Stardust Trail recognized in 2021 Spur Awards

Happy to announce that Stardust Trail was selected as a Finalist for Historical Novel in Western Writers of America’s 2021 Spur Awards. Since 1953, WWA has promoted and honored Western writing with the annual Spur Awards, selected by panels of judges and given for works “whose inspiration, image and literary excellence best represent the reality and spirit of the American West.”

Needless to say, I’m honored. A big thank you to WWA, the Spur judges, and my publisher, Level Best Books/Historia. And congratulations to all the other Spur winners and finalists! To see the entire list, go here.

Christmas in July!

Looking to do some early holiday shopping for those middle-grade (age 9-12) youngsters on your list? Emily’s Gift: A Tale of a Christmas Present, and a Christmas Past (co-written with my wife, Rose) will be released in Kindle format on July 31. Right now, it’s available for pre-order here for just $2.99.

About the book: Who has ever seen a faded photograph from bygone days without wondering about the people pictured – whom they were, how they lived, what became of them? Which of us has toured a historic building and never once thought, if these walls could talk…?

Emily Primm has. A thoroughly modern New York girl devoid of such childlike imagination, she sees herself as an adult trapped in a ten-year-old’s body. She’s never more anxious to slip the bonds of childhood than at Christmas, when all the grownups around her seem to become kids themselves. However, when she’s given an unusual gift – a dollhouse that once belonged to a great-great grandmother, Emily’s intrigued. She’s inexplicably drawn to the heirloom, so much so that she finds herself whisked away to the house’s real-life counterpart thirty miles – and more than a hundred years – from home.

Emily spends Christmas Eve, 1905 with the real house’s residents, the Forrests. She becomes fast friends with young Grace and her little brother Harry, a bookish boy who may hold the key to sending Emily back home. Their bonds strengthen when Emily learns that Grace is the dollhouse’s original owner, and realizes that Harry and Grace are not only her friends, but her ancestors. As she shares in the Forrests’ old-fashioned traditions, Emily begins to view the holidays, her own family, and her youth in a different light. She longs to go home (even though it means enduring the dreaded family dinner!), and by the time she finds her way back she’s happy to return to the childhood she’d almost let slip away.

“More than Sagebrush and Cowboys: The Western Writers of America”

I’ll be taking part in this San Diego Writers Festival panel tomorrow (6/27), discussing Western writing and the WWA along with fellow authors Deanne Stillman and Mark C. Jackson (Chris Enss, unfortunately, had to bow out due to tech issues). Our moderator will be Kirk Ellis.

The panel runs from 1:30-2:30 PST, and will be streamed live on Facebook, and recorded for future viewing on FB and YouTube.

Promises to be a great discussion, so tune in and have your questions ready!
Link: Day One San Diego Writers Festival

“More than Sagebrush and Cowboys” at the San Diego Writers Festival

“The San Diego Writers Festival is a free, community based event designed to celebrate the power of writing and storytelling…”

I’ll be joining a fine group of writers for a panel discussion at the San Diego Writers Festival on April 4. Come join us for some fine weather and a day jam-packed with panels, workshops, and performances by writers and storytellers of all genres and disciplines. And be sure to catch “More than Sagebrush and Cowboys: Western Writers of America Celebrate the Diversity of the West.” Hope to see you there!

Stardust Trail

In the spring of 1938, L.A. private investigator Nate Ross searches for an alcoholic screenwriter whose absence is stalling production on Republic Pictures’ latest Western. When he finds the missing rummy dead, Nate’s plunged into the world of B-movie cowboys and a tangled case of murder and sabotage pointing back nearly forty years to a bloody, real-life, “wild West” crime.

Coming next month! Stay tuned…

Another Billy the Kid…

This is an authentic (and authenticated) photo of Billy the Kid. (Spoiler Alert: No, not THAT Billy the Kid – although they do appear to have had similar taste in hats}. To find out more about this Billy, see my feature articles “Billy the Kid of Kansas” and “Train Robbery at Mound Valley” in the upcoming (April) issue of Wild West Magazine.

As a bonus, my Roundup article in the same issue rounds up ten wannabe BTKs of the Old West. It’s more Billys than you can shake a stick (a billy club?) at!

Forming the West…

Every now and then you come across a piece of writing that hits you square between the eyes with its clarity and truth. Happened to me yesterday when I was rereading Craig Johnson’s excellent Longmire mystery, “The Dark Horse.” How I missed lighting on this particular passage the first time I read the book I don’t know, but this time around it stopped me dead in my tracks:

“I thought about how we tilled and cultivated the land, planted trees on it, fenced it, built houses on it, and did everything we could to hold off the eternity of distance – anything to give the landscape some sort of human scale. No matter what we did to try and form the West, however, the West inevitably formed us instead.”

Seems to me this 60-word paragraph encapsulates the theme of pretty much every Western novel ever written. And I imagine that last sentence describes perfectly the journey of every Western writer. I know it does mine, anyway.

My hat’s off to you, Craig. Thanks.

The Rio Virgin, Southern Utah – Thomas Moran (1913)