Thursday, December 5, 2013

Promo: "Rodeo Queen" by T.J. Kline

About the Book:
Sydney Thomas may be the newest Rodeo Queen on the circuit, but she's more than just a pretty face and fabulous horseback rider. If only her new boss could see it! But the frustrating, bossy, drop-dead gorgeous man seems bent on pushing her away every chance he gets.
Scott Chandler learned at an early age that he needed to "cowboy up" and take care of his family. The one time he let his guard down, his heart got trampled, and he's not about to let that happen again. He knows Sydney's type: rodeo queens who hide their manipulative ways behind good looks, tight jeans, and glittery tiaras.
But just as Scott and Sydney are finally realizing there might be more to their fiery relationship than scorching kisses and passionate nights, secrets from their pasts come back to haunt them. Will the cowboy and the Rodeo Queen ever be able to ride off into the sunset together?

First Meeting

Sydney rolled up the sleeves of her shirt to her elbows and pulled the shirt from her chest in an attempt to cool herself. It was only April, but her shirt was already sticking to her skin at nine in the morning. She couldn’t help but smile and take in the smell of alfalfa, dust, and leather as she made her way through the jumbled maze of trucks and trailers, most with horses tied in the shade, dozing before their events. She knew how lucky she was; most people couldn’t honestly say that they loved their life, but she loved every minute she’d spent growing up in rodeo.
Sydney heard the unmistakable pounding of horse hooves on the packed ground behind her and moved closer to the vehicle on her right. Usually there was more than enough room for riders and their rigs in the walkway, but with the unexpected turnout at the rodeo today, there was barely room to maneuver. The horse was jogging pretty quickly and she didn’t have anywhere else to go, especially since another truck and trailer had chosen that moment to pull out of the gate ahead of her. The driver of the truck spotted her and waved her on. She tried to hurry through the opening he’d left her at the gate, but the rider behind her chose to slip between them, his mount’s shoulder knocking her into the gatepost on her right.
Sydney reached up to massage her shoulder before registering the surprise on the face of the driver of the truck.
“Are you okay, Sydney?” It was Bobby Blake, a friend of her father’s who must have been delivering some panels in the back of the arena.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she assured him before raising her voice. “I guess chivalry really is dead,” she yelled at the cowboy’s back.
She saw him jerk his mount to a stop before glancing back over his shoulder at her. “Look, honey, I don’t have time for you girls who don’t belong back here. This area is for contestants, not their groupies.”
“Want me to set him straight?” Bobby asked.
Sydney smiled her appreciation. “No, but thanks Bobby. I’ve got this.”
“Go get him, honey,” he teased. “He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. By the way, congratulations.”
"Thanks, Bobby.” Sydney made her way toward the obnoxious cowboy seated on the sorrel.

“Look, I don’t know who you think you are, but around here we tend to have a sort of unspoken code. When that walkway is packed with cars and horses like that, you slow down and you certainly do not push your way between a truck and someone walking. I don’t really appreciate hoofmarks across my back.”

She looked up at him as she came closer, refusing to let him intimidate her from his seat on the horse. “And as for being a groupie, I could probably outride you any day of the week,” she challenged.

The cowboy arched his right brow and a slow smile spread across his face. “Maybe we’ll have to see about that later.” With a tap of his heels, the horse jogged forward a few steps toward one of the stock pens.

Sydney narrowed her eyes as he left. What a jerk, she thought. Shaking her head, she rubbed her shoulder again and searched the back of the arena for the stock contractor’s trailers, noticing a lanky cowboy setting up folding chairs beside a Findley Brothers stock trailer.

“Excuse me,” Sydney began, making her way across the short grass. “Can you tell me where I might find Mike Findley?”

A weathered face returned her smile and Sydney realized he was much older than she had first assumed. “What’s that?”

Sydney realized that he probably couldn’t hear her over the clattering of stock panels as the cattle moved into the pens. “Mike Findley? Do you know where I can find him?”
“Oh, no, I’m not Mike. I’m Jake,” the man hollered
“Hi Jake, I’m Sydney Thomas.” She raised her voice as well. “I was just crowned rodeo queen and I’m looking for Mike to see if we might carry the sponsor flags or run cattle for him today.”
Jake turned and faced her, crossing his arms. The cattle had quieted so he toned down his voice as well. “Well, Mike’s up with the announcer right now working out of a few details. But he’s not who you’d want to talk to about that.” He leaned back against the trailer, crossing his ankles as if getting relaxed for a long conversation.
Sydney raised her brows in expectation. When Jake didn’t say anything, she pressed. “So, who should I talk to instead?”
“That’d be Scott Chandler.”

