The “Homestead Act of 1862” was the match that lit millions of Americans dreams back east of wanting to own their own land out west. Each married couple was eligible to own 160 acres of land out west if they lived on the land, built a home and farmed it for five years. Marble, Colorado was one such tiny town that held the promise of work in the gold, silver or marble mines.
‘Death Rides On Three Horses!’ is a 217 page story about one such gunfighter by the name of Daniel Coulter or ‘Big Dan’ by his friends. After killing a gunfighter in Brodie, California in 1877 by the name of Gene Martin, ‘Big Dan’ left Brodie headed for Colorado. When Gene’s older brother Andy and two of his friends ride into Brodie three weeks later from a cattle drive and learn of Gene’s death, they set out to track down Dan Coulter if they have to search three states to do it.
Meanwhile, Dan found himself in Redstone, Colorado where he met a 28 year old gal named Annie Sinclair. He never raised his hand against her nor hurt her with his words. But he taught her how to use a gun. After they married, he settled down to raising cattle and horses for three years. The couple hoped Dan’s past wouldn’t follow him but they were wrong. In the spring of 1888 three men rode into Marble, Colorado looking for Daniel eager to settle an old score. What happened next would change Annie’s life forever.
After finding ‘Big Dan’ on his ranch outside Marble, Colorado they murder him and beat and rape his wife. As they viciously beat Annie they told her their names, leaving her for dead. The problem was…. ‘They let her live’ and now Annie is out to track each one of them down and kill them for murdering her husband and raping her.
Book Review: “We’re back in Marble, Colorado in the late 1800’s. Along with the Liley’s & Bates families & all the other previously met residents of Marble you’ll meet Dan Coulter & Annie Sinclair. Dan was previously a gunfighter & he meets Annie in Redstone, a town near Marble. They fall in love & Dan has promised to hang up his guns but Annie wants to move to a smaller more peaceful town so they buy a home close to the Liley’s & settle down to a good life.
The last man Dan killed in a gunfight in Brodie, California has a brother named Andy Martin. Andy, along with his buddies Buckskin Mark & Adam Banks decide they are going to track Dan down & kill him. Along their way they continue their life of robbery, murder & rape until they end up in Redstone where they find that Dan is only a few miles away in Marble.
When they find Dan they murder him & rape Annie beating her almost to death. Thinking she is as good as dead they brag to her telling her each of their names. After Annie recovers she vows that she will not stop until she finds each & every one of them & makes them pay. Her journey of revenge & hate takes her to Wyoming, Utah, Montana & finally to California.
This part of the story was excellent & the reason I didn’t hesitate to give this book 5 stars. But, there is a “but.” The ending was very corny.
You’ll know what I mean when you read the book. It did not take away from the very good story but I didn’t care for that added part.
This is a cleanly written book with no smut & only some violence but nothing graphic. I highly recommend this to any lover of the old west.” Book Reviewer: Mary Jane Kail, July 10, 2015 Amazon
As for who Raymond Cook is, well, I’m a 62 year old disabled veteran. In 1972, at the age of 18, I enlisted in the marine Corp. My plan was to retire. But fate has a way of changing our destiny. In 1974 on my way back to my base, a drunk driver hit me head-on going 80 MPH and my life was forever changed. Those were my darkest days. Eventually in 1983 I enrolled in college and took a creative writing class as an elective. At that point I had no interest at all in becoming a writer or author. In truth, how many people have taken a writing course in high school or college and believed one day they would write a book?
Little did I realize what a ‘profound Impact’ that class and my instructor, Mr. Art Wicks would have on my future. Between 1983 and 2010 I wrote my poetry and short stories, but refused to believe that one day I could set down and pen thousands of words, put a title to what would one day be considered a book. In 2003, I wrote a 5 page western romance story I simply called, “A Western Romance Story!” It was only meant to be a short story. Each year though I would add a few pages to the story because I liked the story plot and characters. In 2011 while wanting to add 10 more pages to what was now a 50 page story, ‘something happened’ and it became my first novel called, “Was It Fate Or Destiny?”
