Bright Skies and Dark Horses is a collection of western short stories. I wrote most of these stories in 2021, and the collection was brought out by Five Star in February of 2023.

The stories in this collection range from flash fiction to novella and from somewhat domestic stories such as “In the Breaks” and “Visitors in Cantera” to fast action as in “Incident at Blue Nose Creek” and “Next to the Last Chance.” I also vary the stories, as is my custom, back and forth between first person and third person. Four of the eight stories are previously published, and four appear here for the first time. There are only eight stories in the collection because five
of them are longer than the traditional 5000 words.

The synopsis of the book in its listing herein gives an idea of what the stories are like in content or story line, so I do not feel a need to repeat that information here. One of them, “Incident at Blue Nose Creek,” won an award. One was published online and did not qualify for contests that I submit to, and one that I thought was pretty good did not receive any notice. I have a couple more yet to go, however, so maybe something will come around. It is hard to get recognition for short stories unless they receive an award, so that is a measure I use to describe how well a story does. The final measure is something the writer often cannot know, and that is whether readers enjoy a story. I hope readers enjoy one or more in this collection.

On a broader level, I would like to express my appreciation for Five Star Publishing in its efforts to bring more short fiction to the reading public. In recent years, Five Star has brought out several anthologies of works by different authors, and it has also brought out several collections of short works by single authors, such as this one. Five Star has helped writers of short fiction find an audience for their work, and it has helped to renew readers’ interest and to restore the status of short and mid-length fiction. As I have written in other commentaries, the renewed popularity of short and mid-length fiction has been promoted by electronic publishing in the form of e-zines and e-books. Five Star Publishing also deserves recognition for its service in bringing out more fiction of variable length in print form.

“Bright Skies and Dark Horses: Western Stories” is available in hardcover at Amazon.

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