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

Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

“In the early days storms drove the cattle irresistibly before them; the cowboys not able to handle the frightened and half frozen animals were forced to drift with them, often for a hundred miles, living as best they could.” –Frederic Remington

“A bovine was what made a cowboy a cowboy, with the help of a horse, and . . . → Read More: Of Cattle and Men: A Review of The Big Drift, by Patrick Dearen

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

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

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

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

Galloping To Hell or the Pecos; or, One Bucko’s Review of a Novel of Pursuit, Redemption, and River Crossings

To Hell or the Pecos, by Patrick Dearen, is a fast-paced western that had me flipping the virtual pages on my iPad as fast as my finger could swipe. (Oh, I was riding a bucking bronco at the time, and shooting at bandits to save a rancher’s daughter. Just so you know I’m not a total . . . → Read More: Galloping To Hell or the Pecos; or, One Bucko’s Review of a Novel of Pursuit, Redemption, and River Crossings

Home on the Range; or, Prologue–Getting Western in a Homestead Cabin

I type these very words on land I recently purchased. “Land” is the glint in the eyes of Glenn Ford in Cimarron. The glow on the faces of pioneers racing their wagons to stake their claim. It was both a glow and a glint in my heart for a year and a half–and I couldn’t stand . . . → Read More: Home on the Range; or, Prologue–Getting Western in a Homestead Cabin

Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a good western can be even more daunting: westerns, which tend to have plotlines so well traveled you can drive a wagon train through them, nonetheless require historical specificity and a protagonist who typifies rugged individuality—laconic and gimlet-eyed from the start or in a dude-to-hero arc.

So whenever I read . . . → Read More: Writing the High Country; or, Author Larry Bjornson on His Western, Wide Open

On the Fringe; or, Wearing the West

I get two questions every day as I ride the high country writing a novel (don’t ask about progress, please),

as I work hard (thank you, all the editors I work for–if I could, I would buy you all cayuses),

and as I look for  awesome land to purchase out west for my own little rancheroo . . . → Read More: On the Fringe; or, Wearing the West