Joanne Kennedy | STARTING TROUBLE
February 26, 2010
Cowboy Trouble started
with a chicken, a cowboy, and an act of rebellion.
Iâ€™ve worked in bookselling all my life, but a few years ago I decided it was
time to escape the rigors of retail and get a job where I could sit down once in
a while. I decided to try medical transcription, which meant I was sitting in
front of my computer for hours at a time, tapping away at the keys.
The trouble was, what I was churning out was mind-numbingly dull. Doctorâ€™s
reports are hardly the stuff of literature, and the ones that are interesting
are generally tragic. The typing was good. The sitting was great. But the work?
Not for me.
In a vague act of rebellion, I shut off the dictation one day and just started
typing whatever came into my head. Hereâ€™s what came out:
A chicken will never break your heart.
Not that you canâ€™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, thereâ€™s not a lot of warmth there-just an avarice for worms and
bugs and, if itâ€™s a rooster, a lot of suppressed anger and sexual frustration.
They donâ€™t return your affection in any way.
Expectations, relationship-wise, are right at rock bottom.
I kept on going, and before long, I had a character who was unlucky in love and
decided to go off on her own and start a chicken farm. Iâ€™d had chickens years
before, and I think chickens are the funniest animals on the planet, so I was
having a pretty good time. Then the cowboy showed up, and I just had to know
what happened-so I had to keep writing.
Iâ€™ve always read a lot, and Iâ€™ve worked in bookstores all my life, so I had a
fairly good idea of what works in a book, and I also knew the market. At the
time I started Cowboy Trouble, the "chick lit"
trend was beginning to fade. I loved the fun, saucy tone of writers like Sophie Kinsella and Lauren Weisberger, but I
was tired of reading about city girls. What the world needed, I decided, was
some rural "chick lit." I wanted to read about a character who didnâ€™t care much
about hairstyles and high heels--someone whoâ€™s idea of high fashion was wearing
her Wranglers in slim-fit instead of cowboy-cut.
A character who was more like me.
Iâ€™m a Massachusetts native who moved West a few years ago and fell in love with
the wide-open spaces and the quirky individualism of the people here, so I made
Libby an east-coast transplant, too. I love animals and farm life, and I have a
habit of plunging into absurd projects without calculating the odds of success,
so I had Libby start a chicken farm in Wyoming.
The book was going to be a mystery, but Libby and I had one more thing in
common: Iâ€™d taken some knocks in the romance department, and found love just
when Iâ€™d sworn off men forever. Like me, Libby met an irresistible stranger at
the very time she least wanted to fall for a man--and gradually, without my
realizing it, the book became a romance.
When I started Cowboy
TroubleI had no idea how difficult it was to get a novel published. All I
knew was that I was supremely happy hanging out with Luke and Libby in the
fictional world Iâ€™d created. Deep down, I knew Iâ€™d found what I was meant to
do--but I also knew that if I wanted to keep doing it, I needed to treat it like
I started reading books on fiction writing, going to writing conferences, and
begging friends to read and critique my work. I gave up watching television,
among other things, so Iâ€™d have more time to write. Once I finished the
manuscript, I started submitting to agents and editors, and I struggled to
swallow my pride and learn from my rejections.
And finally, two days before Christmas in 2008, I found out that Sourcebooks
Casablanca wanted to publish my book. Now Luke and Libby are out there
getting to know the rest of you, and I couldnâ€™t be more thrilled. Like Libby,
Iâ€™ve found my happily ever after.
I never did medical transcription again, and I was a little disappointed in
myself, because Iâ€™ve never been a quitter. But really, I did reach the goal I
set out to achieve: I finally have a job where I get to sit down!
As a bookseller, I partly wrote Cowboy Trouble to fill an
empty niche in the market. What kinds of books do you think are missing out
there? Do you long for romances set in Dark Age Ireland, or mysteries featuring
handicapped heroines? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and Iâ€™ll stop
back often and see what I can learn!
COWBOY TROUBLE by JOANNE KENNEDYIN STORES
Fleeing her latest love life disaster, big city journalist Libby Brown's
transition to rural living isn't going exactly as planned. Her childhood dream
has always been to own a chicken farm--but without the constant help of her
charming, sexy, cowboy neighbor; she'd never have made it through her first
Handsome rancher Luke Rawlins is impressed by this sassy, independent city girl.
But he yearns to do more than help Libby out with her ranch...he's ready for
love, and he wants to go the distance. When the two get embroiled in their tiny
town's one and only crime story, Libby discovers that their sizzling hot
attraction is going to complicate her life in every way possible...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joanne Kennedy has
worked in bookstores all her life in positions ranging from bookseller to buyer.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction
Writers, and won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second
place in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007. Joanne lives and writes
in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information please visit joannekennedybooks.com.