This is my 5th year writing western frontier novels.
I recently learned that Arthur William David Wicks, my college professor who taught Creative Writing to me in 1983 recently died on Nov. 10, 2013. It is a great loss to the world because he truly touched the lives of his students, me in particular. Without his guidance, encouragement and inspiration, none of my eBooks or poetry would have been written.
An author’s goal is to not just ‘Entertain a reader’ but to try to touch the reader’s emotions too. After all, that’s the entire purpose of reading a book, to enjoy what you’ve read.
Random stuff about me:
- I grew up in Shelton, Washington, a small logging town. My family lived on an Indian reservation for several years.
- I have a grown daughter, 31 and a grown son, 27.
- I presently live in California and love the blue sky.
- I’m a life member of the DAV having served in the Marines. (1972-74)
- I love deer hunting and fishing but don’t do either right now.
- My best friend’s grandchildren treat me as a long lost uncle. (Big Smiles)
- I like going to rodeos, county fairs, garage sales, swap meets and farmers markets.
- I like helping others if I can and have a strong ‘volunteer’ spirit within me.
- I love all types of music but couldn’t carry a tune if someone handed me a bucket.
- I like to garden and am health minded.
- I love horses, dogs and cats.
- Favorite Movies: True Grit, Silverado, The Magnificent Seven, Unforgiven and Pale Rider.
- Favorite Bucket List Thing I’d Like To Do: Go shark fishing off of Monterey Bay, California.
As you scroll down my homepage you’ll see the four books that are my favorites. Since my first eBook in 2011, I’ve written 23 more western frontier eBooks totaling 6,200 pages. If someone had told me in 2011, I would write this many books, I wouldn’t have believed them. I hope one of my eBooks will become your favorite.
My advice to anyone who wants to write a book but thinks they can’t, stop saying, “I can’t” and take a ‘creative writing course’ like I did back in 1983. Then read your book slowly and fix the typos and grammar.
What makes you proud to be a writer from CA? Although I have been writing poetry and short stories since 1983, I never wrote a novel until I lived in Lodi, California. I would hate to think what would happen if I moved and couldn’t write again, lol!
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I took a 5 credit Creative Writing ‘Elective’ college class with no interest in writing anything, it was just an elective. But Art Wicks, the teacher was a mentor to thousands of students who took his class during his years as a professor. He left a profound impression on me for decades to come. I never believed an instructor or a class would have such a profound effect on my decades later. Arthur William David Wicks, my college professor recently died on Nov. 10, 2013. I know anyone who took one of his classes will not forget him.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? I grew up watching western movies and tv series like Little house on the prairie and Bonanza. John Wayne will always be a person I admire.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Actually I never intended to be a published author. I had a 50 page western romance story I had been adding pages to for a number of years with no expectation of it ever becoming a book. In January, 2011 I exploded and wrote 200 pages more and it became ‘Was It fate Or Destiny?’ If I was to give a date I guess 2011 would be my answer. Since 2011 I have written 24 western frontier eBooks, with 5 more planned.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Seeing that I only got a ‘C’ in college English I have to say without a doubt that learning how important (GRAMMAR) is to my books has been the most rewarding experience. Spell check highlights typo’s but NOT misuse of words in sentences. It is almost impossible for an author to write a book and then correct his or her Grammar while they feel on cloud nine. It is a euphoria that clouds of mind since we know every word of our book.
I intend from now on to wait two weeks after finishing a book to go back and read it slowly as a stranger would read it. Then try to catch my mistakes. I 100% believe in using Beta Readers to help me better my books, but they need to be good Grammar minded readers. A Manuscript editing service is far beyond my budget to be able to afford. I have paid a high price Amazon comment wise to better my grammar. I still have books to re-edit before I write Book #25.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? The most rewarding experience for me has been to watch some of the children in Book #1 throughout my series “Grow up” get married and have children of their own.
