m sitting at Starbucks staring out the window at the gray, misty world around me, and realize the weather matches my mood. As usual, life and my procrastination means I’m writing this closer to my deadline than I’d hoped, and recent events are weighing heavy on my mind and my heart.
Yup, life is darn tough. Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, et al have wreaked havoc with people’s lives. While those natural disasters are devastating, what truly tears at my heart is what destruction we inflict on each other. When did we get to the point where so many people believe the answer to their problems is violence against their fellow man? Someone cuts you off on my highway? Pull out a gun and shoot ‘em. Gone is a girl about to be a college freshman, along with all the good she could have done in the world. Something not right in your life? Take an arsenal with you to a Las Vegas hotel room and kill fifty-nine people who’ve done absolutely nothing to you. My heart breaks for the lives lost and those irreversibly changed because of the violence we perpetrate on each other.
Which brings me back to why I write romance. When I read, I don’t want to come away depressed. Life has a way of doing that on its own. The lyrics to Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” have run through my head since his death on the heels of the Vegas tragedy. “No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around. And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down. Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.” I write romance for the same reason I read it—to keep the world from draggin’ me down.
In my books my characters have been knocked around by life. In To Love A Texas Cowboy, when Cassie’s sister and brother-in-law are killed in a plane crash, she moves from New York to Texas because she become guardian to her niece. In Roping the Rancher, Colt, a single father to a teenage girl who’s left the military, struggles to find purpose and meaning in his life.
I write about characters discovering a strength they never knew they possessed and receiving help when they least expect it, but need it the most. Themes of finding an untraditional family when theirs has failed them time and time again run through my stories. Good always triumphs. The bad guys always get what they deserve in true Western fashion. My characters face life’s difficulties, but receive the reward for facing them and getting through the dark tunnel. At the end they find love, strength and happiness.
So that’s why I write romance—because life is tough. I hope when people read my books they escaped for a little while, and maybe they are filled with hope that they too, can find their happy ending.
Comment and let me know why you read romance to be entered in the drawing to win a Texas Starbucks mug, a gift card and either Roping the Rancher or To Love a Texas Cowboy.
Hi! Linda Broday and Winnie Griggs here. We’re very happy to kick off this 10 year Anniversary celebration for Petticoats and Pistols! It’s so exciting to reach this milestone.
Cowboys on the American Frontier loved to sing, no two ways about it. They sang to the cows, to the moon, to their fair ladies. Cowboys today still sing–probably more than they ever did. And others love to sing ABOUT cowboys. So, in honor of our tenth anniversary, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorites, both old and new.
So we put our heads together and came up with the list below. And if you have a yearning to listen to any of them, turn up your volume and click on the name.
Music. I’ve had a love affair with music most of my life. When I was four, I taught myself to play piano on my 3 octave toy piano (the black notes all played). My mother demanded to know who had taught me and could hardly believe that I had taught myself with the little music book that had been sent with the toy.
For me, I would hate to think of what life would be like without music. Music — it lifts our spirits, it lightens our load, it becomes our friend in rough or terrible times and a celebration when times are great. Those with evil intentions use music to promote their propaganda — knowing that music can capture the spirit of a people and cause people to think certain ways about things that they might not otherwise believe.
And so today, I thought we might talk a little about music with a little twist — music Native American style. Specifically the Native American Song. I’ll be giving away a free paperback copy of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE — the novel I’ve always said was my “musical.” Yes, some lucky blogger will be the winner of this novel today so please come in and leave a comment.
For those of you who haven’t heard many Indian songs, you might wonder what’s so different about a song in Native America. In truth, though many Native American songs are like any other song, there are different considerations that attach themselves to Indian songs. And it’s those considerations that I find fascinating.
Here’s a good place to start, where you can listen to some pow-wow music — the drum (this is a group — called the drum — it’s usually several men who sit around a drum and drum and sing — it is called simply a drum). Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12RPjPSklxA
Above is a picture of a drum. Some people might say “drum group,” but the usual language is simply “drum.” Off to the right here are a couple of pictures of a couple of young men dancing.
These pictures were gotten,by the way, from the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, NM. The photographer is Derek Mathews.
Here’s some incredible pictures of some of the singers in different drums.