Leave a comment today and you could be one of two winners to receive a copy
of Cowboy Trouble.
64 comments posted.
Re: Joanne Kennedy | STARTING TROUBLE
(Tanja Haack 10:23am February 25, 2010)
I think the one genre missing is
an Alpha Heroine that solves
pursuing the Hero and solving
(Tanja Haack 10:25am February 25, 2010)
Thank you for your post, Joanne. I'll be on the lookout for COWBOY TROUBLE.
There are lots of plots, characters, settings, and themes I'd love to see in romance fiction that are difficult if not impossible to find nowadays. Contemporary romances that deal with real-life issues. Historical romances set in countries where people don't speak English. Fantasy romances without vampires, werewolves, or demons.
But what I wish I could find most of all in romance fiction, and almost never can, is a hero who's an ordinary guy. Not a millionaire, not a duke, not a vampire. Someone like the men in my world, who must work for a living and live within his modest means. Think of all the plots and situations a writer can generate out of such a character.
I'd definitely prefer it if he's not a cynic, if he has a healthy attitude toward the world in general and women in particular. I've had it with all these cynical romantic heroes. They're the richest and most powerful men imaginable. What do they have to be cynical about?
It'd be great to have a charming hero with an attractive personality for a change. Yes, I know it's harder to generate plots out of good guys than bad ones. But who said writing is supposed to be easy?
Keep up the good work!
(Mary Anne Landers 2:25am February 26, 2010)
I got laugh out of you starting with chickens and winding up with a romance. What would I like to see? A hero that isn't six-feet tall. I am only five-feet-two-inches and looking up at a guy over six feet would give me a crick in my neck. I don't believe I have ever read a story where the hero was a farmer, yet there are lots of farmers in our country and they fall in love.
(Gladys Paradowski 5:06am February 26, 2010)
I saw this book on Amazon and it sounds amazing! Right up my alley. It is DEFINITELY on my TBB list. Cannot wait to read it. I am not really into historicals, although I know a lot of people who are. I love books with characters who could be anyone I know - or even me! A great romance, a litte mystery, and just a touch a humor? Perfect! Have a great day.
(Kara Conrad 8:02am February 26, 2010)
I love all sorts of different romance books and especially like those that make me laugh. Yours sounds a hoot and I can't wait to read it.
(Barbara Hanson 9:37am February 26, 2010)
My wife loves western romances.
(Jeffrey Russell 10:21am February 26, 2010)
I have seen this book on a few sites. It look v.g.
(Pat Lieberman 10:45am February 26, 2010)
I like characters I can relate to. Everyday, likeable people that you can see yourself hanging out with. I don't think we see many of those types of characters.
(Cherie Japp 11:16am February 26, 2010)
Chickens are wonderful!
(Joanne Reynolds 11:44am February 26, 2010)
Tanja - I don't know if Libby sees herself as an "alpha" heroine, but she's a strong person and goes after the puzzle with everything she's got.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:46am February 26, 2010)
(Joanne Kennedy 11:46am February 26, 2010)
Mary Anne - Amen! I'm so glad to hear from readers who are looking for "real" heroes, instead of millionaires or dukes. That's what my books are all about. If you're looking for a "charming hero with an attractive personality", you really will love Luke. I so hope you read Cowboy Trouble - I'd love to hear what you think of him!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:48am February 26, 2010)
Gladys - I see your point about the six-foot guys and that crick in your neck! But I'm 5'11" - so I'm not sure you'll be getting short heroes from me. Although I do like the stocky, Al Pacino body type a lot...hmmmm...
(Joanne Kennedy 11:51am February 26, 2010)
Kara - Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about my book! I agree that "regular people" make great characters. There's drama enough in real life to make good stories, and I like to be able to identify with characters.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:52am February 26, 2010)
Barbara - I think I can guarantee that Cowboy Trouble will give you a giggle. My favorite funny part is Wild Thing the feral chicken. She's based on a real chicken I had, who was really a character.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:54am February 26, 2010)
Jeffrey - I see Western romances getting more and more popular, so there should be plenty out there for your wife to enjoy. Thanks - it's so nice to see a man on the site!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:55am February 26, 2010)
Pat - "vg" always makes me think of Bridget Jones. I still love chick lit...
