Western Romance, The story of Us – Part IV


 

spiritofthelake_W5896_300Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently farm 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Paty is a member of RWA, EPIC, and COWG. Wild Rose Press has published nine of her books. Perfectly Good Nanny, won the 2008 EPPIE for Best Contemporary Romance. She edited for an e-publisher for four and a half years and teaches workshops at conferences, writers meetings, and online.

 

   Native American Romances  

stir the heart like no other

By Paty Jager 

Native American Romance is a genre that has a small Lakota sioux Warriorbut devoted following. Readers of this genre know going into a book that they will learn about an Indian tribe-its beliefs, culture and customs-because writers of Native American Romance do their research. They dig up every morsel of information they can on the particular tribe to show the reader the true struggles and conflicts that not only plagued their people but their chance for happiness.

Pamela ClareMost NA romance novels have the Indian element being the hero, either a full blood Indian or a half-breed. There have also been well written books, like Pamela Clare’s Naked Edge, using an Indian maiden and a White man and even a few with the hero and heroine being Native American. Pocahontas, by Susan Donell which came out in 1990’s and the first two books of my spirit trilogy, Spirit of the Mountain and Spirit of the Lake have a fully conceived Native American romance.

The first Native American romances were penned in the dime novels of the late 1800’s. These had a “kidnapped” theme. Even back then the White women dreamed of being swept off their feet by a strong, silent male with flowing black hair who believed in honesty and truthfulness. He was also the underdog with the White soldiers chasing him from his land and killing his people. Of course, what red blooded woman wouldn’t want to be hauled onto a horse with a bare-chested man! As he loped away with his captive, she’d have to cling to his muscled torso or fall.

In the 1980s into the mid 90s there was a succession of Harlequins with the “half-breed” theme for exotic heroes in contemporary Romance. Linda Lael Miller, Jodi Thomas, and Susan Kay Law all used the “half-breed” hero in Western historicals during the 90s.

Some of the first authors of this genre were, Cassie Edwards, Roseanne Georgina GentryBittner, Georgina Gentry, Madeline Baker, Connie Mason, and many more. They blazed the trail for those that followed. Such as Carol Ann Didier, Beth Trissell, Patricia Simpson, Ruth Savitsanos, Joyce Henderson, Karen Kay, Catherine Anderson, and myself.

The Indians love of the land and nature make wonderful backdrops for the use of language and how they portray their lives. This honest connection with the world around them adds to the romance of the story. Their distinct and different culture from ours is fascinating to us. Digging into how they live and showing it through fictional characters is a fun and exciting challenge when writing a Native American romance.

war bonnetThe honesty and integrity of the Indian and the cowboys in the 1800’s is why I write historical westerns. Their love of the land and how they felt blessed with the bounties nature gave them not only helps me to relate to them as I write the books but it also draws on the readers basic need to see good does prevail and if you fight for what you believe in you will be rewarded.

 

www.patyjager.net                   www.patyjager.blogspot.com https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager.

Resources: The internet and Cloudy with a Chance of Books Reviews http://www.chanceofbooks.com

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Leave a comment, Win a book!


Suzie Grant is making an offer too good to refuse. If her guest spot here on my site receives comments from at least ten different visitors, she will hold a random drawing and award a free copy of her book The Devil’s Daughter to the winner. If you haven’t yet read her nostalgic look at great western romance authors, this is your chance to enjoy the read and maybe win the prize. Feeling lucky? Go for it!

Western Romance, The Story of Us Part III


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Guest author Suzie Grant still believes in happily-ever-after, and after growing up reading classic adventures like Treasure Island and Gone With The Wind, and watching westerns like Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove, and Bonanza, Suzie knew what she wanted to do with her life. She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shitzhu named Peppy Le’Pew in NC. From Castles to cowboys there’s something thrilling on every page of her books. 

 

Stetsons, Colts and Wranglers, Oh My …

Western Romance authors then & now

By Suzie Grant 

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A little over a hundred years ago the market was saturated with Dime novels where the lonely cowboy rode off into the sunset. And then in 1902 Owen Wilson published The Virginian, a lone, chivalrous cowboy who rights wrongs, a romance, and a final gunfight became the standard for the formula Western for the next century.

