This week is set aside for guest authors, and it just happened that my friend and fellow Michigander Melissa Keir recently received an award that we were pretty impressed with, so I asked her how someone from our area managed to get recognized for writing westerns. She graciously supplied me with her answer, so I’ll relinquish the floor to Melissa!
Cowboys and Small Town Romances
Recently, I won the award for Best Western Romance of the year from Ropin’ Romance’s blog. I was surprised and honored to win the award. My four cowboy novellas are in box sets that have gone #1 on Amazon in western romance in the US and at least one other country (Australia, Canada, Japan, or the United Kingdom). But what does a girl from a small town in the Midwest know about cowboys and ranch life?
First off…girls love horses. Growing up in Amherst, Ohio, I loved to ride horses. I’d spend all my babysitting earnings renting a horse at the local stable. My friends and I would go and ride at least once a week. Spending so much time among the horses, I learned how to ride and got to know some amazing horses. My favorite was Comanche Two. This horse was the one I always selected to ride because I knew he would run when I put my boots to his flanks. He had a mild temperament that made it easy to fall in love with and I enjoyed all our time together.
Second…the Midwest is farming land. Some of my favorite childhood memories were climbing around my friend’s barn as we hid out among the hay bales or in the loft, trying to avoid their younger brother who we nicknamed “Sir Stinksalot”. Honestly, he was only six and still prone to bathroom issues but since we were older and more “mature” we couldn’t be seen with him. My sister ended up with a nail in her foot from one of our adventures while another time, we were lost in the fields behind their house for hours while the moms chatted in the house unaware of the unfolding drama.
Third…I know real working ranchers. I do a lot of research on the various topics in my novellas. When I spoke about tack rooms and combs, not only did I go online and do the research but I also talked to my friends who handle horses each day. They have working farms and ranches, so they are wonderful to point out any inconsistencies in my storylines.
Finally…small towns are very similar. Towns where everyone knows you and your family, where you are sure to get yelled at by the neighbors for your misbehavior and where the police have dated your parents before they were your parents…Most small towns are the same. Whether the town is in Michigan, Ohio or Colorado, they have a strong sense of community, where people band together to help each other or gossip about each other. The local eateries and coffee houses are the places people sit to share the news of the day. And news travels faster than social media or print. When I head back to my hometown these days, I still visit with my former gym teacher who owns the local restaurant. He remembers me by name and I’ve gotten my children hooked on their food.
Here’s an excerpt from my novella “Claiming a Cowboy’s Heart” in the box set: Cowboys Forever
The mare’s sides heaved with each breath as the contractions shook her body. A new birth was a wondrous event, the validation of a creator.
Preston laid his hand on Cheyenne’s side. “You’ve got this, girl. We’re here to cheer you on.” The healthy chocolate mare had been Jake’s best therapy horse at the Heartsong Ranch. She’d brought his silent, traumatized stepdaughter out of her horrors and back to her mom.
“I’m glad you’re here. Even though I know Cheyenne doesn’t need us for the birth, having you here in town makes me grateful.” Jake Kyncade patted his friend on the shoulder. “After all, your gramps was the best veterinarian this side of the Mississippi.”
A twinge of pain hit his heart at the reminder of why he’d returned. His grandfather’s passing. “I’m glad to be home.” Why doesn’t my voice sound convincing? “Look, something’s happening.”
The horse’s tail rose. A small leg became visible as the birth began. Holding his breath, he waited and watched.
With his gaze on the eminent arrival, he frowned. “Crap. That’s an upside down hoof.”
His friend drew in close. A second leg arrived. “Shit. The foal’s backward. Those are the rear legs.”
“We have to get the foal out now. If we don’t, it’ll drown.” He knelt next to the horse. “Get up front and soothe Cheyenne. I’m going to have to pull the foal out fast, and I don’t want her thrashing around.” Sweat trickled down his spine. Playing God was not what being a veterinarian was about. Losing an animal—any animal—took a piece of his soul. But to lose a new life…it might leave a permanent scar. I’ve been blessed so far. Would the blessing last?
Glancing to see that his buddy had followed his directions, Preston gritted his teeth and seized a hold of the offspring’s legs with both hands. “Ready, on the count of three…. One, two, three.” He heaved with all his strength, observing as the foal came out. Quickly, he tore open the sac, releasing fluid and giving the foal a chance to breathe. He gnawed on his lip, gaze glued on the foal. Was it alive? Come on. He whispered a silent prayer.
“J, step away. See if Chey will take over.” The good doctor eased to the side of the stall as well. Leaning on the wall, he kept his eyes on Chey and her baby. He clenched his hands as he willed the foal to move, breathe, or something.
Available on Amazon for only 99 cents (http://amzn.com/B017JKFNWS)
Six Women—Six Cowboys Forever
Six Cowboy Love Stories by the best selling authors who brought you Cowboy Up 1&2
Marry Me Again, Cowboy by Allison Merritt
An unlikely match made in Texas…
Cowboy Apocalypse by Leslie Garcia
Can a former Marine and a Hollywood diva facing apocalyptic changes in their lives salvage new beginnings together?
Claiming a Cowboy’s Heart by Melissa Keir
Even broken souls deserve a second chance at love…
Rock-n-Roll Cowboy by Autumn Piper
Never judge a rock band by its cover song.
A Cowboy’s Princess by Sara Walter Ellwood
Oil and water don’t mix…neither does Texas oil royalty and an ex-Navy SEAL turned rodeo cowboy until danger forces them together.
Ride, Cowboy, Ride by D’Ann Lindun
Can they find freedom together?
About Melissa Keir:
Melissa Keir has always wanted to be an author when she wasn’t hoping for a career as a race car driver. Her love of books was instilled by her mother and grandparents who were avid readers. She’d often sneak books away from them so that she could fantasize about those strong alpha males and plucky heroines. In middle school and high school, Melissa used to write sappy love poems and shared them with her friends and still has those poems today! In college her writing changed to sarcastic musings on life as well as poems with a modern twist on fairy tales and won awards for her writing. You can find many of these musings along with her latest releases on her website and blog.
Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer, an owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.