A dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson sent me a link to an article on a wonderful artist, Felice House. It’s her amazing work you see in this post. Her paintings and Evan Porter’s write up got me thinking more than usual about heroes and heroines.
We all love a strong, confident hero. The phrase alpha male comes to mind. When I started writing, I attended countless workshops on how to create a strong hero. But writing this, I paused and thought for a moment. How many workshops had I taken on how to create a self-assured, strong heroine? I’ve attended a few, though not nearly as many as ones on heroes. That thought led me to realize whether I’m reading a book or writing one, for me, the stronger the hero’s personality, the stronger the heroine must be. She can’t be a wimpy Missy Miss who crumbles under a strong wind or the hero’s stinging retort.
I want a heroine who doesn’t need a man in her life because she’s fine just the way she is, thank you very much. But should she find one, she believes he’s lucky to have her in his life. She has skills she’s proud of and helps the hero as much, often more, than he helps her. She’s not sitting back moping about the obstacles fate has thrown in her path. No, sir. Instead, she tugs on her big girl panties and develops a strategy to overcome her problems. And if the hero is one of those obstacles? He’d better watch out.
Felice House’s painting reminded me of that type of heroine. When House moved from Massachusetts to Texas, like many of us, she fell in love with “western” culture: the clothes, cowboy boots, music, the whole thing. However, when she watched classic western movies starring actors such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and James Dean, she found women’s portrayal as helpless damsels in distress disturbing. House described the situation as “the empowered and the powerless.” Already familiar with creating work that fought stereotypical women’s images, House set out to re-envision these cowboy heroes with women.
As you can see from House’s paintings, she and her models succeeded in portraying woman every bit as formidable, compelling and fierce as the original actors. To add emphasis, House made the paintings 1.25 times larger than life to ensure these western women towered over people. These paintings portray images of strong, capable women who can handle anything life sends their way.
House’s paintings have inspired a 2019 goal for me—create heroines half as awe-inspiring, assertive, and frankly, badass as the women in Felice House’s paintings. If I can do that, I’ll be more than happy.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about what you think makes a compelling heroine to be entered to win a copy of To Catch A Texas Cowboy. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
To read Evan Porter’s article click here. All images of Felice House’s work are used with permission. To view more of her paintings click here.
As much as I’d like to regularly get to travel in the West, I only get to visit every few years. So as a writer of contemporary western romance, I look for inspiration in other ways — movies, TV shows, reading other authors’ books. Another way is by reading magazines that focus on various aspects of the West. For instance, in my book Home on the Ranch, the heroine, Ella Garcia, was inspired by Amie and Jolie Sikes, the sister duo behind the junking and repurposed decor empire known as Junk Gypsy. As I watched their TV show, Ella started to form in my head. I sent Amie and Jolie copies of the book dedicated to them when it came out. They were sweet to write me back and send me a Junk Gypsy mug which I drink out of all the time. So when I saw this copy of Cowgirl magazine with them on the cover, I had to pick it up.
Inside was more inspiration for characters’ style choices, whether it be western clothing or jewelry, furniture for their homes, or the homes themselves, as well as articles about western life. There’s even an article in this issue about a cattle drive in Florida, the Great Florida Cattle Drive.
The same can be said of magazines such as Cowboys & Indians. Plus, who can resist Sam Elliott on the cover, right? In this particular issue from a couple of years ago, Elliott talks about his Netflix show The Ranch. There are also articles about camping across the West, Ernest Hemingway’s time in Idaho, and Muscogee/Creek artist Joy Harjo. Even the ads have beautiful imagery of expansive Western vistas, gorgeous Western-style homes and decor, Wrangler jeans (known to be worn by cowboys far and wide), and useful information such as the list prices for ranches that are for sale.
Sometimes all it takes is one image to set a writer’s mind down a path that ends up with a completed novel. I’m a visual person, so I’m continually inspired by the things I see — whether in person on on the glossy pages of a magazine.
Do you all enjoy Western-themed magazines? What are some of your favorites?
What do a cowboy, a snowstorm, and a delayed flight have in common?
Pour yourself a cup of tea, take a moment to relax, and I’ll share a little story with you…
Picture a bitterly cold December wind blowing snow so hard you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone far enough to get in a vehicle and drive somewhere.
