Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Because of A Book with Joanne Kennedy

Today I am pleased to welcome author, Joanne Kennedy to the blog.

Joanne Kennedy has worked in bookstores all her life in positions from bookseller to buyer. A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, she won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.

Joanne Kennedy Guest Blog, Author of One Fine Cowboy
Write for a Reader Because of a Book Feature

As a child, I loved to go to my grandparent’s farm and read the books my mother read as a child. The most battered and beloved of these were two books by Gene Stratton-Porter: Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost.

Gene Stratton-Porter is a perfect example of the ephemeral nature of fame. Her books were enormous bestsellers in her day, with over 50 million readers—and this was in the nineteen-teens and twenties. Today, I wonder how many readers have even heard of her.

Ms. Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, novelist, photographer, conservationist, and one of the first women to start a film studio. She accomplished all these things around the turn of the century, when women didn’t necessarily have careers.

And she did it to save a swamp.

When she moved to the 13,000-acre Limberlost Swamp in Indiana, it was 1888 and the wetlands were in the process of being drained and logged. An oil and gas boom sparked drilling and more draining. This all sounds very familiar and modern, but it was 1913 when Stratton-Porter finally was forced to move away. She continued to sing the praises of the Limberlost in her bestselling novels, and her cabin there is now a state historic site.

After almost a century, her books have faded into obscurity. I’ve worked in bookselling for twenty years, and for a while I owned a used and rare bookstore. Stratton-Porter’s books turned up often, but except for her rare nature books, nobody seemed to be interested. It’s incredible how the bestselling authors of one era can be totally unknown to readers of another.

But discovering these books when I was a child changed me, sparking my interest in birds and butterflies and my belief that nature feeds the mind and restores the soul. They also introduced me to some strong and stalwart heroines that inspired the heroines of my own books. Stratton-Porter’s women have little in the way of creature comforts in their woodland cabins, but their appreciation of the natural world and their dogged determination to better themselves makes them compelling characters.

I read her books over and over. When I was ten, I was the “Girl of the Limberlost.” I’d never been to Indiana, but my childhood home boasted a brook and an actual, no-kiddin’, mushy, gushy swamp populated with all kinds of birds and frogs and slimy salamanders.

The swamp must have been a pond at one time, because the remnants of an old stone dam stood on one side. I’d sit up on the tumbled rocks and watch the birds, scribbling descriptions and renditions of birdsong in a tattered notebook just like my favorite author. I rarely went home without gathering some sort of “specimen”—a bucket of polliwogs, a caterpillar on its host plant, or a tiny red newt. Thank goodness my mother had read those Limberlost books and understood why I felt compelled to bring the outdoors in.

And thank goodness she introduced them to me. Thanks to the long-reaching influence of this turn-of-the-century writer, I can still have my day brightened and my heart lightened just by the song of a sparrow.

The publisher has offered 2 copies of One Fine Cowboy, for giveaway to 2 of my readers.  Please just leave a comment on this post if you'd like to be entered.  Entries will be taken until Tuesday, Oct. 5th at midnight.

About A Girl of the Limberlost - Set amid Indiana's Limberlost Swamp, this classic mixes astute observations on nature with the struggles of growing up in the early 20th century and the discoveries of independence and romance.

Buy it at Indiebound

About One Fine Cowboy - He’s got a way with horses…and with women...
Nate Shawcross is perfectly content to spend his days training wild horses. So when a beautiful greenhorn unexpectedly shows up for a seminar from the famous “Horse Whisperer” of Wyoming, all Nate wants to do is send her packing…

The last thing she expects is a lesson in romance…
Graduate student Charlie Banks came to the ranch to learn about horse communication, but when she meets the ruggedly handsome cowboy, she starts to fantasize about another connection entirely…

Nate needs to stay focused if he’s going to save his ranch from foreclosure, but he can’t help being distracted by the brainy and breathtakingly sexy Charlie. Could it be that after all this time Nate has finally found the one woman who can tame his wild heart?

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