Please join me in welcoming author Joanne Kennedy as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.
Joanne’s latest release is ONE FINE COWBOY. Thanks to Joanne and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have two copies of ONE FINE COWBOY to giveaway (open to U.S. and Canada only, sorry) to two lucky visitors commenting on this post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, Oct. 4.
Joanne’s book is about sexy cowboys and cowgirls so she’s stopped by today to talk about “A Lifelong Love,” but it just may not be what you think.
ONE FINE COWBOY was inspired by a lifelong love affair—not with cowboys, but with horses.
Despite the fact that my parents wouldn’t buy me a pony when I was a kid, thereby scarring me for life (or so I argued at the time), I was a horse-crazy tween, taking riding lessons, reading Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley, and playing with other people’s horses whenever I could.
Once I moved out on my own and had the space, I finally got my own horses. I wasn’t a very wise judge of horseflesh and all those horse stories had taught me to romanticize wild, intractable stallions, so I always chose critters that were a little on the difficult side. As it turned out, that was a good thing; the scenes in ONE FINE COWBOY with Nate’s feisty stallion were all written from personal experience.
I don’t have horses now, but I’m still fascinated by horse training because it teaches us so much about both animals and people. Training methods have changed over the years, and if they’re any indication of a change in human nature, we’re getting more enlightened every day. Back when horses were an essential mode of transportation, the emphasis was on quickly getting the animals to submit and training could be brutally cruel. Now, trainers use the horse’s natural responses and instincts to build a two-way partnership.
That’s one reason I decided to write a romance that focused on a horse trainer. There are so many parallels between achieving partnership with a horse and building trust in a relationship. I wanted my city-girl heroine to start from the beginning of the process, so I decided my cowboy hero would teach a “Green Horse, Green Rider” clinic where the students trained mustangs.
But I couldn’t write the mustang auction scene without experiencing one for myself. This was the first time I used my new credibility as a published author, talking the Bureau of Land Management into letting me attend a mustang sale at the Canon County Correctional Facility. The BLM holds over a thousand wild horses at this Colorado prison, where inmates train the horses and prepare them for new lives. I’m sure the horses train the prisoners in return; you can’t work with horses without empathy, sensitivity, and compassion.
So not only did I get to go to a mustang sale—I got to go to prison!
I have to admit that the thrill faded a little after I filled out my paperwork and got on the bus that would take me “inside.” I couldn’t help thinking of how many other people had ridden the same bus for a far different reason, and I have to admit it was a little chilling to enter those gates. My romance writer’s mind was creating one scenario after another: what if I’d been convicted of a crime I didn’t commit? What would it be like to enter those gates and know you might never come out?
But all that was forgotten as soon as we crested a hill and I saw the holding facility for the first time. Dozens of enclosures were filled with horses of every color, from typical wild grullas and duns to flashy paints and bays.
There were a number of things that surprised me about the experience. First and foremost was the horses’ curiosity and friendliness. This is partly because they’ve been fed by humans for the months they’ve lived in the facility—but they’ve also been captured and the stallions have been gelded, so I didn’t expect them to be so trusting.
Another surprise was their silence. Rounding up horses for loading is chaotic and stressful. They naturally want to stay with their herd, but the horses at Canon City barely made a sound throughout the process. I found out later that whinnying isn’t a preferred method of communication for horses in the wild; it’s an adaptation to being stabled and unable to see each others’ body language.
The sale was an amazing experience, but sadly, only one horse found a home that day. Most of the animals I saw will remain in holding facilities the rest of their lives. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the wild horse issue, and no one has been able to implement a solution that pleases everyone. Meanwhile the populations on the range increase and the challenge continues.
Are you a horse lover? What have your experiences been with horses?
Joanne, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. The love of horses is something I can relate to. I’ve loved and wanted a horse since I was a kid. I finally got my first horse shortly after I met my DH. It was a Quarter Horse gelding named Canyon Son and he was perfect for me, very gentle and never in a hurry. It was always a joke (but I think he was probably serious) if we broke up, DH got custody of the horse.
Here’s a brief synopsis of ONE FINE COWBOY (in stores now): He’s got a way with horses…and with women...
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous “Horse Whisperer” of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing…
The last thing she expects is a lesson in romance…
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely…
Nate needs to stay focused if he’s going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can’t help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?
For a little background on Joanne. She has worked in bookstores all her life in positions from bookseller to buyer. A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, she won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.