Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cowboy Lingo by Connie Vines

When it comes to vocabulary, you could say the cowboy tends to have a rather colorful one. However, I've listed a few words he has retired (or perhaps never used much in the first place).
1. Lasso:
This is a word that was used in the early days of cattle ranching, but fell out of favor fairly early on. Unlike many cowboy words that originated from Spanish descent, this one came from the Portuguese word, “laco,” meaning “to snare.” With the exception of a few California stockmen who continued to use it, the word “lasso” was replaced with “rope” within a few short years of its introduction around the late 1800s to early 1900s. This fact makes the popularity of “lasso” among city slickers, especially journalists, in this day and age even more baffling. Bottom line, a rope is a rope. Acceptable variations include “lariat,” “lass rope” and “twine,” but never “lasso.”
2. Bucking Bronco: 
Another word that originated in the late 1800’s was “bronco,” derived from the Spanish word “potro bronco” meaning “untamed colt.” The “o” was quickly dropped and “bronc” is the word still used today. If you go to a rodeo, you will see two “bronc” riding events, bareback bronc riding and saddle bronc riding. However, if you hear just “bronc riding,” this is normally a reference to “saddle bronc riding,” whereas bareback bronc riding is simply known as “bareback riding.” Likewise, saddle bronc riders are referred to as “bronc riders” and bareback riders are known as such.  Just forget “bucking,”drop the “o” from bronco.

3. Chaps: 
This one is a little confusing. Most cowboy newbies pronounce the word “ch-aps” like “chapstick.” This is improper pronunciation of the word. It is actually pronounced “sh-aps.” As in, “Chantilly”.  And the short, knee or shin length chaps cowboys wear? Well, those are called “chinks,” pronounced exactly like you think it would be. 
4. Cowboy Up: 
Cowboys aren’t really much for following the crowd. If they were, they would be far less mysterious and cool. So, you may still hear this phrase tossed around occasionally, but likely more as a catchy story headline than a jolt of encouragement behind the bucking chutes.

5. Giddy-Up:
I looked this up in Webster’s online dictionary and it is actually a word, spelled giddyap. Meaning: to go ahead or go faster. Now, I have been around cowboys my whole entire life and I have never (not once) heard a cowboy say “giddy-up.” Although I am not sure what the precise origin of the word is, I have heard speculation that it may come from the draft horse driving command “gee up,” which means “go faster.” The only person I recall ever using is a parent sitting a toddler on a rocking horse.
For more cowboy speak, catch Pro-Rodeo interviews on ESPN.
Or, download one of my Rodeo Romance novels!
Click to link to!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Writing Process by Connie Vines 8/11/2016

The Writing Process

1.      What am I working on right now?
I work on multiple projects at once.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not—but rebel that I am, I do it anyway.  I’m finishing up the Second Act in my novella, Bell, Book, and Gargoyle and I’m three quarters through my anthology: Gumbo Ya Ya (an anthology for woman who like romance Cajun). While all this is going on, Rand, Book 3 in my Rodeo Romance Series in bumping around in my head.

2.     How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I write in multiple genres and each of genres have a different “tone and focus”—in other words, a different ‘voice’.  My YA novel, Whisper upon the Water (Dream Award Winner, Nat’l Book Award nominee), is told in the 1st person.  The novel is complex; not only a coming-of-age but also a transformation of society as a whole (Tay is Apache, Nde). My heroine begins as a girl on the verge of womanhood, a member of her band, speaking her native tongue.  Kidnapped, held hostage, and manages to escape. Taken to a Native American boarding school, Tay learns a new language, skills, and encounters prejudice but also experiences kindness.  Later, she must make a very difficult choice.  Her decision will influence her life, as well as the lives of others.  The novel is written for YA level and is reading selection for the G.A.T.E. program in numerous SoCal schools, and was selected as a “Teen Read” at libraries at the time of its release.

