The Rustle of Donald Cooley's Bull

Book Cover


19th Century

Terry Dressler

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The Rustle of Donald Cooley's Bull follows the life of Rueben Cox from his childhood home on a horse farm in Kentucky through his experiences during the Civil War riding with Quantrill's raiders and later his involvement in a range war between two wealthy cattle barons in Texas. The story weaves in and out of the lives of three families who, having built edifices of power and wealth, must face the fragility of those walls.


Action, Adventure, Historical Fiction, War,Western,Adventure,Drama,War,Historical Fiction

Short Summary

The story begins in Woodford County, Kentucky, in the home of a prominent horse farming family at the outset of the Civil War.

To end the range war Donald Cooley agrees to lease his prize bull to Maria and Albert Conner. As part of the deal the Conners' daughter Alba is sent to live with the Cooley's during the year of the leasing of the bull. Rueben and Alba fall in love. Maria Conner conspires to have Reuben killed.


Woodford County, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Texas

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

,Hero's Journey,Other

Plot - Other Elements

Philosophical Questions, Coming of Age,,Coming of Age

Mature Audience Themes

Extreme Violence

Main Character Details

Name: Reuben Cox (nicknamed Coo during the war)

Age: 24

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive, Decisive, Perseverance, Badass, Heroic, Honorable, Lone Wolf, Skillful, Beautiful, Confident, Extraordinary Powers and Abilities, Faithful, Underdog, Complex, Educated, Modest, Strong Moral Code, Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Maria Conner

Age: 39

Gender: Female

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Romantic, Sexy, Sophisticated, Aspiring, Badass, Charming, Leader, Perseverance, Seductive, Engaging, Manipulative, Outspoken, Power-hungry, Skillful, Beautiful, Blunt, Confident, Unapologetic, Villainous, Educated, Secretive, Aggressive, Complex, Decisive

Additional Character Details

Name: Alba Conner

Age: 14

Gender: Female

Role: Antagonist

Key Traits: Engaging, Aggressive, Badass, Beautiful, Charming, Confident, Decisive, Adventurous, Aspiring, Blunt, Faithful, Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: James Cox

Age: 32

Gender: Male

Role: Mentor

Key Traits: Aspiring, Badass, Beautiful, Engaging, Leader, Selfless, Charming, Confident, Faithful, Heroic, Masculine, Patriotic, Strong Moral Code, Decisive, Honorable, Adventurous, Aggressive, Blunt, Complex, Educated, Naive, Outspoken, Skillful, Unapologetic

Development Pitch

The Rustle of Donald Cooley’s Bull is an ideal candidate for an eight to ten-episode video mini-series. The story is structured in a way and contains elements which make it particularly suited to long-form video entertainment. On one level it is an adventurous coming of age tale that that takes place during and soon after the Civil War, one of the most tumultuous periods in American history. The narrative follows the journey of the leading character from childhood to early adulthood, depicting his growing martial skills and heroic deeds during the war and afterward in the cattle industry while also exploring his relationships with his family and fellow soldiers and cowboys.The story is action-packed. On the other hand, the story is also family drama, as it deals with relations within and between three major dynastic families. This aspect of the story is rich in powerful and colorful characters each drawn out by his or her own unique motivations. There is also a tender and passionate love story between two young lovers. There are three very strong and complex female roles. From a visual cinematic perspective, the story provides an opportunity to explore the visual grandeur of a wide variety of vistas from the rolling verdant horse country of Kentucky to the Missouri woodlands and East Texas piney forest and the wide-open grazing lands of southern Texas. Also, the novel’s style is very visual in description and presentation, thereby providing a rich cinematic pallet.

About The Author

Terry Dressler is the author of the collection of short stories, Oil and Water: Stories from the Windward Shore, and the novel, The Rustle of Donald Cooley’s Bull. As a consequence of his father’s military career, Terry traveled widely in his youth, living in Washington State, Oregon, California, Spain, Illinois, the Philippine Islands, Oklahoma, and Hawaii all before his was sixteen years old. After taking a degree in Political Science from the University of California Santa Barbara, he had a 33-year career in air quality management in south central California, retiring from his career as the Director the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. Since his retirement, he has focused his attention on surfing and writing.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Year Published: 2018

Hard Copy Available



Information not completed