Monday, March 01, 2010

Kaki Warner GuestBlog: Best Westerns

CONTEST!!! Win a copy of "Pieces of Sky" by Kaki Warner -- check out the stellar Feature Review here -- and get contest deets below!*

From Kaki Warner: Greetings from the Northwest, Bellas! And Michelle, thanks for inviting me to visit. The topic I’d like to address today is Writing With an Accent.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t read western romances.”?
Me, too. And for a long time I didn’t read them either.

Then one day --we had just moved from the sunny Southwest to the rainy Northwest -- after reading a gawd-awful western romance replete with “colorful” dialogue that was so ludicrous I almost horked up my coffee, I decided to write my own damn book and people it with characters that didn’t sound quite so stooo-pid. It wasn’t the accent that got me. It was the way the author translated the spoken word into the written word. As in, “Now whar’d thet dang cow git off’en to?”

Maybe I’d seen too many “Aw, shucks” western movies in my youth. Or maybe, being newly arrived in the Land-of-No-Sun-for-Months-at-a-Time, I was tired of being looked at with condescension and told, “you talk funny” which meant “you sound highly ignorant and possibly unrefined, and what is that thing? An umbrella?” This from a guy who stood bare-headed in forty degree drizzle wearing scruffy jeans, socks with sandals, and a T-shirt under a down vest. Where I come from, even a pig gets out of the rain, but I said nothing, not wanting to add “rude” to the list of my shortcomings. Not then, anyway.

Admit it. If you read a back cover blurb where the hero rolls a sodden toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other, grins and says, “Ah’d sure like to strap a saddle on you, purty lady,” what would you expect to see on the front cover? Forrest Gump in a Stetson, that’s what. Or even worse, Larry the Cable Guy in a lip-lock with some hapless female (hopefully not his sister).

Luckily nowadays many western romance writers have changed how they portray their characters’ dialogue. So if you’ve shied away from the genre for the same reason I did all those years ago, then it’s time to come back. There are a lot of great authors out there -- Linda Lael Miller, Jodi Thomas, La Vyrle Spencer, Catherine Anderson, etc., and I’m about to be a nearly almost semi-famous author, myself. Give us another try. You might be surprised!

What are some other characteristics of western romances that you like or dislike?
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*Today's 20th new RBTB NEWs subscriber scores a copy of Kaki's stand-out debut "Pieces of Sky!" Click here to enter, and to keep up-to-date on romance-fiction fun -- and the exciting upcoming phase of RBTB.
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32 comments:

Scorpio M. said...

I've never had any aversions to Westerns. Maybe I've been lucky and read only the quality ones. There certainly are many stereotypes and expected colloquialisms but what I enjoy about Westerns is the organic feel of the people and place.

Men working the land, women tending the hearth, both fighting for a better place in life. These are sincere human motivations that paint an emotional tale. And those muscles/abs/pecs on the manly men. Totally believable because they actually *gasp* perform manual labor!

Certainly, it is way different from the sometimes frivolous and frolicky feel of Regency England.

Lorraine Heath's, Texas Destiny(now out of print unfortunately) is an extraodinary example of a superb Western romance.

Becke Davis said...

I used to say I didn't like Western romances. Then I went through my "keeper" shelf and started counting up all the Western romances there, and had to call myself a liar. Kaki's book is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Western historicals are the only type of historical I will read. I read contemporary books mainly.

Lorraine Heath wrote some older western historicals that I adored. (Parting Gifts, Sweet Lullaby, Always to Remember ) I just see someone else commented on Lorraine's books. I wish more of those types of western historicals would be written - and yes LaVyrle Spencer too - I read all of her books.

Helen L.

jedisakora said...

