Discovering the West – on Two Wheels

One of the things you may not know about me – I ride motorcycles. It’s my husband’s second love (after flying), and I learned to adore it, riding behind him for more than 100,000 miles. 

Then I learned to ride. I’ve had 5 now, and I’ve ridden probably 200,000 miles on my own. All our vacations used to be taken on motorcycles, and I’ve been from Mexico to Canada, California to Florida and most places in-between, on two wheels.

 

You may have seen them-articles about “Why I ride a Motorcycle”.  This is a subject that fascinates me. Maybe because no one ever seems able to explain it well. I thought for a while that it was because the answer couldn’t be expressed in words – that the emotion couldn’t be conveyed to someone who had never done it.  But that’s not it either.  I have another theory; that the answer is so multi-faceted that it can’t be described in a few sentences.  Yes, the experience is individual but there are points of commonality. 

In a car I never would have experienced:

  • The awesome vistas of Wyoming, where the land is so open and rolling, that from the top of a hill, you can see how the glaciers carved the land, and how time has softened its harsh effects.
  • In the badlands of Utah, the delicate multicolored striations in the crumbling ledges made me wish I knew how to dye cloth to be able to recreate it on fabric.
  • The vast open sky of the Four Corners area, with the dramatic red stone monoliths seeming to rise out of the ground in the distance.
  • The never-ending green covered prairie of Canada, with the wheat rippling in great waves in the wind.
  • Small towns in the middle of nowhere, shutting down the main highway that runs through town for a Fourth of July parade complete with tractors pulling hay wagons festooned with bunting and carrying the local beauty contest winners.
  • Real country stores with wooden floors and pot-bellied stoves surrounded by rocking chairs – not to be trendy, but because the old-timers sit there.
  • The howling aloneness of the Canadian Rockies, where the mountains stretch seemingly forever.

True, I could have traveled to all these places in a car. But on the bike, I didn’t go looking for them.  In a car we generally tend to ‘Go Somewhere’, you have a destination in mind, say a National Park.  You drive there, experience it, and drive home.  On a bike, I like to have a destination too, but the destination is not the reason for the trip. We “happened upon” most of the above places on our way to somewhere else.

Another part of my theory is that experiencing life from the seat of a motorcycle is more real and indelible than a car experience.  Follow me on this one, it’s kind of weird.  I believe we’ve been so indoctrinated by our “socialization” to be able live so closely together, that we lose the sensitivity to really experience life to the fullest.  The physical and mental rigors of riding a motorcycle scour that protective layer off, and allow the details of life to sink in to the pores of our consciousness. 

Think about it.  Imagine watching a rain storm from inside a house, and then imagine experiencing it on a motorcycle; black clouds ahead, and the straight road is leading right into them.  Before you get there, there is a temperature drop, the wind buffets you, you smell the rain in the air, but more than that, you feel the storm inside of you…it almost feels like a small electrical current humming inside your body.  An experience like this is naturally going to remain with you longer than watching rain come down outside a window. 

Food tastes best, outdoors, right?  I think life is sweetest when you’ve been on the bike long enough that your “normal life” has receded to the background, and you are truly living in the moment, happening upon the next treasured memory.

How  about you? Ever ridden a motorcycle?

Thinking Positive Takes Work

I love when God or the universe if you prefer, tells me exactly what I need to hear some days. And it’s even better when that reminder leads to not only one blog post, but two! This happened last month as I struggled to find a post topic. When I went to Starbucks to pick up my morning tea, I said I couldn’t think of a topic for my post. The fabulous manager and incredibly perceptive person, Caitlyn said, “And now you’re putting that negative energy out there.”

 

Caitlyn’s words reminded me I’d been backsliding on positive thinking. (Click here for the post inspired by a dear friend Jinger who started my positive thinking journey.) I smiled and responded, “I don’t know why I’m worried. I’ll think of something. I always do.” My fear eliminated, at home when I read through my blog ideas, the file entitled “Sayings that tick me off” caught my eye. Thinking someone else might need a gentle nudge about turning a negative into a positive, I wrote this post.

Do you see a woman’s face or a man playing an instrument?

