Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cowboy Connections


Giveaway Alert!

On Christmas and Easter mornings, long before I could read, I would slip downstairs in the silence and sit looking at the respective treasures as long as I could before I rushed them, digging through my stocking or looking through my basket to find what I most wanted—cowboys.

Well, okay, that’s not exactly true. What I most wanted were a cowboy’s tools—more precisely—horses. Models or cheap plastic replicas, I’d dig through, finding as many as I could. And almost always, my stocking or basket, which we never saw in advance, could be identified by the coloring book sticking out—Roy Rogers and Trigger. The Lone Ranger and Silver, Jim and Fury. Jim might not have been a cowboy, but he had a wild black stallion, so he passed that all-important test: horsemen with iron-clad codes of conduct, cute (lucky) kids, and usually—good looks. The good looks were, at that time, the least important of all considerations.

Our only close neighbors in that rural town were a couple of good-old-boys to be, the Hester twins. In blue jeans and white tee-shirts, I never had a lot of interest in them, and they weren’t particularly adventurous, but they’d watch my sister and I gallop around trying to rope the family cows and pretend they thought cowboys were cool, too. Much later, we figured out we might have held the twins interest a little more if we let them be the cowboys and we were dance hall girls, but, oh well.

Ironically, a move to Texas trampled my love affair with cowboys. Tough teenage years, a job on a dude ranch that got me disowned, and bills, children, and the years can make you discard everything you believe are just silly childhood passions.

Childhood passions like writing. About cowboys. No mattered how hard I tried, from the novel I wrote for John  Wayne and Dean Martin during chemistry class to the story I started about star-crossed lovers gunned down by vigilantes on an international bridge, my stories had horses. And cowboys.

Mind you, the first real cowboy I ever met, Noe, wouldn’t have appeared on the cover of today’s cowboy stories. He dressed in a snap-front checkered shirts with holes in the elbows, wore jeans, boots, and a hat, and wrangled dudes—because, as he told me, ranches and cowboys were disappearing and he didn’t want to be anything but a cowboy. Quiet and bone thin, but strong enough to move hay, control 20 horses at feeding time, and boost hefty tourists into saddles, he inspired confidence. He tipped his hat, and he was unfailingly polite, even to guests I would have loved seen thrown over the corral fence into the pig’s pen. 

He was a cowboy.

And there are other cowboys out there, more mechanized, perhaps, than before—but still bound to horses, to a sense of chivalry evolved, I like to think, from medieval knights, and still working livestock, breaking horses, dancing across wooden floors in honkytonks. Still igniting young girls’ dreams and the passions of women who find them irresistible.

Recently, watching The Mask of Zorro, it occurred to me that part of our fascination with cowboys is that while they might share certain values, like independence and honesty, one of the attractions is diversity among cowboys. Jesse James, who fascinated me through much of my childhood? A cowboy gone wrong. Zorro, the legend, a cowboy masquerading as a folk hero disguising himself as a rich man. But a cowboy.

While Noe remains in my mind an unshakably good, and truly a cowboy, he never made a Hollywood blockbuster, won a rodeo buckle, or appeared in boots and chaps on someone’s romance novel. What he, and other working cowboys do, is give us the reality of the cowboy presence in the world. As ranches (and horses) have dwindled in many areas, you might find a cowboy strolling in a New York park, or disguised as a firefighter, or a law enforcement officer, greeting you with a tip of a hat or cap, then rushing out to rescue a cat or a child, or face down a corrupt city government. Not all cowboys understand why they behave as they do, they just have to, which is what separates real cowboys from the fictional cowboy?

Body parts, mainly. Those bare torsos that make you stop and stare. A body photographed from the chest down dressed only in chaps and boots.  Hats in all the right places. And like their real counterparts, these perfect cowboys in all their glory are essential to the survival of the species. Because somehow along the way from children to adult readers, we found that horses are beautiful, but we’re a lot more interested in the men who still ride them. The books we read refuel our dreams, keep the respect and passion for the cowboy life alive, and encourage our sons and daughters to value the ideas of integrity, compassion, hard work and resilience. But you might not buy a book with Noe on the cover and rekindle your dreams of a cowboy connection. That’s what covers are for.

To find your cowboy, please check out the Crimson Romance Crazy for Cowboys Bundle and Cowboy Up, a collection of cowboy novellas, both releasing on September 8th—and guaranteed to be way more than 8 second rides! Tim McGraw sings about “the cowboy in us all”—what would you like to share about your cowboy connection?
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Leslie loves hearing from readers. Please visit Return to Rio for updates, guest author appearances, and a good time!

