Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy

Okay, I confess I have a bawdy sense of humor and songs with fun, playful lyrics make me giggle. I recall driving the backroads of Tampa Bay in my red Mustang listening to Big & Rich sing “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” lol! No wonder one of the chapter headings in Real Women Wear Red is “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”

I could hear the crowd yelling out “Ride a Cowboy” every time the band sang “Save a Horse” when I was still down the hall from the Country Western Saloon, as one of the lounges had been turned into Country Dance Night. Country music wasn’t my thing so I would probably not have made an appearance, but I was curious by the Dear Abby at Sea e-mail I had received earlier today. (From Real Women Wear Red)

But it was Brooks & Dunn who inspired Eric’s Nevada cowboy scenes in The Tom Jones Club.

This book came about because of two things:  well-maintained older women seated in the first two rows of a Tom Jones show in Vegas and listening to Brooks & Dunn singing songs such as “My Heart is not a Hotel,” “Whisky Do My Talking” and “She’s About as Lonely as I’m Gonna Let Her Get.” It’s not your usual cowboy romance and Lucky is “not your usual romance heroine” as Happily Ever After Reviews said. I’ve given the story my own personal twist.

The country music craze of the 90s is what brought hubby and me together. Hubby loves country music with a clever lyric and country dancing – ooooh, that black cowboy hat, black jeans, and grey suede boots moving on the dance floor…

I’m listening to Vegas Country online while I write this – and what you may not realize is that Vegas is full of cowboys – Nevada ranches surround “Sin City” – and when there’s a rodeo in town, well, the cowboys take over. And there’s a country music station you can pick up between Barstow and Las Vegas that exists just for truck drivers and cowboys driving in the middle of the night.

Here are some of our favorite country songs with clever titles and/or clever lyrics:

Don’t Be Falling in Love As She’s Walking Away – Zac Brown Band
If You Can Truthfully say You’ve Been True Just One Day, That Makes One in a Row – Willie Nelson
If You Can’t Undo the Wrong, Undo the Right – Willie Nelson
What’s a Memory Like You Doing in a Love Like This – John Schneider
What Would Your Memories Do – George Strait
Dancin’ All Around It – Alan Jackson
I’m Leaving – Aaron Tippin
Closing Time – Radney Foster
He Broke Your Memory Last Night – Reba McEntire
Couldn’t Love Have Picked a Better Place to Die – Clinton Gregory
God Will – Lyle Lovett
If I Were the Man You Wanted – Lyle Lovett
I Left Something Turned on at Home – Trace Adkins

If you have an ear for lyrics, you probably also have an ear for clever lines in books and/or movies. So what song lyrics and/or lines stand out for you?

I’d love to share music videos of all of my favorite fun country songs, but there’s not enough bandwith. So, I’m just going to share one of the funniest and/or trashiest songs I’ve ever heard – lol! But no matter how trashy, there’s something about a cowboy… no wonder they’re so popular in romance novels.

I Like My Women a Little on the Trashy Side – Confederate Railroad

Lush Women Sing the Blues

Chiron of Chiron Radio had a fabulous post this week featuring Imelda May and other amazing “new to me” lush women who sing the blues. And this led me off on my own search of new female singers on Pandora, which I discovered while creating an “Imelda May” station. Wow! What an incredible find! But before I share some of those with you, check out what Chiron said about Lucky in my latest romance novel, The Tom Jones Club:

One of my buddies, Kathy Holmes, shares my hunger for lush tunes. Her most recent book, The Tom Jones Club, features a cabaret singer which reminded me of Jeff Beck’s recent collaboration with Imelda May. To finish up our show, I have cued up a recent video of one of my very favorite guitar heroes and the delicious Imelda, with a song guaranteed to give you chills.

Imelda May – Walking in the Sand:

This definitely gives me the chills and speaks to my own blues singing soul, something I’d thought was my first love. But life has taught me that, instead of performing on a real live stage, I perform vicariously through the characters in my novels. No wonder so many of them are wannabe performers.

Here’s another one from Imelda May – Big Bad Handsome Man:

This led me to discovering The Mother Truckers – name alone cracks me up, and the title, oh yeah!

The Mother Truckers – Love Me Like a Man:

Here are some other fabulously lush women singers I discovered Saturday night:

Devil Doll – The One Who Got Away:

Eilen Jewel – Sea of Tears:

Missy Higgins – This is How it Goes:

Mink Stole – Sometimes I Wish I Had a Gun:

Ingrid Lucia – Sunny Afternoon:

Kim Lenz – He’s All Mine:

Gina Sicilia – Don’t Wanna be no Mother; Don’t Wanna Be no Wife:

And one more cuz I scared myself writing my suspense manuscript:
Katie Melua – Scary Films:

A huge thanks to Chiron for introducing me to this fabulous music and for the mention of Lucky and The Tom Jones Club. I hope you’ve all discovered something new, as well.

