Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Welcome Pam Crooks, Her Cattleman, and His Unsuitable Wife

What a privilege it is to be here this morning, standing in the shadows of this great group of authors! Gosh, there’s Kylie and Cindy--we’re practically neighbors--and ohmygawd, Debra Dixon! Deb, your Goal, Motivation and Conflict is my Bible. I’ll always believe it was your book that helped me land inside the Harlequin Historical powerhouse--and, of course, there’s Kathleen who I’ve known for a really long time, and . . . okay, enough babbling.

I’m here to talk about my new book, right?

The Cattleman’s Unsuitable Wife is my twelfth western romance, and it’s starting to hit the store shelves as we speak. Up to now, I've written about longhorn cattle, mustangs, a thoroughbred race horse, Gypsies, mercenaries, a female outlaw, and a nun on the run.

I've never written a word about sheep.

That's what this new story is about. Sheep. So I had to do some reading on the woollie creatures, and the research has been surprisingly interesting.

For instance, did you know one sheepherder can handle 3,000 sheep all by himself? With the handy assistance of his dog, of course. Compare that to 6 or 7 mounted cowboys needed to ramrod a moving herd of 1,000 head of cattle.

I also learned sheep tend to have an assortment of, well, annoyances. They're unpredictable, defenseless and in need of constant tending. Here are a few examples:

**Sheep feed at odd hours of the night, which forces the herder to round them up again--in the middle of the night.

**Should a stray sheep find itself bogged in mud, he just stands there. Doesn't make a sound. He waits patiently to be rescued--or to die.

**If a young, frisky sheep rolls playfully in the grass, he can't get up again. His legs are short and light, and he can't get the momentum. He'll need help to get on all fours again.

**If a ewe or wether (had to look this one up--it's a young castrated male) wades into water, and its fleece is long, he becomes too water-logged to climb out. Again, he'll need help. Or drown.

**Bleating sheep means life is normal. When sheep are terrified, they make no sound at all.

**Adult sheep will stand in silence while a wolf snatches a lamb. No attempt is made to save the poor thing. The lamb, I mean.

**Young ewes are often indifferent mothers. If she fails to recognize her newborn, she'll wander off, clueless that the baby needs milk. Again, the sheep herder must help.

Historically, cattlemen despised flocks of sheep on the range. They believed, at least at first, that the woollie animals had sharp hooves that cut and trampled the grass, and that the cattle refused to graze where sheep had earlier trod because of the smell they left behind. Many a range war was fought because of the cattlemen's determination to dominate the range and rid themselves of the mutton-punchers.

And so my new story goes--with a hero who is a cattleman and a heroine who tends sheep with her father. It’s a pairing rife with conflict, and though I didn’t intend it at the time, The Cattleman’s Unsuitable Wife has turned into the first book of a trilogy. The second book will be The Cattleman’s Christmas Bride in the Cowboy Christmas anthology, slated for release in October, 2009, by Harlequin Historicals. Then, to wrap things up, my current wip which will be out sometime next year.

So do tell. Have you ever had a pet who did the darnedest things? One who didn't have a clue about the most basic things in life? Who was always and forever getting into trouble and needed to be rescued?

I did.

We took in a deaf Boxer a few years ago. She was a sweet thing, but ver-ry difficult to train and discipline because she couldn't hear us well. Which may or may not have anything to do with her compulsion to eat rocks. And then throw them up. At 3:00 in the morning.

Dang, I hated seeing those rocks on my carpet in that pile of vomit--and I have no idea why she ate them in the first place. I never once saw her do it--but she nosed around our landscaping and swallowed them whole, without fail.

That's my tale--I'd love to hear yours! Take a minute to tell us, and you'll be in a drawing for a copy of The Cattleman’s Unsuitable Wife! (By the way, if you’re a western romance afficionado, visit us at Petticoats & Pistols!)


Anonymous said...

Pam - I have a border collie. She was born on a working sheep/goat ranch. Her parents and grandparents all herded. My dog, Maggie, doesn't like sheep. She's rather herd me.

Virginia said...

Hi Pam, we had a little dog one time that hated motorcycles. He would chase them and bite the tires. I don't know if it was the noise or what, but it was really funny when he ran up to a motorcycle that was setting still and bite on the tires.

