Sunday, January 29, 2012

Julie Lence: No Luck At All

No Luck At All
by Julie Lence

Romancing The West welcomes Julie Lence, who grew up in upstate new York. She married her high school sweetheart and accompanied him on his twenty year career with the Air Force. Currenly, she resides in the west. She's a stay-at-home mom who spends her days taking care of her family and home and working on her next story. Julie credits Judith McNaught for instilling in her the urge to write, Johanna Lindsey for the inspiration to create large families and sagas, and Linda Lael Miller for all things western. She enjoys hearing from fans of the romance genre and can be reached at:

RTW: Thanks for joining us today, Julie.  So let's get down to it: what aspect of life in the old west intrigues you most? Did you work that into No Luck At All?

JL: The one aspect I love about the old west is a sprawling ranch house, complete with a front porch and horses in the corral. There's something soothing about smoke spiraling out of a chimney and a man and a woman sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs, spending time together after a long day of chores, with an occassional whinny from horses in a nearby corral.

No Luck At All has both a front and back porch. Creel and Racine spend time on both, with each other and with family. And horses do whinny from the corral out back.

RTW: If you lived in 1874, what modern day convenience would you miss most?

JL: My first thought was the washing machine, because I would hate to have to scrub clothes on a washboard. But overall, I would miss electricity and running water. Hauling water from the creek and having to make candles and cook over a fire are definitely not my things.

RTW: Are there any common errors in western historical romances that bug you? If so, please set us straight.

Julie Lence, author
JL: Western hictorical romances are works of fiction. Some authors do strive to include actual events in history, or to portray day-to-day living or locations as accurately as possible. When I read for enjoyment, I don't pick out mistakes, such as an article of clothing that may or may not have been worn in a certain decade. What bothers me the most, and this is true for any genre, is when little details are not paid attention to. Ex: one scene the heroine is making dinner. Her next scene, the hero walks in, they have an exchange of words and then go to dinner, completely out of sync with her having just made dinner. Little things like that irk me, because it takes me out of the story and makes me wonder, what happened to the dinner she just cooked? When I write, I try to pay attention to every minute thing, and thank my critique partner for finding the mistakes I miss.

RTW: Why is Creel perfect for Racine?

JL: From the moment she was born, Racine's mother has hated her. She has shunned Racine and instilled in her the belief that she is unworthy of love. Racine's father strives to make up for the loss of her mother's love, but then, Racine is attacked by a dog at a young age and left with scars on her cheek; scars which heal but are still visible to Racine. Mama uses the incident to further convince Racine she is unlovable, because now she is hideous. Believing Mama, Racine shies away from society, until she meets Creel.

Creel is perfect for Racine in that he truly loves her. He would do anything to make her happy, because she is his world. Unbeknownst to him, Racine harbors deep insecurities. A terrible tragedy unveils those insecurities, and Creel does everyting he can to convince Racine her mother's words and claims are nothing more than lies. She is lovable and loved by him, more than she knows.

RTW: We'd love to see Creel and Racine in action. Please set up the scene for your excerpt.

JL: Creel Weston is returning home with a medical degree and a new wife. He knows what to do with the degree. His wife he isn't so sure about.

Excerpt from No Luck At All by Julie Lence

"A sassy mouth isn't becoming of you." He sat across from her.

"Ungratefulness doesn't become you, either," she rallied back.

"Butchering me like a side of beef does?" He raised a brow.

"I butcher you?" Disbelief shone in her eyes. "You butcher me. Most of the time you don't talk to me and when you do, you're mean."

"Have a heart, Racine. I'm doing the best I can."

"If this is your best, I'd hate to see your worst." She fidgeted with the sash on her robe. "What's bothering you, Creel? Why do you think the worst of me?"

"Because," he barked and instantly regretted it. Fear sprang into her eyes and she sank back in her chair, her shoulders trembling. "I apologize," he said quietly, leaning forward and resting his arms on his thighs before folding his hands together to conquer the churning in his gut. If he wanted any kind of normalcy with her, it was now or never.

No Luck At All is available at Amazon.

RTW: What are you cooking up for us next?

JL: Currently, I'm working on a new series set in fictional Revolving Point, Texas. This series is another trilogy and features outlaws as heroes.

RTW: Anything else you'd like to add?

JL: Thank you for having me as your guest today, Jacquie. I always enjoy talking about western historical romance, and all things western in general. Your site is a great escape for people like me who value the old west and the folks who tamed the harsh land.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Julie, and we look forward to reading your article in Thursday on your research journeys and how they affect your western stories.

Readers, You Could Win a Kindle!

February 6 to 12, 2012
Romancing The West Cupid Party

Chicken Dinner: Rodeo, Boomtowns, and Masquerades

by Jacquie Rogers

Boomtowns fascinate me because one day the land was pristine, but then the prospectors see color, tell someone about it, and within a matter of days, a whole city would be built. I grew up in a county that had several boomtowns, although only one has been preserved to any extent. Visit Cowboy Kisses and read about it: Silver City, Idaho Territory: Rowdy, Raucous, and Rich. Great pictures, too! My daughter took them. (Oh, and you still have time to win a free copy of Much Ado About Marshals!)

Speaking of Silver City, the newspaper (The Owyhee Avalanche) is still in business, and they have a feature called Looking Back... that gives us interesting insight into the people in the Old West. Here's an article from January 27, 1872:
THE MASQUERADE. The sheet and pillow-case masquerade ball last Wednesday evening, although not so largely attended as Silver City dancing parties usually are, was a complete success as far as real sociability and genuaine enjoyment were concerned. The affair was a novelty here, and, we believe, the first of a kind that ever took place in the Territory. Nothing occurred to mar the pleasure of the occasion. All who participated are immensely satisified and are in favor of having another of the same kind before the winter passes away.
Other news: and editorial in support of the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution; an announcement that the income tax law expired the next year and due to unpopularity, wasn't expected to be reenacted (rates: 2.5% on incomes over $2,000); and a cure for red noses caused by drinking (a French physician, Dr. Bernier, used electrical shockouch). Also, Texas newspapers urged the annexation of Mexico to the USA.

