Thursday, December 11, 2008
It should be noted that Trevor competes in timed events while one of Ty Murray's events was bull-riding which is much harder on a cowboy's body, though it takes nothing away from Trevor's feat. Not only did he win All-Around Cowboy he did it with style, winning the round in Tie-down roping with a 7.7 time to beat out young Tuf Cooper. Trevor also competes in Team Roping where he's been struggling a little and steer roping where the finals are held seperately.
If all of this isn't enough, with the Tie-down roping win, Trevor also surpassed Joe Beaver's record for the highest career earnings and, as of today, now leads with $3,050,194. That $3 million mark is a big milestone for a rodeo cowboy. Unlike other professional sports, cowboys don't get paid a salary, they have a chance to earn only if they compete and the purse money, though increasing, is still small in comparison to what athletes in other professional sports earn. Particularly considering competitors have to shoulder all their expenses--food, lodging, transportation and entry fees--yes they have to pay to play. And they also have to pay for all the expenses for their horses (in timed events) as well. So while $3 million is significant, once you subtract all the expenses, including taxes, and spread it over Trevor's twelve year career and, while still impressive, it by no means constitutes wealthy. And Trevor, like all rodeo cowboys, works hard for his money--training, traveling and competing. So hats off to Trevor Brazile--2008 All-Around Cowboy--Well done!
You can find the National Finals Rodeo on ESPN2, usually late in the evening so don't forget to set the DVR.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I admit I’m primarily a saddle bronc fan, mainly because when a rider does it right, it’s a graceful dance with the horse, both in sync with each other but with the cowboy clearly in command. Bareback riding, while just as exciting, doesn’t look nearly so elegant. In fact, a bareback rider who is doing it right reminds me of a rag doll being shaken by an angry child—limp and bouncing around. And it looks painful—like the stuffing is going to be knocked out of the cowboy with each buck of that horse. That’s the reason most bareback riders wear a neck brace-- to absorb the impact of all that jostling. Few, however, wear a helmet and given that they ride with their upper bodies stretched out flat along the back of the horse, having your head bumping against a helmet for eight seconds no doubt doesn’t appeal.
Tomorrow I’ll look at Trevor Brazile, whose winnings last night clinched the All-around title for him—his sixth!
You can catch the NFR on ESPN2—check your local listing for times. Also, for all the standings, pictures and news about the NFR, you can check out ProRodeo.com
Monday, December 8, 2008
My sisters competed in barrel racing and they spent many hours training our palomino Dusty (my heroine in Re-Ride at the Rodeo is named in Dusty’s memory) to take those turns. The horse is the real star of barrel racing, even though the rider has a lot to do with the success. Horses that are fast, intelligent, trainable and with a desire to please can make good barrel racers. And when you find one with that combination of qualities you can pay upwards of $60,000 for the privilege of ownership.
Jill Moody won the event at the NFR’s first round with a time of 14:02 on her horse, Dolly. But each day the times seem to get faster. Cassie Mosely won with a 13.85 in round 2, Lindsey Sears—the number one in the world by almost $50K in earnings--won round 3 with a time of 13.91 and Britteny Pozzi-Pharr, number 2 in the world, won round 4 with a time of 13.84.
It’s a joy to watch the combination of skill between rider and horse bring it on home.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Billy Etbauer is just about every saddle bronc riders role model. By all accounts a modest man, Billy has been to twenty National Finals Rodeos since he became a professional saddle bronc rider twenty years ago. He’s won the NFR champion title five times and for 2008, he’s well positioned to do it again given he is only $5000 off the current leader, Cody Wright.
The 5’5”,140 lb., Oklahoma bronc rider has three children. His brothers, Robert and Dan, are also rodeo cowboys. In fact, Robert, who no longer competes, will be a pick-up man for the first time at the rodeo, an honored spot voted on by rodeo cowboys.
Today, the first day of the NFR, Billy came in second with a score of 85.5--he's still in the hunt. And Bryce Miller came in first with a score of 89 and a ride that was classic saddle bronc riding--pure poetry in motion. Check it out on ESPN at midnight.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The crowd roars, the horses whinny and the cowboys whoop! It's the beginning of the NFR, National Finals Rodeo. From December 4th until December 13th Las Vegas Nevada is cowboy city. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is celebrating its 50th anniversary with ten days of rodeoing, 120 qualifiying cowboys, and a total purse of $5.62 million.
There will be the timed events of team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing where rider and horse compete against the clock and the rough stock events of bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. Most people who follow rodeo have a favorite event. Mine is saddle bronc riding.
Saddle bronc riding is considered the "classic" rodeo event. Mainly because the skills needed to stay on a saddled bucking bronc are rooted in the work of the ranch cowboy who had to break new horses. It takes a lot to master saddle bronc riding because unlike bareback and bull riding it takes more than physical strength, it takes skill.
