Why I Read, Write & Love Romance

cheryl_stjohn_logo.jpgWhy do you write romance?

This is a question authors are asked countless times. It’s the sister question to, “When are you doing to write a real book?” My answer to that one is, “When they stop paying me so well to write these fake ones.”

So why do I write romance?  Quite simply, because I love to read romance. I write romance for the same reason I’ve read romance for years: I love the genre. I love losing myself in the challenges and trials of two characters who are destined to be together.

I guess I want to believe that there’s somebody for everyone and that under the right circumstances and with a bit of that magic we call romance, happily-ever-afters are within our reach.

Before you scoff and call me a Pollyanna, I assure you I’m enough in tune with reality to lock my doors and warn my children of strangers. I watch the news and I see the state of our world. But what do we have if we don’t have hope?

Romance is all about hope.

stamps.jpgSeveral years ago after the release of one of my early books, SAINT OR SINNER, I  opened the most memorable letter I’ve ever received from a reader. She told me how much she’d enjoyed my book, how she identified with the characters and how she’d cried for the heroine. Like the character in my story, she’d been stalked and beaten by someone who should have loved her. Unlike my character however, the reader has permanent nerve damage to her arm.

mm.jpgHer story touched me so deeply that it made me cry. Her true-life account forced me to consider what I was doing. I sat at my desk thinking how shallow my work is. I mean, I make all this stuff up! I order my story people’s lives about and manipulate them to suit my plots — but it’s all fiction. While I sit in my comfortable office with every convenience at my fingertips, sipping cup after cup of coffee and tea, and munching M&Ms, out there in the real world people are experiencing devastating hurts and losses and traumas. In that light, what I do seemed so inconsequential.

That thinking lasted about — oh — ten minutes. And then I realized why this young woman had been touched so profoundly by my story. She said she hoped that some day she would meet a man like Joshua McBride, a man who would love her the same way Joshua loved Addie. She had hope.

Romance is about hope. In my current work in progress, my heroine doesn’t hold any hope for love in her life.  The mistakes of her past threaten everything she holds dear.  When she falls in love with the hero, it’s bittersweet because it can’t last.  But love….  And don’t we all count on the “but love” factor?  Because love will find a way.

We invest our time in the characters in these stories because we know that no matter what dilemmas befall them, no matter what obstacles they face or which conflicts arise, in the end love will conquer all; good will win over evil; and a happily-ever-after will prevail.

saint_or_sinner_millsboon_cheryl_stjohn.jpgEach of us hopes there is a special someone out there, a special man or woman who will love us unconditionally and fill that place created in our heart just for them. Romance brings our hopes to life. Through these stories of love and commitment, we experience the fulfillment of the human dream.

What better reason do we need to love romance? And what better reason do I need to write it? 

If you don’t have Saint or Sinner, mention it in your comment.  I’ll draw one name and send that person a copy.

Pamela Thibodeaux, Saturday's Guest!

tempered-hearts.gifHello Darlings, this week we’re right proud to have Miss Pamela Thibodeaux in Wildflower Junction! She has already arrived and we’ve put her up in the hotel.

The Fillies are up to our bustles in work, getting the meetin’ hall all ready for the occasion. Some are cooking and some are sprucing things up. Shashay by on Saturday for lots of fun and laughter. A good time will be had by all. 

Pam’s Blog Winner!

lamb1.jpgI *loved* all the pet stories today.  I hope y’all had a great time reading the comments.  I know I did!

My winner today is  . . . Za! 

Za, please post me at pacrooks@radiks.net and let me know which book you’d like me to send you from my backlist.

 Wanted! or Her Lone Protector. 

Thank you, my friends!

Baa-a, Baa-a, Silly Sheep!

sig-icon.jpgI’ve started a new book. 

This will be my twelfth (published) and slated for release in Spring, 2009.  Up to now, I’ve written about longhorn cattle, mustangs, a thoroughbred race horse, Gypsies, mercenaries, a female outlaw, and a nun on the run.

I’ve never written a word about sheep.