With the release of The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, an Avon single title romance paperback, the face of the romance genre changed forever.

clip_image004Rosemary Roger’s, Sweet Savage Love was released in 1974 and carved out a niche for the American western romance in the industry. She is considered to be one of the founders of the modern historical romance. Every night for a year, Rogers worked to perfect a manuscript that she had written as a child, rewriting it twenty-four times. When her teenage daughter found the manuscript in a drawer, she encouraged her mother to send the manuscript to Avon, which quickly purchased the novel.

clip_image006LaVyrle Spencer worked as a teacher’s aide at Osseo Junior High School. In her thirties, she read Kathleen Woodiwiss‘s novel “The Flame and Flower”, which gave her the idea to become a novelist. She decided to try transferring to paper a recurring dream she was having about a story based on her grandmother’s lifestyle on a Minnesota farm. Her story became her first manuscript, The Fulfillment, and she sent it to Kathleen Woodiwiss. The bestselling author read the novel and promptly mailed it to her own editor at Avon. The editor purchased the novel, which was published in 1979.

Spenser was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame in 1988. She wrote 23 sweet historical and contemporary novels. Published around the world, her works included 12 New York Times Bestsellers, and she has won four RITA Awards, 3 Golden Medallion Award and a Minnesota Book Awards. LaVyrle said: “the trademark of my books is mending relationships.”

Linda Howard came on the scene in the early eighties and helped build the genre to what it is today. She cut her teeth on Margaret Mitchell, Robert Ruark, “and aclip_image008nything else that fell into my hands,” she says. Whether she is reading them or writing them, books have long played a profound role in Linda’s life. Linda wrote her first book when she was 10 years old. “Needless to say, it was unpublishable,” she says. “It didn’t even have a title.”

She continued to write fiction, concentrating on romantic stories. “I get bored with politics and murder and mayhem,” she says. She eventually worked up the courage to submit a manuscript for publication. “It made me sick literally, physically ill. It was like putting your naked baby into the mailbox. And I lost 20 pounds waiting to hear from them. I couldn’t eat.” Linda needn’t have worried. Silhouette Books bought her manuscript, beginning a career that has lasted years and earned her many awards and letters of praise from adoring fans. She has over 10 million books in print around the world, and has written more than 25 titles.

Western romances grew in popularity over the years. The setting itself is by definition uncivilized and a breeding ground for romantic conflict. Authors like Johanna Lindsey, Diana Palmer, Kat Martin, Elizabeth Lowell tamed the Wild West with overbearing heroes and spunky heroines and created the genre that we now, know and love.

Westerns, romance in general, has evolved dramatically over the years but we should always be proud of where we came from. And looking back on these old titles while researching this project, I realized how little we’ve documented about our progress through the years. It was very difficult to find a “history of the western romance” and hopefully someday that will change.clip_image010

Some of my favorite titles were Johanna Lindsey’s Savage Thunder and Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series. I can still remember the way my heart fluttered and how much I hated for the story to end.

Today the genre has a solid and steady audience, and while we’ve lost the limelight, we still carry the torch. There’s something romantic and enduring about a western, a sense of pride in our heritage and an elusive quality of a dying breed. The wide open spaces are as compelling today as they were then, the ideals of old and the tip of a cowboy’s hat at a lady are all things that mark this genre as unique and beautiful. I don’t think any other genre will ever capture my heart the way westerns have, and hopefully years from now readers will still feel that sense of pride in claiming this genre as “ours.”

Looking back through our genre’s history may bring us together but looking ahead into our future, you can rest assured knowing that the cowboy legend will endure both time and trends.

When all the others die out or fall by the wayside, you can bet there will always be westerns available to read. With authors like Jodi Thomas, Georgina Gentry, Leigh Greenwood, Bobbi Smith, Patty Jager and so many more that I would have a hard time remembering them all, who keep this genre alive and breathing. I take a moment to tip my hat to those, past and present, for keeping the American dream in our hearts. May we always have pride in our heritage and a western in our hands.                              www.suziegrantauthor.com                       www.ladyscribes.blogspot.com

Western Romance, The Story of Us – Part II


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In The Beginning by Lyn Horner

Western/Paranormal Author

My mom was a Minnesota girl. My dad hailed from Texas. I was born in San Francisco, California, where my parents met, but we moved to Minnesota when I was four years old so Mama could be near her family. For many years, I had no contact with my southern relations.