How many published books do you have? 24 eBooks
Titles of all your books.
Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript? I feel every writer has his own strategy he or she uses. For me, I browse through thousands of western frontier era photographs at various photography websites. The moment I see a particular photo I know the whole story from title, events to ending. In my mind a movie plays out and I just type. Of course I have to get permission to use the photo as my eBook cover or purchase the rights to use the photo or there will be no book. This is because the entire story is built around the photograph. The same is true for the title.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? My genre is western and I grew up watching all the favorite western tv series as a child. I have always liked the era of homesteaders, wagon trains, good guys vs. the bad guys. Many of my main characters are women.
Which book title would you like featured in this interview? For anyone who has written many books, it is always tough to answer this question. For me, there is something I like in all my books. If I had to pick one title, it would be, “I Miss My pa The Most!”
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book (one book) that you are seeking promotion for? As I said earlier, the cover photo for my eBook is what makes me want to write the book. The more powerful the photograph the more I sense the story. I love emotion in my stories and “I Miss My Pa The Most!” is very emotional.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? It is an ABSOLUTE MUST to not only fix the typo’s spell check identifies but to also (READ) your book about two weeks after you have finished writing it. Let the “Excitement of your accomplishment wear off before you slowly read your book again. Don’t hurry. Take your time reading. A poorly edited book on Amazon will draw “Negative” comments and they will haunt you even after you have fixed the typos and grammar.
Case in point, in one of my books I wrote by mistake….
“When the couple opened the picnic basket they smelled the aroma of fried children.”
Because children was spelled correctly, had I not read my book I would not have realized the word I meant was chicken. I still laugh about that blooper though.
Who is your favorite author and why? I don’t have any one particular author I enjoy reading. The same holds true for my favorite western movie. I like many.
‘I Miss My Pa The Most!’ by Raymond Cook is a 388 page story about Christopher and Shannon Rose O’Shea who lived in Marble, Colorado in 1898. The couple have a daughter, Emma, aged eight. After a stove pipe fire erupts downstairs, everyone must escape out a small window to the roof and jump down. Christopher dies in the fire and Shannon suffers burns on the right side of her face, neck and arm.
Emma is devastated over the loss of her father. Shannon and her daughter are taken in by their neighbors, David and Pamela Liley. It takes months for Shannon to heal from her burns however, accepting the loss of the man she loved and the father of her daughter will take longer. When spring arrives, Shannon remembers that her husband has an older brother, Lance in Garnet, Montana. He agrees to take her and her daughter in.
With the help of the town’s parson, Thomas O’Malley, townsfolk’s raise the funds needed to help get Shannon and Emma to Montana. But the last leg of her journey won’t be easy, to say the least. Indians, grizzly bear, cougar, highwaymen and rancher who betrays her will whittle away at the last bit of hope Shannon has for them to reach Garnet alive. When they finally reach Garnet, she learns her husband’s brother, Lance is dead too.
Now they’re camped at the edge of town and believe there’s no hope left. She feels that no man will ever want to marry her and that she’ll have to raise her Emma alone. The town’s reverend introduces her to Kenneth Buchanan who’s agrees to take them both into his home. But the women of Garnet don’t like the fact they’re living together and fight her. So the reverend marries the couple, ‘out of convenience.’ Can Kenneth and Shannon stay married but be just friends or will he see beyond her scars and see the love she has to offer him? And what about Emma? Will she finally bond with Kenneth and call pa again?
Book Review: “One part of this book, took 5 Kleenex’s, I was almost sobbing, it was so emotional. The story just kept going along with this family from one drama to the next. I kept thinking this is enough for these poor farmers. it showed how lawless a lot of the West was in the 1800’s.” Reviewer: Sue A. Hanke, Amazon, Feb. 28th, 2016
I Miss My Pa The Most by Raymond Cook is a western tale from the late 1890’s. The author writes with sincere passion and authority about the West.
