Tuesday, August 9

Stickin' To MY Guns!

Thia week I was thrilled to get comments back from an editor on a contest entry. She said she was struck by my vibrant and authentic western details.

Wow. It doesn't get better than that.

Her comments are very validating. I have really been through the grinder on this manuscript in this year's contests. I was dumbstruck when a judge recently told me a branding was a round-up. Nope. It isn't. A round up is what happens before the branding.

Another judge told me my hero wouldn't wear spurs. Huh? A working cowboy wouldn't wear spurs? Yeah, he would.

I could keep going, but the crazy comments I've gotten could fill up this whole blog. I do have to include this one, though. Several judges have commented that a branding iron couldn't possibly do lasting damage to my hero's back. What?!! Put a red-hot piece of iron on your skin, let it burn through muscle and tissues, and see how well you recuperate.

The point of all this is simple. I write what I know. I don't set my locations in faraway lands. I don't write about doctors or pilots. Or Arab sheiks.

I stick to the facts, ma'am. This way, I know I'm on the right trail. I'm not waisting writing time by doing research. I'm not making things up as I go along. I'm just writing what comes naturally for me.

Do I ever deviate, you ask? Not often, probably to my CPs' dismay. I like my subjects. I am comfortable with them. Why write about something that I know nothing about, when I have another thousand stories in my head about a subject I know and love? Sorry, CPs, but I'm sticking to my guns and my cowboys and the women who love them!


  1. D'Ann, I completely agree with writing what you know. Sometimes it is fun to explore but it requires a lot of research to come out with an authentic voice and representation. You are fortunate that what you know and write are interests of yours that you get to intermingle.

  2. That's interesting they called things out that you know! I have had that happen to me before as well. It's always rather interesting.

  3. Stick to your Guns, D'Ann. BANG BANG! You have to write your passion or it comes off as insincere and that is one thing I can never see you as. You are one of the most honest people I know.

  4. Which is why mythic paranormal is great to write. Nobody can tell me what to expect in a world I've created! LOL

    But I hear your pain. The open-mouthed reaction I had in reading the judging comments. I'd like to tell everyone at the next branding the smelly work the ground crew is doing - in the dirt - is really a round-up.

    Folks can be from the city, I don't have a problem with that. As long as they don't go around thinking they know it all. Book learnin' is different from the hands-on type.

    GREAT post.

  5. The biggest problem with first round judges is that they are so often wrong. Often. Wrong. Very wrong. I coordinated a contest where a judge criticized the (quite correct) Regency "jargon" the author used because that judge didn't read Regencies and didn't know what she was talking about. Same judge criticized an author for details about German food (in Germany). She was wrong, there, too. Some judges think they know a lot and don't. Some judges are prejudiced (esp. by what they see on TV). And in the end you gotta go with what you know is right, and then, after publication when you get those reader emails? You can set 'em straight with a smile! Yippie Ei O Kayee, and all that.

  6. Toni~

    I am lucky, and i know it! I love what I write about!

  7. Mart~

    Yes, more than any other time, on this ms, I have had more judges correct me on stuff I know inside and out.

  8. Bang! Bang! back, Casea!

    Thank you for the compliment. I try to tell the truth as I see it.

  9. Sheri! LOL.
    Paranormal would be fun to write. I love your characters and setting, so it must be as much fun to create as it is to read.

    And, yeah, book learnin' is good, just don't think you know more than the gal with the degree in practice!

  10. Lisa~
    Thanks for coming by. I have often told the story that early in my judging days, I got a regency, and circled/marked out every single ton, thinking the writer meant town. Thank goodness my sister set me straight before I sent that ms back. Whew!

  11. At least one judge (an editor!) knew what they were talking about and gave you kudos : )

    I know that when I read your stories, I always feel as though I'm right there, in the scene, and with the characters. And isn't that the point? You go, girl. Keep writing what you know and we'll keep reading your work and loving every minute of it!

    Write On~ : )

  12. I have a tendency to write outside my realm of expertise but I give you credit for sticking to what you know.

  13. LOL at your "ton" story. It's nice your sister caught that!

    Good for you sticking to your guns. It will pay off. And good post, too.

  14. You could write a new cowboy every day for the rest of your life, send him off to me and I'd be in heaven! I love your cowboys, and I'm glad you've stuck it out with Cord because he has a great story to tell. :)

  15. It's important to write about what we know. Sometimes editors and reviewers say things we know are wrong. Your advice is excellent--take it for what it's worth. There's going to be those who see the value of our work and appreciate it. It's lovely that you got such a positive comment from the current contest judge. Very encouraging!

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE TRUTH SLEUTH--request at your local library

  16. D'Ann,
    I love your resolve to stick with what you know and cowboys you know...I love it. How do you keep your cool manner with the idiotic comments on contests returns. That is only one of the reasons I ceased entering them long ago. The most aggravating thing was telling me a MAn wouldn't say that...Oh yeah? I must live in a different world.. I love your writing and know you will not be swayed or discouraged by ignorant comments. Keep with it.

  17. This is an awesome story and somone noticed so pat yourself on the back. You know what you're doing so stick with that and forget the ridiculous comments some of those judges made. A cowboy without spurs-now that's funny. And don't they know a brand is red-hot, like getting a tattoo—it's there forever. Great blog D'An and congrats!

  18. Phew, I made it!! Sorry I'm so late but I had to work today.
    Anyway, great post. And I couldn't agree more--write what you are passionate about. It will come across on the pages.

  19. I bet I can sum up why the judges made such bad mistakes in two words. The internet. It's full of wrong information. You'd be surprised how many people come into the doc's office swearing they have skin cancer because of something they read on the internet. I say kudos for sticking to your guns. Go get 'em D'Ann!

  20. Everyone!
    Thank you so much for coming by and leaving such great comments!

  21. LOL. I wouldn't dare question your knowledge in this area. I think you should write back to the branding naysayers and offer to test out their no pain theory :)

  22. You've got to write what you love! Cowboys are it for you. Sounds trite, but stay true to yourself. Lol, doesn't hurt that you're super knowledgable about your subject matter.

  23. D'Ann,

    Luckily the editor (who is the important one in the grand scheme of things) recognizes an authentic voice when he/she sees one.Kudos on the great feedback there!

    But yeah, sometimes those first round judges just make me shake my head. When it gets really annoying is when they deduct points for something they are completely wrong about and knock you out of the finals.

  24. Great post, D'Ann! I get so peeved when I read a cowboy story and they are not authentic. Take the clothes..when they wear Levi's...What? All the cowboys I know wear Wranglers or Cinch (new fad). And Stesons? So cliche and yet we don't own a one... What about Resistol, Bailey, and...well I don't need to preach-you know. Stick to your guns is right! You tell them!
    Great post. And I can't wait to read a real western.


  25. Oh, boy, do I ever know about NOT writing about what I know but writing about something I love. You should write what you love and you have the added advantage of actually knowing about what you love...And a day don't go by that I don't thank the good Lord above that we found each other as CPs and that you DO know all this stuff!!!!

    And I don't mind reading your cowboys and cowgirls. I love them, so you better keep writing them.