Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Six-guns and Slay Bells, Story 4

Christmas for Evangeline

Christmas and eggnog and bourbon all seem to go together. At least it seemed that way to Jim Murray. A year ago, he had his own bank held up. Robbed. And he got a third of the take.

Problem was, one of the tellers was a hard ass and always carried a hideout derringer. He shot Mort, one of Murray’s hired robbers, right in the eye. Killed him dead. The bloodstain never completely washed out. And it bothered Murray. The more he drank, the more it bothered him. But what really bothered him was Evangeline, Mort’s wife. She was dead, too. Hanged herself.

Pooch was in on the robbery, but his wife was Murray’s sister.

Murray drinks, drinks a lot. He thinks of Mort. And Evangeline. He plans the perfect crime, but will it work. Can he pull it off while the carolers sing “Oh little town of Bethlehem . . . . . . . .”? Can he?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six-Guns and Slay Bells -- Story 3

Bitter Mountain

Donald Andrews killed Curtis Baker for no more reason than he wanted Baker’s wife for himself. He wasn’t too happy about the boy that came with the deal, but figured he could work around that.

He’d felt a spark from Martha the moment he met her. It wasn’t that he hated Baker, he just wanted Martha more. He figured it would be next to heaven living with her. But he had to compete with a ghost to get her. That’s some competition.

And even after he’d won her hand, the ghost would not let go. What’s more, it had a tighter hold on the son than on the mother.

The kid came right out and said it. “I don’t like him.”

But Baker was dead on Bitter Mountain. Dead and moldering. Dead and gone. Left his wife and son behind. Gone. Gone. Gone.

But little Jimmy says his daddy’s bringing a Christmas present. The best present he’s ever had.

From Bitter Mountain.

This story’s from Troy Smith, who frying college kids’ brains with dry history when he’s not writing award-winning historical novels. One of the fine authors who belongs to Western Fictioneers.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Six-Guns and Slay Bells, Story 2

Angel of the Badlands

This is my story, so it's hardly fair that I review it. So I'll just give you enough of what's going on to whet your appetite.

On a lonely trail in the New Mexico badlands, Jonah Stark takes a bullet in the back. Men rob him and leave him for dead. But Jonah's not one to give up. The robbers have kicked him down the hill to die, but he refuses. Though delirious and bleeding, he refuses to give up.

A rider comes, looks him over, but doesn't help. Still, he won't give up. Delirium takes over, and he dreams of Katherine, his long dead sweetheart and wife.

Jonah Stark is back-shot, sunburnt, dried out like a prune, but still alive. For all that can mean. I'll leave it to you to find out if this tough man can survive.

Six-Guns and Slay Bells -- Christmas anthology

Sheriff Santa

Western Fictioneers, the organization of authors who write Western fiction, recently published a strange new book: Six-Guns and Slay Bells. Christmas in the West, with a liberal touch of the paranormal. What’s more, it works.

In this book, you get the best writers in the genre giving you the best Christmas present ever. The Western stories you love, mixed with a dollop of supernatural.

Let me tell you about the first story in the anthology—Sheriff Santa and the Ghost of Two-Gun Jim.

It all happens in a town where a portly sheriff also plays Santa Claus every year. Only last year, someone tried to hold up the bank and Sheriff Santa had to stop it . . . in his Santa suit. Furthermore, Sheriff Santa doesn’t need either a fake beard or a fake belly.

Each year, it seems, the suit must be let out a little to fit the ever more portly Sheriff Santa. And while the fitting is going on, robbers hit the bank again.

Now, you’ll just have to read the story, by prolific Western author Robert Randisi, to see how Sheriff Santa subdues the outlaws, or does he?

As eBook or Print, at your favorite online bookseller.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Comanche's Revenge

The Comanche’s Revenge is a Black Horse Western by D.M. Harrison, and it’s a good one.

The boy Mitch Bayfield got captured by the Comanches, who named him Broke because of his wounded leg. Now Broke has returned to Hell, the town that left him to die by Comanche lance. He’s back, and he wants revenge.

Broke’s revenge is aimed not only at his older half-brothers who left him as dead, but the whole town, because no one came to look for him. But Broke finds that revenge may not give him a sweet taste when it’s over. And when it is over, Broke finds he must leave, regardless of the fact that his father wills him the ranch, regardless of the fact there’s a young lady available, regardless of the fact a whole town now owes him, Broke must leave. But why?