Thanks to Heidi M. Thomas for contributing such great articles this week. Her grandmother was an early rodeo cowgirlyes, they rode rough stockand wow, Heidi has some great insights and authentic history for you. If you haven't read her article yet, it's Rodeo: Cowgirls Compete With Men

Yes, we have a winner!
Janet O'Kane
She has her choice of
Cowgirl Dreams
Follow the Dream
Congratulations, Janet!

You Could Win a Kindle!

Romancing The West Cupid Party
February 6 to 12, 2012
Click here for Details

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rodeo: Cowgirls Compete With Men

Heidi M. Thomas, author
 Cowgirls Compete With Men
by Heidi M. Thomas
Copyright © 2012 Heidi M. Thomas

A petite young woman mounts a 750 to 900-pound steer, and hangs on to nothing but a rope tight-wrapped around one hand. That she stays on this bucking, twisting, snorting beast for ten seconds, eight seconds or even two seconds, seems a miracle.
This is the intriguing picture of my grandmother I have carried in the back of my mind since I was a little girl.
My grandmother, Olive May “Tootsie” Bailey, grew up the daughter of homesteaders during the early 1900s in the Sunburst-Cut Bank area of Montana, near the Canadian border and east of the Rocky Mountains.
Although she no longer rode in rodeos when I came along, “Gramma” was an avid horsewoman and ranch wife, equally at-home on the back of a horse as she was in a dress and heels. She and my grandfather, Otto Gasser, were partners in rural Montana ranching as well as an urban family of friends.
The 1920s were the heyday of rodeo, where the cowgirl was as much a part of the festivities as the cowboy. The first cowgirls learned to ride out of necessity to help on their family ranches. At an early age they learned to ride horses, rope cattle, and stay in the saddle atop an untamed bucking bronco.
In 1885, Annie Oakley, a diminutive sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, paved the way for other women to be recognized in the rodeo arena. Two years later, Bertha Kaelpernick was allowed to enter a horse race in Cheyenne’s Frontier Days only because the arena was so muddy the cowboys refused to participate. To entertain the crowd, she was coerced into riding a bucking horse.
Despite the terrible conditions, she managed to stay in the saddle, and put the men to shame. She continued to compete and often beat such legendary cowboys as Ben Corbett and Hoot Gibson.
Following in Bertha’s footsteps years later, Prairie Rose Henderson of Wyoming forced the Cheyenne organizers to allow her to ride. She went on to become one of the most flamboyant cowgirls of the era, dressing in bright colors, sequins and ostrich plumes over bloomers.
Lucille Mulhall, whose father, Colonel Zack Mulhall, ran a Wild West Show, was described in a 1900 New York World article as “only ninety pounds, can break a bronc, lasso and brand a steer, and shoot a coyote at 500 yards. She can also play Chopin, quote Browning, and make mayonnaise.” Both Teddy Roosevelt and Will Rogers have been credited with giving Lucille the title “cowgirl.”
Between 1885 and 1935, many women proudly wore that title and competed with men, riding broncs, steers and bulls. They also roped and tied steers (usually wearing long divided skirts) alongside their male counterparts.
In early rodeos, women and men competed in the same arena, drawing from the same stock. Women rode broncs, steers, bulls, and did steer roping as well as trick riding, Roman races and relay races.
I know that my grandmother, Toots Bailey Gasser, rode steers in small Montana rodeos. Other cowgirls, such as Marie Gibson, also from Montana, rode steers, bulls and broncs throughout the US, Canada and even London. While each cowgirl had her specialty, most participated in multiple events.
Vera McGinnis, Tad Lucas and Fox Hastings were probably best known for trick riding. This demonstrated numerous types of stands and vaults, performed while the horse was galloping at top speed. Other maneuvers included crawling under the horse’s belly, hanging just inches from the mount’s pounding hooves.
In the Roman race, the cowgirl would stand with her right foot on one galloping horse and her left foot on the other. (The horses would have had to be very well trained to stay together, and the rider obviously had great balance and strength.)
The relay race required three laps around a track, and the rider had to change horses, and sometimes saddles, after each round. If they weren’t required to change saddles, many cowgirls perfected the “flying” change, leaping from the back of one horse to the other without touching the ground. Vera McGinnis is credited with inventing this move. 

Bonnie McCarrol
thrown from Silver, 1915

After Bonnie McCarrol and Marie Gibson were killed and several other women badly injured in rodeo accidents, cowgirl bronc riding became increasingly rare in the West, leaving only relay racing open to women competitors. But women’s rodeo gradually eroded nationwide for several reasons:
  • Small, local rodeos were no longer financially lucrative and livestock was in short supply in the 1930s, leading to the demise of the Wild West shows.
  • Men held the central control of the sport.
  • Many well-known women rodeo stars retired.
  • World War II, with tire and gas rationing, did not allow travel as in the past.
From the mid-1930s until the late 1940s, cowgirls became mere props in rodeo, “glamour girls” whose beauty and attire were emphasized instead of athletic skill. In 1948, 38 women formed the Girls Rodeo Association (GRA) to give women an opportunity to compete in calf roping, barrel racing, and trick riding. In 1968, barrel racing finals were finally included in the men’s Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) National Finals.
In 1981 GRA changed its name to Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and today has more than 2,000 members. It sanctions 800 barrel races a year in conjunction with men’s PRCA rodeos. But women still do not compete with men.

As an entity of its own, Professional Women’s Rodeo Association (PWRA) puts on events in women-only rodeos that include bareback riding, breakaway and tie-down calf roping, bull riding, and team roping.
It’s been a long time coming, but as Rene Mikes, a corporate accountant from Denver and a bull rider, says, “It’s not a guy sport anymore.” But despite the heroic efforts of many women, including Cowgirl Hall of Fame and world champion bull rider Joni Jonkowski of Montana, women for the most part still do not compete with men.
Since the formation of the RAA in 1929, only one woman has qualified, within the PRCA’s point system, to compete in saddle bronc riding with men. That woman is Kaila Mussell from BC, Canada. She has been nominated to the Cowgirls Hall of Fame.
Heidi offers autographed copies at her website, or you can purchase Follow the Dream at these online stores: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Treble Heart Books

Enter To Win
Your Choice Of
Heidi's Books!