Just as the picture here illustrates, most things come down to how we view them. One saying on my ticked me off list was “too blessed to be stressed.” For me, this felt too Pollyanna and like ignoring stress. I can’t do that. Plus, stuffing things down never works. (But they make for great books!) I need to actively fight stress. I prefer the staying “Pray more. Worry less.” or “Be Still” Psalm 46.10. Then there’s “Stars don’t shine without the darkness.” Yes, we know the road will at times be rough for everyone. But when stuck in the darkness, thinking rough times makes the good moments shine brighter offers me no comfort. I prefer, “Stars don’t shine in the day.” That reminds me day will come, though the night feels endless. It also says something positive can come out of what has happened. Though that thought doesn’t make going through difficult times easier. However, when the night recedes, just as it’s easy to forget the stars during the day, it’s easy to forget what I learned.

Sometimes simply changing a word can change a negative to a positive. Can’t to can is the obvious one. But here’s another less obvious example. Instead of saying I’m struggling to find a post topic, what if I say I have to work to find them? The first is negative, while the second if positive. I have to work to discover topics indicates I will find one. The hard work will pay off. For me to remain positive, I have to watch for words like struggled that can trip me up.

How did I get two posts out of Caitlyn’s comments? When I saved this post under May’s scheduled date, I discovered my day was May 5. I thought if I posted these musings for June and wrote about the history of Cinco de Mayo for May I’d be ahead for once!

Today I’m giving away the T-shirt pictured here and a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy since that book was released when I started my positive thinking journey. The heroine, Cheyenne also refuses to let her medical issues destroy her positive attitude. To be entered in the random drawing, share your favorite positive thinking advice or how you keep a positive attitude.

My Worst Date Ever

By Laura Drake

I know, Valentines is over, but Karen Kay’s romantic ‘meet’ story last month reminded me of mine, and it was very different than hers.

My Southern California apartment manager set me up. Really. This woman I hardly knew except to pay rent to, called me out of the blue telling me that a guy in the complex had noticed me, and asked if she’d introduce us. My silence must’ve telegraphed stunned, because she rushed on to say that he was a successful businessman, polite in the old-school way, and kind of shy. He was raising his two kids all on his own… Before she could launch into a saving-kittens-from drowning-story, I said, okay, half to make her stop, half because I was curious to meet this throwback.

She knocks on my door that afternoon, introduces him and takes off. There I stood, not knowing what to do with this shy, good looking man on my doorstep. He invited me out that night, and I said yes, because I couldn’t say no to that cute, little-boy smile.

He took me to dinner, and proceeded to drag me through every detail of the horrific divorce he’d just gone though . . . for TWO HOURS. I’m sitting there thinking, He may be cute, but I’m so out of here.

Then he tells me his goal is to be married within the next year. Wow. Really? I NEVER planned to marry again. And he has full custody of his two kids. I’d never had kids – never wanted them. I couldn’t wait to get home.

He dropped me at my doorstep, and looked like he wanted to kiss me, but didn’t.

Then he asked me if I wanted to go for a ride on his motorcycle that weekend. He has a motorcycle? I LOVE motorcycles! The wind in your face, the thrill of speed, wrapping your arms around that strong chest . . .

Okay, so one more date. At least he couldn’t talk about his divorce while we were riding, right?

Luckily, I didn’t find out until after we were engaged that the apartment manager felt sorry for him, and was setting him up with random single women from the complex – he hadn’t noticed me – he didn’t even know what I looked like!

That shy guy and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this month!

He went from the worst date I’d ever had to my best friend. Who knew that could happen?

I’d love to hear your first date stories in the comments!

I’m Like, Totally Your Huckleberry

Lots of us have had tough years personally before, but not in my lifetime have we as a human race had such a difficult year. If you’re like me, New Year’s held a new significance and you’re thankful to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Hopeful for 2021, I tried writing about the activities I desperately miss and appreciate more since COVID-19. I hope this year to return to treating myself to a mani-pedi (I’m so relieved it’s closed toe shoe season!), getting a haircut every six to eight weeks instead of twice a year, going to lunch with friends and sitting close enough we don’t need walkie-talkies to converse, and window shopping. Somehow instead of being the hopeful post I intended, I found myself needing a break from thinking about COVID and the harsh realities it’s brought crashing down on our lives.