First and foremost the rider must mark out right from the opening of the chute or they will be disqualified. When a cowboy marks out his feet start at the horses should and swing back to the skirt of the saddle in a fluid motion. He continues that motion as he rides. One hand holds the hack rein and the other hand must not touch any part of the horse. How well the cowboy keeps his seat and how well he moves with the horse are factors in his half of the total score of the ride. The other half of the score is dependent on how well the horse bucks—height, vigor, motion.
Thirty-two year old Utah cowboy, Cody Wright, is going into the National Finals Rodeo as the saddle bronc earnings leader over Bill Etbauer, five time NFR champ. Having joined the PRCA in 1998 and with career winnings topping $1 million this year, this will be Cody's sixth National Finals Rodeo. I started following Cody's career in 2005 admiring the 5'8", 145lb. cowboy's grit after breaking his leg over fourth of July. The father of four boys, he is the eldest of seven brothers, all of whom are saddle bronc riders except the youngest.
Tomorrow I'll profile forty-five year old Billy Etbauer, the number two man going into the saddle bronc competition. Who said rodeo is a young man's sport?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Payson, Arizona claims it’s the oldest continuous rodeo (1884). But when the game Trivial Pursuits upheld Prescott Arizona’s documented claim as the oldest organized rodeo (1888) it was Pecos, Texas that threatened to sue based on its documented eye-witness accounts of a rodeo that took place there in 1883. However, all three may be have lost out by about fourteen or so years, according to the New York Times, since it appears Deer Trail, Colorado may hold the bragging rights as they held their event in 1869 when an Englishman, Emilinie Gardenshire, successfully rode a horse named Montana Blizzard and took home a new set of clothes as his reward. Rodeo is still going strong in big cities and small towns not only out west but throughout the United States. My own eastern town throws a rodeo the first weekend of June every year. Even New York City hosts an annual rodeo at Madison Square Garden.
In my new book, Re-ride at the Rodeo, from The Wild Rose Press, part of the Wayback, Texas, series, rodeo is the element that both brings the couple together and threatens to tear them apart. You see, the hero, Clay Tanner is a saddle bronc rider looking to make some money and have a good time. He spies a pretty little blonde who looks like she could use some fun. Trouble is she turns him down. Dusty Morgan wants nothing to do with rodeo riders. Her late father rode broncs and he was never there for her—until he learned he was going to die. Now she’s looking for happily ever after and despite her attraction to the strapping cowboy, she’s not interested in a hit and run with a footloose rodeo man. But Clay's betting he'll get a re-ride and walk away with more than a new pair of clothes. You can purchase Re-ride at the Rodeo at The Wild Rose Press.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Seems since Halloween is coming up, it's a good time to talk about superstitions. Like anyone else, cowboys have their superstitions, particularly rodeo cowboys. And those are the kind of cowboys you'll find hanging about in Wayback, Texas looking for a Re-ride at the Rodeo, the name of my new book from The Wild Rose Press. Here's just a few superstitions and feel free to add some of your own.
-Never put your hat on a bed or you'll have bad luck. Now they don't say whether that bad luck extends to the lady whose bed you've just set your hat on!
-A saddle bronc rider always puts the right foot into the stirrup first.
-Never kick a paper cup in a rodeo arena; it could spook the horses nearby
-For as many steps as you take wearing only one boot, you will have that many bad days to come.
-It's bad luck to put your left boot first
-Never compete with change in your pocket, that might be all you'll win
-If a cowboy wears his boots while his baby is born, it will be a boy.
-Eating a hot dog before you compete is good luck
-In winter, if you sprinkle red pepper in your boots it will keep you warm
-Entering the north end of an arena is bad luck
-If you put your boots on the table, you'll get into an argument. (Of course you will, your gal is going to tan your hide for a stunt like that!)
Good things for a cowboy to remember, especially if you're planning on rodeoing. And since a lot of supersitions revolve around the boots, let me add one more just for Clay, the hero of Re-ride at the Rodeo, remember whose bed your boots are under. Only kidding!:)
You can purchase Re-ride at the Rodeo for $3 at The Wild Rose Press and find out how Clay's luck holds out with a very little firebrand called Dusty.
Monday, October 6, 2008
This political season there’s be a lot of talk about mavericks, a term that’s come to mean someone who is a rebel or outlaw or, according to Trivia Library, someone who couldn’t be trusted to remain one of his group. Some of you may remember the television series by that name with James Garner as one of the Maverick brothers. But did you know that it is Samuel Augustus Maverick that we have to thank for the term?
Maverick, by this time a rancher, refused to brand his cattle saying, according to Wikpedia, that he didn’t wish to inflict pain. Others suspected that not branding cattle allowed him to claim all unbranded cattle as his own. However, Terrillita Maverick, now 82 and a resident of San Antonia told the New York Times Sunday that it was because he was more interested in land than the livestock on it. Regardless of the reason, the term maverick in the 1800s came to mean any steer that didn’t bear a brand.