Giveaway:
Leslie will be giving away 1 digital copy each of Wildflower Redemption and His Temporary Wife to two lucky winners leaving a comment or email entry.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Sept. 5th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

20 comments:

  1. Dya know, I think I'm homesick for a cowboy (past lives yanno!) anyone know where I can find one in London? Sigh, thought not. Great post, Leslie, as ever!

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  2. I loved this post. I'm from Slovenia but I'm a sucker for cowboys. I find them hot as hell! And I love the accent. Thank you for the chance and for this great post!
    irma(dot)jurejevcic(at)amis(dot)net

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  3. Good morning, Cait and Irma! Cait, I don't know about London's stash of cowboys, but happy hunting. Irma, a lot of us are suckers, but someone has to be, right? I thank you both for the kind words--thanks for coming by!

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  4. I'll take a cowboy over a billionaire any day! I loved John Wayne and Dean Martin in Rio Bravo- and pretty hot looking cowboys too! Best wishes Leslie!!

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    1. How funny about Rio Bravo, Teresa--I wrote a sequel in high school chemistry because my sister convinced me if she met Dean Martin, he'd marry her! Preach, and my college friend loved it. Unfortunately, my father burned it before I could offer to John and Dean. Thanks for coming by, and for the good wishes.

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    2. Drat! I'm totally in LOVE with Dean Martin and would have really enjoyed reading that!

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  5. Loved your post Leslie! It had me Laughing Out Loud this morning! While dabbing my eyes with a tissue, images of cowboys I have known both on & off screen, flickered across my mind.... Having had a long love affair with horses, especially as a teen, led me on an exciting adventure, in Flagstaff Arizona & to a ranch in Sedona. Being a Southern Belle, Stranded at a rodeo, intimidated by the strange surroundings... I was approached by a Handsome Cowboy... (More about that later..) I have just begun reading book number 1 in your Texas Heart & Soul series, Wildflower Redemption. Can't wait to see how it all ends up & to read more of Your Books! love & Blessings, MMG

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    1. Wow. Came home dead tired and your lovely comments made me want to dance--thanks so much. Can't wait to hear about being approached by a Handsome Cowboy at some point! Hope you enjoy Wildflower Redemption! Take care, MMG!

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  6. Oh boy that bundle grabbed my attention! Making note of it! Love cowboys... loved horses first but who can pass up a sexy cowboy! Thanks for sharing today!

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    1. Colleen, thanks so much for your comments. This month is super fun for me, because I got invited to participate in two cowboy collections. Cowboy Up is a set of novella length stories about some good--and sexy--men. We don't exactly outgrown the horses, but we do mature a little in our tastes, don't we?

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  7. Been cowboy crazy my whole life!

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    1. Your writing portrays cowboydom so well, D'Ann. Love how you live so close to that life. Okay, maybe love is the wrong word. Maybe envy...lol. Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your early life with us Leslie. I do love books about sexy cowboys. But as you pointed out, REAL cowboys are nothing like the ones we read about.
    joanne.boykoATyahooDOTcom

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    1. Hi, Jo-Anne. So glad you could drop by! The sexy cowboys we see keep the image fresh and in demand, but I like to think that the legend springs from truth!

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  9. Cowboy and policeman were the first characters that my sisters and friends played when I was little. it is amazing how cowboys are still around.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Definitely someone after my own heart, Kai. And it is both amazing and reassuring that we still find cowboys. Sometimes they're disguised a little--in A Cowboy's Heart, (my selection in the Cowboy Up collection) my cowboy wears a Border Patrol uniform and rides for the Mounted Unit. And the other day, I saw country singer Tim McGraw giving houses away, and thought--you know, he really is a cowboy. I think it's not the material treasures 'real' cowboys give, but the sense of being rock-solid good underneath that makes us hunger after them. And heck, if they ride around with shirts, well, we can deal with that...

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  10. like cowboy stories

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  11. Love it!!! Reminded me of my early years when I wanted to move out to some remote part of the country and be a cowgirl. Confession here momma..I would put myself to sleep fantasizing about owning a ranch with horses and cows and such and falling in Love with a rugged cowboy!!! Loved your post! Love your writing!! jamie_garcia97@yahoo.com

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    1. Should have told me, Jamie. We could have run away from home together and found a ranch who needed the two of us to make life fun! Thanks for coming by after a busy day, and taking the time to comment!

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  12. Thanks, bn100! Good luck in the giveaway!

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