Round Robin: Jo March, A Most Memorable Character

Welcome to this Round Robin blog hop. Our topic this month is a character that wouldn’t leave our minds long after we’ve read a book.

Little WomenJo March from Little Women is a memorable character for me. I loved the book and all the characters. Each was an example of strength and resilience in the face of hardship and adversity.

But Jo stands out to me, first of course because she was a writer. Despite disapproval of her chosen avocation, she perseveres, and eventually writes and publishes a book about her family.

I identify with her also because she was quite independent—nobody tells her what she “must” do, and because she wasLIttle Men a “tomboy.” I was raised on a ranch and followed my dad around, helped him ride and do various ranch and farm chores. In our isolated community I didn’t have other girls my age to pal around with and I was six years older than my brother. So I made up my own stories, imaginary playmates, and fun.

It’s been many years since I’ve read Little Women, Little men and Jo’s Boys, but maybe it’s time to go back an revisit my memorable character!

Please hop over to these blogs for other memorable characters:

Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

Published in: on September 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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March Round Robin: Research

Book shelfThis month we are discussing research as our Round Robin topic. When you’ve finished my post, please check out the other members listed at the bottom.

CowgirlDreams Front CoverBefore I began writing my novels based on my rodeo-cowgirl grandmother, I made a trip to Montana. I found the old homestead house my grandparents lived in when they were first married, I visited museums, libraries, and newspaper archives, and gathered anecdotes from family members and friends.

Grandma had left a scrapbook filled with ranch and rodeo-related clippings, pictures, etc., and she had written a couple of short pieces: one about all the horses she’d owned and one a short-story about moving to Montana from Idaho as a child and then meeting her future cowboy husband.

Dream Cover FinalI also had a couple of journals she had written from the 1940s. While these did not play into my novels, they were fascinating and I got a taste for her spare notations (6 eggs today, weather 78 and sunny, etc.) which I tried to emulate in the journal entries Nettie writes in Follow the Dream.

And, of course I read all the books written about rodeo cowgirls I could find.

Dare Cover FinalAs I wrote I ran into questions that I would then search the internet or try to find experts in the field to provide answers. For example I wanted authentic details for railroad travel in the 1940s for Nettie’s trip to Madison Square Garden in New York for Dare to Dream.

So, the majority of my research was done before I began writing, but I also did more as I went along. Each project is different.

Please check out how my fellow “Rounders” do their research:

Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://rachaelkosinki.weebly.com
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Lynn Crain  http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

January Round Robin on Reading and Writing

Our topic from Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
this month is: What is your favorite time and place to read? How about writing time? Do you have to make time? Do you have a ritual or is your plan helter-skelter? I had a quilting teacher who followed the swiss cheese method to completing tasks: Make a hole here, and sometime later a hole there; keep repeating this until the whole thing is complete. What’s your method?

 ***

IBook pile_reading have to admit I’ve been reluctant to return to a schedule, following the holidays. It is always difficult to carve out time to write or to discipline myself to put my own writing first, ahead of my blogging obligations and editing projects. But after being on “vacation” I don’t want to return to “Reality.”

Reading: I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid. I’ve never been able to get enough of books and always have a stack or a list of TBR (To Be Read) books. I read while I eat, during commercials when I watch TV, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, and before I go to bed.

Writing: I belong to a great critique group, so that makes me accountable. I know I have to bring at least five pages to the Writing_in_Journalmeeting every week, so even if I wait until the last minute, I’m at least writing. I find I need a deadline to work—probably a learned response from my time as a newspaper reporter. I found I could write under pressure and now I seem to need it.

How about you, fellow readers and writers—what is your preference?

 ***

Check out the rest of our round robin group and see what their responses are:

A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rita Karnopp  http://www.mizging@blogspot.com
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Heidi M. Thomas https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Ginger Simpson http://www.cowboykisses.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on January 24, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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What is the scariest thing that has happened to you?

I’m participating in a round-robin blog this week about scary things. Please also visit the other participants listed at the end of this post.
We all have had heart-pounding, stomach-clenching moments that live permanently in our memories. In the past, I’ve only had a few  scary experiences.

