Where My Heroes Hang Their Cowboy Hats
Hello, and a big thank you to Stephanie for inviting me to blog here today! I’m thrilled that she’s asked me to talk about the setting of my current books, since Flagman’s Folly, New Mexico, has become one of my favorite fictional towns.
In the case of my three cowboy/rancher heroes, their hometown is so critical to their history, Flagman’s Folly itself becomes a character in the books. The setting ties the heroes forever to the past and plays a huge role in what happens to them in each story.
In the first book, A RANCHER’S PRIDE, the very founding of the town provides a special connection to the hero, Sam Robertson. Here’s a brief clip that will show you why.
He looked at her for a long while, as if wary of the change of subject. Or as if, for some reason, he felt reluctant to tell her.
At last, he said, “Back a century or so ago, there wasn’t a town here, just a small crossroad station in the middle of nowhere. Trains pulled in for refueling and picking up passengers. The flagman stationed here had the job of signaling to make sure two trains didn’t try to come in at the same time.”
“And something happened?”
Sam laughed. “Yeah, something happened. The flagman was so busy making his moves on a waiting passenger, he messed up. And the trains collided.”
Kayla gasped. “Were there many hurt?
“No one, fortunately. The first train was slowed to a crawl getting ready to pick up passengers, and the second was a freighter with only the crew aboard.”
“The flagman got off lucky.”
At the amusement in his tone, she looked at him.
“As it turned out,” he explained, “the man up and married the lady he’d been flirting with.”
And, as Kayla soon finds out, that man and woman were Sam’s great-grandparents—which makes them the great-great-grandparents of Becky, the four-year-old deaf daughter Sam has just learned is his.
Sam wants to raise his child in the town that’s part of her heritage. Their strong tie to his community gives him an added reason to fight the woman who wants to take Becky away from him.
Characters can have mixed feelings about their hometowns. To Caleb Cantrell, the hero of THE RODEO MAN’S DAUGHTER (February 2012), Flagman’s Folly was never the wonderful place everyone thinks it is.
Caleb had a tough upbringing and, after a ten-year absence, his return is laced with lots of memories, all of them bad. The opening of the story shares a few of them, while it gives the reader an immediate insight into just where Caleb has come from.
Caleb Cantrell eased up on the gas pedal of the pickup truck he’d rented earlier that morning at the airport. He cut the engine and stepped down from the cab, his worn boots hitting the ground with a double thud, raising a cloud of dust. First time in ten years he’d set foot in Flagman’s Folly, New Mexico, and the layer of dirt that now marked him made it seem as if he’d never left.
Yet he’d come a hell of a long way since then.
Here on the outskirts of town, he stood and stared across the unpaved road at the place he’d once had to call home. After he’d left there, he’d slept in no-tell motels, lived out of tour buses and trucks and, eventually, spent time in luxury hotels. Didn’t matter where you went, you could always tell the folks who took pride in ownership from the ones who didn’t give a damn.
Even here, you could spot the evidence. Not a ritzy neighborhood, not a small community, just a collection of ramshackle houses and tarpaper shacks. A few had shiny windows and spindly flowers in terra cotta pots. Some had no windowpanes at all. Here and there, he noted a metal-sided prefab home with too many coats of paint on it and weeds poking through the cinderblocks holding it up.
And somewhere, beyond all that, he knew he’d find a handful of sun-bleached trailers, their only decoration the cheap curtains hanging inside. The fabric blocked the view into the units through the rusty holes eaten into their sides.
Sometimes, the curtains blocked sights no kid should see, of mamas doing things no mama should do.
Swallowing hard, he retreated a pace, as if he’d felt the pull of one rust-corroded hulk in particular. It wouldn’t be there still. It couldn’t. But he had no intention of going over there to make sure.
Caleb is a rodeo star nearly killed in a fall from a bull. He’s returning home with his body and his dreams shattered, coming back to a town where folks had once done him wrong. He’s not the happiest of heroes—at first—because he has an entire childhood of bad memories to face. He’s also got some changing to do.
In the upcoming Flagman’s Folly book, HONORABLE RANCHER (out next week!! ), Ben Sawyer is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Ben has always lived in Flagman’s Folly, always loved the town, and has always…
Well, I don’t want to give his secret away, since you’ll find out in the final clip below. Here, Dana and Ben are the matron of honor and groomsman at their friends’ wedding.
Missing the chance to catch a handful of flowers couldn’t upset her that much. He knew what she really missed—having a husband by her side. Her husband.
His best friend.
But neither of them would have Paul back in their lives.
Before he could get to his feet, she left, running away like that princess in the fairytale his niece asked him to read to her over and over again.
No, not a princess. The one who took off without her glass slipper—Cinderella.
Dana was no Cinderella. She hadn’t left a shoe behind. Hadn’t even dropped a button from that pink dress as something for him to remember her by. As if he could ever forget her.
She’d been the heroine of a story he’d once created long ago, a story he’d had to write in his head because he hadn’t yet known how to spell all the words.
How did it go? Like in his niece’s storybook…
Once upon a time, that was it.
Once upon a time, in the Land of Enchantment—otherwise known as the state of New Mexico—Benjamin Franklin Sawyer had high hopes and a huge crush on the girl who sat one desk over from him in their classroom every day.
No other girl in town, Ben felt sure, could beat Dana Smith, and most likely no other woman in the world could compare to her, either. In any case, without a doubt, she was the cutest of all his female friends in their kindergarten classroom.
Unfortunately, when the teacher moved his best friend, Paul Wright, to the desk on the other side of Dana’s, Ben saw his hopes dashed.
The crush, however, continued. For a good long while.
As for Benjamin Franklin Sawyer’s hopes…
Well, not every story had a happy ending.
Like Caleb, Ben has memories tied to a special setting in the book, and those memories have guided him for most of his life. They’ve made him the loyal friend…the boy-next-door…the HONORABLE RANCHER he is today.
The town of Flagman’s Folly has played a pivotal role in each of the books. In my opinion, those stories wouldn’t have been the same set in a different location. And neither would my heroes!
Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.
From the time she was a toddler, Barbara found herself fascinated by those things her mom called “books.” Once she learned the words between the covers held the magic of storytelling, she wanted to see her words in print so she could weave that spell for others.
She hopes you will enjoy reading her stories and will find your own storytelling magic in them!
Barbara would love to have you drop by her website: www.barbarawhitedaille.com You can also find her on
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille and
Please look for next week’s release of HONORABLE RANCHER by Barbara White Daille! To celebrate the book’s release, Barbara will give one autographed copy of either A RANCHER’S PRIDE or THE RODEO MAN’S DAUGHTER to two winners.