Wednesday, July 17, 2024

On the Outlaw Trail.

You could stick a pin just about anywhere in a map of Utah and there would be some interesting aspect of Old West history that happened there. The northeastern part of Utah below Wyoming and next to Colorado is no exception. Brown’s Hole (Brown’s Park, if you prefer) and Diamond Mountain are there. And the Outlaw Trail, leading from Hole in the Wall in Wyoming to Robbers Roost in Utah, runs through the Uinta Basin and most every outlaw in the history of the Intermountain West frequented the area.

 Among them was Matt Warner, the bandit who introduced Butch Cassidy to the outlaw life, and subject of my historical novel, OUTLAWMAN: The Life and Times of Matt Warner.

On July 22, I will be in Vernal, the heart of the Uinta Basin, where Matt Warner was arrested for murder following a gunfight where he killed two men and wounded another, speaking at the Uintah County Library. (Uintah and Uinta are both correct spellings, depending on circumstances, but that’s a story for another day.) I’ll be speaking about Warner’s life and times, reading a few selections from the book, and visiting with people about one of the Old West’s most notorious outlaws, who later became a respected lawman.

If you’re anywhere near the area we’d love to see you there. There’s a lot to do and see in the Uinta Basin, including a bank on Vernal’s main street built back around 1916 from 37 tons of bricks—every one of which arrived in town with a postage stamp, via parcel post. That, too, is a story for another day.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

It’s a Kick (starter).

A while back, publisher Silverado Press invited me to be part of an anthology of Western stories by some of today’s top authors (and me). It sounded like an interesting project, so I signed on. That’s the cover of the book above.

But there’s something unusual about this book—not so unusual these days, I suppose, but certainly new to me. Readers—potential readers—will fund the publication through something called Kickstarter. I guess how it works is that interested readers buy the book in advance, contributing at various levels of support for added perks and benefits.

As I said, I don’t know the ins-and-outs of how it all works, but here’s a link that should answer all your questions and tell you how to get involved.

Silverado Press Presents Western Stories by Today’s Top Writers.

You’ll see that the editor, Jeff Mariotte, has assembled a stellar cast of Western Writers. And me. Take a look. You might like the idea of helping publish a book.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Not long ago, yours truly appeared on LA Talk Radio in a wide-ranging, penetrating, perceptive, enlightened, astute, scintillating, incisive, informative, in-depth (or so I’m told) interview with Tom Swearingen, guest host for the “Rendezvous with a Writer” program.

Life being what it is, it’s altogether likely that not all of you were able to tune in to the live broadcast.

Not to worry. LA Talk Radio has made the program available all over the place so you can tune in. Being something of a Luddite, I don’t pretend to know what all this stuff is or how it all works, but you (or your grandkids) probably do.

Here are several links you can click on to take you to either an audio only or a video and audio recording of the interview. Thanks for listening. Or watching.

LA Talk Radio Facebook Page

LA Talk Radio Audio
Amazon Music

Monday, June 24, 2024

Stamey under the sky.

Blue sky and Dave Stamey. What better way to spend a summer evening?

On July 19 at around 6:00 pm, legendary Western singer, songwriter, and entertainer Dave Stamey will step up onto a hay trailer parked in Cameron Wilkinson’s horse pasture in Mapleton, Utah, and cut loose with a rollicking evening of good music and good times.

Stamey’s pasture performances have become a summer tradition as Cameron invites Dave and all comers to congregate for a festive, informal celebration of cowboy tunes. The modest $22 charge ($11 for the little ones) to get through the gate all goes to the artist as he wends his way across the West filling auditoriums and performing at more formal venues. But, lucky for us, he always finds a way to detour to the foot of Maple Mountain for these galas among the graze.

If you’re within driving distance of Cameron’s place on July 19, or find yourself in the neighborhood for any reason, this will be the place to spend the evening. Contact Cameron at to let him know you’re on the way and to get more detailed information. It’s an evening that shouldn’t be missed. I know—I’ve been there before, and I’ll be there again. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Tune in.

June 20 will be upon us before you know it. Please mark the evening of that day on your calendar, in your date book, on your phone, or wherever else you keep your life from descending into chaos.