In my Rodeo Romance Series: Lynx, Book 1, is a contemporary western romance and set in Montana and Texas. This book is lively.  Rachel is spirited and Lynx is hot and sexy—but both have had hardships in life.  My secondary characters add elements of comedy and unexpected plot twists. (Winner of the Award of Excellence, Finalist: H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose and Rocky Mt. Gold contests).  Brede, Book 2, is a western romantic suspense, set in New Mexico.  Since the novel is romantic suspense, I do not wish create a spoiler in this blog post.  I will say everyone one loves old Caldwell, the ornery old cook, and his cohorts.  Brede is strong-willed and caring; Amberlynn is beautiful and in mortal danger.  Rand, Book 3, is told in the 1st person: ChickLit meets the Wild West and goes straight to Hollywood. Lights, Camera, and a boot-full of Action! I am having, fun, fun with this novel!

My stories are diverse, because, like most of us my life experiences are unique.

My stories take place in places I have lived, or where I have vacationed. I know my subject matter.  My father rodeoed while in high school in Texas. I grew up in a career military family and my childhood was nomadic.  I have been involved in Native America culture and educational programs. My husband is a Louisiana country boy.  I now live in SoCal—where, of course, I have met Hollywood television stars and facilitated workshops.

3.     Why do I write what I do?
The story calls to me, it is that simple.  I have a feeling of time and place.  Then I begin hearing snatches of dialogue (like when you are sitting in a coffee shop and you over hear snippets of conversation).  The story invades my life (well it does, just ask my husband).  Today, I’m listening to Zydeco music and I have gumbo in my crockpot.  I am compelled to complete the story.  Native American culture says, “The story comes to the Storyteller.  The Storyteller must bring it to life.” 

4.     How does my writing process work?
For short stories, novellas and anthologies, I utilize the basic W-plot with extra twists and pivotal points.  When I am writing a novel, or a novel series, I plot in acts and work with three chapters at a time (1-3, 4-6, etc.).  With the exception of short stories, I compile detailed backgrounds, motivation, and personality traits. I also conduct interviews, research, and immerse myself in the ‘culture/environment’ I am creating.  It is then I begin the first draft of my novel.  This will change as my characters begin to take over the book.  Any writer will agree with me, under no circumstances can you force you characters to act against his/her will.  You can, however, place huge obstacles in the way and see what happens.

Is my first draft perfect? No.  Is my third draft publishable? It’s probably close.  At this point in the writing process, if I have any bumpy spots, I’ll have writer friend look over those pages. She will give her opinion and suggestions—that I may, or may not follow (though I always give the input careful consideration).  Writing, after all, is subjective—as is a reader’s preference for one novel over another. 

To read the first chapter teasers of my novels please follow this link:  

My Book Trailer to Brede, Rodeo Romance Book 2

Lynx, Rodeo Romance  99cents at!

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have stop by next week at Dishin’ It Out out to read my next blog post.

Connie Vines

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Nowhere to Be And Loving It

Vacation. The very word conjures up memories of times spent with family. Family changes over time. When I was younger, family was my hubby and two kids. Family now includes grandkids and friends.

This year, we decided to vacation with a couple we’ve known for years and have become very good friends with. Vacations like this can either cement those friendships or destroy them. So far, I’m very deep into cement. A blown tire on the camper at 70 miles per hour, a short in the electrical system in the camper so that we had no power in a primitive camp site, a bad valve stem in a rear tire on the van…and we’re having the time of our lives.

The scenery is amazing. The historical sites have made my trip so worth it for research purposes. I’ve seen wild animals on this trip I have never seen in the twenty five plus years I’ve traveled out west. Sitting out at night in the Badlands in South Dakota and watching the first stars wink into view, and then more, and more, and more until the whole night sky was filled with twinkling, glittering diamonds and to see the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon—I could have sat out with my head tilted back all night long.

