Wednesday, February 28, 2024


This is a leap year. Leap years come around every four years to keep our calendar more or less harnessed to the sun in its travels. February, being the shortest month on the calendar, gets the advantage of leap year with the addition of an extra day. Tomorrow is that day—February 29.

I often hear people say they don’t have time. That there aren’t enough hours in a day or days in a week or weeks in a month…and so on, to do something they want to do.

Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re in luck.

Tomorrow is an extra day. A day added to your calendar to give you 24 free hours to do whatever it is you haven’t had time for. A whole day. An entire day tailor made for reading that book. Or writing that story. Or that poem. Or whatever has been nagging at you, but which somehow always falls victim to the lack of time.

The time is now. Get ready to get up in the morning and get it done. 

At least get it started, and don’t worry if you don’t get it done. There’s another tomorrow, another 24 hours, waiting. The truth is, you’ve got all the time there is. And you won’t be getting any more of it—at least until the next leap year, in 2028. Don’t wait.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


The history of the Old West is rife with notorious outlaws. Likewise, famous lawmen. But there were a few who, at one time or another, wore both hats, black and white. One such was a Utah cowboy born Erastus Christiansen (with various spellings) but known in his day and in history as Matt Warner.

Warner set out on the outlaw trail at an early age. He rustled cattle, stole horses, and graduated to robbing banks and other crimes. He was schooled in the dark arts by his brother-in-law Tom McCarty, and the two of them served as mentors of a sort to the notorious bandit who would become Butch Cassidy. Warner was, in a word, an outlaw.

But, later in life, Warner switched his black hat for a white hat and served as a justice of the peace and deputy sheriff for several years. In other words, a lawman.

Put those words together and you have a perfect description of Warner: OUTLAWMAN.

His story is told, in fictional form, in OUTLAWMAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MATT WARNER, coming soon in paperback and eBook from Speaking Volumes. The tale is based largely on Warner’s own chronicle of his life as spelled out in The Last of the Bandit Riders, as well as other sources, and told in a unique and surprising way.

OUTLAWMAN. Coming soon. Watch for it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Speed of sound.

A writer friend and I were talking a while back. He mentioned a book he had read in which a character under fire heard a bullet strike a tree, then heard the report of the rifle. My friend suggested this was unlikely, as the speed of sound is much greater than that of the bullets of the era—the Old West.

I disagreed, and we left it at that.

However, curiosity got the best of me, so I thought I’d do what they tell you to do on Sesame Street: “Look it up.” It took a few hours and lots of mouse clicks to reach a number of relevant web sites. Here’s what I learned about the speed of sound and the velocity of bullets fired from a few rifles in common use at the time in question.

Sound travels through the air at 1,125 feet per second. That varies somewhat, affected by temperature, humidity, and wind. And, of course, sound waves dissipate and the noise fades with distance. The velocity of bullets varies as well, depending on wind and distance, and the bullet loses speed the farther it travels.

But, all things being equal, a bullet fired from a .52 caliber Spencer repeating rifle would lose the race, lumbering along at a paltry 931 to 1,033 feet per second.

The race with a .44 caliber round from a Henry rifle would be a dead heat, the bullet leaving the barrel at 1,125 feet per second.

A bullet from a Winchester .44-40 Golden Boy outruns sound at 1,433 feet per second.

The old-time Hawken rifle, .50 caliber model, spit out lead at 1,600 feet per second.

Winning it all is the Sharps .50 caliber, which, depending on grains of powder in the cartridge, fires bullets that fly 1,448 to 1,814 feet per second.

None of which matters. But how else is an old man with no gainful employment supposed to spend his time?


Friday, December 29, 2023

Still Sinning.

All My Sins Remembered is now available in paperback and eBook, as well as the original hardcover edition. I have wrenched my elbow patting myself on the back about this book, so this time I will leave that to others.

