I’m so excited to be here for my second official post. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a talker, and I love talking about writing. And, yes, anything western and cowboys 🙂
I’m sure everyone reading this post has heard the old saying: write what you know. That’s one of the reasons I love western romances. I’ve spent most of my life embracing the country and western lifestyle. And even though I mostly write contemporaries, that doesn’t mean I get out of having to research something new with every book.
I particularly like giving my heroines horse-related occupations or hobbies that are little out of the norm. In one book, my gal crafts and sells jewelry for horses (yes, it’s a thing). In my book coming out in November, the gal’s a competitive endurance rider. In yet another book, she rescues wild mustangs. I even had a heroine who ran a wildlife sanctuary.
In my most recent release, my heroine is a trick rider. And while I’ve seen trick riders perform at rodeos and horse events, I actually knew nothing about it when I started the book. I guessed that trick riders have years of training and often a gymnastic or dancing background, and I was right. But I learned a whole lot more.
Trick riding originated in the Caucasus and Central Asia cultures and was adopted by the Russian Cossacks who used it during battles. Eventually, Russian Cossacks who immigrated to America brought their trick riding skills with them and started performing as a way to earn money. Sometime around the 1940s, trick riding evolved into a rodeo event, though eventually it became strictly a specialty act for entertainment..
Not only is the rider talented, skilled, and athletic, the horse is, too, as well as needing to have a calm and reliable disposition. The two must form a true partnership in order to be successful and trust each other completely. If not, they’re both at risk of injury. As you can imagine, countless hours of training and practice are required in order to reach a professional performance level, and that training and practice never stops.
Here are just a few pictures of some common tricks. I don’t know about you, but I’m holding my breath watching them.
One leg stand
If you have a hankering to learn more, check out this YouTube video of sister trick riders. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at what these gals (and their horses) can do!
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.
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?
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.
Our local rodeo season is about to head into full swing next week. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we can attend four big rodeos, one every week, for a month.
Since Captain Cavedweller and I both enjoy rodeos, this is a grand thing.
Thoughts of rodeos and the athletes that compete in them, both human and animal, made me think about a group of folks who largely go unnoticed at rodeo events — pickup men.
(If you’re thinking about the drunk guys who hang around after the rodeo ends, wrong kind of pickup men!)
The pickup men I’m referring to today have one of the most important jobs at a rodeo because they are there to keep the athletes safe. In the arena, they look after the cowboy at the end of his ride as well as the horses and bulls used in rough stock events and they help with the overall production. They might work for the stock contractor or be employed directly by the rodeo association.
Regardless of how they come to be there, pickup men are often referred to as the ghosts of an arena. They ride in, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, help a cowboy off a ton of twisting, bucking beast, then guide the animal from the arena before vanishing again.
Depending on the size of the rodeo, you might see two of them working together while bigger rodeos have as many as six working at a time.
Pickup men are in the arena from start to finish, but if all goes smoothly, rodeo fans might not notice them at all. Riding horses is second nature to many of the men who work as pickup men. They have to be able to rope a bucking bronc or a rank bull. They also have to be ale to think on the fly and make quick decisions. Out in the arena there isn’t time for talking and deciding what to do. They have to act intuitively.
Once a cowboy and horse bust out of the chute, the pickup men are watching every move, ready to ride to the rescue or offer a hand when the eight-second buzzer sounds.
During a ride, most anything can happen and does.
Competitors can get hung up in rigging or stirrups and find themselves being dragged around the arena or getting an eyeball of dirt while dodging flying hooves.
While their actions aren’t choreographed, the way pick up men work together can appear so flawless and performed with such ease, it looks like they’ve practiced the intricate dance that is based on their quick reactions and know-how.
Pickup men have cowboys crawling all over them and their horses which makes it essential they can handle a cowboy hanging off his shoulder.
Or his neck, or whatever else the athlete happens to get a hold of in his scramble to get off a wildly bucking bronc.
The equipment a pickup man uses is vitally important to a smooth, successful rodeo, too. His saddle has to fit just right, many use specialized bits, and they all have a favorite brand of rope they use. Many use breast collars on their horses to keep their saddle from sliding back if they have to rope a bull. And it gives a little added advertising space to their stock contractor or sponsor.
The pickup man might wear shin guards, or kickpads, around their lower legs to protect from flying hooves, scrambling boots from the rodeo athlete as he tries to get off a bucking animal, or even just a saddle bronc saddle rubbing against it when he has the horse snubbed to get it out of the arena.
Another piece of equipment no pickup man would work without is his chaps. They provide another layer of protection against the bucking horses and their saddles.
