Judging Puppies and a Work in Progress

Judging Puppies and a Work in Progress
This past weekend I had the distinct honor to judge the Collie Club of Alabama’s puppy match.  I was honored to have hands on some lovely puppies.  Even though I know the majority of the blood lines that these puppies come from and to a large extent know how these lines will develop as the puppies grow up and mature, I am obligated to judge those puppies in the ring as they are at that moment, gangly legs, knobby knees and all. 
When I had my final line up in the ring for best in match, I had a smooth sable girl that I later learned had won her class a month or so before at the Collie Club of America, a rough puppy girl with lovely length of head, balance between muzzle and back skull, and a mature tri male who was in full glorious coat with such a clean head it was like touching glass when I ran my hands back on his head.  I stood there and looked at these three animals and found myself wishing I could take all three animals home.  I could have looked at them for hours.  I finally had to pick one.  I picked the lovely smooth girl. 
Now, you may be asking what does judging puppies have to do with writing and a work in progress.  As I said, I am obligated to judge the dogs in my ring as they are in my ring.  I cannot tell myself that in another month, Puppy A’s back skull will fill in, and by the time Puppy B is eighteen months old, his muzzle will round and finish off.  I have to pick what I consider to be the best puppy in the ring at that exact moment. 
However, a work in progress is just that.  It can be tweaked, worked around, and polished off.  As a judge, there is only so much tweaking I can do with a puppy—perhaps move a foot or two so the legs are actually under the puppy, lay hands along the sides of the puppy’s skull to feel how the bone structure is under that fuzzy head—but I don’t have the luxury of a lot of time in the ring.  As a writer, I know where that work should go.  I have the luxury of knowing that with time and work, the plot will flesh out, the characters will round out and become finished products. 
As a writer, I have the luxury of judging not only what I have produced up to this moment in a work in progress, but also what I can expect of that work in progress.   Writing is a tough job, but after judging that puppy match, I think judging puppies is a lot harder.

Cowboys and Lawmen

Welcome to the Cowboys and Lawmen Blog Hop! I’m hopping along with nearly 50 authors at Cowboy Charm. We’re sharing why we love Cowboys and Lawmen. Cowboys are known as bad-boys, but what happens when the bad-boy is also the law in town? What is it about these contradictions that make small town sheriffs, Texas Rangers and ex-outlaws-turned-lawmen so irresistible? Whether you write or love to read about the Wild West or modern day Montana, Wyoming, or Texas, what do you love most about lawmen who are also cowboys? And what makes them so gosh-darn sexy?
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But that’s not all, as you enjoy some awesome blogs and find fantastic books, for every post you comment on with your email address, you will be entered for some amazing prizes.

Grand Prize: At least a $75 Gift Card for Amazon or Barnes and Noble, your choice. The winner will be chosen at random from comments containing email addresses, and will be announced on May 7. This is open to both US and international readers. Let’s saddle up and start hopping.

So, what is it about those bad boys who’ve become the good guys? Why do so many of us ladies think there is nothing finer than a long stretch of leg clad in tight-fitting, faded out denim and trim hips encircled by a holster? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I became enamored with the bad-boy turned good the first time I saw the John Wayne movie The Angel and the Badman. The young John Wayne was amazngly easy on the eyes and for such a big man, he moved with incredible grace and ease. My love affair continued on through The Duke’s very last movie The Shootist. Even though I love John Wayne, I still have a hard time watching that movie, knowing it was The Duke’s last, and when his character Brooks is told that he has inoperable, terminal cancer, John Wayne’s softly spoken “Damn” still feels like a mule kick to the gut. Brooks was determined to go out on his own terms and even though he had been a “shootist”—a hired gun—he still was a good guy.

All of the heroes in my romance novels have more than a bit of a bad-boy in them.  Colt Evans in The Devil’s Own Desperado is a shootist desperate to hang up the hardware but certain the only way he’ll be able to let go of the guns will be when he’s buried. Harrison Taylor, the hero in a WIP, has more than a bit of “bad-boy” in him. Even though he wears a badge, Harrison Taylor is a bad boy. The first time Colt meets Marshal Harrison Taylor, Colt wonders just how often Taylor steps over the line between lawman and outlaw. A.J. Adams, the hero in another WIP is the most honorable character I’ve ever written, but because he was accused of “liberating” several million dollars of gold from the Confederate Treasury, he’s had to don the mantle of “bad boy” just to survive. A.J. wears that bad boy image as comfortably as he still wears his cavalry officer’s frock coat.
I write Western historical romance with heroes who are good guys wrapped up in a bad-boy exterior for a lot of reasons. I emotionally grew up in the Old West, my formative years filled with tales of good triumphing over evil and of bad-boys who were really good guys trapped in the “bad-boy” role by circumstances. These bad boys manage to find a way to throw off the label of bad boy and step into the boots that are usually reserved for the good guys. They have a deep seated sense of honor, that while it may be well hidden, comes to the fore when needed. I write Western historical romance because I’m a hopeless romantic at heart and the romance that has been created of the Old West is beyond my ability to resist. And, who doesn’t want to find the good guy inside those bad-boy personas and reveal to the world that not all the good guys wear white hats.
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