Also needing to laugh, I turned to a book I discovered in Glassboro, New Jersey visiting my son. When the title caught my eye, This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book, I had to open it. The dedication had me LOLing. “This book is dedicated to the eminent individuals whose words are parodied herein. We’d like to imagine each of them, living or dead, getting a chuckle out of it. We only wish we could invite them all to dinner. * That would be, like, totally an amazing party. *Except maybe Hannibal Lecter.”

 

 

The book takes famous quotes and inserts the phrase like, totally. Having been part of the generation that thought those words were so cool, I couldn’t stop reading. The next thing I knew I was reading quotes to my husband. So today, in hopes of making you smile and showing how adding two words can change a sentence, I’ve tweaked some famous quotes.

  • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in like, totally rising every time we fall.” -Nelson Mandela
  • The way to get started is to like, totally quit talking and begin doing. -Walt Disney
  • Life is what happens like, when you’re busy totally making other plans. -John Lennon
  • To be or like, totally not to be. -William Shakespeare
  • When you reach the end of your rope, like tie a knot in it and totally hang on. -Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but like, totally by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson
  • It is during our darkest moments that we must like, totally focus to see the light. -Aristotle

Here’s some modified western/cowboy sayings from grammar.yourdictionary.com.

  • Some cowboys have like, totally too much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.
  • When you’re throwin’ your weight around, be like, totally ready to have it thrown around by someone else.
  • Always like, totally drink upstream from the herd.
  • Never ask how stupid someone is ‘cause they’ll like, turn around and totally show you.
  • The only good reason to ride a bull is to like, totally meet a nurse.

And my favorite…

  • Never like, jump a barbed wire fence totally naked.

I hope these changes to famous quotes made you chuckle. To be entered in the random drawing for today’s giveaway of the sparkly Peace sign and a signed copy of Home on the Ranch:  Family Ties share a quote and like, totally parody it in This Is Like, Totally a Quote Book style. Here’s to 2021. May your year be blessed, and wishing you like, totally the best year ever!

 

Barks To Live By

As I waited in the pharmacy for my flu shot, I checked out a book display. Among various inspirational books was Wise Dogs by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and Dale C. Spartas. The book pairs words of wisdom with beautiful dog photos. The small book brightened my day and got me thinking.

Animals have always been there for me during good times and rough patches. They never judge, love unconditionally, are fantastic listeners, and never share my secrets.

Our newest addition to the family, Addie.

But pets offer more than companionship. Studies show they can improve our mood and immune systems, reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. (A common statement in my house when someone’s cranky is “Will you pet a dog to lower your blood pressure and calm down?” It’s also a handy excuse. “Sorry. I can’t _______. I’m lowering my blood pressure now.”) There are stories of people who would’ve committed suicide if not for having a pet to care for.

I have a “Dogilosophy” coaster. If you can’t read it in the picture it says, “Listen more than you speak. Act like you have purpose. Appreciate a simple life. Give more than you receive. Be happy with what you have. Be a best friend.” What fabulous advice. Ever since, I’ve tried to follow this.

Jack and foster Mindy helping me write this post.

I’ve added to this list of what dogs and pets have taught me from Wise Dogs, bestlifeonline.com, and the Huffington Post.

  • Live in the moment/Enjoy life/Enjoy the journey—I think this is especially important now with social media. How often do we see people ignoring those around them in favor of their phone? Some people are so busy posting what they’re doing they’re not really present in what’s happening. I’ve learned sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Wise Dogs says, “Who you’re with is always more important than where you are.”
  • Walk more—Very few of us get enough exercise. I know I don’t. (I’m adding walking the dogs more to my resolutions.)
  • Drink more water—Again I’m adding to things to work on in 2021!
  • Greet everyone with enthusiasm/Jump for joy when you’re happy—We don’t celebrate successes and the positives in our lives enough. Dogs do. Finding a stick, barking at a squirrel outside the window, their human coming back after checking for mail are all celebrated with gusto.
    Jack greeting my youngest son with enthusiasm!
  • Everyone needs a hand to hold and a heart to understand—This has been difficult with COVID-19. We need to find other ways to stay connected such as notes and phone calls.
  • Play and run daily—We need to have more fun!
  • Be loyal/Defend and protect those you love—Truly good friends are a rare gift and should be treated as such.
  • Don’t hold a grudge/Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship/Leave the past in the past—I’ve fostered dogs who came from terrible situations that are still capable of love. They don’t let their tragic past steal their future.
  • Family doesn’t have to be blood—I’m a big believer the one and the theme runs through many of my books.

