Quarter Horses

Cowboy Poet Stuart Hooker

Posted on

Award winning Cowboy Poet Stuart Hooker has been writing poetry for a lot of years, but it’s only the been the last few years that he’s shared his work with the world. A hard working man that grew up with traditional ranching and cowboy values, he’s a talented writer that’s never strayed far from his roots. If you love horses, cowboy poetry, and the western lifestyle you’ll love Stuart’s interview.

Award winning Cowboy Poet Stuart Hooker
Award winning Cowboy Poet Stuart Hooker

If you had to sum up in three words what you do, what would they be? 

Write for me.

Tell us a little bit about what a day in your life is like. 

A day in my life: Like most working folks, I have two separate types of days. I work in a copper mine, as most of my share of our family ranch did not come to me as my grandparents wished, so I have to work away from the ranch. The small part I was able to keep is not large enough to make a living on. In the mine, I operate a huge P&H electric shovel, loading 240 ton trucks with ore, leach material, or waste to be hauled out of the open pit mine. Nearly half of my days are spent going to work, to make a living, carrying and trying to share the work ethic I learned on the ranch. We work 12 hour shifts, so with vacations and days off, I am off more than half of the days. I have less than five years until I retire. I enjoy what I do, especially when I get to “train” new shovel operators.

another 4100 Shovel

Now, here’s the best part, having more days off than workdays! I was able to salvage a one section pasture that I am currently fencing off, so I can run eight to ten head of cattle on as a supplement to my retirement. It has a dirt tank that generally holds water year round, but with the drought conditions we’ve had here in SW New Mexico, it has been dry a few times in the past few years. I am in the process of building a road to my camp so I can get a well drilled and put a solar pump in. I plan on living there after retirement, but it’s miles away from power, so I’m looking into solar, back up generator, and other types of power. On my days off, I love to go work on this pasture. I’ve built what I call my “Kiva,” with the help of family and friends. I have a mini-motorhome I sleep in when there for a few days, and the “Kiva” is the gathering place for when family/friends join me. It has a fireplace, and three grills for cooking, table, home-made chairs, and other furniture. What I enjoy most is the complete silence and peace to be found there. It’s miles away from a highway and the county road that goes through my pasture is rarely traveled. You may find me cutting posts, stays, trimming brush, building fence or roads, or watching deer, elk, and other wildlife up there on my days off.

IMG_0851

My tank, full of water, with the Mogollon Mountains in the background! I love this pasture as it's part of the ranch that my great, great grandfather owned in the past.
My tank, full of water, with the Mogollon Mountains in the background! I love this pasture as it’s part of the ranch that my great, great grandfather owned in the past.

Tell us what type of writing you do.

I write cowboy poetry, mostly. At times I write song lyrics, when one “just sounds right” with a melody accompanying it, but the majority of my work is cowboy poetry. I was raised on our family ranch, working from a young age as a cowboy and as a farmer. We raised our own hay, grains, and “permanent pasture” for grazing. I have so many fond memories of working cattle, wrangling horses, and the close knit family we had at that time working together for the building up of the ranch. That’s why I write cowboy poetry. It’s a life I have lived and am getting back to soon.

Here is one verse from a poem in my book, “A Cowboy Spirit,” which was picked as best Western poetry book for 2014, by “True West Magazine” in their January 2014 issue. This is from the poem “I’ve Outlived Lots of Horses:”

 

I’ve outlived lots of horses, I’ve had good ones from the start,

I’ve outlived lots of horses, but they live on in my heart,

I’ve outlived lots of horses, I rode each one with pride,

I’ve outlived lots of horses, broke my heart when each one died;

 

You cain’t help but love horses, each one’s different than the rest,

You cain’t help but love horses, hard to say which one’s the best,

One may be good in mountains, one may have a lot more speed,

All of them have somethin’ that a cowboy may need;…

A Cowboy Spirit
A Cowboy Spirit

Tell us a little about your writing  history and how you got started. 

I have always loved music and poetry, mostly Country Western Music and Cowboy Poetry. Like I said earlier, I’ve written poetry for most of my life, but I thought it was not fitting for a cowboy to write poetry. My perspective was off. I finally let my family and very close friends view my work. I was amazed, and still am, by the fact that they liked it. When the lyrics I wrote went number one, in someone else’s name, after the anger subsided, I realized that I was doing something that I could take pride in, and very quickly my writing improved, due to that confidence.

