Tag Archives: cowboys

bologna, hushpuppies and smoke sauce, oh my

I’ve traveled enough, you’d think I’d cease to be amazed at how vastly different the culinary offerings are within my own country. Without going very far from home, twenty minutes or less, I can get Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Portuguese, Italian, Mexican, German, Greek and French cuisine, even Texas barbecue.

What I don’t know where to find in my little corner of New York are hush puppies, or grits, or fried okra, or collard greens, or a fried bologna sandwich.

Keep Calm and Eat BolognaWhat the layman might not realize is that as a writer I have to remember these regional differences while writing stories set in other parts of thecountry. I must remember it’s pop, not soda. It’s a hero or a hoagie, not a wedge or a sub. It’s sweet tea, rather than iced tea. And I have to remember that when my characters stop for a quick lunch in Oklahoma, they’re not going to see the same menu with the same choices I’d see here in NY. And that is why I used for my research the menu of an actual restaurant in Oklahoma for my characters’ date in ONE NIGHT WITH A COWBOY.

That menu from Joseph’s Fine Foods in Drumright, Oklahoma was my first exposure to the existence of a fried bologna sandwich, jalapeno hush puppies and smoke sauce. I wrote it into my book, based a sex scene around it, and even included it in my marketing, because it seems smoked bologna is sexy!

Now, all I have to do is get there and get some!!


September 2012 has been declared National Bourbon Heritage Month in Kentucky by the state governor. I read that little tidbit on the Bourbon Blog because, you know, I like to keep abreast of important happenings in the world. Now I don’t live in Kentucky but I’m never opposed to celebrating! Besides, I just happen to have developed a few bourbon recipes recently.


You see I was going to New Orleans, to Bourbon Street to be exact, and partaking in an author pub crawl at the Bourbon Cowboy for Authors After Dark to promote my cowboy series. Of course, that called for some Buckin’ Good Bourbon Drink Recipes, did it not? So I consulted my favorite liquor store, told the man what I was doing, and I loaded up my cart with ingredients I thought might make a good drink. Having tended bar for more years than I’d like to admit I knew flavors and brands pretty well for the liqueurs, but I needed some advice on the bourbon. He steered me to Evan Williams brand, saying it had a lighter flavor than some others and would mix better for my experiment. Then I went home, cracked open all the bottles, lined up a bunch of glasses and started to mix. This was about 2PM, keep in mind, so by the time the husband arrived home that evening from work, I was slumped in the bed but I was excited, because lined up on the table I had three drinks I was pretty sure were pretty damn good. And beneath each glass I had a note with what I’d put in them because by then I was a little loopy and was afraid I’d forget.


He agreed the drinks were tasty! Now I’m not saying no one has ever mixed these alcohols in this particular combo before. They probably have. I’m just saying these combos are personally tasted and found to be very drinkable by me, and I’m not a bourbon drinker generally so you know they must be good. So in honor of Bourbon Month and the release of my next cowboy book FLANKED in just over a week, I bring you my cowboy-inspired bourbon drinks.

Cat Johnson

1 part Bourbon
1 part Frangelico® Hazelnut Liqueur
Serve over ice
Variation: Add to hot coffee and cream for Nutty Cowboy Coffee

1 part Bourbon
1 part Kahlua® Coffee Liqueur
Serve over ice
Variation: Add hot coffee and cream for coffee with a kick


1 part Bourbon
1 part Dark Creme de Cocoa
Serve over ice
Variation: Add hot coffee and cream for a chocolately treat

it’s a wiki world…

…but you can’t wiki everything.

I’ll admit it, I turn to Wikipedia a lot. No, it’s not the most reliable source of information but it is quick, easy, straightforward and a good starting point for more research.

But some things can’t be looked up, can’t be researched from your nice comfy office chair. Sometimes you have to get out there and smell the bull shit. Literally. Oops, what’s that smell? Did you step in it? Good! You’ll be a better writer for it.

I recently read another author’s blog post about her new book release. The hero was a bull rider. In this post she wrote (and I’m paraphrasing the idea since I don’t remember the exact wording) how she didn’t understand why any man would want to get on the back of a bull just to get tossed around like a rag doll and thrown in the dirt.

I shook my head while reading that and said, aloud to no one because it was 4 am and only the cats and I were awake, “I understand it.”

