The next installment of the Lone Star series is done – the further adventures of Texas Ranger James Reade and his blood-brother, Toby Shaw of the Delaware – Yes, it’s titled Lone Star Blood, and will be launched in print and ebook by the end of this month! Yay, me! Another item checked off my yearly to-do list! One of the short adventures was published last year in the anthology volume Tales Around the Supper Table Vol. Two! I intended it as a retelling and homage of Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, which at least two reviewers of the anthology considered to be a rip-off. No, it’s an homage – every excellent plot ought to be taken out for a romp in every geographical location where it might be made to fit! Anyway, my version of that adventure and four others will be available in print and ebook by the end of March, 2023.

15. April 2022 · Comments Off on Better Late Than Never · Categories: Domestic, Old West

Finally caught up with work, and have the time to post pictures from last weekend, at the New Braunfels FolkFest:

07. February 2022 · Comments Off on Visions of History on the Big and Small Screens · Categories: Domestic, Old West, Random Book and Media Musings

I am tempted to start watching the series 1883 – and likely will, as soon as it appears in one of our regular streaming services, but I am wondering, just reading about it – how far into the episodes I can get before walking away.

I mean, we barely lasted one episode into Texas Rising; a hideous and heartbreaking waste of time and video, being shot mostly in the wild mountains of Durango, Mexico, which bore no resemblance at all to the topography of Texas.* And no, the chapel of the Alamo does not have a crypt. They did get two things right, although the rest of the series was a cringe-fest, according to viewers who had stomachs stronger than mine. Texas did fight a war for independence from the Centralist dictatorship of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and there was a battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, and another at San Jacinto, barely six months later. Otherwise, Texas Rising was heartbreaking for Texas history fans, because it could have been a totally enthralling account of the war for independence and the fight for independent statehood – elements and incidents which were so dramatic and improbable that hardly anything needed to be made up out of whole cloth.

That series and countless others fell into a common fault of movies and television series when ‘doing’ a Western – that is, a story set on the American frontier in the 19th century – wherever that frontier happened to be in any given decade from the 1820s on to the end of that century. The common failing is to run it all together in one murky blur, as if technologies large and small remained constant, as did fashions, the political and geographical landscape, relations with various Indian tribes. As I wrote in this essay, several years ago, “there were very specific and distinct places, as different as they could be and still be on the same continent. 1880’s Tombstone is as different from Gold Rush-era Sacramento, which is different again from Abilene in the cattle-boom years, nothing like Salt Lake City when the Mormons first settled there – and which is different again from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s small-town De Smet in the Dakota Territory – or any other place that I could name, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mississippi-Missouri.”

Setting the series to start in 1883 is curious enough – it’s just rather late in the history of the frontier to generate a long-trail wagon-train journey, and from Texas to Montana, too. The western market in beef cattle was about to go bust by the middle of that decade, and the northern ranges ravaged by two especially harsh winters in a row. The various Indian wars along the frontier were done and dusted, all but the last uprising of the Lakota Sioux, inspired by the Ghost Dance movement. The transcontinental railroad had been completed long since. By the mid-1880s just about every major city in the United States and Canada was connected by a network of shining steel rails, obliviating the necessity of a long and dangerous journey by wagon-train across all-but-empty lands in most of the trans-Mississippi west. A cast interview that I did read mentioned that the producers and directors were going all out for authenticity. Well, we’ll see, eventually. I recollect reading an article in Smithsonian, of all places – which lauded all the ways in which the producers of The Patriot were going all out in historical fidelity, but once I watched that movie, I realized that the authenticity was all in small details, such as props, costumes and weaponry … just not the whopping big plot elements, personalities and key incidents. I’m afraid that I will find the series 1888 to be another helping of the same old stuff.

*Wierdly enough – the movie The Highwaymen got the topography exactly right. Yes – the wide lonely vistas, the two-lane paved roads with the line of spindly power poles along-side and the bare fields of new corn or cotton, or whatever spreading out on either side, the tiny roadside gas stations … were exactly right. The small towns, and transient camps, the little tourist cabin enclaves … also exactly right, as to time and place. I have pictures of my own, taken on various road trips which can affirm this.  I don’t know how much that the production company for The Highwaymen spent to do location shooting – can’t have been more than Texas Rising – but one big production got it right, and the other fell spectacularly flat when it came to the ‘look’ of places.

Where Santa arrives, mounted on the back of a longhorn, and not in a silly sleigh pulled by wimpy reindeer…

Santa in Goliad, on the back of a suitably-embellished longhorn!

01. December 2017 · Comments Off on Holiday in Goliad – and Other Stuff! · Categories: Book Event, Luna City, Old West · Tags: ,

All righty, then – the sequel to Lone Star Sons, Lone Star Glory is now available for pre-release order as an ebook. It will be available in print by the middle of the month.

For the remainder of the month, Lone Star Sons is available as an ebook at a pittance – .99 cents, as is the ebook of The Chronicles of Luna City.  The print version of A Fifth of Luna City will be available around the end of next week, for those who prefer to go old-school with books. I probably won’t be able to have either of these books at any author events  I will do in the next week or so,

But in the mean time – tomorrow Santa arrives on a longhorn!

The arrival of Santa, with a spare mount. It’s a long way from the North Pole, you see.