Your books sounds like a fantastic read and I do love westerns.

Kylie said...

Welcome, Pam! Great to see you here. Your new book sounds fabulous!

Our Lowland Polish Sheepdog has diabetes and has gone mostly blind. Last winter I was home on a snow day and let her outside on a cable. It was blizzarding out so I expected her back shortly. But of course she tarried so I went off to send an email.

Did I mention I was wearing only a towel and had my head wrapped in another, LOL? I had just gotten out of the shower.

Anyway I go back to look and still no dog. Now I'm getting ticked thinking she wrapped the cable around something and needs rescuing.

Well she did need rescuing! Because then I noticed that the cable came up the back steps...and over the four retaining wall!

So I'm dashing around the house like a mad woman because I am, ahem, naked. Run up to get some clothes, decide that will take too long. Back downstairs to don dh's carhart overalls and boots, towel still on my head. Dash outside.

Of course I have to go down the back steps, around to the corner of the patio. The grill blocks my passage so I have to make my way on the outside retaining wall, balancing around the grill until I can access the corner. I'm absolutely panicked, because she's not barking, not answering my calls and I have visions of her just...dangling. Shudder.

So finally I get around the grill and find her waiting patiently on the patio to be rescued. And then I have to figure out how to boost a fifty pound dog up over a four foot retaining wall!

My only consolation was that with the blizzard, the neighbors probably couldn't see the whole ridiculous scene!

Keri Ford said...

I can't but wonder how in the heck sheep ever survived!

My puppy LOVES taking showers with me. When we go outside to play, he usually gets covered in mud. As an inside dog, he has to have a bath. One day I was tired of filling up the sink (and he was outgrowing it at the time), so I told hubs to rinse him off in the shower. And that's how it got started. only now I'm the one in the shower doing the washing.

Puppy knows when we come inside to go to our bathroom where he waits until it's time for a shower. He sits on the 'seat' in the shower and I use the craddle cap brush I got from the hospital with my baby to wash him with. He goes completely limp like he's at a spa or something.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Good morning, Pam!

Oh, I miss my Australian Shepherd. We had to put him down at age 13 when cancer claimed his body. But not his spirit. Oh, the stories I could tell. Cisco would not let me out of his sight. If I didn't take him into the bathroom with me he would wait by the door. When the phone rang he would herd me to answer it. My daughter had a rabbit for a time, and he herded that. He needed one of those lambs.

Kathleen said...

One of our dogs Princess chewed my dads false teeth,. Oh Boy was the air blue that morning. My dad did not usually take out his plate at night, but this one night he had a sore gum, so he took it and put it a glass at the side of the bed. The dog somehow got them and we found them a few of the teeth on the floor.
Was not a fun time in our house at that time.

Pam Crooks said...

Good morning, Arkansas Cyndi! How funny that your border collie comes from a long line of sheep herders, but doesn't have the sheep-herding gene. Sounds like she enjoys an easier life, and don't we all?

Thanks for sharing--your name is in the hat!

Pam Crooks said...


Good morning! I can just see that little dog chasing motorcycles. Almost an oxymoron, isn't it? Hee! Must've brought out the testosterone in him.

Thank you for sharing!

Pam Crooks said...

Oh, Kylie--what a story! How did you *ever* manage to get that dog up to safety again? LOL! I hope she appreciated your efforts. I would've been as scared as you, but clearly, she had total trust in being rescued. She knows she's loved, eh?

BTW, I LOVED Terms of Engagement. The scene in the diner was so well done!

Pam Crooks said...

Hi, Keri! I had to smile at your puppy's love for showering! You know, that's really not a bad idea. Very convenient for both of you, but the image of your pup going limp from the pampering is hilarious.

Thanks for the story! You're in for a copy of THE CATTLEMAN'S UNSUITABLE WIFE!

Pam Crooks said...

Hey, Kathleen! Great to see you two days in a row. :-)

Your Cisco was truly a member of your family. Aren't they so human-like? It's amazing. Clearly, he was ver-ry attached to you.

My sympathies on losing him to cancer. We lost a schnauzer that way, and his suffering still breaks my heart. I remember every moment of our wrenching decision to put him down.

