Roping Christmas

Picture yourself as the owner of a small business (you and one employee). You’re struggling to compete with bigger, more established businesses. Then, you suddenly find a goose laying golden eggs (okay, so it’s not a goose but a billionaire who is interested in hiring you – but close enough to a goose with golden eggs!). All you have to do is prove yourself and your business savvy to that ol’ goose.

Unbeknownst to you, part of earning his business is going to involve a quest to learn things you never dreamed you’d known how to do. 


That’s the basis for my new sweet holiday romance, Roping Christmas. And it releases tomorrow! 

There is still time to pre-order it today (just $3.99!). When you do, you can enter your purchase info into this form, and you’ll get a free Bonus Bundle that includes a short story that leads into the book, a recipe, rodeo photographs, and a set of printable, unique, western gift tags! 

 

A focused cowboy, a distracted executive, and a hilarious quest make for an unforgettable holiday . . .

Wyatt Nash is a professional tie-down roper, a good ranch hand, and not too shabby when it comes to attracting women. But according to his five-year-old niece, he needs to work on both his roping skills and his dating game. His sister thinks he needs to settle down. And don’t get him started on the advice he gets from well-meaning friends. When his rodeo sponsor, billionaire Jon Sinclair, asks for his assistance in tutoring a clueless city girl about Sinclair Industries, Wyatt doesn’t feel like he can say no. Then he discovers he’ll be teaching none other than the one woman on the planet who wants nothing to do with him.

Ashley Jarrett would do almost anything to turn her small publicity firm into a huge success. When Jon Sinclair expresses interest in working with her, she readily agrees to his crazy idea to have her learn about his company through hands-on projects. Not only is she forced far outside her comfort zone, but the man documenting every bumbling misstep she takes is an infuriating cowboy she’s determined to ignore.

Packed with small-town charm and the wonder of falling in love, Roping Christmas is a sweet holiday romance sure to bring laughter and infuse hearts Christmas cheer.

Available on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Also, I want to invite you to an upcoming celebration! 

You’re invited to join in a celebration to officially kick of the Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. The fun gets underway November 12 at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) on Facebook in the Wholesome Hearts Events group with guest authors, giveaways, and more!

 

For a chance to win, fill out this form. The prize includes a beautiful Coldwater Creek fleece throw, an autographed copy of Roping Christmas, a box of delicious holiday tea, Godiva chocolates, a tube of body cream from Bath & Body Works, a boot Christmas ornament, and a swag bag to carry all the goodies.

The giveaway runs through October 30, 2020. The winner will be notified by November 15, 2020, and will be given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics. The giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Just for fun, I’d love to know what you’d do if you were in Ashley’s shoes? Would you prove yourself to the billionaire, or would you look for a less demanding goose? 

 

The Fourth of July, Frontier Style

The Fourth of July was celebrated big time in the Old West.  From mining camps to wild cow towns, those early settlers used the day to whoop it up with dances, speeches, parades, foot races, and turkey shoots.  Not to be left out, even American Indians celebrated the day with pow-wows and dances. 

Some celebrations even took place in remote areas. In 1830, Mountain man William L. Sublette, on his way to Wind River with 81 men and 10 wagons, celebrated the holiday next to a large 130-foot-high rock.  Claiming to have “kept the 4th of July in due style,” Sublette named the large boulder Independence Rock.

Independence Rock

Located in what is now Wyoming, the rock became a signpost for travelers on the Oregon and Mormon trails. Companies arriving at the rock by July fourth knew they had made good time and would beat the mountain snows.  Celebrations included inscribing names on the rock and shooting off guns. 

Not every community celebrated with guns and fireworks.  In 1864, a mining town in Nevada decided to celebrate its first fourth with a dance.  Music, flag, and dance committees were formed. Of the three, the music committee was the most challenging as the only musician was a violinist who had an affinity for whiskey. His drinks had to be carefully regulated before the celebration.  

