Guest Post,  Writing in General

How My Life As A Rodeo Queen Affected My Fiction Writing

Today’s guest post comes from Nicole M. Miller. As her critique partner, I can tell you, it won’t be long before you’ll be reading Nicole’s World War II era stories with a strong horse element. They’re right up my alley! Welcome, Nicole!



You hear it all the time, whether you’re a writer or not. “Write what you know.” Well, what if “what you know” isn’t really what you want to write about?

My life has been dominated, shaped and shifted by my love of horses. I begged and begged for a pony as a little girl, and my father (in effort to keep his oldest daughter’s mind away from boys) indulged me. 

My senior year in high school and my freshman year of college, I entered a new realm of the horse world—rodeo queening. This was a world of drama, hairspray and 16-hour lipstick. 

It was around this time of my life that I also began getting more serious about my writing. I’d been writing “horse” stories since I was twelve and as a more mature 19-year-old, I knew it was time to buckle down and crank out that bestseller. (Yes, I laugh about this now.) 

But I didn’t want to write about rodeo queens. Or my experiences training horses or showing in 4H…I loved horses and history, and I longed to merge the two. So how do you marry two seemingly unlike things?

  • I let research guide me.  I discovered amazing stories—things no one could possibly make up—that would shape my story ideas to this day. You have to dig deep and immerse yourself into whatever arena or time period you want to write about. Even if it is something you “know.”
  • I relied on beta readers to help me find a balance. When you know a lot about a subject, sometimes jargon will slip in without you even realizing. So I made sure to find readers who had little to no horse knowledge and give me their feedback.
  • I took what I learned as a “queen” and applied it. Promotion is the main purpose of a rodeo queen. As a writer, you must promote yourself and your product, and you must do it tactfully. Learn how to interview well, smile always and be genuine in everything you do.
  • I brand myself as the “horse girl.” My business cards, my website, my one-sheet…everything has horses on it. At conferences, I wear a little bit of cowgirl bling to suit my personal style but I leave the cowboy hat, crown and boots at home. No need to overwhelm people. 🙂
  • I’m still learning. Still experimenting. But I’m happiest when I’m writing about the two things I love most—horses and history. I’ll keep doing what I love.

What do you love so much you can’t help but write about?


Learn more about Nicole and her work at While you’re on her blog, read what happened when my horse decided he was thirsty in Wednesday’s post for Nicole’s First Horse Horror Story.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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  • Sandra Ardoin

    Thanks Heidi and Edwina! So glad to be able to post this, Nicole!

    Not every high schooler gets to have the experience you did and be able to use it later in such an enjoyable way!

    How to answer your question…? Hmmm. From one “horse girl” to another, that’s one reason I prefer the 19th century for my time period. No. Cars. I also find I tend to sneak in a few references to gardens, flowers, or gardening.

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