That’s what this new story will be about.  Sheep.  So I had to do some reading on the woollie creatures, and the research has been surprisingly interesting. 

For instance, did flock.jpgyou know one sheepherder can handle 3,000 sheep all by himself?   With the handy assistance of his dog of course.  Compare that to 6 or 7 mounted cowboys needed to ramrod a moving herd of 1,000 head of cattle.

I also learned sheep tend to have an assortment of, well, annoyances.  They’re unpredictable, defenseless and in need of constant tending.sheep3.jpg

Here’s a few examples:

**Sheep feed at odd hours of the night, which forces the herder to round them up again–in the middle of the night.

**Should a stray sheep find itself bogged in mud, he just stands there.  Doesn’t make a sound.  He waits patiently to be rescued–or to die.

**If a young, frisky sheep rolls playfully in the grass, he can’t get up again.  His legs are short and light, and he can’t get the momentum.  He’ll need help.

**If a ewe or wether (had to look this one up–it’s a young castrated male) wades into water, and its fleece is long, he becomes too water-logged to climb out.  Again, he’ll need help.

**Bleating sheep means life is normal.  When sheep are terrified, they make no sound at all.

**Adult sheep will stand in silence while a wolf snatches a lamb.  No attempt is made to lamb1.jpgsave the poor thing.  The lamb, I mean.

**Young ewes are often indifferent mothers.  If she fails to recognize her newborn, she’ll wander off, clueless that the baby needs milk.  Again, the sheep herder must help.

Cattlemen despised flocks of sheep on the range.  They believed, at least at first, that the woollie animals had sharp hooves that cut and trampled the grass, and that the cattle refused to graze where sheep had earlier trod because of the smell they left behind.  Many a range war was fought because of the cattlemen’s determination to dominate the range and rid themselves of the mutton-punchers.

And so my new story will go–with a hero who is a cattleman and a heroine who tends sheep with her father.  Should be a pairing rife with conflict, eh?

(Note:  Have you read Linda Broday’s “The Love Letter” in her current anthology release, GIVE ME A TEXAN?  Her heroine tends sheep, too!  A lovely little story!)

So do tell.  Have you ever had a pet who did the darnedest things?  Who didn’t have a clue about the most basic things in life?  Who was always and forever getting into trouble and needed to be rescued?

We took in a deaf Boxer a few years ago.  She was a sweet thing, but ver-ry difficult to train and discipline because she couldn’t hear us well.  Which may or may not have anything to do with her compulsion to eat rocks.  And then throw them up.  At 3:00 in the morning. 

Dang, I hated seeing those rocks on my carpet in that pile of vomit–and I have no idea why she ate them in the first place.  I never once saw her do it–but she nosed around our landscaping and swallowed them whole, without fail. 

That’s my tale–I’d love to hear yours!

Take a minute to tell us, and you’ll be in a drawing for a copy of one of the books in my backlist, your choice:  WANTED! or HER LONE PROTECTOR

What’s in a Name?

linda-sig.jpgWith a pregnant niece and several daughters of friends who are in the family way, my thoughts turned to baby names this week. It’s really tricky naming your offspring these days. You have to avoid names that are difficult to pronounce or that might make your child a target of ridicule. You have to pay attention to what initials they’ll have. Bullies look for the smallest things they can use to make your child miserable. Parents have to make baby2.jpgsure the first and last names go together and not create something weird like Ann Teak or Eve Ada or Ima Hogg. Childish names also cause problems, names like Bunny, Barbie, or Bambi. They  might sound cute when the child is little but I can’t even imagine a professional businesswoman named Bunny or Bambi. I doubt she’d get much respect.

When I named my children (Kevin, Melinda, and Lori) I didn’t think of all these things. Maybe I should’ve spent more thought even though everything turned out all right. The thing is they positively hate their names. There were umpteen Kevins and Melinda is too old-fashioned. I don’t exactly know what Lori has against her name. It’s hip, short, and easy to spell. Plus, there really weren’t that many out there at the time.

baby3.jpgI’ve always hated my name because every class in school had at least three other Lindas. I think half of the girls around the time I was born (nevermind what year that was) carried the name of Linda. And another bad thing is that I didn’t even get a half good middle name either.

