This Feels Like Home By Debra St. John

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cowboy Up!

I've always loved cowboys. Ever since I visited a grade school friend in Texas over spring break one year and rediscovered country music. I say rediscovered because growing up it was my parents' music genre of choice. Of course back then, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. In high school I was more into the 80s hair bands (Bon Jovi, Skid Row, etc.) It was my dream to date a guy with hair longer than mine.
Luckily that one trip to the Lone Star State right after college changed all that. The new wave of country music spurred on by Garth Brooks spoke to me. Became a part of me. So much, that I convinced another friend to join me for some line dancing lessons at a local country bar here at home.

The rest as they say, is history. There at the bar I met a plethora of friends, one of whom eventually became my wonderful hubby. Another introduced me to the local RWA chapter she belonged to, and my dream of writing a romance novel was one step closer to coming true.

I jumped into writing my first novel, all the while planning, in my naiveté, for it to be the first of a trilogy. Little did I know how difficult it was to sell one book, let alone three. But eventually I sold that first book, and several others since then. Best of all, I not only wrote but sold the other two books in the series. With this month's debut of This Feels Like Home, the trilogy is complete.

The Corral series' setting is based on that bar where I met my hubby. It's gone now, but for me it will live on in the pages of my books. The people in the stories are fictional, but the spirit of the place remains. And in Home, I got to write about my favorite kind of cowboy: a bull rider.

Jake Hawkins has one goal in life: earn enough points to ride the pro circuit. And he won't let anything - or anyone - stand in his way.

Researching Jake's character was a ton of fun. I attended live rodeo events and took hundreds of pictures and filled a yellow pad with pages of copious notes. I watched hours of bull riding on tv. On-line at the PBR's official web-site I found a great rodeo dictionary. I soaked in every nuance I could to make Jake and his career authentic. And believe me, the added bonus of spending time with cowboys in Wranglers and Stetsons was no hardship at all.

Those staples are part of what makes a cowboy 'do it' for me. But it's more than that. It's his passion for what he does. The drive. The dedication. The kind and compassionate heart beneath his tough exterior. And let's not forget the way his manners and soft drawl (Yes ma'am) make my toes curl.

At first accessibility consultant Amber Winfield wanted nothing to do with Jake or his dangerous career. But in the end those things 'did it' for her as well, and my hero Jake found his very own happily ever after.

Which was bitter sweet for me. It was an unbelievable thrill to have actually completed (and published) the trilogy I'd dreamed about for so long. But it was also sad to think it was over. My three main characters had their stories. They overcame their obstacles and found true love in their respective soul mates. There was nothing left to tell.

Or was there? Over the course of the three books, I'd introduced some background characters. For the most part, they were there to add depth to the setting, after all, our heroes and heroines can't walk around in a void, can they? And they stayed mostly in the background. But what if some of them have stories too? For a while now, that little voice that resides in all authors' heads has been nudging me to write some spin-off stories about these minor characters. And I think I might just listen to it. Then I won't really have to say good-bye to the characters and place I've created and grown to love.

Especially those cowboys. Because more than likely, one of Jake's bull rider friends has a story just waiting to be told.

Thanks to RomCon for having me here today! One lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win an e-copy of their choice of any of the books in The Corral Series: This Time for Always, This Can't Be Love, or This Feels Like Home. Good luck!