This was the scene my husband (better known as Captain Cavedweller) and I encountered one December day as we prepared to leave on a much-needed vacation. We’d been planning to drive across the state to our destination, but with the blizzard-like conditions, we couldn’t see any wisdom in traveling in the horrible weather.
Rather than stay home, though, I convinced CC to go to Las Vegas to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. We’d always wanted to go and had just never got around to it. Since flying somewhere was the only way we were leaving town, it made perfect sense to switch our plans and take the impromptu trip.
As we arrived at the airport the next day, we noticed more cowboy hats in the crowd than just CC’s. And when we landed in Las Vegas, there were cowboy hats (and cowboys) everywhere! Each December, the city of Las Vegas takes on a country vibe as the rodeo comes to town, bringing with it hundreds of vendors, thousands of spectators, and a whole lot of fun.
On the return trip home, we arrived at the airport and discovered our flight was delayed. Gradually, we made our way through a sea of cowboy hats to our gate. While CC read the newspaper and impatiently jiggled his boot-covered foot , I observed those milling around. As I watched cowboys pass by, some in a rush, others walking with a distinctive swagger, my ever-active imagination began to take over.
Since so many of the cowboys who compete professionally spend a good deal of time traveling, I began to wonder how many of them flew from one rodeo to the next. If they were flying, it seemed like a strong possibility that they might meet a girl at an airport who turned their head.
I began jotting down notes for a story idea and by the time we reached home, The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance, Book 1) was born.
The fifth book in the Rodeo Romance series, Chasing Christmas, released last week. Each book in this series features characters tied to the rodeo (a saddle bronc rider, a steer wrestler, a rodeo photographer, a stock contractor, a barrelman, and now a bullrider). All of them are sweet romances full of laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer (and cowboys, did I mention cowboys?).
But more than the fun stories and hunky cowboys, this series set me down the path of helping the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
While I was writing , I included a scene where the hero is hurt at a rodeo. I began to wonder exactly how much medical attention a cowboy could receive at a rodeo and how bad injuries would have to be before he was taken to the hospital.
I reached out to an amazing organization — the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. In 1980, two gentlemen developed the concept of a mobile sports medicine system that would provide medical support services to professional rodeo athletes. Today, the Justin Mobile Sportsmedicine Centers can be seen at arenas across the country. Rodeo athletes who are injured while competing are assured of receiving immediate and expert care through these centers.
The program director kindly (and patiently, so patiently) answered my many questions. Through him, I learned about a program called the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
Rodeo athletes say it isn’t a matter of if they get hurt, but when. So when the inevitable happens and they sustain catastrophic injuries that prevent them from competing for an extended time (leaving them without a paycheck), the JCCF steps in and provides much-needed assistance.
After learning about the organization and impressed by how helpful and kind those I’d spoke with had been, I decided to donate to the cause.
This is the fourth year for my Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign. Now through December 24, I donate ten percent of my book sale proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.
So if you’re thinking about holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think about giving a book! You can find my releases in digital, paperback, and audio formats, including .
~ GIVEAWAY! ~
For a chance to win a digital copy of The Christmas Cowboy and Chasing Christmas, answer this question:
I have so enjoyed the year I’ve spent here with all the Petticoats & Pistols fillies and readers. This is such an amazing community of book girls, all with such love for the western romance genre.
Jane in Bandera, Texas on her Sept 2012 She’s Gone Country booktour…
I’ve made great friends and have learned so much, too, and am constantly being inspired by the women in this community, their stories and posts.
where she was taught to ride…
rope, and yes…
stand on the back of a horse.
Unfortunately I need to peel away for the coming year as I juggle personal and professional commitments, and doctors orders to do less and get more rest. “Doing less” does not come easily for me but in this case I must listen and try to slow down a bit, which means deferring some writing opportunities and shifting professional resonsibilities so my family can still have a functioning wife and mom.
I will miss you all, and hope I can return now and again so say hello and share more adventures with you!
Just a week after the big RWA conf in San Diego, I flew with my two older sons to Denver while my husband flew in from Hawaii with our little guy to meet up for a huge family reunion at a dude ranch near Grant, Colorado. Grant—originally called Grantville after President Ulysses S. Grant—was founded in 1870 and within twenty years had a population of 200. It’s a lot smaller than that today.
