by Leigh Podgorski Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Readers' Favorite Book Award Winner Bronze 2018.
Contemporary Western Love Story about a bull riding rancher and his deceased best buddy's Thai immigrant mail order bride. As she discovers the power of freedom, he discovers he's lost his heart.
When Weston Beaudurant’s buddy, rodeo clown Cody Goode is killed in a rodeo accident -- gored by the maniacal bull Baby Face that Weston is riding, Weston is consumed with guilt. The day after the accident, while going through Cod’s papers, lawyer Wynona Vasquez discovers that he had been secretly engaged to a Thai immigrant who is arriving by train that evening.
Elected by unanimous decision to be the welcoming committee, Weston arrives at the train station prepared for anything but the lovely forlorn creature he finds waiting in the rain. Though appearing waif-like, Song Phan-Rang is anything but fragile. Her mettle quickly rises to the surface in her determination to remain in Y-oh-ming.
Forced together by their circumstances, Weston and Song are explosive. Used to solitude, Weston is driven crazy by the obliging Song. But as Song shows her prowess not only as a housekeeper and cook, but as a rider and rancher as well, Weston discovers that against his best efforts (and damned if he'll ever admit it) -- he's falling in love.
By the time they bedded the horses at the corral, Song was shivering uncontrollably. The last half mile walk to the ranch house felt more like ten. He’d wrapped her in some blankets from the bunk house, but nothing was penetrating; she was chilled to the bone.
At the Snowy Moon ranch house, Weston helped her inside to the Great Room, settling her on the long leather couch. He laid a fire, and once lit, its warmth filled the room. He gathered the throw blankets that were tossed about the room and towels from the side bathroom.
“We have to get you out of your wet clothes,” he told her. Kneeling before her, he gently removed the blankets and his sheepskin jacket . She was still shivering so hard her teeth were chattering.
“I’m okay, Weston.”
“Okay, huh?” He slipped her sweatshirt off over her head. “Maybe okay for a penguin.” She smiled, though her smile jumped crookedly with the clattering of her teeth. “That was pretty crazy. What you did.”
“During the war, My Uncle Thieu lost everything in Vietnam. He had to sell his farm and move away. Thieu, my grandmother Hai Yen. He made some money on that sale, but did not make what it was worth because the people who bought his farm knew they could cheat him. When he got to Thailand, everybody had to work very hard to build everything up again. But especially Hai Yen because Thieu always told her it was her fault they had to leave.”
Weston took hold of her delicate hands, grasping them between his own and gently rubbing them to warm them. “Why?”
“My mother was nguoi My con gai, half white; she was the daughter of Hai Yen and an American soldier.”
“What did that have to do with having to leave?”
“Nothing. It was the war that drove them out. But Thieu used the birth of my mother to demean and shame my grandmother. He was a very shrewd man. Because of her shame, my grandmother could not work hard enough for Thieu.”
“Did you work, too?”
“Oh, yes. From the time I was very small. Thieu taught me everything about farming. This is where I learned, for example, that each thing, every animal is very, very precious.”
Weston picked up a towel and began drying her hair. “You’re still shivering.”
“It is nothing. It will stop soon.”
He rose, walked to the bar and poured some Turkey 101. He brought the glass back and handed it to her. “Remember, sip slowly.”
She took the glass and sipped. “It is much better the second time.”
“Don’t you go gettin’ too used to that stuff.” He sat back down next to her. “That soldier…your…grandfather….he was from here.”
“That was the name I saw. Gustafson. Homer Gustafson.”
Suddenly, her eyes filled with tears. “I do not know…if he even is still alive…my grandmother is no longer living….and if he is…if he would have any desire to see me…”
“You’re trembling. Your clothes are soaked.” He reached for her flannel shirt to unbutton it, then, stopped himself, realizing what he was about to do. “I guess you can take care of ...”
Suddenly, he stopped. Her eyes, her enchanting almond-shaped eyes now glistening with tears held his. His hand rested lightly on the front of her flannel shirt, lying softly between her small firm rounded breasts. His desire for her, a desire he had pushed away time and again rose with the power of the wild horses he trained. “Song…” He whispered her name, his voice ragged with longing.
She reached for him, her cool elegant fingers running across his face and up into his dark hair.
He could hold back no longer. He pulled her towards him, kissing her soft pliant lips, their kiss building, their arms wrapping around each other until they tumbled backwards onto the sofa.
Song cried out softly and the hunger and the want in her cry fueled his desire for her to a fevered pitch. He kissed her again, more deeply, as if he would fill himself with her, as if he would fill all the months of loneliness, all the months he had gone without her with just one kiss.
He reached for the buttons again, she helping him, as eager as he to shed what lay between them, both working with a rising urgency until they lay together on the sofa before the roaring fire encircled in each other’s arms, finally, in each other’s arms where they would stay the night through as the wind continued to moan and thrash and the rain and hail continued to drum and they continued to make love in perfect syncopation with both the storm outside and the newly awakened storms within them.
