Writing the West…

Being a good ol’ southern girl from Georgia, living out west has been an adventure. I’ve often marveled at the extreme contrasts and complete differences this land has from that of my nativity. This has become a major focus in my writing. The characters I write about are often in awe at the beauty they find in the west, and just how very different it is from Georgia. Writing about the west for me encompasses not only the New Parish series but also Brigham Tea Magazine (which will be out soon!). The research I do for either New Parish or Brigham Tea Magazine always spills over to the other. At this point in time I’m researching Texas Rangers and Federal or Territorial Marshals from the late 1800’s. This research is part of a new character development I’m working on for an upcoming book, but will most definitely find its way into an article for Brigham Tea Magazine. I love getting to know each new character in New Parish, it’s like making a new friend. For me each character has their own distinct personality and history, so I’m very careful to make sure that uniqueness sticks with them. I hope you’ve all gotten to know some of my friends from New Parish and the wonderful American West. If not here’s some excerpts to introduce some of them, from both New Parish, and Brigham Tea Magazine.

Excerpt from New Parish:

Chapter 8 – The Social

           “It was a short trip in Brother Michael’s SUV to the edge of the community where Sarah saw a rustic archway made of rough cedar that said, Lucky A Ranch, with two horses on either side of the words. Sarah thought, “It looked like those ranches she used to see on the old westerns,” an automatic smile came across her lips. When the SUV was parked in what looked like a hayfield across from a huge pasture they walked toward the festivities that were already under way.

            “I feel like I’ve stepped into a Louis L’Amour novel,” Sarah said looking around at all the cowboys and horses.

            A cowboy band was playing and there was a square dance going, Mary said, “Come on let’s go!”

            Sarah said, “No way, I’ve never dosey doed in my life. I don’t know how,” trying to excuse herself from this activity.

            Mary grabbed her hand and pulled her toward the dance area in front of the wooden stage the band was on, “I’ll show you, it’s fun!” she said laughing.

            Sarah had an inner dread that she was not only going to dosey doe for the first time, but that Mary had much more confidence in her abilities than she did.

            Mary had her twirling around the grassy dance area in no time. They were both laughing at her many mistakes, and having so much fun. Then Sarah saw one of the cowboys on the stage… it was Max, he was playing the guitar, and smiling at her. He was wearing a black cowboy hat with a silver and turquoise band around it, a white shirt with a bolo tie, and a black leather jacket. Her mind had inventoried him quickly and then lost all cohesiveness. After that she lost her footing, causing her right foot to trip over her left foot – she landed on the ground with a thud. “Oh, I hate him,” she thought picking herself up from the ground quickly. Mary tried to help her up while trying to hide the fact that she was almost doubling over laughing at her.

            “Seems you’re always falling for him,” Mary teased.

            Sarah was even more embarrassed to know that Mary had seen the cause of her fall, “Thanks, that helps,” she replied half way laughing too.

            “Food?” Mary suggested, trying to suppress her laughter. She was pointing to two long tables brimming with food across the driveway from where they were, “It’s on the other side of things.”  

            “Good,” said Sarah, “I need to be on the other side of things.””

Excerpt from Return to New Parish:

Chapter 2 – Cowboys and Horses

            “As she neared the small community Hannah saw some men and a small boy riding horses across the prairie next to the main road. She also saw that they had a purpose, they were moving a heard of about thirty cows away from the road. One man, an older cowboy, who seemed to be in charge was sitting on his horse, a large impressive palomino, and pointing while the other men were gathering the cows in the direction he wanted them to go in. The sage cowboy made Hannah think of Sam Elliot, whom she had loved in several westerns.

            The boy stayed near the cowboy in charge until the old truck in front of Hannah made a huge bang! It was a very loud backfire, Hannah jumped and shouted, “Dang!” She looked back to the scene she’d been watching to see the boy’s beautiful blond palomino suddenly dart toward the fence opposite the road she was traveling on. The old cowboy was suddenly on the move, his horse quickly caught up with the one the boy was on. He grabbed the reins of the other horse slowing then stopping the horse. After steadying the boy on his saddle, he patted him on the back reassuringly.

            Hannah smiled, “I’m gonna like it here.” A right turn took her into the community, a few more turns and a couple of miles later and she was pulling up in front of Sarah’s home.”

Excerpt from Brigham Tea Magazine:

The Wild Desert

The Bird

When I go out to explore places along the Arizona Strip, I try to remember to take my bird book with me. When I forget I inevitably hear myself say, “I wish I’d brought my bird book!” I’ve seen many different types of birds as I’ve gone out into the desert, or up on a mountain, or over a prairie. They always seem to catch my eye. Lately several red tail hawks have been near where I live. They are amazing to watch, the birds are very large, almost two feet tall, and have some amazing design detail on their wings and tails.  The details are marked by the stark contrasts between the dark browns, tans, and whites that always make me think of Native American designs I’d seen on blankets or rugs. I saw a rather large red-tailed hawk on a fence post recently, it had very detailed sharp contrasts in its markings. The bird was simply gorgeous. I watched it as I approached, it was very still and obviously deeply engaged in something I couldn’t see. I was hoping it would stay there and let me get close enough to get an amazing picture, and more visual details for myself. My approach was slow and deliberately unthreatening. I actually got within a few feet of the bird and its fence post. It didn’t seem interested in me or my unthreatening approach.

As I neared, it suddenly swooped down onto the ground a few feet away from its perch. I was surprised by this action, as I was expecting it to soar into the sky. I watched as the bird wrestled around on the ground with something for a few minutes, wondering what its quarry was. The bird’s wings expanded and retracted quickly as it aggressively pounced and twisted about in the tall prairie grass, giving me a unique view of its colors and markings. Yes, very beautiful…  I stayed where I was so as not to disturb the struggle, hoping the bird wouldn’t fly away. It didn’t, the bird returned to its fence post with its snack, what looked like a small field mouse, and proceeded to, snack.  The bird and I continued on with our lives, I’m sure it never gave me another thought, but to me that experience will linger in my thoughts for a long while…

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