I write ranch stories.
I love cowboys.
But I confess: I got on that plane nervous about playing cowgirl for a week…especially with four different generations, and not because I don’t love everyone, but I’m a hard core introvert and the very idea of scheduled activities, much less 8 hours of scheduled activities for seven days filled me with a fair amount of trepidation.
Happily, reaching the ranch, I breathe in the clear clean mountain air and began to relax. Tumbling River is located at a 9,000 foot elevation so the scenery is spectacular, and the ranch itself has a fascinating history. Our hosts shared that some of the buildings date back a hundred plus years, and is always favorite with ranch guests. We didn’t have one of the old cabins, or the original homestead cabin, which had been built in the late 1800s, but our cabin was very comfortable and pretty and perfect.
My boys had as many activities as I did…and each of the boys had activities for his ‘age group’. Mac was thrilled with all of his, especially because he could be with Luke, his cousin who is just 20 days older and full of fun. Mac and Luke’s mornings started with a horse back ride and then either a hike or fun games, followed by lunch with everyone and then family fun that we could all do together: fishing, swimming, rodeo practice, hay rides.
While Mac did ‘kid stuff’, my two older boys were able to go rock climbing, fly-fishing, white-water rafting, and do longer trail rides, including a visit to a ghost town in the mountains.
Midweek when I was craving some alone time with my guy, Ty and I packed up Mac and headed to Georgetown, forty-five minutes away. Georgetown is a historic mining town, and today a historic landmark, preserving the town’s past when its silver boom turned it into the third largest city in Colorado. Only a thousand people live in Georgetown today but it has lots of interesting buildings and fun places to shop, eat, and explore.
But the dude ranch wasn’t just blue skies and fresh air, sparkling rivers and massive mountains, it was really good food. The kind of food you’d want on a dude ranch after a long trail ride: ribs and chicken, tri-tip and smoked pork tenderloin. And for those who went on the overnight ride and visited the ghost town, they had coffee and flapjacks and bacon in the morning, eating outside next to the campfire. I didn’t do the overnight as I stayed at the ranch with Mac, and I was envious of those who had their overnight adventure but I do think I slept better in the big luxurious bed!
Back home, I’m still doing laundry and now trying to get my middle son ready for his senior year of high school (which starts Monday!!) but I’ve a lot of new ideas for future western stories so I owe my family a huge thanks for dragging me out of my comfort zone and into a dude ranch vacation!
Have you ever or would you one day like to visit a dude ranch? If you’ve already been, what did you love most about your experience? And if you haven’t, what’s the one thing you’d really want to do there? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a fun prize! Contest ends August 10th. 🙂
I met Carol Jansen Koch in 2005 when I was on my Frog Prince book tour and hosted a tea in Plano, TX for Pi Phi Alums. We didn’t really get to know each other until I was back 2006 on my Flirting with Forty book tour. After that event we spent a couple of hours talking and by the end of the evening Carol was a true blue friend.
On every visit to Texas, I try to see Carol, and when I returned in 2010 for my She’s Gone Country book tour, a 10 day trip that would take me across Texas, I had Ty and 18 month old Mac along. We kicked off our trip in Dallas/Ft Worth and who better to launch us on our Texas adventure than Carol and her new husband, Garner Koch, a true Texas cowboy.
Ft. Worth is Garner’s old stomping grounds so he took us to get real boots–at Leddy’s–and then showed us the Texas he knows and loves.
Garner and Carol are the friends we meet every year in Las Vegas for the NFR. While the guys go off and do guy stuff, Carol and I and her cool Texas crew go shopping at Cowboy Christmas. This last year Carol made a list as one of the most fashionable people at the 2015 NFR and so I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Carol’s western fashion sense with you, as well as some great places to pick up your western fashion wear.
1) Carol, I met you in Texas at a Pi Beta Phi alum event. So have you always been a cowgirl?
I’m a Midwest farmer’s daughter. Born and raised in Iowa. Self proclaimed big boned Iowa girl. Got to Texas as soon as I could. Texas completes me.
2) When we first met you were single. How did you meet Garner? Tell me about your first date.