According to the New York Times article, Terrillita Maverick is quite miffed at how the term is being bandied about and used in the political arena. Perhaps it’s because Samuel Augustus Maverick helped organize the Democratic Party in Texas after the Civil War or that a later generation Maverick was labeled a communist by the opposition when he ran for congress during Roosevelt’s time or that a recent Maverick was a civil libertarian and lawyer who took up the cause of those scorned by society, his last column at his death attacking the coming war in Iraq. Or that she herself is part of the board of the local American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
Politics aside, it is fascinating to note that the Mavericks of Texas still appear to be Mavericks in name and in deed.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
And there are two contests going when you get your e-copy of Re-ride at the Rodeo:
Sony E-Reader Contest from The Wild Rose Press
I love my Sony E-Reader! I can have up to 300 books and my favorite tunes all in one slim, compact device. No books to find homes for when I’ve finished reading them. I can bookmark pages, never lose my place when I’m reading and can change the type to large (so no one knows I need glasses—LOL) You'll have a chance to enter when you buy a copy of Re-Ride at the Rodeo. Once you make your purchase, just e-mail a copy of your order number, the title purchased and the date purchased to:
sonyreader@the wildrosepress.com and you’ll be entered! The contest runs until December 15, 2008. More information is on the purchase page of Re-Ride at the Rodeo
Re-Ride at the Rodeo Contest-$15 gift certificate
After reading Re-ride at the Rodeo, all you have to do is send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with contest in the subject line and tell me if you think Jesse should have told the truth to Dusty about what he and Clay did. He said it was in her interest to know—but was it?
Anybody who sends an answer by November 30th will be entered into a drawing for a $15 Amazon gift certificate! I’ll draw the winner at the end of November, right in time for the holidays.
One new story to read, two chances to win!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
And don't forget that Re-Ride at the Rodeo comes out October 3rd! In Re-Ride at the Rodeo, Clay Tanner is a saddle bronc rider when he’s not tending to his ranch and Dusty Morgan staffs the beer concession for the Blue Bug Saloon when she’s not looking for a teaching job. Despite her work, Dusty has an aversion to all things rodeo, given her upbringing, and to rodeo riders in particular. Clay’s just looking for a good time and can’t imagine any woman turning him down, especially not the tempting little blonde spitfire. But Clay shouldn’t ask for a re-ride unless he’s prepared to bite the dust.
So here are some terms I compiled for you to ponder (and feel free to add your own!)
Arm Jerker: An animal that bucks with a lot of power
All Hat, No Cattle: All talk, no substance—think Washington politician
Bail Out: A horse that comes straight up on its hind legs when it leaves the chute before it starts to buck.
Bailing Out: Not to be confused with the above, this is when a cowboy intentionally jumps off a bucking animal.
Bite the Dust: Just what you think it means; that cowboy got bucked off that bronc and landed face first in the dirt. Ouch!
Buckaroo: A cowboy who does ranch work for a living. (A professional rodeo cowboy’s sole occupation is rodeo competition.) Clay is a buckaroo.
Blooper: Bet you could guess that this is an animal that doesn’t buck much; maybe just kicks a little and runs around the arena. The rider may stay on but the score won’t be a good one unless the animal is a good bucker. Half the rider’s score comes from how well the animal bucks. Tougher animal, better score and more chance to win big.
Cantle Boarding: When the backward stroke of the legs of a saddle bronc rider’s spurring motion reaches the saddle’s cantle.
Chasing the cans: My sisters’ event—barrel racing
Cowboy up: It means get ready to ride but also the grit, hard work and strong determination that marks the character of a cowboy.
Crow Hopper: Kind of fun to imagine how this term got coined. It’s an animal that doesn’t buck so much as jumps around stiff-legged instead. Bet they ask for a re-ride when they get one of these.
Go-round: A round of rodeo competition. A rodeo in which each contestant competes once has one go-round. The Wayback rodeo has two go-rounds. Clay has to stay around because his friend placed in the first go-round in bull riding. That’s how he gets to know Dusty just a little bit better.
Ground Money: Purse money split evenly among all event contestants because no single contestant qualified to win the purse.
Gully Washer: an extraordinary amount of rain. Guess Hurricane Ike, Gustav and Katrina would qualify.
Hang-up: When a bull rider falls off the bull and his riding hand gets stuck or “hung-up” in his bull rope. He often gets dragged along by the bull as a result. Hard thing to watch but amazingly, the bull riders usually walk away with just their pride hurt.
Jam: When a saddle bronc jumps high off the ground.
Out the back door: When a rider is thrown over the hind end of the animal—ouch!
Pick-up man: Mounted cowboy who helps bareback and saddle bronc riders off when the ride is completed and leads the horse out of the arena.
Pulling leather: When a bronc rider holds on to any part of the saddle before the eight-second buzzer. This disqualifies him. Clay would never do that!
Rowel: A small wheel that forms the extremity of a cowboy’s spur. In rodeo, rowels are required to be free-wheeling and blunt so they don’t mark the horse. A competitor that uses spurs that will cause a cut is disqualified.