Contest Win for A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas

A Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas, published by Mozark Press, wins contest in the Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference. You can read more about it on the Mozark Press blog.

My short story, Viva Las Vegas, is a part of the anthology, and I’m honored to be a part of that book. Linda Fisher, the publisher, said that all the stories in the book were prize-worthy and that makes me smile. Here’s a little something about the book (my story highlighted in bold):

Twenty-five captivating stories are included in Hot Flash Mommas. Authors from across the U.S. submitted their fiction stories about women living the adventure of midlife. Award-worthy stories fill the pages of Hot Flash Mommas, the first Shaker of Margarita book. A sampling of story topics: husband hunting, hot flashes in the freezer aisle, breast cancer, a rock concert, an Elvis impersonator, a stolen velvet Elvis painting, exploding snowflakes, witnesses to murder, a gambling addiction, possible spies, a prodigal daughter, a fishing trip, a date with a nudist, a tryst with a tow-truck driver, a man in the ladies’ room, ladies’ night out, animal rescue, a therapeutic menagerie, a first date after divorce, latex allergy, a monk in the driveway, a unique way to scare off an intruder, and an accused murderer who rein-vents herself.

Available on Amazon in print and on kindle.

The Book Review Club: Me and Mr. Darcy

Wandering through my local Borders last month, I couldn’t find any books in stock that I was looking for – all new releases that should definitely be on the shelves – but that’s the state of my local Borders these days. Determined to bring home a book, though, I stumbled upon Me and Mr. Darcy, a chick lit novel by Alexandra Potter, published about five years ago. So I decided to review this for “The Book Review Club” this month.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book – I just zipped through it, but I did have a few observations:

(1) I think I’ve finally outgrown chick lit – feeling a bit old every time I read “um…” in a book

(2) A book written by a Brit about an American in Britain is bound to have a few slip-ups with what an American would know or say

(3) Feeling out of step with everybody supposedly so enamored with Mr. Darcy. In my day, it was all about Rhett Butler – lol!

I searched online to see what others were saying about this book and found this interesting review here, posted two or three years ago. Most of the negative points were the fact that they felt it was better to actually read Pride & Prejudice, rather than a take-off of the book.

As one person pointed out, though, perhaps the book was targeted toward those who weren’t huge P&P fans, myself included, or at least, hadn’t read it in decades! I went through a whole “Gothic” moor-type romance phase when I was in my early twenties. But I left them behind long ago so I don’t quite get this obsession with Mr. Darcy and P&P outside of Bridget Jones’ Diary. That seemed to have started the whole Brit Lit/Chick Lit era. Whatever happened to Gone with the Wind? lol!

One commenter on that review site validated my point that Americans don’t say or know many of the phrases her character said or did. It would have been more believable had the character grown up in America but had British parents so she could have picked some of that through them.

But having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it was well-written, and I would definitely recommend it, unless you’d rather read P&P. But for those of us not overly exposed to P&P, it makes for a fun read.

What about you? Mr. Darcy or Rhett Butler?

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@Barrie Summy

Breakfast in Bakersfield

Bakersfield is the inspiration for the book within the book (THE TOM JONES CLUB) called Breakfast in Bakersfield. In fact, that was one of the titles I pondered using for THE TOM JONES CLUB, as it’s the subplot driving the main plot.

For those of you not familiar with this area, Bakersfield is a popular place to eat, well, breakfast, when you’re doing the L.A. to the Central Valley trek, although the old landmarks have disappeared.

Like the people in The Grapes of Wrath, California’s Central Valley was settled by those from Oklahoma and Arkansas during the Dust Bowl, including my dad’s family and my step dad’s family (my step grandma thought the movie was too harsh on the real people, although my grandma says it was pretty accurate). Still, you will feel that influence in the Central Valley today. In some places, it’s like time stopped. For example, my step dad’s family settled in this area and remain there today. So when my hubby dared to step foot in Aunt Betty’s kitchen, she was all alarmed and said, “There’s a man in the kitchen.” This was rather shocking for my Jersey Shore hubby who enjoys cooking. lol!

My step dad charged out of the Valley and headed for L.A. when he was still a teen. He longed for bigger horizons than what the valley offered. But we used to do the breakfast in Bakersfield thing on our way to his old hometown to visit his family about twice a year – usually once in the summer during the grape harvest (his sister’s husband’s family owned a vineyard) and once over Christmas.

We’d leave our home in Orange County (just south of L.A.) at about 5 a.m. and arrive in Bakersfield in time for breakfast at one of those roadside cafes with a “Let’s Eat” sign blinking on top – it was the highlight of the road trip. And that experience inspired me to write the “Breakfast in Bakersfield” scenes in THE TOM JONES CLUB, excerpt below.