Please leave a comment about a favorite western novel or a favorite strong character and you’ll be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of your choice of Follow the Dream or Cowgirl Dreams.  The winning comment will be drawn 10pm Pacific Time, Saturday, January 28th.  Don't forget to include your email address with your comment or another name will be drawn.

Enter win a Free Kindle and Six Free Books!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Heidi M. Thomas: Follow the Dream

Follow the Dream

Romancing The West features Heidi M. Thomas whose book Follow the Dream is about one of my favorite topics, cowgirls and their roles in early rodeo and ranching. These ladies were tough! I urge you to check out Heidi's carefully researched novels and read a little about her background and then you'll see why these books are so highly recommended.

RTW: Welcome, Heidi! Let's start with a blurb for Follow the Dream, the second book in the series.

HMT: In this sequel to Cowgirl Dreams, Nettie marries, yet faces challenges to her lifelong rodeo dreams. She must cope with personal tragedy, survive drought, and help Jake keep their horse herd from disaster. Will these challenges break this strong woman? As with Cowgirl Dreams, this story is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.

Find out how to enter at the bottom of this article.

RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Follow the Dream?

Heidi M. Thomas, author
HMT: The way people lived in those days with such hardship and difficulty and yet emerged strong, independent and happy. Yes, that is a strong theme in both my books.

RTW: If you lived in the 1930s, what modern convenience would you miss the most?

HMT: Probably the computer. I don’t know how I used to write without it!

RTW: Why must Nettie take this story journey? What does she have to prove? What about Nettie most intrigues you?

HMT: Nettie has to learn that dreams can change, but that no matter what, a person needs to have a dream to work toward. She needs to prove her own worth to herself. Nettie’s strength and perseverance have been inspirational to me personally.

RTW: Please tell us a little about the excerpt you are sharing with us today.

HMT: Montana has experienced several years of severe drought and Nettie and Jake are faced with trying to save their herd of horses.

Sunday, August 10, 1930

Dust still blowing. Will it ever stop? So long since we’ve had even a drop of rain. Worried about the horses. Not much grass left. Jake’s not himself….
Nettie stopped writing. What was that noise? A low clicking hum. The wind? No. She’d never heard it like that. The sound grew louder. She stood and went to the window.

At first she didn’t see anything. The air hung hot and still. Her mind filled with confusion. Then a movement down by the corral caught her eye. A dark river of motion, flowing, clicking, humming.


Nettie sprinted for the door. “Neil! Where are you?” Frantic, she ran toward the barn. “Neil!”

“Here I am, Ma.” His small voice came from the hayloft. He pointed to the mass off to one side. “What’s that?”

She climbed up the ladder inside the barn and sat beside him. “Grasshoppers, honey. They won’t hurt you.” The whirring, low-flying cloud clung to the ground, slowly moving through small patches of withered grass, leaving the ground as bare table-top, swarming over the corral fence. What was left of the posts stood like skeleton bones, stark and fragile.

Her son’s eyes were wide, pools of gray-green in the dim light. “What are they doing?”

“They’re eating.” Revulsion fought her calm words.

“Why did they eat the corral poles?”

“Because there aren’t any crops and not much grass left.” She tried to still the fluttering fear inside her stomach. Now there won’t be any grass left for our horses.

Nettie and Neil watched until darkness settled around the path of destruction left in the insects’ wake. Jake rode in from town and found them still sitting in the open door of the hayloft.

RTW: Thanks for the excerpt, Heidi! Where can we buy Follow the Dream?

HMT: I offer autographed copies at my website, or you can purchase the book at these online stores:

RTW: Will you have a sequel to Follow the Dream, a third book in the series?

HMT: Yes, I’m working on a third in the series, Nettie’s Cowgirls, which will take place during the 1940s and show the demise of women’s rodeo. But in this book, Nettie is a mentor to young aspiring cowgirls, trying to keep the dream alive.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?

HMT: The first two books in my series are based closely on my grandmother’s life and all will feature strong, independent women from Montana—my role models. They are also about having a dream and following it, even if it changes along the way.

RTW: Thanks so much for stopping by Romancing The West today, Heidi. I'm looking forward to your article on Thursday, Cowgirls Compete With Men. Early days of rodeo when both men and women competed is a fascinating and often overlooked topic.

Enter To Win
Your Choice Of
Heidi's Books!

Please leave a comment about a favorite western novel or a favorite strong character and you’ll be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of your choice of Follow the Dream or Cowgirl Dreams.

Fine print: USA mailing only. Drawing will be held at 10pm Pacific Time, Saturday, January 28th.

Want to win a Kindle and Six Free Books?
Come to the Romancing The West Cupid Party Feb. 6-12!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jacquie's Amazing Author Event

to my day on the
Amazing Author Event blog tour

You've seen some terrific books so far (you can see all the participating authors at the end of this article) with more to go, and an opportunity to win one of several ebooks we'll be giving away at the end. All you need to do is follow the link daily for the duration of the event (12 authors), and at the end, you'll be asked a few questions based on all the authors' blogs.

Hey, and you can fill that new e-reader with books!

I'm talking about my newest release, the second book in the Much Ado series, which will be released February 1:
Much Ado About Madams
Rancher Reese McAdams inherited the Comfort Palace, a house of ill-repute, from his ne'er-do-well father and is committed to taking care of the well-worn ladies as best he can. He can’t sell the house because another owner would probably turn the ladies out.

But the whores want to leave the oldest profession, so they hire a schoolmarm for a dual purpose—one is to educate them in preparation for “respectable” life, and the second is to marry Reese so he’ll want to sell the whorehouse. That way they won’t feel bad about leaving him.

Reese won’t tell the ladies that he wants to sell the whorehouse because he wants them to have a safe place to live, and the whores won’t tell him they want to leave because he’s the nicest brothel owner ever, and they don’t want to hurt his feelings.

