What’s a gal like me doing living in a state like this? By that I mean, where I was born compared to Nevada, the two states are virtually opposite in climate and culture.
I was born in Oregon in the Willamette Valley where it rains most of the time. In fact, the natives called it “The Valley of Death” because the weather was so wet.
In 1963, a trip to Nevada showed me the opposite. I couldn’t believe how blue the sky was. The sun actually shined without overcast clouds. I knew right then Nevada was the place for me.
There are people who say the climate is too dry. Those people who need the green trees and grass think the ones that appreciate the brown hills and sagebrush have lost their minds.
All I can say is that it must be in my DNA.
A “change of life baby,” I grew up listening to tales of the early west. My father, Texas born, was especially prone to telling me about Annie Oakley, Will Rogers, Jesse James and his great-grandfather, Gordon C. Jennings, who was killed at the Alamo. As with most of the USA residents, my father never forgot the Alamo.
My great-grandfather was a Texas Ranger. He lived the life of the early West. He led his sons on cattle drives from the time they were small children. Later his daughter and her children traveled the Chisholm Trail with my grandfather.
The West, and especially the cowboy life, is in my blood and my upbringing.
After spending time in Nevada and Texas, I find life in Nevada isn’t too far off from Texas as much as it is from Oregon.
Ten years ago the opportunity arose to make my home in Nevada. I haven’t been disappointed.
Nevada is a rip-roaring western history, rodeo kind of state. Every town that is big enough to be called a town has its own rodeo community. Kids start out young in Pee-Wee Rodeo. All ages through Senior ProRodeo competitors participate. The circuit starts in June and completes with the National Rodeo Competition in Las Vegas in December.
It is nothing to see a cowboy in blue jeans and hat (and shirt, of course. Can’t have you imagining a bare-chested muscle-toned Romance Novel model) waiting outside the rodeo grounds alongside Highway 50 (The Lincoln Highway). His saddle may sit alongside the edge of the asphalt and his load of other trappings, including a bridle, may be slung over his shoulder. He’s waiting to hitch a ride.
Who doesn’t do a double take?
Whether he’s sold his horse or been riding a borrowed one, you know he’s either headed on to the next rodeo or giving up and going home. Broke.
Maybe his luck will be better next season?
Otherwise, I would not have seen my books published. I could have given up with the first rejection slip or the first recommendation by a publisher that I write nonfiction. I believe that the same stubbornness the cowboy has, that the pioneer women and men had, is what kept me going.
“Never give up!” It is a statement that is made at the beginning of the book and repeated throughout the pages whether verbally or by the character’s actions.
It is something every writer who aspires to be published should heed.
For me, because of that stubbornness, I found success after visiting Virginia City, Nevada. I finally “got it” about history when I saw tangible evidence of it there instead of decayed remains of historic buildings in my home state. The drier climate allowed the structures to remain and people who cared began to take care of them.
History became an inspiration to me instead of a drudge. The little girl who wore fringed cowgirl skirts, vests and a leather holster with a toy gun in it didn’t give up.
I wrote Mystery in Virginia City and spent 20 years trying to get it published.
“Make it factual and we’ll print it,” was the comment from several publishers.
“No,” was my answer.
“Make it a travelogue and we’ll take it,” another publisher said.
Finally, some true Nevada history buffs offered me a contract.
Since then, Nevada and its historic sites, as well as some of its people, have been subjects of my writing. Sometimes, I admit to factual writing, as a journalist. This led me into writing for local newspapers. Articles and photos with my byline have been printed or re-printed in nearly all of the northern Nevada and international magazines and newspapers.
Visit Mary Jean Kelso here: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Jean-Kelso/e/B001KCC2Z8
(Pictures Provided by Author)