24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Let the snow be high, or the wind fierce, if you have logs for the fire and food on the table welcome the coming day with an open heart and friendly smile, and be grateful for the blessings you and yours enjoy.

If not... it's never too late to make a difference.

21 August 2012

Don't we all want one - a Western Town?

If we had the money, the time, the energy, the enterprise, wouldn't we all want to build ourselves a fully operational Western town?

Billionaire Bill Koch is doing just that on his land in Colorado, it seems partly to house his collection of Western artefacts, and partly as a playground for family and friends. The Denver Post is showing a picture.

The story is carried by a number of other online sites - do your own search - and some of the comments make interesting reading, leaning heavily towards dictating what a man, this man, any man, should do with his money. Perhaps Bill just looked to his brothers, David and Charles, also billionaires, who spend lavishly on what might be called politics.

Where's the fun in that? I'm with Bill.

18 August 2012

Railfest at Durango

Well, isn't it always the case? Next month the Brentmores are off to New Mexico for a doozy at Clovis and then turning north to Colorado for a little sightseeing and research at Durango. The next novel opens with a train robbery and I kinda thought the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway might like to star.

Dagnabit, if I ain't gonna be  a month too late. This very weekend, and on to 20th, True West Magazine is holding its first Railfest and guess which railway is starring? It's not the only heritage line taking part. Drop by the link and see if there's one in your area.

If you're interested in how the line moved from shipping silver ore to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or even tourists, True West has a great article on its history. Enjoy. I sure aim to when I get there.

11 August 2012

How Mad is Dangerous?

Today I'm guest blogging across at JJ Devine's Ramblings of a Writer, musing on the kind of community health support available back in the day. This time around I'm concentrating on mental health issues, a theme I explore in my Dead Men's Fingers novel. And there you were, thinking it was a just a plain ol' drag 'em out Western... LOL!

2 August 2012

Rodeo Dayz & Laramie's Code

Today I'm pleased to welcome Shotgun Bo Rivers - Richie White - for a fascinating insight into the lives of rodeo athletes, and how, at his Grandpa's knee, he was imbued with an abiding love of the Old West that led him into writing the Laramie fiction series.


“OK Boys, OK Boys” is the last thing a cowboy hears as he nods his head and a chute gate opens for 8 seconds of fame, fortune, if you ride, and glory, if you make it off in one piece. It is what we as cowboys call Rodeo.

Rodeo began as just a simple game among Vaqueros that arose from working practices. As horses were needed, they would compete with one another to see who could stay on the longest when saddle-breaking them. Herdsman would compete to see how many steers they could rope while they drove the cattle in, and steer wrestling came from the need to brand herds, wrestling each animal to the ground and holding it until the ranch brand was bore into its skin.  

Today, the sport of rodeo is derived from those exact activities, testing the skill and speeds of a cowboy or cowgirl athlete as they compete. Once entry fees are paid it is up to the cowboy or cowgirl to put up the best ride and score they can to be placed in the winnings. Points are awarded throughout a season, and at the end of the year the cowboy or cowgirl with the most points wins a belt buckle. In recent years jackets, saddles, and gear, have also been among the prize money.
Professional rodeos generally comprise of the following events: Calf Roping, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc riding, Bareback Bronc Riding, Bull Riding and Barrel Racing. 

I am of roughstock breed - Bull Riding and later Bareback Bronc Riding was my cup of tea. I spent most of the early 2000’s chasing the dream every rodeo cowboy has, a shot at the championship, and a shot at the gold buckle. Although never becoming a champion - I semi-retired in 2007 - I still have a love for the sport and I miss it nearly every day. 
For me it all began in 1996, when I said to myself, just once, I am going to ride just once. That story can be read in its entirety at Story. That just once turned into ten years of following the rodeo circuit up and down the east coast, and traveling west for a few there, as well as riding in Hanau, Germany, while in the service. Rodeo was my way of life until the injuries began to take their toll. My hope is to return for one more year, one more chance, one more shot at the legacy of rodeo.

I recently published my second book, Rodeo Dayz, which is a collection of short stories that nine friends and I wrote together. The book isn’t what you would call perfect, and we didn’t want it to be. We wanted readers to interact with the stories as if they were sitting at a coffee shop with us rambling on nearby, telling our rodeo stories to one another, the way real cowboys do. We wanted it raw, exact to how we would tell those stories. The spills, thrills, wrecks, and rides depict what we experienced and lived through to be rodeo athletes, bringing to light some great, and very truthful stories. 

