Cowboy U

(Flickr photo by Emilio Labrador)

This month, the CW blog chain is writing about inspiration–where we get ideas for our books. I wish I could claim some lofty and impressive vision, but truth be told, I got my idea for Give the Lady a Ride from TV.
Several years ago, Country Music Television (CMT) had a show called Cowboy U in which city-bred contestants shunned the bright lights for life on a ranch. Upon arrival, their duds were confiscated in exchange for  jeans, cotton shirts, boots and cowboy hats. That meant all the cutsie outfits the women had brought were stored away–along with their blowdryers, nail polish, facial goop, and whatever other city trappings they’d hauled along with them. Funny how the men were barely affected by this change in wardrobe. But when a ranch hand entered the bunkhouse before sunrise the next day clanging a tin pot with a metal spoon, the men groaned the loudest.
Each contestant had to participate in a variety of ranch-related activities. They had to learn how to saddle and ride the horses that were assigned to them for the duration of their stay. To me, that would be a dream come true, but for some of these folks who’d apparently never seen anything bigger than a lap dog, the task was daunting. Many of the women couldn’t lift their saddles, much less sling them over the backs of their mounts, or if they could, quite often they couldn’t lift themselves into the saddle. No one could advance to the next task until they had conquered this one, so quitting wasn’t an option, and soliciting help was cheating (unless the boss took pity on them). 
Every chore that needed doing on the ranch, they did–mucked stalls, fed critters, roped and rode day in and day out. They learned to drive cattle and separate a calf from the herd. They also learned to palpate pregnant cows, a task that evoked a series of ews from the women–until they felt the calf move (I loved this so much, I included it in my book).
The ultimate task, though, had nothing to do with ranching. They had to ride a bull. Well, more appropriately, a steer. After each busy day on the ranch, rhinestone cowboys and cowgirls alike would line up for their chance on the barrel. This was suspended by ropes and yanked around by one of the hands until the rider either fell off or eight seconds were up. An eight second ride is a successful ride, and making the time on the back of a barrel is a whole lot different from surviving the back of a steer. But they must ride the steer, must strive for the eight, to graduate from Cowboy U.
By the end of the series, the contestants who hadn’t been injured or quit looked good in their Wranglers and Stetsons and wore ’em with pride. They’d succeeded at something few of their friends had even attempted and learned a way of life most folks like me can only daydream about.
This is the world I dropped my New York socialite into. I gave her the ego of a Senator’s daughter and a handsome cowboy to knock her down a peg or two–and a faith lesson learned on the back of a bull.
(Next up in the chain is Kat Connolly in Kat’s Musings. Hers is bound to be special!)

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
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22 Responses to Cowboy U

  1. Ideas come from everywhere! Sounds like a great book!


  2. TraciB says:

    Wonderful post, Linda! It’s great when someone else’s creative concept becomes the springboard for our own.

    By the way, Lynn posted in the CW blog chain thread that she won’t be participating this time.


  3. Kat Connolly says:

    LOL – you are great, Linda.

    I LOVED this post. You got me so enthralled in this TV show called Cowboy U that I started to wonder, “How is Linda going to work this into inspiration?”

    And you did – wonderfully! Sounds like a great novel!

    God bless you with much favor! 🙂


  4. Tracy Krauss says:

    This was such a fun and well written post. Your novel sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it. We get our inspiration anywhere we can, don’t you think?


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Yes ma’am. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Now knowing what to do with it is a different subject. 😀

      I’ll be sure and let you know when my book’s out–you and everyone else on the planet. You’ll probably be able to hear me holler!


  5. K.M. Weiland says:

    Sounds like a good show! Most of my inspiration isn’t very high and lofty either, although my WIP was inspired by a dream. That’s kinda like a vision, right? 😉


    • Linda Yezak says:

      It was a good show. I was disappointed when they took it off, but they replaced it with Ty Murray’s All Star Bull Riding, which also fit into my manuscript!

      You’re new WIP was inspired by a dream? How great is that?! I rarely remember my dreams, and those that I do were too awful to *want* to remember!


  6. Nikole Hahn says:

    What?! No make up for how long???? Just kidding.


  7. E G Lewis says:

    Great post.
    Your secret’s out…don’t go and try to tell us you watch nothing but highbrow PBS shows; we know better. You did just the opposite of what I did in my novel, Promises. I took a girl from Appalachian Kentucky and sent her to New York to become a super model. As they say, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Does that work the other way around??
    Peace and Blessings


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Well, I *do* watch the occasional highbrow PBS show, but I like more down home programing.

      Sounds like your book is a good one, too!

      Thanks for coming by, Ed!


  8. Chris Solaas says:

    My dad was a cowboy – actually rode the range on cattle drives in the twenties and early thirties. (Yes, they actually still had them then, in the Dakotas). He learned to break horses and rope cattle, but had few run-ins with the Indians – just had one Lakota that lived nearby that always got into scraps with him.

    I wrote a song about his life. It always struck me as really cool that he was a real-live John Wayne – A cowboy as a teen, then a Pathfinder in WW II.

    Never heard of Cowboy U, but it sounds hilarious. I think your book will be a best-seller.


    • Linda Yezak says:

      Thanks, Chris. I would’ve loved to know your dad back when I was researching this. Sounds like he led an interesting life.


  9. Oh, my word. You roped me right into this post. So I suspect you’d pull me right into your story!

    I wish I’d seen this show. I can’t wait to read your book.


  10. Fascinating to see how you drew your inspiration Linda. The challenge when drawing on another work like a TV show is to get inspiration but not create a clone. You have found a good key to avoid that pitfall, by drawing on non-fiction to fuel your fiction. Sonds like you have the makings of a fascinating story.


  11. brian jones(Pippin) says:

    Well, sounds interesting, but that is sooo not me. I would never sign up for Cowboy University. Correction it would take a woman to get me to sign up for that. I don’t have a cowboy bone in my body.


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