Many of these songs are passed down from generation to generation. Some, however, are new. Here’s some more pictures of these incredible singers. All of these pictures,by the way were taken by Le Andra Peters and are from the website http://www.gatheringofnations.com
Now, just a little bit of info about Indian songs. This is from the book, The Indian How Book by Author C. Parker, who lived amongst the Indians. Every song has a purpose and no one sings outright for fear of awakening spirits that are attracted to the song you’re singing. The scales don’t necessarily follow what we know of as the chromatic scale, which follow our string instruments, more or less. But songs were owned and no one may sing another’s song without permission.
Many of the songs make you want to get up and dance — and dance and dance. Once again, referring to Arthur C. Parker and his book, The Indian How Book, he says, “It may be that these old Indians were pagans, whatever that word may mean, but certainly they knew how to make men feel that there was a Great Spirit in whom we lived and moved and had our being. Oddly enough, I have known white men and women, who felt the same way about the songs of the red people, and they have returned again and again to the councils of the Indians to drink in this feeling of mystery, this sense of unseen powers.”
Whatever the reason, I know that I love to dance at pow-wows. Something about the music gets into your soul and before you know it, you’re out there with the other dancers, dancing your cares away.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and I’d love to hear your take on many of these things. Did you listen to any of the pow-wow music? And if you did, tell me your thoughts.
SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is a book about song and about the power of song. Also THE LAST WARRIOR is about a particular song that’s so compelling, it frees the spirit. If you’ve enjoyed this blog, consider having a look at Amazon, where, if you are a part of KindleUnlimited, you can read LAKOTA SURRENDER, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN, LAKOTA PRINCESS, BLACK EAGLE and SENECA SURRENDER free. So, c’mon, join the fun and have a look at them today.
Favorite western movies? I’ve got a few. But if I had to choose, I think it would have to be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
This Hollywood classic, starring John Wayne as Tom Doniphon, Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance, Vera Miles as Hallie Ericson, and Jimmy Stewart as Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard has just about everything a western cinema fan could hope for: action, romance, right-over-might…and an unforgettable theme song.
Dorothy M. Johnson’s short story was made into a movie in 1962. It’s one of my oldest “movie” memories, as I was five years old when it made the rounds to the movie theaters and drive-ins.
Here’s the description of the movie according to Wickipedia:
Elderly U.S. Senator Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard and his wife Hallie arrive by train in the small western town of Shinbone, to attend the funeral of an apparent nobody, a local rancher named Tom Doniphon. Prior to the funeral, Hallie goes off with a friend to visit a burned-down house with obvious significance to her. As they pay their respects to the dead man at the undertaker’s establishment, the senator is interrupted with a request for a newspaper interview. Stoddard grants the request.
As the interview with the local reporter begins, the film flashes back several decades as Stoddard reflects on his first arrival at Shinbone by stagecoach to establish a law practice.
A gang of outlaws, led by gunfighter Liberty Valance, hold up the stagecoach. Stoddard is brutally beaten, left for dead and later rescued by Doniphon. Stoddard is nursed back to health by restaurant owner Peter Ericson (John Qualen), his wife Nora (Jeanette Nolan) and daughter Hallie. It later emerges that Hallie is Doniphon’s love interest.
Shinbone’s townsfolk are regularly menaced by Valance and his gang. Cowardly local marshal Link Appleyard (Andy Devine) is ill prepared and unwilling to enforce the law. Doniphon is the only local courageous enough to challenge Valance’s lawless behavior. On one occasion, Doniphon even intervenes on Stoddard’s behalf, when Valance publicly humiliates the inept Easterner. Valance trips Stoddard who is waiting tables at Peter’s restaurant. Stoddard spills Doniphon’s order causing Doniphon to intervene. Valance stands down and leaves. Doniphon tells Stoddard he needs to either leave the territory or buy a gun. Stoddard says he will do neither.
Stoddard is an advocate for justice under the law, not man. He earns the respect and affection of Hallie when he offers to teach her to read after he discovers, to her embarrassment, she’s had no formal education. Stoddard’s influence on Hallie and the town is further evidenced when he begins a school for the townspeople with Hallie’s help. But, secretly, Stoddard borrows a gun and practices shooting.
Doniphon shows Stoddard his plans for expanding his house in anticipation of marrying Hallie, and reminds him that Hallie is his girl. Doniphon gives Stoddard a shooting lesson but humiliates him by shooting a can of paint which spills on Stoddard’s suit. Doniphon warns that Valance will be just as devious, but Stoddard hits him in the jaw and leaves.