Ski hill

  • Perched at the top of a black diamond ski run, thinking I should’ve stuck to the bunny hill.
  • Climbing to the top of a 75-foot platform at the water slide park and looking down at that nearly vertical drop. Can I just climb back down?
  • Performing a piano solo at a music competition. Why didn’t I practice more? What if I forget the notes?
  • Giving a talk in front of a large crowd. What if I sound stupid?

All these instances created that flight-or-fight, adrenaline-producing, momentary fear response. But each of these experiences turned into something thrilling, something I would do again. I learned from each scary moment

Now I face the scariest experience of all. My husband—best friend and soul-mate—of 40+ years is gone, and I’m facing life at the top of another one of those seemingly impossible peaks. Do I have the courage, the strength, the stick-to-itiveness it takes to pass through grief and recreate my life without him?

Those scary experiences that now seem so mundane did teach me that I could pause, take a deep breath, and call on some deep inner strength. I learned I had the courage to do it, that I could live through it, and that I came out the other side stronger than I was before.

I hold on to that thought, and it doesn’t seem as scary.

 

Now, please visit the following participants and see what scares them!

Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (5)  
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June Round Robin: An Explosive Scene

Round Robin bannerThis excerpt is from Follow the Dream, book two in my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy. Jake and Nettie have tried to put on a rodeo but had low attendance and poor earnings, so many cowboys didn’t get paid or were paid very little. I don’t have many “big” explosive moments in my novels, but this was fun to write.

A funereal mood enveloped Nettie along with the smell of stale cigarettes and yeasty beer when they walked though the swinging doors of the Ranchers Bar. She braced herself. This was the last place she wanted to be. She wished they could just go home.

Usually, after a rodeo, the saloon rollicked with laughter and shouts as the cowboys relived the highlights of their rides, embellishing the successes with each telling. Today the crowd was hushed. Men sat hunched over their drinks, and only a few forced laughs punctuated the low murmur.

Jake and Nettie settled on stools at the bar, and Jake summoned the bartender. “A round for the house, on me.” He downed his whiskey in one gulp, then turned to the room. “Gents, ladies, I’m very sorry about today’s poor purse. I’d like to buy you a drink to make it up to you.”

The pitch of the conversation rose a notch. Somebody shouted. “Hear, hear.”Dream Cover Final

“That’s the least you can do.” Another voice sang out.

A burly cowboy stepped up beside Jake. “It’ll take more’n one drink to make up for this.” With the speed of a rattlesnake, he drove his fist into Jake’s jaw.

“No!” Nettie shouted.

Jake’s head rocked back and he fell against the bar. His hand came up instinctively to feel for the damage to his face. Driving his weight forward, Jake ducked under a second punch. His return jab glanced off the cowboy’s shoulder. The man spun to the side. He recovered his balance with a roundhouse to Jake’s upraised arm.

The room erupted into a mare’s nest of shouts and commotion. The crowd surged forward to surround the two men. Nettie scrambled over the top of the bar, her drink flying, to land beside the bartender. She grabbed his arm. “Help. Stop them!”

He merely shrugged.

The two men rolled on the floor. Grunts punctuated slaps. She couldn’t tell who was landing punches where. The burly cowboy had Jake down.

No, now Jake rolled on top. He punched the cowboy in the nose. Blood squirted.

The cowboy heaved Jake off and swung a left to Jake’s eye. The onlookers shouted encouragement. “Git ’im. Punch his lights out.”

Nettie screamed. The din and confusion overwhelmed her with total helplessness. This couldn’t be happening. She had to stop this insanity. Where were the other women? Gone. No help from them.

Nettie slipped from behind the bar and out the back door. Her boot heels thundering on the wooden sidewalk, she ran down the street to the Sheriff’s office and yanked open the door.

“Bar fight. Help!” she yelled and ran back to the saloon. Sheriff Ingram lumbered behind.

 

boxingNow, please visit the following blogs for more on explosive scenes!

* Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog

*Anne Stenhouse http://goo.gl/ILNek6

* Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
* Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
* Kay Sisk  http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
* Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
* Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
* Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com

Published in: on June 28, 2014 at 6:29 am  Comments (8)  
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May Round Robin: Romantic Setting

This month’s Round Robin topic is: What is the most inspiring, romantic, or dangerous setting you ever read or written?