But like you said, his spirit still lives, and that's a wonderful thing!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Pam, I used the link to "Browse the Book" and I'm hooked. Can't wait to throw my loop over The Cattleman and haul him in. (Don't you just love virtual roping? I've tried the real thing, but I can't even hit a set of plastic horns.)

Pam Crooks said...

Another Kathleen this morning. Hi, there!

I'm cringing over your false teeth story. Your poor dad. Those things ain't cheap.

But I have to tell ya - the image of loose teeth laying on the floor is, um, really funny. LOL.

Thanks for telling your story for us! You're in, too!

Pam Crooks said...

Thank you for putting the Browse the Book image on your site for me, Kathleen. I just think it's the coolest thing--watching those pages flip. A great promo idea, too. Go Harlequin!

Your fans yesterday on Petticoats & Pistols were really loving IN CARE OF SAM BEAUDRY. I was surprised at how many already had their copies. I'm itching to dig into mine. I know it'll be vintage Kathleen. :-)

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Pam, welcome!

Fascinating info on sheep. I love that kind of stuff.

I've got an Aussie who does the same stuff as Kathy's Cisco did. He herds everything and protects me all day every day sitting at the top of the steps while I'm working at my computer. He could use a few sheep, or horses, or cows. He'd be so happy on a farm!

Lori said...

Welcome, Pam! I had a cat from the time I was 14 til I was 29. He was the best. But he was raised by our dog, and I'm convinced he thought he was a dog. We once caught him dragging an entire pizza across the floor to an undisclosed location to be eaten later.

Later, after suffering from FUS, he had the surgery that rerouted his plumbing and became, essentially, a girl kitty. I think he was a little confused, LOL. When we rescued a new kitten from the gutter, too young to be weaned, our new baby wanted to nurse. So he let her nurse off of him for a good solid 6 months (obviously she never got anything!). He bathed her and played mommy to this little runt.

We had to put him down while I was pregnant with my 2nd child. Hormone hell. I still miss him terribly. Best pet I ever had.

Can't wait to read the new book!

Pam Crooks said...

Good morning, Helen! I truly think most any animal would be happy on a farm. Oh, the freedom to run . . .

Lori, so your cat was 15 years old when you put him down? Wow--what a long, and I'm sure very happy, life you gave him.

How interesting about the re-worked plumbing. :-0 Gosh! I've never heard of such a thing--and he had maternal instincts, too? Fascinating stuff!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Okay, I'm getting all sentimental over Cisco. He tried to bring food to his alpha bitch, and one time it was wiggling. A baby rabbit. "No, Cisco, No!" only confused him. He ducked, crept closer, steadily eyeing the crazy lady who didn't know a good meal when she saw it, dropped the little thing at my feet and backed away, whereupon Thumper thumped its last thump and expired. Cisco flopped down, put his head on his paws, and watched me, waiting for me to come to my senses and give him the praise he deserved.

Kate Bridges said...

Hi Pam!

I enjoyed reading the fascinating facts about sheep. And everyone's stories about their pets.

When we first got our little dog 3 years ago, a bichon, she was at home during her first Halloween night. Every time the doorbell rang, she'd see a bunch of kids all dressed up and it got her so excited. By the end of it, she was barking like crazy at the doorbell every time. Unfortunately, though, every time she's heard the doorbell ring since then, she still goes crazy barking and running to the door. Even though the last 2 years, I've sent her to my mom's on Halloween (an apt complex where kids don't come to the door) she's not cured.

Well, on the bright side, she's become a good watchdog. LOL

Your new book sounds wonderful--I'll look for it!


Pam Crooks said...

How sweet of Cisco to want to share the spoils of his hunt with you, Kathleen. Too cute. You've endeared him to me.

MarthaE said...

Hi Pam. Thanks for sharing interesting things about sheep! The conflict in the book sounds great and I love trilogies! We had a doberman when I was young. She was really sweet though protective of us kids. She caught a baby rabbit once and licked off all the fur...she didn't mean it any harm! She was scared of thunder and gunshot sounds and would try to squeeze behind the toilet. And she hated uniforms with lots of buttons...the police chief used to come to the door to get his paycheck (my Dad was councilman or something like that) until Trinka went through the door to try to get him. After that he stayed in the car when he had to pick up his check! She never hurt anyone - just scared a few.