Christopher O’Shea, his wife Shannon and eight year old daughter Emma manage to survive all the perils on a covered wagon trip from Nauvoo, Illinois west and set up ranching in the outskirts of Marble, Colorado. This tight knit little family has faced “cholera, smallpox, Indian attacks, drownings, injuries, dust storms, wildfires, tornadoes, rattlesnake bites and mountain avalanches”.
There are many beautiful descriptive written scenes that are set off by breathtaking photography. Here are three of my favorites, but you will have to read the book to see the photos.
“As they walked through knee high wet grass the sound of rushing water got louder and louder. When they walked as far as they could go, they stopped and stared at the large creek that made a slight bend to their left. The sky was still mostly blue with patches of white clouds drifting south. It was a wide, deep and winding creek, sure to be filled with Rainbow, Brown or German trout Christopher thought.”
“Brush and young saplings lined the edge of the slow moving creek. Leonard followed a deer trail along the creek making his way down to the lake. When the lake came into sight, everyone was startled as a large bald eagle swooped right passed them and grabbed a fat trout just below the surface.”
“As it flew off with its meal Emma excitedly pointed and said, “I wanna catch a trout that size pa!” Suddenly everyone laughed. Now and then the family saw trout jumping out of the water though none were big fish. Finally Leonard called out and said, “Well let’s make our way back up to the cabin folks.”
The O’Shea family homestead on small piece of land containing old cabin and barn where they set out to make this country their home. Like all new settlers they have to live off the land and defend their property from both wild and human dangers. They are settling into their new life, enjoying the new friends, local community, a church and Emma even goes to school.
Little did they know that their worst nightmare would be a fire. Christopher gives his life to let his wife and daughter escape the fire engulfing their cabin. Grief stricken Shannon sets out with her daughter for Montana where Christopher’s brother will take them in. The journey is rugged and dangerous and it is up to this strong woman to protect her daughter.
Amidst the struggles comes so many heartwarming and beautiful moments between a father and his daughter, husband and wife and mother and daughter. There are new friends and a new beginnings. The characters, dialog and story are realistic to the time. There are nineteen breath taking photos throughout the story which show the beauty of the land and the abundance that is harvested from hard work.
This is book 19 out of 24 Western Family Saga’s that you can enjoy through Kindle. Revisit the Wild West in its beauty and tragedy as Americans forge their way to a new life.
Let me address a side issue. As a published author myself, I always read the reviews before I purchase a book. It is not unusual for readers who have never written a book to be over judgmental. I found the grammar and voice in this book to be consistent with the region of the country and time period. There are a couple of line spacing issues that in no way affect the story. If you like family stories of the Wild West, you will enjoy this book.
Raymond Cook’s bio clearly states that he is a “62 year old disabled veteran”. We thank him for his service to our country and encourage him to keep on writing heartwarming stories like this.
Cold Coffee Press/Cafe endorses ‘I Miss My Pa The Most’ by Raymond Cook. We reviewed this book from Kindle/PDF format. The review was completed on May 8, 2016. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press http://www.coldcoffeepress.com and Cold Coffee Cafe http://coldcoffeecafe.com/
‘It Was Fight Or Die!’ by Raymond Cook is a 224 page story about the conflict between settlers coming to the town of Marble, Colorado and the bands of Indians that inhabited the Colorado territory in the 1890’s. The Apache, Arapaho, Comanche, Crow, Kiowa, Paiute, Pueblo, Shoshone, Sioux and the Ute tribes relied on vast hunting and fishing grounds not only for food but also clothing. Many of the Indian tribes were relocated to reservations by the U. S. Calvary to clear the way for settlers.
But the U. S. Government often times failed to provide the necessary cattle to help feed the Indians according to the treaty, for giving up their hunting grounds. Worse, inscrutable Indian agents many times deliberately gave blankets to the Indians which contained smallpox or cholera on them. Often times the reservations the Indians had to call home lacked suitable water and the soil was poor for growing food. If the Indians tried to flee, they were either killed trying to escape or were hunted down and killed.