Hi ^^,
I've personally never had an aversion to western romances, but it's a genre that i don't read that much. I think this is because when i was growing up i spent a lot of time at my aunts house. My aunt loved everything western. If there was a cowboy movie out there you could guarantee she's seen it. My aunt was also an avid romance reader and read every western being put out. So i grew up around a lot of things "western" and kinda of became tired of the genre. Therefore i do read them, but not a lot. It's also alot harder for me to read them now that my aunt has passed. I do make sure to read at least a few a year just for her though. ^^

One thing that has always bothered me about them is that the scenery is always described as "barren". It's like grass and trees are a rare commodity in them. My sister's boyfriend is from the west and he said that this description is simply not true. It's true they don't have mountains, but it's not a barren landscape.


Melissa

Gia said...

LOLOL, mebbe cowpokes with mor'in their share of dialogue gafs should be put in the same catagory as Keanu Reeves. Just stand there and look gorgeous, but don't say nuthin'.

I am from the south originally, and when I moved north of the Mason-Dixon line I dumped the accent fast. One too many renditions of Take me Home Country Roads following me down the high school halls. Glad I did it early or college would have been hell.

Kaki said...

I appreciate the kind words, Becke. Scorpio and Helen, thanks for reminding me about Lorraine Heath--definitely a great Western Romance author. And Jedisakora, good point. I certainly agree the West isn't barren. Maybe it's not as lush as less arid areas, but there's plenty of life out there, even in the Sonoran Desert and Dakota Badlands.

Kaki said...

Gia, apparently you went to college up North, where phrases like, 'incredibly amazing" are substituted for "no sh*t." (Not that a nice Southern girl would evah say such a thing!)

Pat L. said...

I like western historicals as long as the story is good and the characters are believable.

Yay to Lorraine Heath - I really enjoyed the westerns mentioned here. They are out of print and if you find a copy, grab it/them.

traveler said...

I am captivated with Historical Westerns. The resilient, determined, brave and hard-wrking characters who forged ahead made me admire their spirit and courage. What an inspiration. I grew up watching Westerns since they were popular at the time and they were completely engrossing so I began reading the novels that have been my favorites ever since. The land is so unique and the expanses with the never ending sky takes my breath away. Congratulations on your wonderful release.

Emmanuelle said...

What do I prefer in westerns ?? Definitely the "I'm in charge" cowboy !!
Congrats Kaki on your release !

alba said...

You know I have to admit I dont read many westerns.
I dont know why I mean there is not a whole lot of difference between Highlanders and Cowboys Is there? ... Not sure when I made the Switch growing up It was Always THE DUKE John Wayne was my ultimate Hero..
Might be that I miss my homeland....
have a good one.Ann
alba47@gmail.com

Audra said...

Western romances are some of the first ones I read- Who can't pass up a cover with a gorgeous Indian Brave on the cover with his woman.

Anonymous said...

I like to read Westerns because I grew up reading my dad's copies of Louis L'Amour books. I also grew up on ranch in Colorado so I live where a lot of these kinds of stories occur. I like the ethics of the cowboy, the descriptons of the areas in which the stories occur, and the situations he has to get through
JOYE
JWIsley(at)aol(dot)com.

Soft Fuzzy Sweater said...

The only thing I don't like about Western romance is that there isn't enough of them! I love cowboys and wide open spaces and American men. Let the others salivate over Dukes...I'll take Dudes!

anfez1206@gmail.com

ArkansasCyndi said...

I LOVE them! I just won a contest with the first chapter of the one I'm trying to write, so I'd LOVE to read yours.

Love the tough cowboy with the heart of gold...good to his animals and his woman.

Andrea I said...

Historicals were what I didn't want to read until I tried one. I like Westerns, both contemporary and historical.


ainfinger@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

I like Western romances because I live in the west and appreciate the settings and the hardships the characters have to face. After I saw the good reviews on Pieces of Sky I had to read it and I'm certainly glad I did! I highly recommend it. The writing reminds me a little of Francine River's early books. Congratulations Ms. Warner, great job!

melody

Virginia said...

I love the western romances. I have been so hooked on them lately that I have read every one I had! I have never read yours before but would love to try one! I love reading about the west and the cowboys, I do love me some cowboys! There just doesn't seem to be that many authors that write them anymore so I have problems finding new westerns to buy! Please enter me for your book I would love to read it!


lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the wonderful westerns that Vicki Lewis thompson has penned for us or the historical westerns of Tracy Garrett.

