Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Coming soon.

Sometime in February, Five Star will release my latest novel, All My Sins Remembered. It is unlike any other novel I have written, and I am not even sure where it came from. But those who have read it seem to like it—if “like” is the right word for such a dark, suspenseful tale.

Loren D. Estleman is a member of the Western Writers Hall of Fame, winner of numerous Western Writers of America Spur Awards and Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and a best-selling author of both Western and private-eye novels. He says, “All My Sins Remembered is destined to join the ranks of the frontier classic. Here is suspense as taut as freshly strung barbed wire, rock-solid period detail, and an emotional roller-coaster ride set against a West that is both historically accurate and stunningly immediate. Rod Miller does what only a handful of writers have ever done: make you care about (and even perhaps root for) an astonishingly evil man.”

Another winner of the Wrangler Award and a Spur Award winner, Western novelist Michael Zimmer says, “One of the more powerfully haunting novels to come along in years, Miller’s All My Sins Remembered stands shoulder to shoulder with such literary classics as Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. A brutal, beautifully rendered masterpiece, guaranteed to stay with you long after the last page is turned.”

Finally, Marc Cameron, New York Times Bestselling author of several Tom Clancy novels as well as the Jericho Quinn and Arlis Cutter political and law enforcement thrillers, says, “All My Sins Remembered is hypnotic and poetic and vivid.”

Watch for All My Sins Remembered. As I said, it is unlike anything I have written before. And, I suspect, unlike anything you have read before.

Monday, January 3, 2022

A healthy obsession.

For several years now, I have been obsessed with the Massacre at Bear River. I can’t say for sure when this obsession took hold, but I do remember why.

The history of the American West has always been of interest to me, and that interest has always included our growing nation’s history of eliminating any competition for the land and its resources. In other words, the systematic exclusion and eradication of the native tribes that occupied the land.

At some point in my education, after years of study, I learned about the Massacre at Bear River where, on 29 January 1863, the United States Army launched a dawn attack on a Shoshoni village and killed some 250 to 350 men, women, children, and babies. Most of the dead were noncombatants. And the annihilation included rape and torture, as well as the destruction of food, clothing, lodges, and the theft of the horse herds on which the people relied. It was the deadliest massacre of American Indians by the Army in all of Western history.

I was astounded—dumbfounded—that such a pivotal event had largely escaped notice in American history. Little had been written about it, and most of what had been published was incomplete at best, and inaccurate at worst.

Thus began my obsession. The result, to date, is represented above. I have written a lot about the Massacre at Bear River. Most recently, a novel. Before that, in no particular order, a nonfiction book and shorter pieces of nonfiction included in a book and for a magazine. Short fiction for an anthology, and published in my own collection of short stories. Poems in an anthology and a chapbook. And a poem that became a song.

There may well be more to come, as the Massacre at Bear River continues to haunt me.

When January 29 rolls around again, as it will in a few weeks, I hope to be at the site of the Massacre at Bear River to once again join the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation in honoring their departed ancestors, who have yet to claim their proper place in history.

Monday, December 20, 2021

True confession.

At the risk of sullying whatever credentials I carry in the cowboy and Western cultures, I have a confession to make.

I am not a big fan of John Wayne.

Once you have caught your breath, please read on.

While there is no doubt that The Duke made many stellar performances, and remains a movie star without parallel, it is my opinion that he played but one character in all his movies: John Wayne. It always seems to me that when watching him, I am watching John Wayne playing a cowboy. Or John Wayne playing a gunfighter. John Wayne playing a lawman. And so on.

On the other hand, when I watch what I consider better actors, I see a cowboy played by Robert Duvall. A gunfighter played by Clint Eastwood. A lawman played by Jeff Bridges. And so on, to include Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Redford, Richard Farnsworth, Gene Hackman, Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, Ed Harris…. You get the idea. I like actors who become the character they portray, rather than the character becoming the actor. To me, it is not a subtle distinction.

I once penned a profile of John Wayne as part of a collection of influential Westerners I wrote for American Cowboy magazine. I guess it was suitably reverential as it drew a fan letter—a brief email, actually—from one of John Wayne’s sons, praising the piece and saying it was one of the finest tributes he had ever read about his father.

I meant every word of it. Still…

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A book reborn.

Years ago, an author friend asked me to write a novel for a new publisher he was trying to help get established. The result was Cold as the Clay. That publisher, unfortunately, never gained a foothold and has long since folded its tent and pulled its picket pin. So, Cold as the Clay has been out of print for years.

But the book is too good to die. Now it is available in a handsome new e-book and paperback edition (that’s the cover above), published by Speaking Volumes. The links will take you to the publisher’s site, but you will also find it wherever you buy books online.

The story follows a cowboy named Wilson Hayes, whose life more or less follows the pattern of King David’s story in the Bible—plenty of heroics, violence, treachery, greed, and romance. All, of course, in an Old West frontier setting.

I’m happy to see Cold as the Clay live again. It deserves a second chance.



Sunday, November 28, 2021

Really stupid words, Chapter 19.

If I said, “People use a lot of really stupid words and phrases,” someone may well reply, “I know, right?”

I know, right?

I hear that all the time. I even read it sometimes. I have no idea what it means. The first part seems straightforward. You hear, “I know,” and it is fairly safe to assume the speaker is agreeing with what you said. But then they add, “right,” inflected as a question. What does it mean? Are they asking you to agree with their agreement? Are they asking you to agree that they know? Are they asking you to acknowledge that you heard what they said? Are they asking you to verify that you believe what you said was correct? Is there an expected response at all?

If not, why ask the question? 

I don’t know, wrong?

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.