Searching for the Mother Lode; or, How Writing about Writing Reviews for Western Novels Is Like One Big Gold Rush

Mission: Craft  reasonably intelligent author queries to write reviews of two novels set in a western mining town (new trend?).

Focus: Mining towns. No idea, really, what they’re all about. I’m all gunslingers and cowboys. Miners are all gold and digging and claims. I think. 

Objective: Get back in the saddle and…research!!!

I mean, look, classic western towns are easy. Bank . . . → Read More: Searching for the Mother Lode; or, How Writing about Writing Reviews for Western Novels Is Like One Big Gold Rush

Return of Bucko; or, Now That My Saddle Sores Have Disappeared I Have to Start All Over Again

Every once in a long while, there comes a time in a cowboy/girl’s life, when he/she has to stop drifting, stop gambling and whoring and paying for expensive whiskey, and pay down some bills. Hang up the hat a while and put on a clean shirt.

After all, if Shane could do it, so could I, was . . . → Read More: Return of Bucko; or, Now That My Saddle Sores Have Disappeared I Have to Start All Over Again

When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

That infamous line in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (dir. John Ford, 1962) succinctly describes much of what lies behind sepia-toned country nostalgia and pumped-up cowboy-wannabe posturing: the legend of the West is bigger than its reality, and it’s a lot more interesting to watch . . . → Read More: When the Legend Becomes Fact; or, The Sand Creek Massacre’s Inconvenient Truths

What Would Dad Do?; or, Four Fundamental Reel-Life Lessons from My Father

I love reel-life tough, taciturn cowboy heroes, in case you haven’t guessed. But don’t try to make this into a therapy session about my real-life father figure, who was a generous, slightly nerdy guy who loved music and reading, The Muppet Show (yes, it’s true, eek), and walks in the woods. He taught me just as much as . . . → Read More: What Would Dad Do?; or, Four Fundamental Reel-Life Lessons from My Father

Rescue Me, Flint!; or, Of Wagon Train and Writer’s Block

The wilderness of writer’s block is vast, dangerous, and difficult–if not impossible–to cross.

Or is it just the packaging that makes everything look so vast?*

(*Image used with permission from the delightful Toy Soldiers Collecting blog, where adventure awaits after a click on the link…)

A writer never expects to get seriously lost in this wilderness; like . . . → Read More: Rescue Me, Flint!; or, Of Wagon Train and Writer’s Block

Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

The novel of the homestead cabin writes itself. 

It was a prologue of possibilities, of quails and tarantulas and Joshua tree groves and sunshine. Since then, its chapters, experienced at a 2,500-mile distance, waver between comedy and tragedy and tearjerker, with the love of my life, the cabin, being both beautiful and ugly, stoic and needy, a magnet . . . → Read More: Enter My House Justified; or, Skirmish at the Old Homestead Cabin

Fact and Fiction: What Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, and Star Trek Taught Me about the West

I’m often asked how I got into westerns–sometimes with a tone of disbelief, as in how could one possibly like this hoary, cardboard cutout genre??

I barely know myself: I was always the one who insisted on playing the Indian in Cowboys and Indians because cowboys were just so not interesting to me. And watching movies where . . . → Read More: Fact and Fiction: What Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, and Star Trek Taught Me about the West

Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Two pics from Django, Unchained are seeding the Wild Western Web. Be still, my beating heart. You’re making me type typos. 

One is of Leonardo DiCaprio wielding a hammer and Mephistophelian eyebrows, the devil with a red suit on, degeneracy signified by not only a cigarillo in a holder (instead of tucked into the corner of mouth, . . . → Read More: Clothes Maketh the Man; or New Silver-Screen Western Hero Django Unchained

Reach for the Skies; or, Study Says Guns Make People Look Bigger

Huh. And I thought it was all in the camerawork.

A recent (April 2012) study at UCLA funded by the US Air Force has found that humans will perceive a man with a gun as larger than he really is. Study participants were asked to judge the size of men holding things like caulking guns, saws, drills, and . . . → Read More: Reach for the Skies; or, Study Says Guns Make People Look Bigger

Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero

It’s a well-worn stereotype that western heroes don’t talk about their feelings. But it’s not that they don’t have them. Western heroes are deep wells of emotion, actually. If you flicked a pebble into one of those wells, that little “plink” would echo and re-echo a thousandfold-fold-fold-fold-fold…

Spoiler alert: Coop gets the gal in The Virginian.

Take . . . → Read More: Shut up; or, The Eternal Silence of the Western Hero