Will the whores successfully hook up Reese and the schoolmarm, Lucinda? Will Lucinda be able to educate the ladies under the unsuspecting Reese's nose? Can Reese resist the charming and energetic schoolmarm?

Now keep this in mind as you get to the end of the contest which winds up at Ginger Simpson's blogMuch Ado books are all set in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory.

Much Ado About Marshals (July 2011): Oreana
Much Ado About Madams (February 2012): Dickshooter
Much Ado About Mavericks (June 2012): Henderson Flats

For a chance to win an eARC of Much Ado About Madams, leave a comment. Please include your email address or I'll have to draw another winner.  Please note: the eARC won't be ready for another week--this is new, New, NEW!  For a chance to win more books, including Much Ado About Marshals (the first book in the Much Ado series), continue playing and at the end, there will be a bunch of prizes.

Amazing Authors List

Jan 12th: Caroline Clemmons
Jan 13th: Beth Trissel
Jan 14th: Roseanne Dowell
Jan 15th: Cathie Dunn
Jan 16th: Maggie Toussaint
Jan 17th: Patsy Parker
Jan 18th: SG Rogers
Jan 19th: Linda LaRoque
Jan 20th: Jacquie Rogers (um, that's me)
Jan 21st: Karen Michelle Nutt
Jan 22nd: Anna K. Lanier
Jan 23rd: Barbara Edwards
Jan 24th: Ginger Simpson

And be watching for the
RTW Cupid Party
February 6 - 12. 
You could win
SIX free books
and a
 new Kindle!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Pleasant Valley War: The Kid and the Commodore

Charles Whipple (Chuck Tyrell)

The Pleasant Valley War:
The Kid and the Commodore
by Charles Whipple (Chuck Tyrell)
Copyright © Charles Whipple

Commodore Perry Owens rode in from the south, reining in his blooded horse atop the rise overlooking Holbrook. The Little Colorado below was an ocher ribbon fringed with gray-green willows. Far away to the northeast, the flat-topped hills of the Painted Desert spread pinks and blues across the horizon. He hooked a leg over the saddle horn and contemplated the rowdy cowtown. It looked peaceful that Sunday, September 4, 1887, but the Sabbath was about to be broken by gunfire. Sheriff Owens carried a warrant for the arrest of that kid Andy Cooper . . . much as he dreaded serving it.

Not that he was a coward. He'd proved he wasn’t. The Snider Gang lost nine men in the Round Valley gunfight, for instance. But he'd been in office since January and the Cooper warrant—for stealing Navajo horses—was still outstanding.

When Commodore Perry Owens drifted into northern Arizona in 1881, people soon learned the long-haired cowboy had iron nerves and an uncanny skill with horses. John Walker hired him to guard Wells Fargo and army remudas at Navajo Springs.

Navajos regularly tried to steal the horses, but many fell to Commodore Owens's Sharps .50. He could hit a squirrel a mile away with that gun. He reckoned he'd killed at least 50 Navajos by the time he became the sheriff of Apache County.

Commodore Perry Owens

Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens

If the Indians got away with a few horses, Owens would raid them right back, often bringing back more mounts than he'd lost. Andy Cooper sometimes went with Commodore on those sorties. He was a cheerful young man, good with animals. But he had a hot temper and a quick trigger finger. If anyone in the territory could match Commodore Perry Owens with a Colt's, it was Andy Cooper.

When Owens inherited a warrant issued by the county court on March 26, 1886, accusing Andy Cooper of stealing 40 Navajo horses, he ignored it. To him, stealing Navajo horses was no crime. "Kid, I'm sheriff now, so you just stay out of town when I'm here," Commodore said to Cooper. "Or I'll have to serve that warrant on you."

The Sheriff took the warrant to Taylor, leaving instructions with the deputy in the town to serve it if Andy ever showed up. Owens put the warrant out of his mind because Zach Decker, the Mormon gunman, lived in Taylor; Andy would probably steer clear.

Now things had gotten out of hand. The Sheriff was forced to serve that damned warrant. He kneed his mount toward the crossing at Berado's store.

Much of the trouble began in 1884, when the Aztec Land and Cattle Company—the Hashknife Outfit—brought 40,000 cattle into Apache County. The Texans who came with Hashknife cows into Arizona were hard men. And they partook freely of other people's stock.

Mart Blevins settled on a rawhide ranch at the headwaters of Canyon Creek late in 1884. With him came four sons—Hampton, John, Charles, and Sam Houston—his wife Mary, and daughter Mesa. Mart had a fifth son, Andy, who took the last name of Cooper after a scrape in Llano, Texas. When Andy first came to Arizona, he drove a Hashknife chuckwagon.

In 1884, Commodore Perry Owens had a horse ranch at Cottonwood Seep, about 10 miles south of Navajo Springs. People came from all over to buy his blooded stock, and to see his skill with firearms. Someone would throw a tin can in the air and holler, "Commodore!" In an instant both his guns were out. Lead smashed into the can long before it hit the ground. Shooting with right-hand gun, then left, he'd keep the can moving until it was too shattered to roll.

Although the Commodore's blond hair reached nearly to his waist, no one kidded him. He spoke with a quiet Oklahoma drawl, but he decked anyone who disparaged his hair or the way he wore his guns butt forward. At five foot ten, he wasn't a big man, but once something started, he never said "quit."

Down in Pleasant Valley, the feud that would bury 28 men heated up.

Jim Stinson was the first cowman in the valley, settling on Cherry Creek with 1,200 head of cattle the Mormons traded him for his ranch at Snowflake. He was preceded by mountain man John D. Tewksbury and his three half-Indian sons—John Jr., James, and Ed—and followed by Tom and John Graham, natives of Iowa, who set up a ranch upstream from Stinson two years later.

At first the Grahams and the Tewksbury boys were fast friends. But a quarrel over stolen cattle ruined that friendship. After that, eyes narrowed and hands moved toward gun butts whenever a Graham and a Tewksbury passed on the trail.

