As many of you know, I like to gather a bunch of visuals before I get down to the nitty-gritty of writing a story.
They help me keep on track and provide inspiration for my stories.
When I started fleshing out the characters for The Christmas Cowboy, I knew I wanted Tate Morgan to have dimples. That was the main thing. So I did an online search for guys under 30 with dimples.
That’s when this photo popped up:
Kellan Lutz and his super-cute dimples were just how I pictured Tate.
He had the strong, silent thing going on that Tate does when he’s brooding.
But there was also that charming smile (showing off those dimples). Yep, he’s the perfect Tate Morgan.
For Kenzie Beckett, Tate’s love interest, I needed a tall girl with dark hair and beautiful brown eyes.
Daniela Ruah was exactly how I envisioned Kenzie. Oddly enough, she plays Kensi Bly on NCIS Los Angeles.
I loved the light you can see in her eyes and the way her mouth quirks up at the corners, like she’s either keeping a secret or about to laugh, which is exactly what our character Kenzie does.
The first few months Tate sees Kenzie, she’s dressed in business suits with her hair up. All he knows is that the driven career woman has captured his interest.
It’s later he discovers she can let her hair down and have fun.
We meet Tate’s 90-year-old father Kent. For whatever reason, I kept picturing Mel Gibson as he looked in Forever Young, once his age caught up with him.
A good portion of the book takes place at Kenzie’s apartment. I found this floor plan that gave me a great visual to refer to anytime I wrote about the different rooms in the apartment.
And Tate’s home on the Morgan Ranch. (I’d really like to live here – such a gorgeous house!)
Kenzie works for a company named Dew and Tate teases her about the company name as well as her job as a corporate training.
Tate is a professional saddle-bronc rider. (I thought this was the coolest photo – love it!).
This is the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas where the National Finals Rodeo is held in December. It’s an important part of Tate and Kenzie’s story.
The Pendleton Round-Up is a key point in the story as well. This is one of the great entries in the parade.
And this is the statue outside the Round-Up grounds.
The last few rodeos we attended, I took a bunch of photos, particularly of the saddle bronc riders.
Studying the photos…
And making notes of their rides…
Helped me better write about what Tate does for a living.
I call this one ‘Nine-Seconds’ because this cowboy made his ride but the pick-up men weren’t quite there yet.
All that research… it’s a real hardship, I tell you.
For more photos relating to Tate and Kenzie’s story, check out their board on Pinterest.