Rank Bronc: a bad one
Seeing daylight: When the rider leaves the seat of a bucking horse
Slick Heeled: A person not wearing spurs (see rowel above)
Slinger: A bull that tries to hit the cowboy with his head or horns while the cowboy is riding him. Ouch again!
Spurring Lick: When the rider’s movements are in rhythm with the bucking action of the animal.
Turn Out: When a rider passes on riding an animal he has drawn or the officials decide to give the rider a different animal. The bull or horse is released from the chute, without a rider, so he can be corralled back into the holding pen.
Walking in Tall Cotton: Doing real good, thank you.
Now that you're all set for Wayback, Texas, got any terms of your own you want to share? Any one of the above that tickled your fancy?
Friday, September 19, 2008
Saddle bronc rider Clay Tanner is looking for a good time and the tempting little blonde at the rodeo looks like she could use one—except she turns him down. Feeling like he's been bucked off before the eight second buzzer, Clay's betting he can score if she'll give him a re-ride. But qualifying may call for more than he's prepared to give.
Dusty Morgan is determined to resist the sexy rough stock rider staking out her station. She's vowed never to get tangled up with someone who makes their living through rodeo and she's not interested in a hit and run. Though he may be what she desires, Dusty knows from experience he isn't what she needs—or is he?
Just $3 to take a Re-ride at the Rodeo. Available October 3rd at The Wild Rose Press
Monday, August 4, 2008
The common theme that struck me was self-reliance. I’m not talking just about taking care of yourself even though that’s part of it. I’m talking about the need to trust in your own sense of right and wrong and implementing your own brand of justice. Even the lawmen kept their own counsel about what laws to enforce and what ones not to.
Here’s a few interesting stories and facts I gleaned from these books regarding the state of law and order in Texas during the late 1800’s:
“In the early 1870s carrying a six-gun was not only legal, it was expected. Shooting galleries were licensed within city limits, allowing a man to sharpen his aim or test his skills against other men without leaving town. Even after a law was passed by the state legislature ordering all men east of Parker County to stop wearing sidearms in town, it was widely ignored.” p. 58, Hell’s Half Acre, Selcer.
Seems attempts at gun control failed back then, too. Partially because the lawmen didn’t enforce all the laws all the time leaving a lot of gaps in protecting a citizen the way he or she thought they should be protected. Instead, law officers tended to use their own judgment about where and when to impose what laws on whom. That left a lot of inconsistency in law enforcement but with everyone armed that was probably the sanest if not safer route. Long-haired Jim Courtright, Marshal of Fort Worth from 1876-1879 and well-respected for his ability with dual six-shooters, apparently thought so.
“… Courtright preferred to enforce a personal rather than statutory form of the law. In his dealings with visiting cowboys, who were more unruly than dangerous, Courtright preferred tolerance and persuasion over coercion as the best way to keep a lid on things. In his own unique view of what a town marshal should do, he saw his job as being “to prevent the flow of blood, not liquor.” p. 92
Even killing a ranger could apparently be forgiven if the cowboy was deemed a good man. H.H. Halsell recalls how his brother shot a Texas Ranger in a well-documented gunfight outside a saloon in Hunnewell, Kansas over a woman who happened to be the town marshal’s girl. She apparently preferred O.D. Halsell and the marshal enlisted a Texas Ranger to intimidate O.D. on a false pretext. Add in some liquor along with the guns and the results are predictable. O.D. Halsell wasn’t a man to back down, especially when he had done nothing wrong, and being an excellent shot, the Texas Ranger died and O.D. fled. With a four thousand dollar bounty on his head (a lot in those days), dead or alive, O.D. asked his brother to broker a deal for his surrender.
Of course, H.H. went to the most influential man in town, the owner of the Hale hotel, and pleaded his brother’s case:
“Your gamblers and saloon men drug, rob, and kill our cowboys. And cowboys of the better sort resent that and shoot up your town, ride the sidewalks, and take the gals away from the town fellows because they are braver and have more money.” I said further that O.D. Halsell was well liked by all cowboys and they would follow him anywhere; and if they would put a stop to their devilment, we would do our part to keep the peace….Next day O.D. and two of his best friends, Dick West and Mat Laughlin, rode into town and Halsell was cleared of all blame. p.171
By all accounts O.D. Halsell was considered a man of integrity and maintained his role as a leading cattleman in Texas. Undoubtedly, killing a Texas Ranger quelled anyone else calling him out because there were no other accounts of O.D. Halsell being involved in a gunfight. But the argument made on his behalf is an interesting example of the Code of the West and the inconsistent application of the law. It’s hard to imagine many men would have gotten away with shooting at a town marshal and a Texas Ranger much less killing one of them, regardless of the circumstances.