Debra Dixon said...

Pam-- I cannot tell you how much I love love love that cover. Love it. It just screams, "This is a book that's going to pull you right in."

The sheep info was good too. LOL! My first book was a vacation cattle drive that included some herding dogs and I learned a lot about sheep too.

Stupid pet tricks? Oh, let me count the ways... Currently, my idiot black cat (whom I adore with a stupid passion) is asleep in the outlet tray of my big laser printer. Yep. She's 2 years old in a few weeks and she still hasn't figured out that paper could shoot out at any moment and give her a paper cut in the ass.

And yet, I love her.

Debra Dixon said...

Pam-- I forgot to thank you for the ultra kind words about GMC. :) Nice to hear. (The check's in the mail.)

Pam Crooks said...

And here's my friend, Kate! Hiya, kiddo!

You know, there's nothing wrong with a barking dog. I don't mind one bit when my lab mix barks at someone walking by or if he hears something late at night thru the open window. I find it comforting and the best deterrent.

But, we're always careful that he doesn't bark too much outside and annoy the neighbors. Of course.

Wishing you many sales of WANTED IN ALASKA, too!

Pam Crooks said...


I gotta admit Dobermans scare me, but oh, yours sounds very, well, sensitive. :-) We, too, had a German Shepherd when we were growing up that was scared to death of firecrackers and thunder. One night, he leapt onto my bed, he was so scared. Scaring ME. And then my mattress set promptly crashed to the floor. Scaring me even more. He'd broken the wooden slats that held up the box spring.

I'm afraid we didn't keep him very long. He was just too neurotic, I guess.

Interesting about those buttons on uniforms. Suppose he had a bad experience with men who wore them?

Thank you for stopping by. You're in the drawing, too! :-)

Pam Crooks said...

Giggles on the paper cut, Debra!

And, oh, I meant every word about your book. I'm going to tear up the check when it comes. :-)

Truly, I've led a critique group for years and years, and whenever we plot, we bring out our GMC boards. Honestly, how can a writer plot without them?

Certainly not me.

RachieG said...

:) I love my pets but I have a fun story about my cocker spaniel who passed away a few years ago.

Her name was Scarlet and she was certainly spoiled. We had been feeding some stray kittens who were living under our deck behind our house. We never let Scarlet out but she'd stand at the door and give them the eye. Scarlet was only let out in the front yard.

One day I couldn't find her and went out calling for her. I walked around and she was on the side of the house holding her paw up. She couldn't walk! I started panicking feeling her legs and carried her into the house. After a few minutes of worry, I looked at her paw...and low and behold, there was a piece of cat food between her toes. She'd been in the back eating cat food!!

To this day it still makes me laugh. :)

Pam Crooks said...

RachieG, I don't think you noticed, but you're Kathleen's winner from Petticoats & Pistols yesterday. Can you email me privately with your email and snail mail addies?


Pam Crooks said...

I LOVE the name Scarlet for a pet, RachieG!

And wasn't she determined to visit those cats! Hee! I swear, pets have one track minds, don't they?

Cute story. You're in the drawing, too! Thank you for stopping by.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Pam. Your book sounds great. I have a German Shepherd named Gypsy who responds to hand commands and will "sing" if you play certain songs.

Pam Crooks said...

I would love to hear your German Shepherd sing, CrystalGB. Bet it's hilarious. And I'd bet she's super smart, too, if she can understand hand commands.

I'm glad you stopped by this afternoon. :-) We'll be drawing the winner of THE CATTLEMAN'S UNSUITABLE WIFE soon.

GunDiva said...

Can't wait to read your book; it sounds like a great read!

My horse, Estes, loves to stop traffic. Literally. I use her to lead trail rides in the mountains and to reach the trail entrance we have to cross a highway. Her job is to step out into traffic and stop the cars so that the line of horses can cross the road safely. She loves this job! She'll face the car head on and stand in its way, if it still doesn't stop, she'll start with her "war horse" prance - a little lunging rear - as she advances on the car. If the car STILL doesn't stop, she will plant herself in front of it at half-rear, clearly communicating to the driver that she has no qualms about planting both front hooves onto their hood. I've never had a car refuse to stop *grin*. It wasn't until halfway through the first season I lead rides on her that I found out that she also curls her lip back and "snarls" at the cars. My stepdad happened to be on the ground one day when we were stopping traffic and dang nearly peed himself laughing.

