Sometimes, the hardest part of writing a book is getting started. Usually my first pages don’t change, but in the case of Cowboy Crazy, I cut my first version of the beginning scene. I knew I needed to start a little farther along in the story. Lane’s bull ride wasn’t really the right place to start, but dang, I love rodeo and I love this scene!
So for those of you who like a little gratuitous rodeo with their cowboy novels, I thought I’d post it here – sort of an “out-take” from the writing of the novel.
Win or lose, a bull rider always ends up in the dirt. Sometimes he jumps off and sometimes he’s tossed, but either way he winds up scrambling around on all fours trying to save his own life.
Tugging his rope tight, Lane Carrigan settled himself behind Yellow Jack’s massive hump and struggled to find purchase with his feet on the animal’s slab-muscled sides. Once he got his heels dug in, he nodded sharply to cue a cowboy to open the gate and let all hell loose with Lane on its back.
The bull shot out of the chute and hit the dirt hard with its front hooves. On impact the two thousand pound animal became lithe as a fox, flipping its hind feet up behind it and floating motionless at the top of its arc before it twisted in the air and came down spinning, whirling to the left.
Wrong way, Lane thought. The bull was spinning away from his hand, making holding on damn near impossible. He felt his body sliding sideways as the force of the spin pulled him into the well.
He hadn’t been much for physics in high school, but he’d become an expert on centrifugal force once he started riding bulls. He fought gravity, adjusting his seat and centering himself as the bull leapt again, hoisting its heels in the air and buckling its body in an extra flex that damn near sent him vaulting ass-over-teakettle past its horns.
When Yellow Jack’s front hooves hit the dirt and he spun to the right, Lane was still on top and he knew he had the bull beat. He spurred a little, flinging his arm up and back in the syncopated rhythm of the bull’s bucking—not because it changed his balance any, but because it added flash to the ride. He could hear the crowd roaring over the pounding of his own heart and the rasping of his breath, and then the harsh blat of the buzzer broke through.
He let go, vaulting into the dirt, landing on his feet and falling forward to take the ignominious four-footed scramble that was the cowboy’s lot whether he’d won or lost.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Yellow Jack’s jutting brow and small, angry eyes focus on him for a brief, confused moment before the bull recognized him as the annoyance that had been clinging to his back for the past eight seconds and thundered after him, bent on revenge. Getting bucked off a bull was like facing death—not just because the animal could kill you, but because time slowed down and stretched out as if you were drowning or dying. The shouts of the crowd thundered in your ears and every move seemed labored, every limb a dead weight.
He glanced back as he climbed the fence and saw the bullfighters hopping around in their baggy pants in a frantic dance of distraction that drew the animal’s attention so he could flee to safety. Once the bull turned away and forgot what it was so all-fired mad about, a pickup man on a handsome paint took over, twirling a rope carelessly and letting it fall across the bull’s hindquarters to drive it toward the exit gate. It trotted through docile as a dog now that the pesky cowboy was forgotten.
Lane glanced up at the scoreboard. 82 points.
Dang, it had felt like a better ride than that.