I live in the west Love the west and am in awe of the men in the west when I go to other parts of the country.

I think some of those suits could learn a lot from our ranchers and oilmen.

kathih

Anonymous said...

how do I enter to win the book??
I am very interested in an almost famous author!

kathi h

Kaki said...

Great insights, Traveler--you've perfectly described what western romance is all about.

And good points, Joye, Audra and Emmanuelle--how can you not love strong men who'll fight for what they love?

I hope you'll give us another read, Alba--check out the authors listed--there are some really good ones out there.

And I agree SFSweater (love that name), cowboys and wide open spaces do it for me too.

Congratulations ArkansasCyndi! You're on your way--and keep writing!

Glad you gave the genre a second chance, Andrea.

And thanks for your kind words, Melody. It's always a treat to hear from happy readers.

amy kennedy said...

Okay Kaki, you had me at "horked-up my coffee." As I continued to laugh my way through your guest blog, I knew I had to read your books, then when I read Michelle's review, I knew I had to buy your books.

I am from the North (Minnesota) and I promise to never say, "incredibly amazing," when what I really mean is, "no sh**!"

KELLY FITZPATRICK said...

Love the little prairie romances. I did have a contest judge jump me because some of my characters dropped their "g", but I lived in the south, and sometimes people don't pronounce their g's. Even I spoke with a southern accent. Now that I'm back in the north, I have my northern accent back.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

Kaki, how do you feel about contemporary westerns? I have a lot of trouble where things are 'set' in the west but the plot could be anywhere if you change 'pick up truck' with 'Cadillac.' Of course, I *write* contemporary westerns, but I love a good historical western just as much as the next cowgirl . . .

Kaki said...

Thanks, Virginia. And thanks to you, too, Kathi, for the recs on more great authors. And you're right--all of us could learn something from Zane Grey's "Code of the West." (And just to be clear--I'm only NEARLY almost semi-famous. So far.)

Pshaw, Amy--I don't care what accent you have, as long as you read my stuff.

Kelly, thanks for your comments, and congrats on "Pleasant Lake PD", even if it isn't set in the Old West.

And Sarah, I love anything with a Western flavor--as long as the characters get to me and there are plenty of handsome men in tight jeans working fine-looking horses.

readericreatedhim said...

Kaki, you kill me. I'm going to have to work the phrase "hork up" into my daily conversation.

The thing I kept thinking when I was reading Pieces of Sky was that every word was deliberately chosen and absolutely necessary to drive the story forward. As my editor (at work, not for a novel, unfortunately) has told me, "There's no fat on good writing."

I think I'll have to disagree with you about men in tight jeans, though.

PJ said...

Hi Kaki! So sorry I didn't make it by yesterday. I've heard many wonderful things about "Pieces of Sky." I'm looking forward to reading it and to getting your next book when it releases.

I've been a fan of western romance for years, both historical and contemporary. I'm happy to see more western romances hitting the market these days!

Theresa said...

Kaki,
GREAT post. And you DO talk funny! I can't wait to meet you in person--I bet you have a wonderful accent. And if I start talkin' like you, please forgive me; I'm a HORRIBLE mimic and much of the time I'm not even aware I'm doing it! When I'm teasin' you 'bout your accent, trust me, you'll know it !
And I'd really love to see you "hork up coffee" . That's a GREAT word, 'hork'. I'm gonna have to remember that!
When's Open Country coming out? Pieces of Sky was outstanding and I can't wait to read abt the gentle giant--it is his story, right? Plus another great cover!

LauraR said...

Good thing I had my office door closed when I read your 'almost horked up my coffee' comment. Too funny. And I think I would have hurled the book against the wall if I'd read 'throw my saddle on you little lady.' Thanks for adding to the pool of intelligent western writing.

Daisy Whitney said...

Who doesn't love a good romance!

denise said...

Funny post! I look forward to your book.

Rosie G. said...

Count me in please - I love historicals and contemporaries.