Above the Mogollon Rim, the Daggs brothers ran thousands of sheep. But A-One Bar cowboys kept them off lush pastures among the San Francisco peaks, the Hashknife outfit barred them from ranges to the east, and Pleasant Valley ranchers guarded the passes off the Mogollon Rim so Daggs' woollies couldn't get in.

View from the Mogollon Rim

By 1886, the rift between the Grahams and the Tewksburys was common knowledge. And the Daggs brothers decided to take advantage of the feud. They offered the Tewksburys a lucrative deal to guard Daggs sheep into Pleasant Valley. They accepted, and the drive began.

The ranchers stood aghast as the woollies poured into Pleasant Valley. Suddenly the enmity between honest cowmen and rustlers evaporated. They faced a new, much larger threat. Andy Cooper was among the crowd that gathered at the Graham ranch one autumn day in 1886 to consider what to do about the sheep. So was Tom Pickett, who had ridden with Billy Bonner.

Andy wanted action. Kill all the sheep and every man with them, he said, but Tom Graham said no. "There must be no killing and no destruction of property," Graham ordered.

"Give them sheep a hold in the valley and there won't be enough grass left for a grasshopper come spring," Cooper countered. "I'll lead the boys. We'll make a raid that'll end it all, and damned sudden."

Graham ordered him to stay put, and faced the young gunsharp down, even though Graham himself had no reputation as a shootist.

Graham's brand of guerrilla persuasion—shots in the night that holed coffee pots and frying pans—didn't force the sheep out of the valley. Later, Andy led a rougher bunch. They stampeded sheep over cliffs, shooting any survivors. And they beat up the herders.

In Holbrook, sheepman Sam Brown and druggist Frank Wattron headed the citizen's committee that drafted Commodore Perry Owens into running for sheriff of Apache County.

Incumbent J.L. Hubbell's trading post was an important stop on the outlaw trail. Violence was rampant. Hardcases run out by the Texas Rangers flocked to northern Arizona for respite.

Even the Clanton gang, ousted from Tombstone by the Earps, moved back to their New Mexico ranch and started stealing Arizona cattle.

Hubbell's trading post

On November 4, 1886, 500 landowners voted for Commodore Perry Owens and his law-and-order platform; 409 voted for Hubbell. A pall of black-powder gunsmoke hung over Holbrook as the citizens celebrated Owens's victory. Friends organized a dance in honor of his election, with music by a Mormon band from Saint Johns.

Later, his chief deputy, Joe T. McKinney, recalled: "Commodore Owens had a great reputation as a brave man and many wonderful things were promised and expected after he was in the sheriff's office. Lawlessness was everywhere."

Owens moved into the Barth Hotel in Saint Johns and started as Apache County sheriff in January 1887. He appointed strong men as deputies—Osmer Flake, Lon Hawes, Joe Hershey, John Scarlett, Frank Wattron, Joe McKinney, and the Tewksbury partisan who later turned the Pleasant Valley quarrel into a vendetta, James D. Houck.

The Pleasant Valley conflict turned bloody in February. Shots were fired at one Navajo herder early in the month, but he shot back. The cowboys left for easier pickings. Some days later another Navajo herder was found shot dead. The cowboy roughnecks had declared war.

The Hashknife outfit put John Payne, a big ruthless Texan, in charge of moving sheepmen off Hashknife range. Paine and his riders gave ultimatums to Tewksbury partisans: Leave, or else.

With the sheep out of Pleasant Valley, things cooled down a bit. One sheepherder was dead, but people felt he was just a Navajo. The dead sheep were another matter. They cost the Daggs—and the Tewksburys—money. But more than that, the brothers rankled at losing to the Grahams.

As the storm brewed, Commodore Perry Owens rode endless miles to uphold the law in his domain. He left the warrant for Andy Cooper's arrest gathering dust in Taylor, but served countless others. Lawbreakers went to jail, or left the country.

Then Mormon teamsters started losing horses. They would leave their teams hobbled at night and often wake up to find the horses gone, with the hobbles left behind to taunt them. Apache County Critic Editor Frank Reed wrote: "The leader of this gang of rustlers has been cited as one Andy Cooper, who was classed as being a horse thief desperado of the most daring stamp, and the boldest man in his operations as had ever cursed the west."

Nevertheless, Commodore Perry Owens ignored Andy Cooper. As he brought in lawbreaker after lawbreaker and collected license fee after license fee (he was liable for fees that went uncollected), Commodore's reputation grew. But horses and cattle continued to disappear, and the local papers continued to remind Sheriff Owens about Andy Cooper.

For months, Andy Cooper and John Payne ramrodded the wild bunch that harassed the sheepherders. The next casualties hit close to home. Ignoring the advice of his sons, Mart Blevins rode away from his Canyon Creek ranch one morning in late July 1887, looking for missing horses. He was never seen again. Some thought the Navajos killed him, others said horse thieves. Seven years later, a rancher on Cherry Creek found a human skull near a rusty rifle that had belonged to Mart Blevins.

Two weeks passed without word of Mart. The Blevins brothers were convinced sheepmen had killed the old man. Will Barnes, Arizona historian and owner of the Long Tom ranch, was at a Hashknife roundup camp south of Holbrook when John Payne, Hampton Blevins, and six others rode up on August 10. Payne announced they were headed for Pleasant Valley in search of Mart Blevins, and to "start a little war of our own." Barnes and the wagon boss tried to talk the riders out of violence, but Payne's job at the Hashknife was to get rid of sheepmen, so arguments against force meant nothing to the rowdies.

The horsemen passed the deserted Blevins ranch at the head of Canyon Creek—the Blevinses had rented a house in Holbrook for their womenfolk—and trailed down Canyon Creek, keeping an eye out for signs of the old man.

Finding none, they headed for the Middleton ranch, where John Payne had ordered everyone to "leave, or else."

Jim and Ed Tewksbury, Jim Roberts, and Joseph Boyer were at the Middleton spread when Payne, Hamp Blevins, Tom Tucker, Bob Glasspie, and Bob Carrington rode up. Payne repeated his ultimatum, saying the occupants hadn't left and they'd have to pay.