In Shinbone, the local newspaper editor-publisher Dutton Peabody (Edmond O’Brien) writes a story about local ranch owners’ opposition to the territory’s potential statehood. Valance convinces the ranchers that if they will hire him, he can get elected as a delegate to represent the cattlemen’s interest. Shinbone’s residents meet to elect two delegates to send to the statehood convention at the territorial capital. Valance attempts to bully the townspeople into electing him as a delegate. Eventually, Stoddard and Peabody are chosen. Valance assaults and badly beats Peabody after Peabody publishes two unflattering articles about Valance and his gang. The villains destroy Peabody’s office. Valance also calls Stoddard out for a duel later in the evening after Valance loses his bid for delegate. Valance leaves saying “Don’t make us come and get you!” Doniphon tells Stoddard he should leave town and even offers to have his farmhand, Pompey, escort him. But when Stoddard sees that Peabody has been nearly beaten to death, he calls out Valance. Stoddard then retrieves a carefully wrapped gun from under his bed and heads toward the saloon where Valance is. Valance hears he has been called out and justifies going out in self-defense. His wins his last poker hand before the duel with Aces and Eights.
In the showdown, Valance toys with Stoddard by firing a bullet near his head and then wounding him in the arm, which causes Stoddard to drop his gun. Valance allows Stoddard to bend down and retrieve the gun. Valance then aims to kill Stoddard promising to put the next bullet “right between the eyes,” when Stoddard fires and miraculously kills Valance with one shot to the surprise of everyone, including himself. Hallie responds with tearful affection. Doniphon congratulates Stoddard on his success, and notices how Hallie lovingly cares for Stoddard’s wounds.
Sensing that he has lost Hallie’s affections, Doniphon gets drunk in the saloon and drives out Valance’s gang, who have been calling for Stoddard to be lynched for Valance’s “murder.” The barman tries to tell Doniphon’s farmhand Pompey (Woody Strode) that he cannot be served (due to his race), to which Doniphon angrily shouts: “Who says he can’t? Pour yourself a drink, Pompey.” Pompey instead drags Doniphon home, where the latter sets fire to an uncompleted bedroom he was adding to his house in anticipation of marrying Hallie. The resulting fire destroys the entire house.
Stoddard is hailed as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and based on this achievement, is nominated as the local representative to the statehood convention. Stoddard is reluctant to serve based upon his notoriety for killing a man in a gunfight.
At this point, in a flashback within the original flashback, Doniphon tells Stoddard that it was he (Doniphon), hidden across the street, who shot and killed Valance in cold blood, and not Stoddard in self-defense. Stoddard finds Doniphon and asks him why he shot Valance. He did it for Hallie, he says, because he understood that “she’s your girl now”. Doniphon encourages Stoddard to accept the nomination: “You taught her to read and write, now give her something to read and write about!”
Stoddard returns to the convention and is chosen as representative. He marries Hallie and eventually becomes the governor of the new state. He then becomes a two term U.S. senator, then the American ambassador to Great Britain, a U.S. senator again, and at the time of Doniphon’s funeral is the favorite for his party’s nomination as vice president.
The film returns to the present day and the interview ends. The newspaper man, understanding now the truth about the killing of Valance, burns his notes stating: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Stoddard and Hallie board the train for Washington, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. With the area becoming more and more civilized, Stoddard decides, to Hallie’s delight, to retire from politics and return to the territory to set up a law practice. When Stoddard thanks the train conductor for the train ride and the many courtesies extended to him by the railroad, the conductor says, “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!” Upon hearing the comment, Stoddard and his wife stare off thoughtfully into the distance.
As a side note, one of the many reasons this film holds a special place in my heart is because I remember it as being the first time I made the connection between a scene onscreen representing a flashback. Remember the “flashback within a flashback” that the Wikipedia article mentions? The smoke from John Wayne’s cigarette moves and flows to take over the screen as he tells Jimmy Stewart, “You didn’t kill Liberty Valance. Think back, Pilgrim…” That smoke took us back to the truth of what had happened, and my five-year-old brain was shocked—and enamored, even then, with the idea that time passage, or remembrances could be shown through the haze of cigarette smoke. It was the moment of truth for Ransom Stoddard. John Ford was a genius for so many reasons.
For me, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance embodies the core of the west—good and evil, and how sometimes “the point of a gun was the only law”—and it all depended on the man who held the weapon.