I cannot tell a lie. We met at a Honky Tonk. (I hope my Mother isn’t reading this… she thinks we met at church) It was the day after Christmas and I was very germy and so didn’t want to go out. Garner was the tallest most handsome cowboy in the place and he came up to the table where I was sitting with my 5 girlfriends and asked ME to dance. I so thought he was coming to ask one of my other of my pals. Ha! We danced the night away. We exchanged numbers and I so thought I’d never hear from this cowboy again….to my surprise, he called me while my friends and I were driving home! Yes. my friends were very impressed!
3) How did you develop your western style?
My style is forever evolving. I love to invest in some fabulous pieces and then throw in a few inexpensive pieces to make the look my own.
4) Where do you shop?
Orisons in McKinney, Texas and also Ya Ya Gurlz in Abilene, Texas are both my favorites and thankfully not next door to me – otherwise I might get into lots of trouble….it’s a treat and ordeal when I go to shop. I go with my list of parties/events and they help dress me. It’s like stepping into your best friend’s closet.
5) What is the one thing you MUST wear when going out with Garner?
Boot and turquoise.
6) How much did Garner influence your fashion sense?
Garner is very traditional. He has great shirts from 10+ years ago in his closet that with “extra heavy starch” – wears today and looks timeless. Our dry cleaners know us well. Unless Garner’s britches (jeans…) can stand up in the corner by themselves, we take them back to the cleaners….
My favorite line early on was oh I need something new to wear to our next party/function as….”it’s hard being Mrs. Garner Koch…” this only worked a few years. He’s onto me now. I can admit I’m addicted to the entire perfect “costume” hunt and presentation. It’s my obsession. 🙂
Plus a few more fun stores if you’re in Texas or enjoy shopping online: Pinto Ranch – You can shop online or visit their locations in Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas http://www.pintoranch.com Gypsy Wagon – Fun mix of western and boho fashion–plus jewelry & more. Online or locations in Dallas, Austin, and Crested Butte, CO http://www.the-gypsy-wagon.com Wild Bill’s Western Store – Hats, boots galore & lots more http://wildbillswestern.com
A big thank you to Carol for letting me poke around her closet and talk fashion. Carol, you inspire me to take fun risks and make fashion fun!
Do you enjoy western wear? Where do you shop? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a giveaway! The prize is the winner’s choice of a signed print copy of She’s Gone Country, set in Mineral Wells, TX, or an ebook version of the book, plus reader swag!
When I first submitted my cowboy romances to Harlequin—back in the early 1990’s—I was told that my setting of a California ranch wouldn’t work, that California was not known for its cowboys and ranchers.
This was news to me. I’d grown up in Central California and my high school was a school with a strong Ag program. One of my best friends lived on her family’s ranch twenty minutes outside town. Everyone I knew drove a truck of some sort and half the football team had little cans of SKOAL in the back pocket of their Wranglers.
And then there was the family ranch. My grandfather’s ranch.
This last Fall I shared that my Texas grandfather, William M Lyles, once had three cattle ranches in California, his favorite being the Lazy L Ranch in Parkfield, California.
Just where is Parkfield?
It’s in the middle of the Central California, 40 miles east of Paso Robles. The land is beautiful—rolling hills, gold fields and green pastures, ancient oak trees, cattle, wildlife.
My grandfather died in 1965 in a ranching accident on the Parkfield property when I was just a year old.
In fact, the picture of me in a red romper as an 11 month old with my brother Thom on Dixie, was one of the last times I was with him. We were all at the ranch and Grandpa had put his four grandkids on Dixie for the picture, but the saddle slipped and we all went down. There was much crying following the fall, but Grandpa wouldn’t have any of it. He told my mom to put us back on the horse and that’s what she did (to be fair, she doesn’t look very happy in the pic, either) but Grandpa was tough, and we were raised to be tough, too.
Baby Jane on Dixie
After he died, my grandmother sold the other two ranches but kept the Lazy L and continued to run grandpa’s Black Angus cattle until later she leased the grazing rights to a neighbor. We always spent a lot of time on the ranch. Some families would visit Pismo Beach or even exotic Hawaii, but we went to the ranch, visiting every year for the entire Easter week.
Jane with sister Kat and brother Rob on Sunny
Growing up the population of Parkfield was small. Really small. 21 People. Imagine my shock when as an adult I discovered it had shrunk to 18. Not a bustling place, unless you happen to be in Parkfield for its annual Bluegrass Festival or the Memorial Day weekend rodeo.
