Monday, June 29, 2015

Happiness is Lubbock, Texas…

To paraphrase an old Mac Davis song, happiness is Lubbock, Texas, in my rearview mirror.
We’re just back from a visit there for the annual Western Writers of America convention. Leaving Lubbock was a happy occasion because when we left town I took with me a WWA Spur Award for my novel Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range and a Spur Finalist Award for my poem “Song of the Stampede” from my book Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems. 
Beyond that, it was enjoyable just being there.
There’s a lot of music in the air in Lubbock—besides Mac Davis, rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly called the place home. Multi-talented Andy Wilkinson is from Lubbock, and he writes some of the best-ever songs and poems and plays about the American West and its people. He entertained WWA members with the able assistance of his Lubbock neighbor and saddle pal, singer-songwriter Andy Hedges.
Finally, it’s always enjoyable to attend the WWA convention to renew old friendships and make new ones. There is little in life as agreeable as hanging around with folks who love the West and words and writing and appreciate the difficulty of getting an idea down just right—say, for instance, capturing a young man’s quest for adventure with a line like, “I thought happiness was Lubbock, Texas, in my rearview mirror.”

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Riding the Range with Rawhide Robinson.

Soon we’ll be setting out for the Llano Estacado and an adventure with Rawhide Robinson. As announced earlier, the novel in which he stars, Rawhide Robinson Rides the Range, is the winner of this year’s Spur Award for Best Western Juvenile Novel from Western Writers of America.
We’ll leave the Wasatch Front, cross paths with the trail Dominguez and Escalante blazed as well as the Old Spanish Trail, head east through the Colorado Rockies past Doc Holliday’s grave, travel south beyond Pikes Peak to connect with the Santa Fe Trail over Raton Pass, then southeast to the XIT Ranch and Dalhart, Texas, on to Amarillo and the Frying Pan Ranch, south past Charlie Goodnight’s Palo Duro Canyon, then on to Lubbock and the annual WWA convention.
It’s a Wild West journey Rawhide Robinson himself would be proud of. But I doubt we’ll experience the kind of extraordinary adventures he did. You are invited—encouraged, even—to ride along with Rawhide Robinson as you read about his escapades in the award-winning novel, suitable for grown-ups and young adults alike. You can get it through online booksellers and it’s available through your local bookstore.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Point and shoot.

I am not a photographer. But, in the course of magazine writing I am often expected to provide pictures to illustrate stories. So, most of what I shoot is journalistic or documentary-type stuff.
But when something interesting in an artistic sense presents itself, I point and shoot and try to capture it. I look for odd angles and unusual arrangements, strange combinations and patterns of colors—things that look almost abstract or graphic in nature. None of the photos here are posed; all were taken on the fly. Only a couple of the images are cropped; the rest are full-frame just as the camera caught them.
Take a look if you’ve got the time. But remember—I am not a photographer.

At the rodeo.
The behind-the-scenes rodeo photos were taken at a high school and a college rodeo. Then there are a couple of shots representing success. Finally, a pair of detail pictures of Jeff Wolf’s monumental sculpture “Rodeo” that I think capture the art’s dynamic action.

At the ranch.
A skyline shot of gathering cattle off Midnight Creek starts this selection, followed by several pictures from a branding. The set ends where it started, with an Idaho ranch horse with a mecate and hackamore hanging from the saddle horn.

At work.
Working with leather is a job, a craft, a skill, and an art. While doing stories on a couple of those artists I captured a few behind-the-scenes photos of some of the tools and materials the artists employ, ending with saddles for sale and an extreme close-up of a maker’s mark stamped into leather.


At play.
Guitars can look as good as they sound. This lone photo comes from the practice pen of Mary Kaye and the Kaye Sisters as they blended bended strings and harmonized sweet voices.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A magazine article with a point. Lots of them.

The most recent issue of RANGE magazine includes an article about the Frying Pan Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. The place is significant because it played an important role in making the American West what it is today.
Joseph Glidden and his partner established the ranch back in 1881 for the sole purpose of demonstrating the usefulness of Glidden’s invention—barbwire—on a large scale. They built and strung 120 miles of fence to make the point.
“Wiring the Frying Pan” in the summer issue of RANGE magazine is a reprint of a chapter from my new book, The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed. The book is filled with unheralded historic events and people as interesting and important—but, perhaps, none so influential in the big picture—as the pointy, prickly devil’s rope that reinvented the West.
Find out more about (and subscribe to) RANGE magazine at Find the book online or at bookstores.