Don’t have the time or space for a pet? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs or playing with cats or dogs. Or, visit a friend with a pet. I bet you’ll receive health benefits.

As we thankfully approach the end of 2020, I pray 2021 is better for the people who have suffered or still are and may we all be a more like pets. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Wise Dogs. “May your dreams defy the laws of gravity.”

Today’s giveaway is a “live like someone left the gate open” (one of my favorite sayings) mug and A Cure For the Vet which contains my book The Rancher and the Vet. My heroine, Avery McAlister, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. To be entered in the random drawing, comment on this question. Of the above lessons from dogs, what’s your favorite?

 

Nature’s Meteorologists

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

As I’ve said a time or six dozen, my maternal grandparents were Iowa dairy farmers. My grandfather was a short, stoic German man who possessed a loud voice and strong opinions. Getting to know him and earn his respect wasn’t always easy, as my husband, Kevin discovered.

My Grandpa Walter saw my husband as a city kid who knew nothing of farm life. (Which was true.) As a child someone shared an animal proverb with Kevin. When a cat washes behind its ear rain is on the way. On one visit, Kevin noted one of my grandmother’s barn cats washing behind its ear, and shared the weather prediction with my grandfather. My grandfather naturally thought this city kid couldn’t know what he was talking about. A while later, Kevin set off to pick up my mother a hour or so away and asked my grandfather to ride shotgun. On their way back to the farm, the skies opened up. Not only did it rain, it poured. One of those driving rains that makes it difficult to see when driving.

That day proved to be a turning point for my husband and grandfather. Kevin showed my grandfather he knew something about his world, and my grandfather developed a new respect for my husband. From that day on until the day my grandfather died, cats washing behind the ears predicting rain became a running joke between them.

Farmers and ranchers often looked to animals for indications of the weather, and reliance on these methods isn’t as silly as it sounds. While people might not have known when creating the proverbs, now science often explains the animals’ behaviors. For example, cats ears may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure causing them to wash behind them when rain is coming.

Just for fun and to hopefully make your smile, here are some other animal proverbs from the Farmer’s Almanac.

  • If a cat sits with its back to a fire or sleeps with all four paws tucked under, bad weather is coming.
  • When a cat licks its fur against the grain, prepare for a hailstorm.
  • When a cat sneezes, rains is on the way.

 

But cats aren’t the only animal meteorologists…

  • If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather should be fair. If it stands with its tail to the east, the weather will turn bad.
  • When a dog eats grass or sheep turn into the wind, expect rain. (Based on how often my dogs eat grass, I should be building an ark, so I’m not a big believer in this one! ?)
  • If a bull leads the cows to pasture, bet on rain. But if the ladies lead the bull, the weather is uncertain.
  • The more brown a wooly bear caterpillar, the milder the winter.
  • (This one isn’t super practical since it requires a
  •  tape measure. I can’t see many farmers measuring mole holes! ?) If the mole hole is 2 ½ feet deep, expect severe weather. If it’s 2 feet deep, it won’t be as severe, and 1 foot deep indicates a mild winter.
  • When pigs gather leaves and straw in the fall, prepare for a cold winter.
  • Fat rabbits in October and November indicate a long, cold winter.
  • Bats flying late at night mean fair weather.
  • Wolves howl more before a storm.
  • Predict the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps.
  • Hornets building their nests high in a tree means a snowy winter.
  • Cows laying under a tree in the morning means rain is on the way.

And from the plants:

  • When leaves “turn their back to you” and curl somewhat, watch out for rain.

To be entered in today’s giveaway for the Live Happy sink soap mate, a llama car air freshener and a copy of A Cure for the Vet, leave a comment on your weather proverb.