Let me say it again. D.M. Harrison has written a good Western novel. And the follow-up to The Comanche’s Revenge is in the production process as you read this review. 

Navajo Springs

Before the Atlantic & Pacific railroad reached Horsehead Crossing on the Little Colorado and renamed it Holbrook, the Wells Fargo stage line had a station at Navajo Springs.

The name says Navajo Springs, but it's really a seep. Still there. No stage station. Nothing, really, but a single commemorative stone.


Correct. When Arizona was separated from the territory of New Mexico, the new governor stopped at Navajo Springs, the first stage station into the new territory of Arizona, where he took his oath of office. 

This is the photograph of a photograph I took of the seep at Navajo Springs. If it were dug out, there would be water. At least, that's what the reeds in the swale seem to say. There were only shards of old wood left there, which I took to be what was left of the old stage station. A warped old wooden water trough still lay there as well. But 360 degrees showed only a flat horizon such as you see in the photo. 

When the new governor, John Noble Goodman, assigned by President Lincoln, arrived in the new town of Prescott, he had to set up his government in the military camp nearby. It might be good to remember the first capital of Arizona, especially if you are a reader of this blog. 

Fort Whipple!

Friday, October 19, 2012

WWA's Only Japanese member

This is Duke Hiroi. He's holding the one and only commemorative belt buckle for the 2012 WWA Convention in Albuquerque held in June. Duke out-bid a hull bunch a other WWA members to buy the buckle at the charity auction. Now, now only is Duke the only Japanese regular member of WWA, but he's also he owner of the only 2012 WWA Convention belt buckle.

Duke writes books and articles in Japanese. He's a former Japan Ground Self Defense Force special services officer and a small arms expert. He enters and often wins fast draw competitions in Japan, and many of his articles are about Western era arms. One well-known article was on a Japan-made replica of a Colt Navy percussion cap pistol. These replicas were made in the 1850s and used in the assassination of one of the feudal government's most liberal leaders, Naosuke Ii. 

This is what's interesting about Japan. Guns are no recent addition to Japanese arms. A Portuguese ship wrecked off a Japanese island called Tanegashima. The sailors had matchlock guns. Within months, replicas of these matchlocks made their way to the main islands of Japan and were called Tanegashima guns. The great battles of late 16th century Japan were won and lost by the positioning and use of Tanegashima guns. Not an invention of Japan, but one brought in from Portugal. 

Townsend Harris presented the Tokugawa government with Navy Colts. A few years later, replicas of these guns were used to assassinate a major official of that government. Sam Colt's gun. Japan's replica.

Anyway. Duke will no doubt show up at the 2013 convention in Las Vegas.  
A whole lot of things have gone by since last I wrote anything in this blog. I could plead busy, but that's not good enough. A few books have come out since way back then. And here we are about ready to sign off on 2012.

 Took a long trip through Arizona on my way to the WWA convention in Albuquerque this year. Got to see Fort Apache up close and personal for the first time in about fifty years. That was some fort in its time. Worth a visit to any western history buff. Better than going to Monument Valley by far. I put a lot of the pics on Facebook, but I think I'll put them up here, too. Maybe do a bit of explaining at the same time.

In my novel Guns of Ponderosa, bounty hunter Matthew Stryker gets beaten about the face with brass knuckles, and the scars made him somewhat less than a handsome man. Not long ago, Road to Rimrock came out from Black Horse Westerns. This book also features Matt Stryker, but as the marshal of Rimrock, a small town above the Mogollon Rim that looked like it was dying. On Matt's watch, the town drunk is killed, but not before he's asked Matt to take care of some things in case he dies. Keeping that promise gets Matt Stryker into more trouble than a man might think possible. Trouble that leads from Prescott, Arizona, right back up the Road to Rimrock. Try it. You might like it.

As ever, the Book Depository is the best place to buy Black Horse Westerns because they pay shipping world around.

Just a few days ago, Western Trail Blazer issued my novel Pitchfork Justice. It's the love story between a landed heiress and a footloose cowboy. And that means trouble. Lots of trouble. This novel is a Havelock story, and Ness Havelock gets more than his share of trouble. But he's got all the character you'd want in a good man, because that's exactly what he is: a good man.