 

I have just begun my journey as a writer. I’ve written for years, but only recently, July, 2013, had my book of poetry published. I have started reciting my poetry at local events and on “open mic night” at a local “Saloon and Opera House.” I competed at the Western Music Association in a poetry recital contest and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m still an “unknown” as I build a reputation in the cowboy poetry world, so I’m not, as yet, invited to the large “gatherings” around the country. Also, my job keeps me from going to as many as I’d like, but I’ll retire soon and be able to attend more. I have found a new publisher and have my manuscript for my second book almost complete. I’m looking forward to it coming out. My first book received an enthusiastic review from Rick Huff, a nationally recognized reviewer of country music and poetry. I was amazed when he said, “Hooker is one heckuva poet,” and that my book was worth the effort to find.

 Tell us how horses have played a roll in your life. I bet you have some great horse stories… 

Horses have been an important part of my life, teaching me lessons in life and taking me to places that would normally be out of reach. When I got the first horse that was actually mine, my grandfather bought him, and one for my older brother, from a horse trader in Gila, NM. Grandpa knew they were out of Mexico, but they appeared to be good ranch horses. I remember my brother wasn’t paying attention once and got bucked off and broke his arm while riding his little paint. That made me cautious, but my black horse was worse. We didn’t know he had been “locoed” and he threw me higher than any other horse before or since. I still have slight back problems, as I landed on my shoulder and messed up my back. My next horse, a sorrel, was bred and raised on the ranch. He was more than a pet, or a tool, his personality was indescribable. We were more like best friends, so when I was checking on him out in the pasture, one winter and found he and eight other good horses had gotten into loco weed, it really was hard to deal with. I wasn’t able to get him over it, but you learn life’s lessons out on the ranch and sometimes they’re not pleasant. Like my poem says: “they live on in your heart.”

We raised Quarter Horses, and they’re my favorite. They make excellent ranch horses and they’re smart, dependable, and can do almost anything that’s asked of them. Years ago, a hired hand ran a horse for many miles, and “wind broke” the horse. He was instantly fired, of course, and the horse improved and was put out to pasture, but that horse didn’t quit, even though his health was at risk. That sad episode that I witnessed when the horse brought the rider into the ranch yard has stuck with me, and I was impressed by the heart of that Quarter Horse, along with the selfishness of the hand.

In his later years, my grandfather had a grey horse, named “Jiggs,” that had a few years on him, and my grandpa loved that horse. “Jiggs” had more “cow sense” than any other horse I’ve known. My grandpa taught a lot of us and a lot of horses much about cattle. Well, we were at a corral we had high on a mountain, and were branding the calves when we heard some commotion from outside the pen. The first thing I saw was “Jiggs” had backed away from the fence where he was tied by the reins and was pulling backwards. I thought something had spooked him. Nope, grandpa had loosened the cinch, as we all did when a horse was being rested and grandpa’s saddle must have slipped down on his side. All I saw was “Jiggs” standing there, still tied, with the saddle between him and the post with the reins going through the cinches and to the post. “Jiggs” had taken his own saddle off, all by himself. We all got a good laugh out of that!

 If you could have one dream come true what would it be? 

I have had so many dreams realized that I know I have been blessed! My daughters, grandchildren, and my first great granddaughter are all doing well, making grandpa proud, and seeing my first attempt at publishing my writing, holding that book that I created in my hands. I don’t know if life gets better than that. Being raised on the family ranch, I remember the entire family getting together, usually on Sunday, after morning church services. Granny, mom, Aunt Mary, and the other ladies would have a tremendous meal for the “army” of relatives, and friends to feast on. Those were good times. The dream I’d like to realize more than any others is for the family to be close, like we used to be, but I’m afraid that so much self-interest has overpowered their sense of family. The split of a ranch is especially hard when greed is involved!

If you could tell the world one important thing, what would it be?

The cowboy way of life includes working hard, doing you share of the work, and more, to get the job done. That helps you to like yourself and who you are. Learn your job and do it the best you can, then you will be proud of yourself and realize you may not hear that you’re doing good, but others and yourself will realize this and then you will be a success! Taking pride in what you do makes you better at it.

Any parting advice for writers and horsemen?

This follows the same lines as the last question. I hid my poems for years, believing that real cowboys don’t write poems, hahaha. That was a fallacy and I don’t know where it came from. When I gave away some lyrics I wrote and they became a huge national hit on a major Country Western album, I was angry until a friend convinced me that I was looking at it wrong. I needed to focus on the fact that I could write a number one hit song and that I was a good writer. That’s when my writing improved, greatly. I’m constantly trying to improve my writing, and I edit, edit, edit, but I believe my writing is improving. Realizing the truth, whether we need to learn more about horses, techniques, gear, or about writing, and working on getting better and more knowledgeable is the key. If we’re constantly trying to improve, we will succeed!