It’s also important for their horses to be well-trained and able to keep up with a reaction that happens in a split-second. Many pickup men have a string of horses they use, rotating them out between each event. One horse might do better picking up bareback riders while one might do better when it’s time to chase bulls out of the arena. Most pickup men will use splint boots for their horses for protection against injury.
Some pickup men work smaller rodeos they can catch on a weekend and still keep their regular job (like ranching).
Others travel non-stop on the rodeo circuit right along with the rodeo athletes, gone from home for weeks, sometimes months, at a time.
At the end of the day, the pickup men are the unsung heroes who might have prevented a cowboy from receiving a serious injury, or kept a bull from charging into a crowd.
So, the next time you are at a rodeo, take a moment to watch these men at work and think about all they do to make the rodeo a safe place for everyone to enjoy.
If you enjoy reading about rodeos, check out my Rodeo Romance series. Each book can be read as a stand alone and features a different rodeo event or personality. Right now, Racing Christmasis on sale for just 99 cents! The hero in the story just happens to be a pickup man.
“From the realistic rodeo scenes to the tender love scenes Shanna Hatfield keeps you reading.”
Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling Author
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.
Will Shaun and Brylee discover the gift of forgiveness, and experience their own happily-ever-after?
This week, we’re celebrating Cowboy Fever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been infected since I was old enough to walk.
I love cowboys, rodeos, and the country way of life.
Growing up on a farm about twenty miles from the closest town (population around 1,000), we generally took our excitement anywhere we could get it.
Each summer, I eagerly anticipated our small town’s biggest event of the year – the Fourth of July Rodeo.
Back in those days, it was a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo. Some of the top names in the circuit would join hundreds of rodeo fans for four days of rodeo, events in the park, a parade through town, and the annual Suicide Race (a crazy horseback race down a steep butte, across the highway, through the river, and into the rodeo arena).
Our whole family looked forward to the celebration. My oldest brother regularly rode in the Suicide Race and a few cousins competed in the rodeo. My dad, brothers, and many cousins participated in the parade.
For a horse-crazy little girl who loved the smell of leather and the sight of cowboy hats, it was amazing. From an early age, I had a romance with the rodeo (and cowboy fever!).
One of the few stores we had in town was a saddle maker with a boot shop. When I was five, my dad took me to Leroy’s shop to pick out a new belt for the rodeo. It was the first time I could choose my own. Talk about excited!
As we walked inside, the welcoming aroma of leather filled the air. Dad led me to where Leroy worked on a saddle at the back of the shop and they talked a few minutes. Impatiently waiting to get down to the business of picking out my belt, they finally told me to go see what I could find. My gaze – and heart – immediately settled on a hand-tooled belt with little flowers stamped into the leather and a silver buckle with a gold saddle that glistened in the overhead lights.
I still have that little belt today along with my love of rodeo and cowboys.
I suppose that love is what inspires so many cowboy heroes in my stories. It’s awesome to write about modern-day ranchers in my Grass Valley Cowboys series, and about rodeo cowboys in my Rodeo Romance series. I also get a kick out of writing about cowboys in the old West. I think lawmen of yesteryear must be one of my favorites, since this coming Thursday I’ll release Lightning and Lawmen, my fourth story with a hero who works as a lawman in a rowdy western town.
How did a simple hello turn into something so complicated?
Love is about to leave one lawman thunderstruck in this sweet historical romance!
Cultured and full of grace, Delilah Robbins agrees to accompany her meteorologist father to his new post in Baker City, Oregon. Expecting a primitive place, she’s delighted to discover an up-and-coming town with plenty of surprises as well as a place she can turn into a sanctuary for her beloved birds. As she settles into life in the western town, she unwittingly creates a riff between two deputies when they both fall for her charms.
Deputy Dugan Durfey only meant to extend a friendly welcome to a newcomer. But the moment he set eyes on the meteorologist’s delightful daughter, Dugan’s heart was no longer his own. Since his best friend and fellow deputy suffered the same fate, Dugan struggles to do what’s right. He’ll fight jealousy, outlaws, and a wily raccoon to keep Delilah safe, but the greater battle lies in overcoming his fears to profess his love.
Filled with humor, adventure, and plenty of sweet romance, Lightning and Lawmen highlights the history of the era and blends it with the timeless feelings of discovering true love.
To enter for a chance to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card, answer this question:
What’s one special summer memory from your childhood?
What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common?
Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…
Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.
This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.
Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.
As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.
On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed. Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.
Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.
I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.
The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).
But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.
I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.
The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.
After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.
This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .
~ GIVEAWAY! ~
For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question: