I’ve worked in bookstores all my life, and I love my work. Not only do I get to spend all day, every day playing with books and talking to readers, but I’m able to put ideas into people’s hands and encourage them to buy the books I love.
But working in any retail trade means you’re on your feet all day, every day, and after twenty years, it took its toll. My feet were permanently cramped into a high-heel slant, like Barbie doll feet. And they hurt.
It was time for a change. I needed a sit-down job.
I decided medical transcription would be a good fit. It would let me spend my day at a desk, and I had the skills I needed — I type fast, and I’m a good speller. The training was reasonably priced, and I got to use cool words like desquamation and borborygmi. I was doing pretty well, but then I started listening to actual doctors’ dictation.
Doctors drone. And desquamation and borborygmi aren’t nearly as entertaining when you realize they’re happening to a real person.
But I dutifully tapped away at the keyboard, transcribing my little heart out. Once in a while, though, I needed a break. So I’d bring up a new document, free my mind from all the depressing medical stuff, and start typing whatever popped into my head.
I’d always wanted to write, but I never got around to really trying. Now that I was forced to sit in front of a word processor all day, all the pent-up stories inside me started to spill out onto the keyboard.
Here’s how it started:
A chicken will never break your heart.
Not that you can’t love a chicken. There are some people in this world who can love just about anything
But a chicken will never love you back. When you look deep into their beady little eyes, there’s not a lot of warmth there — just an avarice for worms and bugs and, if it’s a rooster, a lot of suppressed anger and sexual frustration. They don’t return your affection in any way.
Expectations, relationship-wise, are right at rock-bottom.
That’s why Libby Btrown decided to start a chicken farm. She wanted some company, and she wanted a farm, but she didn’t want to go getting attached to things like she had in the past.
She’d been obsessed with farms since she was a kid. It all started with her Fisher Price Farmer Joe Play Set: a plastic barn, some toy animals, and a pair of round-headed baby dolls clutching pitchforks like some simple-minded version of American Gothic.
A Fisher Price life was the life for her.
Take Atlanta, just give her that countryside.
It turned out that Libby was a big-city journalist who was fleeing a romance gone wrong. She’s determined to live a solitary, self-sufficient life, so she moves to the most isolated area she can think of and literally buys the farm: thirty-five acres of sagebrush and a quaint clapboard homestead in Lackaduck, Wyoming.
She’s looking forward to her quiet, peaceful country life — but then Luke Rawlins shows up. Luke’s a genuine Wyoming cowboy who looks like Elvis, talks like John Wayne, and cooks like Martha Stewart. Suddenly Libby’s not so alone anymore. She’s not looking for love — not now, not ever — but she tells herself it’s okay to have a friend who makes your heart beat a little faster.
Libby loves her new hometown, but she gets tired of writing feature stories about mutton-busting rodeo clinics and a local rancher’s freak heifer. It’s pretty sad when your hometown’s only claim to fame is a two-headed cow, so when Luke tells her about the disappearance of a local teenager, she’s eager to put her city smarts to work wrapping up the town’s one and only unsolved mystery.
There’s no shortage of suspects, and no shortage of complications for Libby and her reluctantly resurrected love life. Her simple little homestead takes on a Grand Central Station feeling with tutu-clad muskrats, feral chickens, a predatory veterinarian, and way too many dogs all vying for her attention.
Like Libby, I’m a transplanted Easterner who fell in love with the big sky and wide open spaces — and the cowboys. When I first moved here, seeing men dressed in boots, hats and chaps was like moving to Austria and finding your neighbors decked out in Lederhosen (only infinitely more attractive). And the longer I live there, the more I see why cowboy romances are so popular. Westerners tend to be very honest and straightforward, with a simple but profound sense of right and wrong. That makes for really good romantic heroes.
I hope you all get a chance to read Cowboy Trouble and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think at joannekennedybooks.com – I love to hear from readers. And I’ll send one reader from the comments on this blog a free copy of Cowboy Trouble!