Thursday, November 18, 2021

Where I’m Going—Part 6.








On more than one occasion, going way back to my youth, I have spent time in Cody, Wyoming. But, as with many intriguing places, it has not been enough. So, one of these days, I am going back.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is reason enough for a lengthy stay. The Center includes five fine museums—one dedicated to Buffalo Bill, one to Western art, one to firearms, one to Plains Indians, and one to natural history. Each is worthy of hours, days, even, of browsing. And learning. For deeper learning, there are the collections at the McCracken Library. And, tucked away at the Center, is the Western Writers Hall of Fame where several people of my acquaintance, including some I count as friends, are enshrined.

You can also see Old West artifacts at Old Trail Town, join the tourists every night at the rodeo, and visit Bill Cody’s historic Irma Hotel. And there are other attractions in town and in the neighborhood.

Like many of the West’s finest places, Cody caters to the tourism trade, so some of what’s on offer is contrived and romanticized and does not appeal to me. Still, there’s enough of the real West, old and new, to make Cody worth another visit. Or two. Or more. 

 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Gone south.

As has been the case most every fall over the past decade (except last year, when the world was on pause) I spent a weekend about as far south as you can go and still be in Utah. The occasion, as usual, was the Kanab Writers Conference.

 It is not the biggest writers conference I have had the pleasure of presenting at, but it may well be the best. For one thing, the world’s “Little Hollywood” offers scenery the likes of which belongs on movie and TV screens, where it often is and has been. Even if you do no more than stand on the street in the center of town and turn a circle, you will be awestruck.

And, of course, there’s the conference. The staff keeps everything on an even keel. A diverse group of presenters holds forth on a variety of subjects of interest to writers. Readers, too, can browse the bookstore and meet authors and attend presentations that engage the community.

Next year, if plans hold true, the Kanab Writers Conference will move from the fall to late July. Summer puts a whole new face on the red rock country, and the change will add green leaves to the color scheme. If you’re a writer, or want to be, add a link to the conference web site, and watch for information on the 2022 event. Just being to town will make a fine vacation.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Missing Will.









Not long ago, I was traveling far from home. Being away somewhat isolates you from what’s going on back home—but not altogether.

While away, we heard the tragic news of the death of Will Bagley. I counted Will among my friends, respected his research and writing, admired his wide-ranging intellect, marveled at the reaches of his memory, and listened to his infectious laughter. I will miss all that, and more.

Will had no reason to befriend me. He did not need to answer my questions, correct my misconceptions, or share his knowledge with me, whether in conversation or in the many writings—his own and those of others—he shared with me.

There will never be another historian like Will Bagley. Few will ever approach his many accomplishments. And no one will do so with his curmudgeonly good humor.

I will miss Will. Thank goodness I have a long line of his books on my shelves, and will hear his voice again whenever I open one of them.



Friday, October 15, 2021












January 29, 1863, is one of the darkest days in the history of the American West. That morning, United States Army troops slaughtered some 250 to 350 Shoshoni men, women, and children on the banks of the Bear River in what is now southeastern Idaho. No other encounter between the army and Indian tribes in the West approaches that massacre in terms of Indian blood spilled, brutal savagery, or body count.

Just released from Five Star Publishing is my latest book, And the River Ran Red—A Novel of the Massacre at Bear River.

Earlier, I wrote a nonfiction book about this tragic event, Massacre at Bear River: First, Worst, Forgotten. I have also written about it for magazines, short stories, in poems, and, with Western singer and songwriter Brenn Hill, song lyrics.

This short novel—as with the fictional stories, poetry, and song—allowed me to build upon the known facts and consider the thoughts, feelings, and words of those involved in all facets of the massacre. So, while the novel is fiction, it presents truths of a different kind as it both hews closely to the facts and expands upon the emotional color of the times.

I hope many will read And the River Ran Red for the sole reason that it may help spread knowledge of, and horror about, what may well be the greatest of all tragedies in the history of the American West, as well as an appreciation for the people of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation who press on with determination and triumph still today.



Saturday, October 9, 2021

Where I’ve been.









For the past couple of weeks, I have been traveling. I will not bore you with the hundreds of vacation photos I took except the one above.

That’s my bootprint in the sand at Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine, very near the easternmost point of the continental United States—and a long, long way from way out West where I typically hang my hat. The exact place I trod upon and took the picture is called Sand Beach. It is the only naturally occurring sand beach on the eastern seaboard north of Virginia Beach, some 800 miles—and heaven knows how many miles of coastline—away.

Been there. Done that. Didn’t get the t-shirt.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

My Favorite Book, Part 27.

 

When President William McKinley was assassinated, a high-toned politician said, “Now look! That damn cowboy is President of the United States.” The “damn cowboy” in question was Theodore Roosevelt. And he remains, to this day—despite a few Texans and a make-believe movie actor—the only real cowboy to rise to that office.

Roosevelt’s cowboy career is chronicled in The Cowboy President: The American West and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Michael F. Blake.

Blake outlines the circumstances that sent Roosevelt, a patrician New Yorker, to the frontier West where he established cattle ranches in North Dakota. More than an owner, Roosevelt worked alongside his hired hands and became adept at handling horses, working cattle, riding the range, and surviving in a hard land.

Based on detailed research, Blake relates Roosevelt’s cowboy career to his wider life, telling how the lessons he learned in the West colored his endeavors in government service, the military, politics, and family life. The result is a well-rounded picture of the cowboy president that’s interesting, intriguing, and informative.

You’ll close the book with new understanding of and appreciation for “That damn cowboy.”




Monday, September 13, 2021

Camel bytes.


 







The Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award and Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist novel, Rawhide Robinson Rides a Dromedary: The True Tale of a Wild West Camel Caballero, is now available from Speaking Volumes in digital bits and bytes. Which means you can download and read it on your Kindle, iPad, smart phone, or other electronic gadget. For us old-fashioned or unplugged types, it is also now available in paperback.

Here’s where to get your copy of the eBook:
Amazon US
Apple Books
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
Kobo Books
Here’s where to get your copy of the paperback print book:
Amazon US 

You can read more about Rawhide Robinson, the ordinary cowboy who lives an extraordinary life—much of it a product of his imagination—on his very own web site. Enjoy.