Intrigue Author Elle James: Cattle Rustling Ain’t Dead

elle_james.gif“Filthy rotten rustler! Hang ‘em high until he stops twitchin’!”

Back in the old west, a man could be hanged for stealing another man’s livestock. Nowadays, that isn’t the case and surprise…cattle rustling is on the rise. Cattle rustling? Isn’t it kinda hard to hide a cow in your pocket? Making off with cattle isn’t like shop lifting an Ipod. This kind of thievery takes someone who knows how to handle cattle. Someone who knows the lay of the land and the movement of cattle owners.

cowboyonhorse.jpgIn wide-open places like Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico you wonder how someone could get away with hauling off a man’s cattle. Unfortunately it’s all too easy. Sneak in at night, load up a trailer full of sleepy cows and off you go. With beef prices on the rise, the payoff is high. A thief gets full value on the sale of a cow.

Auction barns can’t ask the cow who it belongs to, not every bovine is microchipped and plastic tags are common in all colors with no links to the owner. Steal a cow, sell it at an auction in another county or state and reap the benefit of a $1000 or more. All for the cost of risking very little.

Many cattle owners turn their cattle loose in large fields or ranges and don’t check on them that often, making it easy for cattle rustlers to move in, steal half a dozen cattle and get away without anyone knowing better.

txsizedsecretscover.jpgAs a Harlequin Intrigue author, I’m always looking for the next cool story angle. Fortunately, my friends who don’t write mysteries are looking as well. One such friend, Megan Kerans, noticed an article online about cattle rustling in Oklahoma and sent me a note offering it up as a potential plot for one of my books.

That article was the inspiration behind my March Harlequin Intrigue, Texas-Sized Secrets. When I proposed a cattle rustling story in Texas, my editor said, make the ranch owner female and pregnant and have at it! I smartly saluted and wrote the story, threw in a lot of secrets and voila!

+ posts

25 thoughts on “Intrigue Author Elle James: Cattle Rustling Ain’t Dead”

  1. Elle, how nice to have you with us this weekend. I’m a fan of Intrigues, and your cattle-rustling story sounds like a refreshing change of pace for the line.

    I’m always amazed at how creative criminals can be, but a herd of lone cattle sure makes it easy, doesn’t it? Still, I’d think most of the herd would be branded.

    Then again, brands can be altered.

    Great to meet you!

  2. Good morning. Your new book sounds great. Question, why did the woman need to be pregnant?

    I agree with Pam criminals are creative. To bad they can’t use that for something good. It never ceases to amaze me how much work people will put into not working.

  3. Thanks for the gracious welcome, Pam. Not all cattle are branded. It takes too much time and manpower to brand cattle these days. When we had cattle in Texas, we didn’t mark them in any way whatsoever. We lived on a 100-acre ranch (small) and it was hilly. If someone wanted to come in with their lights off, we’d never have known and would never have caught them!

  4. Sherry,
    Harlequin Intrigue readers love the “hook” of having a pregnant heroine, a baby, a cowboy… There are more hooks that sell the books. I mean really, what woman wouldn’t love to fantasize about a cowboy coming to her rescue, especially if she is or has been pregnant? And a cowboy who would find her attractive while pregnant. Dream man in the making!

    It was fun making it believable for a 5-month pregnant woman to be riding a horse. I’ve known a few women who rode up to the day they could no longer get onto the horse. (I’m picturing a large belly making it impossible to get a foot in the stirrup) Who knows, maybe it makes for an easier delivery!

  5. I am not such a fan of pregnant heroines… but I can understand why people like them… I have never read an Intrigue with a cowbow… I should try one 🙂

  6. Elle, what a great idea for a story. We had an angus cow/calf herd so it’s extra interesting to me. It’s absolutely true that the cattle are out on vast acres of land, far from a house or a witness. And a good pick-up with a cattle trailer on the back can be pulled in fairly easily. Rustling happens, I know.

  7. Hi Elle!
    I had no idea that cattle rustling was a problem right now. I think of it as something from the wild west. I had heard on the news the other day that pirate attacks had increased quite a bit last year. Anther crime I thought was long gone.

