Thursday, January 4, 2018

"Winning"- by Karen Rock



Recently, I read a great book titled "Hardwired for Story" that discusses how the brain responds to story-telling. One of the most important takeaways from the books was that the story element readers' brains responded to the most were dynamic heroes and heroines. Strong characters, who grow, change, and overcome obstacles over the course of a story are the reason many of us keep turning the pages. Plot is, in actuality, simply a series of events designed to challenge our characters and help them become the best version of themselves.

Think about it this way, which book would your rather read? One with dull, static characters who never change in an otherwise beautiful exotic setting or complex, flawed, dynamic characters who undergo dramatic challenges that helps them grow and heal in a regular, day-to-day setting? If your pick is the complex characters in a day-to-day setting, then you're a Heartwarming reader! Heartwarming is all about crafting contemporary stories set in a real world, populated by real people dealing with real issues--which is one of the many reasons I'm so proud to write for this authentic and heartfelt line!

In my January release FALLING FOR A COWBOY, my heroine, Amberley James, is a champion barrel-racer at the top of her game. She's been raised to believe that winning is the most important thing in life and, as her dearly departed father told her, if she's not first, she's last and when you're last, you're not much. Her dreams of joining an elite touring group of professional barrel-racers are shattered, however, when a rare genetic condition makes her legally blind. She feels useless and wants to give up and hide away from the world but her best friend, Jared Cade won't let her. In this inspiring comeback story, he helps her to believe in herself again... and in love... if she's willing to take a chance on both. In the excerpt below, Amberley's growth is demonstrated when she changes her definition of what winning truly means.

Amberley’s fingers curled around the split rail fence. “Would you call me through the race, Ella?”

“What about Jared?”

“He’s practicing with the Broncos.” There. Short and sweet. She didn’t need to spend more time, or words, on a man who saw only what could go wrong instead of believing in what could go right.

“I know Calamity Jane better than him,” Ella mused, her voice rising slightly in excitement. “And the course setup, too. Not to mention, I am a world champion—or was until you came along.”

Ella’s rueful chuckle mingled with Amberley’s surprised laugh. "You know, she said after they'd quieted again, "I think I might help you score higher than Jared did."



“That’s a competitor speaking right there,” Amberley observed through a grin.

“Me?” Ella exclaimed, all innocence. “Let’s just say I’ve got a horse in this race…literally. I want to see you make the team.”

“Because of your brother?”

“Partly, but also because I believe you’re an amazing rider and you’ve earned the spot. If you make it, I’ll even come on the road with you when the team tours, right up until I have the baby, and again when I take my spot back on the team.”

Amberley squeezed her eyes shut against the sudden, rising wet. “Thank you, Ella.”

“It’s my pleasure. You’re a winner, Amberley. I’m just honored to be a part of it. Y’all take care, now.”

She squeezed Amberley’s shoulder, and her boots rustled the grass as she strode away.

Inside the stall, Amberley untacked Harley, located the comb and glided it through his luxurious mane, the repetitive motion settling her racing heart.

She’d compete again. With or without Jared.

Without him, or Harley, it all came down to her—as it should. No one to depend on except herself.

Would Jared change his mind, want her back, if he knew?

She encountered a snarl and teased it loose.

Maybe.

Yet if he appeared, hat in hand, she wouldn’t take him back. Jared might have his sight, but he didn’t see the big picture. If he couldn’t tell that they were perfect together, then so be it. Besides, he had his dreams to chase, and she wouldn’t stand in the way of them. She just wished she’d been part of that dream.

No more shrinking from life again or letting a setback overwhelm her, no matter how badly she hurt. Winning in love, in life, wasn’t some arbitrary achievement, but a series of steps taken toward a goal you set for yourself. Right now, her goal was to bring as much inspiration and
happiness to others as she could.

Even if she couldn’t have it for herself.

Not completely.

Not without Jared.

****
Amberley transforms as she grows and evolves in FALLING FOR A COWBOY. Do you agree with Amberley's new definition of winning? How is this definition different than the way most people define winning? Which is better? Enter to win Book One in the series, CHRISTMAS AT CADE RANCH, or the prequel, A COWBOY TO KEEP, by sharing your thoughts about what winning means to you in the comments section. I'll announce the winner here on Friday!

FALLING FOR A COWBOY is on sale now (digital or print) Snag your copy by clicking on the links below (Can be read as a standalone)

Amazon: http://ow.ly/kfH330g7Dl6
Barnes and Noble: http://ow.ly/57mW30hv7m8
Kobo: http://ow.ly/wj0f30hv7nc
iTunes: http://ow.ly/92gs30hv7nR
Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488084881_falling-for-a-cowboy.html

Please mark your calendars and visit my website January 15th-20th for daily blog spots to access my blog tour & enter my $50 Amazon gift card giveaway!