The author biographies explain what we go through to get to the next rodeo. Entry fees aren’t cheap anymore, and we have to find a way to work and earn money if we are to continue living our dream. With the help of some rodeo pioneers from the early days I was also able to add a short story of rodeo history in New York, which dates back to the early 1950’s. If you enjoy rodeo in any fashion or even want to know what the life of a rodeo cowboy is like, Rodeo Dayz is a great coffee table read you are sure to enjoy.

This week also launches a brand new ebook, Laramie’s Code, the first installment of the Laramie Taylor mini-series. Laramie’s Code tells Laramie Taylor’s story prior to my upcoming novella series Laramie’s Thunder.  It begins with
Laramie just twelve years old being taught the Cowboy's Code, ethics his father raised him with, but when he begins school in the fall of 1856 he is faced with a challenge. His new friend Bartholomew is being taunted by three boys because he is the only black boy in school. Charles Younger's father, Henry Younger, joins his son and the other two boys and attack Bartholomew. Laramie, just twelve years old, courageously defends his new friend, and teaches forty-year-old Henry Younger a lesson - to have respect for others, regardless of color, or race.


Shotgun Bo Rivers is an author, writer, bull rider, bronc rider, guitar player, poet, and country boy. And as you'd expect, he loves to hunt and fish. Despite growing up in a little town called
Danby, VT, at the age of 22 he became a full time professional Bull Rider and amateur Bareback Bronc rider.

He grew up watching western films and reading western fiction with his grandfather, Ken Ford, who taught that he should live by the Code of the West and imbued in him dreams of a vast open range with only his horse, saddle and a tag-along mutt as best friend. 

To purchase Laramie’s Code or Rodeo Dayz this month visit for all ebook formats. Also available is a limited number of autographed copies of Rodeo Dayz.

His books can also be found on
ShotgunBo Rivers
Ritchie White

Ritchie White “Bo Rivers” loves to visit with his readers & fellow western authors, so drop him a line:
Facebook via Ritchie White (Bo Rivers)
Twitter via @shotgunborivers

28 July 2012

National Day of the Cowboy - Blogathon Day 5

The blogathon draws to a close with a piece from JR Sanders who believes in supporting children - their imaginations, their dreams, and their reading habits, through the National Day of the Cowboy.

Richie White, aka Shotgun Bo Rivers, wraps it up for the NDoC organisation and the western writers who participated.

I was privileged to be one. What more can I say?

26 July 2012

National Day of the Cowboy - Blogathon Day 4

The herd is running fast, now, on the blog of Shotgun Bo Rivers. Today nod your hat to...

Larry Payne, author of Ride the Savage Lands, who gives a rundown of The Code of the West
DB Jackson, rancher turned author, who talks about what it is to be a man with a "particular set of skills".

Remember, leave a comment and you'll be added to the draw for a coveted book.

25 July 2012

National Day of the Cowboy - Blogathon Day 3

Treats today on the Shotgun Bo Rivers blog:

First up is bestselling author Steven Law, speaking eloquently of his upbringing on his family's Iowa farm among working cowhands, and how those men differed from those depicted by Hollywood.

Joining him is Ken Farmer, taking us on the trail from watching Saturday matinee Westerns to researching and writing the West as it actually was, and reminding us that the best Deputy US Marshal of all time was Bass Reeves, a former slave.

Saddle up and get over there!

24 July 2012

National Day of the Cowboy - Blogathon Day 2

Shotgun Bo Rivers has two more western authors telling it how it is for them:

JJ Devine talks about Romancing The West
Phil Dunlap talks about childhood heroes making a lifetime's impression

Leave a comment on either, or any of the other posts this week, and you'll be entered into a draw for books.

23 July 2012

Run up to National Day of the Cowboy

Saturday sees the 8th National Day of the Cowboy which aims to honour and preserve the Pioneer spirit and Cowboy culture. On the run-up to the big day my friend and ex rodeo rider Shotgun Bo Rivers is hosting a series of articles written by Western writers who specialise in both fiction and non-fiction.

It kicks off today with an overview by Matthew Pizolato Please go and show your support.

Later today your very own Tyler Brentmore springs into the saddle... It's now Live. Come visit and discuss Celebrating the Skills & Protecting the Dream.

See you across there to throw a few Tweets (it's less noisy than horseshoes).

8 July 2012

Packing for a trip - Vittles

"Vittles", victuals, food… The notion that a pioneer family could pack what we would now term a survival ration and live off the land day-to-day was quickly dispelled, if it was ever embraced by anyone other than romanticizing early writers. The noise of even a small train of wagons with its accompanying stock would send any wild grazers to flight long before they could be sighted. If the émigrés wanted to eat, they carried it with them. What they packed depended largely on their source of advice.

