Writing – Keeping it Alive

For as long as I remember, I have loved cowboys and horses.  Growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere – my choice of leisure was to ride my horse and pretend I was a cowboy.  I wasn’t interested in housework and I wasn’t interested in farming.

When I was older and reality stuck me in a city (at least my choice was good – Calgary – cow-town – did offer much to keep my thoughts alive when trying to capture the illusive nature of a cowboy). As a child I wrote stories of cowboys and delved into the concept of combining cowboys and romance when I was a teen.  I listened to music and I played one song ‘Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ by Waylon Jennings in particular.  Why not?  I wanted my babies to be cowboys – they were so fascinating and so perfect – that is a real cowboy – not a cocoa cowboy (there is a song for that too). But I needed to study their flaws too to make them right.

I found horses fascinating as well and I started painstakingly drawing – until I could say I was drawing a perfect horse. (Never happened – yet).

As I listened to George Strait or Alan Jackson the concept of a cowboy nature took hold.  I was ready to develop my characters.

Seraphim by Mary M. Forbes

My nearly perfect horse I drew and am using on the cover of my new story – Seraphim.

One Dance with a Stranger by Mary M. Forbes

My inspiration – George Strait and Alan Jackson for my hero Wade Hart in One Dance with a Stranger. One reader described Wade as hotter than hot. That’s a cowboy for you.



My newest model in my explorations to discover the elusive cowboy nature. Based on a true story – Frank Hopkins (played by Viggo Mortensen.

Now to keep my love alive I have a new cowboy in my life.  Viggo Mortensen in Hidalgo is my new study. I love that show.   I have written two stories using a Metis as my hero (Indians make wonderful cowboys).  Mortensen’s character is a Metis (If Americans called them Metis – which they don’t – Canadians do though).  He is half native and half white in the story.  Perfect for my ideas and I can only admire the man and cowboy in this show.(not to mention Hidalgo).


Resources – completing a novel

Discipline and focus are key elements to finishing a book.  It may be rife with errors and boring, but at least there is the satisfaction of completing it.   It is a feeling of satisfaction you will never get from starting and putting various ‘ideas’ aside to start another.

If you go through and edit the content you can fix many problems.  One of the main reasons it might be boring is the ‘show don’t tell’ rule. Check your had/did – all those past tense words to start.  Instead of a ‘back-story’ try to incorporate as much information in your present, not your past.  Sally screamed her continuous anger –  or a long paragraph on her previous temper tantrums.  Either way the reader understands Sally has a bad temper (show her progression to ‘had’ – don’t just say she changes.)

Flashbacks are common today in stories. I’m still out on the verdict.  I don’t really like flashbacks  in books or a movie but I might be in a minority as it seems to be selling.  I am a stubborn reader and movie watcher.  In the 70’s I noticed many movies where there were no happy endings.  Some had downright depressing endings with characters that against everything they experienced or learned became horrible, greedy, mean characters. Some people believe this is ‘reality’.  My experience is very much ‘life is what you make it.’. There was a period in time where I stopped watching shows except comedies or happy ending stories. I know what I like and make no apologies.


A real, true story of determination and success. Hidalgo.

I recently watched Hidalgo yet again. What is so inspiring, amazing – it is a fiction version of reality.  Hidalgo (a horse) and his owner Frank T. Hopkins actually overcame what seemed insurmountable odds.  It is a fact and it doesn’t have a sad ending. Yet it is reality.  Frank has flaws but in the end they don’t consume him.  Don’t give up.

Write from your own personal angle and it’s much easier than trying to follow the fads of the day.  If you don’t believe there is evilness inside every person and you believe there are real heroes with goodness inside, write what you believe.  It’s difficult to write going against what you believe and this might cause you to never complete a story.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s popular today or not.  It may even become the ‘fad’ of tomorrow.

To summon those sad feelings – I have discovered there is more than enough grief and unhappiness in every day living. I am also fortunate enough to see goodness and joy.  I don’t need sadness to consume or occupy my mind completely.

Combining things I love – Lake Louise, Alberta (by Malibu Dreams Photography) with my favourite Tim Horton’s Coffee.


As a writer of completed novels I haven’t written fads and I have enjoyed completing stories.  These stories give me satisfaction on a task finished.  I never care what is popular so much as what I love to write.