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Vivian Zabel and Prairie Dog Cowboy

Welcome to the new Books and Authors! I will be bringing you the same great content as the old blog--but I am officially out of room over there--and I can offer you guys so much more here. Please bear with me as I get this blog where I want it--it is a work in progress at the moment!

My very first guest here is Vivian Zabel, author, publisher and all-around great person. Her newest creation, Prairie Dog Cowboy, promises to be a great one. Let's meet Vivian, take a look at Prairie Dog Cowboy--and listen to one of the books main characters!

Let's see what Vivian has to say about who she is:

Since I was born on an Air Force base (Randolph AFB, Texas), right under the flight path, I knew I had to be a plane. I often wondered if I were a B52 or a C130. No one can imagine the surprise, the dismay, the shock I felt when my mother told me I was a person. I often wondered why I had people for parents. One thing, before I continue - no, I did not watch the Wright brothers test their plane. I'm not that old. Now, for some of the boring stuff. Born July 28,1943, I traveled all over the United States and half way around the world west and east. I started in Texas and graduated from high school in Limestone, Maine. I lived on Guam and in Morocco. As an 'Air Force brat,' I followed my father to most places the military assigned him. I married my husband on February 18, 1962. After our three living children were in school, I returned to college and studied to become a teacher. I taught school for over twenty-five years, grades five through twelve, from time to time, but mainly high school. I taught English, speech, drama, debate, French, yearbook, newspaper, creative writing - I think that's all. Now I write poetry, stories, and books, as well as frantically learning the publishing trade. When I'm not writing, I'm attending ball games or traveling. Thanks to three grown children, I have ten grandchildren, two great grandsons, and two great-granddaughters. Three of the grandchildren live in the same town I do, and all three boys play all kinds of ball (baseball, basketball, football, and one is adding wrestling). That's one reason some of my stories and books are about boys who play ball and have adventures. Oklahoma, which means "Land of the Red People," has been my home for most of my life. I don't think I would ever want to live anywhere else. The state has sandy beaches around a large salt lake, hills so tall they are nearly mountains, farm land and forests, flat land and rolling hills, cities and rural areas. Our state isn't heavily populated. Our two major cities, Oklahoma City (which is also the capital) and Tulsa aren't as large as Dallas or Los Angeles, but we can find almost anything we could want here. We have Broadway plays and community theater; we have minor league baseball and the University of Oklahoma Sooner football; we have a classical symphony and the Oklahoma Opry. We can claim Garth Brooks, Reba McIntire, and Toby Keith, just to name a few of the celebrities from my home state. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with my family in Oklahoma, even if my head may be buried in a book - whether reading or writing. I have much for which to be thankful. My husband is still with me even though according to all medical knowledge, he shouldn't be. Two grandchildren who were taken from our lives for over 11 years have returned. A nephew and one niece who were gone for over 20 years are back.

You can see the front and back covers of Prairie Dog Cowboy above--I don't usually show back covers, but isn't this one adorable? Here is a bief description of the book:
Buddy Roberts, born in 1894 in what is now the Oklahoma Panhandle, didn't know anything but hard work and a hard life from the time he could remember. Homesteading and ranching was difficult in those days, more so than now.However, Buddy wanted to be a cowboy, and he worked to meet that goal as he helped with his parents' farm that they homesteaded. Neighbor and rancher Caleb Hyman saw the inner Buddy and encouraged him to become the honorable boy and man he could be. The Hyman family, including Caleb's wife Mary, twins Cody and Craig drew Buddy into their family. The twins' "little" sister laid claim to Buddy as hers. The elder Hymans, Gramps and Gram, treated Buddy as one of their grandchildren.At "home," the boy was a strong back to do work. At the Hyman Ranch, he was family.

Caleb Hyman agreed to stop by and answer some questions for us:

Questions for characters from Joyce Anthony

Can you tell us your name and the title of the book where you live?

Howdy, my name is Caleb Hyman. I’m a rancher who lives just south of the Roberts’ farm in Prairie Dog Cowboy. I would be riding close to their farm and see this young boy, Buddy Roberts, and his dog out in the pastures herding the cows, no one else around. I have two boys, twins, about his age. The book is really about Buddy and his struggles

Describe to our readers what your role in the book is.

I guess I became Buddy’s unofficial guardian. I couldn’t stand the way the child was treated. A part of me kept seeing Cody or Craig emotionally wounded like Buddy, and I couldn’t stand it. So I did what I could to help the boy have some normalcy in his life, some guidance and affection and encouragement. He and my boys became close friends, more like three brothers who like each other.

How did you convince your author to put you in this book? For example, did you visit a dream or make yourself known some other way?

V. Gilbert Zabel runs “movies” in her head before she writes anything. I took remnants of someone she knows, added some of her imagination, stirred in memories an adult in her life when she was a child, and became one of the major characters in the book.

Is your author easy to work with or controlling?