So, I went looking to see what the top names were in certain years. In 1888, they were mostly Biblical names. The top five of each gender were:

Mary                 John

Sarah                William

Elizabeth          James

Emma              George

Margaret         Charles

And in 2006, the girls took boy names:

Madison           Jacob

Taylor              Daniel

Abigail             Andrew

Hannah           Michael

Samantha       Ethan

baby1.jpgAnd names these days are spelled really weird. Jacob is Jakob; Michael is Mikal; Derrick is Deric; Cindy is Cyndi; Katie is Cady; and Asia is Asia’h. Two of my granddaughters are named Bayleigh and Emilee instead of Bailey and Emily. I guess change is what the world’s all about. It doesn’t really matter to anyone except the kids who have to wear the darn names. I’ve heard of people who don’t name their kids at all. They wait until the child is old enough and let him pick out his own name. Maybe that’s the way to go. Then the child can’t blame anyone but themselves if they don’t like what they choose. Heaven forbid more angst!

So, what’s in a name? Are you happy with yours or do you wish you had another? Or what about your children’s names?   

The Miner’s Ten Commandments

My last post about old western gold town sparked my interest in the whole subject of mining.

So I dived into the subject. So many fascinating tidbits of life in those towns. Nothing settled the west as quickly as did the discovery of gold and silver. The first gold publicly discovered was in January, 1848, and that event changed the course of history. Henry Bigler, a workman at a sawmill in the Sierra Nevada foothills, found the nugget that opened a great migration. Gold was found then throughout Montana, California, Arizona, Nevada. Camps and towns sprung up – places named Drytown, Strawberry Valley, Poker Flat, Queen City, Poverty Hill, Port Wine (named by prospectors who found a cask of wine hidden in a nearby canyon), Oroville, Goodyears Bar, French Corral (founded by two Frenchmen), Timbuctoo, Rough and Ready, Dutch Flat, and Yankee Jims.

Adventurers descended on the west from the rest of the country as well as thousands lured from overseas. But rather than finding gold for the picking, most found miserable drudgery, A few might pick up a nugget, but then have to pay a dollar for a piece of bread and another dollar to butter it. He paid $100 for a blanket, $100 for a horse, and $20 for a shovel with which to dig his fortune or his folly.

Often the winners in these towns were those who turned from that pick to laundering, cooking, merchandizing. or, as mentioned before, the world’s oldest profession. The era produced great characters, including Black Bart (more on him in a future post), Baby Doe, Lola Montez and Lotta Crabtree, and Senator-for- a-month Haw Taber. It nourished the creative talents of authors and artists like Bret Harte and Mark Twain.

Because these towns and camps sprung up so rapidly there was little law, and the miners were forced to write their own laws which gradually spread throughout the camps and became known as the Miners’ Ten Commandments. In 1853, they were enacted into Federal Law. according to “Sunset Gold Country,” a guide to California’s mining past. I’m not going to vouch for that but would love to do more research on it.

So here’s the Ten Commandants. Some truths and chuckles here.