It was clear people felt they couldn’t trust the legal system, such as it was, to do what they thought was the right thing. Thus the Code of the West backed by a six-shooter fostered self-reliance, at least where the law was concerned and has provided fodder for lot of good stories about the Wild, Wild West
Texas Rangers back in the day
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Rodeo riders have to love what they do because they sure aren’t in it for the money. Except for those who make it to the top (to the National Final Rodeo) a rough stock rodeo rider often pays out more than he wins.
First there are entrance fees that can run a $100 or more, depending on the level of the rodeo and competition. A few years ago, that’s what cowboys competed for—a chance for a piece of the purse they all paid into. Now, most of the larger rodeos, at least, supplement the purse, some to a significant degree now that there are national sponsors.
Then there is all that gear they need to buy. My character, Clay Tanner in Re-ride at the Rodeo, is a saddle bronc rider. Rough stock riders, as those that ride bulls, bareback, and saddle bronc are called, may not have to haul around or feed and board horses like those in timed events, but they still have equipment needs.
In saddle bronc they supply their own saddle. New, it can run anywhere from $1300 to $2200. Then if they want a vest to protect them, that can be another $200 to $300. Bareback riders don’t have a saddle, of course, but they do have a rigging that goes for about $100 or so and their vest includes a neck brace so its pricier, running about $300 to $400. A bull rider might choose to wear a helmet which will set him back a little under a hundred and a vest that will cost $200-$300.
Then the cowboy has to look the part. Those Stetson hats that we writers like our heroes to wear cost generally between $150 and $200 though you can get a wool one for a lot less and a fancy beaver one for a lot more. Boots? A good set of croc boots could set you back over $400—and they laugh at city women and their Jimmy Choos! Then you’ve got to add spurs which can go from $35 upwards, depending on how fancy you want to get. I already discussed chaps a few blogs ago but that can add another $300 more or less. Cowboys may laugh at women for the price they’ll pay for a pair of designer jeans and high heels, but cowboys know a thing or two about what it costs to look good .
Travel expenses are added on top of all this. And they are extensive and getting more expensive with each fill at the gas pump. Rodeo cowboys can travel over 100,000 miles in a year if they are covering the National circuit (instead of a regional circuit). Most travel is by car or truck. To save on gas, cowboys carpooled usually two or three to a car. With gas prices going so crazy, it’s now more like four or six if they can all cram in. Then there’s the issue of sleep, if you aren’t driving all night to the next rodeo. This is when it’s good to have friends in a town but if not, you’ve got to spring for a hotel room which you’ll generally share with those same guys you car pooled with. Now you know why rodeo riders are a tight knit group. In close quarters like this there’s no room for quarreling.
Those that are well-heeled often fly to the big rodeos but that is the exception rather than the rule. And consider the expenses of those in the timed events where they need to haul their horse with them. Even for the top-earner of 2007, Trevor Brazile, expenses can significantly eat into winnings. A recent New York Times article, July 5, 20008, A Sport on the Move, a Rider Who Never Stops, listed Trevor’s income and expenses as follows:
Though Brazile earned more than $400,000 in P.R.C.A. events last year and another $150,000 in unsanctioned events, he pays a lot up front. He spent $65,000 in event fees, which was his top expense. At almost every rodeo, cowboys pay a fee for each event they enter. They need to perform well to make their money back.
Fuel costs him $31,000. Horse feed another $15,000.
This year, with diesel fuel at almost $5 a gallon, Brazile says he expects that to become his top expense. To keep those costs down, he stopped using one of his two trailers and began traveling more with his team roping partner, Patrick Smith. (Brazile also travels with his wife, Shada, and 7-month-old son, Treston.)
Brazile and Smith arrived in Santa Fe pulling Smith’s silver, four-horse Elite trailer behind a white Dodge truck that gets 8.5 miles a gallon.
And then there is the schedule they have to handle. In the New York Times article, Brazile outlined his schedule for this past 4th of July holiday period, known as Cowboy Christmas because of all the rodeos with big prize money that are around:
"Well, start with the 30th [of June]. I’m at Greeley, Colorado, that morning and that night, and then I’ll drive to Cody, Wyoming, that night. I’m there the morning of the first [of July], at Livingston, Montana, the afternoon of the first at three, and back to Cody the morning of the second. Red Lodge, Montana, the night of the second. We’ll get on a private plane from Red Lodge to Prescott, Arizona. I’ll be at Prescott the morning of the third and the night of the third.”
Then Brazile will get on another plane and fly to back to Greeley. “Or, if we didn’t make the finals at Greeley,” he said, “we’ve got a backup plan to go to St. Paul, Oregon, on the fourth and Molalla, Oregon, on the fifth.”
Brazile said he expected to have only four days off from competition this month. He will fight fatigue and injury.
That's what Brazile has to do to maintain his top earner status; that and competing in three to four events per rodeo! Being a top competitor has its rewards though. According to RodeoAttitude, Brazile collected $23,813 during the above time-period (coming in second for the holiday period to my favorite saddle bronc rider, Cody Wright, who won $24, 288 just competing in saddle bronc). Apparently Brazile had to go with his back-up plan, winning $9,467 in St. Paul Oregon. But oh that expense.