Easy? Not exactly, but she’s not controlling either. She just has certain standards she expects us to meet. Of course I understand that, since I have the same expectations of my children and of Buddy and my hired hands.

Would you tell us about one of your favorite friends from this book?

My best friend is my wife, Mary. We’re partners in more than one way, but we always were and are friends first. I know many children and parents never think about being friends, maybe can’t be, but my pa and I are friends, at least have been since I became an adult. The strongest of friendships in Prairie Dog Cowboy, though, are between my twins and Buddy and between Buddy and his dog, Patch. In fact, the love between that boy and dog was so great the dog gave his life for his boy

Do you plan on appearing in another book or are you happy to be where you are?

I think I saw me, my family, and of course Buddy in a book that Vivian Zabel (that’s who this V. Gilbert Zabel really is) is working on now. The title is Prairie Winds. Buddy is becoming a stronger and better man as he takes a parentless boy under his wing. I guess what goes around does come around.

What would you like our readers to know about you?

I don’t know what there is to know about me. I grew up on the ranch my pa staked out about 1850 in what became No Man’s Land after the Civil War, a strip of land between the Panhandle of Texas and Kansas. Mary and I were invited to Guthrie in the Oklahoma Territory to witness the marriage of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory to become Oklahoma. But me, I’m just a rancher who tries to be what a man is supposed to be. My ma and pa raised me to work hard, want to learn, and to watch out for the helpless or weak.

Did you learn anything during your adventure in this book?

I’ve learned lots in my life, but all that happened in this book mainly happened to Buddy. I watched him mature and endure. Not everyone who is rejected by his own ma comes out as good a person as Buddy. He says he turned out all right because of me, Mary, the twins, their little sister Katie, and my folks. But I don’t know what we did except make him part of our family.
I guess I did learn at least one thing: People can be cruel and just down right mean, but the object of that cruelty can grow to be strong any way

Can you tell us what you think is the most exciting thing that happened to you in your book?

To me personally? Riding my poor horse, Scout, through a blizzard after getting Buddy and his folks’ cows and calves to the homestead.

Is there anything in your story you wish you had not done? Why?

I can’t think of anything. I wish I had done some things sooner, but I mainly live my life doing the best I can at the time. I’m not perfect, but I can say I do my best to be what I should be.

What was your main motivation?

To begin, my main motivation was to do what my pa and ma insisted I do, but as I grew older that external “motivation” because internal. Of course doing what I needed to do for my family kept me going many times.
My motivation for helping Buddy was the boy touched my heart. He was such a brave little fellow out there in the freezing cold watching those cows with his dog, huddling in an “igloo” made of tumble weeds and snow to try to keep warm. My boys had their chores around the ranch, but I never expected a four-year-old to do the work of a grown man.

Introduce us to your main adversary?

My main adversary was the ignorance of Buddy’s ma and brother. His pa was a weak man who wanted to do what was right, but he wasn’t strong enough to stand up to his wife.
Buddy is the one who had to fight battles than a child should never know.
Of course growing up, I had battles, too, but mainly during the book I had the everyday fights of surviving during frontier days. I still had it better than many folks.

Is there anything you would like to have done but your author stopped you?

I would have adopted Buddy, but my author had an even better idea for the boy. I fought her about that, but in the long run, she was right. Buddy still knew as far as we were concerned, he was family.

Here’s your chance to speak your mind. What do you want to tell everybody?

Times back in the late 1800s and early 1900s were hard. Farming and ranching are still difficult with battling the elements, but back then just living was often a losing effort.
Buddy Roberts had it rougher than many, but no one told people how they were supposed to treat their children. Many thought children were slaves, more hands to work, or a hindrance, more mouths to feed.
Everyone worked: That was a fact of life. However, most parents didn’t expect a child to do a grown man’s work.

Please tell everyone where they can find out more about your story and where they can purchase it.

Prairie Dog Cowboy has it’s own little web site at http://prairiedogcowboy.weebly.com.
It can be purchased through any book store, Amazon.com, or from the 4RV Publishing Bookstore (

You can know more about the author through her web site
http://viviangilbertzabel.com or her blog at http://vivianzabel.blogspot.com.

Don’t forget that each person who leaves a comment about this blog entry receives an entry in the drawing for a canvas bag with the 4RV logo. A total of four bags will be given away. Each person will have an entry for each blog stop he/she leaves a comment.
*** Thank you Vivian and Caleb. I am honored to have you both here for my launch!!!


Vivian Zabel said...

Thanks for hosting Prairie Dog Cowboy, Caleb, and me today, Joyce.

Joyce Anthony said...

No problem, Vivian--I am excited about this book :-)

elysabeth said...

I totally forgot to stop by and visit the blog tours after Wednesday. Sorry - great interview though. Interesting going from someone other than the main character, but I guess that Caleb is pretty much a main character too.

I may have to borrow some of your questions to ask another author's characters, if you don't mind. Thanks for hosting Vivian, Joyce. I like the new blog look and all. It is much easier to navigate and use than the other one. See you all in the postings - E :)

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