Friday, February 8, 2013
Launch Party - COWBOY TOUGH
I love that title, because "toughness" is a big part of the cowboy way. It's obvious that rodeo riders have to be tough. I mean, forget riding the bull; I don't even want to climb into that itty-bitty chute with him! But the best side of cowboy courage comes out not in rodeo, but in ranching. When a man goes out in the snow at ten below to tend cows before breakfast--that's tough.
My characters might not be out tending cattle in the cold, but they're a pretty tough bunch.
Naturally, our heroine Cat Crandall is one tough cookie. I couldn't get my girls to go out West if they weren't pretty tough to start with, and it never takes long for the West to toughen them up a little more. In Cat's case, she's brave enough to leave her boring but comfortable job in advertising for a much less stable occupation: teaching art workshops in exotic locations. Wyoming? Exotic? It is if you look at it right!
She's also tough when it comes to her teenaged niece, Dora. Dora's mother--Cat's sister--passed away a while back, and Dora seems stuck in the "anger" stage of grief. Cat's determined to figure out how to help the girl find her way back to happiness.
Then there's our hero, Mack Boyd. Mack's a rodeo cowboy, which requires a certain amount of toughness. But as I said, the courage to ride a bull is nothing compared to the courage it takes to make a living as a rancher. Mack's tough enough to give up his rodeo career when his family needs him, and go back to the ranch--but he's not tough enough to resist Cat's charms for long.
Mack's mother, Maddie Boyd, is probably the toughest person in the whole book. She's been through some really hard times. Her first husband--"the good one"--passed away, and she didn't get so lucky on the second try. Her second husband took just about everything she had, but she's determined to save the ranch somehow. Turning it into a dude ranch and inviting Cat and her class of aspiring painters to visit turns out to be more of a challenge than she expected.
Then there's Hank Slay. Hank is the ranch's top hand. Actually, he's their only hand, because all the others left when Maddie ran out of money to pay them. Hank has stuck with the place, mostly because of his admiration for Maddie. But Hank doesn't talk much, and he's not sure he's tough enough to tell the boss how he feels about her.
There are lots more characters to meet in "Cowboy Tough"--in Ed Delaney, the elderly gentleman painter who always wanted to be a cowboy; in his daughter, Abby, who looks like "a pugnacious bear awakened too soon from hibernation" but hasn't given up on finding love; and in Charles, a tattoed hulk of a man who guards a personal secret. Even Dora is tough. She's a teenager. They're always tough--or at least, they think they are!
Toughness is a big part of the Cowboy Code; in fact, it's right there in black and white: "Be tough, but fair." But you don't have to be a cowboy to be Cowboy Tough. As John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." I think all of us can think of a time in our lives when we rode in that saddle.
I've proven I'm "cowboy tough" by making my own move West. When have you had to be "cowboy tough?"