(Joanne Kennedy 11:56am February 26, 2010)
Cherie - I think we've found a movement here! I'm so glad everyone is looking for "everyman" (and "everywoman") characters. That's what my books are all about. I think what makes cowboys so attractive is that they do hard work, fighting the elements to make a living from the land. It makes them better men - there's a sort of quiet heroism to it. There's also a nurturing side, since they work with animals.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:59am February 26, 2010)
Thanks, everybody, for the comments so far. I have a long work day ahead of me, but I'll check back in tonight!
(Joanne Kennedy 12:00pm February 26, 2010)
I'm glad you tried your hand at writing because Cowboy Trouble sounds like a good book.
(Leni Kaye 12:27pm February 26, 2010)
Your book sounds wonderful! I enjoy the variety of romances out there, but never really thought about what is missing...
(Colleen Conklin 12:33pm February 26, 2010)
Great post! Western romance is growing, but I wonder why I don't see more western paranormal. And I'm all for writing the story I want to read! Thank you for the chance to read Cowboy Trouble :)
(Amber Leigh Williams 1:13pm February 26, 2010)
Congrats on the new release! It sounds like a delightful story. I love a good cowboy story, whether it's historical or contemporary. I have heard that paranormals, fantasies, and historicals are most popular right now. I am glad to see that you have written a straight contemporary story because I think we need more of these.
(Cheryl Castings 1:50pm February 26, 2010)
A chicken farm...now that is a unique idea. Even the thought brings a smile to my face. It will be great to read a book that is not the typical "boy meets girl". I can't wait to meet Libby and Luke.
(Robin McKay 2:35pm February 26, 2010)
keep em comin. winter time is readin time!
(Debbi Shaw 3:47pm February 26, 2010)
Wow! How one chicken spawned a whole book - interesting.
(Cheryl Snyder 3:55pm February 26, 2010)
Wow, I am a farm girl from Kansas now living in the big city of Austin, TX and this sounds like a Fantastic Book and I pray that I win your Contest too! God bless, Cecilia 74 Cece
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 4:14pm February 26, 2010)
ANy book that starts with a line like "A chicken will never break your heart." has got my immediate attention! I just have one burning question: Is it an organic chicken farm? (Sorry! Couldn't resist!)
(Lynn Rettig 4:59pm February 26, 2010)
COrrection: That question should have read: "Is it an organic, free-range chicken farm?"!!
(Lynn Rettig 5:01pm February 26, 2010)
I do so love my cowboys. I look forward to reading COWBOY TROUBLE.
(Mary Preston 5:57pm February 26, 2010)
I love cowboys stories. I love when an unknown cowboy rides into town to save the day and the rides off into the sunset.
(Kai Wong 6:03pm February 26, 2010)
This is definitely different to the romances I generally read. I will have to get a copy and find what I've been missing. Congratulations on 'Cowboy Trouble'.
(Rosemary Krejsa 8:02pm February 26, 2010)
I love cowboy stories. I don't care if they are rich or not....but I do like my Hero to be a great lover!!!
Congrats on your new release!!!
(Mitzi Hinkey 9:37pm February 26, 2010)
Congrats on making a successful career
(Jung Ja Ahn 11:08pm February 26, 2010)
One of my all time favorite oldies movie is "The Egg & I" it always makes me laugh. Your book sounds like another fun read! Eggs, chickens, AND a Cowboy in the mix to give us that always looked for Romance! Can hardly wait!!
(Jean Merriott 11:44pm February 26, 2010)
Leni and Colleen - thanks for the well-wishes!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:45pm February 26, 2010)
Amber - I love paranormals, too, and I'd love to put one in a Western setting - but I haven't come up with that plot yet. And the real West is so interesting, it'll be a while before I run out of "regular" plots. Stay tuned, though - you never know!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:47pm February 26, 2010)
Thanks for sharing your story. I currently transcribe medical dictations from home. You're absolutely right re reports being mind-numbingly dull. I too sit at this computer for hours on end -- on my end. Luckily I'm at home so I can get up and get a drink, take long washroom breaks, work in my pajamas, etc., but it is STILL boring!
BTW, your book sounds great. Thanks again for sharing.
(Elaine Seymour 11:49pm February 26, 2010)
Cheryl - I agre, I love straight contemporaries - stories that could happen to you or me, especially with a shot of humor. Have you read Robin Kaye? She writes for Sourcebooks too, and her contemporaries are wonderful. "Romeo, Romeo" is really good.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:49pm February 26, 2010)
Robin - Thanks. I raised chickens myself years ago, so it was a natural choice. People think they're stupid, but they all have unique personalities just like people!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:50pm February 26, 2010)
Debbi, winter time really is reading time in Wyoming. We sure can't do much else! There's not that much snow, but it gets cold and really windy, so we stay in by the fire and read:)
(Joanne Kennedy 11:51pm February 26, 2010)
Cecilia, do you miss farm life? I've heard Austin is a great place to live.