For a limited time, you can get the Tales From the Big Country Anthology for only 99cents!! Tales from the Big Country is a wild west thrill ride with 13 full length Western stories brought to you by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors!
Leigh Podgorski’s stage plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York City and regionally. She had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for her one-act play Windstorm, which was presented as part of the annual festival CelebrateWomen that Leigh also co-produced. We Are Still Here, the story of Cahuilla Indian elder Katherine Siva Saubel, was premiered at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum as part of CelebrateWomen 2000. The play has been presented throughout Southern California at college campuses, Universities, and Indian Reservations and Casinos.
In addition to her plays, Leigh has penned several original award-winning screenplays and several of her monologues have been published through Meriwether Publishing, Ltd..
Leigh produced her first documentary, We Are Still Here, based on the play in 2007, which she also wrote and directed. The film has screened at the. American Indian Film Festival, Sherman Indian Film Festival, Cal State San Marcos Native American Film Festival, and the Talking Stick Film Festival.
FUN FACTS: The Creation of WESTERN SONG by LEIGH PODGORSKI
1. Western Song was first created as a ten minute play. My husband, actor/director Dave Florek, belonged to The InterAct Theatre Company and I was a member of their playwriting group. They produced a delightful series called The Last Gasp, which had been presented to their playwrights as a writing challenge: write a ten minute play that takes place in the judge’s chambers right before the couple’s divorce decree is decided.
2. We had a lovely friend, let’s call him Bob, who was very shy. We used to joke: “The only way Bob will ever get married is by a mail-order bride.” This was soon after the Vietnam War. There were many mail order brides coming across the seas from Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Thus, a storyline, a few decades later, was born. My handsome husband played Weston, and a beautiful young actress named Janice Chow played Song. That little eight minute play was a big hit!
3. Friend Stephen Metcalfe, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist read that eight page play and said, “This has to be a full-length screenplay.”
With Stephen’s help as well as a wonderful screenwriting class with an inspiring teacher, I developed Western Song into a full-length screenplay. Again with Stephen’s help, I was able to get the screenplay around to some big fish including Clint Eastwood at Mariposa and Kevin Costner.
4. Alas—getting it there and getting it done are two very different things. Western Song won a number of screenwriting awards and placements—all very lovely, all in the end non-preventative of the proverbial collecting dust on the shelf.
5. A Very Favorite Memory: Another dear friend Don Toner who runs a theatre in Austin, arranged a reading of the screenplay. After the reading, a delightful Mom approached me with her ten year old son. “He wanted to shake the hand of the writer,” she told me. He looked up at me with his charming bespectacled face and thrust out his hand.
6. We were able to get a director/producer interested in the script. Of course the first thing was my talented husband for whom the script had been written would be out. He was a working actor, but he wasn’t a movie star. Second: Asian was out. Black was in. Of course, never mind that the entire core of the script depended on Song being Asian.
7. We never heard from Mr. Hot Shot again. But here’s a very important point, a diamond in the rough, a gem amongst bewilderment and even dismay. This same guy had brought up what turned out to be one of the most salient points of Western Song the novel. Prejudice. When I penned the screenplay, I had made Wild River a charming small town, but I’d forgotten humanity. That humanity is made up of the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I began writing the novel, this man’s apt critique echoed in my head. As hard as it is to listen to our critics, especially the unctuous ones who get everything else so wrong, it is so important to keep our hearts protected but open. You never know what you will reap blowing in the wind.
8. In 2010, after having turned from playwriting to screenwriting, I turned to novels. There is so much more freedom. Both plays and screenplays require very strict form. Novels can be as short as 25,000 words, known more as a novella, or as long as 125,000, known as epics. Of course the writer needs to keep in mind marketing and publishing, but she always has the option of self-publishing. You can be a one-man or woman band if you must.
9. Having said that—I was a one-woman band for my first five novels. Western Song was my last hurrah. Writing, publishing, marketing are exhausting. I sent Western Song out in search of agent or publisher. I had some interest re agents, even did preliminary re-writes for a few, but eventually those contacts fell through. As we entered the New Year, I was ready to throw in the towel. I had retired early from my professorship at a community college to be able to write full time, but I was burned out. And then, in early January, I opened my lap top to check my mail. My husband sat at the other end of the couch. I spoke in a low voice: “Dave? I think I just got an offer on Western Song.”
10. Of course it was an offer. And so now, thanks to Solstice Publishing Western Song is on its way. And in 2017, I have had three short stories published in Solstice anthologies and one standalone. And here comes 2018, and yeah, I’ve got plans.
11. Takeaway: Never give up your dreams. Whatever they may be. Dare to dream. Dare to believe your dreams will come true.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!