How can people keep up with your work?

I have a Facebook page: (Stuart Hooker, author) where I regularly post poems. I have near 2,000 page likes there. A few of the poems are from my first book and a few will probably go into my next book. A handful of my poems are posted on the “Folks” page at cowboypoetry.com, the largest site for cowboy poetry, and a site that I support and hope others will, also. My book, “A Cowboy Spirit” is available at most online bookstores, amazon, barnesandnoble, and others in the hardback, softcover, and ebook editions. It’s also available through my publisher Xlibris and their bookstore. So far, the local newspapers, Silver City Daily Press and Las Cruces/Silver City Sun News are the only print media to cover my poetry. Totsie Slover, a dj at the Deming, NM radio station, KDEM, has interviewed me, but I am still in the process of “building a rep.”

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.

I have been writing for almost fifty years, but have kept it hid until the last fifteen, or so years. I’m sure there are gems of cowboy poetry in warbags, trunks, and other hidden sites that have never been seen by anyone except the author, all over the West and the entire country. It’s unbelievable the number of people who comment to me that they, also write, whether it’s prose or poetry. I only recently, July, 2013, self-published my book with the help of Xlibris, a “vanity publisher” who’s main goal is to sell me “marketing campaigns.” They did a great job on the book, but I had to market it on my own, which hasn’t gone very well, as yet. I believe the internet social networks are the boon of the future in marketing. My Facebook page now has almost 2,000 “likes” and I’ve had a poem that I posted reach over 100,000 “views.” Of course I hope the sales of my book takes off and I, at least, get back the money I paid to have the book published and it would be nice to have a supplement to my retirement in almost five years. I think social media is the way to get the word out, if your work is good! There are also many more “cowboy poetry gatherings” now than there ever have been. When I’m able, I plan on attending more events around the country. It will be nice to meet people from all over that share the same interests as I do, cowboyin,’ horses, and all American values!

stuarthooker

Chatting With Author Laura Crum

Posted on Updated on

This time I’m chatting with author Laura Crum who writes mysteries. If you love an authentic down to earth “who done it” that involves horses, then you’ll love Laura Crum’s books. Her years of experience in the horse industry have created some great stories that are difficult to put down for even just a little while!

Tell us a little bit about where you live and what your life is like. 
I live in the hills near California’s Monterey Bay on a very small horse ranch. I keep five horses here, also have a large garden and various other critters. All of my horses are getting older, my oldest horse is 34 and I have owned him for thirty years. I spend my time writing, reading, riding and taking care of family, critters, garden…etc.
Do you write full time or do you work in addition to writing?
I have been a full time writer for over twenty years. My first mystery, Cutter– involving the cutting horse world– was published by St Martin’s Press in 1994. Since then I have published a dozen books in my mystery series featuring equine veterinarian Gail McCarthy.
How do horses first into your life and how do they fit into your stories?
I spent my twenties training and competing on cowhorses and cutting horses and my thirties training and competing on team roping horses. I have owned horses non-stop for over forty years; I currently spend most of my horse time trail riding with my son. In my lifetime I have started well over a hundred colts, worked on commercial cattle ranches, as an assistant to professional trainers, and at a mountain pack station. All these experiences form the background of the books in my mystery series.
What genre do you write and why?
My books are mysteries, partly because I have always loved mysteries. More specifically, when I began writing, it was in an attempt to take my background in the western horse world and use it in the same way Dick Francis used his background as a steeplechase jockey to create his wonderful stories. I quite frankly set out to imitate him, because I loved his books so much, and I am never happier than when my novels are compared to his.
What makes your books different from other books in your genre? How do you think that has impacted the type of readers that you have?
I would say my books are a bit more honest and authentic than most of the horse themed books I’ve read. I would also say that they are a bit more personal than most of the mysteries I’ve read, and I’ve tried to weave into them my insights about life as well as horses. If I were to describe the series, I might say it is more or less a blend of memoir and mystery.
Tell us your favorite reader story where you met a fan. 
 can’t say that I have a favorite reader story. I do remember one woman who traveled across the state to meet me and then was bitterly disappointed that I wasn’t actually a vet myself. I also remember getting my hair trimmed (and looking less than elegant)…and the woman in the next chair recognized me and said, “Aren’t you Laura Crum?” I sort of wanted to deny it and slink away.
Do you have any special writing rituals? If so, how do you think it makes a difference in your writing?
No writing rituals. I just try very hard to make my deadlines. That’s what keeps me honest.
How can people learn more about you and your books?
All my books are on Amazon and available as Kindle editions. Type in Laura Crum and you’ll find all twelve, complete with reader reviews…etc. You can also go to lauracrum.com. And I write a weekly blog post on the Equestrian Ink blog.
Any parting words of wisdom to writers trying to get their book published?
I broke into traditional publishing over twenty years ago–things were very different then. One needed a literary agent for an editor to look at the ms, and self-publishing was a dirty word. Now with Amazon and Kindle, more and more writers are self-publishing and calling themselves “indie” authors and having success. So I really have no idea what approach I’d follow if I were starting today. The old wisdom of write the best and truest thing you can in your voice is probably still good advice.
laura_gunner (2)Hayburner_Cover (2)Forged_Cover (2)Barnstormingfinalcovercrop (2)
Next time we’ll be talking with western romance author Christina Cole! You won’t want to miss it!

