Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch
Inspiration for continuity miniseries ideas can come from anywhere, and as the editor who creates the Love Inspired continuities, I’m always searching for unique concepts that will appeal to our readers. For this particular series, I chose to spin off from last year’s Lone Star Cowboy League. This one stands alone (though there is one Easter egg reference that fans of the previous continuity will hopefully find and love), but is still set in Texas and revolves around a fictional service organization of and for area ranchers. But the main project of this branch of the Lone Star Cowboy League (in the Waco area) is a boys ranch.
I came across an article about a ranch for troubled adopted children, and the idea for the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch was born. Our readers love stories set on ranches, and children are a core element in Love Inspired books. A working residential ranch for troubled boys run by the Lone Star Cowboy League was the perfect setting for these six stories that each involve children. I even used a real ranch—the West Texas Boys Ranch —as the basis for certain aspects of our fictional boys ranch. But I was most fortunate to be blessed with authors who—unbeknownst to me when we started—have personal experience with fostering, adoption, troubled kids, animal therapy and more. I couldn’t have found more perfect authors to bring these stories and characters to life if I’d tried. Five of them share their personal stories and connections here. I hope you pick up all six books in the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch series (books 1 and 2 are available now!) and fall in love with the children, ranchers and other residents of McLennan County, Texas. —Shana Asaro, Love Inspired Associate Editor
From Brenda Minton, author of THE RANCHER’S TEXAS MATCH (October 2016):
I was thrilled to be asked to work on the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch continuity for Love Inspired. Not only is this a great series, but a subject close to my heart. In the first years of our marriage, my husband and I worked as foster parents to troubled teens. Twenty-five years later, we are currently fostering five children. We’re also in ministry, and our church focuses on reaching the children who live in the community.
Children are important. I’ve heard they are the future, but the truth is they’re the present. By reaching out, we can make a difference not only in their lives but also in the lives they themselves touch every day, right now.
It’s very easy to make excuses for why we don’t help. What my family has learned is that if we shed the excuses and make room in our hearts and homes, the blessings far outweigh the obstacles.
I hope that readers will be touched by this series, by the reality that across the country there are children needing love and needing homes. Even if we can’t always provide those homes, if we can open our hearts and touch lives, we can make a difference.
From Jessica Keller, author of THE RANGER’S TEXAS PROPOSAL (November 2016):
I’ll admit it. When my editor called me with the opportunity to write The Ranger’s Texas Proposal, I was intimidated. It was a good fit for me because I have the combined experience of eleven years working in the field of municipal law enforcement and having directed the summer camp program for the largest residential child-care facility in the United States—so large it’s known as the Child City. But I was terrified—because I’m so passionate about both law enforcement and childhood residential care facilities, I wanted to get them right. I wanted my love for both things to transfer onto the page and didn’t want to let either cause down.
However, Ranger Heath Grayson won my heart the instant I began writing The Ranger’s Texas Proposal, and the boys at the boys ranch felt so real to me. My fear melted away, and I suddenly felt an urgency to tell their stories and make sure everyone loved them and valued them, too. With my dual backgrounds, these characters were very real to me, and I had a responsibility to tell their stories with the authenticity my experiences have afforded me. I hope you love Heath and Josie and the boys at the ranch as much as I do!
From Lee Tobin McClain, author of THE NANNY’S TEXAS CHRISTMAS (December 2016):
Writing about a ranch for troubled kids came naturally to me due to a couple of life experiences. Years ago I worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids in foster care, and one boy in particular stayed in my memory because he so loved the parents who’d neglected him and who ultimately couldn’t provide him with a safe home or the care he needed. He had such trouble in his life, but he was still just a kid—cute and mischievous and lovable. His resilient, fun-loving spirit helped me develop several of the boys ranch characters.
The other influence came through my daughter, who joined our family through adoption. When she was ten, I was able to take her back to China to visit the orphanage where she spent her first year. We brought candy and gifts and spoke with many of the children who didn’t get adopted, learning about their lives, hopes and dreams. My heart broke for these kids, many with special needs, who were spending their childhood without families through no fault of their own. Some of my ideas for the boys ranch came from reflecting on those energetic, optimistic children and the caregivers who tried so hard to give them a home and a sense of belonging.
From Margaret Daley, author of THE COWBOY’S TEXAS FAMILY (January 2017):
As a middle grade and high school teacher for twenty-seven years, I’ve dealt with students who have struggled and had trouble. Some lived in foster homes or had little support from their parents. Others had emotional and learning issues. I’ve used my experiences with students to write about some tough issues facing children and teens, from drug abuse, gangs, peer pressure and bullying to human trafficking that targets teens. My writing, especially for the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch series, reflects my love of working with children and teens, especially ones who have problems and need an ally in dealing with them.
From Deb Kastner, author of THE DOCTOR’S TEXAS BABY (February 2017):
I was thrilled to be selected to be a part of the Lone Star Cowboy League: Boys Ranch continuity, and especially to write the veterinarian hero, because I’ve seen firsthand how children bonding with animals works therapeutically. My sister owns an animal sanctuary called Happy Haven Farm and Sanctuary. One of her programs is helping children who may have trouble socializing or with trust issues to come out of their shells.
The Liberty Horse program provides the opportunity for children to spend time one-on-one with their Equine Ambassadors, taking part in a variety of activities, from grooming and socializing to an activity course and even riding. The goal, however, is not to “learn to ride” but to experience a giving and trusting relationship built on mutual respect and communication. By using the Equine Ambassadors as a sort of mirror of the soul, growth and healing is able to flourish without the restraint of feeling judged or looked down upon. A horse has no preconceived notion of who you should be; they only seek to find comfort, safety and trust in their human partner.
Animals really can make a difference in the lives of troubled children, and it was my very great honor and pleasure to participate in this wonderful miniseries.
Do you have any personal experiences like the ones our authors have discussed above? Is there a boys ranch in your area or some similar organization doing great things for kids in need? Feel free to share your stories in the comments!