Saturday, August 22, 2015

Wild Horses of Wyoming and WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR

The Red Roan Colt along the Powder Rim in Wyoming.
This horse was the inspiration for my new historical fiction novel
The wild horses of Wyoming inspired me to write my latest novel, WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR. I cannot be sure why I originally connected with these wild mustangs. I am an animal person, but it was not like I was a horseman or horse expert or anything like that. Sure, I had a quarter horse growing up and I did the 4H horse thing for two or three years, but once I discovered horsepower under the hood of cars and got my drivers' license, my interest for the four legged kind of horse severely waned. 

My interest in wild horses and horses in general has risen dramatically in the last twenty years. Below is one of my first encounters with wild horses in the desert in southwestern Wyoming. I will never forget that day. 
The Gray Stallion in a desert basin in Wyoming.   

As I slowly drove along the meandering road that overlooked the desert basin, I spotted several dark specks in the distance that contrasted with beige-colored desert. I stopped the vehicle and took aim with my high-powered zoom lens on my camera. Through the lens, the indistinguishable specks became the profiles of several multi-colored wild horses. I was too far away to get a good photograph, so I parked the vehicle, grabbed my backpack, and slid down the steep, shaly embankment that lead into the desert basin. I wanted to see just how close I could get to these animals.

Once I reached the sandy floor of the desert basin, I pushed my way through the chest-high sagebrush and greasewood. This was definitely deer tick heaven! As I slowly moved forward through the brush, ahead, I kept one eye on the ground, searching for sleeping rattlesnakes. Thirty minutes and a mile or so later, I reached a sandy ridge where I had originally spotted the horse herd. The horses had moved on. I raised my camera to my eye and scanned the desert in front of me. I was surprised when I found a gray stallion staring at me through the viewfinder, straight ahead. I snapped a photograph of the stallion and then another. As if he had heard the near inaudible camera shudder fire, the gray stallion turned and galloped away.    

After several years watching the wild horses and praying for their safety and well-being, I decided to write a book about the ancestors of the wild horses, the first horses that came back into North America and the first encounters of horses with Native Americans. The name of that book is, well, you guessed it, WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR. Give it a shot and discover the rest of the story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Horses, Vaqueros, and Indians in WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR

Click for John Bradford Branney Author Page
A wild mustang from Wyoming inspired John Bradford Branney’s new book called When Leaves Change Color. John Branney first laid eyes on the red roan colt in 2002 on a windswept plain in southern Wyoming. Mr. Branney wrote the caption below in his personal diary on that day in May 2002 after seeing the wild mustang:
 His dark eyes radiated a mixture of curiosity and caution. Unblinking,
he stared at me while nervous feet conveyed his readiness to bolt at the
flick of my eyelash. His powerful presence reflected his intelligence, nobility,and vulnerability. I envied and admired him, but also feared for his future. This young stallion possessed a sense of freedom that humans once had. The red roan colt must remain free!
 Many people have the common misconception that Native American Indians have always had horses throughout their long and illustrious reign over North America, but this is not the case. Horses first appeared in North America close to fifty-eight million years ago, but went extinct in North America around eleven thousand years ago, just about the same time the first Americans were gaining a foothold. In fact, there is no documented archaeological evidence that early Native Americans had any direct contact with these early versions of horses in North America. Native American Indians did not have horses until the Europeans brought them to North America. Once Native American Indians obtained horses from the Europeans, it only took a matter of decades for them to establish themselves as some of the greatest horse riders in human history.

The red roan colt in 2002.
When Leaves Change Color is an adventure based on the introduction of horses to the Plains Indians. Some readers will call When Leaves Change Color a book about a horse while other readers will call it a western in the tradition of Zane Grey or Larry McMurtry. This book is about both and more. When Leaves Change Color takes place in the latter part of the 17th Century on the high plains of western America and is about a horse and two young men with much in common. All three are coming of age and all must learn to live in a hostile and unpredictable world.    

Santiago Ortega was born into a wealthy family living on a sprawling ranch near Santa Fe in the new Spanish province of New Mexico. When the Pueblo Indians revolt against oppressive Spanish rule in 1680, the lives and dreams of Santiago and his family are shattered. Years after the revolt, Santiago embarks on a dangerous crusade to find his younger brother and exact revenge against the Indians who stole his childhood away from him.

Ouray lives in extreme poverty with his Indian tribe in a desert on the high plains of Wyoming. Ouray’s life worsens when a hostile Indian tribe destroys his family and captures Haiwee, the young woman he loves. Ouray begins the impossible search to find Haiwee, but he finds something so unusual and wonderful that is life will never be the same. Fate pulls Santiago and Ouray onto an unexpected collision course.

John Bradford Branney was born and raised in Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming where he received a B.S. degree in geology. After graduating, John entered the oil and gas industry as an engineer. During his career, he also obtained a MBA degree from the University of Colorado. In 2011, he retired from the oil and gas industry and immediately pursued a second career as an author. Mr. Branney’s passion and expertise in high plains archaeology led to the writing of several books and over twenty-five magazine articles. When Leaves Change Color is Mr. Branney’s sixth book.

Anaphora Literary Press has published over 120 creative and non-fiction books. Among these is the Pennsylvania Literary Journal, a tri-annual journal, available through EBSCO and ProQuest, which has published interviews with best-selling authors, such as Geraldine Brooks, Larry Niven, Cinda Williams Chima and Carrie Ryan, as well as the winners of the Sundance Film Festival. Anaphora authors have done readings at major venues. Several titles have been assigned to college classes and reviewed in major publications. Anaphora is a member of IBPA and CLMP.

The link to the 2015 Anaphora Catalog,, with descriptions of Anaphora’s titles. This information is also available in the html catalog on the Anaphora website at

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