Cave Creek author’s “A Cowboy Christmas: An American Tale” charms country

November 25, 2009

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tom van dykeLast Christmas, Tom Van Dyke was decorating an old chain fruit cholla cactus with cowboy stuff at his Cave Creek ranch, and wondered, “What would it have been like a hundred and fifty years ago to be a young cowboy at Christmas on this very spot.”

Now, less than one year later, his first book, “A Cowboy Christmas An American Tale” is carried in bookstores and by nearly every national Western and cowboy heritage museum in the country.

Van Dyke has written the romantic story of the adventurous, authentic and heartwarming WB, a young man who becomes a cowboy in the 1870s. Set amid the thrilling and dangerous far West at a time when cocktail hour meant watering the herd of cattle for the last time in the evening, WB learns what it takes to be a cowboy riding the trails and spend, “lonely nights so cold I’d wake up and run around to thaw out.”

A recognized painter, sculptor, photographer, Academy Award nominated filmmaker and now author, Van Dyke says writing his book has been, “the most rewarding work of my career.”

Much of the story takes place in and around Cave Creek, Phoenix and Wickenburg. There are references to the old Military Road, the Indian caves of Cave Creek, Black Mountain, Skull Mesa and other familiar sights as WB travels the West learning cowboying and looking for his lost love, Ginny Hart.

He was encouraged early on by Bob Boze Bell of True West, Will Pearson of Pages Bookstore and a number of other local Western literature and lore lovers including the staff at the Cave Creek Museum.

Over time, the short story developed into a 110-page book.

Van Dyke, a father of five, says his wife Mary and family contributed to the storyline as they “read and discussed character development and plot at the dinner table.”

Tom’s voice and prose, along with the historic accuracy of the fictional story may be the reason the book has taken off so quickly. “It’s a timeless story that people love to read and is as pertinent today as it was then,” he said.

Tom will be appearing locally, to read and sign his book at the following:
• Heard Museum North, Scottsdale, Fri., Nov. 27, 10 a.m. – noon
• Pages Bookstore, Cave Creek, Sat., Nov. 28, 4 – 6 p.m.
• Desert Foothills Library, Cave Creek, Tue., Dec. 8, 5:45 – 7 p.m.

For more information, visit

Community News Briefs

November 25, 2009

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Desert Awareness Committee special holiday meeting, social
The Desert Awareness Committee special holiday meeting and social will be held at the Cave Creek Museum on Thursday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. Enjoy a walk through the newly signed gardens and bring a favorite holiday snack to share. The program, How to write for publication, will be presented by Lavonne Lindall with many tips on preparing your future "desert place article." Come and share your love of the desert with us! Call Fran at 480-595-5501 for more information.

Christmas Concert and Community SING!
FCF – Holland Community Center
Wednesday, Dec. 9, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
A Festive Holiday Event for All Ages!

SCOTTSDALE – Come to listen, come to sing! The public is invited to a holiday concert and sing-along with the Carefree Christmas Chorus, Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the FCF-Holland Community Center, 34250 N. 60th Street in Scottsdale.

The event is free, no RSVP is required. For information, visit or call 480-488-1090 or 480-595-9774.
In the first half of this special evening sponsored by the Foothills Community Foundation, you’ll be entertained by The Carefree Christmas Chorus under the direction of Kevin Glenn. Fast becoming a wonderful Foothills tradition, the 25-member Chorus will perform your favorite Christmas songs with vibrant voices in rich and elegant harmony. But they won’t be doing all of your holiday favorites. “We’ll be saving some for the second part of the evening, a community sing,” Glenn said.

“Community singing is an American tradition currently being revived around the country. It’s a chance to hear everyone’s voice — friends, family, and neighbors showing community spirit by singing familiar tunes together. No auditions, no rehearsals, just the joy of group singing, pure and simple.”

“Please join us, and help christen our new Community Center with an event that celebrates community,” he said.

Desert Foothills Library Association Annual Meeting
The Desert Foothills Library Association will hold its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9. The meeting will be held in the Library Conference Room, 38443 N Schoolhouse Road, Cave Creek, AZ and will commence promptly at 9 a.m.