Why? Because I’ve researched? Yes, in part. I’ve talked to bull riders on line, on the phone and in person, but most importantly, I’ve seen why first hand.

I’ve seen a rider close up immediately after getting off a bull. I’ve seen his hands shaking because he’s so hyped on adrenaline. The effects of adrenaline on a body are as strong as any drug, illegal or legal. It’s addicting. It’s a high and a rush, and when it’s over the person coming off that high wants nothing more than to do it again. Ask anyone really into extreme sports. It’s not the sport they’re addicted to, it’s the adrenaline.

Here’s what I’m saying… I’ve walked into an arena and been struck by the stench of bull. I’ve walked out of that arena hours later and realized I no longer smelled it because I’d become so accustomed to the odor. I’ve felt the platform I was standing on vibrate when the chute gate crashed open feet from me. I’ve jumped from the loudness and close proximity of that clanging of metal on metal. I’ve watched  the cowboy next to me take off his hat and take a knee when a rider got bucked off and wasn’t moving. I’ve been eye to eye with the bull when it was looking for the out gate after dumping a rider, but instead made eye contact with me on top of the chutes. I’ve had arena dust cover my pretty leather boots. I”ve seen bull fighters and riders in various states of undress as they prepped for a ride. I’ve seen the holes in the soles of the boots bull rider’s reserve just for riding before they change into their good boots for afterward.

And I hope to God with every book I write that I can adequately impart every one of those sensory images to my readers.

Still don’t understand it? I’m truly sorry for that, and more than grateful that I have the privilege to.


finding calm

What?? Two posts within two days? Yes, I’m procrastinating. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, here’s the thing…my life is weird. It is a dichotomy which might give a lesser person whiplash. It certainly hasn’t done much for my sanity–or perhaps it has. Maybe it’s saved me, because when one part gets too annoying, or stressful, or [insert adjective here], I can swing to the other parts of my life and breath a sigh of relief at the serenity of it all, embracing the pure oppositeness.

What am I talking about? Let’s take a look at today and I’ll show you.

This morning I had an internet browser window open to the Inn and Spa at Norwich with another window open to my 5 friends’ many, many emails in my inbox with another friend on the phone trying to figure out our girl’s trip away.

Swing to the other browser I had open and you’ll find the site for the American Quarter Horse where I was downloading their PDF about Cowboy Manners and procedures throughout history. (Hey, it might make for good blog or research materials or at least an interesting read).

Guess which browser window made me feel serenely calm and happy when I looked at it and which one had me ready to tear my hair out?  Am I weird that I’d rather stay home in my little farmhouse on my little farm and read about cowboys from days gone by? That the planning of this relaxing spa trip may put me on Prozac before we’re done? Probably. I guess I don’t do anything normally. My Netflix queue looks like it belongs to a schizophrenic. I’ve completed the entire season of Animal Planet’s The Last American Cowboy (a reality show about 3 Montana cattle ranches trying to survive), and I’ve also watched the entire season of the PBS Masterpiece Theater historical British show Downton Abbey. And I found both equally fascinating.

Anyway, I guess balance is necessary. After all a girl can’t live in PJs and survive on cowboys alone. Once in a while I have to leave my house and see actual live people and do things, if only to build fodder for more books to write. But sometimes, it would be really nice to hide out for a while. After all, that cowboy manners PDF is still waiting to be read…


my favorite things: cowgirl creamery cheese

Cowgirl CreameryA few months ago I posted on another group blog I belong to about Purple Cowboy wine. Well here is the perfect accompaniment to that–Cowgirl Creamery Cheeses.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my friends and I are foodies. We get together weekly at one house and basically cook and eat together. I won’t say it’s exactly like the scene in the movie The Big Chill, but I’ll admit there is sometimes singing, and even once some dancing…long story. Anyway, we fancy ourselves cheese afficienados–so much so that one among us (who shall remain nameless) was told by his doctor his cholesterol was too high. His answer, “It’s not my fault. My wife enrolled me in the cheese of the month club.” No it wasn’t me or my husband, but we do all love our cheese, and I love all things cowboy, so when said cheese lover with high cholesterol was shopping at Fairway and saw cheese with the above cowgirl logo on it, he picked it up immediately, and oh my God was it good!