According to Jim Roberts, Hamp Blevins reached for his pistol. Jim Tewksbury, deadly with a saddle gun, shot Hamp dead. Jim Roberts fired at John Payne, clipping his ear and splattering the side of his head with blood. Another Tewksbury bullet killed Payne's horse. He jumped away from his mount, but took only two or three strides before Tewksbury bullets dropped him lifeless near the body of Hamp Blevins. Tom Tucker was shot through the lungs; Glasspie and Carrington escaped untouched.

After the Middleton ranch shootout, Andy Cooper and the Graham faction may have gotten the idea that the law had sided with the Tewksburys. Deputy Sheriff Joe McKinney refused to investigate, saying it wasn't his jurisdiction (The Tonto Basin is in Gila and Yavapai Counties; McKinney was an Apache County deputy). Deputy James Houck, a former state assemblyman from Apache County, was a Tewksbury partisan. William Mulvenon, sheriff of Yavapai County, led a posse into Pleasant Valley but failed to arrest a single Tewksbury, even though he had ten warrants. His posse met a group of Graham men led by Andy Cooper at the Perkins store. Andy saw the officers were empty-handed and told them the cattlemen would "take matters into their own hands" and exterminate the sheepmen if the sheriff did not arrest the Tewksburys.

Pleasant Valley being outside his jurisdiction, Apache County Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens still found no reason to serve the warrant outstanding on Andy Cooper.

The Pleasant Valley War is also known as the Graham-Tewksbury feud, but none of its first victims bore those names. The Grahams may not have been involved at this point, because of Tom Graham's orders against killing. Andy Cooper, though, was another matter. His father was missing, his brother dead. He wanted action. So he usurped leadership of the Graham riders every chance he got, hoping to get a Tewksbury in the sights of his guns.

A Pleasant Valley novel

Owens's own deputy pushed the battle past the point of no return. On August 17, 1887, Deputy James Houck killed young Billy Graham from ambush. Suddenly, a range war between cattle and sheep interests became a personal vendetta between Grahams and Tewksburys.

The warrant for Andy Cooper's arrest lay in Taylor, ignored. So the county board of commissioners called Sheriff Owens in for an accounting. Will Barnes was there. "...They asked him why he had not made the arrest. His reply was that he had not been able to locate Cooper." Barnes told the board that he had seen Cooper in Holbrook two days before. The board told Owens to arrest Cooper within ten days or be ousted from office.

Now, as his horse dipped its head to drink from the Little Colorado, Owens considered his odds.

In the few days since the board's command, more men died in Pleasant Valley. Tom Graham, who had been against a shooting war, now wanted to avenge his young half-brother. Graham, Cooper, and a group of riders descended on the Tewksbury ranch as dawn broke September 2, 1887.

They caught John Tewksbury and William Jacobs about a mile from the Tewksbury home, and killed them. The cowboys kept the remaining Tewksburys pinned down inside the house. Hogs came and rooted at the bodies. But when they started to maul them, Mary Ann Tewksbury, John's wife, couldn't stand it. She braved the Graham guns to bury her husband and his friend in a shallow grave she scraped out with an old shovel. Cowboy chivalry protected her.

Commodore Owens rode slowly down Holbrook's Main Street, south of the tracks. He stabled the sorrel at Brown & Kinder's livery. Frank Wattron walked over from his drugstore, a shotgun under his arm, to tell Owens that Andy Cooper had bragged of killing one of the Tewksburys and another man he did not know. He asked if Owens wanted help.

"I don't want anyone hurt in this matter," Owens said. "They've been telling all around the country that I was afraid to serve these Cooper warrants, and a lot of other stuff. I'll show them that I'm not afraid and take him single-handed or die a-trying. You just sit back and watch me do it, that's all I ask."

Owens was in the livery stable cleaning his pistol, when John Blevins came for Andy's horse. "Your man's leaving town," Sam Brown told the sheriff. Owens put his six-shooter back together and walked out of the livery stable with his Winchester .45-60 in his hand.

A few minutes later, Andy Cooper and Sam Houston Blevins were dead, Mose Roberts was dying, and John Blevins was wounded.

At the inquest, Commodore Perry Owens gave this testimony:
. . . I went and got my Winchester and went down to arrest Cooper. Before I got there, I saw someone looking out at the door. When I got close to the house, they shut the door. I stepped up on the porch, looked through the window and also looked in the room to my left. I seen Cooper and his brother (John) and others in that room. I called to Cooper to come out. Cooper took out his pistol and also his brother took out his pistol. Then Cooper went from that room into the east room. His brother came to the door on my left, took the door knob in his hand and held the door open a little. Cooper came to the door facing me from the east room. Cooper held this door partly open with his head out. I says, "Cooper I want you." Cooper says, "What do you want with me?" I says, "I have a warrant for you." Cooper says, "What warrant?" I told him the same warrant that I spoke to him about some time ago that I left in Taylor, for horse stealing. Cooper says, "Wait." I says, "Cooper, no wait." Cooper says, "I won't go." I shot him. This brother of his to my left behind me jerked open the door and shot at me, missing me and shot the horse which was standing aside and a little behind me. I whirled my gun and shot at him, and then ran out in the street where I could see all parts of the house. I could see Cooper through the window on his elbow with his head towards the window. He disappeared to the right of the window. I fired through the house expecting to hit him between the shoulders. I stopped a few moments. Some man (Mose Roberts) jumped out of the house on the northeast corner out of a door or window, I can't say, with a six shooter in his right hand and his hat off. There was a wagon or buckboard between he and I. I jumped to one side of the wagon and fired at him. Did not see him any more. I stood there a few moments when there was a boy (Sam Houston Blevins) jumped out of the front of the house with a six shooter in his hands. I shot him. I stayed a few moments longer. I see no other man so I left the house. When passing by the house I see no one but somebody's feet and legs sticking out the door. I then left and came on up town.
It was signed C.P. Owens.

Owens's version of the gunfight was seconded by several witnesses: C. O. Brown, Will C. Barnes, Frank Wattron, Frank Reed, and William Adams, among others.