Because we have no real set itinerary, we stop when we want to, see what we want to, and as I said, we’re having the time of our lives. Tonight, we’re camping on the shores of St. Mary’s lake near Glacier National Park. Tomorrow, we’ll explore Glacier. And we may take a few days to do that. No set time table, no place we absolutely have to be…

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Take My Advice. I'm Not Using It.

I'm a little late posting this blog because this time of year, I am miserable with allergies. My eyes swell shut (no contact lenses for me this time of year), my sinuses are swollen, and my throat is always raw. I took some allergy meds last night, intending to get this post up before midnight...Yeah, not so much when I didn't wake up until almost 3 in the afternoon.

So, I went back to an old blog post I put up a couple of years ago on writing and here it is:

I found several good quotes from well-known authors that I have decided to share them here and how I’ve tried to (and often failed) follow the advice offered by these authors.

The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
Yes, it certainly is. Sometimes the second and third drafts are just as bad. However, if as a writer, you’re totally hung up on making every word perfect, making every sentence a literary masterpiece, you’re going to do several things at once. You’re going to make yourself insane. You’re going to frustrate the daylights out of yourself. You’re going to become completely discouraged. And, ultimately, I can almost guarantee that you’re going to stop writing. Because if you’re so hung up making that first sentence/paragraph/page perfect, you’re never going to get past the first sentence/paragraph/page. The internal editor won’t let you. Suggestion: SHUT THE DAMN INTERNAL EDITOR OFF!

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King
YES! One of the most difficult assignments I had as a graduate student in one of the creative writing classes I took was to write a short story mimicking another writer’s style and voice. Ask me to analyze that style and voice and I could take a story apart, dissect it, and put it back together. Ask me to change my writing style—damn you, Aaron Morales—and it was as if I’d been asked to give up a kidney. However, by mimicking another author’s voice and style, that lesson became a tool in my arsenal of writing weapons. I had to read a lot of short stories to find one author that I felt I could come close to writing like in a similar voice. I can honestly say I cursed Aaron Morales for this assignment, but when it was over, I had acquired another tool to use. And different writing styles are different tools. As I tell my freshmen composition classes, there are different styles and even voices to be used for different writings.

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. – Mark Twain
And, substitute “damn” also for any word that ends in “ly”. “Very” and those adverbs that I am in love with do NOTHING to strengthen my writing. If anything, they make it weaker. This is a battle I fight all the time, but I hope that I am at last beginning to win this war.

 Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
This one is almost self-explanatory. What works for one person, may not work for the next. I had this bit of sage advice given to me once regarding something like this. “If one person says that something in the scene isn’t working, consider the source. If two people tell you the same thing in a scene isn’t working, might want to think about changing it. If three or more people tell you that thing isn’t working, you have to fix it.” As the author, you’re the only one who knows what will work with your characters. You know them inside and out (or you’d better). You’re the only one who can resolve the problem.

And, last but not least: Write drunk, edit sober. – Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway knew the only way to turn off the internal editor for him was to drown the damn thing in alcohol. For me, shutting off the internal editor means putting in the ear buds, cranking up the volume, putting fingers to the keyboard, and just start writing. When I’m working on a rough draft, I don’t even like to go back and read everything I wrote the day before…or the hour before. I’ll read just a page or two, just enough to get back into the flow of things. Even though Capote said this of Kerouac’s On The Road: “That’s not writing, it’s typing” there is something to be said for just “typing.”

Stay drunk on the idea of writing. Approach the editing process cold, stone sober.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dear Diary by Connie Vines

UPDATED blog post:  Additional information about the "Gratitude Journal" and photos!

It wasn’t I until experienced a seven-hour power-outage during a rainstorm on Sunday that I really pondered the world before electricity.

With the rain and cloud-cover, it was very, very dark and icy cold.  I could actually see the alignment of the five planets quite clearly.  For those familiar with the southern California skyline, you know that we cannot see the constellations or planets unless we drive to Palm Springs, the mountains, or the high desert.  So, combined with the exceptionally cold temperatures and wind chill factor, and an inability to prepare a meal inside my kitchen, I felt as if I plopped into the center of one of my historical novels.