Susan Shay said...

LOVE that cover. Looks like a great read.
I've had fairly normal pets, but my sister had a border collie who loved to herd her daughter when she played too near the road.
I guess they needed a few sheep!
Susan Shay

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Pam! Thanks for joining us. That hero on your cover is scrumptious!

I have to say my pets are pretty smart...well, not our tortoise. He keeps thinking he's tall enough to get into the house and attempts climbing the steps over and over (he likes me, because he thinks my polished toenails are strawberries). It's like watching a tank try to roll over something and then roll back. I have to take myself and my toes out of his line of vision to get him to stop.

But he's growing, so one of these days I might find him next to me in the kitchen!

catslady said...

I have/had so many pets it's hard to pick just one story lol. Our first dog ate my contacts (hard and expensive), birth control pills, and some weed (this was 40 years ago lol) and buried a dozen sticky buns in our furniture. Our second dog ate a cassette tape and we didn't know until we saw it coming out later (it's amazing how much tape is in one of those things lol) and baby oil - oh that was horrible. She not only was soaked in it but she had ingested quite a bit - she scared herself silly every time she farted and kept trying to sit on our heads - okay those were just a few of my funny stories.

GladysMP said...

All of the information about sheep ranching was very interesting. I learned a lot that I didn't know about them.

GladysMP said...

We have a beautiful yellow Lab who weighs over one hundred pounds, but who has a mind of his own. I get tickled at how my son addressed the dog. He will be trying to get the dog to do something, but the Lab will not be paying much attention. My son will yell, "Hey, you in the fur coat!"

Pam Crooks said...

GunDiva, wow! What a horse! You did a great job describing her. You should be a writer. :-)

Thank you for sharing. I've got you in for the drawing.

Susan, isn't that something how collies are ingrained with the need to herd? Or protect? Thank you!

Pam Crooks said...

Hi, Christie! Thank you for your welcome. It's been a fun day being here for the ride.

Glad you like the book's cover. HQ has had some great ones lately, and I'm pleased the hero on this one doesn't quite look as if he could be my son. :-)

Pam Crooks said...

I'm laughing out loud at your stories, catslady. The things your pets put you through. Oh, my!

Pam Crooks said...

Hi, GladysMP,

Cute story about the fur coat. Yep, that'd be about right, wouldn't it? 100 lbs! Wow!

Thanks for stopping by tonight!!

Anne Carrole said...

Great post-fun comments. And great book--just finished it:)

As for pets-mine are too smart for my own good! And they use it to get their way--tricking me into giving them more treats, using puppy dog eyes to get me to take them for yet another get the picture.

Pam Crooks said...

Well, fancy seeing you here tonight, Anne! A nice surprise.

Sounds like you're a real softie when it comes to those pets of yours, eh?

They're lucky to have you love them so much!

Kathleen Eagle said...

It's been so much fun sharing stories about those wacky, wonderful, beloved pets. Pam, thank you so much for riding along with us today. Now to draw one lucky winner...

robynl said...

one Christmas we had just arrived at my parents house and had put the presents under the tree when a brother-in-law or brother of mine shouted 'Sam just peed on a present'. Dh and I ran to the living room and here Sam had lifted his leg and peed on a present that was wrapped in a brown paper bag. The little poop; I was embarrased and mad that the others were upset over my baby's antics.

Caffey said...

Hi Pam!
Well my cat, the big one Misha, actually woke both hubby and I up last night. Usually she does this to me more...nugs me with her nose. I mean from my face to my legs she pushes with her nose til I give her attention. I don't know why its always me she does that with. Well yesterday about 4 a.m., she did that and I was trying my hardest to ignore her, but she was so bad that she was doing it to my hubby too and he ends up turning on the light! Then trying to figure out what she wants cuz it wasn't petting. Ended up her food bowl was empty!
So thats big Misha!