Muleskinners: Judge Not
by Jacquie Rogers
A short story in
Hell on the Prairie
Wolf Creek: Book 6
This week Romancing The West features the July 2 release, Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie. It's an anthology of seven short stories, all featuring characters in or connected to the Wolf Creek series, and offering in-depth understanding of your favorite Wolf Creek residents. There'll be giveaways on each post, so please check back each day.
- Monday: Troy Smith discusses his character, Marshal Sam Gardner, and his role in Wolf Creek.
- Tuesday: In Drag Rider, Chuck Tyrell has some fun with Billy Below--how'd this character get his name?
- Wednesday: Clay More tells us about doctoring in the Old West and in his story, The Oath, how Wolf Creek's Dr. Logan Munro deals with the conflicts his oath.
- Thursday: Cheryl Pierson's story, It Takes a Man, gives us an in-depth look at Derrick McCain.
- Friday: Jerry Guin tells us how his character, Quint Croy deals with his new job as a lawman, and how Asa Pepper ended up owning a bar in the rough part of Wolf Creek, called Dogleg City in Asa Pepper's Place.
- Saturday: Jacquie Rogers penned a guest appearance by a special character in her story, Muleskinners: Judge Not, that runs concurrent with Wolf Creek 1: Bloody Trail.
- Sunday: In New Beginnings, James J. Griffin gives us insight into the past of the town's blacksmith, and how a surprise changes his life.
If you're not familiar with the Wolf Creek series, you're missing out! Written under the house name Ford Fargo (the house name for Western Fictioneers), each book is the collaboration of some of the best western writers in the business, steered by Troy Smith, who also writes two WC characters. Links to all the Wolf Creek books are at the end of this article, just above the contest announcement. For more information on the story world, visit Wolf Creek, Kansas.
RTW: Actually, I am Jacquie Rogers so this interview will be of myself. That’s not hard for a writer because we talk to people in our heads anyway. If we didn’t write, we’d have to take medication for it. So in this section, I ask myself for a brief bio. Here goes.
I’m the author of the western historical romance Hearts of Owyhee series: Much Ado about Marshals, Much Ado about Madams, and Much Ado about Mavericks. I’ve also written a contemporary western romance, Down Home Ever Lovin’ Mule Blues, and a fantasy romance, Faery Special Romances, and other works. My story in Wolf Creek 6: Hell on the Prairie, Muleskinners: Judge Not, is my first foray into traditional westerns, although I’ve read westerns all my life. I loved writing this story and it will serve as a launching pad for a new series next year.
RTW: Give us a blurb for Muleskinners: Judge Not.
JR: Elsie Parry and her father are headed to California, when their wagon is attacked by vicious outlaws, who happen to be biding time until they make a second assault on what’s left of Wolf Creek. This story takes place concurrently with Wolf Creek, Book 1: Bloody Trail.
RTW: What prompted you to write Westerns? What keeps you writing them?
JR: I write western historical romances and have wanted to write a traditional western for a long time, but just never did. What prompted me to write westerns in the first place? Originally, laziness. Since I grew up in an area not that far removed in culture and deed from the real Old West, I thought I could get away with very little research. Not so, because we did have electricity, cars, and telephones, and it’s amazing how much those three things change the world. The real answer to the question, though, is because my thought process lends itself to westerns better than any other genre, which is also probably why I love reading them so much.
RTW: It’s 1871 and you live in Wolf Creek, Kansas, what’s your job and how well would you get along with your character, Elsie Parry.
JR: My job? I’d probably be a dairy farmer if I had hired help, or a hunter if I didn’t. There are quite a few jobs I could do, and Kansas winters are cold, so maybe I’d take a job as a bookkeeper or some job where I could sit by the pot belly stove. I wouldn’t have to get along with Elsie because she doesn’t live there, but I think we’d be friends. She cracked me up a few times.
RTW: What surprised you the most about Elsie? Are there more surprises coming in future Wolf Creek books?
JR: When I started writing her story, she was as stubborn as her mules, so I was a little surprised at her flexibility, and also by her mysterious interpretation of judgment. She's not in the Wolf Creek cast so you won't find her in future books, but she'll be in The Muleskinner series, released in 2014.