Yet, I came to love tales of Texas and the Old West thanks to my dad. With him, I watched every western he could find on TV. Later, he started me reading western novels, mainly those of Zane Gray.

Then, as a young married, I discovered the Romance Revolution – so named by Bertrice Small in a newsletter article she wrote in 2007 for Long Island Romance Writers. She was, of course, talking about the beginning of modern romance, in which she played a part. With this revolution came the birth of western romance, and once I discovered this genre, I was hooked.

Western historical romances arewagon train croppedgenerally set west of the Mississippi River, in the wild and wooly Old West. Most take place in the last half of the nineteenth century, although some are staged earlier. A few are now set in the early twentieth century, leading up to World War I. Together, they form a sub-genre of Historical Romance.

Historical Romance as we know it sprang to life thirty-nine years ago with the 1972 publication of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.After her death in 2007, Ms. Woodiwiss’s editor, Carrie Feron, called her “the founding mother of the historical romance genre.” She wrote epic adventures with strong plots and character development, and she dared to include sizzling love scenes that went beyond a kiss and a hug. However, she was not the first to write western romances.

Rosemary Rogers claimed that honor with her first book, Sweet Savage Love,published in 1974. Whereas Woodiwiss often chose settings in far off lands and time periods, Rogers set SSL and numerous other books in the Old West. Her plots were highly dramatic, her characters’ actions sometimes hard to be believe, but that didn’t matter to her fans. And yes, I’m one of them. Maybe she was queen of the bodice rippers back then, but oh my, her heroes were men with a capital “M.”

Sweet Savage Loveset the stage for many other writers. My next guest blogger, Suzie Grant, will delve deeper into the topic of influential authors. Rather than intrude further into her territory, I sought out the roots of modern western romance, and what sets it apart from earlier literary genres.

open book. smallThe taproot of all modern romances, westerns included, traces back to nineteenth century authors of romantic fiction such as Jane Austin and the Brontë sisters. Their books are noted for commentary upon social conditions of their time. Some of their stories do not end happily, as do most modern romances, but they contain strong romantic themes.

The other main root of WR leads directly back to those shoot-’em-up westerns I read as a kid. That said, there is a great difference between traditional westerns and western romances. Westerns focus mainly on male characters; female characters are often little more than props. Western romances, on the other hand, usually tell the stories from a woman’s point of view, although the men also possess strong voices. The plots may be action-packed (mine are) but they are largely character driven. Both the hero and heroine reveal their inner struggles as the story unfolds.

Rider on mesa. smallQuoting Constance Martin from a 1999 piece she wrote for  Romantic Times, “Heroes in these novels seek adventure and are forced to conquer the unknown. They are often loners, slightly uncivilized, and ‘earthy.’ Their heroines are often forced to travel to the frontier by events outside their control. These women must learn to survive in a man’s world, and, by the end of the novel, have conquered their fears with love. In many cases the couple must face a level of personal danger, and, upon surmounting their troubles, are able to forge a strong relationship for the future.”

In a western romance the man and woman stand as equal partners by the conclusion of the book. The men don’t dominate the scene as they do in traditional westerns. This is, of course, a very modern outlook, and it may not reflect the reality of late nineteenth century life on the American frontier. But, you know what, when I was a little girl watching those old westerns with my dad, I wasn’t dreaming of being the cowboy hero. I wanted to be the gal riding off into the sunset next to him. The key words there are “next to” – not a horse’s length behind him.

So, if the books I read and write offer a somewhat romanticized view of the Old West, that’s fine with me. After all, we call them western romances, and that’s what we love about them, right ladies?

Okay, that’s my rant for the day. Tune in next time for Suzie’s take on authors, then and now.

Western Romance, The Story of Us – Part I


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Every Monday and Thursday for the next few weeks I will be posting a new article about western romances. Joining me in this project are several fantastic authors and readers. We will share with you our reasons for loving western romance and pass along some of the genre’s storied history. Each author will blog about a different topic, such as influential western romance authors, researching historical details, the various types of western romance, and more. Please tell your friends about this special event. And now here’s Jody!

