February 6, 2012

MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS

by J.D. Faver

If my title brings to mind a Willie Nelson song, then you might be a redneck, a country girl or a cowboy. I was raised on a farm in southwestern Oklahoma and moved to Texas as a teen. When I say a farm, I'm talking four sections of land on which my family farmed and ran beef cattle. For those not in the know, a section of land is 640 acres, so this was a sizable farm. In Texas however, the preferred term is "ranch", even if it's just a few acres.

Of course, as a writer I call on every mega-byte of early memory to write about ranches, horses, and farming. The smell of horses, hay and fresh turned dirt is unforgettable. The taste of home-made biscuits with clover honey is not the same as those that come in a tube and have something out of a plastic bear squirted on them. Not the same. Likewise, the guys who go to the western wear store to get duded up for rodeo once a year are as close to real cowboys as the little plastic bear.

Yep, I'm quite fond of cowboys. They don't gush out flowery speeches. They play the cards close to their vests, but the real cowboy is a rare breed and definitely worth cultivating. Who do you picture in your mind when you think of a cowboy? John Wayne? Clint Eastwood? Tough guys with a tiny little soft core and a set of staunch values they would rather die than sacrifice. And if you're lucky enough to be the wife or sweetheart of one of those cowboys, you have yourself a real prize.

One of my favorite movies is Legends of the Fall, with Brad Pitt as Tristan, the younger brother who crossed the line and paid for it by banishing himself to a life of loneliness, living out in the wilderness. What a waste!

One of my first novels to be released was BADLANDS, which is set in the Texas panhandle not too far across the state line from my Oklahoma roots. I like lots of conflict in my novels, and one of my favorite themes is opposites attract. My heroine, Cameron Carmichael, is a doctor from Houston with a new license who inherits her great-aunt's humongous cattle ranch. The hero, Breckenridge T. Ryan, is a neighboring rancher who happens to also be the small town lawyer. So he's handling the estate and has the task of telling the heroine that she has to live on the ranch for a year to inherit. The following is a short excerpt in which Breck converses with his father after he has finagled an invitation to supper at the heroine's home.

~*~

 
       Breck was grinning when he got back to his ranch that afternoon.
       His father was leaning back in his recliner, his usual position. “What’s going on, son? How come you’re smiling from ear to ear?”
       “I’ve got a date, Dad.”
       “A date?” Zachery Ryan drew back in mock amazement. “Who’d of thought? Is this someone I know?”
       “I don’t think so. I’m going to dinner at Silky Carmichael’s house and I’m taking her great-niece to the Eagle’s hall for a little opportunity to polish my belt buckle.”
       The elder Ryan raised his brows. “I think I met her one summer when she was a teenager. Pretty little thing, but shy. She wouldn’t say a word.” He pushed his glasses up on top of his head. “As I remember she was a mite skinny.”
       Breck considered. “She may have filled out a bit since then, Dad. She’s slim, but she’s got some nice curves going for her now...How come I didn’t meet Silky’s niece before?”
       Zachery frowned in recollection. “I think that was your freshman year at The University of Texas. You were doing two-a-days at that time.”
       Breck ran his fingers through his hair. “I wouldn’t have noticed a teen-age girl back then anyway. My head was into football and making the grades.”
       Zachery shook his head. “I think even you might have noticed this little one. She had the prettiest blue eyes, but she always looked so sad and lonely. Quiet as a mouse. Kind of tugged at my heart. Silky told me the girl’s parents had been killed in a car wreck and that she was seeing to the girl. I remember thinking, ‘What does a wild woman like Silky Carmichael know about raising a young girl?’”
       Breck felt a pang of sympathy for Cami. Silky was a dear friend, an astute rancher and a local charmer, but he didn’t think her character was filled with warmth and compassion. She’d probably have done better fostering a boy. He figured the shy, sensitive girl left in her care hadn’t experienced much in the way of motherly love.
       He headed for the shower, thinking that his imposed invitation to dinner hadn’t been exactly the smoothest thing he’d ever wrangled, but the important thing was that he’d have a good reason to be holding the enigmatic Cami Carmichael in his arms all night long.