RTW: What would give Elsie the ultimate happiness?
JR: She wants to be settled in a place near the Pacific Ocean where her mules are happy. They were her only company for the last year of the Civil War and she’s very attached to them. She doesn’t think about marriage or children, since she’s twenty-three and hasn’t had a chance to learn women’s work; e.g., she wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to go about keeping a house or making a quilt. A stable, on the other hand, she understands.
Muleskinners: Judge Not
by Jacquie Rogers
a short story in
Hell on the Prairie
Wolf Creek, Book 6
My pa wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. He’d flapped his lips all the way from Missouri to the middle of Kansas and I reckoned by the time we did get to the ocean, I’d be ready to dunk him in it.
“One of the mules is lagging.”
“Hermes,” I hollered. “Quit sniffing that bush and get over here.” Sure, my mules were coddled, but they’d been my only company for a year during the war, and the six years since, my best friends. “You know you’re supposed to stay by the wagon.”
The mule sent me a guilty look and trotted to his spot by the rear wheel with the other three. I have eight mules, but a harness for only four, so four mules pulled half a day, then I traded them out.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to tie the spare mules to the wagon, Elsie?” My father, Obadiah Parry, had lost his wife, son, home, and thought he’d lost me and the mules in the war, but he’d run into me a few years back.
Believe me, the moment I saw that man was the happiest day of my life. His brown hair had grayed and he’d hunched over and slowed down considerable, but his blue eyes still had that sparkle—the one that let you know there very well could be a frog in the sugar bowl, so watch out. I wouldn’t call him a moocher, but he did let me do the working while he did the talking.
“Maybe, but I ain’t tying them up. They know their jobs.” Unlike Pa, who was more of a dreamer than a doer. The one dream he had that worked out was when he decided to start a draft mule business with a mammoth jack he’d won in a card game. He talked the local farmers who had quality draft horse mares into giving him one foal for every two breedings. The result was more than a dozen draft mule foals the next year, but then the war broke out.
Now his dream was to go to California. I had eight of the mules, the wagon, nowhere else to go, and I was happy to make up for lost time with my pa. He had the gift of gab and a hefty dollop of charm, which got me more than one well paying freight job. We had a light load this time, though—supplies for the trip west. But we had to take a detour to Wolf Creek to pick up a wagon he’d won playing euchre last week.
Wolf Creek: Hell on the Prairie
Available in print, or ebook at
and soon at other online stores
RTW: Tell us about your other current releases.
JR: I just released a short story, a time-travel-to-the-future romance, called Single Girls Can’t Jump. It’s a fun, fast read. Then there are the Hearts of Owyhee books. Much Ado About Marshals won the 2012 RttA Award for Best Western Historical Romance, and all three novels have earned a quite a few five-star reviews. My books are fast-paced and a bit on the whimsical side. I figure we have enough stress in our lives without making even more stress for entertainment.
Later this year, Mélange Publishing will release the fourth book in the series, Much Ado About Miners. I also have several other novella and short story series in the works. Plus, I am hoping my Wolf Creek story about dairy farmer Gib Norwood will be included in the Christmas anthology.
RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?
JR: I’ve loved all the Wolf Creek books and I can’t say how happy I am to have my story included in the Hell on the Prairie anthology. I’d like to thank the Western Fictioneers and the editor-mastermind-ramrod of the Wolf Creek series, Troy Smith.
Wolf Creek, Book 1: Bloody Trail
Wolf Creek, Book 2: Kiowa's Vengeance
Wolf Creek, Book 3: Murder in Dogleg City
Wolf Creek, Book 4: The Taylor County War
Wolf Creek, Book 5: Showdown at Demon's Drop
Wolf Creek, Book 6: Hell on the Prairie
One commenter will win two Kindle books.
Wolf Creek, Book 6:
Winner will be drawn July 7, 9pm Pacific Time.
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Be sure to read the interviews and excerpts all this week. You can still enter to win books--just leave a comment each day!