The coroner's jury found no fault with Owens.

The Sheriff was a hero for but an instant. Often he served warrants on dead men. Deputy James Houck viciously lynched Jim Stott, James Scott, and Billy Wilson. The Saint Johns Herald wrote: "The common people are beginning to think that our territory has had enough of desperadoes as 'peace' officers, who parade about with abbreviated cannon strapped to their hips. ...The trouble with the desperado-class of officers is that they shoot whom they please, and are acquitted on the plea that their victim 'had it in for 'em' and the shooting was in self defense...."

The Board of Supervisors became antagonistic, often disallowing Owens's expenses. He once had to threaten them at gunpoint to get paid. He didn't run for a second term, choosing instead to become a guard for the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. Later he was a Deputy U.S. Marshall under M.K. Meade.

Eventually, Owens moved to Seligman where he ran a saloon. At the age of 50, he married Elizabeth Barrett. She was 23. The couple had no children. In his sixties, Owens' mind failed. Born July 29, 1852, and named after the hero of Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Perry, Owens died May 10, 1919. He lies buried in an unmarked grave in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The warrant for the arrest of Andy Cooper rests in the archives of the Apache County court in St. Johns, yellow with age. Across the back, Commodore Perry Owens had scrawled: "Party against whom this warrant was issued was killed while resisting arrest."

Vulture Gold by Chuck Tyrell
Available in print or ebook

Books Currently Available

Writing as Chuck Tyrell:
Writing as Charles Whipple:
Black Horse Westerns by Chuck Tyrell are available from the Book Depository, which ships postage-free anywhere in the world.
Coming February 2012 from Chuck Tyrell:
Return to Silver Creek
(unabridged version of Revenge at Wolf Mountain)
Coming Febraury 2012 from Charles Whipple:
The Shadow Shield,
Book 2 of The Masacado Scrolls

Sunday, January 15, 2012

RTW Features Western Author Chuck Tyrell

Author Chuck Tyrell

Featured Author: Chuck Tyrell

Romancing The West has a special guest today. Please welcome author Charles Whipple who writes westerns as Chuck Tyrell. This is a western blog so we're featuring some of his upcoming western novels, but he also writes a Japanese fantasy series, The Masacado Scrolls as Charles Whipple. The first book, The Fall of Awa, is out now.

Here's Chuck's bio from his website: Charles T. Whipple, an international prize-winning author, uses the pen name of Chuck Tyrell for his Western novels. Whipple was born and reared in Arizona’s White Mountain country only 19 miles from Fort Apache. He won his first writing award while in high school, and has won several since, including a 4th place in the World Annual Report competition, a 2nd place in the JAXA Naoko Yamazaki Commemorative Haiku competition, and the first-place Agave Award in the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition.

Raised on a ranch, Whipple brings his own experience into play when writing about the hardy people of 19th Century Arizona. Although he currently lives in Japan, Whipple maintains close ties with the West through family, relatives, former schoolmates, and readers of his western fiction. Whipple belongs to Western Fictioneers, Western Writers of America, Arizona Authors Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and Tauranga Writers Inc.

That's the abbreviated version. Here's the real deal.

RTW: It's time to get down to business. What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Do you work that into your books?

CT: I wonder if there is a single aspect of life that intrigues a person? I suppose if I had to choose something, it would be independence. Although there is no such thing as total independence, life in the “old west” came very close. As far as a man is concerned, it was possible to live with just your two hands and a knife. In a family situation, a man and his wife, with a few tools, could basically carve a life for themselves out of the wilderness. It didn’t always work, but if their eye was sharp for good land, ample water, and sufficient growing season, they could survive on their own.

My grandparents were such. They lived in dugouts until small cabins—some adobe, some post and mud, some trimmed and squared ponderosa—were built. In the end, my mother’s father built his own home, which still stands, of red brick he kilned himself. That man made 50,000 bricks and built a two-story home with them. Who today can say the same?

That sense of independence. That do-it-yourself attitude. That fend for your family capability. That’s what the Old West means to me, and that’s the kind of character I love and respect. In my Western stories, I try to show the heroism of those hardy people.

RTW: If you lived in the old west, what modern convenience would you miss the most?

CT: If I lived in 1880, I’d probably be dead. The average lifespan in those days was only about 50. That said, my great grandfather moved to Arizona at age 76. He lived to 89. No conveniences. No modern medicine. No automobiles. Just a knowledge of how to get along in a tough land. Modern convenience . . . well, if I lived in 1880, I would know nothing of modern conveniences, so I would be unable to miss them. What do I like most about now? The ability to communicate instantly across the miles to friends around the world. In 1880, my world would probably have been bounded by the distance my horse could travel. Once in a while, I’d read news of faraway places, but the effect that news would have on my life would be minimal. Now my life is affected by my friends, far and near, and my family, both here in Japan and in the US. Fortunately, we can communicate readily, which makes us more rounded people, I believe.

RTW: Are there any common errors in westerns that bug you? If so, please set us straight.

CT: In movies, of course, one must laugh about the guns used. I watched one last night from the 1960s. It was supposedly set in 1872. But the actors used Colt SAAs, which was not on the market until 1873. Same with rifles. The heroes fought off Comanches with lever-action repeaters that looked to me like late model Winchesters, perhaps M1886. In 1872, they would have been 1866 Yellow Boys or Henrys, I’d think. The other thing is, black powder makes a lot of smoke. We don’t hear much about the smoke in Westerns. You don’t see much smoke in Western movies.

It’s interesting how many Western novels are set in towns. It’s interesting how many alleys seem to exist in those towns. Yet, when you look at photographs of period towns, there seems to be a lot of distance between buildings. The setting, town or country, is as important as your characters. Early Elmore Leonard stories used setting well, in my opinion. Today, if you would like to read someone who uses setting well, read Barry Eisler.

RTW: Why is must Breed in your soon-to-be-released A Man Called Breed take his particular story journey? What does he have to prove?