Even discounting the dangers, rodeo is a hard way to make a living for the majority of cowboys. Reminds me of an author’s lot. Those at the top may make good money (and work darn hard for it) while those of us trying to get to the top do it just for the love of it. Ride ‘em cowboy!
Friday, July 4, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Just got finished reading Tumbleweed, Jane Candia Coleman’s fictionalized version of the life of Allie Earp, the wife of Virgil Earp, based on Allie’s diaries. Though I love all things western, I’ve never really understood the overwhelming fascination with the Earp brothers. Now I do.
Besides the riveting eye-witness to history account of life in the west (she was in Deadwood when her friend and childhood hero Jim Hickok got shot in the back in addition to being in Tombstone and a lot of places in-between) this is a story of the life long love affair between an outspoken little bit of a woman and a tall, handsome and commanding lawman of the West.
Here’s a little snippet of the book so you can see what I mean:
“Virge watched me serving, still all twinkly-eyed, like he was waiting for me to say or do something, or like he was taking the whole of me into his head and wouldn’t forget. I’m old, but in my heart I’m that young girl, moving around my sister’s table, trying not to spill or make a fool of myself just because a stranger had knocked me endways.”p.57
Reads like a romance doesn’t it? But laced with a lot of history and perspective.
“But I told Virge how lonely it felt sometimes, knowing there wasn’t nobody but me, and that life went on no matter what.
He listened without saying a word, just listened, his head bent down toward me to catch every word. He always was a good listener, taking everything in before passing judgment. It’s what made him and his brothers good lawmen later. They never went off half-cocked like so many others—the outlaws, the crazies, the riff-raff that made up most of Tombstone and near every place else they ever went.” p. 62
Of course the events in Deadwood and Tombstone are all here—and a lot more. A woman’s point of view lends a different perspective than just who shot who and who was right or who was wrong. Allie believed, for instance, that Wyatt’s love affair with Sheriff Jimmy Behan’s lady (who later became Wyatt's wife) had a lot to do with increasing the tension in town. Allie’s story gives you lots of nuances to ponder. But most interesting, it gives you a multi-faceted portrait of men who meted out their own justice when they felt the law was either corrupt or ineffectual. And there in lies much of the interest in the West. A unique set of circumstances that tested men and women like no other period in our history.
You can read a full review of Tumbleweed at http://www.lovewesternromances.com/bookreviews.html
Allie, toward the end of her life,with writer Frank Waters whose biography of her she later disclaimed.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Besides all the cowboys-who were just the nicest gentlemen--I really enjoy all their gear. All those cowboy hats, taped riggings and how about those two-toned boots--aren't they a hoot? And then there are those chaps. Fringed, dyed and decorated they really say ride 'em cowboy.
Take a gander and let me know what pictures you like best; give me some ideas for that book video.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
People must have naturally commented, “What a woman!” when they met her. She was nicknamed “The Great Western”, most likely after the world’s largest steamship at the time. Described as dark-eyed and voluptuous there was no disguising The Great Western as anything but a woman. She stood out if not for her physical attributes than for the way she braved danger—meeting it head on. “She carried a pistol, could shoot a rifle and knock down any man who tried to bother her.” (Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard,Borderlands.com)
During the siege of Fort Brown in May 1846 she refused to take refuge underground with the other army wives and instead operated the officer’s mess while the fighting went on for over a week. Legend says even as bullets hit her bread tray and bonnet she continued to keep the men fed earning her another nickname: The Heroine of Fort Brown. She was a woman who handled the west with grit, gumption and a heap of courage.
At the battle of Buena Vista she wasn’t prepared to sit on the sidelines but helped load guns and tended the wounded on the battlefield and was often referred to as Dr. Mary for her efforts. When her second husband lost his life in the battle, she was told only married women could march with the army to California, the regiment’s next destination. Supposedly, “she rode along the line of men asking, ‘Who wants a wife with fifteen thousand dollars and the biggest leg in Mexico? Come, my beauties, don’t all speak at once. Who is the lucky man?’” (Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.) In any event, David E. Davis was the lucky man and Sarah went to California. But I’m guessing Sarah didn’t squirrel away fifteen thousand dollars from supplying just food to the army. In any event, she reportedly received a lifetime government pension; for her public service and bravery, one assumes, not her private services.
Despite her rather loose ways, Sarah must have enjoyed being married because, whether divorced or widowed from Davis, she married Albert J. Bowman, her fourth and last husband, when she returned to El Paso in 1849. According to her biographer, Brian Sandwich, the hotel “business was good” as she offered entertainment with a room and is largely believed to be El Paso’s first prostitute. When her husband was discharged from the army in 1852, they opened another hotel and brothel in Fort Yuma. “Lt. Sylvester Mowry, a soldier stationed at Fort Yuma in 1856, wrote of Sarah that “among her other good qualities she is an admirable pimp.’” (Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.)