Stag Dance

Since the town lacked a flag, the flag committee pieced one together from a quilt.  Fortunately, a traveling family camping nearby provided the blue fabric.  The family included a mother and four girls, which meant more women for the dance.  The problem was the girls had no shoes, which would have made it difficult to dance on the rough wood floors.   The miners solved the problem by taking up a collection of brogans, and the dance went off without a hitch. 

William “Buffalo Bill” Cody made history in North Platte, Nebraska on July 4, 1882, when he mounted an exhibition of cowboy “sports.”  This was the beginning of his Wild West shows and what we now call a rodeo.

Not to be outdone, Dodge City did something different two years later for the Fourth of July to attract attention and business; It hosted the first professional Mexican bullfight on U.S. soil. Though the event was a financial success, it was not without controversy.  Many, including Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, denounced the sport as barbaric.

Compared to the rest of the country, Denver’s first Fourth of July celebration was oddly subdued. Drinking or carousing was not allowed.  Instead, the Declaration of Independence was read, followed by prayers, “chaste and appropriate oration” and wholesome band music.

This year, most public celebrations have been canceled.  But we Americans will find a way to keep “the 4th of July in due style.”  Just like they did in the Old West.

How are you and your family celebrating the Fourth this year?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter. Amazon

B&N

 

Kaylie Newell: It’s Rodeo Time!

For our last guest of the month, we have romance writer Kaylie Newell. Yippee! Get ready to talk about cowboys! She has an exciting new book plus a giveaway so leave a comment to enter the drawing. Please make her welcome!

 

Hello, everyone- It’s such a pleasure to be here at Petticoats & Pistols talking about my new release, Betting on the Bull Rider!  This cowboy romance was so much fun to write, mostly because the characters took the reins (literally and figuratively!), and told me exactly where they wanted to go.

My hero, Jake Elliott, is a bull rider, so researching was especially fun.  The Wild Rogue Pro-Rodeo is our local rodeo here in Southern Oregon, and my husband and I take our girls every year.  Drawing on those experiences, as well as time spent with our ranching friends, helped me write this story, and give it what I hope is texture and life.  There’s nothing like the sweet smell of a horse up close, or the feel of an old saddle creaking underneath you.  But most importantly, there’s nothing like that feeling of loving someone who holds your heart in their hands.

I’d love to hear from you all about your own rodeo experiences.  Do you go?  What’s your favorite event? (Mine’s the cowboy watching, of course.) I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy, so be sure to comment!

Thank you again for reading!  Xo

Here’s an excerpt from Betting on the Bull Rider, which is the second book in my Elliotts of Montana series…..

 

Jake looked around. The stands were packed. The Copper Mountain Rodeo always brought in a good crowd, but today was especially perfect, with the sun coming out for the first time in days, and the temperature rising into the sixties—a rarity for this late in September.

The sharp smell of sawdust and animals filled his senses. The sound of the music, of the crowd cheering, of hooves thundering over the arena floor, made him anticipate what was coming. He’d drawn a bull named Tequila Sunrise, who was small and wiry, and who had a habit of spinning like an absolute thing of beauty. But it was his name that Jake kept coming back to. Even now as he stretched his arm over his chest and felt the muscles and tendons there pull with a distinct tightness.

Tequila… Tequila, or more specifically tequila shots, and the night at the Wolf Den kept trying to work their way past his frontal lobe. But out of a need for pure survival, Jake had pushed it to the furthest, darkest corners of his mind these last few weeks. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about Alice, to wonder what she was doing, or who she might be doing it with. And when he had gone there in a moment of weakness, he’d climbed onto his motorcycle and headed to the fairgrounds, a place where he’d always felt the most in control, to scrub his mind clean of her. So there were only thoughts of rodeo, of getting back into the game, and the money, where he belonged.