CT: Well, here’s a half-breed, a man who lost his mother at Sand Creek, who never really knew his Pa. A man raised by the Master Sergeant at the fort. A man who proved himself as a scout for the army, who earned a Medal of Honor (yes, several “Indian” scouts won Medals of Honor), who mustanged in the White Mountains of Arizona until he got enough horseflesh to get himself a nest egg. He sells his mustangs at Fort Yuma and takes a steamboat to Ehrenburg, intent on going to a place he knows near Cherry Creek to start a horse ranch. The story starts with a man who tries to throw the Breed out of a bar because he’s the wrong color. It ends with that man’s father apologizing for his son’s actions. The story in between those two events will glue you to your chair and keep the midnight lights burning.

RTW: Sounds like quite a ride. You have an excerpt for us from another upcoming release. Tell us a little about that.

CT: Yes, I’m going to jump to another book – Return to Silver Creek. On one level, it’s the story of a man’s search for the villain who raped his wife. On another level, it’s her battle back to sanity, and how she (and he) comes to terms with her unwanted pregnancy. As Christmas just went by, I think this excerpt is apropos.

Return to Silver Creek
Copyright © Chuck Tyrell

A twitch, a tightening in her belly brought her thoughts leaping back to her real problem. A baby. A child of rape. An infant bred in the depths of sin.

She sat up straight in the chair, clasping her hands primly on her lap. Her lips pressed together in a firm line.

Padre Juan looked at her with the question plain on his face. Softly he said, “You are thinking about the child again.” Drawing a large breath, he spoke again.

“Let me tell you an ancient story, Laura Havelock. Perhaps it will help you see the child in your womb more clearly.”

Laura nodded, but did not relax her prim position.

“Once in another land, far away and long ago, a young man fell in love. The young man worked with his hands and he had finished his apprenticeship. He was now a journeyman, old enough and skilled enough to provide for a family.

“The young man went to the parents of the woman he loved and asked them to allow him to marry her. Seeing a stalwart youth, a journeyman, a person who loved their daughter and would provide for her, the parents agreed to a betrothal and it was announced to all. The young woman and the young man were very happy.

“Then one day the young man’s world crumbled. His betrothed, the woman he loved more than life itself, told him she was with child.

“What pain! What horror! What agony of spirit! Yet he loved her still.

“Tossing and turning in his bed, the young man slept fitfully. He had such a burden on his heart. Then, in the dead of night, he dreamt of an angel. A being in white. A being glorious as the noonday sun.

“‘Listen to me,’ the angel said in a voice that penetrated to the young man’s very soul. ‘Hear the words of my mouth. I say to you that the child in the womb of your betrothed is of God. Think you no more of it, but marry her according to your vows.’

“The young man knew when he awoke that his betrothed held life from God within her. And he respected her for it.

“When the time came, he was with her when the child was born. And they named him Jesus.”
The room was silent as Laura thought about the padre’s parable. At last she raised her eyes, still confused.

“Laura, my child,” the padre said, “without God there can be no life. In my humble opinion, the child in your womb is also of God. There is no other way.”

Laura bowed her head. And the child moved inside her.

RTW: Chuck, that's some powerful writing. Thanks for giving us a sneak peek to what has to be a fabulous book. I always ask what's next.  Will you have a sequel to Return to Silver Creek?

CT: Return to Silver Creek is itself a sequel, the lives of Garet Havelock and Laura Donovan Havelock, who first starred in Vulture Gold, the story of Garet’s quest to get back the bullion stolen from the Vulture Mine in the city where he was marshal. Garet, too, was a half-breed, son of a Texas Ranger and his Western Cherokee wife. He had to prove that breeds could carry a badge just as well as whites. Laura was the half-sister of the man who robbed the bank.

RTW: Anything else you’d like to tell the RTW readers?

CT: I’m a story writer. I’ve been a writer since 1976, but mostly in advertising and magazine journalism. Unfortunately, I’m not a very good marketer. I invite you to read my stories and books. Read one. If you don’t like it, you should never pick up another one. Oh, I also write fantasy.

Books Currently Available

Writing as Chuck Tyrell: Vulture Gold
Writing as Charles Whipple: The Fall of Awa

Black Horse Westerns by Chuck Tyrell are available from the Book Depository, which ships postage-free anywhere in the world.
Coming February 2012 from Chuck Tyrell:
Return to Silver Creek
(unabridged version of Revenge at Wolf Mountain)
Coming Febraury 2012 from Charles Whipple:
The Shadow Shield, #2 of The Masacado Scrolls

Chicken Dinner: Opera, Spurs, and Amazing Authors

Just as the holiday rush is finally calming down, we have a little bit of everything for Chicken Dinner today--entertainment, news, and good things to come. Oh, and a winner of Stacey Coverstone's book, A Haunted Twist of Fate.

Sweethearts of the West always has informative articles about the American West. Cowboys appeal to romance readers for lots of reasons, but one big reason is chaps. You gotta love a man in chaps! Last week, SOTW's guest author was Charlotte Raby, who contributed American Cowboy Chaps: Then and Now.

Sonna Building
Have you been to the opera in Boise, Idaho? Here's a bit of news from 1889, related to us by Evan Filby, the Revue Guru and owner of the South Fork Companion, Businessman Peter Sonna Dedicates an Opera House for Boise City [otd 01/03].

Need to load up your Kindle? Join the
Amazing Authors Event!
Start with western historical romance author extraordinaire, Caroline Clemmons. Here's the list:
Jan 13th: Beth Trissel
Jan 14th: Roseanne Dowell
Jan 15th: Cathie Dunn
Jan 16th: Maggie Toussaint
Jan 17th: Patsy Parker
Jan 18th: SG Rogers
Jan 19th: Linda LaRoque
Jan 20th: Jacquie Rogers 
Jan 22nd: Anna K. Lanier          
Jan 23rd: Barbara Edwards
Jan 24th: Ginger Simpson

And now for this week's RTW Winner
A Haunted Twist of Fate
Thanks so much for visiting Romancing The West.  Stacey will be getting in touch with you.

Next week: western author Chuck Tyrell