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Research Takes Us To The Previously Unknown…

May 26, 2014
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articlesThere is an added bonus to writing fiction – we delve into places, careers, hobbies, technology and scientific areas that we would otherwise not come into contact with. To enable us to write with confidence and ensure that the story holds true to reality (to some extent – sci-fi and fantasy are exceptions of course). We cannot write blindly about something totally foreign to us and expect our readership not to call us up on its inconsistencies or discrepancies. As with most authors and writers, our internet search results could be viewed with suspicion, or abject horror in some cases! Thorough research, however, should not be solely gathered from the internet (it isn’t always 100% accurate, shocking I know!). It is best to also utilize library resources, interview people, or even travel to locations, if at all possible. These are all fundamentally  more rewarding and can give us more indepth information and insights. Some of which gives us a more realistic viewpoint on the subject and vital details to give our narrative authenticity.

In my novel, The Twesome Loop, the basic theme was  reincarnation. This is a subject I researched and read about for many years during my nursing career (long story I shall not go into now). Because of that personal knowledge, I was able to reflect how souls meet again and again and also what it feels like to become another version of yourself. Here’s a previous post to explain that last part – https://mandyevebarnett.com/2014/01/20/reincarnation-fact-or-fiction/)

My current work in progress, Willow Tree Tears, centers around barrel racing, something I have seen only once. So obviously, I needed to study the way the courses have developed over time, the type of horses used and what the women who race are like. After finishing my first draft I was particularly upset to see a TV preview for Rodeo Girls – a so called reality show. The truth is, after contacting a couple of professional barrelracing organizations, the show is far from the truth and has been Hollywoodised! In fact, the women I discussed this with were extremely angry with the portrayal of rodeo women on the show. This tempered my fears some what that my novel was inaccurate, as my heroine is a down to earth young woman, with great determination and love of the ranching life.

What ‘new’ discovers have you found when researching your novels?

Did the subject become a fascination?

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Learn To Take Turns…

January 27, 2014
mandyevebarnett


The title says it all – learn to take turns – this is a barrel racing saying. One of many I learnt while researching  my current WIP, Willow Tree Tears.  It was certainly a journey into a world I had no previous knowledge of. Isn’t that what makes writing fiction all the more exciting?

The barrel racing course itself is a series of sharp turns in a clover-leaf shape, as you can see from the diagram below. A figure-eight pattern was the initial barrel racing circuit but has been replaced by the favored clover-leaf course, which demands a higher skill level. When watching these events I marveled at the synchronicity of horse and rider at speeds that were astonishing. 

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To begin a barrel race, the horse and rider enter the arena at top speed, through the center entrance. An electronic timer beam records the horse and rider as they cross it. This timer runs until the beam is crossed again at the end of the run.

Modern barrel-racing horses need to be fast, strong, agile and intelligent.  To maneuver the course in as little distance as possible requires physical strength and agility from the horse as well as the ability to follow commands from the rider. Horses that can “hug the barrels” and maneuver the course quickly  show up by their consistently low times. The favored breed for barrel racing is the American Quarter horse. The history of the breed began in the 17th century with British thoroughbreds paired with ‘native’ horses, (Chickasaw), which in turn were descended from horses brought over by the Conquistadors. Such as the Iberian, Arabian and Barb and wild horses.

The Girls Rodeo Association, (GRA)  was the first organization specifically developed for women, who wanted to compete in rodeos. It was formed in 1948 by a group of  Texan women consisting of only 74 members and  having a limited 60 approved tour events.  The group officially changed its name to the WPRA (Women’s Professional Rodeo Association) in 1981. 

In 2013 the WPRA celebrated sixty five years of women in rodeo. The WPRA . . . the past, present, and future of women in rodeo! 

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Subsequent to writing my narrative, I found out a new ‘reality’ TV program is on air – Rodeo Girls. However, the authenticity of its portrayal of women in rodeo is open to discussion.

Why does every show have to glamorize and falsify ‘real’ life?

I read many derogatory comments on a forum once the show was aired from barrel racers appalled at the depiction of their profession. I am happy to declare my narrative is true to the real barrel racers and their lifestyle.

Willow Tree Tears is a romance which follows my protagonist, Trinity, a champion barrel racing young woman. Trinity must decide between two men. A man she has known since high school and who lives the ranching and rodeo life and a suave globe trotting Italian. She is determined and focused in her sport and lives on a Quarter horse stud with her father. Can she resist the lure of the unfamiliar? Is marrying her ‘kind’ best for her and her father’s hopes for her future and the ranch?

The launch of Willow Tree Tears is still under negotiation but I will announce it as soon as a date is finalized.

What have you learnt about through novel researching?

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