The Homestead Act of 1862 however allotted each married couple 160 acres of land to homestead on in the Colorado Territory. Some families traveled 1,500 miles by covered wagon to reach Colorado to stake their claim. For those who didn’t want to be a rancher, they could prospect for gold or silver. Cattle ranchers needed ranch hands and The Yule Quarry outside of Marble needed workers to work at the quarry too. By 1899 nearly 400 people lived in or around Marble. The town now had its own newspaper and a dentist too.
The railroad would soon reach Marble too and that would open the area up to even more settlers. But the families calling Marble their home needed food, lots of food. Numbers of Elk, buffalo, deer and antelope dwindled. For the Shoshone, Sioux and Paiute, with game getting scarce for their people they have no choice but to join forces and make a stand or die. This is their story.
Book Review: “Western history about the white man and Indians has never been a pleasant read. The white man was greedy and felt the Indians were below him in importance. They were herded up and put in reservations for the most part. Many died during this process, including anyone that fought against it. No one should have been surprised when they fought back.
Mr. Cook has done a nice job of gathering facts about Marble, Colorado and the Indian wars there. He points out how the land was given free to anyone willing to homestead for five years, or they could buy the property cheaply if they planned to resell and move on sooner. He also mentions the lack of food the Indians got in reservation (many of soldiers in charge of delivering the animals sold them elsewhere and kept the money) and how they got smallpox from the used blankets they were given to keep them warm.
He makes his characters come to life and you care about the white families as well as the Indians. Many of the families had hard lives before they settled in the valley. Misfortune had touched almost everyone in town. Yet, they had courage and were willing to fight for their family and land.
Mr. Cook does a very good job of explaining the Indian’s war strategy. The white man didn’t give them credit for being smart and that was a big mistake. While the white man thought superior weapons and force would win the fight, the Indians used stealth and planning to take them down. This resulted in more guns and horses for the Indians.
I noticed a couple of historical references being repeated more than once in this book. Once is enough to establish the sequence of events. There were also some grammatical mistakes and a misspelling. Nothing too big, but I would suggest the author ask someone with new eyes to read his manuscript before publishing. They might catch these things, and then your book would be perfect.
All in all, it’s an educational read done in a fictional form and it makes reading history much more pleasant. Mr. Cook has the facts down right and his discussion of their motivations is also right on. Life was hard in homesteading days. Life was even harder for the displaced Indians. We have much to learn from history and this author will help you find out about it.” Book Reviewer: LAS Reviewer, July 21, 2014 Amazon
‘A Journey Along The Mormon Trail!’ by Raymond Cook is a 222 page story about a miner in Marble, Colorado named Jim Liley who worked in a marble quarry and lost his sight in his left eye due to an injury. He decides to get a 160 acre ranch but doesn’t want to live there alone so he places a mail-order bride notice in an Illinois newspaper. Kristy Greenfield saw his ad in The Nauvoo Gazette and after writing back and forth she decides to travel to Colorado to meet and marry Jim.
Does Kristy have what it takes to be a homesteader’s wife? Follow Kristy on her 1,200 mile trek along the Mormon Trail. The journey thousands of families made across the trail wasn’t without perils. Cholera, smallpox, broken wagon wheels, Indian attacks, drowning’s, lost children, injuries, savage dust storms, rattlesnake bites, getting lost, blizzards, starvation, lack of water and even robbery could crush the dreams of a pioneer family’s hopes for a new life.
As if all of those risks weren’t enough to discourage someone from trekking 1,200 miles across unknown dangers, unscrupulous merchants were known to sell covered wagons and provisions to families only to rob them several miles out of town. Then the men would bring the covered wagons back to the merchant who would re-sell them over and over. Take a trip back in time and see through Kristy’s eyes all that she endured hoping to find happiness at Jim Liley’s side as his wife.