~*~

        And here's a little peek at the couple after dinner when Breck is driving her in his pick up through the small town to the Eagle's Hall where a live band will be performing. 

~*~
        Cami stared out the windshield, admiring the million stars flung across the black velvet sky. She realized how rare it was to see stars in Houston where the city lights outshone any display the heavens might offer.
        The town of Langston had closed up for the night. Only a convenience store, the Mexican restaurant and a steak house stayed open until ten. Otherwise, the businesses were darkened.
         The Eagle’s Hall was located on the far edge of town. When they pulled up, Cami saw that the unpaved parking area was filled with row after row of pickup trucks.
        “I’ll let you out in front.” Breck idled by the wooden double doors at the entrance.     
        He leaned over her to swing her door open and she felt a surge of desire as his muscular torso pressed momentarily against her thighs. A rush of cold air gave her a much needed reality check. “Go on inside where it's warm,” he said.
       Watching the truck drive away, she felt bereft. Suddenly shy, she was loath to walk inside by herself. They weren’t dating. They weren’t a couple. She shouldn’t have any attachment to Breckinridge T. Ryan at all.
        “Hey, Miss Cami.”
        She spun around to find Frank trudging toward her across the gravel parking lot.    
        “Frank! I didn’t know you’d be here.”
        He flashed his dimpled grin. “I told you this was the place to be. Can I walk you inside?” He held out his arm to her.
        She glanced around, but didn’t see Breck and decided not to brave the elements any longer. Taking Frank’s arm, she felt steely muscles under his jacket. She realized the brown-eyed boy escorting her was a full grown man of approximately her same age.
        Entering the hall, she encountered a blast of heated air by the front door. She hurried inside and looked around. The lights were low and the band hadn’t yet mounted the raised stage. She was aware of a room full of people. Most were sitting at long tables ringing the dance floor. Others milled about visiting from group to group.
        A small table was set up close to the entrance and Delta Ruth Peabody sat behind it with a roll of tickets in her hand. “Come right on in here, Doctor Carmichael,” she said.      “Frank, are you dancing with your boss tonight?”
        The door opened again with a rush of cold air and Breck appeared by her side.
        “This one is mine.” He slapped some cash on the table and received two tickets in return.
        Cami raised her eyebrows, meeting Frank’s amused expression with one of her own. She wasn’t sure if this was the time to remind Breck that she was most definitely not his.

~*~

BADLANDS is available on Kindle http://amzn.com/B005341WX2

J.D. Faver
Bad Girls Need Love Too....

20 comments:

Caroline Clemmons said...

J.D., I'm so happy to "meet" you. I also write western romances set in Texas and just can't read enough of them. My parents lived in Dodson when I was born, and that's barely in Texas not far from Childress and Wellington. Now I live in North Central Texas in the DFW area. Best of luck. I'll have to order your books now.

Susan M said...

Love the excerpts, J.D. It sounds like another winner. I'm reading your newest, On Ice, now, but I'll put this one at the top of my TBR list.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, my friend Stacey Purcell tried to comment, but couldn't, so here's what she had to say:

I love a good cowboy story better than most anything. I think it's because there's still a deep sense of justice, fair play, they're men's men, but love deeply and completely...what's there not to love??? Thanks for sharing and your book sounds great!

S.D. Bancroft said...

What lovely images the description of your childhood brought to mind for me! I can almost picture you working the farm. And the smell of the fresh biscuits and honey is wafting around my office at this very moment :-) I too will put Badlands on my TBR list (along with a few other titles I am hoping to get to sooner rather than later.)! Keep up the great work!

TaraManderino said...

Have to love those cowboys! They can make you wince with their honesty, but their sense of justice makes them trustworthy. Love the excerpts, J.D.

