A warm welcome to all of you reading my very first Tea with Tessa blog! When I discovered my date to blog was February 8th, I nearly keeled over, wondering how I could possibly compete with (a) a government shutdown; (b) the first day of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. While February is proving to be a busy month, there’s something else going on, and it’s huge! The Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas! During the last week in February, cowboy poets gather in this lovely west Texas town to recite poems they’ve written, and in many cases, entertain you with country music. For those of you who remember Roy Rogers and The Songs of the Pioneers, you will feel as though you’ve gone back in time when you hear some of these groups perform. If you’re a fan of tasty coffee and homemade biscuits, you’ll need to drop by the ChuckWagon and eat breakfast at Poet’s Grove!
In 2009 I attended my first Cowboy Poetry Gathering and was hooked. I’d made the decision to begin writing several years earlier but couldn’t settle on a setting for what would become my Dreamcatchers series. As a teacher, I was well aware that some students are what we term “experiential learners”- in other words, they need to experience something instead of just reading about it. Diagnosing myself as one of those types of learners, I packed up my car, and took a road trip to Alpine, Texas with two of my very adventuresome friends.
As the three of us interacted with the townspeople of Alpine, we discovered that Bonanza star, Dan Blocker, once attended Sul Ross University- the college where this event takes place. Alpine boasts of this well-known actor, and his picture is on a mural in the center of town. We ate at Penny’s Diner, listening to the locals share stories of their adventures on the outskirts of town. One guy laughed himself into oblivion telling us about a pig getting out of the truck during a delivery, forcing passengers to abandon the vehicle and chase down the prodigal hog. While my friends and I (city slickers from Dallas) listened to these adventures, it reminded us that rural life is often a simpler way of living; one where people look out for each other, going so far as to assist a friend whose pig got loose. You kinda hafta like someone to chase down their pig! If that little piggy was going to market, I don’t want to know about that.
So…what does a writer do when her brain is swirling with rural cowboy life where everyone saunters around with perfectly creased bluejeans, plaid shirts, cowboy boots and spurs? She rushes home to create an authentic setting for her books; a setting which includes that lit up, beautiful west Texas sky packed with stars; characters who take up for one another when tragedy strikes; and a plethora of memories that forever changes her outlook on life. And she totally remodels her office to capture memories of the cowboys she left behind.
Thanks for allowing me to stroll down memory lane and share the cowboy poetry experience. A huge thank you to SoulMate for publishing the first in the series, Last Chance Texas. The second in the series, Stars Over Texas will be released in April of 2018. Storms Over Texas will be released in the fall of 2018. To purchase copies of the book pictured below, go to http://www.soulmatepublishing.com
and search for it under “western fiction.”