Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cowboy Trouble

Today's the day--the release date for Cowboy Trouble, my first published novel. I'll be celebrating tonight with a launch party at our local Barnes & Noble, where I've worked for the past eight years. Selling my own book in my home-away-from-home bookstore has been amazing. When the book arrived and I opened the box--wow. I can't even begin to describe how it felt to see that handsome cowboy waiting for me!

With the book's release, my characters--Luke, Libby, Cash, and Crazy Mike, among others--will finally be set loose on the world, along with all their attendant critters--Ivan, Penny, the Verminators, and Wild Thing the feral chicken.

First, you'll meet Libby Brown, a big-city journalist who's 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.

At the moment, tumbleweeds were her primary crop and grasshoppers her only livestock, but the place was as far from Atlanta as she could get, and she figured a fresh coat of paint and a flock of free-range chickens would make it her dream home--one utterly unlike the one she'd left behind. So far, Wyoming was like another planet, and that was fine with her.

Libby's looking forward to her quiet, peaceful country life--but then Luke Rawlins shows up.

Halloween was three months away, but this guy was ready with his cowboy costume. Surely no one actually wore chaps in real life, not even in Wyoming. His boots looked like the real thing, though; they were worn and dirty as if they'd kicked around God-knows-what in the old corral, and his gray felt Stetson was all dented, like a horse had stepped on it. A square, stubbled chin gave his face a masculine cast, but there was something soft about his mouth that added a hint of vulnerability.

Luke's pretty impressed with his new neighbor.

He'd been worried when they sold the Lackaduck place, but the new neighbor seemed all right. More than all right. When he first saw her tussling with her furniture in the back of the pickup, he thought love might have finally come to Lackaduck. Then he realized all he could see was her backside and decided it was probably just lust.

Then the sheriff comes along.

This guy was no Bubba. He was tall, at least six-five, and looked like a California surfer, with blond hair and pale blue eyes set in an angular face bronzed by the Wyoming sun. Luke was nice to look at, but where Luke was spare and wiry, this guy was solid muscle...The whole package was wrapped in a brown sheriff's uniform, topped off by a shiny, star-shaped badge that reminded her of a bow on a really nice birthday present.

Libby loves her new hometown, but she gets a little tired of writing stories about mutton-busting rodeo clinics and freak heifers. It's pretty sad when your town'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 on the town's one and only unsolved mystery.

There's no shortage of suspects in Lackaduck, and no shortage of complications for Libby and her reluctantly resurrected love life. Her simple little homestead takes on a Grand Centeral Station vibe, 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 of the West. I fell in love with the cowboys, too. 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 here, 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 absolutely wonderful romantic heroes.

So Cowboy Trouble is basically a Wyoming stew, boiled down to its essence with a little spice thrown in. It's a cowboy romance, but it's also a love story about a place--about finding home.

Casablanca sisters: What special places inspired your books and why? And readers, what kind of settings do you like to read about? Do you ever choose a book because it's set in a place you love?


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  2. Joanne, congrats on the release. How wonderful to be able to sell your book at your home-away-from-home!

    I can't step foot in England without feeling its history wash up over me. Whether I'm touring medieval castles or just roaming around the countryside, there is some force that calls to my soul. My ancestors came from the UK and I've always attributed that feeling to England being my "home" in a sense - though I've only ever lived in the US.

    So it's not one specific place for me, it's the country as a whole. I can go to London, the seaside, or someplace much more rural. I never fail to find something that inspires me.

  3. Good luck with your hunky cowboys, Joanne!!!

    Everywhere I've been, I could write about the wonders of the area. Every place I've ever lived or visited evokes special memories--the shower that opened seaward along the high cliffs in the Virgin Islands, the old boardwalk in NJ before the casinos erupted all over the place, petting sharks in New Orleans or swimming with them in Florida, or riding the gondola to the mountain peaks in snowy Killington, Vermont, or visiting moon rock, the name we called beaches in California where the landscape looked like a part of the moon the way the water left holes in all the boulders. :) I write about the wonders of Oregon, Colorado and Maine, and now Scotland, but in truth, I could set my werewolves anywhere, where they could showcase the beauty of so many different locales! :)

  4. Congrats on your release, Joanne! I'm excited for your debut :)

    I love reading about places that are new to me--whether that's Lackaduck, WY or Regency England or a new planet. As long as the "world" is built well, I'll go pretty much anywhere an author's willing to take me. Though I am pretty partial to Ireland (blame Nora Roberts; her Born In Trilogy was one of the first romance series I read and truly enjoyed!)