This is what had me ponder the act of writing in a diary.

I hadn’t read a diary (except for research purposes in years).

 As a teen or pre-teen, you probably received a diary as a birthday gift or a Christmas present.  I know I did.  The diary with a lock (which anyone, on a whim, could pick) and a key.  At first, my entries were made daily, then weekly, then, seldom at all.  Later, the diary evolved into journaling for a writing class, or jot down events, or milestone in my toddler’s life.  Now I have a journal app on my iPad that I often use for notes and thoughts about my novels points.

None of scribbles in my journals were as emotionally purging or filled with day-to-day angst of a teenager’s life.

Why?  I believe because my of my journaling was via the keyboard.

Scientific studies prove the act of pen to paper stirs creative thoughts.

While I have no real interest in keeping a detailed diary for myself

What about fictional characters?  Do you ever have your fictional characters write a diary?

That is when I recalled my salad days are a writer.

When I starting writing fiction and non-fiction for the magazine market.  I published in “Jr. Medical Detective” and “Humpty Dumpty”.  In my article, “A Candle in the Dark” (still available as part of the Thomas Gale Education Series), my heroine, Sarah kept a diary.  The story dealt with the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  I found the diary to be a very effect plot device.  It was also a good way to give the reader information without using a backstory to interrupt the flow of my story.

What are you feelings about diaries in a novel?

Are there diaries you’ve read you found of interest or diaries that change how you viewed the world?
Why is it a good idea to have a diary in your storyline?

Fictional characters are forced by their authors to carry the story (the process of the narrative).  At the most basic level the diary gives you a first-person narrative without the protagonist knowing what is going to happen.

The use of diaries in novels of the past.

Pamela (1740) by Samuel Richardson is usually described as an epistolary novel.  However, our heroine also writes a journal, and then sews it into her underwear for secrecy.

Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë has a skeletal framework of a diary: “I have just returned from a visit to my landlord. . .Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold.”  Mr. Lockwood will learn about true emotion day by day as he finds out and writes down the story of Heathcliff and the Earnshaws.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) by Helen Fielding is well known to be based on the plot of Pride and Prejudice.

The more I ponder the use of a diary in my next novel, the more I warm to the idea.

I have my favorite pen and I also have turquoise Martha Stewart premium journal I received as a gift for Christmas.  While there isn’t a lock and key, there is an elastic band to keep the journal closed.  There is also a fabric bookmark so that I may keep my place.

I can picture myself writing today's date, time, and my first entry. . .Dear Diary.


For a self-growth I've also began keeping a Gratitude Journal.

I do not write in the Gratitude Journal on a daily basis.  I write in the journal weekly, or when there is a moment I would like to remember or ponder as too why this event/ conversation was so meaningful to me.

I had jotted down the words, "Music is what feelings sound like."

Yes.  This spoke to my soul; called to my very being.

This is why I play music that complements the story I am working on, or is the choice of my hero/heroine.

What music speaks to me.  Immediately, I knew. The musical I had attended at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles. "The Phantom of the Opera."

Do not the lyrics make you grateful that you can experience the depth of emotion of the tormented hero of the story (I am no fan of Raoul).  However, it is the music that haunts and calls to you; leaving an imprint on your soul.
Phantom for the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Music of the Night
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
Helpless to resist the notes I write
For I compose the music of the night
[Verse 2: Phantom]
Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night
[Verse 3: Phantom]
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you live as you've never lived before
[Verse 4: Phantom]
Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night
[Verse 5: Phantom]
Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me
[Verse 6: Phantom]
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night
[Ending: Phantom]
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night
[Ending: Phantom]
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

What music has touched your soul?  
If you are a novelist, what music speaks to you?

Happy Reading,


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