Monday, March 30, 2015

Words and pictures in Ranch & Reata.

The new issue of Ranch & Reata has been out for a week or three and, as usual, its pages are filled with fine articles and features about the American West we all know and love.
Grab your subscriber copy (if you don’t subscribe, you should), and turn to page 68 where you’ll find a story about a remarkable young woman from southeastern Idaho named Kimberlyn Fitch. She’s a standout rodeo star and has also made a name for herself in the cattle business, breeding club calves. When people wonder what the world is coming to, I think of young folks like Kimberlyn and can’t help but think things will be fine.

Then, on page 127 is an article about my old friend James Fain. I got to know Jim at Utah State University, where he was one of our rodeo coaches. He was already well established as a rodeo action photographer and has since become a legend in the arena. He’s taken pictures of cowboys famous and unknown at rodeos large and small and earned every kind of recognition available in his field. (I’ll bet you’ll find photos of Kimberlyn Fitch in his files.)

Read about Kimberlyn and Jim (and look at the pictures) in the new Ranch & Reata. If you are not a subscriber, you can fix that oversight here:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cowboy Poetry bites the dust.

Today’s the day LLWRC 831 / Introduction to Cowboy Poetry was to begin at the University of Utah. Unfortunately, the class is DOA owing to lack of sufficient enrollment.
Somehow, courses like African Drumming, Cheesemaking 101, Succulent Centerpieces, Qigong, and Growing Medicinal Mushrooms work.
But not Cowboy Poetry.
The U wants to try again, and has scheduled the class for Summer Semester, to run six weeks in May and June. If that session doesn’t attract sufficient interest, it is unlikely the University of Utah will ever take Cowboy Poetry seriously again.
I’m beginning to wonder myself.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Word came down not long ago from Western Writers of America that my novel Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range wins the 2015 Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Novel. While Rawhide Robinson is likely taking this in stride as he is no stranger to extraordinary events, I am stunned, shocked, surprised, shaken, astonished, astounded, and flabbergasted. Winning a Spur (that really does go jingle, jangle, jingle by the way) to hang on the wall is such an honor I cannot contemplate it. To have three of them to my credit is beyond belief.
And, as if that weren’t enough good news for one day, “Song of the Stampede” from my book Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems will be honored as a Spur Award Finalist for Best Western Poem. 

Spur Awards will be handed out at a gala banquet and presentation, and Finalists at a luncheon, at the WWA convention in Lubbock, Texas, in June. It will be a genuine pleasure to be there to accept these awards, and it’s pretty certain the publishers—Five Star for the novel and Pen-L for the poem—will be there to receive their awards for putting ink on my words. All thanks to them. And to WWA for the accolades.
You can add Spur Award-winner Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range to your collection through your local bookseller or online at Goodnight Goes Riding is available there as well, or through the publisher,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cowboy Poetry at College—with a Song.

The cowboy poetry class I have been asked to teach for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning/Division of Continuing Education is creeping up—quickly. Our first session will be Wednesday, March 25, and the class continues each Wednesday through April 29 at the U’s Sandy campus.
I, for one, am looking forward to some excitement with syllables, fun with phrases, and fine times with rhymes.
I don’t know how enrollment is going, but I did hear tell of an inquiry from Indiana wondering if the course was available online.
The big news about the class is that phenomenal singer, songwriter, and poet Brenn Hill has agreed to visit as a guest lecturer April 9 and talk about his approach to writing poems and songs and how the two intertwine.
It’s not often that cowboy poetry is taken seriously enough and given sufficient respect that a university offers a class about it. I hope the cowboy community will repay that respect by showing up. It’ll be a good time.

Registration information here:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Augustus McRae, Philosopher.

As many of you know who read this stuff regularly, I will be presenting some workshops at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April. The folks behind the conference asked me to respond to a series of questions for posting on their web site to help with promotion. While most of the questions were fairly straightforward and easily answered, one in particular required some thought. Here, for no special reason I can think of, is that question, along with my response.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why?

It would probably be politic to say I relate to characters like Atticus Finch or Jean Valjean or someone else with lofty moral qualities. But I am drawn to Augustus McCrae in the Larry McMurtry novel Lonesome Dove. Gus has an approach to life I agree with, best summarized by his saying to his partner, Woodrow Call, “Well, I’m glad I ain’t scairt to be lazy.”
Laziness is an overlooked virtue, as evidenced by Gus’s follow-up statement: “Hell, Call, if I worked as hard as you, there’d be no thinking done at all around this outfit.”
Just sitting and thinking may look lazy to others, but, for me, it’s how things get written. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I am going to write. Then, when I get around to actually “doing something,” I tend to get it written fairly quickly—which leaves more time for laziness.