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Joanne Kennedy | Men at Work


I love my job. Writing is a pleasure. Signing books and meeting readers is a rush. But the best part of writing contemporary Western romance is the research.

Last summer, preparing to write COWBOY CRAZY took me behind the chutes at Cheyenne Frontier Days to watch cowboys in action, riding some of the rip-snortingest broncs and bulls in rodeo.

Donning my Western shirt, boots and cowboy hat—requirements for everyone with a press pass—I looked forward to a lot of joking, a little joshing, and a fair amount of cussing. But what I got was real insight into the true nature of my favorite sport.

In romance novels, cowboys usually symbolize freedom. They're the epitome of wild, unrestrained energy and devil-may-care attitude. But in reality, the bronc rider, bull rider, or roper is as well-trained and disciplined as any other athlete. If you think the cowboy just gets on the horse and hangs on, think again.

For starters, it takes a half-dozen cowboys to get each rider mounted. They cluster around the chute, calming the horse, offering advice, and helping the rider get situated in the saddle. The contestant spends a fair amount of time adjusting his position, adjusting his hold on the rope and making sure his feet are positioned above the horse's shoulders. He'll be disqualified if he doesn't "mark out" the horse, keeping his feet in position as the front hooves hit the ground.

When the gate swings open, it's time to rodeo. Most of us know the cowboy has to hang on for eight seconds, but there's much more to it than that. Judges are watching the rider's form as well as the horse's, and points are awarded to both the horse and the cowboy. A good horse can make or break a ride, which is why a talented bucking horses is a sought-after dance partner.

No matter what the horse throws at him, the cowboy has to make sure he spurs properly, sweeping his feet from the horse's shoulders to its flank in a rhythmic counterpoint to the bucking action. Don't worry; the spurs are dull and spin freely on the rowel so they don't dig into the horse's hide. Sharp or fixed spurs are absolutely forbidden.

The cowboy's also required to keep his free hand in the air, away from the saddle horn. Touching any part of the animal or saddle results in a "no score" and a walk of shame across the arena.

Whatever happens, the cowboy often looks a little dazed on dismount, not just because he's shaken up but because he's struggling to re-focus on the real world. I took a poll last year to find out what cowboys are thinking about as they ride. I thought some might concentrate on spurring, while others might focus on the tension on the rope.


Every single cowboy I talked to said they think about the same thing: nothing. A clear mind makes for a good ride, and by the time they make a big-time rodeo like Frontier Days, they've drilled the moves into their subconscious so that muscle memory kicks in, allowing them to react to every move of the animal with the perfect counter-move.

That's one reason I love writing about cowboys. The outer façade is only part of the story; beneath it is an extraordinary athlete so attuned to his mount that he can sense the horse's next move from the merest muscle twitch.

In COWBOY CRAZY, Lane Carrigan carries that instinct from the bucking chutes to the bedroom. He understands Sarah Landon better than she understands herself, and he has the patience and fortitude to lead her back to her real self in spite of the fact that she fights him as hard as a bronco with a burr under the saddle.

What's your favorite manly-man sport? Hockey? Football? Have you ever been behind the scenes at a game or gotten up close and personal with the players? One person who comments will win a copy of COWBOY CRAZY

To purchase COWBOY CRAZY by Joanne Kennedy, please visit ganxy.com/p/62834.


Sparks fly when sexy cowboys collide with determined heroines in a West filled with quirky characters and sizzling romance. Acclaimed for delivering "a fresh take on the traditional contemporary Western" Joanne Kennedy's books might just be your next great discovery!

From stable to boardroom...

Sarah Landon's Ivy League scholarship transforms her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Until she's assigned to do damage control with the boss's rebellious brother Lane, who's the burr in everybody's saddle. He's determined to save his community from oil drilling, and she's not going back to the ranch she left forever. Spurs will shine in this saucy romp about ranchers and roots, redemption and second chances.