Why Westerns? by Jody – A Dedicated Reader

In the world of romance novels one can escape to virtually any time period or culture, but when I’m in the mood for a good romance I almost always go with a western. Why? What causes me to bypass pirates, knights, governesses and European lords? Why do I favor gunslingers and bounty hunters, mail-order brides and ranchers, and heroic lawmen of the American west?

My upbringing has a lot to do with it. I was born of parents who loved rural living, horses and rodeo. My father even wanted to name me Cody, a favorite name among rodeo cowboys, but my mother couldn’t stand it. They compromised, naming me “Jody” – with a “y.”

Most parents rock their children to sleep in a chair; mine used a horse. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in front of my father as he walked his bay up and down the dirt road by our house. The motion of the horse always put me to sleep.

Bronco busterMy mother barrel raced and rode her horse in parades. My father and his two brothers competed professionally in many rodeos. Dad was a bronco-buster while my uncles rode bulls. They also competed in “Silver Dollar Events,” named for the prize money paid in silver dollars. My dad was especially good at a race where a man on foot is “picked up” by a rider on a galloping horse. Dad always managed to grab hold of the saddle and swing himself up behind the rider as the horse raced by.

When I was five my father became a police officer and we moved into a suburb. We never again lived in the country, but Dad continued to rodeo until his late twenties, and he dressed western all his life. He was buried in his favorite boots, and we placed his best Stetson in his hands.

Although I grew up in a suburb, I spent every summer at my grandparent’s 20-acre farm. My grandfather refused to keep horses, but he seemed to have every other farm animal as well as acres of vegetables and alfalfa. Work never seemed to stop on the farm, but I loved every minute of it.

Without doubt, the love of a western lifestyle is in my blood. I gravitate toward romances that reflect my early roots — roots I am attempting to return to now that I live in the cowboy state of Arizona. Here, no one looks twice if I’m wearing my Justin boots in Costco. Anywhere I go I can count on seeing someone else besides me in a sncactusap shirt and Wranglers.

Moreover, I’m surrounded by some of the richest history of the West. Forty miles from where I sit the Lost Dutchman’s gold still waits to be discovered. An hour’s drive east and I am in the land of Geronimo and Cochise, who waged war upon hapless settlers and the cavalry of Fort Apache. Two hours south I can stand in the O.K. Corral or visit the Clanton brothers’ headstones at Boot Hill. When I read one of the many western romances set in Arizona, there’s a familiarity that hits home.

Western romances are the story of us. They reflect the endurance and fortitude of our pioneer forefathers in our country’s not-so-distant past. I have a passion for American history – especially the eras of westward expansion. The men and women who pushed farther and farther west, seeking a place for themselves and settling the frontier, were like no others in world history. They were strong individuals who had to rely on themselves to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles that, invariably, stood in their way. Romances set in the Old West offer portraits of such people – fascinating literary characters who must problem solve their obstacles in order to obtain their happy-ever-after (HEA) ending. Or, in a sense, their American dream, which is something we still seek today.

StetsonI also love western romances because they are a reflection of my own real-life love story. You don’t see too many Vikings, buccaneers or knights in armor these days, but it’s still possible to meet a cowboy. I met mine 31 years ago. We had a whirlwind courtship, marrying three months after we met. Our first year together was filled with impervious obstacles rivaling those in any romance novel I’ve ever read. This isn’t the time or place to expand on them, but suffice it to say we endured, overcame and are still living our own HEA.

I guess I’ve taken the long way to explain that western romances are really just an extension of myself. When I open a western novel I see my police officer father in the sheriff. The ranch in the story suddenly looks a lot like my grandfather’s farm (which really did start out as a homestead). When I swoon over the literary hero, he suddenly begins to take on the persona of my own flesh-and-blood hero. Finally, when I close the cover of my latest novel I do it knowing that “happily ever after” doesn’t just happen in books. We can live as good as they read.

So, you western authors, keep writing! I promise I’ll be here reading.

Exciting New Blog Series


Friends,

Beginning on Monday, I will be hosting a new group blog series on my home page and here on my blogger site. Titled “Western Romance, the Story of Us” this series will run through most of August, with two posts per week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Several talented authors and enthusiastic readers will contribute to this series. Please come and join us!

http://texasdruids.com/

http://texasdruids.blogspot.com/