Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Started My Love For Cowboys and Ranchers?

My Early Hero
Second Only 
To My Dad

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My name is Caroline Clemmons and I write contemporary, historical, and time travel romances set in Texas. During my early years, I was one of the thousands of young girls in love with Roy Rogers—that’s before I realized that Dale Evans had already stolen my singing cowboy. Later, my family drove through ranch land on trips from Lubbock, Texas to visit my grandmother in southwestern Oklahoma. Even when we happened by a roundup near the road one day, my dad didn’t stop to let me watch. He was a very nice man, but strictly a Point A to Point B traveler with no detours. I drove the poor man nuts chattering on and on about cowboys anyway.

My up close and personal introduction to ranching was at the Hicks family’s Mayan Ranch located on the Medina River near Bandera, Texas. This is a first class guest ranch, and my daughters and I fell in love with the ranch and the area. My husband, not so much, but he’s a good sport and let us have our fun. And the Mayan is a great place to have that fun, true western style. The Hicks are a large family, and the Mayan is an efficient, family-run enterprise. Bandera bills itself as "The Cowboy Capital of the World." I’m willing to believe the claim. In addition to genuine working ranches, there are numerous guest ranches in the area. (Doesn’t "guest" sound better than "dude" ranch?)

Mayan trail ride
  The Mayan Ranch caters to everyone from returning cowpokes to city slickers. Did we ever fall into the latter group! On arrival we were shown to our lodgings—a two-bedroom cedar board-and-batten cabin nestled among the trees and furnished in picturesque western style. As Texans say, "We were in high cotton." The Hicks family provides first class everything. Meals are all you can eat in the dining room, a cookout on the patio, or a hayride to breakfast by the river.

Small Band at the Mayan
Entertainment includes parties each night, swimming, dances complete with instructors, daily trail rides, cowboy singers and musicians, and a trip to their Old West town, Hicksville. I was hooked on ranching life! Of course, ranching is so much easier with the Hicks family and their employees taking care of all the work!

Lost Maples State Park--my photo

Is it any wonder that so many of my western stories take place in this setting? Nearby is the picturesque Lost Maples State Natural Area with the only native maple trees in the state. Inhabited by prehistoric peoples, the area was a hot spot for Comanche and Apache Indian renegades as well as both Indian and anglo  rustlers. I took advantage of that setting for the rustlers in my latest release, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE.

Lost Maples in the fall
Bandera is within easy driving distance from the unique city of San Antonio. On a trip to attend a San Antonio RWA chapter conference one year, my youngest daughter and I took a side trip through Bandera and Lost Maples to refresh my memory for THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, available from The Wild Rose Press. From Bandera, we wound around through Medina—stopping for apple cider, Fredericksburg, and Kerrville on our way home. Not a direct route, it’s true, but very scenic. This would be a wonderful area in which to live, but land prices are rising by the minute.

Bandera Texas--Cowboy Capital of the World!
What better place to locate the ranch owned by my book’s hero, Dallas McClintock, than on the Medina River near Bandera? Dallas raises cattle, sheep (yes, they can coexist on one ranch), and breeds and trains horses. It’s his horse breeding that creates the story, for Dallas has been to deliver horses to a buyer and is on his way home when the story opens. He hears screams from the heroine, Cenora Rose O’Neill, and rushes to her rescue, killing her two attackers while receiving gunshot wounds. Instead of a reward for saving his daughter, Sean O’Neill traps Dallas into marrying the lovely Cenora. Not a great hardship except that Dallas is not ready to marry anyone, much less a girl he doesn’t know. Even worse, he inherits the other four members of Cenora’s unruly family and their numerous problems, as well as the new crises they create or him. And that makes for lots of turmoil.

Here are a couple of reviews:

"There were no down times in this book. The action was almost non-stop." 5 Hearts from The Romance Studio

"What starts as a clash in cultures becomes a fantastic story…Just when you thought a happily ever after was just around the corner, another corner appears." Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE is available in print or download at, as well as at Amazon, DigiBooks, and other online sources.

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  1. Caroline--Great blog--I love Bandera, Texas! I'm using Bandera as the setting of my second Rodeo Rebels book--the hero even participates in the Wild Hog Explosion contest the town puts on each year :-)

  2. Marin, Thanks for stopping by! I love to live in that area, but devolopers have discovered it, too.

  3. CAROLINE--oh, honey!! You have put together the blog I wish I had thought of. Now what for me? I had thought about telling the story of me and my little sister going to the Rose Theater out on the South Plains, and how those Saturday moves influenced me. beat me to it. See? We're definitely related. Good job!! Celia

  4. Caroline,

    I think most men travel the way your dad did--I know mine did. It was the bane of his existence to have to deal with a family of four females--my mom and three daughters. LOL My husband is that same way. I love the pics you posted--that is some beautiful country. I would love to go to a "guest" ranch! But I know my husband would not enjoy that, so guess I won't be doing it, either. Great post, and I love that cover!


  5. Love the post and the pictures. At 63 I remember that most of my first crushes were on cowboys from Bret Maverick (still love James Gardner) to Hoppy. And now the love of my life showed up and he's a gun-toting cowboy who writes westerns.

  6. Having lived in San Angelo, along with grandparents just northwest of Abilene, cowboys and whatnot were so natural a part of life, I was so surpised when we moved to Dallas and not everyone had horses and pickups and straw cowboy hats...

    The drive up I20 every other month was wonderful--maybe imagining life there is what sparked my writer's want?!?

    Denise ~

  7. Beautiful pics, Caroline! No wonder you were inspired!

    And my dad was the same way with his trips. Loved to drive, but hated to stop until we got where we were going.

  8. What a gorgeous area and how fun it would be to go as a guest there. When I was a teenager, my best friend had two horses and I definitely could relate a lot of stories from our adventures. Never have had the fun of visiting a guest ranch, though.

  9. I LOVE Texas, Caroline. My family and I were lucky enough to be stationed in San Angelo, TX for three wonderful years. That was over twenty-five years ago and we still visit the lovely friends we made while living there. There's just something about the folks in Texas -they're a fantastic bunch.

  10. Hi Caroline, Great blog.
    I loved Roy Rogers too, but after I saw Little Joe from Bonanza I changed my allegience. That ranch holiday sounds wonderful.



  11. Caroline,
    Enjoyed your post! Beautiful country for the setting of your book. Which is a great read! :-)

    Now that I'm back from my vacation, I'm catching up on the blogs I missed.


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