  5. I love writing about Regency England, but I wrote two contemps set in Chicago as Shane Bolks. I chose that setting because it reminded me of my childhood in Michigan (live in Texas now).

  6. Oh, congrats on your release!!!

  7. Congrats on the new release! Can't help but love those cowboys, either. They do make great heroes!

    I love creating new planets, but most of them are based on places I've seen or at least heard about. The fun part is putting my own twist on them.

  8. Thanks, everyone! I love this "launch party" idea - it's so much fun to celebrate with everyone!
    Lydia, I've never been to England (sad!) but we went to Scotland a couple of years ago and it was amazing. You could feel the history with every step you took. I can't wait to go back!

  9. Terry - Thanks! I think your post defines what makes a really good writer - that sense of wonder and appreciation for everything around you. Maybe you can relocate your wolves to Wyoming sometime! It seems to be working in Yellowstone:)

  10. Danielle - Thanks! I love Regency books too, mostly for all the witty banter between characters.
    And BTW, thank you so much for all your help with promoting the book. You're a wonder worker!

  11. Shana - I'll have to look for your Shane Bolks books - I didn't know about those.

  12. Cheryl - It would be fun to invent a new planet - can we put cowboys on it?!?!?!

  13. Congrats on your publishing debut, Joanne. Cowboy Trouble sounds absolutely delightful. Can't wait to read it.

    As a writer I love sharing my affection for Coastal North Carolina--the scenery, the culture, and the characters. I don't live there any more, but whenever I return, a thousand stories bloom in my mind.

    Fortunately, the marshes, rivers, swamps, sounds, and miles and miles of coastline, plus proximity of military bases, make a natural habitat for Navy SEALs.

  14. Congratulations on your Debut, Joanne! I know the proof reader who worked on Cowboy Trouble. She absolutely loved it and still hasn't stopped talking about it. It's on my TBB list.

    As for places, I love Brooklyn, NY--any of the boroughs, really. I am spreading my wings though. My next book, Yours for the Taking goes between Brooklyn, NY, Boise, Idaho, and a ranch in Three Whores Bend, Idaho. I had a lot of fun writing it and it helped a little with my home sickness. I lived in Boise for 10 years and miss it desperately.

  15. This sounds terrific! I especially love the clever line where he's looking at her backside and decides it's lust, not love :)

    Not sure whether to answer your question for readers or the one for "Casablanca Sisters" (since I just got to announce my own three-book deal with Sourcebooks) but to me a book's setting is as important as the characters or the plot. I write quirky humor, and since Portland, OR is one of the quirkiest spots on the planet, it makes an excellent setting for a lot of what I write.

    Having lived in Montana for four years during college, your descriptions of Wyoming sound very familiar. I'm eager to get my hands on your book. Congrats on the release!


  16. Mary Margret - We took a family trip to NC when I was a kid. It's beautiful! I can see why it would make a great setting for fiction - and the SEALS -- well, they'd make it perfect!

  17. Robin - Your love for Brooklyn just shines in your books! I'm not much of a city girl, but it makes me want to at least visit.
    And I can't wait to see what you do with a ranch setting! I love your books, and I'm really looking forward to that one.

  18. Tawna - HUGE congratulations, and welcome! Never doubt that you are definitely one of us! You're going to love working with the Sourcebooks team.
    Quirky humor is definitely my favorite kind of writing, so I can't wait to find out more about your books. Are you going to RWA? I highly recommend it. I went last year, and it was great to meet everyone and put faces to the names:)

  19. Thanks for the warm welcome, Joanne!

    I talked briefly with Deb about going to RWA, but we agreed I'm better off waiting until next year since my first release date isn't until August 2011. Looking forward to it, and to joining the Casablanca sisterhood. Do I get to learn the secret handshake?