THE MINERS’ TEN COMMANDMENTS

1. Thou shalt have no other claim than one.
2. Thou shalt not make any false claim nor jump one. If thou do thou must go prospecting and shall hire thy body out to make thy board and save thy bacon.
3. Thou shalt not go prospecting before thy claim gives out. Neither shall thy take thy gold to the gambling table in vain.
4. Thou shalt remember the Sabbath. Six days thou mayest dig, for in six days labor thou canst work enough to wear out thy body in two years.
5. Thou shalt not think more of thy gold than how thou shall enjoy it.
6. Thou shalt not kill thy body by working in the rain. Neither shall thou destroy thyself by getting ‘tight’ nor ‘high seas over’ while drinking down thy purse.
7. Thou shalt not grow discouraged, nor think of going home before thou hast made thy pile.
8. Thou shalt not steal a pick, a shovel or a pan from thy fellow miners, nor borrow a claim, nor pan out gold from others riffle box. They will hang thee, or brand thee, or brand thee like a horse thief with the letter R upon thy cheek.
9. Thou shalt not tell any false tales about ‘good diggings’ in the mountains, lest your neighbors return with naught but a rifle and present thee with its contents thereof and thou shall fall down and die.
10. Thou shall not commit unsuitable matrimony nor neglect thy first love. If thy heart be free thou shall ‘pop the question’ like a man, lest another more manly than thou art should step in before thee, and then your lot be that of a poor, despised comfortless bachelor.”
__
I think my favorite is number ten, although nine brought a giggle or two.

I’m starting a mini contest for those who reply. The winner will receive a copy of my new book, “Catch A Shadow,” along with one of my early westerns.

Intrigue Author Elle James: Cattle Rustling Ain’t Dead

elle_james.gif“Filthy rotten rustler! Hang ‘em high until he stops twitchin’!”

Back in the old west, a man could be hanged for stealing another man’s livestock. Nowadays, that isn’t the case and surprise…cattle rustling is on the rise. Cattle rustling? Isn’t it kinda hard to hide a cow in your pocket? Making off with cattle isn’t like shop lifting an Ipod. This kind of thievery takes someone who knows how to handle cattle. Someone who knows the lay of the land and the movement of cattle owners.

cowboyonhorse.jpgIn wide-open places like Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico you wonder how someone could get away with hauling off a man’s cattle. Unfortunately it’s all too easy. Sneak in at night, load up a trailer full of sleepy cows and off you go. With beef prices on the rise, the payoff is high. A thief gets full value on the sale of a cow.

Auction barns can’t ask the cow who it belongs to, not every bovine is microchipped and plastic tags are common in all colors with no links to the owner. Steal a cow, sell it at an auction in another county or state and reap the benefit of a $1000 or more. All for the cost of risking very little.

Many cattle owners turn their cattle loose in large fields or ranges and don’t check on them that often, making it easy for cattle rustlers to move in, steal half a dozen cattle and get away without anyone knowing better.

txsizedsecretscover.jpgAs a Harlequin Intrigue author, I’m always looking for the next cool story angle. Fortunately, my friends who don’t write mysteries are looking as well. One such friend, Megan Kerans, noticed an article online about cattle rustling in Oklahoma and sent me a note offering it up as a potential plot for one of my books.

That article was the inspiration behind my March Harlequin Intrigue, Texas-Sized Secrets. When I proposed a cattle rustling story in Texas, my editor said, make the ranch owner female and pregnant and have at it! I smartly saluted and wrote the story, threw in a lot of secrets and voila!

HORSE CHATTER WINNER OF RANDOM DRAWING IS:

images-mr-ed-2.jpg

SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO STOPPED BY TODAY!

I’LL BE SENDING A SIGNED COPY OF TAMING THE TEXAN TO KATHLEEN

PLEASE CONTACT ME AT Charlenesands@hotmail.com with your snail mail address.

Congratulations!

And if you are like me, that Mr. Ed song is ringing in your head.  Here are the correct lyrics:

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.
Go right to the source and ask the horse

He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse.
He’s always on a steady course.
Talk to Mr. Ed.
People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And this one’ll talk ’til his voice is hoarse.
You never heard of a talking horse?
Well listen to this.

I am Mister Ed.  🙂

 

Saturday’s Guest: Elle James!

txsizedsecretscover.jpgAh just wanted to remind everyone that Miss Elle James is gonna be visiting with us on Saturday. It’s shaping up to be a high old time. The sweet lady will share tidbits on secrets and cattle rustling. Ah don’t rightly know how the two go together but am rather anxious to see. Ah’m sure  not good at keeping secrets, but ah sure like to hear ’em told! Come and give a listen right here on Saturday. I guarantee you’ll have more fun than dipping into the corn mash and acting like a fool.