Brandie said...

You just reminded me of what I've missed in genre fiction lately...the westerns! Great post!

Brandie

AnneMarie Novark said...

Hey June,

Awesome post and excerpts!!! The Texas Panhandle is where I set my LoneStar Romances, too. I love that country.

And Caroline, my mother was born in Wellington!!! Small world in a huge state!!!

Life's too short NOT to love a Texan!!!

Patti Macdonald said...

While I can't say that "my heroes have always been cowboys", being a California girl and all, I will say that my heroes have always been sexy!

I've read several of JD's other stories, and I'd highly recommend them if you like your heroes sexy!

J.D. Faver said...

Thanks so much, Anna Kathryn for hosting me today. I have followed your blog for a while and love the variety of authors you host. Salvation Bride is one of my favorite reads. I appreciate the opportunity to share a little of my roots and my heroes with you and your readers. I have more cowboys just rarin' to open a can of whup ass on the bad guys. Fingers on keyboard, butt in chair to quote another writer of western romance, Anne Marie Novark. Let's all keep writing and reading those wonderful western romances.
~J

Madeleine Drake said...

I'm drooling at the thought of those biscuits with real clover honey. :) Wonderful tribute to real cowboys, and great excerpts!

Carol said...

J.D., Badlands is a fabulous book. Yep, you gotta love a Texan. I have all your books except On Ice. I'll have to remedy that. :)Happy Sales!

J.D. Faver said...

Dang! Now I guess I'll have to make up a mess of biscuits and find some home grown honey to pass around. Caroline, I was raised in SW Oklahoma. Lawton was the nearest "big" town and for Christmas shopping we would go to Amarillo. I still remember crossing over the Red River into Texas. Good times.
*hugs*
~J

E. Ayers said...

From someone who lives east of the Mississippi, the difference between a cowboy and a farm boy is longitude. Kinda hard to put on airs when you've shoveled manure before breakfast. And these special "boys" probably have an engineering degree in land management from the big universities. But they smile, mind their manners, open doors, know the difference between right and wrong, and will stand up for what they believe. They are the true American heroes.

Candace said...

June, awesome blog! I graduated from high school in Amarillo and have friends and relatives with ranches, too... Badlands was a wonderful read and it captured the small town Panhandle flavor along with the big spreads, big hearts and big lives of some of the people who populate that vast land. Thanks for another well written story with lovable and believable characters. Great book!

K.E. Saxon said...

Great post, JD. My parents grew up in east Texas, and for a few years as a tween I lived there also. Lots of farms and ranches. Interestingly, instead of s-kickers (modified for PG), or kickers, cowboys were called goat roapers there. Breck and Cami look like a great H/h. Another one for my TBR!

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Hi J.D., I've always loved cowboys too but have no personal experience with them. Farmers from Iowa, yeah, cowpokes, no. But they were still my first fantasy loves.

Congratulations on your newest release! I'm a fan.

Jane

Rose Anderson ~ Romance Novelist said...

I've always loved men who work close with the land. Thanks for sharing your cowboys J.D.!

marybelle said...

There is something rather special about cowboys!!


marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Michele Hart said...

As usual, J.D. Faver has great books to sell. She never disappoints.

Break a leg, J. D.!

Your fan,

Michele

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Once again, blogger is not playing nice. Here's a post E. T.'s post:

Whether American Cowboy, Florida Cracker, Australian Stock man, or Spanish Vaquero, all present the same image of long hours tending beef cattle in all kinds of weather.

J. D. Faver nails the image with horse sweat, the aromatic pungency of fresh hay, oats and molasses feed, and the sweet smell of dirt. The yummy goodness of home-made biscuits fresh from the oven drizzled with clover honey or even better bumblebee nectar. She brings it all to life.

If you like your characters real and down to earth with twists and turns, J. D. Faver's "Badlands" is your story.

E. T. Carney