 Mine is an unusual and (maybe a little dangerous) romantic setting. An excerpt from Cowgirl Dreams:

Lightning slashed through the murky sky. A thunderclap rattled Nettie’s teeth. The horses shied and tugged at the reins. Barely able to breathe, Nettie could no longer feel her hands. Her whole body was numb. She felt the saddle slip. They wouldn’t make it. She was going to fall. They’d both be hit by lightning. Dear Lord, help us, please.

 “Hang on, we’re almost there.” Jake shifted the heavy saddle to take more of the weight himself. “It’s okay. You can do it. Come on. Just a few more steps.” Together they staggered the last few yards to the old shack. Jake dropped the saddle on the refuse-strewn porch and tethered the horses under the roof overhang on the lee side. Then he pushed the door open and helped Nettie through the opening. She nearly fell into the room, relief flooding over her.

He pushed the door shut against the gusts of wind and rain and struggled to latch it. Then he knelt beside her, his wide eyes examining her face. “Are you all right? Are you hurt? Anything broken?”

“I’m okay.” Nettie looked up at him, gulped and blinked. “Oh, my gosh, your eye.” She sat upright and reached up to caress the rapidly swelling bump.

“I’m just fine.”

CowgirlDreams Front Cover“Jake, we coulda been killed.” She shuddered as the realization washed over her, then broke into great hiccupping sobs. He encircled her with his long arms and drew her face to his chest. He smelled like horsehair and tobacco. It didn’t matter that his sodden denim shirt stuck to her cheek. She closed her eyes and snuggled close inside his embrace as he stroked her wet hair.

The rain beat a vicious tattoo on the roof. Just like those hailstones on her head and back. Her skin still stung, and her hands were raw and tingling. She shivered again. The ice seemed to have penetrated her blood. Her teeth chattered. Never in her life had she been so scared. They were lucky to be alive. Safe in his arms now, her sobs gradually subsided.

Jake hugged her closer, his face only inches from hers. She felt his warm breath on her cheek.

He rubbed a hand up and down her back, sending warm shivers through her body. “I have to let you go for a minute and see if I can get a fire going.”

Nettie clutched at him. She didn’t want him to go, even a few feet away.

Murmuring in her ear as if soothing a skittish colt, he eased out of the embrace and off the floor. He picked up an old horse blanket from one corner of the nearly empty room and shook the dust off. Gently, he wrapped the worn, dirty wool pad around her shoulders.

Nettie glanced around the room, wallpaper peeling in strips, cobwebs strung over the windows, the floor rotted and splintered. Wonder what happened to the people who lived here? A wooden chair slumped on its side, a leg missing. Jake stomped on the remaining legs to break them, then the rungs and the back, into pieces. He pried up a loose floorboard to add to the pile of firewood.

Nettie watched him squat before the fireplace, moving with such confidence. Gosh, he knows just what to do. He whittled shavings from the wood, then struck a match from a little tin canister in his pocket. He’s so handy. And so caring. He protected me.

Jake blew on the flame, coaxed it to catch. Above the sunburned line on his forehead where his hat usually rode, his skin was fair. His reddish blond hair shone softly. The flame caught and grew, its flicker kindling a spark of hope in her. She heard the snap as it spread to the other shavings and sticks of wood.

Jake added more fuel to the fire. He coughed as it smoked, but then the smoke drew up into the chimney. He sat next to her again, cradling her in the curve of his arm. He took out a small flask from his pocket. “Here, have a slug of this. It’ll help warm you.”

She coughed at the harsh fire that ran down her throat. But it did warm her, and her shivers diminished as her clothes dried.

“Thank you for saving my life.” Nettie raised her face to his and kissed the corner of his mouth. Then, to hide her blush, she leaned against his strong body. He tightened his arm around her shoulders.

They’d made it. Together. They were together, and that was all that mattered right now.Dare Cover Final

Cowgirl Dreams is the first of the “Dreams” trilogy. The second novel is Follow the Dream and the third is the newly released Dare to Dream.

 

Now hop on over to check out these blog offerings!

Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
Anne Stenhouse at http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog
Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com

A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

 

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (7)  
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