Joanne Kennedy is the author of four contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks: Cowboy Trouble One Fine Cowboy, Cowboy Fever, and Tall, Dark and Cowboy. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of American RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Tough (Fall 2012). For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/. To purchase Joanne's latest release, COWBOY CRAZY, please visit ganxy.com/p/62834.




44 comments posted.

Re: Joanne Kennedy | Men at Work

I have always loved football. First when my now husband
played in high school and again when my son played from 3rd
grade through high school. But that is as behind-the-scenes
as I have ever been.
(Mary Hay 8:33am June 7, 2012)

Amazing information - wow! Thank you for sharing this with us - I always found bronc riding, bull riding to be fascinating but never knew all of the intricacies involved!
(Felicia Ciaudelli 8:46am June 7, 2012)

Showjumping, my own sport when I was younger, was full of men and women. Men were more likely to make it a business. Partly this was because they were set to inherit a farm, or already had, and had the land. They could buy and sell horses, train horses for others and be paid to ride in competitions. Come Olympics time they would fill out 'farmer' on the form and qualify to compete. The second reason there were more men is of course that women who are having children can't do all the physical stuff. And not just for pregnancy; the pelvis doesn't get back to normal for months. Biology edges women out in their prime. I was very interested in the description of the rodeo, thank you.
(Clare O'Beara 9:04am June 7, 2012)

I certainly appreciate the research that you and so many other authors do to make your writing so accurate.
(Marjorie Carmony 9:27am June 7, 2012)

love cowboys would love this book
(Denise Smith 9:37am June 7, 2012)

I love football and basketball. I've had the opportunity to meet a few pro
players, and I'm always astounded by their size when they're up close.
Your book looks great- thanks for the chance to win!
(Debbie Burdeen 9:58am June 7, 2012)

I love books about cowboys, I'd love to win this one.
(Wilma Frana 10:13am June 7, 2012)

Mary, there's nothing like high school and college football! I think it gives you the same sense of community unity as rodeo, and really, that's what sports is all about!
(Joanne Kennedy 10:50am June 7, 2012)

Felicia, go to a rodeo sometime if you get the chance. It's fascinating and fun. They have them all over the country, not just in the West, and the cowboy-watching is pretty fun:)
(Joanne Kennedy 10:51am June 7, 2012)

Clare, thanks for the interesting information on showjumping! That's a fascinating world for a romance novel; in fact my friend Colette Auclair was nominated for a Golden Heart this year for her book "Thrown," which centers around show jumping. It's unpublished right now, but I'm sure it will get out there eventually!
(Joanne Kennedy 10:54am June 7, 2012)

Thanks, Marjorie! The research is part of the fun:) I love the fact that being a writer gives me access to all sorts of behind-the-scenes experiences. Besides the rodeo, I've been to a Colorado prison to learn about a program where inmates train wild horses for the BLM. I used that experience in "One Fine Cowboy."
(Joanne Kennedy 10:56am June 7, 2012)

I love hockey for all my brothers played and I spent alot of time watching plus skating with them passing the puck around...but i love watching cowboys since I met this one guy who is a rancher but rodeo's on the weekends, he's a team roper and its an art to watch him and his brother rope the calf under the clock...his son is a bronco and bull rider, and they are in a class of their own, some of them are cocky but most of them are just men who like that rush...even though they do like the attention the ladies give them.but love them anyways...and your books..the guy I'm dating read one of your books and really liked it alot...love to win this book...
(Carole Fiore 10:57am June 7, 2012)

Debbie, meeting the pros would be great! Wyoming doesn't have big pro sports teams in baseball, basketball or football, so I don't get to go to games or meet the players. Sounds like fun!
(Joanne Kennedy 10:57am June 7, 2012)

Denise and Wilma, good luck in the contest! You'll love cowboys even more once you read "Cowboy Crazy!"
(Joanne Kennedy 10:58am June 7, 2012)

Hi, Carole! I agree, roping is really an art. I would end up all tangled up in the rope if I tried to do it! Thanks for passing on my book to your guy friend! I love it when men read romance novels, and I'm happy to say they usually like mine!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:00am June 7, 2012)