A family of four might pack:
800 pounds of flour
200 pounds of lard
200 pounds of dried beans
700 pounds of bacon or salt pork
100 pounds of dried fruit (mostly apples)
75 pounds of coffee
25 pounds of salt & pepper
2 pounds of salteratus (sodium bicarbonate)

Sugar/molasses, tea, cornmeal/oatmeal, rice, dried peaches, hard biscuits of various kinds, and potatoes were also know to be packed, but too much weight was an ever-present worry. Re-acquaint yourself with the previous post as to what the wagon was already carrying. Although a 2,400 pound maximum for food was recommended, especially if three yoke of oxen were available to be rotated, many travelers tried to keep the load to just over 2,000 pounds (1 ton), and this included the barrels the food was packed in. Heavy jars carrying preserving liquids, either brine or sweet, didn’t last long.

Glancing over the list, it was easy to see why émigrés tied cages of laying hens to the wagons and dragged along the occasional sheep as well as milk-cows. There was hardly a cry of “What’s for dinner?” It would be a variation on the same, day in, day out, with the fervent prayer that it would last the trip.

Now, which one of you has that bag of Snickers?

30 June 2012

Packing for a Trip

Whenever this family packs for a trip there’s always the discussion of what to take, whose responsibility it is to remember joint-used items, and even, on occasion, personal items. It tends to get a little fractious as the departure day draws close. I often wonder what sort of emotional upheaval those pioneers went through, they who were leaving their homes in the States for a trip out West, never to return.  

For a start, there were no comfortable SUVs. Most pioneering families used the wagon from the farm - what else had they? – so sizes differed. An average was ten feet by less than four. How big is your vehicle? Their priority was to keep that wagon in good repair, so top of their packing list was the wherewithal to do just that, from tools to rope and chains, to a spare wheel to a water-proofer, not just for its canvas cover but to help seal the wagon-box for crossing rivers.

Then there was its method of propulsion. It mattered little whether the choice was mules or oxen. The burning question was how many spares to take. Add in the accoutrements of a farrier and veterinarian, and something to feed the beasts if forage was poor. Imagine needing to carry a spare engine for your SUV, plus the tools for roadside repairs, and oil and fuel.

The family itself might be down the list of priorities, but if it didn’t have the means to support itself once its destination had been gained none would survive the first winter, so room was made for plows and seed, or whatever the family needed for employment.

The journey was around 2,000 miles and lasted five months. How much food would your family need for such a trip, and how many trailers would be needed to carry it? How much food have you just brought back from the mall and how long will that last? Add in a Dutch oven, skillets and pans, tin ware for eating from and, oh yes… water.

Water didn’t come from a faucet for those crossing the Great American Desert. A keg carried eight or ten gallons. Go weigh a full two gallon plastic pail and then consider the volume of  water you are looking at. Multiple it up. How long would that last not just your family, but in parched areas your stock as well? Better take two. And forget any romantic notion of crystal clear creeks. You’ll best not forget fine muslin to sieve the silt-ridden water through.

How are you doing? I’m exhausted already and I’ve not left my desk. More on this next time.

21 June 2012

A Picture Paints...

We all need to take a pride in our work, and show it off to its best advantage. The ebook Dead Men's Fingers has finally gained a cover worthy of its fiction.

It's from the talented hand of Karri Klawiter, and I'm sure you'll agree it carries the atmosphere of a wagon train beset by strife, both from the emigres and from bushwhackers.

22 April 2012

Range Wars 'n' Shootings

In April 1892 brewing trouble came to a head o' steam up in the Powder River Country of Wyoming in the shape of the Johnson County War. I won't go into the whys & wherefores as the link offers a far better account than I could or have space for.

My point is... we tend to think that much has changed, and then we read that it hasn't.

In Nevada, in the Gold Butte area, there is "a long simmering feud" between a rancher and the Bureau of Land Management about who owns what land and whether it should be grazed at all. At the moment it seems to be all shouting from the sidelines. Let's hope it stays that way.

'Cos up in South Dakota, a man is now in prison for shooting three people at... a Western re-enactment show. Yep, that was live ammunition he was using. Thankfully the injuries weren't life-threatening, but from now on I'll take to standing a little further back than normal at these shows.

Ah, perhaps it's just the spirit of the Old West giving itself a stir.

