Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: The Samaritan’s Pistol.

When this novel was in its infancy, author Eric Bishop sought me out for advice. I applied a lot of red ink to the first few chapters and he claimed to appreciate it, and that may be so for we became and remain friends.
Given that friendship, and having had the opportunity to watch this book grow, I may not be the most objective reviewer. But, as Eric will tell you, I do not pull any punches where criticism is involved.
All that aside, here’s what I had to say about the book in Roundup Magazine, official publication of Western Writers of America:
A more accomplished work than your average debut novel, The Samaritan’s Pistol is proof positive that the Wild West is still wild. A strange set of circumstances puts a Wyoming rancher and packer at odds with the Las Vegas mob, and the action takes off from there.
In this engaging blend of intrigue, gun violence, and character study, Bishop’s supporting cast includes a thoughtful small-town lawman, an ex-football player, a nervous accountant, a wise old ranch hand, pinky-ring mobsters, love interests old and new for the main character, and other players who layer the tale with credibility. While outstanding as a first novel, this book is a fine work in its own right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Academy of Western Artists Buck Ramsey Award winner.

This Saturday night in Irving, Texas, the Academy of Western Artists hosts a big soiree to pass out Will Rogers Awards in a variety of categories, as they have since 1996 to honor those who are “taking the contemporary cowboy and western movement to new and exciting heights.”
My friend Paul Bliss gets this year’s Male Cowboy Poet Award. Fellow Western Writers of America members and friends Chris Enss wins the Nonfiction Book Award for Object Matrimony, and Larry Sweazy wins the Fiction Book Award for The Coyote Tracker.
Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems by yours truly won the Buck Ramsey Award for Best Cowboy Poetry Book.

Since I am unable to attend the ceremony I won’t get the award statue—but the Academy of Western Artists assures me they will send “a very, very nice certificate signifying your accomplishment.” 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Short and Sweet.

Short stories are fun to write. Unlike novels, you can get into and through one relatively quickly (whether writing or reading).
There are a few new anthologies out there that include stories of mine.

Fans of the old television series Maverick will recognize the title of Livin’ on Jacks and Queens as a line from the show’s theme song. The anthology, edited by legendary writer and editor Robert J. Randisi, includes fourteen never-before-published tales of the Old West, each revolving around the central theme of gambling.
My story, “White Face, Red Blood,” is based on actual events and features Utah bandits Butch Cassidy, Matt Warner, and Tom McCarthy. Before they became notorious outlaws, they spent a season racing horses in western Colorado. White Face is the name of a horse they won in a match race from a band of Ute Indians, and the difficulties that resulted. 
The anthology is available as an e-book.

Tales from Indian Country features stories collected by editor Troy D. Smith. Several fine writers contributed stories to the anthology, sale of which will benefit Standing Stone American Indian Cultural Center in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee.
My story, “Play Dead or Die,” is based on the experiences of Shoshoni boy Da-boo-zee, who faced death at the infamous Bear River Massacre on 29 January 1863.
Both e-book and print versions of the book are available.
A third anthology, Rough Country, edited by Brett Cogburn, was released in December then withdrawn because of some serious error and is due out again any day now. Butch Cassidy makes another appearance in my story “Short Fuse,” which is based on a pair of Wyoming train robberies perpetrated by Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, including the Sundance Kid, Harvey Logan, Ben Kilpatrick, and others. Butch Cassidy’s role in the robberies is controversial. Watch for Rough Country and “Short Fuse” to hit the shelves.
Opportunities to publish short stories are rare, but I am always on the lookout for a chance to write a tale that gives readers something to sink their teeth into—but as a snack, rather than a full meal.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review—Boots and Saddles

Boots and Saddles­­–A Call to Glory, a historical novel by Paul Colt, recounts the pursuit of Pancho Villa by US Army forces led by General Black Jack Pershing. But the focus of the story is Lieutenant George Patton.
A trained cavalry officer and saber master, Patton’s career is in the doldrums owing to lasting peace and the changing nature of warfare. He joins Pershing’s expedition and eventually talks his way out of a staff assignment and into the opportunity to see some action. But when the opportunity for fighting arises, he finds himself saddled with obsolete military skills. The soldier contemplates packing it all in for civilian life but an obsession for war born in his bones will not allow it. 
Colt’s account is informative and entertaining, using the facts of history to create an action-packed story populated with convincing, complex characters.
The gait of the book’s short sections and chapters, like the trot of a cavalry horse, takes some getting used to. But once you catch Colt’s rhythm, you’re in for a fast-paced, mile-eating ride through history.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rawhide Robinson Rides onto the Tiny Screen.

For the past 38 years or so, part of my job has been making television commercials. With only 30 seconds to tell a story and sell a product, you’re really restricted. So, when I decided to make a little video (or book trailer, to use the popular parlance) for my latest novel, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range, I decided to kick off those hobbles and really go for it.
The result?
This video is 33 seconds long.
Enjoy. It won’t take long.
And don’t forget to buy the book.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Living Poetry…

The new issue of Ranch & Reata is out. If you’re not familiar with this fine magazine, you’re missing out. It’s an oversized, colorful, beautifully designed journal that features people and places of the American West, presented with fine Western writing and photography and art.
For the past few years I have had the opportunity to write a lot of stories for editor A.J. Mangum and am always pleased to see them in the magazine. In the process, I have met and introduced readers to a lot interesting people.
This issue features a story I wrote about Jessica Hedges, a young cowboy poet raised on Nevada ranches who now, with her husband, is raising a family of her own on ranches around the West. She has been a featured poet at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and travels the West performing. In her spare time, she designs and sells buckaroo-themed jewelry and fashion accessories.
The article ended up delayed for an issue, so while it places her on a ranch near Blackfoot, Idaho, she has since moved and is now working on a ranch near Paisley, Oregon. And her résumé now includes an additional appearance at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering this past January, where she was awarded a scholarship to help continue her poetic endeavors.   
Be sure to look for Jessica in a feature article under my byline in the new issue of Ranch & Reata magazine.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

3/84 of a Wrangler Award.

Brushstrokes and Balladeers: Painters and Poets of the American West was named winner of the Western Heritage Award (popularly known as the Wrangler Award) for Best Poetry Book of 2013 by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
This beautiful anthology, published by the Range Conservation Foundation and RANGE magazine, edited by C.J. Hadley and designed by John Bardwell, is a beautifully made book filled with fine poetry and art. I was fortunate to have three of my poems—“Buckaroo,” “Migrations,” and “Spring Works Sonnet” included. Which means, as owner of three of the 84 poems in the book, a 3/84 share of that Wrangler Award is mine. Mine! MINE!
On a side note, I came up with the title for the book for the publisher (uncredited, but if you ask C.J., she’ll tell you).
In any event, I am pleased to have been included in the anthology and happy for C.J. and all the other poets and painters represented in the pages of Brushstrokes and Balladeers for the well-deserved and prestigious recognition that comes with this award.