Cooling off in Horse Trough
Jane with brother Rob and Mom
Today Parkfield’s population might be smaller than when I was growing up in the 70’s, but our neighbors in Cholame Valley, the owners of the big V-6 ranch, have turned Parkfield into a very appealing western destination with activities for the whole family year round. Interested in a stay on a dude ranch? Feel like participating in a cattle drive or attending a rodeo? Check out some of the activites in charming little Parkfield http://www.parkfield.com.
Son Jake at the San Andrea fault
I only knew a couple things about our ranch when I was growing up. The turnoff for our ranch is where James Dean crashed his car and died. At twilight you’d go driving and see deer everywhere. And then there was the little fact that Parkfield is the self-proclaimed “earthquake capital of the world.”
It wasn’t until I read WHERE THE OLD WEST STILL HANGS AROUND last year that I discovered there is a lot more to Parkfield’s history than earthquakes and cattle. Robert Flood grew up in Parkfield and writes of a California few people know. My favorite stories were those set in and around Parkfield, including the influence of the Jack Ranch and the William Hearst families, as well as the outlaws who spent time in Cholame Valley: Jesse James and the Dalton gang.
The only outlaws causing trouble in the rolling hills around Parkfield now are probably my boys when I take them for a long weekend to spend time in our little ranch house. There isn’t a lot to do at the Lazy L but relax, build puzzles, ride horses, go out looking for deer at dusk, and then drive another ten miles to the Parkfield Café for some great beef brisket and BBQ.
Son Mac and his first ride at the ranch
Have you spent time on a ranch? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 giftcard from Amazon! Contest ends Friday with winner announced on Saturday!
PS There is a funny story about one of the pictures above. Did you see the picture of me sitting on a dark brown horse with my little brother Rob? In the photo, my mom is holding the lead. You see, my mom is a very determined woman. There is nothing she can’t do once she puts her mind to it, and whenever we visited the ranch, she’d chase down the horses, saddle them, help us ride…in general, she was pretty confident that she could handle her kids, and the horses. My mom had so much confidence that one Easter when we reached the ranch, the horses weren’t in the corral by the ranch house, but below the cattle crossing guard in a lower pasture. Mom marched down to the lower pasture and spent considerable time cornering a most unwilling dark brown horse, but she did it. She got a lead on him, then bridled him, and saddled him, too. And then finally, she put my toddler brother and me on “Sunny’s” back. The horse was not happy. He was really unhappy. But my mom wasn’t having it, determined to show us kids how it was done. We had just finished taking the picture you see above when the neighbor came careening up the road in his truck, all upset because that wasn’t Sunny. That wasn’t our horse at all, but a wild horse that wasn’t yet broken. He couldn’t believe Mom had got a bridle and saddle on him. Personally, I wasn’t that surprised. My mom is a woman who knows how to get things done. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me that anything is possible!
My friend Susan gave me this entertaining book the other day! I love reading the quotes and find some so true, some funny and others very poignant. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you today, from NEVER ASK A MAN THE SIZE OF HIS SPREAD, A Cowgirl’s Guide to Life. Giving credit to the author, and I love her name, Gladiola Montana. Isn’t that a great name?
The Code of Her West- Use a short rope, a sweet smile, and a hot brand.
When a cowboy gives you the key to his truck, you know you’re close to winning the key to his heart.
Foolin’ a man ain’t all that hard, finding one that ain’t a fool is a lot harder.
Oil all the wheels on your wagon, not just the squeaky one.
“One of these days” is “none of these days.”
You can’t get ahead of anybody you’re tryin’ to get even with.
If you wake up and find yourself a success, you ain’t been asleep.
Be sure to taste your words before you spit ‘em out.
Women have a lot of courage, otherwise none would ever get married.
New and improved can’t beat tried and true.
When kissin’ a cowboy in the rain, make sure you both fit under his hat.
A lesson every cowgirl should learn is where her business ends and someone else’s starts.
About half your troubles come from wanting your way; the other half come from gettin’ it.
Always say “please” when you tell somebody to shut up.
To win all you gotta do is get up one more time than you fall.
Before you get serious with a cowboy, make sure he values you more than his truck.