14 April 2012

Ya-hee! Spotlight & 5 Star Review

Under the heading of  'New Western Writer Comes To Town' IcySnowBlackstone has given Dead Men's Fingers prime billing on her blog, complete with an excerpt.

She's also done it the honour of an in-depth 5 star review here which includes:

"...This is a tough little Western... as gritty and bloody as they come.  The descriptions are so realistic one can almost feel the arid heat and see the stark surroundings as the wagons push across the plains, and feel the splash of the water and see the mud being churned up as they ford the river. 'Dead Man’s Fingers' may be short, but it’s filled with plenty of narrative, description, and characterization.  Jed is a good man, a caring father but a man aware of how his past may catch up with him sooner or later..."

Well, thank ya kindly, ma'am. 

7 April 2012

Utah Legend Lives Again - Redempton

I watched The Searchers yesterday. I hadn't meant to. I was supposed to be working but caught it while eating lunch and couldn't pull myself away. It's been a while and the majesty of the landscape had eased in my memory. I'd forgotten, for instance, that the Seven Sisters shown in the header to this blog features as a backdrop. The acting, the haunting determination shown by the characters, made me want to pull Alan leMay's paperback from the shelf.

Some people despise daytime television. I love it.

And then today a surprise. Yet another reprise for the Western genre, this time from Utah in the shape of a new movie Redemption. It's based on the true story of a French immigrant, Jean Baptiste, caught grave-robbing in 1862 and, according to the film, exiled to an island. From its trailer it looks less an all-guns fiction and more an examination of the consciences of two opposing men. I like Westerns that make you think.

Interview and trailer at

Enjoy your Easter.

1 April 2012

Why Westerns?

I mention that I write Westerns and folks look askance. Does anyone read Westerns these days? Do you watch them? I ask.

Sure they do, and that's how most of us got into Westerns, via the big, and then the small, screen. But what sets Western aficionados apart is a willingness to go back and not just forwards in time. Take a look at the Tom Mix films available on YouTube.

Son of a Pennsylvanian lumberman, Tom Mix worked on a ranch in Oklahoma while it was still an Indian Territory. He paraded with the Rough Riders, was part of the Miller Brothers Wild West Show. Even before the movies he, and the West, had one foot in reality and one foot in myth. In his movies he's clean-cut, well-spoken, dressed from a high-class store - it's about as far from the reality of the 1880s West as can be ridden in three days, but it doesn't deter from the sense of space, of responsibility, of self-reliance that the Western genre conjures in our collective psyche.

Western fiction has been looked down upon since the days of the Dime Novel, when the West as we know it was still being carved. So if you want to smirk, be my guest. You're hardly the first.

4 March 2012

Read An Ebook Week!

The wrinkles at Smashwords were ironed out just in time for me to take advantage of site-wide promotion.

For one week only, finishing on 10th March at 23.59 PST, Dead Men's Fingers is available in all-formats download for $1.50. Click this link and use the 50% discount coupon RW50 at checkout.

Enjoy your read!

27 February 2012

Hello... Nook, iPad, Sony & Kobo!

Dead Men's Fingers finally went live today in ePub format. At the moment it is only available from those wonderful guys at Smashwords but it is in review for the premium catalogue, so will be shipped out to Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony and Diesel within the next two weeks.

Having a major technical glitch needing the laptop to be returned to Factory Settings felt like having a horse die under me. Archiving the files was fine; it was the reinstalling of all the software and then setting up each the way it had been before that took the time.

Perhaps it was easier when the only electrical impulses we relied on were connected to the telegraph.

9 February 2012

Launch Day!

Dead Men's Fingers launches today as an ebook for the Kindle. A fast-paced Western in the classic style, it has previously seen bookstore shelves in both hardback and softback large print. Now it finds a larger readership via digital technology. E-Pub format for the Nook, Kobo, Sony and iPad will follow shortly.

The novella (35,000 words) follows widower Jed Longman who signs to a company of wagons to take his three sons to a better life out West. But trouble keeps snapping at his heels. There’s the persistent Mrs Harris with her school ma’am attitude so contrary to her fancy coach-guns, then the threat of fever, then the ruthless killer Baddell determined to haunt him and his into an unmarked grave. Sometimes a family man has to remember how to stand alone.

Enjoy. More are due at the staging post.

31 January 2012

Early Information

Dead Men's Fingers is being launched as a Kindle ebook early in February 2012. Bookmark this site, or subscribe via Email or RSS for automatic updates.

If you are interested in Westerns, drop by to say Howdy.