Mt Tam from Cowgirl Cremery

The one we had was the Mt Tam. So creamy. So tasty. So expensive! (The small round we had was $20.) But oh so good. So much so I was intrigued, as much by the name of the company as by the cheese. Here is what I found out about them…

The company was begun by 2 women in 1997 in a small coastal town in CA. I LOVE supporting small business and women-owned businesses even better. This artisan cheese is actually made in an old renovated barn–another thing I love to support–the reuse and repurposing of old buildings. For this handmade cheese, they buy organic milk from their neighbor. Yet one more thing I love–supporting America’s small farmers, not to mention how environmentally friendly it is to use local resources rather than trucking things from across the country, or worse, from another country.

local cow

You can read more about the Cowgirl Creamery and their philosophies regarding not only cheese, but also preserving rural life HERE. And even if you can’t buy Cowgirl Cheese where you live, I bet there’s a farmer’s market not too far away that sells artisan cheese made locally with the same loving care from local milk farmed by…you guessed it, local cowboys and cowgirls.


i have become what you always thought i was

I have a romance story published. Boy meets girl. Boy’s best friend has a crush on girl. Boy hides his feelings until they are thrown together into a deadly situation, then boy and girl give in to their feelings. One single night of sex ensues. Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy, but boy leaves the girl for the sake of his friend. Friend bows out. Boy and girl reunite with tears and chaste kisses and live happily ever after… or at least they shack up together in the next book.

Sounds like a romance to me. But I’ve seen reader reviews calling it “one sex scene away from being a naughty nooner”, and “hot but NOT a romance”.

Seriously? One sex scene in a 30,000 word story makes it “porn for women”? Apparently so. And so, dear readers, I have become what I’ve been wrongly accused of. A porn writer. I am now writing what amounts to porn with plot. Why fight it when I apparently can’t? And apparently I shouldn’t, based on sales.

I wrote and released, all with no prior promo, a 40,000 word erotica eBook. A RED hot menage with cowboys! EDUCATING ANSLEY went live on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and ARe late Tuesday night. By the end of today, Sunday, I will have sold 1,000 copies of a book that contains scenes that make even me blush.

To protect readers who actually do think my other books are romances, I’ve released Ansley under my new erotica imprint Cat Johnson RED just so everyone knows exactly what they’re getting, what to expect. And you should expect a lot more scorching hot, uncensored, boundary pushing erotica in the RED line.

To the readers who said my sensual romances are porn…I’ll show you porn! LOL I guess I’m just obstinate that way and you know what? I smiled all the way to the  top of  B&N’s Pubit and Erotica best seller lists.

life imitating art

Years ago I wrote a book, the idea for which wasn’t even mine. Here’s how it went way back then…

Me: I need an idea for another cowboy book.

The Cowboy: Write about a romance writer who asks a cowboy to help her write a book about cowboys.

Me: Haha. That’s not very original.

Fast forward to 8 hours later when I awoke in the morning sleep deprived but with 5 handwritten pages of plot ideas and even dialogue I’d scribbled in the dark on a yellow legal pad next to the bed because the ides wouldn’t let me sleep. That book was Unridden, the novel that launched the Studs in Spurs series which I just sold the 4th book for, and it was about…you guessed it…a NY romance writer who goes to find a cowboy (or 2) to help her with her romance novel about cowboys.

The plot went a little something like this. Quintessential New Yorker flies to Oklahoma for a romance convention and finds there’s a bull riding competition in town the same week so she takes the opportunity to do some research for her new cowboy book. Thereshe meets two bull riders who teach her a thing or two, and not just about the sport.

Now, let’s fast forward to a time in the more recent past. I’m paraphrasing the IM conversation here but you’ll get the gist…

Julie: We need to find a real authentic cowboy bar to go to while we’re in Austin TX for SxSW.

Me: You Google it. I’ll go ask some people I know on Twitter who are from Austin for a good bar.

Julie: OMG there’s a rodeo in town the same week we’re there! We have to go for research. I’m writing a rodeo book.

Me: *speechless as the plot of Unridden plays in my head*

So yeah, life is imitating art in a pretty freaky way and my fellow author and I will be heading to Rodeo Austin March 14th.

