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Thursday, December 20, 2018

My Dad



RIDERS OF THE PAINTED STAR 

– The Inspiration

Often when I start out writing a book, there is no particular inspiration that sparks my creativity. I’ll get a gleam of an idea, and when I start to research it, other details begin to gel until I have a story resembling a glob of fruit preserves. I mix in a little bit of my history and things that make me happy or frightened or perturbed. Then I fold in the exotic ingredients, facts that I hadn’t even thought of until my crazy writer mind draws them from somewhere. I painstakingly prepare it until it eventually becomes the perfect (hopefully) mold of fruit Jell-O. 

This book was no exception. I was given the writing prompt from the collection’s team leader, Mary Davis, to write about a heroine having misadventures. We narrowed down the state in which my story was to take place and the decade. I settled on Arizona because I had lived there early in my marriage. As for the year, I prefer to write about the early to mid-1900s as I’m fairly new to historical writing. First, I thought about my chosen state, Arizona, and what could be happening there in the 1930s. Dude ranch! From there my imagination took off and I began to mix the recipe using the ingredients that I listed above.

As a self-proclaimed movie aficionado, the first thing that popped into my head once I had the setting and the decade was the Singing Cowboy era. This led to thoughts of my dad watching old westerns every Saturday morning. What followed was a memory of his Zane Grey hardback book collection that I wish I had kept. And, because I’m a writer, my brain mulled over the aspects of book producing. As I created my little world, I put a famous western author ala Zane Grey on my dude ranch, and then realized he owned it. And what does an author need? A cover artist. Great! That can be my heroine. But she must be a fish out of water, so I plucked her from the art-deco glam of Manhattan.

And my story was off and running.

It’s fun to think that my dad contributed to my story as I included things he loved. Western movies, Zane Grey novels, music. As you can see from his picture, he played the guitar. His repertoire included Country and Western, but also music of the ‘40s. When he became a Christian, he added hymns and contemporary praise music. This contemporary singing cowboy rarely rode a horse, but he drove a semitruck. And I always had a special audience with him.

Whenever I dedicate a book, I always acknowledge my husband. However, this time I also included my father:

To my cowboy, Jim, who makes me feel like a star every day.

And to Daddy, your love of Zane Grey novels did not go unnoticed.




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Coming up: Be Ye Kind and Forgiving -- The Takeaway



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