When I was a grad student at UC Davis in the 1970’s, I believed in a liberal education. With a B.A. from UCLA, I entered the Ph.D. program in English in 1971, and I was in no hurry to specialize. University life seemed natural to me. Unlike some of my fellow students of that era, I enjoyed preparing for the foreign language exams, I liked all areas of literature, and I loved teaching English 1, the freshman composition course. Philosophically at least, I felt responsible for everything in my field, but I also felt I should be free to study what I wanted.
“Darlings of the Dust” is a short story that appears in the anthology Contention and Other Frontier Stories, released by Five Star Publishing in May 2019. In my story, the cowboy detective named Dunbar (from his own series of Dark Prairie, Death in Cantera, and others) arrives in the town of Westlock, Wyoming, and goes to work at the Paradise Valley Ranch.
of Great Price” is a novella that came out with Sundown Press, a division of
Prairie Rose Publications, in August of 2018. It was reprinted in book form
along with a handful of other stories in a collection entitled Tales of the Old West, also by Sundown
Press. “Pearl of Great Price” runs to 12,000 words, somewhere in the range
between long short story and novella. As with other works I have written in
middle length, this story found its own length according to the magnitude of
the idea I had.
“Leaving the Lariat Trail” is a novella, or short novel, that is a little less than half as long as a traditional western novel. It has been published as an e-book by Sundown Press, a division of Prairie Rose Publications, and at some point in the future it may appear in print form with one or more other selections.
In the fall of 2009, the president
of Eastern Wyoming College surprised me with a small tribute. He told me that
the governor of our state was going to be visiting our campus on October 16 as
part of a visit to the new corrections facility being built near our town. The
governor was going to stay for the Baxter Black show, and there was going to be
a reception before the program. At the reception, said the president, he
planned to present the governor with a collection of four of my books that he,
the president, had found in the college bookstore. The president said that if I
liked, I could attend the reception and present the books myself. I was quite
honored by the invitation, and I said that I would have to make sure I didn’t
have a conflict. I added that if I thought I had a small conflict such as elk
hunting, my wife would make it quite clear that meeting the governor was much
“At the End of the Orchard” is a
story of mine that originally appeared in a magazine called Hardboiled in May 2009. This story is a little
under 10,000 words—not quite in the novella range but longer than most short
stories. It is representative of one kind of fiction I have worked on in recent
years. After its publication in Hardboiled,
it went on to win the Western Writers of America Spur Award for best western
short story in 2010.
Castle Butte is my twenty-seventh
western/frontier novel, my eighth book with Five Star, and my second young
adult novel. I wrote it in 2016, and it came out in May of 2018. During the
time I was working on this novel, I did the proofreading on Good Water, my previous YA novel, which
went on to win a couple of small awards, and I felt encouraged to write another
story in this line.
Destiny at Dry Camp is my
twenty-sixth western/frontier novel, my seventh book with Five Star, and my
third Dunbar story. I wrote it in 2015, and it came out in April of 2017. By
the time I wrote this novel, I had a decent track record with Five Star. Both Dark
Prairie and Death in Cantera had done well with reviews, sales, and
a small award each, and the editors at Five Star were happy with the prospect
of another Dunbar novel. So was I.
is a contemporary western mystery novel with Wilf Kasmire as the protagonist.
It was published by Fire Star Press, an imprint of Prairie Rose Publications,
in November of 2017. As with other works, this one evolved in a roundabout way.
In a Large and Lonesome Land
is a CD of western songs recorded by the great W.C. Jameson. I wrote the lyrics
to all the selections on this CD, and WCJ brought them to life as songs. This
project evolved over a period of several years and materialized as a CD in
November of 2018.