How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls

Cowgirls are beautiful; there is nothing more glamorous than a cowgirl.

Red -- you can buy this as a  greeting card here:

Red — you can buy this as a greeting card here:

Buy this print, Red as a greeting card for $2.80 by clicking here.

Cowboy with RopeYou can buy this photo as a greeting card for $2.80 here:

Cowboy with Rope
You can buy this photo as a greeting card for $2.80 here:

Buy this print, Cowboy with Rope at my Red Bubble shop for $2.80. Click here.

Hallmark doesn’t make cowboy cards like this: authentic and real, straight from the world’s largest outdoor rodeo — Cheyenne Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Burn through the Fear

Book Expo America is in New York — right now.  So you can attend the event by clicking on the link above. Or just hang out here at the memomuse ranch and watch it live.

Someday I want to be at BEA as a featured author.  I am finding that talk is cheap and writing is expensive (not in dollars, but in dedication).  As a writer, it’s all great to have wonderful ideas and enthusiasm for the subject you write about, but unless you sit your ass in the chair and write, it’s just talk.

So, in the next couple of months, I have three book projects I am actively working on.  I am really excited about the opportunities that have manifested.  It should be noted, that I have worked my tail off in the last three years to make things happen.  I have a New York agent interested in reading a manuscript and book proposal I wrote.  I sent her an official query letter and she requested the full book proposal and a full manuscript.  She is from a reputable literary agency in New York.  I have to keep it under wraps until I know more.  She is reviewing the proposal, or at least it’s been delivered to her email inbox and uploaded to her Kindle.  Just the fact that a New York agent has my words on her office Kindle makes me giddy.

“View” © Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved Blue Ridge Mountains off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

I am finding that the more I conquer my fears and go outside my comfort zone, the rewards are so rich. (Just for the record, my comfort zone lately has been as a stay-at-home mom with a two year old.  Most of the time, I have not showered, in sweatpants, and hair in a messy updo — and frantically trying to write between toddler meltdowns and naps).

Recently, I arranged to interview some PBR cowboys at an event in Asheville, North Carolina.  I had the green light for the interviews and the opportunity to interview JB Mauney (ranked 5th in the world), Austin Meier (ranked 8th in the world), and whoever else I could muster up the courage to talk to.  The thing is — I almost didn’t go.  I was so insecure about going.  I had a great deal of anxiety before I started the interviews.  But, as rodeo is one of my passions and the fact that cowboys can conquer their fears and get on a wild animal, I told myself I had to conquer my fear and get er’ done.  As I drove out to Asheville, I felt I burned off the anxiety and fear.  I thoroughly did my research and I was prepared.  All I had to do was check in with the public relations person and get the interviews done.

© Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved — A view from the Blue Ridge Parkway of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.

While I waited outside the Western Agriculture Center in Fletcher, NC, I ended up talking to a rodeo mom.  She told me  a delightful story of how her son and his best friend made a promise to each other at ten years old in upstate New York, that they would be bull riders, after watching the movie, 8 Seconds.  They both moved to North Carolina to study under rodeo icon, Jerome Davis.


Journal signing from “The Original Journal Project” (This is one of my book projects — you can click on the quote to go to the Facebook page)  “2000 pounds of pure adrenaline between your legs. 8 seconds of pure hell but we do it cuz we love it. Bull riders only.” – Dan

By going with the flow, I found the lead for my story about bull riding in North Carolina (which is the article I am working on).  I let go of the nerves and enjoyed the rodeo Friday night, taking a gazillion photos.  It could be said that I actually watch the rodeo through my camera lens.  I am not kidding.

© Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved — PBR bull riding in Asheville, NC
JB Mauney is in the foreground, as he helped out with the event, but did not ride.

Then I did my interviews on Saturday after spending the day on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I was on a solo memomuse trip and my husband and son stayed at home.  My husband was not able to make the trip because he had an important meeting he had to attend on Friday.  Getting that large dose of nature on the Parkway inspired me to trust my instincts and passion.  I do believe that I have a gift to write and I need to conquer my fears.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I tell you what — once I overcame that fear, it was magic. I interviewed Ben Jones (ranked 25th in the world), Aussie cowboy who is famous for his celebratory dance after he has a successful ride.  He is a character.  He told me he has broken both legs, both arms, had reconstructive surgery on his face, is missing more than a couple teeth, and had his lungs pierced three times.  He’s 33 and can’t see himself doing anything else.  He truly loves what he does.  There is something to be said for living your dreams.

The public relations person had to politely escort me out of the cowboy ready area, as I was just warming up and was ready to talk to every cowboy I could interview!   I find bull riding and rodeo to be a fascinating sport.  I love the fact that these cowboys continue to ride even after facing injuries that would make people run in the other direction.  They love what they do.  I can relate to that.

On another note — a photo of mine was on a New York Times writer, Mark Allen’s website. He also writes for the Huffington Post and is a regular contributor to NPR’s, All Things Considered.  He was so gracious about taking the photo down and uploading a photo with a watermark.  And he told me that my photos are amazing.  Now, that is a silver lining on the photo piracy I have been dealing with.  Read this post, Buck like Bodacious. if you want to know about my photo piracy nightmare.  I have seen been more cautious on what I put on the internet, in relation to my photos.  But I do believe in serendipity and the way the universe tell you something.  I think a book of photo of cowboys will be coming out soon.  The best compliment though, is when a cowboy appreciates the photo I take of him.

That happened ironically this weekend.  I interviewed Kasey Hayes (ranked 34th in the world) this weekend and I was telling him about an intimate photo I took of him and JB at the 2009 Jerome Davis PBR Invitational.  He said he saw it on the internet (it was one of the photos that was pirated and there was no watermark on it) and said he liked it.  I told him I’d send him a copy.  So I googled JB Mauney and Kasey Hayes and found the photo on Mark Allen’s website, the New York Times and the Huffington Post writer I mentioned before.

So, having the cowboy photographed in the photo compliment it was awesome, and then to have a writer for the New York Times sing it praises, was nice.  That is why I do what I do — I believe in art and expression.  And I believe it should be shared, respectfully (please think about every time you share a photo that is not yours and credit the artist and ask their permission if you can post it).

The best part of the night was seeing my favorite bull, Chicken on a Chain, break the bull rope.  Chicken is retiring this year.  I believe, but can not say 100%, that Asheville was his last professional ride.

JB Mauney gets a hand from fellow rider, Kasey Hayes at the 2009 Jerome Davis PBR Invitational in Archdale, NC
© Megan Oteri ~ All Rights Reserved

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What is something you did that you thought you could not do?