The Blog Hop…. Getting To Know Writers

Posted on

This week we’re taking part of a Blog Hop thanks to talented freelance writer, author, and martial arts enthusiast from the UK, Mark Iles. Please visit his blog at http://markiles.co.uk/2014/04/the-blog-hop.html

What am I working on?

I’ve always got several projects going in various stages of development. There are three particular projects however that I’d like to focus on this year. The main focus right now is a western romance novella about a romance writer that’s down on her luck. The second is also a western romance with a curious paranormal element added. Then I’ve also been working on a sequel to Lost Betrayal.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Lost Betrayal is on the market as a Western Romance however the story is really much bigger than that. The drama and suspense throughout the story are just as big as the romance. In addition to writing big stories, another difference would be my insight to the horses and people in my books. As a trainer, I look at the world through a training view-point and tend to look a little deeper than the surface at the reason a horse or a person does something.

Why do I write what I do?

One of my biggest reasons for writing Lost Betrayal was to bring awareness to the fact that large animals are the last to be rescued in a disaster. They’re just not a high priority, they require special skills to rescue in most cases, they can’t be relocated to just anywhere and they receive the least amount of publicity when it comes to their needs. Writing the book was a way to open up discussions about that and bring an awareness to the public about that need.

Another reason that I write is that there’s always some lesson I want to share with the world. Stories are a great way to do that. Plus, my head is always filled with new ideas that just have to find a way out somehow!

 

How does your writing process work?

Working full-time and running a horse farm is already a full load. When you add competing, giving lessons and judging horse shows it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time! I’m as passionate about the horse industry as I am my writing so it’s hard to balance the two, really. Most work day mornings I get up at around 4 to 5am in the morning to get everything in. I do most of my writing during those early hours as it’s quiet and there aren’t many interruptions. Then I’ll also grab some writing time on rainy weekends as well.

As far as inspiration, I have a playlist of the Steel Drivers that I’ve worn slap out. Something about their music inspires me to write from the heart. Since I have several projects going, I usually don’t have any trouble with writer’s block. If I don’t feel like writing on one particular manuscript, I’ll feel like writing on another one.

In regards to the actual writing itself, I outline like crazy. I not only outline the story itself but I’ll also outline each chapter. I have to know where I’m headed. If I don’t outline, I tend to go down a rabbit hole!

Thanks for taking the time to find out more about my writing and what I do! Next week on May 12th check out Olivia Gracey’s blog at http://www.oliviagracey.com/blog.html. Olivia is a new author with Solstice Publishing. In addition to writing, she’s also a singer, songwriter, and photographer.

While we’re talking about wonderful authors, here’s a few more blog links to wonderful writer friends of mine.

Stephanie Hurt is a southern romance writer. A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of being interviewed for her blog. Here’s the link to that interview – http://stephanie-hurt.com/2014/04/26/interview-with-f-j-thomas-author/  Check out her blog site while you’re there to read more great interviews and read about her life as a writer.

Stephanie Berget is a fellow barrel racer and romance writer. Visit her blog at  http://www.stephanieberget.com/ to read about her stories and the latest musings about her life.

Elle Marlow is another fellow barrel racer and romance writer. You can read about her latest book and shenanigans at http://ellemarlow.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

Let Me Introduce Myself!

