Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Joanne Kennedy back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger as she makes a stop today on her virtual book tour.
Joanne’s latest release, COWBOY FEVER, is the third installment in her cowboy romance series. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: She Thought She Had It All…
A modeling contract with Wrangler got this Miss Rodeo Wyoming a first-class ticked out of town, but somewhere along the way Jodi Brand lost her soul. When she gets back to her hometown, her childhood friend Teague Treadwell’s rugged cowboy charm hits her like a ton of bricks…
He Believed He Wasn’t Good Enough…
Teague is convinced Jodi’s success lifted her out of his reach. Now he’s got to shed his bad boy image to be worthy of the girl next door…
But whoever heard of a beauty queen settling for a down and dirty cowboy…
Thanks to Joanne and Danielle at Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of COWBOY FEVER to giveaway to those commenting on Joanne’s post. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Visitors have until 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, April 15, to comment on this post. Be sure to include your e-mail with your comments if it isn’t included in your profile.
Joanne is here to talk about trading places with one of her characters, who it would be and why. She’s decided she shoulda been a cowgirl.
I want to be a rodeo queen. I’m a little past the proper age, and I don’t really have the skills required—but if I had my life to live over, I’d be one of those quintessential cowgirls with the sparkly hat and big hair.
At the start of every rodeo, the rodeo queens come out and gallop around the arena at top speed, waving flags and goading their horses into complicated formations. They wear sparkly shirts and tight jeans, and they ride like they were born in the saddle. It’s all part of the patriotic pageant of rodeo, as American as any apple pie.
To the uninitiated, rodeo queens might look like all the other pretty pageant princesses – but these women are skilled riders and great representatives for their communities. That’s why I made the heroine of COWBOY FEVER a former rodeo queen. When she arrives in her old hometown at the beginning of the book, Jodi Brand has already led a charmed life. With a modeling contract for Wrangler and a college scholarship behind her, she’s come home to keep the promise she made in her Miss Rodeo Wyoming victory speech: she’s going to make her hometown a better place.
But the real reason I envy this particular heroine is the way she intends to do it. Jodi has a degree in special education and she’s a certified equine therapist. She gets right down to work, building a wheelchair-friendly mounting ramp, finding calm, well-trained horses to use, and collecting a small string of clients that includes Russell, a wheelchair-bound boy who worships cowboys; Dorsey, a little girl with autism who finds confidence and joy in the saddle; and Constance, a child with Asperger’s whose determination to reach perfection in everything she does is both charming and challenging.
The scenes with these kids are based on my experiences with the Cheyenne Therapeutic Equestrian Center (CTEC) where I volunteer. Anita LaFond and her staff of teachers, horses and volunteers are truly an inspiration. If I can’t be Jodi Brand, I want to be Anita when I grow up. Not only does she help her clients gain strength, self-confidence and focus; she also uses rescue horses in the program—so everybody wins.
When I first started working with CTEC, I did it for the horses. My friend’s daughter is a rider there, and I went along as a side-walker, a volunteer who trots alongside the horses and makes sure the client doesn’t fall. I thought that would be a great excuse to mess around with animals.
But I stayed for the children. It is truly inspirational to watch these kids face a bewildering world and find joy on horseback. Faces light up. A child who rarely speaks learns to say “walk on” to get their horse to go. And best of all, a little boy who seemed isolated in his own private world gives you a big, affectionate hug. There are challenges, of course, and some sessions go better than others, but the rewards far outweigh anything else.
Of course, there is one other big reason I’d like to be Jodi Brand, and that’s Teague Treadwell. Teague is a bad boy with a good heart—not the kind of man a rodeo queen is supposed to get mixed up with. But he’s spent the last five years transforming his father’s played-out ranch into a first-class roughstock operation, raising bucking horses and bulls and striving to mend his reputation and be worthy of the town’s golden girl.
I also envy Jodi for her Wyoming roots. Her hometown has its share of busybodies and gossips—but it’s also filled with people who know her and care about her. I grew up in a small town, and I still see it as an idyllic place. I think many of us love small-town romances because we miss that sense of community.
Writing romance novels—and reading them—gives you a chance to make all your wishes come true, and COWBOY FEVER definitely answered some of my prayers. My heroine is the women I want to be, and Teague is the kind of man I love. And although they face a lot of challenges throughout the book, in the end Jodi and Teague stay true to themselves—and to each other.
Joanne, thanks for guest blogging today. It’s always fun to get background on a story. But I especially enjoy learning more about the Cheyenne Therapeutic Equestrian Center (CTEC) and the wonderful work they do.
Now for a bit of background on Joanne. She has worked in bookstores all her life in positions ranging from bookseller to buyer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second place in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007. Joanne lives and writes in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on TALL, DARK AND COWBOY (Releasing in November 2011). For more information on Joanne and her writing, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.
What are your thoughts on being a rodeo queen? Have you heard of the CTEC or similar programs that help youngsters through riding?