(Joanne Kennedy 11:52pm February 26, 2010)
Cheryl, thanks for reading! I'm a little obsessed with chickens - and cowboys!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:53pm February 26, 2010)
Lynn - Good question! Yes, it's organic, but not quite free range out here - too many coyotes to leave any livestock unprotected. I had free range chickens, though. They were happy ladies!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:54pm February 26, 2010)
Lynn & Kai - I love cowboys too - obviously:) I want the young Clint Eastwood (Rowdy Yates!) to ride into town and save MY day!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:59pm February 26, 2010)
Thanks Rosemary! And Mitzi - I think Luke will live up to your standards. He's pretty dang hot!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:59pm February 26, 2010)
Jung Ja Ahn - thanks. I'm definitely loving my new career - mostly because of all the new friends I'm making. Thanks so much to everyone for commenting.
(Joanne Kennedy 12:00pm February 27, 2010)
Jean, I LOVE The Egg & I! Thanks for reminding me. My grandmother had the book and I read it over and over as a kid. I guess that's where my chicken obsession started. Blame it on Betty MacDonald!
(Joanne Kennedy 12:02pm February 27, 2010)
Great post! I have never read you books before, but I love me some cowboys. They are my favorite read.
(Gail Hurt 1:12am February 27, 2010)
Great how you changed gears and went with your heart, even though there are no guarantees in writing. Setting a goal of pages per day like Julie Cameron's The Artists Way, following a favorite author and taking apart the story structure, you can see the craft. I'm glad you stuck with it and marched with your passions.
(Alyson Widen 11:21am February 27, 2010)
Sounds great! I love humor in books! I
agree that chic lit is very tiring and after
about my 2nd "city girl" book, I was
through with the genre. Good luck!
(Molly Wilsbacher 5:45pm February 27, 2010)
Wings and chaps - what fun!
(Marjorie Carmony 6:58pm February 27, 2010)
My favorite chicken joke: A farmer put up a sign in his henhouse reading, "An egg a day keeps Colonel Sanders away."
(Mary Anne Landers 7:14pm February 27, 2010)
I also would like to see some
romances where the guy and the
girl are normal people, who
have normal jobs. You know,
like the farmer, the
construction worker, the
average JOE who sells tires at
the local Goodyear dealer. Why
can't they have some HEA's
that they deserve after
finding the not bombshell
lovely and surviving an up and
down funny relationship. I
think with humor even the
dullest romance is a best
(Lisa Richards 8:58pm February 27, 2010)
I love the sound of your story. I like
serious, but lately a sense of humor
has been needed. Independent, sassy,
and funny are a good break from
work, a bad economy, and now
Funny you should mention a heroine
with a disability. There are a few
books out there with them, but not
many. Catherine Anderson has one
confined to a wheelchair in PHANTOM
WALTZ, but off hand, I can't think of
any others. There are many books
with scarred and injured heroes, but
one gets the impression that a woman
can't be desirable if she is likewise
afflicted. You can be smart, sassy,
capable, have a sense of humor, and
be sexy even if you need a cane to
walk or have other problems.
(Patricia Barraclough 2:23am February 28, 2010)
Love the Cowboys, not the football team. Cowboy Trouble sounds like fun & humor.
(Pat Wilson 5:05pm February 28, 2010)
I love my cowboys! I'm even rooting for the cowboys on the Amazing Race!!
(Lisa Glidewell 11:10pm February 28, 2010)
Alyson - it sound slike your speaking from xperience! Keep writing! It was a big change, but the minute I started "Cowboy Trouble" I knew I'd found what I was meant to do. I'm so lucky it worked out, because I'd have to keep going even if it didn't!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:15pm March 3, 2010)
Elaine, I agree there are some really great advantages to medical transcription. Working from home is the way to go!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:16pm March 3, 2010)
Mary Anne -- So funny!That'll motivate those chickens for sure!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:17pm March 3, 2010)
Lisa - I'm so glad readers are loving the REAL men, not just the fantasy guys. Goodyear men deserve love too!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:17pm March 3, 2010)
Patricia - I'm glad you mentioned Catherine Anderson. I think she's had handicapped heroines in a couple of her books, and they were great stories with a lot of heart. And to me, man or woman, a person who has the courage to overcome a disability is sexy as it gets!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:19pm March 3, 2010)
Lisa - cowboys on The Amazing Race? I'm going to have to check that out!
(Joanne Kennedy 11:20pm March 3, 2010)
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