Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Godless—A Review

A character and dialogue driven western, Godless presents a traditional plot with some fresh twists, served up with an appropriate balance of action. (Godless is a Netflix original mini-series.) A good script, excellent acting, appealing filmography, and a focus on storytelling makes Godless an excellent addition to the Western film genre.

Here's a good review at Columbus Underground

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Can Tasteful Nudes Save an American Icon?

I write westerns partly because I want to preserve our frontier heritage. (I also write them for fun and profit.) Recently, I encountered someone who is preserving the Old West in a much more concrete way. Laurel McHargue and her cohorts are raising money to preserve the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado.

Listed on the National Trust for Historical Preservation, the Tabor Opera House is a unique artefact of our frontier culture.
Known as “the most perfect place for amusement between Chicago and San Francisco,” this unique and historic opera house is poised to once again become a vibrant community asset in a transitioning mining town nestled amongst Colorado’s highest peaks.
Built in 1879 in a mere 100 days by mining tycoon Horace Tabor, the opera house stage has been graced by entertainers such as Oscar Wilde, Harry Houdini, and Judy Collins.
The opera house has been minimally and seasonally operated for decades and suffers from deferred maintenance due to lack of resources. A full rehabilitation is estimated to cost up to $10 million, a hefty lift in a small mountain town of 2,600 people. The future of the building is uncertain as the National Trust and partners work to transition its ownership structure.

I have a kinship with this project because Horace Tabor has a walk-on in my book, Leadville. Further, the proof-of-life note for Captain Joseph McAllen's daughter was written on the back of a Tabor Opera House broadside.

Laurel McHargue organized the Leadville Literary League. These brainy women noodled how to raise money to preserve the most important historic building in this once-prospering mining town. In the end, they took their inspiration from the 2003 film Calendar Girls.

You can get sneak peek under the covers in this Calendar Girls Video Trailer

You can help save the Tabor Opera House by pre-ordering your 2018 historic calendar at or by contacting Laurel McHargue ( for an order form!
  They’ll be the most unique gifts you can buy for all your 2018 gift-giving needs!
All net proceeds from sales of this calendar will be donated to the Tabor OperaHouse Preservation Foundation to save and restore this beautiful 1800s Opera House

Here's an even better idea. The calendar cost is $19.95, but if you can pledge $25 to the project on Kickstarter, you'll receive a calendar as part of your pledge. For only five dollars more, you become a patron of the arts.

Honest westerns filled with dishonest characters.

Excerpt from Leadville:

“Jeff, he ripped a Tabor Opera House flyer off the wall.”
“It went up yesterday and advertises Anna Held. If she writes her note on the backside, it’ll prove she’s alive as much as her pen hand.”
“She’s alive. Otherwise they wouldn’t agree to get a note from her.”
“But once they’ve given us the letter, do they have any reason to keep her alive?”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

National Read a Book Day

Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever. Philip Pullman

One of these should do nicely.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Did McDonald's invent fast food?

I recently watched The Founder with Michael Keaton. I enjoyed the film. It’s an interesting character study and does a good job of telling the McDonald’s story. (I personally think McDonald’s has lost its way, but no worries, In and Out Burger picked up the business model and did it one better by delivering great burgers.) The story, of course, is about the invention of fast food, the bane of the calorie conscious the world over.

However, the concept of fast food reminded me of something I ran across in my research for The Shopkeeper. I wanted to make my western series different from the norm, so I focused on miners instead of cowboys and other traditional icons of the frontier. Mine workers start early in the morning, and I discovered they frequently ate biscuits standing up in a saloon.  This may be the real start of fast food. (McDonalds just slapped egg, sausage, and cheese inside the biscuit.)

Here’s how I used that tidbit of research in The Shopkeeper.
Other meals I eat for fuel, but I dawdle over breakfast—and Mary cooks a hell of a breakfast. Mary ran the restaurant across the street from my ragtag hotel. It was not a restaurant in a New York sense, but nonetheless it was the best place to eat in Pickhandle Gulch. Her small building, plank floors, and long tables were all made from unfinished lumber, but a few touches like lace curtains had softened the rough appearance. Breakfast for miners usually consisted of biscuits eaten standing up in some stale-smelling saloon. Not fancy, but quick. They needed to get to work. Mary catered to the mine owners, town merchants, and people like myself, who had the time and money to eat a slow, hearty breakfast.
As I entered her tidy café, the aroma pulled the trigger on my appetite. I took my usual seat at a table by the window, and Mary sauntered over with a cup of black coffee that suspended its own little cloud of steam above the rim.
“What’ll ya have today, Mr. Dancy?”
“Everything it is—over easy, crispy, and soaked in grease.”
“You got it,” I said.

Hey, I like that: Risk taker, Rule Breaker, Game Changer

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Get Connected to Bookbub

Bookbub is a free service that notifies you when books go on sale. Free to readers, that is. When authors run a discounted promotion, Bookbub sends you an electronic notification. When you sign up, you specify your reading taste and your notifications will only includes genres you have requested. Bookbub notifications include traditionally and indie published books.

Bookbub is the gorilla of book promotions. It maintains this status through rigorous quality control, reader-friendly communication, and continuous culling of their list. You can sign up here. I have a author page at Bookbub, and when you follow me here, you'll get a note whenever any of my books go on sale.

Thank you for following me on Bookbub.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Center Point Will Publish Crossing the Animas

Center Point will publish a hard bound, large print version of Crossing the Animas, A Steve Dancy Tale. They’re a great group of people, so I signed the contract immediately. 

I’m thrilled that Center Point will have published all six of the Steve Dancy novels. It also pleases me that the first five books earned past their advances. That probably explains why Center Point bought the large print rights to Crossing the Animas. That’s a compliment I feel really good about.

Trade paperback and ebook formats are available now.

Monday, August 7, 2017

no rules, no fences, no referees

Recently I tweeted an article I wrote about the Old West. Many people have weighed in on what the American frontier was really about. I think many miss a key point which, at least in a literary sense, ties Westerns, Science Fiction, and Fantasy together.

Here's one paragraph from my article, “Is the Mythology of the Old West Dead?”  . 
“The West, outer space, the future, or a make-believe land represents a new beginning in a fresh place away from home—the shrugging off of disappointments and a chance to start all over again. The romance and adventure of frontiers draws people desperate to escape the travail of their current existence. We've seen this in real life with the migrations to the New World and the Old West, but today many people satisfy this longing vicariously with fiction. If you're poor, your family makes you miserable, you've committed an act that offends society, or wanderlust has gripped you, then the adventure and limitless opportunity of a frontier beckons like a siren's call. Emigrating to a frontier means you get a do-over in a land with no rules, no fences, no referees.” 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Now what?

I've written ten books and contributed to another five. Millions of words, all typed with two fingers. I would have learned to touch type, but I don't think that fast. When I finished the sixth Steve Dancy Tale, I wanted a break, not from writing, but from Steve. Now, I writing a sequel to The Shut Mouth Society. Actually, it's not a sequel, it just uses the same characters. The title is Deluge, and it's a disaster story. I'll vent all my frustrations in relentless waves of destruction and mayhem so I can return to Steve fresh as a huckleberry.