Posted on Updated on

After ten years of working on a book idea, I finally managed to sell to Solstice Publishing in December 2013. My book, Lost Betrayal, will be coming out in March 2014 in ebook version on Amazon, and also on www.solsticepublishing.com

In lieu of promoting my book, I decided to start a blog – but not just any blog! I wanted something for readers and writers that were also horsemen, or had an avid interest in horses and the horse lifestyle. After all, no matter how hard you try it seems the horse element always shows up somehow.

So here we are. I’ll not only be talking to writers about their books, but also to artists and competitors about what motivates them, speaks to them, and how they got where they are. I want the inside scoop. Besides, I’m always curious about what makes people tick!

By the way, this won’t be a “discipline specific” blog. After all, we’re all horse folks!

Since I’m starting this gig I guess I’d better introduce myself and tell you a little about me and what makes me tick, and what brought me to this point.

I am a Tennessee native that now resides in east Tennessee on my small horse farm aptly named, Fairweather Farm. I’m married and have three step kids who are all enrolled with Uncle Sam for the next few years.

I work full time in the healthcare industry writing contract appeals. I spend the rest of my time judging open horse shows, giving riding lessons and training, and competing in anything from barrel racing and sorting to huntseat and halter. Horses are like air to me – always have been and always will be.

I started writing in high school and never looked back. Over the years, I’ve done some copywriting and have written articles that appeared in America’s Horse, Hoofbeats, Arena Talk, and Horseman’s Yankee Peddlar. It’s rather easy for me to talk about anything horse related. I also write a blog on WordPress, Musings From The Leadrope.

I might as well go ahead and talk about my religious and political views as I’m sure they’ll come up at some point. I have certain convictions based on a lot thought and study, and I know who I am.

I am a Christian and attend a Methodist church and am involved in ministry from time to time. I have Christian values and believe in the Bible. I don’t believe in telling someone what they should believe but I will say what I believe – I hope that my life speaks loud enough that I don’t have to say anything. I also don’t believe in making fun of another person’s faith. I believe regardless of faith, you should treat people with love and respect as none of us are perfect and loving each other is what I’m called to do by faith.

I do love animals and I do eat red meat, wear leather boots and ride in a leather saddle. I believe animals are here to help us and we have a responsibility to manage them well. I believe in being responsible and treating animals well, but I also realize they can be dangerous and there are times for discipline for the sake of our safety. Yes, I love rodeo but I also love English too.

ADDENDUM…  Some of you have been asking about my full length leopard print coat in my profile and avatar pics. This coat was purchased at an antique store in Sweetwater, Tennessee. You can tell that it’s an old coat and the label indicates that it was made in England. The brand is “Shaytoon”. I have no idea whether or not it’s real. I’m sure if it was real, it would have been a lot more expensive than what I paid for it. I don’t condone hunting endangered species at all, and I don’t condone hunting just for sport. By the way, I don’t have a problem with people hunting for meat. The way I look at it, it’s an antique coat and even if it was real I wouldn’t ditch the coat because an animal already gave it’s life for it and nothing can be done about it. It’s better to wear it and honor the animal than throw it away and waste their sacrifice. By wearing it, you open up an opportunity to talk about hunting of endangered species. But again, I don’t think it’s real! 

Now on to that book I was talking about. Lost Betrayal is a romance with a couple of big stories. In short, it’s a story about a girl who’s lost her best horse after a disaster and the journey they both take that eventually lead them back together.

The longer version…

Here’s the book trailer for Lost Betrayal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urkSTWnMNr0

THE FUTURE OF THE RANCH HANGS IN THE BALANCE

Sage is just getting her life back together when a tornado touches down and destroys her family ranch in northern Georgia taking her hopes, her dreams, and the very horse that the ranch’s future hinges on. An ex rodeo cowboy with a past, Garrett has sworn off rodeo and the last thing he needs is entanglement with a woman on a wild horse chase but there’s too many unanswered questions, such as how a horse could stay gone so long.

Refusing to believe her horse was killed in the storm and refusing to give up on the ranch, Sage begins the journey of rebuilding her life once again and searching for the horse that to her, holds the past, and her future. Garrett’s past and a malicious betrayal jeopardize her efforts. Is she strong enough to push past the hurt and the lies in order to get back all she holds dear?

Come visit with me next week as I talk with author Elle Marlow who seems to be taking the publishing world by storm. A debut author, she’s already sold 5 books in as many months! You’ll definitely want to visit for that in depth interview as Elle is a sassy little cowgirl from Arizona whose writing is just a vivacious as her life. Don’t miss it and I’ll see ya at the barn!