  20. Yay Joanne!

    I love to visit the places in my books and anything I've had to set in the past I have to imagine.

  21. YAY Joanne! SUPER CONGRATS on your debut launch! Can't wait to get my hands on Cowboy Trouble. ;-)

    I have to agree with Terry, there's something special in all the places I've visited. Some, of course, really do "feel like home." That's the way both the DH and I felt when we first set foot in Ireland. I still remember when we first arrived in the County where his grandmother grew up and he said, "All my like my mother told me, there's nothing as beautiful as County Fermanagh... and she was RIGHT!"

    But I have to tell you that Wyoming was pretty awe-inspiring too! Esp. Yellowstone.

    SAVOR every minute of your first launch, and I'm sure you'll have MANY MORE!


  22. WOO HOO!! WTG, Tawna!

    How KEWL that you'll soon be joining us here on the "other side" of the Casa blog!


  23. I love books in all settings but I had to have Cowboy Trouble today because I am completely addicted to Lorelei James' Cowboys and consequently have become enamoured by the state of Wyoming. When I picked up Cowboy Trouble and saw that it was a cowboy book set in Wyoming (real Wyoming) I bought it immediately. My fondness for cowboys in Wyoming is so profound that I periodically trowl youtube for Wyoming cowboys :)

    So while I don't normally read books because of locations, Wyoming is my particular weakness.

  24. Thank you for your post, Joanne. I'm looking forward to reading "Cowboy Trouble".

    My favorite settings? Actually, theme, plot, and character matter more to me, as both a reader and writer. Still, I've been known to buy a novel primarily because it takes place in a favorite setting.

    Examples include rural areas of the West, old or new, as in your novel. The tropics, preferably a lovely island or coast (but not some hellhole, thank you). The country in Europe I'd most like to visit, Greece. The part of Asia I'd most like to visit, the Middle East. And in futuristic romances, colorful and well-imagined worlds.

    Yes, I know romance editors nowadays will allow only a few settings. This is especially true of historical romances. Right now I wouldn't have a chance if I were trying to sell a historical romance that's not set in the UK during the 19th century.

    I wouldn't complain about this if romance writers were allowed to explore fascinating and rarely written-about aspects of life in this setting. But if all we readers are offered is the zillionth account of how the arrogant Duke of Whatever is forced to marry a smart-mouthed virgin, I think I'll pass.

    I'm hoping that someday we'll once again see historical romances set in earlier periods; and in other places, including countries where people don't speak English---not to mention fresher themes, plots, and characters. And in the meantime, keep up the good work!

  25. Whoo Hoo Joanne!!! Happy launch day! I hope the party is a wild and crazy one with a hundred copies sold in seconds!!

    I am very inspired by England as I write of the Darcys, even though I have never been to the UK! Reading the history, learning of those long ago customs, and gazing at an endless array of photographs and drawings creates a birth of ideas. Imagine how much better it would be if I actually saw the places I write of? Someday!

  26. Congratulations on the book release. It sounds great. I enjoy anything cowboy. They are a breed unlike any other.

  27. Hi Joanne! Congratulations on your release today!! Wooo hooo!
    Have a fabulous party and ENJOY!


  28. Congratulations!! I was lucky enough to have been able to borrow an ARC of Cowboy Trouble from my bookseller, who's a good friend, and it's truly a great read!! I loved the story, the humor, the sex, and Wild Thing is an inspired character!! Loved her!! I'm going out to buy a couple copies, one for me, and one for my sister...

    I buy a lot of books, and I'm drawn to them by author, genre, theme, then location...and it must be well written and edited. I detest bad word usage and misspellings. You did an amazing job!!

  29. Congratulations, Joanne! I live in Arizona, and have a soft spot for the cowboys!
    Yeehaw on your new release! :}