Will she find the happiness she risked her life for or will she regret her marriage and break his heart by leaving on the stage? This is my 13th eBook in this series of pioneer families living in Marble Colorado in the 1890’s.
Book Review: “Jim Liley is a young man growing up in a Colorado quarrying town in the late 1800s. When he’s blinded in one eye in a quarry accident, he’s afraid no woman will ever want to marry him. Kristy Greenfield’s hometown in Illinois is becoming depleted of marriageable men as they all head west seeking their fortunes; will she end up growing old alone? Then Jim places a wife-wanted ad in the newspaper, beginning a sweet long-distance courtship with Kristy which leads to her making the momentous decision to head out west to marry him.
A Mail-Order Bride for Jim Liley follows the difficulties of life in a rough Colorado town, the developing romance between Jim and Kristy, and Kristy’s harrowing journey traveling with a wagon train along the Mormon Trail to meet Jim in Colorado and marry him. The story rambles, going into the colorful histories of the townsfolk of Marble, Colorado and other side trips, I caught a few anachronisms, and there are a few problems with the writing mechanics, in particular the paragraphing, though otherwise the prose is clear and well-written. But the story of Jim and Kristy’s courtship is engaging (no pun intended!) and the tale of Kristy’s trip west is full of excitement and danger, and a large amount of work and research clearly went into this heartfelt book. Recommended for fans of sweet western historical romance and books depicting the realities of life on the frontier in the 1870s.” Reviewer: Lunarmommyk, April 14, 2015, Amazon
‘Was It Fate Or Destiny?’ by Raymond Cook is a 257 page story about Emily Brown, a 24 year old widow and her two children, Tommy age seven and Sarah six homesteading in the Crystal River Valley outside Marble, Colorado. Her husband Jess was a miner killed in a card room brawl at Kate’s Place saloon in 1890. Look through her eyes at the challenges she faces trying to raise and protect her children alone outside of town.
With Jess buried behind her cabin Emily doesn’t feel she can ever allow herself to fall in love with any other man. Travel back in time and see her meet Sam Bates, a kind but shy ranch hand bunking at the Triple R ranch. See the struggle each of them endure trying to share their feelings for each other and her love she had for Jess before they allow their love to grow.
See through their eyes after they marry the strength it takes to survive the harsh Colorado Rocky mountain winters where one day it can be blue sky and the next, four feet of snow. Three years later Sam discovers a jar of gold coins hidden in an old apple tree he chops down and their new found wealth nearly gets Sam murdered by two men seeking work as ranch hands. Tommy ends up saving families life from the killer’s.
Feel the terror in Emily’s heart as her family is terrorized by a grizzly bear. When Sam buys his children their own pony, he also buys Emily a horse for her birthday. After Sarah breaks her leg falling as she tried to put a baby owl back a barn rafter; Sam uses Sarah’s love for her new pony to help get to walk again. When the time comes for Marble to build their first schoolhouse, Sam, Emily, Sarah and Tommy ride to town as a family.
Book Review: “This is a good fiction western romance novel set in Colorado, among the mist of silver and marble mines in a small town of Marble, Colorado. Jess and Emily with their children, Tommy and Sarah were homesteading their land according to the Homesteading Act passed in1862. Jess was killed during a card game leaving 24 year old Emily to raise the children. One day going home from town her wagon wheel broke.
Sam Bates stopped to help Emily. Almost at first sight, love sparkled. A few months later, Sam and Emily married and became a family. This is a story of how people settled in the west; and the hardships they endured. Families and neighbors helped and protected each other. They had to prepare for the cold hard winters gathering food for themselves and their animals.
This was a clean, comfortable, fast paced read, just sit back, relax and enjoy reading about some of our history that made this great nation and see how our country grew out west with day to day living, by family after family. Thank you, Mr. Cook for a good book. A good clean romance about the hardships, accidents, and mishap. Also, a sweet love story.” Reviewer: Pat, April 16, 2016, Amazon