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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kaye Spencer - remembering a writing contest

Walk with me as I take a brief excursion down memory lane that will ultimately end with YouTube.

Several years ago, I participated in a writing contest sponsored by The Romance Studio (TRS). In fact, I made it to the final round. I *think* (memory failure) I finished third, which was okay with me, because I came away from that contest with the foundation for two stories that I eventually published. Today, I’ll share the story behind one of these contest stories.

The first TRS writing contest set-up was this:

 Character A is a quirky critic who's secretly attracted to Character B, an eccentric artist who lives in the apartment right above Character A. Character A is on a deadline to get her review finished, but Character B is making a lot of noise, and it's very distracting. Write a 750-1000 word confrontation scene.

This is what I came up with:

Character A became the heroine, Janae Palmer, the reclusive, introverted book reviewer and Character B, Owen Quinlan, became the rodeo clown/bullfighter living in the apartment above her. I added two more layers to Owen's character: 1) he's recovering from a rodeo-related broken back and during his "grounded" months, he pursues his artistic side. They meet because he's cranked-up his music to set the mood for painting, and Janae is at her wit's end listening to him stomp around on her ceiling, because she can't concentrate on writing her book review. When she barges into his apartment, because he hasn’t locked his door, she startles him, he swings his painter's palette around, smacks her in the nose, and knocks her out. Now that's a confrontation. *wink*

So, The Dance was born, but I didn't develop the story until two years later and, alas, it was title-less. (I'm terrible with titles.) I was nearing the end of the story—with the dreaded black moment looming—when the title came to me. I had Owen tell Janae to listen to a Garth Brooks song (The Dance) and if the words "reached" her, he'd know it because she'd come back to him. If not, then he truly wishes her a happy life without him. The song evolved into his personal philosophy for living, and the message in the song is the theme of the story.

The Dance is a contemporary rodeo cowboy (rodeo clown/bullfighter) story. It's funny, serious, and bittersweet (and *spicy+++*). It’s also going to be out-of-digital-print in a month or so, because I’ve requested a rights reversion from the publisher.

So, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, YouTube. Every time I think about this story, it takes me back to my younger self and my rodeo years, which invariably brings up two rodeo songs that still mean a great deal to me all these many years (ahem... decades...) later.

For your earworm/nostalgic/rodeo-remembering pleasure…

Rodeo Cowboy - Lynn Anderson

 Someday Soon - Ian & Sylvia Tyson with Judy Collins

Until next time,


Fall in love…faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer


  1. We're going to have to put out a global alert about you and the earworms, aren't we?

    Do you ever put those dang earworms to good use by listening to inspiring music before or during your story-creation process? Sometimes, especially when I'm stuck on "what comes next," I'll listen to some old C&W tune, and the answer to my dilemma appears out of the blue -- unless the Earworm Empress has visited upon me some other song that refuses to go away.

    Really good post today, Kaye (not that your previous posts have been less than good). Thank you! Somehow, I don't feel so alone in my peccadillos anymore. Still weird, mind you, but not so alone. ;-)

    1. Kathleen,

      In fact, I do put my earworms to good use. *grin* When I'm in what I call my deep writing mode, I'll have either Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks playing away in the background, or I'll have the movies on for the music and dialogue (I don't watch; I tune out to tune in). Right now, I'm working on a story set in 1957, moonshiner family v. revenue agent, Kentucky. It's in first person, male POV only, so I've watched/listened to Thunder Road just a few times (understatement - lol).

      Marty Robbins' gunfighter & cowboy songs are standard writing mood enhancers for me. Otherwise, I have Sirius XM radio streaming classical music on the Symphony Hall channel.

      Now, just wait until I share the second TRS contest story-starter. There's an earworm looming on the horizon with that one. bwahahahaha!!!

      As far as your peccadillos go... I have bushels of them that I carry around to fuel my storytelling obsession. *wink*

  2. Funny how stories and titles work out once we start wrangling them!

    1. Kristy,

      More often than not, titles wrangle me to the ground, hog-tie and gag me... I am so uncreative with titles. Years ago, I submitted a 'title-less' western romance novella to the publisher who had offered to brainstorm titles after she read the story.

      The hero is a Comanchero. He marries the heroine early in the story, and the rest of the story hinges around their hasty marriage. The publisher suggested, The Comanchero's Bride, for the title.


      So obvious. (smacking forehead) Why couldn't I think of that? lolol

      I try to use phrases from within my stories as titles, but sometimes that even fails me. *wink*

  3. I love how the creative mind works and what will spark the next project. I also happen to love all three songs you listed. Thanks Doris

  4. Doris,

    Sometimes the spark of my creative mind is only a glowing ember, but so far, the flame hasn't gone completely out. :-)

  5. I love Garth Brooks and the Dance, what a great song. Isn't it funny how we all have these little quirks we do while writing? When I write a love scene, I listen to Lady Antebellum's Need You Now. Something about the desperate note in the singers voice comes through real enough that you can feel his desperate need of her. And when I'm writing about a lost love, I listen to Meat Loaf's Two Outta three Ain't Bad. Of course on this one I sing along at the top of my lungs which if I'm writing during the night tends to wake my hubby and makes Mr. Biggs howl. All in all the songs help me to add a bit of heat and emotion to the story.

  6. Barbara,

    We should have a "writing quirks" sharing blog or FB activity. We'd find out more than any of us really should know about each other. lolol When I really need to feel the angst, I resurrect the 1988-90 Beauty and the Beast tv series. Talk about star-crossed lovers. Now that is a hopeless relationship that I soooo wanted to have work out.

  7. Kaye, I loved the confrontation scenario you came up with. See. You had me right there. A reviewer and a cowboy is a wonderful combination for a love match. Loved the videos!
    All the very best to you, Kaye.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. *grin* The heroine is prissy and grew up sheltered to the point of suffocation. The hero has no inhibitions. *wink*