Whether it’s the gunslinger or the lone cowboy, the west has always captured our hearts and imaginations. When it comes to romance, they seem to go together naturally. In ROUGH EDGES, we have brought together seven different stories, from the old west to the modern cowboy, from women on the run to women looking for a good time.
Over the coming weeks we will continue to take a closer look at the stories and get to know the authors better.
This week we welcome TJ Dodd.
JUMP WITHOUT LOOKING
Jackie has a veterinary practice, her family’s ranch, and a habit of avoiding men. The last thing she needs is a giant, blonde cowboy who tears down her fence and rattles her nerves. Russ has no job, a beat-up old pickup, and a rundown ranch he just inherited. He needs everything except the beautiful, angry neighbor who turns him on and then runs him off. Can one pregnant cow, two horses that love to jump, and three long kisses prove them both wrong?
He wondered if she felt what he did, something like two magnets pulling them together. He wondered if her skin was as soft as it looked, and if it would dimple between his fingers when he held her thighs and kissed her full round breasts. They wouldn’t bruise each other, that was for damn sure. He’d fit right into her cushioned body.
Sitting next to her was a gift.
It was a gift at the worst possible time, when he was flat broke and filthy, barely presentable and in the middle of a job she knew he was doing on the cheap. Jackie probably thought he was like Uncle George, always making excuses for half-assing things.
1) Where did you get the idea for Jump Without Looking?
Honestly I’m not sure. Usually the stories just show up, sometimes while I’m in the shower or driving or playing with my dog; sometimes they’re just there when I wake up in the morning. A friend challenged me to write a story for Rough Edges and I chewed on the idea for a few days without any notion of what I’d do. Then it just appeared. I think I was in the car at the time.
2) Tell me a little about the characters in the story?
Jackie is a second-generation veterinarian who grew up watching and helping her dad with his large animal practice. Although she feels like an outsider in some ways, she remains in her home and community and went into practice with her dad and a partner. She’s skilled and confident in her work but shy around people in her personal life.
Russ is a stranger to the area although he spent time on his uncle’s ranch as a child. He’s a top hand, strong, confident, and tested by adversity. He has a chance to make a home for himself but it will take everything he has, if not more. He doesn’t have the resources to handle his basic needs, let alone the complications that come with a woman.
3) How long did it take you to write this story?
I wrote it in a weekend, but I didn’t get anything else done! Then I fussed with it forever. I swear, I was like the mother of the bride making sure every inch of lace and ribbon was perfect before sending her down the aisle.
4) I was impressed with the scene where Jackie helps a cow give birth, did you have to do any research for that?
Does growing up on a farm count as research? We had cattle, sheep, hogs, and chickens, as well as a garden, grape arbor, and fruit trees. I’ve shepherded livestock in every phase from birth to the dinner table. Between my own family’s experiences with difficult livestock births and the stories I heard about our legendary local veterinarian, I had all the research I needed.
5) What other work do you have out there?
This is my first endeavor as a published author of fiction. My background is in journalism and I taught English, journalism, and speech/drama for years. I’ve been published locally and regionally as a journalist off and on since I was 14 years old. My small-town local newspaper was an easy target for an eager high school student! I still do the occasional feature story or series, and I’m part of a very supportive group of fanfiction writers for a small but loyal fandom.
6) What do you do when you’re not writing?
I spend most of my time at the job that pays my bills, which is coordinating a statewide group of volunteers for a national nonprofit. I was hired to develop the program in my home state years ago and we are still going strong. I spend time with family, including my grown children, and I go back home to the farm to see my parents and extended family there. I hang out with my dog and I read, garden, or do a few crafty things.
7) What’s the best part about writing?
It takes the stories out of my head and makes them real. It gives me a chance to dig deep into my characters and put them through their paces and see how they will react. It lets me share my stories. Most importantly, it feels right for me to put words on the page. It feels good, like something I’m meant to do. It gives me joy.
8) What’s the hardest part about writing?
Accepting criticism. I don’t mind writing, rewriting, or editing. But I always have a defensive reflex when someone criticizes my work. I’m very protective of my stories. It takes me a little time to be able to objectively evaluate criticism.
9) What inspires you?
I don’t know that any one thing inspires me. Life, memories, friends, tragedy and loss, good news and happiness. After a grim day at work I go home and write vampire massacres and blood and torture. Or maybe I write silly fluff about a female shapeshifter trying to accurately recreate a man’s ‘package’. Or strangers falling in love in the airport restroom. My mind goes to some weird places.
10) What are some of your favourite books/authors?
I read all kinds of books and all kinds of authors. The ones I’ve made an effort to purchase and add to my home library are Zane Grey, my first western author; Agatha Christie, queen of the murder mystery; Mary Stewart, whose Arthurian novels are breathtaking; and Jane Austen, unparalleled literary giant.
The two books I’ve most enjoyed recently are Longbourn by Jo Baker, which is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view; and Skye Falling by Anna Kyle, which is one in a series of books involving romance among shapeshifters, fae creatures, and who knows what else. Interestingly, both books stand very well as independent reads without knowledge of their antecedents.
TJ Dodd is a frequently sweary, occasionally inappropriate former teacher and acknowledged black sheep of her family. She’s okay with that. She shares her home with her pit bull named Piddles, who outgrew the habit but got stuck with the name. She’s made up stories her whole life and thought it might be fun to try to get some of them published. So far it has been.
Reserve your copy of Rough Edges