Still, his heart had a way of betraying him. At the weirdest times, when he should’ve been one hundred percent invested in climbing on the back of a bull and thinking only of staying the hell on. She always came back to him. Her face, her scent, the way she’d felt in his arms just that once. But it’d only taken one time to show him a glimpse of a life he didn’t feel like he deserved, or that he’d be any good at. What if he failed? What if he failed her? In the end, the night they’d slept together had been a fork in Jake’s country road—embark on a journey he wasn’t altogether sure he’d finish, or take the easy route, the route that was tried and true, and had never caused him any heartache. Not once.

So, here he was. A coward in the simplest terms. He pulled his Stetson low over his eyes and rolled his head from one shoulder to the other. It didn’t matter. He was back on the circuit. And hell, maybe it wouldn’t last much longer, but wasn’t that what he’d told himself he’d wanted? To rodeo until he couldn’t anymore? And he’d continue telling himself that, right along with the fact that he didn’t need Alice.

He didn’t need anyone…

* * * * * * *

Kaylie writes romances, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction and won numerous awards along the way. She was a finalist in the Romance of America’s RITA contest for Christmas at the Graf.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Amazon Author Page

Bareback Riders and Rodeo Romance

I love a good rodeo. It’s true.

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. 

Read a Book, Have a Party, Help a Cowboy! By Pam Crooks

Just like football players, hockey players, soccer players, etc, professional rodeo cowboys get hurt, too.  Sometimes badly and without the protection of over-sized pads. They are athletes in every sense of the word, and when they are knocked out of the competition due to injuries, their paychecks take a big hit, too.  

That’s where the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund (JCCF) comes in.  The Justin Boot Company teemed up with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to form the JCCF as a non-profit charity organization.

To learn more:  https://www.justincowboycrisisfund.org

From the JCCF website:

“JCCF had awarded nearly $8 million in need-based financial assistance to almost 1,100 injured rodeo athletes and their families.

100% of all proceeds go to eligible athletes.”

I love that.  100%.

Who hasn’t heard of big name charities who pay their CEOs hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses and benefits and who rake in millions of dollars to pay fancy overhead when the donors think they are helping the needy?  They are, of course, but on a smaller level and not as much as they think they are.

Also from the JCCF website:

“This uncommon practice for a charitable organization (100% of proceeds) is made possible by the joint commitment of the Justin Boot Company and the PRCA, which underwrite all administrative costs associated with managing the JCCF, leaving all monies received through contributions (and as investment earnings) to serve their intended purpose.”

Bravo!!

And that’s where the rest of us come in.  Raising the funds to help the JCCF do their wonderful and charitable works of which 100% goes to qualifying professional rodeo cowboys.

Well . . . it just so happens that TODAY Shanna Hatfield is hosting her 6th annual “Cowboys and Christmas Facebook Party” and it’s bigger than ever.  I have the honor of kicking off the festivities, and I’ll be joined by sister filly Kit Morgan–and Shanna, of course. Fifteen guest authors in all.

Shanna explains:

“The party gets underway Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (so that’s 11 Mountain, Noon Central, and 1 Eastern). Entries for giveaways will remain open until the following morning, so even if you can’t participate in the party during all the action, you can still check in after the fact and get in on the goodies!”

Trust me.  There will be a TON of goodies. 

Please come!  Just click – Cowboys and Christmas – to join the group!

It’ll be fast-paced and fun.  Here are the particulars:

We hope to see you there!

 

 

Do you have a favorite charity?  Do you try to give to the less fortunate at this special time of year?  Are you coming to Shanna’s party? (I know some of you are!)  Are you a little cautious about donating to big-name charities because of their high overhead?

 

Racing Christmas

I love a good rodeo. There’s nothing quite like the excitement that snaps in the air while watching athletes, both human and animal test their skills as they compete.

It was while my husband and I were in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all rodeos – the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo – several years ago that the idea for a series came to me. We were sitting in the airport, surrounded by cowboys as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t help but ponder how fun it would be if a cowboy fell in love with a girl he met at the airport.

