Saturday, November 19, 2022

Remembering 9/11.

September 11. A date burned into history like a brand. The date of the deadliest mass murder on American soil. But the 9/11 chronicled in With a Kiss I Die occurred in 1857 at a place called Mountain Meadows in Utah Territory—an evil deed unsurpassed in bloody violence until its one hundred and forty-fourth anniversary in 2001. 

With a Kiss I Die—A Novel of the Massacre at Mountain Meadows  is a love story entwined in the tragedy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Polly Alden, a young California-bound Arkansas emigrant, falls in love with Tom Langford, a Mormon boy she meets in the settlements of Utah Territory. Caught between the fear and hatred of the persecuted Saints for the emigrants, and the hostility of the emigrants toward Mormons who will not replenish their dwindling supplies, the young lovers defy mistrust and opposition as they aspire to a life together.

Animosity between the emigrants and the settlers grows as the wagon train makes its way south through the territory, culminating in the blood-stained soil of Mountain Meadows.

Follow the trail of the Arkansas emigrants and the blossoming affection of the star-crossed lovers in a compelling, engaging tale inspired by history—and the eternal conflict between good and evil, hatred and love—through the pages of With a Kiss I Die.


Monday, November 7, 2022

All about cowboys.

“Cowboy” is a word that implies much more than it means. To my way of thinking, one of the best definitions of the word is that applied by the late cowboy author Eugene Manlove Rhodes: “the hired man on horseback.” My dad used to say that the way to tell a real cowboy was by the cowsh*t on his boots. It all comes down to cows and horses.

Granted, those definitions may be too limiting, especially today. But, thanks to the days when Westerns dominated movie and TV screens, “cowboy” came to be applied to too many kinds of people, most of whom had no idea which end of a cow gets up first, and had never had manure on their boots. Outlaws, lawmen, gamblers, gunfighters, and all manner of others who appeared in Westerns (except those gathered under the likewise too-broad term, “Indians”) were referred to collectively as “cowboys.”

A while back I was approached by, a web site devoted to readers, and asked to list five books I thought represented something important in the literature of the American West. I titled my contribution “The best novels about cowboys who are actually cowboys” and wrote a brief note about each of my five selections. Each novel on the list carries a storyline that revolves around cowboys doing actual cowboy work. While works of fiction, all the books feature an authentic look at cowboys, cowboy work, and cowboy life.  

Take a look at the list on See what you think. You may disagree with my selections or my premise or my reasoning. You may be inspired to read one or more of those books if you haven’t already. For more years than I care to remember, reading and writing about cowboys is as close as I have come to having cowsh*t on my boots. But I still haven’t forgotten which end of a cow gets up first.

NOTE: I borrowed the bronze sculpture pictured above from noted Western artist Jeff Wolf—he’s a cowboy born and raised, and knows whereof he sculpts.