Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

From the floor of the dry lake, sunrise began with the flaring upthrust of Lonely Mountain…. Silhouetted ramparts in deep shadow rang brightly with the fireball impact of the sun. Etched by early morning dust, sunlight stabbed through crevices as huge glowing shafts across the vast desert floor…. clumps of of scattered tumbleweed hid their brambled . . . → Read More: Mojave Ode; or, Of Cyborgs, Grit, and Cholla

“Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

Anson Mount, handsome and gifted star of AMC’s railroad blood-mud-and-guts western Hell on Wheels, waxes poetic in Cowboy & Indians magazine (August 2014) as he explains what about westerns gets him in the solar plexus. But first he stakes an XY chromosome claim on the genre, describing it as perhaps the most masculine of them all, depicting manly manly men men men men men . . . → Read More: “Stillness in Motion”; or, The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Westerns

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

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

Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

Justin America is just the average guy pursuing the American dream—although he’s doing it in a dusty red union suit, no boots or hat or clothes, and with a bullet hole in his side. But Americans always have that sense, rightly or wrongly, that they can do ANYTHING, so no worries! Right? . . . um, I . . . → Read More: Justin America, Webisode 1; or, The Extreme Perils of Parting Ways

Less Talk, More Action; or, The Gimlet-Eyed Beauty of Buying Cowboys

The silence of a cowboy-hatted western hero speaks volumes.

This ad for billboards–discovered on a NYC avenue–says it all: if you have to explain yourself, you might as well herd toenail fungus for a living.

So the best of the best buckos never use more words when fewer will do.

In the best of the best westerns, just unadulterated . . . → Read More: Less Talk, More Action; or, The Gimlet-Eyed Beauty of Buying Cowboys

Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

Sometimes it  takes just a split second to realize (or remember) that those peddling the western mythos in the middle of last century thought their audience–the common folk eating TV dinners on vinyl poufs–were idiots.

I know full well that our nostalgia for westerns and the monolithic western hero is only made possible by crafty screenwriting and . . . → Read More: Wild, Wildebeest West; or, When Wagon Train Jumped the Gnu

The Wyoming Lone Ranger; or, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire Rides Again

There’s a branch of crime genre that’s set in the grizzled lands of the Wild West, its gumshoes/police chiefs in boots, spurs, and cowboy hats, as taciturn as any LA noir street dick–and as secretly well-read, as white-knightly, and as troubled.

Craig Johnson’s Sheriff Walt Longmire, in his gritty page-turner “Longmire series” novels, the latest . . . → Read More: The Wyoming Lone Ranger; or, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire Rides Again

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