At 7:00 PM that day (that’s MST, my time; it’s 6:00 PST, 8:00 CST, 9:00 EST, and however Arizona sets their clocks these days) I have been invited to appear on LA Talk Radio’s “Rendezvous with a Writer” series. Tom Swearingen, a cowboy poet of renown, will be hosting the show. We’ll be talking about reading, writing, some of my books, perhaps some poetry, and who knows what all. I suspect that by the end of our hour, we’ll have covered all 26 letters of the alphabet.

Follow these links to tune in to watch or listen live on June 20:
* Listen to the audio on LA Talk Radio’s website. (Click “Listen Live” on right side.)
* Watch on Rendezvous with a Writer Facebook.
* Watch on LA Talk Radio Facebook.

If you miss the live broadcast, there is still hope. Follow these links:
LA Talk Radio Facebook. (Video.)
Rendezvous with a Writer Facebook. (Video or audio.)
Podbean. (Audio only. From Podbean you can choose Spotify, IHeart Radio, and so on.)

Whatever all that means. Tune in. Watch. Listen. Don’t miss a chance to see me open my mouth and let random syllables spill out and dribble down the front of my shirt. See you June 20. 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

What’s in there?

There’s a man named Justice who made himself a judge.

There’s a madam named Mercy who makes him nervous.

There’s a three-legged dog named Twah.

There’s a barroom bouncer named Al, short for Alice.

There’s a dim-witted town marshal named Luther.

There’s a phrenologist, a milliner, and a medicine show.

There’s a riverboat gambler and a Philadelphia lawyer.

There are rents to pay, taxes to collect, and percentage payoffs.

There are disagreements, disturbances, tribulations, and trials.

There’s a courtroom in the saloon and card games at the brothel.

There’s never been a town like this one.

And there’s never been a novel like this one.

Justice and Mercy is now available in paperback and coming soon in eBook.

There’s a lot to smile at in its pages.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

My Favorite Book, Part 30.

Certain things from the Old West are so firmly embedded in history—both scholarly and popular—that they are ever-present. You don’t have to look far to find a book, magazine article, movie, documentary, or debate about the gunfight at the OK Corral, Wild Bill Hickok, the battle at the Little Big Horn, Buffalo Bill Cody, the siege at the Alamo, Crazy Horse, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull . . .

And, as popular a subject as any of the above, Billy the Kid.

I recently re-read a book on that subject I had enjoyed before: To Hell on a Fast Horse – Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett and the Epic Chase to Justice in the Old West by Mark Lee Gardner. The book traces the histories of William Bonney and Pat Garrett, both as individuals and their shared history. While widely researched and carefully documented, the book—unlike so many nonfiction books—is not a dense parade of names and dates and facts.

Gardner does not paint Billy the Kid as a tortured, misunderstood, widely loved victim of circumstance. Neither does he portray him as totally uncaring, cold-blooded, ruthless, and imbued with evil. Garrett gets the same multi-faceted treatment, covering his heroics and relentless pursuit of justice, as well as his gambling, drinking, and economic shenanigans. We come to know both men as fully formed, complex human beings, driven by and responding to (as we all are) complicated and sometimes conflicting forces.

The violence of their lives is chronicled in vivid detail, as are the friendships and romantic relationships of the Kid and the sheriff. Throughout the pages of this engaging account, readers are left to form their own conclusions concerning the mysteries surrounding the lives and deaths of two of the Old West’s most compelling men, forever entwined in our history and imaginations.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The Great American Novels.

Not long Ago, The Atlantic magazine ran a feature titled
“The Great American Novels.” The editors (with lots of help) compiled a list of the best works of book-length fiction published in America between 1924 and 2023 and came up with 136 titles.

It is an interesting list. I have heard of most of the books listed, but there were several that had escaped my notice altogether. In all, as near as I can recall, I have read but a paltry 28 of the 136 books. I guess I have to broaden my interests.

Of the books I have read, seven of them made lasting impressions on me, and I have read most, if not all of them, more than once. These are:

·   Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

·   A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

·   The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

·   The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

·   Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

·   A Winter in the Blood by James Welch

·   Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

I don’t suppose it is a surprise that four of my seven favorites from the list are set in the American West. One of those, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, is among my all-time favorites, worthy of several readings (with more to come) on my part.

There’s a lot of good reading out there. Try as I might, I’ll never get to it all. How about you?

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Luck of the draw.

In my youth I could draw a little and for years harbored dreams of becoming a commercial artist. But I lacked the patience required to be good at it. However, I would still draw sketchy cartoons and other drawings on occasion and that came in handy at times. As you might imagine, cowboys were most often the subjects of my scribbles. I have included a few examples tucked away from my college days.