 

Musings From A Budding Optimist

2020 is off and running for me with a big event. Tomorrow To Tame A Texas Cowboy is released! 

I’m also starting out the new year with a shiny new outlook thanks to some advice I received. 

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter teaches us something. I also believe the simplest action sometimes has a profound impact. That’s what I discovered when I entered Maxine’s Uptown Boutique, in Pitman, New Jersey and met Jinger Cahill. What she told me changed my outlook. Today, I’m passing on her wisdom.

My heroine, Cheyenne Whitten, a barrel racer, is definitely an optimist. For me, that sometimes proved difficult. My strength has been seeing possible pitfalls in situations. Because of that, I never would’ve called myself an optimist and have tried to change that. I’ve heard “it’s how you look at something” before. It’s the old the glass is half-full, not half-empty idea, but I’ve struggled to put those words into practice.

Jinger taught me what I give voice to, I give power to and attract more of. When I said I struggled with negativity, the universe heard, “Hey, I love negativity! Give me more!” As I’m writing, the vision of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me, Seymour” popped into my head! 🙂 

Over the years, people have told me not to worry. I’ve been given what I call the Frozen advice—Let it go.  I’ve been told not to get my panties in a bunch. I thought it was great advice, but wondered how to accomplish it? How do I rewire my brain? Then Jinger shared a quote from Mother Teresa. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” The light bulb went off. My brain screamed, “I understand it now!” Instead of concentrating on what not to do, I needed to give my brain something else to focus on! The way for me to fend off those emotions was to work on being more positive.

I’ve never been a big believer in affirmations. Imagine Natalie Wood’s character, Susan in Miracle on 34th Street. When she doesn’t find the gift she asked Santa for under the tree, in the car on the way home she mutters, “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” That was me when I tried Jinger’s affirmation, and like Susan, I received a surprise.

“Great I Am, White Light of Truth (you can tailor to your own beliefs), only good will come to me. Only good will go from me. So be it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Those few words reframed my thinking. They remind me to stay positive. When I slide back into old ways, they remind me to look at the flip side of a situation and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I shouldn’t.

If what I’ve shared resonates with you, great. If not, file it away. Someone you meet may need to hear it one day. Whichever the case, thank you for being here today, and I wish you a blessed 2020 full of possibilities. 

I have two giveaways today. One person will receive the Chakra bracelet from Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique. Another will receive the Goldstone bracelet, and both will receive a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about the best or most impactful advice you’ve received. 

Click here to buy a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. Click here to like and follow Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique on Facebook.  

More Real Life Inspiration

I intended today’s blog to be on The Pack Horse Library program, but that will have to wait for next month. As I sat trying to write that piece, life has intruded changing my focus.

My current fosters Noelle, Dash and Charlotte

For those of you who don’t know, rescuing animals has become a large part of my life since my boys left the nest. I foster dogs with Cody’s Friends Rescue, and I handle administration for a primarily cat rescue, A Voice for All Paws. Being involved with these organizations has brought me both incredible joy and reeling sorrow.

As with many authors, my non-writing loves often find their way into stories. Such is the case with the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy which I recently turned in. A character playing a major role bringing Cheyenne and Cooper together is a rescued German Shepherd. She is based on and named in memory of Dennis Pisarski’s amazing service dog, Penny Lane, both of whom inspired the seed idea that became this book.

Cooper Abbott is contacted by the local shelter to foster Penny. After her owner dies, Penny is dumped in the shelter. One of my favorite scenes in To Tame A Texas Cowboy is when Cooper receives a call from the shelter. For me, this scene speaks volumes about my hero.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When Penny arrived, we had to carry her outside, and then she cowered and whimpered until we took her back in. Now she’s quit eating. You know what that means.”

With her owner, the anchor in her life gone, unless something changed, Penny’s case would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of fear or depression, she’d hide in the back of her kennel. People would walk past her to more outgoing dogs. Those would be the lucky ones brought to meeting rooms to turn on the charm and find forever homes. But not Penny. Being withdrawn, she’d remain in her kennel, sinking further into herself, as her time slipped away or her health declined.