Liberty represented the purest evil. Ranse was determined to fight him with the law he treasured—the desire to do things the legal way blinding him to the fact that Liberty didn’t respect that. In the beginning, his naivete is almost painful to watch, providing Liberty some rich entertainment. Though Tom finds it amusing, his growing respect for Ranse’s perseverance is portrayed to perfection by that familiar downward glance of John Wayne’s. Accompanied by the half-smile and his slow advice-giving drawl, the character of Tom Doniphon is drawn so that by the point at which he sees the handwriting on the wall and burns down the house he built for Hallie, the viewer’s sympathy shifts, briefly, to the circumstances Tom finds himself in.
But Ranse is determined to vanquish Valance one way or the other—with a lawbook or a gun—whatever it takes. In the final showdown, the lines of resignation are etched in Tom Doniphon’s face, and we know he is honor-bound to do the thing he’ll regret forever: save Ranse Stoddard’s life and lose Hallie to him.
I love the twist. Ranse truly believes he’s killed Valance. Again, to do the honorable thing, Tom tells him the truth about what really happened.
What do you think? If you were Ranse, would you want to know you really were not the man who shot Liberty Valance? Or would you want to be kept in the dark? If you were Tom, would you have ever told him? It’s a great movie!
Now you can sing along! (I promise, this song will stay with you all day long…)
THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
When Liberty Valance rode to town the womenfolk would hide, they’d hide When Liberty Valance walked around the men would step aside ’cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood When it came to shootin’ straight and fast—he was mighty good.
From out of the East a stranger came, a law book in his hand, a man The kind of a man the West would need to tame a troubled land ’cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood When it came to shootin’ straight and fast—he was mighty good.
Many a man would face his gun and many a man would fall The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance He was the bravest of them all.
The love of a girl can make a man stay on when he should go, stay on Just tryin’ to build a peaceful life where love is free to grow But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood When the final showdown came at last, a law book was no good.
Alone and afraid she prayed that he’d return that fateful night, aww that night When nothin’ she said could keep her man from goin’ out to fight From the moment a girl gets to be full-grown the very first thing she learns When two men go out to face each other only one retur-r-r-ns
Everyone heard two shots ring out, a shot made Liberty fall The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance He was the bravest of them all.
The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance He was the bravest of them all.
I had a different topic in mind for today’s post, one that had more of a western-themed flavor. But I saw an online calendar entry that had me pushing that topic aside for another day. Because today marks the 47th anniversary of the day the Beatles officially broke up. That’s right, on April 10, 1970 Paul McCartney gave an interview in which he confirmed that the band would no longer be performing together.
That little footnote on my calendar brought up a whole slew of memories for me. The Beatles were a big part of my teen years (and yes, I’m dating myself). I still remember watching that now famous 1964 Ed Sullivan show where they made their US debut and how different and exciting they seemed. Their music filled my high school years. My friends and I debated who was the coolest band member (I was firmly in the Paul camp). I remember the ‘is Paul dead’ debate and slumber parties where we tried to play the albums backwards to hear secret messages (we never heard any).
I still own a number of the early albums (yes, on vinyl). My favorite Beatles Album has always been Rubber Soul (as you can see from the picture below, it saw a lot of use in its time with me). One of my favorite songs on that album is In My Life. And of course they were the group that recorded Paperback Writer, a song that spoke to me in a whole different way.
So, in honor of the day, I thought I’d present a few items of trivia concerning the Fab Four:
The Beatles accomplished a number of eye-opening milestones with their chart topping music
They spent a total of 1278 weeks on the Billboard chart
They spent 175 weeks at number one on the charts
As of 2012 they sold over 2 Billion albums and sold over 585,000 of these on iTunes
They are the only band to twice knock themselves out of the top spot on the charts
As of 2013 the Beatles held the record for the most number one spots on the Hot 100 charts (I couldn’t find stats for later years)
In April of 1964 the Beatles claimed the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, as well as seven additional spots for a total of 12. This amazing record still stands.
They still hold the record for having more number one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other band
The Beatles are generally acknowledged to be the most photographed subject of the 1960s
As a group, the Beatles have been named to the list of the twentieth century’s most influential people
Frank Sinatra once declared the Beatles song Something to be the greatest love song ever written.
None of the four band members could read music.
In what is widely considered to be one of the hugest mistakes in all of the music industry history, in 1962 Decca records declined to sign the Beatles for their label because “groups of guitars are on the way out”.
So tell me, are you a fan of the Beatles? Do you have a favorite among their many fabulous songs? Do you have a story of how they impacted you in some large or small way? I’d love to hear all about it.