37 comments:

  1. I love it! Good luck with the release, Karen.

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    1. I loved Christmas at Cade Ranch & I would love a chance to win a print copy of Falling For The Cowboy. My winning was being able to sell my house in Indiana last year & moving back to Chicago after losing my Husband to Kidney Cancer. I'm happier being here near my Son & his family. Thanks for this generous chance.

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    2. That is a tremendous "winning" Linda May, at a high price- I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband, but am happy you're settled near your family :) And I'm so glad you loved Christmas at Cade Ranch! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

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    3. Karen....I love the Cowboy on the cover. He's a cutie. The story sounds amazing. Wishing you all the best in 2018. <3 --Janie

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    4. In my opinion, and I tell the kids I work with, it doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you have fun and enjoy what you are doing is all that matters. I can't wait to read this book because it sounds so good!

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  2. Sounds like a good story, Karen. Good luck!

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  3. Love your strong characters Karen! Keep them coming!

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    1. Thank you, Tara- as critique partners, we keep each other strong, too <3

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  4. Love your definition of winning, Linda May. And love your question, Karen! May January be a winning month for both of you, ladies!

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    1. Thank you so much! Wishing you the same :)

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  5. Nice description of plot and plot points. I really am enjoying reading your series. Keep the books coming.

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  6. Congratulations on your new release, Karen! I can't wait to read it. I love all your stories! Happy New Year, too.

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  7. Thanks for sharing both the book you read and the book you wrote. Dynamic heroes and heroines are a must. I fell in love with a new author recently. She's not new, but it was a new series for me. I realized on book four that she knew world building and characterization. Both dynamic points. Blind would definitely end the career. What a tough topic to tackle. I'm in awe.

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    1. Thanks so much, Pam! Amberley's blindness was a challenge- especially since she was legally blind and I couldn't go with just a complete blackout... but once I got past chapter three I really began to feel more at ease with describing the world as she experienced it. The racing scenes though... that's another story- lol

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  8. Love this post--it's an honor to share a release month with you. I think neuroscience is one of the great frontiers of our time. The idea of the learning through stories and engaging the brain through story is one of the great confirmations of our time. We always knew stories were connected to the brain and heart, and now we know why and how. Congratulations on creating wonderful stories!

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    1. Thanks so much Virginia and it's an honor to share a release month with you, too! I love neuroscience, too, and when I saw that title I knew it'd be a valuable read to understand how readers' brains react to stories. Could not recommend it more!

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  9. winning is sometimes in the heart only and not shown on the outside, just getting out of bed some days is a win!! Don't enter I have these books!

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    1. You're absolutely right, Teresa! After I had my daughter, I had post-partum depression and just getting out of bed to go to work when my leave was up took so much out of me... and doing that every day and battling through is winning for sure... We don't need a trophy or a championship ring to know we are winners in our own, everyday lives :)

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    2. Congratulations, Teresa Fordice! You're the winner of either CHRISTMAS AT CADE RANCH or the prequel to the series A COWBOY TO KEEP! email me at karenrock@live.com with your mailing address and book choice when you get a chance. Thanks!

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  10. I'm really looking forward to reading this story. I've always admired barrel racers, and I can't imagine riding blind. She sounds so courageous.

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    1. There was a practice session when she first rode blind and then a full race scene sightless and both had my heart in my mouth as I wrote them... the amount of courage it would take is incredible, but also the trust in your horse and in the person calling directions to you through the walkie-talkie on your saddle... that's tremendous. Amberley is one of my favorite heroine because of her strength- and she's always a winner to me :)

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  11. I definitely agree with Amberley's definition of winning- we make our own luck! This is a great excerpt to showcase this fantastic book!

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  12. Wow. That excerpt gave me goosebumps. Literally! Can't wait to read it. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you, LeAnne! Happy New Year 😊

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  14. I always enjoy reading your books. Thanks for the chance.

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    1. You're so welcome, Deana :) Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

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  15. Sounds like a great read! Can’t wait to read it❤️
    Happy New Year 🎈🎊🎆

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    1. Thank you so much, Melissa! Wishing you a very Happy New Year as well :)

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  16. I have had my share of winning. The first thing I remember ever winning was a gold (glass) ashtray. I didn't (don't) smoke. I had it and a green bowl for years that I won at the state fair. The biggest win was Doug! My two daughter's, of course, and Mandy pulling thru 3 open heart operations. I'm pretty lucky at winning. Now , if I could only win a million lotto!

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    1. That is a lot of winning... and I'm guessing I'm talking to Pam because you are the luckiest person I know... but winning in the health and well-being of yourself and loved ones is priceless :)

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  17. Congratulations, Teresa Fordice! You're the winner of either CHRISTMAS AT CADE RANCH or the prequel to the series A COWBOY TO KEEP! email me at karenrock@live.com with your mailing address and book choice when you get a chance. Thanks!

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