I should be used to this kind of stuff happening by now but I’m not. Not one bit. 2 things I totally made up and wrote into the plot of the next bull rider book Hooked, which I finished mid December, came true almost immediately after. By the time it releases months from now people will think I copied the actual events and wrote them after the fact ,when in fact it’s the exact opposite. What can I do about that perception? Not much.

Anyway, I leave for SxSW in less than 2 weeks–my brand new cowboy boots for the rodeo are ready to travel to Austin. The question is…am I?

I suppose you’ll never know because you know what they say–what happens at Rodeo Austin, stays at Rodeo Austin.

to each his (or her) own

What are you doing for Valentines Day? Romantic dinner? Flowers? Lingerie? Then you’re probably among the majority. I, however, rarely do what’s expected. I wanted something totally different for Valentines Day and I’m happy to say I got it.

I wanted to take a roadtrip from NY to NC to watch the professional bull rider I just started sponsoring compete in the NBR Finals. Guess what? I got my wish. The hubby and I made the decision Tuesday night and Friday morning, predawn, loaded SUV and all, we headed south and kept going until we hit Raleigh, NC and the Hunt Horse Center.

Did we stay at a 4 star hotel? Nope. I found one for $59 a night with free breakfast and WiFi. Did we eat dinner out at fancy restaurants? Nope. We  fell in love with the drive-in burger joint, Cook Out, across the street where they made the best damn burger, hush puppies, onion rings and shakes we’ve ever eaten so that we went there each night after the rodeo to eat. Did I dress up in nice lingerie? Nope. Didn’t even bring a dress. Jeans and cowboy boots were the uniform of the weekend, for both of us.

Did I have the best time of my life? Hell yeah! To each his (or her) own, I suppose.

Happy Valentines Day to everyone!


piggin’ strings–they’re not just for rodeos

I tend to think out of the box. It’s my job as a romance writer. Normal people see things as they are. I see things as I can remake them to suit my purposes. For instance, while other romance authors are spending tons of money, preaching to the choir by placing their bookcover in a print ad in a romance magazine, I spend my money sponsoring rodeo cowboys. I get to give back to the sport I’m writing about, and I’ve got 3 bull riders in 2 countries wearing my tag line and website on the sleeves of their riding shirts and passing out Let’s Buck stickers at rodeos, spreading the word to people who love the subject I write about, but may have never read a romance novel before. Thinking out of the box…

Anyway, I’ve recently discovered ropers. I’ve alway loved cowboys, and I specialize in bull riders in my books but while watching the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas last December (mainly because I’d sponsored Makin8.com’s trip there to broadcast from the event live–thinking out of the box…) I noticed the tie-down ropers. The ropers are hot all on their own, but they also come with some very interesting equipment… Not THAT kind, though I’m sure that is true too. I’m talking more about all the ropes and strings they use.

There’s the rope, of course, that they use to lasso the calf. Then there is that shorter, thinner string they hold in their mouths while roping (something about that is very sexy to me–perhaps I’m orally fixated.) That is the piggin’ string and it’s what they use to tie the calf’s feet together. And that’s when my wonderfully warped brain began to work. What else could you tie up with that string? Hmmm…

That’s how my newest release Texas Two-Step came to be about tie-down ropers, and their creative use of piggin’ strings with the women they love.

Enough said, you have to read it for yourself.

Let’s Buck–or rope, or string…


fresh from the garden…

…the famous Madison Square Garden in NYC, that is.

My life truly is a strange dichotomy at times. I’m just back from a weekend full of PBR–the NYC Invitational and the opening weekend of the 2011 season. For the first time, I brought my friends with me. You have to know the background to appreciate this. These are the people I attend Broadway shows with. People who have lunch with the mayor, are on a first name basis with celebrities and judges alike. The people who I go to high-priced fundraisers with…and I brought them to the bull rides, with interesting results.

They loved it!

No I don’t think they are going to be rabid fans, but they have come to enjoy and appreciate the sport, and perhaps now will stop teasing me for doing so.

I do have to say, the recent gorilla marketing of the PBR, particularly in the NY area, has brought the sport of bull riding to the masses and the city folks alike. It’s working too. I have never ever attended an event where every single ticket scalper that approached me outside the venue was looking to BUY tickets rather than sell them, which goes to prove, the bull riders and the toughest sport on dirt can hold their own in the toughest city on earth if they can sell out Madison Square Garden.

Let’s Buck!