  8. Nathalie,
    I think women who have been pregnant can relate with a pregnant heroine, even if they’re long past child-bearing years. We have memories. As for cowboys, yummmmm. Back in my younger days, I dated a few. They’re strong, sexy and not afraid of hard work. They even look good covered in sweat, dust and sprinkled with hay. And they like to play hard too. The ultimate hero.

  9. Elle, welcome to Petticoats and Pistols! It’s great to have you. I live and Texas and it’s very common to hear about cattle rustling. Only today it’s high tech. Like you said, it’s pretty easy if you have a truck and trailer. Take ’em to auction and they never ask questions. I think it would make a great story and it seems you’ve written one. I love the fact that the ranch owner is a woman–and she’s pregnant! Lots of built-in conflict there.

    And Maureen, I keep reading about those pirate attacks off the Barbary Coast. Very strange. I too thought that was long dead. Seems not.

    Again, a big welcome to you, Elle! Hope you enjoy blogging.

  10. Hi Mary!
    Then you know what it’s like to herd cattle. It’s not all that easy. Takes someone with a little knowledge, someone who isn’t afraid of an animal big enough to squash you like a bug! On a clear, moonlight night, you don’t even need headlights on your vehicle. What ranch owner would see it coming?

  11. Maureen it does sound like the wild, wild west, doesn’t it. I’d heard about the pirates as well. Where there’s money to be made, you bet some will be willing to take the risks to cash in.

  12. Hi Linda! I’m excited to be on Petticoats and Pistols. I love writing about the west and ranching. My husband and I only dabbled in ranching. We did the regular stuff with cows, horses and goats. Then we tried our hands at raising exotic birds (translates to Ostrich, Emus, Rheas). You know, the big, flightless birds. Talk about a rodeo when you try to round them up. I’ve been attacked by a 350-pound ostrich named George. The wild west is a bit more wild than it used to be!

  13. Hi Elle,
    So nice to have you here at Petticoats and Pistols. I’m going to read your book – I have to say I love the idea of intrigue, cowboys and a pregnant heroine. Thanks for being here to today. Do you have any more western themed books on the horizon for Intrigue?

  14. Hi, Elle! That’s a fascinating topic–I’m a city girl but have always been intrigued by ranching. It’s interesting how the methods change but the risks and difficulties don’t…

  15. It is amazing that there still is rustling but it doesn’t surprise me, thieves will steal anything. We live in a very “me first” society so I can see that some people work so hard to not have to work. It’s a sad commentary when you can’t leave anything around a police station because one of your coworkers might steal it.

    I’ll keep my eye open for your book, Elle. I’m in the minority when it comes to pregnant heroines, never had the urge to procreate so that’s not something that would draw me to the story. But then, I’m more likely to blaze ahead and would want the cowboy to help me, not rescue me.

  16. Charlene I have a few western themed books coming out 2009. Two based in Texas, 1 based in the Colorado, Nevada area. Which reminds me, I need to be working on proposals!

    Fedora, Nothing wrong with city girls, they can be fascinated by rough-n-tough cowboys too. Something about getting dirty and sweating that can be a complete turn on, huh?

    Lynn, my pregnant heroine is tough as nails, she’d be a good heroine, pregnant or not, and she isn’t afraid of anything. She doesn’t wait for the hero to rescue her, she looks for ways to do it herself!

  17. I am a big fan of books with a little mystery to them. I also had no idea that people still stold cattle. But it would make sense because cattle are worth a whole lot more these days. We had a few cows when I was growing that like to go visit our neighbors, they would break out of their pen and just go for a visit. I think it was because they had a lot of cattle and they were lonely.

  18. Welcome to the blog Elle! Your story sounds great! Definitely something new to read about! Thanks for blog!

  19. Kathleen, Thanks! I’m glad to be here!

    Lori, I’m writing one now with an 8-month pregnant heroine. It’s definitely going to be CHALLENGE! Ack!

Comments are closed.