Shannon Taylor Vannatter – Romantic Destination – Part 2 of 2

I have big news about book 3 in my Texas rodeo series, Rodeo Ashes. But we’ll get to that later. Today, I’m taking you to The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Up for grabs, K Dawn Byrd’s latest Young Adult Mystery download, plus winners’ choice of three of my paperbacks: White Doves, Rodeo Dust, or Rodeo Hero. Comment on any post dated July 9th – 13th for a chance to win. Deadline: July 21st, 11:59 pm central time.

In May of last year, my family and I visited the Fort Worth Stockyards for research. I was finishing up Rodeo Dust and about to begin writing Rodeo Hero. Stetson Wright, the hero in Rodeo Hero is a rodeo clown–only now they’re call bullfighters.

The book came about from my former editor, JoAnne Simmons. When I’d pitched Rodeo Dust to her, she said, “Why is it always the cowboy, why not the clown? But then who would want to be a rodeo clown.

My brain kicked into writer gear. “Because his dad was a bull rider and a bull killed him. So he wants to save all the cowboys and keep their kids from going through what he did.”

JoAnne’s eyes lit up. “I like that.”

So Stetson Wright was born.

While at the Stockyards, I visited The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum and took countless pictures of the stalls there, especially the clowns/bullfighters. Sadly, a few months ago I pushed a button on my digital camera and it asked if I wanted to delete all pictures. I pressed no and it deleted them anyway. So I only have a few pictures from the TCHOFM.

As I toured the museum, it hit me that part of Stetson’s story could be trying to get his dad inducted into the TCHOFM. I found Lane Frost’s stall. Rodeo fans know that Lane Frost was a bullrider at the top of his sport when he was killed by a bull during a rodeo in Oklahoma. Lane’s career highlights were posted in his stall, with this inscription at the bottom: 

Lane went to meet our Lord and Savior to get his greatest award ever: He assured his destination in the spring of 1988 when he made the decision to accept Jesus as his personal savior!

These are pictures from Lane’s stall at the TCHOFM. Not the best pictures, but I wanted a picture of that plaque, so I could blow it up in my camera and remember what it said. Lane’s story tugged at me and I wondered if it was tacky to include mentions of him in my book. Truth often blurs with fiction to make the story more real. But Lane’s story was sad and I didn’t want anyone to think I was capitalizing on it. In the end, I decided that since Stetson’s dad was killed by a bull, he’d be very aware of Lane Frost. I mentioned Lane’s stall during Stetson’s visit to the TCHOFM in the book.

After my tour, I stopped in the office and introduced myself to Julia Buswold, Executive Assistant. I picked her brain about how to get a deceased bull rider inducted into the TCHOF. Julia was so helpful and spent a good thirty minutes sharing valuable information.

A few months later, I was flipping through channels and saw Eight Seconds was on. I knew it was about Lane Frost, but I’d never watched it because I figured it was sad. I recorded it to watch later. I knew watching that movie would help me get in Stetson’s head better. Home alone one day, I watched the movie. I didn’t know it showed the scene where Lane was killed. I wailed. Literally. I was so glad no one was home with me.

The movie haunted me. I kept looking up information on Lane. Finally I found a site that talked about the movie. I learned that Lane’s dad didn’t belittle him like in the movie. Lane and his wife didn’t have extramarital affairs like in the movie. And Lane’s wife and parents weren’t at the rodeo when he was killed like in the movie. Learning the facts helped me feel better about it. And reading those words on his plaque, knowing Lane is in Heaven helped me feel better.

I didn’t mean for this to be a sad post. Lane is in glory!

So, if you’re ever at the Fort Worth Stockyards, stop in the museum. So much history. And interesting facts. George Strait, the country singer, has a stall there. Turns out he’s a team roper and host the George Strait Team Roping Classic competition every year. Who knew? Probably lots of people. But not me.

Once Rodeo Hero released in April, I sent Julia a copy for being so helpful. Jami Hoffman, Excutive Director at the museum put my book on their Facebook site. I commented and she contacted me. The gift shop at the museum will have copies for sale in August. I’m going to be there for National Day of the American Cowboy for a book signing on July 28th, from noon – 3:00. So if you’re in the Fort Worth area, come on down. Or I’ll be in Aubrey at Moms on Main on the 27th from 5:00 – 7:00. My characters eat at Moms and so do I. Can’t wait to get another Philly Beef and Cheese after the signing.

Speaking of eating, when we visited the Stockyards before, we ate at the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. Yummy. This time I want to try The Love Shack. My characters also ate there, so I need to try it. My son wants to try the Dirty Yard Bird Classic sandwich–grilled chicken with wild boar meet and a sunny side quail egg.

My characters don’t only eat at the Stockyards, the date and romance there too. When I was in the maze, I thought of a scene with two characters getting in an argument in the maze. She wants to get away from him, but she can’t find her way out. It didn’t fit book 2. Instead Stetson and Kendra almost kiss in the maze. The argument went in book 3.

Speaking of book 3, now for my news. This is my new book cover.

Rodeo Ashes, book three in my Texas Rodeo series releases in August to Heartsong Presents book club members. In Sept., Kmart and Meijers will carry it along with several other HP titles. So support us authors. If sales do well, the stores might carry the line. Yippee!

Come back July 13th for Young Adult Mystery author, K Dawn Byrd.

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