“A riveting tale of human weakness which explores the nature of evil and its presence in and among us.” True West magazine

All My Sins Remembered is destined to join the ranks of the frontier classic.” Loren D. Estleman, Western Writers Hall of Fame author

“A brutal, beautifully rendered masterpiece, guaranteed to stay with you long after the last page is turned.” Michael Zimmer, Winner of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award

“The action is swift, the Western scene spare and tense, the whole a haunting tale of good and evil. This is superb Western fiction.” Charles E. Rankin, Retired Associate Director/Editor in Chief, University of Oklahoma Press

All My Sins Remembered is hypnotic and poetic and vivid.” Marc Cameron, New York Times bestselling author

All My Sins Remembered is a unique, original novel with a wealth of period and milieu detail.” John D. Nesbitt, Spur Award-winning novelist

Amazon US
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Amazon US
Barnes & Noble


Sunday, December 3, 2023

Stupid words redux.

After my latest rant on abuse of our shared language, a friend suggested I did not like to see language evolve. But it happens. It’s something that can’t be helped. Most of the time it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s an improvement. Sometimes it’s not.

But I can sleep at night knowing that many—at least some—of the stupid words I rant about will end up on the trash heap of speech, discarded as the useless, even noxious, locutions they are.

Using only words extant during my lifetime, I offer some examples of this self-correction.

Time was, people who were “cool” (a word that was silly then and still is, but has demonstrated staying power) were ofttimes referred to as “cats.” If they were really cool, they were “hep” cats. No more. In the same vein, “groovy” has pretty much disappeared. And when was the last time you heard something cool referred to as “far out” or “bitchin’?” “Fab” had its day, which has long since passed. And we no longer say we “dig” things that are cool. An event or incident that was the opposite of cool was often called a “bummer.”

Clothes were once “threads” but now they are not. No longer are women “chicks” or “dames.” I haven’t heard police referred to as “fuzz” lately. And we have moved beyond all the silly CB radio-inspired lingo too expansive to chronicle here. To that I can only say, “10-4 good buddy. See you on the flip side. Keep your ears on.”


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Good Books.

Read any good books lately? Along with numerous other writers, I was asked by the web site to list the three best books I read in the past year. Not necessarily books that were new in the past year, but books read during that period. 

For almost 40 years (don’t ask me why) I have kept a list of the books I read. So, finding my three favorites for the year took nothing more than paging back 12 months and going through the list to see which titles jumped out at me. Some surprised me, to be honest. Others almost topped the ones I chose, but not quite. Still, it was not an easy decision. Maybe, on a different day, my choices would be different.

You can see my list here:

And don’t hesitate to wander around the web site for other lists by other writers on other subjects. (Somewhere on there is my list of five Western novels about cowboys who really are cowboys, rather than the usual fare of outlaws, lawmen, gamblers, and the like.)

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Really Stupid Words, Chapter 22.

You hear a lot about “hacks” nowadays.

Not, in this case, “hack” as a means to cut or sever or chop with repeated irregular or unskillful blows, as most dictionaries define the word’s original and primary meaning.

Nor does it conform to another longstanding sense of being unable to deal with a given situation successfully, as in “he can’t hack it,” or “he’s a hack writer,” both of which can be seen to have evolved from the original meaning.

Nor is the current usage related to the meaning of the word that came along with the rise of computer networks and the internet, where people “hack” into computer systems where they have no business being, whether for fun or to do damage—chopping their way in, so to speak.

No. The current buzzwordy use of hack has to do with something altogether different, and I am not sure how or why it applies. You hear a lot these days about this “hack” or that “hack” that seems (apparently) to be a shortcut or something of the sort. Just lately, I have been advised of “hacks” for life, fishing, parenting, productivity, health, housekeeping, heating and cooling, cooking, cleaning, clothing, crafts, decluttering, organization, school, math, travel, and on and on and on…

On a side note, “hack” seems to be popular with the same people who are fond of “side hustle” (which sounds to me like being up to something no good) and “the gig economy.”

I cannot fathom the word “hack” in this most recent—but already clich├ęd—usage. I guess I wish there were a “hack” for understanding stupid words.