I enjoy keeping up with my state university football and baseball teams and hope the change that was recently made will bring the basketball team to a higher level. It's fun to watch fast moving players moving up and down the court, especially if my team is winning.
(Anna Speed 11:22am June 7, 2012)

Anna, folks around here get pretty exciting about University of Wyoming football and basketball. I've never been big on watching those sports, but you have to root for the home team!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:35am June 7, 2012)

I love reading books about cowboys. Book sounds great, thanks for giving me a chance to win it.
(Linda Hall 12:31pm June 7, 2012)

Your book sounds great - and I'd love to win a copy. Best of luck with it!!
(Nancy Reynolds 12:47pm June 7, 2012)

I hate organized sports. I know, I am a bummer. Men getting paid a fortune to do kid things drive me nuts. In the case of the rodeo, it just plain scares the crud out of me. I decided to give it a try and watch on tv. I turned on one of the big events and the first thing I see is a guy getting thrown from a bull and nearly getting his head stomped in!!!! No thanks. Not for me. But, I do love reading sports themes fiction. I can edit the scenes in my head so that I am comfortable with them.
(Jennifer Beyer 1:28pm June 7, 2012)

Linda and Nancy, best of luck with the contest!

Jennifer, I have to admit I agree with you on the big-money sports where the athletes are paid millions just to play. Rodeo cowboys actualy pay to play, and while the top contenders can make a lot of money, the others are just getting by. It is dangerous, but there are fewer serious injuries than you think -- and even when they're hurt, the guys just can't wait to get back in the arena!
(Joanne Kennedy 2:37pm June 7, 2012)

That was an interesting post since I have only seen rodeos on television and really had no idea what the rules even were. I am not a big sports fan but I would say that my favorite sport is baseball.
(Maureen Emmons 3:28pm June 7, 2012)

Oh I am not really a sports person.... oh but I am loving that book cover! Two thumbs up!! As for reading, I have enjoyed a bunch of books with athletes... love those rodeo cowboys!
(Colleen Conklin 3:33pm June 7, 2012)

what you writers do for research! Sounds like so much fun! I
enjoy reading fiction about manly sports more than the real
thing, but any experience in life can be enlightening.
(Diane Sallans 3:40pm June 7, 2012)

I love the preparation you did for COWBOY CRAZY and you had to have looked like a real cowgirl with your boots, hat and western shirt. I look forward to reading the book
(Shirley Younger 3:59pm June 7, 2012)

My favorite sports are football and baseball. I also enjoy watching Nascar races and bull-riding cowboys, bucking bronco riding and calf-roping on TV. I've only been to one rodeo (we don't have many in WI). Have been up close and personal at a MN. Twins/Milwaukee Brewers baseball game and my sons got several autographs (we sat in the front row)!
I LOVE COWBOYS and cowboy/western romance or contemporary books...I'd love this book, as I already have two of your cowboy books!
(Linda Luinstra 4:03pm June 7, 2012)

Basketball is my favorite---it used to be even better to watch when they wore shorter shorts!!
(Sue Farrell 5:13pm June 7, 2012)

I love stories about coming home, second chances and
redemption and if it has cowboys - I am IN. Thanks for the
post. I have really gotten into watching college football.

Thanks for the chance
(Pam Brewer 5:47pm June 7, 2012)

Maureen, I like watching friends and family play baseball, but I just can't watch the games on TV. It takes too long for things to happen! You can't say that about rodeo:)
(Joanne Kennedy 5:50pm June 7, 2012)

Great book giveaway.
Yes, been to many rodeos, enjoy the "wild"
bronc riding. Had a pic. taken with a Rodeo Star cowboy.
Very charming and handsome, too.
(Dayle Butler 5:52pm June 7, 2012)

Colleen, I love this cover too! I was trying to think of any others that had a laughing hero on the cover...

