My July Harlequin Heartwarming release, TWINS FOR THE RODEO STAR (cover text below), had a long journey, beginning when I first started writing. Rodeos were popular in romances, but to be honest, I simply wasn’t interested in writing about them. After all, how could I craft a good story if I didn’t genuinely appreciate the setting?
On top of that, riding bulls and broncos sounded dangerous. I’ve known people whose passion for something was greater than anything else in their lives, including their partner and children. Putting myself in a character’s shoes, I knew how painful it would be to love someone who was willing to risk their life for the thrill of winning…to know you’d always come second.
Nope, I wasn’t ever going to write a rodeo story.
That was before I saw my first rodeo.
|The Junior Rodeo is just as|
much fun as the one for
Moving to a community where the annual rodeo is the BIG EVENT was an eye-opener. Anticipation permeates the air. Weeks ahead of time, stores put up displays and decorate their windows with a Western theme. Even the antique shops get into the spirit. Over-the-street street banners adorn the main thoroughfare. A special edition of a community events publication is released and the week leading to the rodeo has entertainment for all ages.
|Getting ready to compete|
|Some of the contestants' horses|
My educated guess about the American Paint was based more on research than experience with that particular horse breed. I enjoy research. My interests aren’t just limited to a manuscript in progress, because I never know when an obscure piece of information will become useful or spark another idea. I read non-fiction on every imaginable subject, watch a broad range of documentaries, travel, visit specific locales whenever possible, and use the internet.
|Book One of |
Bridal Fever series
But despite all my research and experience with the annual town rodeo, I still had the challenge of how to write about a hero or heroine who would put their life in danger that way. After all, they aren’t first responders or in the military, they’re competing in a very risky sport. I also didn't want the entire story taking place at a rodeo, including a ranch setting seemed important.
A story began evolving. It's no surprise that some of my original concerns became central to the conflict, and to the heroine‘s back story. I actually wrote the first chapter and a short synopsis for the Canadian Blitz event offered on the Harlequin website some time ago. Though invited to submit a full proposal, I was working on a contract for Harlequin SuperRomance and needed to focus on my deadlines. When I finally had some breathing space, I submitted a proposal to Heartwarming. The wanted it, along with two other stories for a series called Hearts of Big Sky.
Tragically, while working on the proposal (the working title was Twin Lassos for Dad), a real bull rider died during competition. It was a sobering reminder that my fictional characters and invented world of “Shelton, Montana” had a very real root in reality.
|My first book|
Collectively we are going through a difficult period in history. Being able to write a story that provides entertainment and a brief escape is a privilege. My mother read boxes of romance novels in the months after my father passed, and she would be particularly pleased to know I’ve found a new home with Heartwarming. Actually, I’m sure she does know and is cheering me on. While in the beginning Mom discouraged my writing (she knew that relatively few prospective writers become published and hated seeing her children disappointed), she became my most ardent fan.
I recently finished working on edits for my second book in the Hearts of Big Sky series, CHISTMAS ON THE RANCH (December 2020), set near Yellowstone National Park. Bears and wolves have a special place in this story about a wildlife photographer and the cattle rancher who rents her the unused foreman's cabin to use as a home base. Trouble is in the air when Gideon discovers Alaina is the widow of a wolf biologist and she’s searching for wolves to photograph.
Currently I’m writing the third Hearts of Big Sky manuscript, but I have many more thoughts for the series. I’ve always had more ideas than time and right now I have enough to keep me going until I’m at least two hundred years old. Obviously I need to stay healthy for a long, long while so I can write all of them, along with the new ones always popping in my imagination.
|One of my ferals. The most I've been able to |
do is lightly brush his cheek.
|Nature is healing|
Take care and stay safe.
CONTACT: Julianna Morris Facebook
Cover description from TWINS FOR THE RODEO STAR:
From rodeo star to daddy…twice over!
Every cowboy makes mistakes, and champion bull rider Josh McKeon is no exception. But gorgeous Montana rancher Kelly Beaumont isn’t quite ready to forgive Josh for breaking her heart. Especially when she’s been hiding a secret—he’s the father of her twin boys! Now this rodeo star has one last chance to convince Kelly that they belong together…as a family. Only this time, he’s not letting go.
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And a few additional photos from my files...