First is a small-space teaser ad for an upcoming Utah State University rodeo, and a later ad for the same. (Those two are from photocopies using ancient 1970s technology so are rougher than the originals.)

The reasons escape me, but the Weber State College and Brigham Young University rodeo teams asked my assistance, and I made a cover for the WSC rodeo program and a handbill for the BYU rodeo.

The signature on the illustrations reads “Mini” which is another story. When I showed up at USU way back then I was considerably smaller than I am now, and one of the Rounders there—Marlow Carrol, if memory serves—dubbed me the “Mini Cowboy” so “Mini” was how I was known for several years.

I eventually outgrew the appellation in more ways than one.


Wednesday, February 28, 2024


This is a leap year. Leap years come around every four years to keep our calendar more or less harnessed to the sun in its travels. February, being the shortest month on the calendar, gets the advantage of leap year with the addition of an extra day. Tomorrow is that day—February 29.

I often hear people say they don’t have time. That there aren’t enough hours in a day or days in a week or weeks in a month…and so on, to do something they want to do.

Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re in luck.

Tomorrow is an extra day. A day added to your calendar to give you 24 free hours to do whatever it is you haven’t had time for. A whole day. An entire day tailor made for reading that book. Or writing that story. Or that poem. Or whatever has been nagging at you, but which somehow always falls victim to the lack of time.

The time is now. Get ready to get up in the morning and get it done. 

At least get it started, and don’t worry if you don’t get it done. There’s another tomorrow, another 24 hours, waiting. The truth is, you’ve got all the time there is. And you won’t be getting any more of it—at least until the next leap year, in 2028. Don’t wait.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


The history of the Old West is rife with notorious outlaws. Likewise, famous lawmen. But there were a few who, at one time or another, wore both hats, black and white. One such was a Utah cowboy born Erastus Christiansen (with various spellings) but known in his day and in history as Matt Warner.

Warner set out on the outlaw trail at an early age. He rustled cattle, stole horses, and graduated to robbing banks and other crimes. He was schooled in the dark arts by his brother-in-law Tom McCarty, and the two of them served as mentors of a sort to the notorious bandit who would become Butch Cassidy. Warner was, in a word, an outlaw.

But, later in life, Warner switched his black hat for a white hat and served as a justice of the peace and deputy sheriff for several years. In other words, a lawman.

Put those words together and you have a perfect description of Warner: OUTLAWMAN.

His story is told, in fictional form, in OUTLAWMAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MATT WARNER, coming soon in paperback and eBook from Speaking Volumes. The tale is based largely on Warner’s own chronicle of his life as spelled out in The Last of the Bandit Riders, as well as other sources, and told in a unique and surprising way.

OUTLAWMAN. Coming soon. Watch for it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Speed of sound.

A writer friend and I were talking a while back. He mentioned a book he had read in which a character under fire heard a bullet strike a tree, then heard the report of the rifle. My friend suggested this was unlikely, as the speed of sound is much greater than that of the bullets of the era—the Old West.

I disagreed, and we left it at that.

However, curiosity got the best of me, so I thought I’d do what they tell you to do on Sesame Street: “Look it up.” It took a few hours and lots of mouse clicks to reach a number of relevant web sites. Here’s what I learned about the speed of sound and the velocity of bullets fired from a few rifles in common use at the time in question.

Sound travels through the air at 1,125 feet per second. That varies somewhat, affected by temperature, humidity, and wind. And, of course, sound waves dissipate and the noise fades with distance. The velocity of bullets varies as well, depending on wind and distance, and the bullet loses speed the farther it travels.

But, all things being equal, a bullet fired from a .52 caliber Spencer repeating rifle would lose the race, lumbering along at a paltry 931 to 1,033 feet per second.

The race with a .44 caliber round from a Henry rifle would be a dead heat, the bullet leaving the barrel at 1,125 feet per second.

A bullet from a Winchester .44-40 Golden Boy outruns sound at 1,433 feet per second.

The old-time Hawken rifle, .50 caliber model, spit out lead at 1,600 feet per second.

Winning it all is the Sharps .50 caliber, which, depending on grains of powder in the cartridge, fires bullets that fly 1,448 to 1,814 feet per second.

None of which matters. But how else is an old man with no gainful employment supposed to spend his time?