Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 9)

Double Deceit Commentary

Double Deceit is a novella of 21,000 words that was published in November 2020 by Five Star Publishing. I wrote this story in the late fall of 2019, and it appeared in a quartet of frontier crime novellas entitled Perilous Frontier.

I have written a few other works in the novella range. As I mention in other commentaries on my work, I enjoy working in different lengths. Some people consider the typical length for a commercial story to be about 5000 words, while many literary magazines have limits such as 1500, 2500, 3500, and so on. Over the years, I have written stories of just about every length from 1000 to 28,000 words. In this past year alone, I have written stories at 1000, 5000, 8000, 10,000, and 20,000 words, plus a novel at 70,000. So when the opportunity came up to write a work in the 20,000 range, I was happy to give it a try. 

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Great Lonesome Commentary

Great Lonesome is my twenty-ninth western/frontier novel and my tenth book with Five Star. I wrote it in 2018, and it came out in November of 2020, delayed by a few months as many books were during the pandemic. 

Prior to writing this novel, I gathered notes over a period of a few years. I wanted to write a story about a person who rejected materialistic and conformist values, and I thought it would be a good story if this person met another person with similar interests. And so I came up with my protagonist, Reese Hartley, and my unconventional heroine, Muriel Dulse. Both characters have come west in order to have their own land and to forge a new life. Hartley also wants to get away from systems and machines, which become sort of a correlative for a way of life in which people pursue wealth and material possessions and oblige others to cooperate with them.

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Short Fiction Awards for 2020

Like last year but quite different, this year has been a good year for me with awards. My short story “Return to Laurel” was a finalist for the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Short Fiction Story and was also a finalist for the Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best Short Fiction. My novella “Leaving the Lariat Trail” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Short Fiction. Any one of these distinctions would give me an occasion to be thankful, and so I am appreciative three times over.

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Dangerous Trails Commentary

Dangerous Trails, published by Prairie Rose Publications in June 2020, is a collection of twelve western short stories that (with one small exception) I wrote since my last collection (Blue Horse Mesa) came out in 2013.  This is my third collection of western short stories and my eleventh collection of short fiction. It includes “Return to Laurel,” which was a Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist and a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award finalist, both in 2020.

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Understanding and Writing the Monologue Story

The monologue story is a unique form of fiction, interesting for students of fiction to study and for writers to practice. This article will explain the features of the monologue story, it will cite and discuss well-known examples as well as provide additional illustrations, and it will offer some suggestions for writers who would like to meet the challenge of writing this kind of story.

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Doña Luz

In the fall of 1962, I went with my father on a trip to Mexico. He was meeting a woman he had corresponded with. We arrived in Chihuahua on November 1, just in time to go with the woman’s family to the cemetery for El Día de los Muertos on November 2. In the next six weeks, we would go on a tour to Saltillo, San Luis Potosí, Mexico City, Morelia, Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Durango, and back to Chihuahua. We saw a canyon full of Monarch butterflies, peasants carrying huge loads of firewood on donkeys, farmers plowing with oxen, boys bathing naked in a small waterfall and waving to the travelers, indigenous people in native dress, rural buses with goats tied on top, barbecued cow heads, paintings of President Kennedy on black velvet, the Basílica de Guadalupe, and a million other sights. On our return to Chihuahua, we visited the small museum maintained by Luz Corral, the widow of Pancho Villa.

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Doing the Right Thing

Time and again I remember an innocent moment, over thirty years ago, when I was sitting in the college cafeteria at lunchtime. As was the custom at the time at our small college, the instructors sat with classified staff and students, all of us like a family. On this day, one of the students came out of the kitchen, stopped, and dropped his tray of food. Utensils crashed, glass broke, food scattered, and people laughed.

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