From there, the Rodeo Romance series was born and I recently released book six – Racing Christmas!

 

winter wedding

She’s racing to save the ranch

He’s struggling to win her heart. . . again

Brylee Barton has just one goal in mind: win the barrel racing world championship. Not for the glory, but for the attached cash prize that could save her family’s ranch. When an injury leaves her at the mercy of the very same copper-headed, silver-tongued cowboy she once vowed to loathe forever, she has no choice but to swallow her pride and accept his help.

Fun-loving, easy-going Shaun Price has a million dollar smile, more charm than he can channel, and a string of ex-girlfriends rumored to have started their own support group. When the one woman he’s never quite managed to get out of his head or heart needs his assistance, he jumps at the chance to help. Little does he realize how challenging it will be to keep from falling for her all over again.

With the holiday season fast approaching, will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?

This sweet Christmas romance warms the heart, lifts the spirit, and touches the soul with its message of forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Don’t miss it!

Amazon

Racing Christmas support group

Excerpt:

Brylee opened her eyes and tipped her head back, watching as the pickup men rode into the arena. One went to catch Rocket while the other hastened her direction. The announcer and the clown told a joke as the medical team hustled toward her as fast as they could make it through the mud.

Frustration battled with anger as the pickup man approached. The last person on earth she wanted to see was that man.

“Maybe today would be a good day to die,” she muttered as she tried again to move her foot from beneath the fence. If she freed it before he reached her, she could crawl over the fence and make her way back to her trailer without speaking to him.

Why couldn’t he have gone on ignoring her like he had the last five and half years? Why tonight, of all nights, was he going to force her to acknowledge him? Didn’t she have enough to deal with, like missing her opportunity to claim the winning title? Or the undeniable fact she looked like a half-drowned kitten that had been dragged through a pig wallow?

She thought of her wasted entry fee. Not to mention the hours it would take to get all the mud scrubbed off Rocket and her tack.

Wasn’t a no-score enough punishment without being forced to face the most arrogant, self-centered, childish man she’d ever known?

Trapped on her back in the mud, it seeped through her clothes, chilling her and making her fight the need to shiver. She questioned how she could exit the arena with even a shred of dignity when her pants oozed soupy mud like a toddler’s soggy diaper.

The slap of boots hitting the mud in the arena drew her gaze upward. A handsome face appeared above her as the pickup man leaned over her. Gray-blue eyes twinkled behind thick lashes and a smile full of even, white teeth gleamed in the arena lights. Shaun Price braced his gloved hands on his thighs and offered her an infuriatingly cocky grin.

Why couldn’t she have at least passed out and awakened far away from the infuriating, irritating, Adonis-like cowboy?

“Well, Bitsy, I see you’re still racing Christmas,” he said, his voice sounding as deep and rich as she remembered.

Brylee glowered at him. “You know I hate that name.”

“Yep, I sure do.” Shaun chuckled and stepped back as the medics surrounded her.

~*~

If you love cowboys as much as I do, I hope you’ll take a look at my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign, too! It’s a great way to help injured rodeo athletes who need a hand up!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! 

When Good People Make Bad Mistakes by Laura Drake

 

‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

– Al Franken

I’m fascinated by what makes good people make horrible decisions. I mean, we’re all doing the best we can, given what we know at the time, right? I explore this theme in a lot of my books, but never more than in my December release, The Last True Cowboy.

Carly Beauchamp has loved cowboy Austin Davis since first grade. Ask anyone in their dusty, backwater New Mexico town of Unforgiven, and they’ll say, “Carly and Austin” the way some say, “big trucks and country boys.” But after years of waiting for a wedding ring, Carly’s done with being a rodeo widow. She dumps Austin (again), but after a month she’s a pressure cooker, ready to blow. She heads to Albuquerque, where she’s not half of the C&A franchise. No heartbroken, “poor Carly.” Just an anonymous chick in a generic country bar. There she meets a man with ice blue eyes in biker leathers. They have nothing in common—except heartbreak. They pour out their pain while pouring the booze.

