Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest Blogger, Joanne Kennedy

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


  1. Hi Mason and Joanne .. that sounds really interesting .. especially if (like me) one doesn't have much knowledge of horses .. and the horse whisperer has raised the profile of training horses ..

    The book does sound fascinating .. and I'll keep my eyes out - thanks for this - have good weeks, Hilary

  2. It sounds like Joanne's experiences really helped her write this book...and she did even more research to learn the parts she wasn't familiar with. And I'm sure her bookstore background has helped, too, in crafting a book that readers want to read.

    All of my friends rode horses when I was a little girl, but for some reason I wasn't interested (I spent too much time reading, I guess!) But I love reading about horses. Your book sounds like a winner, Joanne! Thanks for hosting her, Mason.

  3. I enjoyed meeting Joanne and learning about her book through this post. I found it fascinating how she went to a prison to learn about a horse auction.

    Horses are beautiful animals. I'd been on a horse once or twice when younger. After falling off one, I never got back on.

  4. Thanks, Mason, for being hostess.

    Joanne, experience does indeed come in handy for writing. I love horses but have little experience with them. My parents bought horses after I left home. :( Then we planned on getting horses but it didn't happen. Your book sounds interesting.

  5. Joanne, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. The love of horses is something that stays with you.

    Hilary, Elizabeth, Susanne and Teresa, thanks for stopping by. Hope y'all have a wonderful day.

    BTW, Susanne I'm sure you've heard the old saying about when you fall off a horse you're suppose to get right back on. I fell off before when I first started riding. It was hard getting back on but I did and I'm glad I did because now I love riding. Give it another go sometimes.

  6. Thanks, Mason, for hosting me and thanks to everyone else for stopping by! I never get tired of talking about horses or writing. It was nice to find a way to combine the two!
    If you read the book and have comments, I love getting feedback from readers - my website is

  7. Wonderful post. When I was in grade school, someone spooked the horse I was on and it ran forever (like 4 laps around the horse field.) I hung on scared out of my wits and didn’t get on a horse for years.

  8. This was so interesting to me as I know nothing about horse training or being in prison. Great post. Thanks Mason and Joanne.

  9. I've never been around horses much, but they've always fascinated me. I think they're probably smarter than most of us really know. Your book sounds great.

  10. A relative had two horses when I was young. I remember how much my siblings and I loved riding them when we got the chance. And, of course, those wonderful horse books and movies…Black Beauty, National Velvet...they were so much fun. What great memories you’re bringing back today! I look forward to reading your book. Thanks for visiting.

  11. Thanks for hosting Joanne today, Mason. I grew up in Wyoming and Colorado but never rode until I moved to Washington state and fell in love with a little Norwegian Fjord horse. Really interesting information about the prison's horse training program, Joanne! Looking forward to your book, and no doubt will meet you someday since I live only 40 miles south of Cheyenne. ; - )
    Hearth Cricket

  12. My horse experiences are limited to a once a year trip to meet friends at the horse races.

    Your book sounds really interesting as does your research.

  13. Joanne's story of the mustang sale was very intersting. Who didn't want a pony as a kid at some point? I read lots of the Henry books as well and dream a lot! Thanks for the info on the new book.

  14. Joanne! Hugs to you lady.

    I love horses but physically I'm not as active with them since I've had knee surgery and another one is in the offing. I have my riding horse and I love him. We'll see how it goes.

    I've been to horse auctions. Most of the *noise* is from the people not the animals. But what a cool thing to attend. I actually like how prisons are being used to care for and train different types of animals, from horses to rehabing dogs or training them to be service dogs. Good idea as this give them something to focus on and love while giving back to society.

    Looking forward to reading your book.

  15. Wow, it sounds like you got an amazing experience!!! I am a criminal justice major with a passion for horses (riding/training/spending time). You had an amazing experience, and I'm excited to go take a look at the book now, as I am sure that will reveal alot about your prison visit! Thank you for sharing this!!

  16. Joanne,
    Love your post! Was I ever intrigued by horses? Well, we had this old mare that was broad enough to have a picnic on her back and I kind of liked riding her. And then there was the Shetland Pony but that was for my sister who was just a kid. Mercy, I was a teenager and my legs would have drug the ground! LOL! But if riding a horse meant getting that handsome cowboy to put his hands on my waist and put me on a horse, I'm all for trying it again!

  17. I've heard wonderful things about this author and her work....would love to be entered for a chance to win!

    Molly's Email

  18. I really love your post! I have never ridden a horse but love stories involving horses and I was touched by the idea of learning compassion and trust by training horses. I am so looking forward to reading this book!

  19. What an interesting experience and how sad that only one horse found a home. I have had very little experiences with horses but I am always amazed at their size.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  20. I've always been a little intimidated by horses in real life, but I love to read about them.

    headlessfowl at jteers dot net


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