Sydney sighed, finding it difficult to restrain herself from punching something. First she’d been shoved into a fence post and now a cryptic cowboy was obviously enjoying a joke at her expense.
“And where would I find Mr. Chandler?”
The Cheshire-cat grin on Jake’s face made her heart sink. No, life couldn’t possibly be that cruel. Her gaze followed the direction of his finger as he pointed to the cowboy atop the sorrel at the stock pen, obviously eavesdropping on their conversation. Swallowing the dry lump that had suddenly materialized in her throat, Sydney squared her shoulders and raised her golden eyes to meet the black eyes of her foe.
“Well, I think you just finished telling him off.” Jake grinned, anticipating the showdown to come.
Sydney had a few choice words that might have suited this moment if her mother hadn’t ingrained in her how unladylike it was to curse. A blush crept up her cheeks as Scott Chandler dismounted his horse and bowed deeply before her.
“Your Majesty,” he mocked. “I am at your disposal.”

About the Author:

T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen Competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has written several articles about rodeo for small periodicals, as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter, and has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah. In her spare time, she can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.
By T.J. Kline
Avon Impulse
E-Book On-Sale 11/26/13 (9780062304742); $1.99
Print Edition 12/10/13 (9780062304834); $6.99

A Q&A Session with Avon Impulse’s NaNoWriMo Superstar!

You wrote your debut novel, RODEO QUEEN, during NaNoWriMo. One month, 50,000 words. Can you describe the process? You would expect that writing during NaNoWriMo would simply be a matter of making time to sit at the computer and just typing away but it isn't. There are so many games that your mind plays on you: everything from finding any sort of distraction other than writing to telling you you're no good, even completely going blank every time you sit in front of the computer. The trick is to shut everything else off and let the story flow. For me that meant leaving my cell phone in my room, turning off all internet except any research and, at times, having a glass of wine to shut up my inner critic. It took about twelve days to figure all of this out so most of Rodeo Queen was written in the last eighteen days of NaNo, although I did have the first few chapters already written. Technically, I'm a NaNo "rebel" since part of Rodeo Queen was already written but not included in the 50,000 word count. But I'm okay with that.

What did it feel like to get the call from editor Tessa Woodward, saying that Avon Impulse was interested in acquiring your novel?

My first reaction was that one of my writer friends was playing a sick joke on me. Then I realized that only my critique partner and my husband knew I'd sent it in several months earlier. In fact, I had all but given up hope of hearing from Avon about it. I remember when I called Tessa the first time, I kept worrying that they still weren't sure if they wanted it and that something I said would make her change her mind, almost like a job interview. She put me at ease very quickly. But, even now I keep wanting to pinch myself to make sure that this is real. Was it all smooth sailing from there?
I'm not sure how smooth things have gone on Tessa's side but for me, it's been a dream come true. At first there is a bit of "hurry up and wait" syndrome and I really didn't tell many people until I had signed the contract. That's when it became real to me. And Tessa has been great about getting my input for everything from the cover to edits so I never felt as if I was being lost in the shuffle of busyness or taken out of the decision-making process. I actually dreaded the edits most but the suggestions Tessa gave made the story far stronger so I was happy to rework it and they went quickly. Do you have any advice for future NaNoWriMo participants?
Don't be afraid to be a rebel. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to get the idea floating in your head onto the page in at least 50,000 words. Don't let the word count deter you, don't let something you've already started stop you. You want to write screenplays or essays instead? Just make the time and sit down and do it. Shut off the world and get lost in the story for whatever time you've blocked out that day. If you do it daily, you'll have the 50,000 words easily. The point is that you're disciplining yourself to make time to write - whatever you write - and becoming more consistent at it. Your novel, RODEO QUEEN, has such a great concept! I understand it's based somewhat on your own history as a rodeo queen? I was actually a three-time rodeo queen and competed at the state level. I didn't start riding horses until I was thirteen, although I was enthralled by them all my life. By fourteen, I was in love with rodeos and performed with a horseback drill team. Rodeo is something that gets in your blood. By the time I was sixteen, I was training horses and barrel racing for fun. It wasn't a big leap to compete in rodeo queen competitions (think beauty pageants where your talent is being the horsewoman.) It was easy to draw on my experiences for Rodeo Queen. In fact, one of the scenes in the book (with the rodeo clown in the arena) actually happened to me! There is so much romance that surrounds the culture of rodeo - pretty girls, sexy cowboys, the allure of the "wild west" - that it was a perfect setting for people to fall in love. Is publishing this book the best "buckle" you've ever brought home? ;)
It is, without a doubt. From my rodeo queen days, I have a lot of prizes I've won - jewelry, saddles, clothing - but my favorite part, by far, was being the "face" of the rodeo. I wanted people to love it as much as I did but I could only reach people who attended the rodeo. Rodeo Queen, on the other hand, will reach a far wider audience - people who may never have attended a rodeo - and awaken in them a love and respect for the men and women who participate. What are you working on next? I really hope you continue with your fantastic contemporary Westerns--we at Avon feel like we've lassoed up a real winner!

With encouragement from my critique partner and Tessa, I am actually writing another "rodeo" story, about one of the secondary characters in Rodeo Queen, while participating in NaNoWriMo again. So far, I love the direction it's taking and it almost feels like it's writing itself. Some days I can't even type fast enough to keep up. It has just about consumed my mind for every waking hour - if I'm not writing it, it's still running in my head. There is more than enough romance in rodeo to keep me busy for a long time.


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