I am very happy to introduce my fellow Love Inspired author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter with me today. Shannon has a new book out this month. Welcome Shannon!
That picture of me is from a genre dinner at a national writers conference a few years ago. Do I look as uncomfortable as I felt dressed like that? This year, our church had a fun western themed dinner for our members. I wore a hat, boots, and suede skirt. Afterward, I absolutely had to go to Walmart. I tried to pull off that I dress like that all the time, hoping I wouldn’t see anyone I know. Because they know I don’t. I’m so not a cowgirl, my husband teases me about my readers figuring out the truth behind this author of rodeo and cowboy books.
Since my dad was a carpenter and we followed the housing booms, I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago and Atlanta. Every summer, we visited my grandparents in rural Arkansas. It was a different world. Both sets of grandparents had farms with cows, chickens, and vegetable gardens. I loved visiting, but the farm animals never really grew on me.
Chickens were nasty and gross and the cows scared me, especially after one chased me and my cousin. The adults said it was a half-grown calf and it was curious about my poodle, but that didn’t ease my fear. To solidify my phobia, the cows ganged up on another cousin and surrounded the outhouse with her inside. Yes, the outhouse. And I hated all things to do with the garden. Hoeing, digging, and picking equals dirty, sweaty, and itchy. Not my thing at all. I did love horses though and dreamed of owning one someday.
Imagine my horror when my parents moved to rural Arkansas when I was twelve. I missed my friends, my favorite cousin, and thought my life was over. At least, we did have an indoor bathroom and running water. But after growing up with houses six feet apart and lots of kids to make friends with, I was in major culture shock. The houses were a quarter of a mile apart in my new neighborhood. My one consolation—my parents promised me a horse.
I tried to acclimate. By this time, my grandparents had indoor bathrooms and plumbing too. I made a few friends, my parents got cows, and bought me a horse. Having a horse wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought I could go ride by myself whenever I wanted. But the horse was big, and scary, and the ground was a long way down. I ended up riding for a while with my dad holding the reins, walking the horse around the pasture.
Eventually, I felt confident enough to ride the horse alone and hold the reins myself. It was awesome. Until my horse decided to bolt back to his feed trough. When he rounded a corner in the fence, the saddle turned and I lost the reins. I landed on my shoulder and neck in a painful heap. With torn ligaments in my arm, I couldn’t raise it up all the way for months.
After falling off a horse, you’re supposed to get back on, but they don’t mention how much the fall hurts. I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of getting back on. After I recovered, I did get back on, but only with Daddy holding the reins again. Eventually, my riding tapered off until I didn’t.
My only brush with cowboys came about when my dad agreed to be the announcer at our very small town rodeo and I got the opportunity to work in the concession stand. Thankfully, it wasn’t in the cards for me to snag a cowboy. Nothing against them, but I’m happy with the non-cowboy I ended up with.
At fifteen, a new boy came to school—a non-cowboy Texan. It was love at first sight for me. It took him a little longer—guys are clueless that way. After I won his heart, suddenly Arkansas wasn’t so bad. The quiet rural life grew on me and I married him at nineteen.
We live across a hayfield from my parents and I used to say our town had a population of one hundred if you counted a few cows. But after the 2010 census, turns out we have five-hundred and eighty-six actual people now. The nearest town, ten minutes away, with just over seven thousand people would be wayyyy too big for me to live in.
I still never developed an affection for dirt, sweat, gardens, orchards, or farm animals. But I wrote what I knew—three books set in rural Arkansas—with heroines who didn’t do farm animals either. So what am I doing writing about Texas cowboys and ranches these days? Well there was the rodeo experience with my dad which lent itself well to my Rodeo series with Heartsong Presents.
And I did marry a Texan whose dad owned a ranch in Texas Hill Country. Since our marriage, we’ve made countless treks to visit and always shopped and ate in Bandera—the perfect setting for my current series. My father-in-law passed away a few years back, but we still make trips to see his wife. We call her Texas Mom—hence the dedication in Winning Over the Cowboy. I forgot to tell her I’d done that. She was surprised and delighted.
With this book—I wrote what I didn’t know. Landry is so not me. She’s a chef. I know how to cook, but hate it. She doesn’t mind getting dirty, loves farm animals, fishes, baits her own hook, and can clean her own catch. She was a challenge and a lot of fun to write. I’m currently writing her sister’s story. She’s the complete opposite of Landry and so me. So far, she’s a breeze to write.
We’ve been back to the Atlanta suburb three times since our move. I miss my family and friends there. But not the place. Too much noise and traffic. It’s funny, when I visit there I can’t sleep because there’s too much noise. When my cousins visit me, they can’t sleep because it’s too quiet. In the end, Arkansas turned out to be a good thing. Good for my life and my fiction.
Question for Readers: Are you city person or rural country type? Tell us about where you live.
Giveaway details: Comment to enter the drawing for a copy of Winning Over the Cowboy. Eleven copies will be split among names drawn during the blog tour from April 3 -20. One winner will receive a fishing themed memory board personally crafted by the author. This fabric is special because my son loves to fish as do the characters in the book. Great for displaying kids or grandkids or as a gift for the little fisherman in your life. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on April 29th. Sign up to enter more giveaways: http://shannonvannatter.com/sign-up-for-shannons-newsletter/
Follow my blog tour for more chances to win Winning Over the Cowboy:
April 3 – http://www.danarlynn.com/blog/
April 4 – http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
April 4 – LI Release Party – https://www.facebook.com/events/1858400871097392/?__mref=mb
April 4 & 7 – http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/
April 10 – https://whispersinpurple.blogspot.com/
April 11 – http://brendaandersonbooks.com/blog/
April 13 – http://eahendryx.blogspot.com/
April 13 – http://www.castlegatepress.com/blog/
April 17 – http://www.inspyromance.com/
April 20 – http://seekerville.blogspot.com/
April 20 – http://www.whollyloved.com/blog-1/
Award winning, central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots.
She has twelve published titles and is contracted for three more. Her books are available online. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/ with weekly book giveaways.
The Rancher Stakes His Claim
When she inherits half a dude ranch after losing her best friend, Landry Malone is determined to see Eden’s legacy flourish. That is if her friend’s broad-shouldered cowboy brother will give her the chance. Chase Donovan isn’t happy that his sister left their family business to an outsider—and he’s determined to test Landry’s mettle, hoping she’ll give up her claim. Soon Chase is impressed by Landry’s ability to rise to every challenge he puts in her way—and worried that his attraction to the perky spitfire seems to know no end. Finally working together to ensure the ranch’s future, will their business partnership be the foundation for something more?