Horror hits when Carly wakes alone, but vaguely remembers she didn’t go to sleep that way. She calls around, to find that her mystery man never existed. He lied. About his name, his job . . . everything. She takes a morning after pill and goes home, determined to put this huge mistake in the rear view mirror. And she manages—more or less—until the doctor confirms her pregnancy.

Austin never meant to put his career on the circuit before Carly. She’s always been his future, his one and only. But now that she’s moved on, he’s beginning to see where he went wrong, and he’ll do anything to win her back. The only thing is, Carly’s suddenly acting differently, and she’s definitely hiding a secret—one that will test the depth of their love and open up a whole new world of possibilities.

So what do you think, P&P readers? Have you ever made a mistake that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Laura is away print copies of Nothing Sweeter and Sweet on You to one lucky winner picked at random from those who leave a comment.

Buy Laura Drake’s books here. 

Heart and soul. Cowboys and rodeos. Laura Drake has the amazing ability to give you all of it and leave you wanting more at the end.” Carolyn Brown, NY Times bestselling author

“Brilliant writing, just brilliant”–NYT bestselling author, Lori Wilde

 

 

Cowboy Fever – Rodeo Style

Hello Everyone!

It’s exciting to be part of Cowboy Fever week! I love small rodeos, so today I’m sharing with you some candid shots showing what happens behind the chutes before the rough stock competition begins. The time behind the chutes is surprisingly quiet, considering what happens after the gates are open and the broncs hit the arena bucking.

The cowboys tape up, put on their chaps, practice their form.

They also saddle their broncs, usually alone.

Then they wait near their chute and their horse until it’s time for their ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After that, of course, they ride.

Then make a graceful exit from the arena, ready to do it all over again the next chance they get.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look behind the chutes during Cowboy Fever Week!

Kari Lynn Dell: The Inadvertent Jogger!

It seems to be the nature of women to take any wonderous occurrence and turn it into a cause for stress and self-deprecation. So it is with my novel, Tougher in Texas, being named as a finalist in the Long Contemporary category of the 2018 RITA® awards by the Romance Writers of America®, awarded at their national conference during a glitzy ceremony. I had barely absorbed the news when I got a congratulatory call from my awesome writer friend Laura Drake, which immediately devolved into the inevitable panic.

“Oh my God, what am I going to wear?

Private online discussion groups were set up for all the finalists, and by noon on day one there was one thread about dresses, and immediately on its heels another about losing enough weight to fit into the dresses, and immediately after that a Facebook support group for everyone trying to lose weight.

Somehow, I don’t think this happens leading up to the Self-Important White Man Book Awards ceremonies, of which there are several.

But I am no better or worse than my sisters, so now that the snow has cleared I am endeavoring to carve off a few of the pounds acquired while telling myself I needed the extra calories to stay warm during the long, bitter winter. And of course this has to involve some form of exercise.

Runners often rhapsodize about something called an ‘endorphin high’, which apparently occurs when you punish your body until it begins to crank out its own painkillers in self defense. As thrilling as that sounds, I usually pass. My lungs are not meant to bleed, so I keep it to a nice stroll that doesn’t make my shins feel like they’ve been stuck with daggers. Given all that, you can see why I was amazed to find myself jogging the other night.

Obviously, I hadn’t planned to jog. If such a plan had crossed my mind, I would have had the sense to stay on my couch until it went on its merry way, as most of my thoughts are prone to do. On this particular evening, though, my husband asked me to bring his tool pick-up out to the far north hayfield, so he’d have something to drive home when he finished up for the night. It was a lovely evening, so I decided rather than having someone follow me over on the four-wheeler and bring me home, I’d just hike back.

