While I was writing Her Reluctant Rancher, I needed to find an unusual fundraiser for my heroine Beth, who was trying to raise money to build a library in her small West Texas town. I wanted something different, and I remembered seeing a late-night sitcom where people were playing basketball on donkeys. It’s similar to wheelchair basketball, except the players ride real live donkeys. I googled donkey basketball and discovered that donkey basketball was actually a real fundraising business and voile! I had a great fundraiser for Beth’s pet project.
As I wrote and incorporated donkey basketball into the story, pieces started falling into place. Character traits for my hero and heroine were revealed. Organizing the event showed to what lengths Beth would go to raise money for the library. By playing in the game, Trevor’s dislike of participating in team sports was highlighted. And the donkey basketball game became a very important turning point in the story when Trev was injured and Beth discovered she was in love with him.
Writing is always an adventure. I had a lot of fun with this story. By choosing donkey basketball as Beth’s major fundraiser, key story points and character traits emerged just like magic. If I had picked some other fundraiser, my story would probably have been very different.
Here’s an excerpt from Her Reluctant Rancher:
Trev followed Dave onto the court. He couldn’t
believe he was on the back of a donkey. He concentrated
on keeping his balance, because he sure didn’t want to fall
on his butt like the police chief.
He reminded himself he was doing this for Beth.
Maybe he could make a couple of baskets and score some
points. Would she cheer for him? Would she be proud?
Why did he care?
The announcer finished his pre-game spiel and the
mayor won the toss. He passed the ball to one of his team
mates. The councilman took it down court, passed it to
another player. Trev watched the guy twist, catch the
ball, then slide right off the donkey’s back. Ouch.
The ball was loose and Dave dismounted and grabbed
it. He dropped it twice before finally remounting.
Trev sidled up beside him.
Dave grinned. “You and me, buddy. Go deep. I’ll pass
it. Try for three points.”
“Not greedy, are we?”
“Hey, might as well go for it.”
Urging his donkey toward the goal, Trev successfully
stopped the animal on the three-point line. Then Dave
dropped the damn ball. Trev groaned. The priest retrieved
it and rode for the opposite goal. A nice toss and the padre scored. The band played a victory song and the crowd went wild.
Trev trotted over to Dave. “What was that?”
Dave shrugged. “I messed up. So sue me.”
“Strategy isn’t going to work in this game,” Trev said. “Next time, go for the points.”
“This is supposed to be a team effort, Callahan.”
“We’re on donkeys, for crying out loud.”
“It’s just a game, buddy.”
“Yeah, right.” Trev hated to lose.
On the next play, Trev saw a chance to score. He
stole the ball from the mayor and took it down the court.
Dave was up ahead. “Pass, Callahan. I’m wide open.
Pass the ball.”
Trev didn’t want to pass the ball. He wanted to score
the points. This was why he hated team sports. You had
to share the glory. Share the win. But there was no way
in hell he could take a shot. His way was blocked. Damn.
He passed the ball to Dave. His friend neatly avoided
two oncoming opponents and lobbed the ball. It swooshed
through the net and the crowd cheered.
Yes! Their team was winning. Trev was determined
to make the next goal. He jerked on the reins, trying to
get his donkey to turn around. The animal tossed its head
and stood still.
Trev tried again with no success. Was he going to
have to get off the damn animal and push him? This had
to be the craziest thing he’d ever done in his life. Who the hell had invented donkey basketball anyway? Whoever it
was, he ought to be—
Before he could finish the thought, Trev felt himself
flying over the donkey’s head. He hit the floor with a
painful thud and suddenly everything went black.
Her Reluctant Rancher is available at The Wild Rose Press in paperback and digital format.
Anne Marie Novark