Diane, we suffer so in the name of research - it's just terrible what we have to endure:)

Shirley, I'm not sure I fooled anybody. I actually was a bit of a cowgirl when I was younger, but I was a t-shirt cowgirl. Though I did have an awesome and very beat-up pair of boots. I wish I still had them today!
(Joanne Kennedy 6:00pm June 7, 2012)

Linda, I'll bet your sons were excited to meet the ballplayers! There's something about boys and baseball.

And thanks for being a long-time reader! I'm glad you enjoy the books:)
(Joanne Kennedy 6:02pm June 7, 2012)

Sue, I remember those shorts! They looked good on the players, but not so good on anyone else. I saw a construction worker the other day wearing 70's style short-shorts. It was... not a pretty sight! You need to have a certain build to pull that off!
(Joanne Kennedy 6:04pm June 7, 2012)

Pam, you just defined my books - coming home, second chances and redemption are really what they're all about. And cowboys, of course:)
(Joanne Kennedy 6:05pm June 7, 2012)

Dayle, I'll bet he was. It always amazes me how polite and sweet the cowboys are. They definitely live up to their reputation when they're working. Playing - or hanging out at the bar - can be a little different (and a lot more fun!).
(Joanne Kennedy 6:07pm June 7, 2012)

I just need to say that I LOVE blogging at Fresh Fiction! What a great community of readers! It's been so much fun reading and responding to all the comments. I'll keep on visiting through the evening to see what else anyone has to say, so keep those comments coming!
(Joanne Kennedy 6:09pm June 7, 2012)

Living in Texas..Rodeo (cowboys cowboys cowboys), football and baseball. Love the cover of Cowboy Crazy - think you will rope in a few new readers with it!
Thanks for the chance to win.
(Kimberley Coover 6:53pm June 7, 2012)

football and hockey!!!!!!
(Jennifer Beck 8:58pm June 7, 2012)

I love cowboy stories and tales of 2nd chances and redemption. Sounds like you got it all in there to make a good book.
(Pat Lieberman 9:28pm June 7, 2012)

(Mary C 9:50pm June 7, 2012)

Hi, Joanne!! I really enjoyed the insight on rodeo riding!! I know that a sport that would fall into that category - rodeo riding, bronco busting, and the like, takes a lot of willpower, dedication, and concentration. Your piece gave a little extra into their world, and my hat goes off to them (no pun intended). I was always the son my Dad never had, and learned all about sports from him. My favorite would have to be hockey. I went to a game with friends years ago, and we went to where they hung out after a game. I was excited because I knew that I was going to finally meet my favorite player in the world!! When I approached him to say hello and a few words, the man was totally full of himself, and was so rude!! I didn't make a pest of myself, nor was I an ugly person back then. I was 18, skinny, and dressed really cute, with my long hair curled, and a smile that normally would melt men's hearts. So this hockey player broke my heart in a way, although when I watched his team again, I prayed that they would lose, and cheered when they did. It wasn't my home team. I did meet another player on his team who was a rookie and was very sweet. I did find out that he liked one of my girlfriends, though, which sort of hurt, but I wasn't out looking for anyone. I just didn't understand why he was hitting on me. Guys can be strange animals. I think it's time for me to change professions and read your book. I love horses anyway, and have watched rodeo riding on tv a few times. Thank you again for a great entry today!!
(Peggy Roberson 10:08pm June 7, 2012)

Manly sports? Why are women not protesting? Is it because we who enjoy
romances and love heroes are no longer part of the women's movement or
have we all a real need for men in our lives. I have two daughters who are
rifle-ready and have medals for such a "manly" sport. Both have had arthritis
since childhood and it was the best sport for them growing up. Man up
ladies, sports are for anyone who wants to play or compete.
(Sandra Spilecki 5:06pm June 8, 2012)

I do like to watch Rugby League. It's brutal though.
(Mary Preston 10:42pm June 8, 2012)

All sports except boxing have my interest and all are manly.
One book had quotes from a hockey player who said he travels light by only taking a toothbrush.
(Alyson Widen 4:06pm June 10, 2012)

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