I had to cross a pasture to get to the hayfield, but our small band of Longhorns were clear out in the farthest corner, so I left the gate open on my way out. I should know better. Longhorns can smell the breeze blowing through an open gate from a mile away.

I parked the pick-up and set off for home. Halfway across the flat, I realized the Longhorns had stopped pretending to graze and were marching directly toward the gate, with a big black spotted cow taking the lead. I could practically hear her calling out cadence to be sure everyone stepped along smartly. The bull, I noticed, seemed a little testy, rumbling and growling and shaking his horns.

Yikes.

I broke into a slow trot, blundering down the rock-strewn trail on one side of a large draw, hopscotching across the bog at the bottom and chugging up through the buck brush. When I staggered, rubber-legged and huffing like a steam engine, up the other side, the Longhorns were dead even with me. Worse, I was in the center of the pasture and the bull was glaring at me with evil intent. The lead cow, recognizing my dilemma, made a swift command decision. Forget the gate. She led them south instead, cutting off my direct line to the corrals.

Luckily, a smaller draw intersects the main draw and I was on one side of it with the Longhorns on the other, moving parallel. Ignoring the complaints of my oxygen-deprived body, I kicked into a brisk jog. The lead cow also picked up her pace. I stumbled over mounds of bunch grass and into gopher holes, my vision beginning to blur, but didn’t dare slow down. The side draw ends a quarter of a mile short of the fence and we were on course to collide at its head.

I drove my shrieking legs and hemorrhaging lungs onward, assisted by a healthy dose of adrenaline. The bull was twenty yards behind when I dove through the fence and sprawled on the other side, gasping for air. The Longhorns gathered to sneer at me, elbowing each other and snickering, then wandered off in search of other entertainment.

I shoved my aching body into an upright position, plucked wild rose thorns from my knee caps and examined a row of small puncture wounds from the barbed wire. My chest felt like I’d snorted cayenne pepper, my calves were starting to cramp, and I reflected once again that if this is what joggers call a natural high, I’d hate to see what they consider a low.

As for me—if this is what it takes to trim down, I’ll just go ahead and order that dress in a larger size. 

For more visit KariLynnDell.com or find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/karilynndellbooks.

 

Note from Ruthy! Kari has generously offered one paperback copy of “Tougher in Texas” and one e-copy of “The Long Ride Home” to two happy readers! Leave a comment to be entered!

My Western Bucket List

I love seeing new places. It doesn’t matter if it’s a famous as Yellowstone National Park or a little, out-of-the-way museum hardly anyone has ever heard of. There are so many places I’ve yet to visit that I would love to experience firsthand, but today I’m narrowing my list down to Western locations on my bucket list.

Yosemite National Park — Covering nearly 750,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada of California, this park is known for its granite cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls. About 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness.

U-shape valley, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Guy Francis, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon National Park  — One of the most impressive natural features on the planet, the canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. It has more than earned its name.

Grand Canyon from Pima Point. Photo by Chensiyuan, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Cheyenne Frontier Days — An outdoor rodeo and western celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming that has been around more than a century.

Mesa Verde National Park — Home to some of the the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan architectural sites in the country. Can you imagine walking in the footsteps of those who lived there more than nine millennia ago?

Square Tower House at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Photo by Rationalobserver, used under Wikipedia Creative Commons license.

Roswell, New Mexico — It might be kooky and touristy, but I’d love to visit the site of a supposed UFO crash. Plus, I’ll admit I loved the show Roswell, too. It’s also home to interesting history other than the famous UFO incident, including the fact that cattle baron John Chisum’s famous Jingle Bob Ranch, once the largest ranch in the country, was nearby.

Arches National Park — This park near Moab, Utah is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. I’ve seen the edge of this park in the distance while traveling through Utah on Amtrak, but I’d love to explore the park’s starkly beautiful high desert landscape.