 “I need her out now, and since you’re currently without fosters, I started with you. Plus, you and Rowdy would do wonders for Penny,” Kelli said.

“If I weren’t moving, I’d gladly take her.”

“Moving? Where? When? How did I miss that news?”

After Cooper explained about his opportunity to take over the practice in Wishing, Kelli said, “She won’t make it here.” Kelli paused. “I’m making an exception. Because you’re a vet, we won’t worry about medical needs. Plus, Wishing’s only a couple hours away. You and Rowdy can work your magic on Penny, and when she’s ready for adoption you can bring her back. Or, maybe you’ll find an adopter in Wishing.”

“Then sure, I’ll foster her. I’m at the clinic, but I can be there in a few.”

Fifteen minutes later, Cooper knelt inside the kennel and stared at Penny Lane curled into a tight ball in the far corner. His hands tensed around the leash he held, but other than that he remained still, giving her time to adjust to his presence. Most dogs would be all over him by now. Jumping, barking, begging for attention, but not this girl. She’d already given up.

“Hello, Penny. I hear you’re having a rough time.”

The dog’s eyes opened, but she remained motionless. The trauma and loss she’d endured shone in her wide brown eyes.

He inched closer, watching for signs of aggression, but she’d pulled so far inward, she barely acknowledged him. She just plain didn’t care. He continued working closer. “Don’t give up, sweetheart. I know you’re missing your human, but there’s someone else out there for you. Someone who’ll love you, and wants, maybe needs you, too.”

Penny lifted her head the tiniest bit to stare at him. The look in her warm brown eyes was different than it had been a minute earlier, more haunted now, but with something else.

She thinks you’re a hypocrite. You talk the talk but aren’t big on walking that walk yourself.

Cooper shut out the mocking voice. “I’ve lost someone, too. I know it hurts like hell, but you can’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.”

Olivia’s face flashed in his mind. Oval and delicate, framed with long blond hair and big blue eyes. Giving, and sweet as ripe Texas peaches in July, she’d had so much to offer him and the world.

They’d had their lives planned. After a small intimate wedding and a quick honeymoon, they’d return to College Station. She’d get the SeizureReader into production and run the budding company. Then they’d focus on saving the money for his practice where he could offer rescues and those who couldn’t afford it, reasonably priced vet care. They’d both be doing what they loved. They’d have each other, and eventually a family of their own.

But life hadn’t gone as planned. Two years, and yet at times, it felt as if they’d been together yesterday.

“You’ll get through this, Penny.” Cooper hooked the leash to Penny’s collar, slid his arms under her middle, and scooped her up. “Let’s get go home.”

Now it’s your turn. To be entered in the random drawing to win the picture frame and To Catch A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment about an animal who’s changed your life for the better.

 

Please remember, Adopt! Don’t Shop! For more information on Cody’s Friends Rescue or A Voice for All Paws or to see their adoptable pets, click on the organization name. If you’re not in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can click Petfinder and enter your zip code to find adoptable animals in your area.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes We Eat Giant Pickles at the Movies

When I talked to a dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson, about writing a blog on misconceptions Easterners hold about Westerners, she recommended the children’s book Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Byron Barton. The book’s young hero laments about what he’ll find when he moves out West. Not only did I get a good laugh, but the book fit perfectly with many stories friends shared on the subject. As Sharmat and Barton’s hero says at the end, “Back East they don’t know much about us Westerners.” Because of this fact, getting regional dialect/phrases, career details and settings that add richness to a story can be harder than readers realize because many industry professional are Easterners.

 One thing the hero in Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport claims at the beginning is, “…there’s cactus everywhere you look.” I chuckled because apparently, we have a cacti cover problem on Texas romance novels. When I asked author friends and readers on Facebook what Eastern folks get wrong about the west, I received a few cactus stories. Fact is, we don’t see many cacti in east or central Texas, but often there they’re on covers of novels set there. Other authors found saguaros on covers for west Texas novels though they don’t grow in Texas.