One of those other good qualities was evidently her compassion. Not being able to bear children, she adopted several orphans. What kind of example she set is debatable but she was widely regarded as a tender-hearted woman, the quintessential soiled dove with a heart of gold.
The Army thought highly enough of her to bury her with full military honors in the Fort Yuma post cemetery when she died somewhere in the mid 1860s from a tarantula bite. Her body was exhumed in 1890 by the U.S. Army, along with 159 other servicemen’s, and moved to the presidio in San Francisco, California.
A fighter and a lover, unconventional and compassionate, Sarah Bowman, the Great Western, was a woman who did it her way.
Handbook of Texas online, Borderlands
Biographies and historical novels on Sarah Bowman:
Brian Sandwich, The Great Western; Legendary Lady of the Southwest
Lucia St.Clair Robson, Fearless: A Novel of Sarah Bowman
(Note: there are no known pictures of Sarah Bowman but the picture inserted fit my expectations.)
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It’s officially one year since Karyna DaRosa and I started Love Western Romances.com to help readers who love the genre find new authors and authors who write western historical romances find new readers.
A lot of people told us that western historical romances were declining in popularity. Really? You wouldn’t know it from the readers who come to our site! Or the number of western historical romances being published. The support of those who Love Western Romances--readers and authors--has been phenomenal.
We’ve reviewed over 60 western historical romances on the site in the last year from over 30 different authors and that’s certainly not every author or book that has been published in the genre—try as we do to capture as many as possible.
Here are a few of my favorite books just released or soon to be released—and this list is by no means comprehensive because I wouldn’t have enough room to fit every one. You can find a complete listing of great western romances on http://www.lovewesternromances.com/. Let me know if there are any recent releases you'd add to the list.
(Just released in paperback)
(out in June)
(out in July)
(Released in February)
Sunday, May 4, 2008
One of the reasons the period of the Old West fascinates me is because I wonder if I would measure up to the men and women who risked everything, including their lives, for the chance at a new beginning. I love to research, in particular, the women who made the journey, generally following their menfolk or taking the leap of faith to become a mail order bride. With little respectable opportunities beyond marriage and teaching open to women, admittedly their options were limited. But what drove them to take on the hardships and deprivations that awaited them? How did they survive the loss of family members that were a certainty in such a challenging environment?
Take a woman like Mary Low, who came to Washington Territory at the age of nine with her family as part of the first settlers of what would become Seattle, Washington. Presumably she had no say in the matter when her father decided to leave Illinois for the new land. It was a cold and damp November when the family arrived by ship expecting a settlement with four cabins ready and found none completed. One can imagine she had to work hard, even as a youngster, to help finish those cabins by Christmas. According to an essay by Dorthea Nordstrand, (www.historylink.org/essays), that first Christmas was celebrated not only with four finished cabins but a feast consisting of two wild geese, salmon, wild potatoes and a few dried applies for pies as their bountiful supper.
If the rest of her life is any indication, the trek west and an upbringing in primitive conditions formed a life long pioneer spirit in Mary. When she was old enough, she became a teacher in Kitsap County near the lumber camps. In fact, at the age of twenty, she married a lumberman, Woodbury Sinclair, in 1862. Woodbury was seventeen years her senior. And when her husband decided to strike out and establish himself as one of the first residents in what would become Snohomish City in 1865, Mary followed him. On April 30 of that year she boarded a steamer with a month-old baby in her arms to make the trip across the Puget Sound and up the Snohomish River to her husband’s claim. She would be the first white woman in the area. Their new beginning would not come without cost. Twenty days later the baby died.
In her book, “Sketches of Early Snohomish Life” (1911) she reminisced in almost Whitmanesque terms about those early days giving some insight as to how women coped during a time of deprivation and hardship, loss and isolation:
“There was much to do, but the pioneers were hustlers and could turn their hands to anything -- no specialists in those days. The women, young and hopeful, fearing neither danger or privation, soon began to make things look homelike. A large fireplace assisted considerably in clearing the dooryard, in which later bloomed old-fashioned flowers -- Sweet Williams, Marigolds and Hollyhocks. There was no time to be lonesome; frogs sang cheerily in the nearby marshes; mosquitoes kept the people busy building smudges. Wild game was plentiful. The Indians brought venison, wild ducks, fish and clams. Also the ranchers from Snoqualmie Prairie brought delicious hams and bacons of their own curing."
Mary had two more children before her husband, then 46, died suddenly in 1872. Mary was a widow at the tender age of 29. Her husband, being one of the first settlers, had left her with prime real estate in the newly settled outpost and it is reasonable to assume she used the proceeds from rents and land sales to maintain her household. Besides being the first white woman in the area, she also became the first teacher when she opened her home as a classroom. You can’t help but wonder if she imbued her students with her pioneer spirit.
