“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.
Death in Cantera is my
twenty-fourth western/frontier novel, my fifth book with Five Star, and my
second Dunbar story. I wrote it in 2013, and it came out in early 2016. By the
time I wrote this novel, I had an established relationship with Five Star, so I
could think about writing a story with that publisher in mind. Also, because Dark
Prairie had done well with reviews, sales, and an award, and because the
people at Five Star liked Dunbar, I had encouragement to write another novel
with him as the somewhat mysterious sleuth.
Justice at Redwillow is my
twenty-third western/frontier novel and my fourth with Five Star in its
hardcover frontier line. It was published in August of 2015.
I began working on ideas for this
story line in 2011, but I struggled quite a bit with some of the elements. I
think some of my uncertainties may have come from my status, as this was the
period between the time when Dorchester ended its western line and the time
when Five Star began its frontier line. As mentioned in other commentaries, I
had begun working with an agent, but the various commercial publishing
companies were wary of taking on new writers, and some of them had a rather
narrow idea of what kinds of stories they wanted. I came to appreciate
Dorchester, who, in spite of wanting things to be recognizable traditional
westerns, was willing to accept stories that were a bit atypical and varied.
Don’t Be a Stranger
is my twenty-second western/frontier novel, published by Five Star Publishing
in February of 2015. It was published before Justice at Redwillow, although I wrote them in the opposite order.
I wrote them both while things were getting under way with Five Star and its
frontier line. During that time, Dark
Prairie was going through the acceptance, editing, and production process,
and Across the Cheyenne River was
making its way onto the list.