Often authors must explain regional phrases or words to editors. For example, what some call a dish towel, others call a cup towel. A pumpjack or nodding donkey is part of an oil well. It was suggested she say pumping jack. Ah, not only no, but hell no. As the author who shared the story said, she’d be “laughed out of west Texas if she’d used that term.” Another thing people don’t understand is y’all isn’t singular. A live oak is a specific type of tree, not a tree that’s actually alive. Texas barns are most likely weathered and red, not the giant red barns seen in the East and Midwest.

Another big issue was horses. One friend’s pet peeve was when authors put a hero on a “well-behaved” stallion. First, stallions are rarely “well-behaved,” and second, stallions often can’t be near other horses. Another author friend said she spotted a cover where the male model had a bridle thrown over his shoulder… upside down! According to her, “No one who has been within 20 feet of a horse would carry a bridle that way.” 

A friend and amazing artist, Jane Monsson also said her pet peeve is when authors get horse details wrong. From her art, it’s apparent she loves horses and knows a lot about them. I admit, I’ve worried about messing up with horse anatomy or gear. After all, I write western romance. There’s going to be horses in my stories and I need to get it right. While I know which end of a horse is which, I’ve never owned one and am nowhere near an expert.

How do I get details right enough so as not to offend experts like Jane? Edgar R. “Frosty” Potter’s cool book Cowboy Slang. The book contains an illustration “Parts of a Horse” and “Parts of a Horse Skeleton.” (I haven’t needed the later, but one never knows!However, I’ve frequently referred to the section “Colors of Horses.” This book of one hundred twenty-three pages is a treasure, containing great western sayings, info on cattle brands, barbed wire, cattle ear crop types, and how cowboys use a bandana! For horse gear, I refer to the illustrated horse gear section of a volunteer booklet from Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. 

The other way I check facts or do research for my stories is by finding an expert. But that’s a blog for another day.

Now it’s your turn. Share with me what your pet peeve that people get wrong about the west or us Westerners and be entered to win a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy and the Book Club wine glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship Garden

 

Here at the junction, we had a great week with some of our Fillies blogging about Cabin Fever. Then yesterday, Trish did a thought provoking blog on her bucket list. These blogs brought to mind something I wanted to share that is sorta a followup to all the blogs. Didn’t take me long to dump today’s outline and post something I’ve been thinking about.

Here in the Texas Panhandle we didn’t have hardly any winter, so very little Cabin Fever.  We’ve been in a serious drought, which is great for cotton farms, but bad for about everybody else.  Oh yeah, we did have one day of snow flurries, but the next day neared 90 degrees!  Only in the Texas Panhandle!

Friendship Garden

The tending of a friendship garden is no small matter and is not to be taken lightly. Many a beautiful garden has gone to ruin for lack of proper care.  Here are some tips that may prove helpful.

Prepare the soil by tilling it with God’s unconditional love. Remove any rocks of judgment or critical attitudes. Pull out any roots of fear and jealousy. Destroy the seeds of gossip before they can even take root.

Seeds of friendship may be found most anywhere. Plant with care, using kind words and a listening ear. Germination is usually spontaneous, so be watchful. To ensure growth, water with kind deeds and a generous heart.

Make sure you give each friend plenty of room to grow.  Be realistic–don’t expect a marigold to smell like a rose. Fertilize generously with laughter and joy. Water deeply with tears of empathy and prayer to develop healthy roots and a stronger, more stable friendship.

Cultivating a friendship garden requires patience, perseverance, and time–but it’s worth it!

Thanks to Karla Dornacher, The Blessing of Friendship: A Gift from the Heart.

I can’t help but think that the farmers and ranchers during this drought and centuries before used parts of this hoping to get a good harvest, much like we might harvest our friendships.

Hope do you think people in the early days developed their friendships? No doubt every part of our country had different ways, so I’m excited to hear what you all think.

 

I’m thrilled that my newest contemporary western, and the second in my Kasota Springs Romance series, will be out next month!

To one lucky winner, I will give you the option of getting this book as an eBook early release or any other book of mine on Amazon.  I’ll also send you a $10.00 gift certificate from Bath and Body Works!

Late breaking news, I just got word from Kensington that The Tycoon and the Texan has been marked down to 99 cents as a special  Kindle Monthly Deal. It’s at Amazon today, but should be at other vendors later this week.  Go check it out!