Tuesday, July 27, 2021

For young readers of all ages.


What happens when you round up twenty members of Western Writers of America, assign a couple of editors to ride herd on them, have each of them cut out a true—but little known—story from the Wild West and tell it in a way that will engage teenage readers?

You get Why Cows Need Cowboys and Other Seldom-Told Tales from the American West.

Editors Nancy Plain and Rocky Gibbons have accomplished a first in the annals of Western writing with this anthology. WWA has created other anthologies and collections over the years covering a wide range, but never before, not since its establishment in 1953, has a herd of some of America’s most accomplished Western writers pointed their pens and pencils in the direction of our youth.

Well done.

But you don’t have to be an adolescent to read and enjoy and learn from this book. Even those who are well-read in Western history will find new and entertaining incidents and episodes, people and places in these pages.

You’ll even find out why it took Earl—one of the Bronc-Bustin’ Bascom Brothers—sixty-five years to get the All-Around Cowboy trophy buckle he won at a rodeo. I know, because I got to tell that story.

 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Really stupid words, Chapter 17.

 

When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’ll call them,” or “I’ll write to them,” or “I’ll talk to them,” or even, nowadays, “I’ll text them.”

Not long ago, perhaps. But, if your ears hear the same things mine do, it is likely that more often than not you hear, “I’ll reach out to them.”

I hear it all the time. I don’t mind it, really. But it seems less precise than saying what you actually intend to do—such as call, write, talk, text, or what have you. On the other hand, it’s hard to deny that “reach out” has more cachet. And it sounds more personal, warmer, fuzzier, and all that. Like going for a hug, sort of.

Here’s why.

I will bet cash against cow pies that it all started back in 1979 with an advertising campaign from AT&T. Back then, telephone service was provided by regulated monopolies. AT&T was it for long-distance calls (for those who remember such things) and for local service through the Bell System. The campaign encouraged more long-distance calling—for which they made money, of course—by persuading us to “Reach out and touch someone.” That tag line punctuated a lovely (and touching) little jingle on TV and radio that I can still sing to this day. It firmly established “reach out” as the thing to do, and we still “reach out” today.

Except for me. I prefer to write. Or call.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

About those cat videos.









I have no personal experience in the matter, but I am told that cat videos are popular on the internet. I wonder if that fascination spills over to cat books.

Our cowboy hero Rawhide Robinson, star of many a campfire tale and Old West adventure, is up to his knees in felines in Rawhide Robinson Rides the Tabby Trail—The True Tale of a Wild West CATastrophe. Winner of a 2015 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award and Finalist for a Western Writers of America Spur Award, this hilarious tale is now available in paperback and eBook, formatted to fit your bookshelf and whatever electronic gadgets you have. The publisher, Speaking Volumes, has listed the novel all over the place:

Print Book:

eBook:

eBook Preview:

·   Amazon US
·   Google Play

Enough shameless commerce for today. Rest. Relax. Curl up with a good kitty and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

“Black Joe” wins.








Western Fictioneers is a professional organization of authors formed in 2010 to “to preserve, honor, and promote traditional Western writing in the 21st century.” To that end, each year they bestow Peacemaker Awards—named for Samuel Colt’s famous pistol—to honor the best in Western writing.

 The 2021 Peacemaker Award winners were announced recently, and I am tickled pink to pass along news that my story “Black Joe” took the prize for Best Western Short Fiction. “Black Joe” was published in the Winter 2019/2020 issue of Saddlebag Dispatches magazine.

The story was inspired by a song of the same name from Brenn Hill’s album Rocky Mountain Drifter (which also includes the song built from my poem “And the River Ran Red”). Brenn’s “Black Joe” song was inspired by a violent encounter with a mustang stud as told to Brenn by his compadre Andy Nelson, a standout cowboy poet, performer, humorist, and author. Andy got the story from his father, Jim Nelson. There’s a lot of literary license involved in my telling, but there is no doubt about the seed from which the story sprouted.

“Black Joe” is a fine short story—if I do say so myself—but the credit goes to those mentioned above. All I did was type.

 


Monday, June 14, 2021

My biggest audience, ever.


 






A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my old friend Brian Crane who, for years, has lived on the opposite side of the Great Basin, some 500 miles away. So, we don’t see each other as often as we like. Many, many years ago we worked together in a small ad agency in Idaho Falls, were in business together for a time, and later worked together again at an ad agency in Reno.

I left there for Utah and he stayed. Brian stayed in advertising for a time, working as an art director and designer. But he worked his way out of the business by drawing funny pictures and writing funny words. And he’s kept at it for more than thirty years, earning a living and much acclaim as one of America’s top comic strip artists—the man behind “Pickles.”

I have written a lot of poems over the years, and been published in a lot of periodicals, anthologies, collections, and online. But my most widely read poems are probably—almost certainly—those ghost-written for, or in collaboration with, one of the stars of Brian’s comic strip, Earl Pickles.

Now and then, Earl gets a hankering to be a cowboy poet. When he first got the urge, I lent a hand. Now the old geezer writes his own poems. But, like the little verse above, my words have on occasion basked in Earl’s limelight in hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of newspapers across the country.

If that’s as close to fame as I ever get as a cowboy poet, I’ll take it.


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Dateline: My House

 

SANDY, UTAH: Work proceeds apace at writer Rod Miller’s desk. The author recently shipped With a Kiss I Die off to Five Star Publishing. The novel follows the star-crossed love story of a young emigrant girl from Arkansas and a Mormon boy from Utah Territory, and events leading up to the historic Mountain Meadows Massacre. Given publishing schedules, the book is not expected to see the light until 2023.

In other news, Five Star Publishing recently completed the cover design for the writer’s forthcoming release, And the River Ran Red. This novel is also based on Western history and tells the story of the Massacre at Bear River, the deadliest slaughter of American Indians by the US Army in the history of the West.

But not all the writing news is related to tragic historic massacres. Miller just finished proofing page galleys for the paperback and ebook release of the hilarious Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award-winning and Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist novel, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Tabby Trail: The True Tale of a Wild West CATastrophe, soon to be released by Speaking Volumes. That publisher also revealed the cover design for Rawhide Robinson Rides a Dromedary: The True Tale of a Wild West Camel Caballero, a finalist for the WWA Spur and Western Fictioneers Peacemaker awards. Both comic novels should hit the shelves, physical and digital, any day now.

On schedule for release in early 2022 from Five Star is a novel by Miller that has already been labeled a “frontier classic,” All My Sins Remembered. Finally—for now—This Thy Brother, a sequel to his 2018 Peacemaker finalist, Father unto Many Sons, is expected for release by Five Star in the fall of 2022.

Read all about writer Rod Miller’s fiction, history, poetry, and magazine work at www.writerRodMiller.com and www.RawhideRobinson.com.


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Where I’m going, Part 5.

 






    Over the years I have been to Fort Worth, Texas, a few times. But not enough. Other than a two-day stay for the big rodeo there, my forays into Fort Worth have been a couple of hours here and there while in the area on other business.
    And my last visit, whenever it was, was a long time ago. So I’m ready to go back.
    Fort Worth is a big city. But it’s a city—unlike many others I could name—that has never tried to outgrow its past as a cowtown. It takes pride in its past, and much of what I want to see and do there celebrates that past and Western heritage in general.
    I saw a lot of great Charlie Russell paintings at the Sid Richardson Museum and will make a return visit. Then there’s the Amon Carter Museum I have heard good things about. And the National Cowgirl Museum and Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
    And, of course, the Fort Worth Stockyards and all its attractions—even though it’s a bit touristy for my taste.
    There might even be time to find something good to eat.