Los Angeles, September 1973
Breakfast in Bakersfield

The Los Angeles traffic at that time of the morning back was practically nonexistent. They sailed through the hushed city, over the mountains, and to the crest of the Grapevine where they could see the entire valley below as the sun was starting to rise in the east. Matt pulled over at a rest stop so they could all stretch their legs.

At a long and lean six feet two inches, Matt and his Levi-encased legs seemed to be the only one needing stretching. He pulled out a Lucky Strike from his blue-buttoned shirt pocket, lit it with the lighter he carried in his left Levi jacket pocket, and exhaled quietly as he seemed entranced by the view. Red, Syd, and Mona stayed in the car, Red’s head leaning against the window as if she was snoozing while Syd watched Red, and Mona watched Matt.

Matt seemed to disappear inside himself as his gaze never left the valley below. He never said a word. He extinguished his cigarette, got back in the car, and kept driving until two hours later when he pulled up in front of a small shack with a large, red-lettered sign displaying “Let’s Eat” on top of the weathered building.

(THE TOM JONES CLUB, available on amazon.com.)

And this reminds me of the Dwight Yoakum/Buck Owen song, “Streets of Bakersfield.”

Introducing Mr. Unobtrusive

Some of the scenes in my writing were inspired by real-life events that happened at Disney World when we lived in Florida. For example, check out this scene:

“Excuse me. I need to catch my ride.”
A tall, dark and handsome stranger wearing the tightest black jeans Lucky had ever seen pasted on a man tucked into grey leather cowboy boots slid past her as she stepped back, allowing him to pass. Until now, she hadn’t realized she was blocking the transportation desk while she waited for her car. 

The desk was extraordinarily busy, and she had to wait longer than she normally did. Her plane wasn’t the only one that had landed at McCarran this evening. With so many people flying in from faraway locations, evening arrivals were probably one of the most popular in Las Vegas. And tonight, most were waving “Tom Jones Convention” banners. They seemed to be taking over the town.


“Oh, yes, of course.”

“I try to be as unobtrusive as I can.”

“Well, you’re hardly that,” she laughed. A man that good-looking couldn’t possibly be unobtrusive.

I met the real Mr. Unobtrusive at the valet desk at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at WDW. While waiting for the valet to bring us our car after having a wonderful dinner at Jiko, a mysterious man scooted past me to pick up his bag and said, “Excuse me, but I try to be unobtrusive.” My head spun around so fast and my imagination was immediately caught up in this mystery. Who was this man and who says something like that? I really wanted to know his story – where was he from, what did he do, what was he doing at WDW – he didn’t seem like the usual guest.

Originally, this scene belonged to Copper – an Orlando resort concierge who claimed she could figure out where a person was from just by looking at him. Copper then made it into The Tom Jones Club as Lucky’s new friend and I gave Mr. Unobtrusive to Lucky and placed them all in Las Vegas. Instead of knowing where a man was from by looking at him, Lucky’s claim was knowing what kind of a man he was by what he drank – check out Lucky’s Guide to Wine and Men.

The Tom Jones Club in Paperback

The Tom Jones Club is now available on amazon.com in paperback. I’m excited about this because, like all of my writing, it’s not always what it seems or there’s more going on than what you might see at first glance.

While it’s categorized as a romance, it’s more than that. I write about “women on the brink of change.” The story is Lucky’s and how one last business trip to Las Vegas changes her life when she meets the women of the Tom Jones Club.

 More about Lucky:

International Wine Sales Rep Lucky Stryker believes she can tell what kind of man he is by the kind of wine he drinks. And she’s had plenty of experience, traveling the globe in search of the perfect wine and the perfect man. But, for some reason, she ends up alone. Now traveling that slippery slope that starts at 35 and ends with 40, she’s in Las Vegas to close the door on her last business deal, and to open the door to a new life and love. 


From the back cover:

International wine director Lucky Stryker, the “Lucky Lady,” is lucky in the boardroom, but unlucky in love. But the last thing she expects is to land in the arms of a cowboy during the Tom Jones Club convention. A hot week with a cowboy in Las Vegas is one thing—eternity is another.

Fearing that any woman he gets involved with will leave him–the way his mother left his father–Eric Blake chooses women who are guaranteed to fulfill that prophecy. And Lucky Stryker is no exception. 

When Lady Luck throws the red hot dice, Lucky and Eric cash in on a red hot sizzling romance. So when their pasts catch up to them, and neither is who they appear to be, they are forced to answer these questions, “Can their hearts keep the promises their bodies have been making?” and “Will they finally get lucky in love?”

Available at Bookstrand, Mobipocket, Nook Book (BN.com), amazon.com in Print and Kindle.