Shirley Wilder and her family spent quite a few years involved with horses. Raising and riding them brought Shirley into contact with the Wild Horse and Burro Program run by the Bureau of Land Management which eventually made its way into her writing with a heroine who manages a mustang relocation center.
Photo by Lisa Reid
The Bureau of Land Management manages and protects our nation’s wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands across 10 western states.
The goal of the Wild Horse and Burro Program is to ensure healthy wild horses and burros on thriving public rangelands, using all available management tools under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act which came into being as the result of ranchers complaining the wild horses were destroying the grasslands needed to feed their cattle.
Thus, the program was started to collect the wild horses and burros and place them in relocation centers where citizens could apply for adoption of the animals for a nominal fee. These horses were not trained and every one of them had to be broken to saddle and bridle if the person wanted a horse to ride. In the beginning, some people adopted them as pets.
California Horses, Photo: http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes
These animals of the American West are caught in a political, emotional, and environmental controversy with two questions at its source: How should our public lands be managed and how is “good” land management defined.
It’s an escalating equine-population problem which has prompted suggestions such as using fertility control, humane euthanasia, unrestricted sale of certain excess animals, and culling herds to sell animals to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. Horse and other animal advocacy groups, which have consistently resisted efforts to impose limits on an icon of the American West that has been federally protected since 1971, are voicing opposition to the proposals. (Sources below)
KATE’S QUEST By SHIRLEY ANN WILDER
Kate Gallagher, a single parent of a teenage girl and manager of a mustang relocation center for the federal Bureau of Land Management, has her hands full. She doesn’t have time for romance, but when her daughter is found murdered, she discovers her long-ago-lover and father of her child is crucial in getting justice.
Rodeo champ, Matt Oglesby was not aware he’d fathered Kate’s child. When he learns the truth, he is torn by the recurrence of his love for Kate and the anger that he was cheated out of knowing his daughter and maybe his ability to protect her. Together they are able to solve the mystery and restore the love relationship they had years earlier.
“Cindy, get up. Get out of there. Put your clothes on and get to the house.”
She just lay there.
His heart went into overtime and his pulse pounded at his temples. What the hell? What’s wrong with her? She didn’t fall that far. He jumped in after her.
Her head rested awkwardly on a scrubby pine stump. He’d pulled on her arm and, when she hadn’t responded, he’d touched her face and then saw the wound near the temple. Blood gushed. Thick stubby splinters of wood were imbedded in the soft flesh of her young face. Along with the temple gash, blood flowed from a deep puncture in her neck. It bled fast and furiously.
The stump must have punctured the carotid artery.
He tried to stop the flow with his handkerchief. He sopped it until it stopped. Then he realized the blood had stopped because her heart had ceased to beat. He knew CPR and tried to revive her.
He’d just wanted her to be quiet. Now she would be.
From the time she could hold a pencil, Shirley Ann Wilder wrote stories, even on paper grocery bags. Being the youngest of six children, she was overlooked many times but found wonder and magic in reading books. As a youngster she was especially fond of horse books and read every one of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books.
That passion for horses carried over into her adult life, and with her husband and four children,she raised Quarter horses and German Shepherds. Shirley’s other passion was writing, but it was put on hold until her three sons and daughter were in high school.
After developing a severe allergy to the equine species and having to give up the major part of horse involvement, Shirley wrote a weekly column for a community newspaper and a monthly column entitled “On the Wilder Side” for the California Horseman’s News in which she recounted the humorous episodes that happened during the Wilder family’s horse era. Shirley also published in college literary magazines, but her real quest was to write novels.
After amassing several unfinished manuscripts, a writing instructor suggested she join Romance Writers of America. Taking that advice, she became a member of the local San Diego RWA chapter and has since completed more than six novels. She served on the Executive Board as Co-President of RWA- San Diego for 2006 and 2007 and held several other chair positions. She credits her fellow writers for the support and encouragement that has kept her writing during recent difficult times.
Shirley Ann was widowed in January of 2008 when her husband died of stage four colon cancer after battling it bravely for three years and four months. Two of her grown children live near her in suburbs of San Diego. The eldest and youngest sons live out of state. Shirley Ann is blessed with four granddaughters and one grandson.
Since her husband’s death, Shirley has become an advocate for colonoscopies and is working on a non-fiction book about the grieving process and all one encounters when suffering the loss of a mate. “John was my hero and I will miss him forever, but he always encouraged me to keep writing and to stay strong.” She has published three novels prior to Kate’s Quest: Too Many Cooks, Fly Me, and A Son by Any Name.