If a man thinks that a woman who can dog steers, ride broncs and rope the wind is too much for him, he’s probably right.
A weddin’ ring should cut off the wearer’s circulation.
Never-under any circumstances-admit that you like to cook.
Aren’t these great? They made me laugh. My favorite is: “Be sure to taste your words before you spit ‘em out.” Which one fits you the best?
And be sure to visit me tomorrow at A Platinum Event- Fantastic Fall Multi-Author Online Party. Sign up TODAY to be included. Every author is giving away wonderful prizes. And my hour on the fence post is Friday at 3:15 pm, PST…I’d love to see all of you there!! I’m giving away Amazon Gift Cards and this Fabulous Fall Prize. (Audio book of Carrying the Rancher’s Heir, Pumpkin shakers, Pumpkin spiced candle, Fall kitchen towels, and Candy corn!)
Check out my newest release too, A Royal Temptation!
My very next novel will be pre-set in Marietta, Montana. That sounds like a real place, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s not located on any map that we know of. What I mean by pre-set, is that this town already exists in many other author-related books, so in a sense it’s real. There are café’s and schools, a chocolate shop, and a sheriff’s office all in the small town of Marietta. Characters live there, either in town, or near Copper Mountain or in Paradise Valley, doing what normal folk ordinarily do, ranching, banking, baking, dining and romancing!
For my new adventure, I’ll be one of four authors writing a romance about when the Rodeo comes to Marietta. My bronc-riding hero (who has no name yet—would love for you to name him) returns to his roots and meets up with his deceased brother’s widow—the very same girl he dumped for the excitement of the rodeo. Said heroine, wants nothing to do with him, until he reminds her of the unrequited passion they’d once shared.
So my research begins learning about Montana. I’ve never been, and usually I set my stories in places I’ve traveled, so this will be a bit of a challenge. Here’s some fun facts about Montana:
The State flag is stunning: Rocky Mountains, cliffs and rivers under the big sky.
Montana’s Motto: Oro y Plata (Spanish-Gold and Silver)
Montana is the Spanish word for “mountainous”.
The state nicknames are: Big Sky Country and Treasure State
Montana became a state in 1889
It’s the 4th biggest state in the US
But 44th most populated with just over 1 million people
So now I ask you to help me come up with my hero and heroine’s names? I’m really at a loss, usually I have a clear vision of their names, but right now I’m coming up blank. Both are Montana born and bred and have worked on ranches. Give me your suggestions and you’ll be in a random drawing for a really cool 2 in 1 book. The Cowboy’s Pride by Charlene Sands/The Paternity Proposition by Merline Lovelace
Also available for PRE-ORDER is my newest Desire (releases on July 1st) Isn’t it pretty?
Hello, Vickie McDonough here. Before I get to the actual post, I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know I’ll be giving away a print copy of Gabriel’s Atonement to one of the visitors who leaves a comment on this post. Now, let’s talk about Lucille.
You’ve heard of Annie Oakley, but have you ever heard of Lucille Mulhall, who at one time was just as famous?
The first rodeo in Oklahoma Territory was held in the mid-1880s, and ironically, Lucille Mulhall was born on her family’s ranch near what would soon be Guthrie, Oklahoma on October 21, 1885. It is said that she could ride before she could walk. The cowboys who rode the plains of the Indian Territories tutored her in the art of lassoing. Her skill at riding, roping, and training horses was evident, and at a young age, she started competing in roping contests.
When Lucille was just ten years old, the mayor of Guthrie invited her to ply her skills and entertain at a cowboy gathering and contest. At age thirteen, she had her first major debut at the St. Louis Fair in 1897, and in a few years, she was performing on the vaudeville stage, entertaining crowds of up to 5,000.
Zach Mulhall, Lucille’s father, organized the Mulhall’s Congress of Rough Riders and Ropers. Lucille was the star of the show, where she met and became friends with Will Rogers and also Teddy Roosevelt, who was then a candidate for the vice-presidency.
Zach was a proud father and one of Lucille’s greatest fans. He claimed that when his daughter was thirteen, he told her she could keep as many of his steers as she could rope in one day. “Lucille,” he bragged, “didn’t quit until she’d lassoed more than 300 cattle!”
