The Mystery of Broken Spur Ranch by Barbara Bockman

Happy Wednesday! Today we are joined by Barbara Bockman. Barbara and I met through our mutual publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing. Sadly, GAP is now closed, but that won’t stop Barbara and I from carrying on! Thanks for joining us today, Barbara. Tell us a little about you. In particular, how are you keeping yourself busy during this pandemic?

Hi Kai and All Your Visitors. Thanks for having me for this little talk. In this time of physical distancing, I am lucky to have two critique groups that I meet with on ZOOM. It is such a pleasure to see the faces of these friends and find out what they are working on and how they feel about my submissions. I also have been catching up on the phone with long-lost cousins and other folks from my past. It is most especially wonderful to connect with my children and grands. The place I miss most going to is the beauty parlor. And boy do I need to go! My favorite hobby is raising milkweed for monarch butterflies. I love the beautiful pairing they make.

I understand you have a middle grade book to talk about today. Tell us all about it.


In THE MYSTERY OF BROKEN SPUR RANCH, two twelve-year-old cousins, Thomas and James, must solve the mystery of their grandfather’s will in order to bring their feuding fathers together and save the ranch. Here is the rhyme that the lawyer reads to the boys: “Get up before the rooster crows—Use broken spur and compass rose. The early birds will search until The clock’s one hand points to the will.” Problems arise because the boys are brought up in diverse cultures, Thomas as a ranch boy and James as a city boy from India; fundamental differences have to be overcome. While searching for the will, the boys are taken care of by the ranch cook, a transplanted New Jerseyite, whose accent is sometimes hard to decipher.

Find the book at: https://amzn.to/3oGsq2w


That sounds really interesting. I love the idea of the two cousins coming from completely different cultures. What inspired THE MYSTERY OF BROKEN SPUR RANCH?


Several things inspired me to write this book. For one thing, I love reading mysteries and find adhering to the conventions of the form a pleasure and a challenge. Also, I like looking at maps and enjoy the various ways that compass roses are formed. I had long wanted to write a story with a compass rose in it. And mostly, I love westerns. The stories and the movies. I always thought living on a ranch would be awesome.


I admire your ability to put a mystery together. I’m the type to lay all my cards on the table, which wouldn’t work well in a mystery. Lol. Okay, Barbara, are you ready for a little fun? In order for our readers to get to know you a little better, share with us your top 3 answers to the following:


Top 3 character traits you like to add to all or most of your characters:

1. humor;

2. curiosity; and

3. stubbornness. I think both positive and negative qualities go a long way toward rounding out a character’s personality.


Top 3 moments in your writer life :

1. While taking a course with the Institute of Children’s Literature, I had 2 poems published, “A Year in the Orchard” and “Little Hippo,” a story poem.

2. Winning Honorable Mention for “The ‘Return-the-Pearl’ Cave,” a story that I expanded into HAN AND THE MYSTERIOUS PEARL, which was published by Guardian Angel Publishing. It was illustrated by Carl Kocich.

3. Holding my first published book, WOUNDS, a middle grade novel, in my hands was thrilling!


Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them:

I am reading some wonderful books at this time: IN PURSUIT OF POETRY, by Robert Hillyer. This book delves deeply into poetry, not just in forms but in helping the reader understand meanings. A DISTANT MIRROR, THE CALAMITOUS 14TH CENTURY, by Barbara W. Tuchman. This book shows how history repeats itself. One would almost think she is reading about today’s calamities. THE MISTS OF AVALON, by Marion Z. Bradley, is one of many retellings of the King Arthur story. I, myself, am working on a retelling of the legend, which I hope to finish within the next year.


We look forward to that King Arthur story, Barbara! Finally, where can readers connect with you?


I have an author’s page on Amazon and one on Facebook. The book is also featured in this year’s Book Stop on SCBWI (Florida area). For bloggers who might want to connect with me, my email is: BockmanB@cox.net . I like to do reviews for fellow authors on my blog, Stories a la Mode on Wordpress at barbarabockman.wordpress.com (Such as Kai Strand’s THE WEAVER).

Thanks for having me on your blog, Kai.


Thanks for visiting, Barbara, and sharing your book with us. Readers be sure to pick up a copy of THE MYSTERY OF BROKEN SPUR RANCH.

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