Last year I made a resolution to read all of the novels that had been nominated for a RITA in the contemporary romance category, and I discovered a few new favorite authors. Joanne Kennedy was one. Her stories of ranch life in Wyoming are full of heartbreak and joy, laughter and tears – exactly what I want from romance novels!
I’m so happy she’s here today, and she’s giving away a copy of her latest release, Cowboy Crazy. Welcome, Joanne!
Thank you! I’m happy to be here, too. Your blog was a great discovery for me, too. You seem to like the same authors I do, especially in contemporary romance. And I loved your review of “Cowboy Crazy.” Of course I always like positive reviews, but you seemed to really “get” the book in a way that made me feel like I’d succeeded in what I was trying to do with the story.
1. Many of your stories feature a character who has been transplanted from somewhere else – or who’s been away from home for several years – and has to get used to life in Wyoming. I know you’re not originally from the West, so what took you to Wyoming, and what was the biggest culture shock for you?
I guess you could say I ran away from home. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I definitely found it in the West. The biggest culture shock was a good one; I was surprised at how much tradition and history are blended into modern life here. There are still cowboys and ranchers, and people are very friendly, with old-fashioned manners and values. Out on the back roads, there are still small towns with no chain stores, just mom-and-pop businesses and a real sense of community.
2. I have to confess, the cover of Cowboy Crazy is one of my all-time favorite romance covers. Give me a man full of good-humor any day over a sultry, unsmiling hero. Do you have a favorite cover?
This one comes very close to being my favorite! But it might have been eclipsed by the new cover for Cowboy Tough, which is coming out in February. There’s something about a man in a white T-shirt…and the chaps don’t hurt. He’s not smiling, but the Sourcebooks art department did such a good job of finding my hero that I know there’s a sense of humor under that hat!
3. Ooh, I can’t wait to see that one! How did being a finalist for a RITA award last year change your career?
The best thing about the RITA nomination was that it gave me confidence. Even though I’d received good reviews, I was never sure I was hitting all the right notes. I never expected the nomination—I didn’t even have my phone with me that day!—and it changed the way I saw myself as a writer. It’s allowed me to take more risks in my stories, because I have more confidence in my own voice and my instincts.
4. As well as writing romance, you also write mysteries, thrillers and short stories. Have any of them been published? Are they available to buy anywhere?
No, I’m afraid not. I’d eventually like to publish in some other genres, but right now I’m focused on making my Western romances as good as they can be. I never want to put out a book that’s not my best work, so I take all the time I can with each story. I wish I could write faster, though, so I could let some of my other stories out into the world!
5. What can you tell us about your next book?
Cowboy Tough is about a rodeo cowboy who returns to his struggling family’s ranch to turn it into a dude ranch. The first guest is an artist from Chicago who’s leading a group of students on painting tours of the back country. As head wrangler, Mack Boyd is supposed to make the trip go smoothly, but things get complicated. It’s a fun book because the hero and heroine are such total opposites. She likes wine and gallery openings; he likes shooting beer cans off fence posts. But deep down they have a few important things in common, including their attraction to each other.
Joanne’s giving away a copy of Cowboy Crazy to one luck commenter. I’ll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday June 26th.
She kicked the country dust off her boots a long time ago…
Sarah Landon’s Ivy League scholarship transformed her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Her job at the Carrigan Oil Company has given her the sophisticated life she longed for, but when she meets her boss’s black-sheep brother, she realizes her roots are showing.
But he’s ready to remind her she’s a cowgirl at heart.
Rebellious rodeo cowboy Lane Carrigan is determined to save the Wyoming community of Two Shot from the ravages of energy development, but Sarah’s convinced her old hometown needs a swift kick in the pants from the march of progress.
When a lapsed cowgirl collides with rodeo royalty, it’s bound to be a wild ride—and somebody’s going to end up in the dirt.