Hi, my name is Molly Noble Bull, and I am the author of five novels and am contracted to write five more. I was born in Kingsville, Texas. Kingsville is located in Kleberg County, known for the famous King Ranch.
Kleberg and nearby Kenedy County are home to some of the largest ranches in South Texas, if not the United States. My late father and my maternal grandfather managed ranches in Kenedy County for half a century. I spent part of my growing up years on the Santa Rosa, a sixty-thousand-acre cattle ranch.
Some of you might like for me to answer questions on “Cowboys in South Texas” as background material for future books, so let’s get started:
Q: How can you tell a real cowboy from the drugstore kind?
A: First of all, today’s real cowboy would never wear flashy cowboy clothes, even if he were entering a rodeo. Sparkly and shiny is out for a real cowboy. But it’s pretty normal for a cowgirl’s clothes to sparkle and shine whether she has ever visited a drugstore or not.
Q: What would a real cowboy wear to work?
A: For everyday, he would wear jeans that he probably bought at Wal-Mart, a long-sleeved work shirt, high-topped cowboy boots, and an old Stetson or a cap with a bill. His most expensive items would be the boots followed by the weathered Stetson. The jeans, the shirt and the cap with a bill would be the cheapest on the market. He might also wear snake-guards if he plans to walk around in the brush.
Q: Why the long-sleeved shirt? And what might it look like?
A: The Texas sun is hot. A long-sleeved shirt keeps the arms and shoulders from sunburn attacks. It also protects the body from insect bites and helps keeps brush from scratching the arms and shoulders. The shirt might be an old dress shirt that he once wore to church. It would be white or blue or some other conservative-looking color. It might also be a western-cut shirt, but it wouldn’t be flashy.
Q: What would a modern-day cowboy wear on a date or to church on Sunday?
A: For the date, a cowboy would wear a nice pair of jeans that had been starched and ironed, his best long-sleeved shirt, also starched, his best boots and his best hat. To church on Sunday, he would wear a white dress shirt, suit and tie, his best boots and his best Stetson. Or he might dress just like he did when he went out on a date.
Q: Tell us a little about how a real cowboy would talk.
A: I cannot say how a cowboy talked a hundred years ago, or how they talk in other parts of the country, but a modern-day cowboy living in South Texas today would never say “howdy.” Sorry ladies. We just don’t talk that way in South Texas–never have as far as I know. My grandfather never said it. I also know a modern-day rodeo cowboy from North Dakota, and he doesn’t say “howdy” either.
I could be wrong, but I think “howdy” is a myth dreamed up by Hollywood.
Q: What would a real cowboy from South Texas say?
A: He would probably say, “Hi.” Then he would offer his right hand in friendship. At one time he would have removed his hat when talking to a woman. My sons still do that today. Most don’t. However, even today if he were talking to an older woman who was also a family friend or a relative, he would probably give her a big hug. We hug a lot in Texas.
He would also say, “y’all.”
He would pronounce oil as “all.” All well.
Foil as fall. Aluminum fall.
Texans who are forty or older were taught in public and private schools to say “yes, ma’am” and “no ma’am”; “yes sir” and “no sir.” Then the government stopped allowing teachers to insist that children to do that, and I think it was a huge mistake. So today, most don’t say, “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am.”
Actually, real South Texas cowboys and cowgirls talk pretty much like people do throughout the country, except our accent is different. Ranch managers today are educated. One of our sons is a ranch manager, and he has a degree in Animal Science. Over the past hundred years, South Texas ranch cowboys have mainly been Hispanic.
Q: Tell us a little about everyday life on a cattle ranch in South Texas today.
A: A cowboy’s main job is to look after the ranch and the cattle. This can be anything from checking fences and fixing windmills to putting out feed and burning prickly pear. We’ve had more than average rains lately, but during a drought when there is no grass, the cowboy burns off the thorns on prickly pear cactus so the cattle will have something to eat.
Most ranches in South Texas today also sell hunting leases, and hunters from big cities come to ranches to hunt deer and turkey. Some ranches also provide exotic game from Africa and other countries. Today, the ranch manager often serves as a hunting guide as well as a cowboy.
Q: Do cowboys today still ride horses?
A: Absolutely. However, they spend most of their time riding around the ranch in pickup trucks. In a truck, they can carry feed and medicine for the animals, as well a rifle should the cowboy come upon a rattlesnake.
Q: Thanks for all the information. Now tell us a little about your books and why your latest novel, Sanctuary, is set in France in 1740.
A: Sanctuary was published in trade paperback on September 15, 2007, and it is the first of three long historical novels in the Faith of Our Fathers series about the Huguenots. Though my family were/are Texas Cowboys, my ancestors came to Texas from other states and other countries. Sanctuary, the first book in the series, follows the route some of my ancestors took from France to England to Scotland. Book Two will begin in Scotland, but again, much of the story takes place in England, and it ends in South Carolina. In Book Three, they finally get to Texas and become cowboys. You can read Mary Connealy’s review of Sanctuary if you visit www.christianbook.com. Just write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot.
The Winter Pearl is the title of my long historical from Steeple Hill. Set in Colorado in 1888, it is very much a Petticoats and Pistols kind of book, complete with scenes of a shootout and a stagecoach robbery. The Winter Pearl was published in trade paperback in 2004 and came out from Steeple Hill again in mass-market paperback in 2007. It is still available, but like Sanctuary, it must be ordered from Amazon, christianbook.com, Target, Booksamillion or Barnes and Noble.
Q: Besides Sanctuary and The Winter Pearl, what new books can we expect from Molly Noble Bull?
A: My next two books will not be historical novels. Runaway Romance is two short contemporary novels under one cover. My book is titled Alyson and it takes place on a cattle ranch in South Texas today. I don’t have a firm publication date for Runaway yet, but I will let you know when I do. And I hope Alyson will make my readers laugh, or at least smile.
After Runaway, I have a non-fiction book coming up titled The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered L.D. (Learning Disabilities) Yes, I am dyslexic, and I wrote The Overcomers with four other Love Inspired authors with Learning Disabilities: Margaret Daley, Ginny Aiken, Jane Myers Perrine and Ruth Scofield.
I am also contracted to write two more long historical novels in the Faith of Our Fathers series, and Tsaba House in going to reprint The Rogue’s Daughter, a novel set on a South Texas ranch in 1890 and first published by Zondervan in 1986. To be honest, I write better than I did in 1986 when Rogue first came out; so prepare for that. The good news is that it’s an honest to goodness western romance novel.
Q: Anything else you would like to say before you say good-bye?
A: Yes. Please visit my website. www.mollynoblebull.com If you scroll down my main page and click Molly’s Family you can see pictures of my three sons on horseback and a picture of me on the Santa Rosa Ranch when I was twelve years old. And if you scroll down and click on Molly’s Books, you can see all my covers and read excerpts for Sanctuary and The Winter Pearl. Thanks, y’all, for inviting me to come today, and I hope I’ll be invited back real soon.
Molly will be sending an autographed copy of either Sanctuary of The Winter Pearl (winner’s choice) to one reader, so leave a comment!