In 1900, when her father was roping in El Paso, he bet local cowboys that his daughter could out rope them—and she did. Zach won over $10,000, but Lucille faced a horrible ordeal. The cowboys didn’t believe she was a girl and attacked her, tearing at her clothing to prove she was not a woman. Her brother Charley rescued her just in time.
Later in 1900, Lucille performed at a Cowboy Tournament at a Rough Riders reunion. Teddy Roosevelt was again amazed at her skill. He joined the family for supper, where the topic of conversation centered on the wolves plaguing the area. Lucille offered to get one for Teddy. He agreed, but only if Lucille would rope one. Undaunted by the challenge, she spent the next ten days tracking a wolf pack. One morning, she caught up with them, and as she rode toward them, the pack scattered—all except for a steer-sized wolf she called “loafer”, which ran straight toward her. She roped him, but he gnawed through the rope. She tossed another rope on loafer and tied him to a tree, then cut his throat. She took the wolf to a taxidermist and had it stuffed, then she sent it to Teddy Roosevelt. As a thank you, the Mulhalls and the 101 Wild West Show performed at the McKinley-Roosevelt inaugural parade.
Lucille and her wolf kill made the news across the country, and she was dubbed the Cowpuncher Queen of Oklahoma Territory. Newspaper reported that Lucille was the greatest attraction at the Rough Riders reunion. An article in the Wichita Daily Eagle described her as a little girl who “weighs only ninety pounds can break a bronco, lasso and brand a steer, and shoot a coyote at 500 yards. She can also play Chopin, quote Browning, construe “Virgil” and make mayonnaise dressing.”
1901, Lucille roped five horses simultaneously at a horse show in Iowa. Later, she roped eight at once. The next year, she won a “thousand dollar day championship medal” at the Texas State Fair and Champion Steer Cattlemen’s Convention in Fort Worth. In 1903, Lucille was dubbed “the only lady roper in the world” and won $10,000 when she set a new world record for steer roping.
Lucille married and had a son, but because she left home and returned to performing, her husband, Martin Van Bergen, raised the boy. Van Bergen later divorced Lucille after deciding she would never settle down to domestic life as most women. A second marriage also failed.
Some sources say that Lucille made millions of dollars by performing in silent movies. At one time, she was the most famous horse woman in the world, but she ended up where she began, back on her family’s ranch. She died tragically in a car crash on December 22, 1940.
Lucille performed before European royalty, U.S. presidents, and won the respect of cowboys worldwide for her skill. She became the only female rodeo producer of her time with her show Lucille Mulhall’s Roundup and is well known for opening up the world of rodeo for women. Lucille’s popularity was due to her skill, the result of perfect timing with her rope, unusual balance on her horse, and her diminutive size and ladylike demeanor. Most important, she was authentic, coming from a genuine ranch background. She was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1975 and National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1977.
So, tell me. Have you heard of Lucille Mulhall before?
The Chronicles of Oklahoma, Rodeo in Oklahoma is Women’s Business by Tracey Hanshew.
In 2008, I started writing a book called Gabriel’s Atonement, which has stayed on my heart ever since. It was one-third finished when I had to set it aside because I got a contract for another book. I was thrilled, when after several rejections, Gabriel’s Atonement was finally picked up by Barbour Publishing. The book released on January 1, and I’m thrilled to tell you that Gabriel’s Atonement, book 1 in the Land Rush Dreams series received 4 ½ stars from Romantic Times magazine.
Popular historical author Laurie Kingery writes: “This is possibly the best western I’ve read all year. (2014)”
What it’s about:
Gambler Gabe Coulter is content with his comfortable life—but when a man with a gun confronts him in a dark alley, everything changes. Guilt riddles him for killing Tom Talbot, even though it was self-defense. The dying man said the money he lost to Gabe was meant for his wife and son. The only way Gabe knows to rid himself of the guilt over killing Talbot is to return the money he won to the man’s wife.
Lara Talbot doesn’t believe Tom had money. She sees Gabe as a charming con artist like her irresponsible husband and wants nothing to do with him. She struggles to feed her family, keep her rebellious sister in line, and care for her young son and sick grandpa. The land rush in the Oklahoma Territory seems the only way for them to get a home, so Lara rides, but her dreams don’t turn out as planned. Could God have a bigger dream for her than she could imagine? (Click on cover to purchase book)