She died in 1922 at the age of 79, still in residence in Snohomish City in her original home on Pearl Street. During her lifetime she had seen Washington Territory move from a wilderness to a thriving state, had witnessed the area’s struggle to give women the vote (Washington Territory had given women the right to vote two times in the late 1800’s only to have it repealed both times due largely to saloon interests who feared women would vote in support of prohibition), had lived through the Civil War period, the Nez Perce war and the First World War, had witnessed the invention of the car and the airplane and most importantly, had participated in claiming a wilderness. A woman surviving despite extraordinary circumstances.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Chaps are not just for decoration though they can be pretty decorative. They help to protect the cowboy’s legs from getting cut up, whether from thorny bushes on the range or the horns of bucking bulls at the rodeo. There are different styles of chaps but rodeo cowboys like my character, Clay Tanner, in Re-Ride at the Rodeo usually ride with batwing chaps. Barrel racers often wear chaps too. Batwing chaps only have a couple of fasteners to go around the thigh and their loose fit allows the air to circulate. It’s also easier to mount a horse or bull with batwings and because they are loose they allow for the spurring movement that is part of score when riding broncs.
As the picture below illustrates, they look a lot like batwings when in motion.
In the Old West, there were several versions that were popular depending on the region. Stovepipe or shotgun chaps were straight and narrow and were used by Texas cowboys beginning in the 1870s.
Chaps influenced by the vaquero tradition are the shorter chaps called Chinks and the slightly longer Armitas which enclose the leg and have to be put on like pants. The first guy in the photo to the right looks like he might have on Armitas.
Woolie chaps were used mainly by plains and mountain cowboys. Made of angora wool on hide, they were the warmest of the chaps—good for those cold winters in the Rocky Mountain states.
Chaps aren’t exactly cheap. Though a thrifty cowboy can buy a used pair of chaps for around $100 on e-bay if he’s not particular, a custom hand-made pair can run upwards of $250 to $350 or more. But then you can have it decorated with different colored fringe, add conchos, a fancy buckle and really express yourself. You could blow a day’s worth of hard-earned rodeo winnings just on a slick pair of chaps. Dress 'em up cowboy!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Take the current top ten saddle bronc riders. Only Anthony Bello tops out at six feet. Instead, 5’8” seems more the median height with Cody Wright, Samuel Kelts, Bradley Harter, J.J. Elswhere and Rod Hay, all either in the top ten or past NFR winners, reaching those heights.
Why is being a little shorter an advantage in rough stock riding?
http://www.shortsupport.org provides an answer: Shorter people of the same proportions as taller people have many physical advantages based on the laws of physics, and these advantages are supported by many researchers. Shorter people have faster reaction times, greater ability to accelerate body movements, stronger muscles in proportion to body weight, greater endurance, and the ability to rotate the body faster. They are also less likely to break bones in falling. As a consequence of these physical attributes, shorter people can excel as gymnasts, divers, skiers, martial artists, rock climbers, figure skaters, rodeo riders, soccer players and long distance runners.
So where do all those really tall cowboys go? Those who participate in the timed events (where the cowboy and his horse team up) tend to top the height scales of the rodeo cowboy. The current top three steer wrestlers and tie-down ropers all measure out at six feet or more.
That’s not to say Clay won’t be successful. Technique is more important in saddle bronc riding than in either bare back riding or bull riding. And tall cowboys sure look good when they mark out and do the required leg action in the event. Saddle bronc calls on traditional cowboy skills (no one had to ride bulls in the Old West) for breaking in a horse and is considered the hardest rough stock event to learn. But once you learn, they say, it’s easier to perfect. So how is Clay going to do in meeting the eight second challenge? You'll just have to read Re-Ride at the Rodeo to find out!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Dusty Morgan’s nonplussed when hard-bodied cowboy Clay Tanner hits on her. She doesn’t exactly have the kind of figure that attracts Texas cowboys. Besides, even though Clay’s deep timbered voice sends tingles clear to her toes, he’s an undependable rough stock rider and a player to boot. Though he may be what she desires, Dusty knows from experience he isn’t what she needs—or is he?
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Woo-hoo! My contemporary western romance, Re-Ride at the Rodeo, has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press.
While Re-ride at the Rodeo takes place against the backdrop of the rodeo, it is not a rodeo book as there are no rodeo event scenes in the story. It’s a romance, pure and simple between two people, Dusty Morgan and Clay Tanner, who meet as a result of the Wayback Rodeo.
She wants the happily ever after, he just wants a good time. She would never hook up with his type; he had never looked twice at her type. But when the rodeo gets them together, it’s anyone’s bet if they’ll take a re-ride on love.
I wrote Re-ride at the Rodeo expressly for The Wild Rose Press rodeo-themed series, Wayback Texas. I was checking out a friend’s book when I saw the invitation for submissions. I’ve got a strange obsession with the rodeo (it’s really for the cowboys :-) and for a girl from the east I’m pretty much out here by myself. We have a local rodeo in June in my town so I do get to see some now and again.
In any event, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Re-ride at the Rodeo when it is released this summer. You don’t have to enjoy rodeo to enjoy this romance. It’s just that love can be found in the darnedest places!