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Sunday, December 18, 2016


I wrote my first book back in 1995. It is a nonfiction book titled Matsutake Mushroom, which was published in 1997. It is simply a true story about the harvest and sale of wild forest mushrooms, from the Pacific Northwest, for profit.

My education began when I started selling the book.
I visited the publisher to pick up a few copies to get started. When the publisher learned of my intended five-day, three-state tour, she insisted that I take on 400 copies. Despite my reluctance to attempt to sell so many, I took the books. What the heck, if they did not sell, I could always bring them back.

I was received warmly by many small book stores and convenience stores. The average sale was three to five copies. I visited the area where the actual story of the book took place and found that I had many critics. Men would thumb the pages and ask, “Where's the pictures?” Women would ask, “What kind of recipes are in here?” That book contained neither. Where did I go wrong? The story is based on actual facts, which no one can dispute. It seemed that some folks expected something other than what I was offering but, thankfully, by the end of my tour I had sold over 300 copies.

I learned quickly that if you are going to write nonfiction, number one, you better know what you are talking about and number two, don't get too far off the beaten path of what is expected. The book, hard copy only, still sells modestly.

Around 1995 I turned to writing what was and is my predominant interest, which is western fiction.
I never expected to write award winning stories such as those by greats Louis L'Amour, Zane Grey or Max Brand but I felt that I could spin a yarn, which could be construed as actually happening.
I began writing short stories and presented them for consideration with mild success.
In 2011 I was accepted as a member of Western Fictioneers. Happy to correspond with well known authors Robert Randisi, James Reasoner, Frank Roderus, Jory Sherman and others. I was greatly inspired by having a story included in the Fictioneers first anthology, The Traditional West. It got the creative juices flowing.

Troy, Livia, Cheryl and others offered and encouraged me to write compelling stories that aren't necessarily true but could have happened, if given enough historical facts to support the tale. The more facts you can produce, the better.
The actual history involved in a story could leave a writer scratching his head to find a way around it. I will not attempt to change history in any of my stories. The story has to revolve around the facts.

The Wolf Creek series is purely fiction and locked into 1871, now 1872.

In Wolf Creek 16, Luck of The Draw, part two, one of my characters is Luke Short, yes the famous gambler and gunman. Young Luke Short, eighteen at the time, according to history, did participate in driving a herd of cattle to Abilene, Kansas. He wanted to be a gambler so bad that he gave up trailing cattle and set out to make his own way as a professional gambler.
For the purpose of putting a well known name into 'Bet The Boots' I used Luke Short. One, he was a gambler. Two he was in Abilene in 1871 and turned to gambling as a way of life. So I had him stop into Wolf Creek for the poker tournament. In actuality, as far as anyone knows, after Luke left Abilene he was known to be selling rotgut whiskey in a buffalo camp on the plains near what would later become Dodge City.

If Wolf Creek existed at the time, lured by the gambling, why wouldn't Luke pay a visit? In my mind his appearance in the story is believable without disturbing historical facts.

Stretching the truth a little, such as a potion salesman's claims of the miracle cures by the consumption of his product is as far as I will go in pushing the envelope.

Creating heroes, hardships, finding a lost love or having a character cheat, steal, or kill others are enough to keep any writer busy crafting a believable story around historical facts.
Nobody can change history and a good story will reflect the facts as they are.

I'm giving away a copy of the boxed set, CODE OF THE WEST! Just leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. Don't forget to leave your contact info, too, in case you win!

Jerry Guin is a member of Western Fictioneers and Western Writers of America.

He has authored more than 40 western fiction short stories and 7 western novels.

His latest novel– Once a Drover – was first introduced in 2014 by Western Trailblazer.
It was re-introduced by Sundown Press in 2016.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Hi, I’m Andrew McBride.

When I was a boy growing up in England, it was a school friend who set me down the long trail to the Wild West. He loaned me a book called Broken Arrow, which was a junior version of Elliot Arnold’s great novel Blood Brother. Broken Arrow was, of course, the title of the 1950 movie starring James Stewart and Jeff Chandler, made from Arnold’s book.

I was instantly absorbed in the story of the Chiricahua Apaches under their tragic, haunted leader Cochise. Just about the same time, I started visiting my pal’s house to watch the new TV Channel BBC 2. One of its signature programmes was the TV western series The High Chaparral. As synchronicity would have it, this show used as its backcloth the war with Cochise. It also broke the mould of TV Westerns by being filmed almost entirely on location in the Southern Arizona desert, a landscape I instantly fell in love with. Later, I saw the Old Tucson locations used again and again in movies from Rio Bravo to Winchester 73.

Growing up I became fascinated by the 19th Century American west and particularly Native American culture and history. I was moved by famous passages of Native American oratory, such as Cochise’s speech where he asks: ‘Why do the Apaches wait to die? Why do they carry their lives on their fingernails?’

Some famous Apaches:
Naiche (or Nachay; also Natchez), son of Cochise.

Victim of the Apache wars:
Journalist Fred W. Loring, photographed in Arizona November 5, 1871,
4 hours before he was killed by Apaches.

I wanted a story that combined tough action with an interracial love affair; that dealt with Native American culture and the struggle of people to survive in a land that was both mercilessly cruel and astonishingly beautiful. Out of such elements THE PEACEMAKER was born. I hope you enjoy it.
Eighteen-year-old scout Calvin 'Choctaw' Taylor believes he can handle whatever life throws his way. He’s been on his own for several years, and he only wants to make his mark in the world. When he is asked to guide peace emissary Sean Brennan and his adopted Apache daughter, Nahlin, into a Chiricahua Apache stronghold, he agrees—but then has second thoughts. He’s heard plenty about the many ways the Apache can kill a man. But Mr. Brennan sways him, and they begin the long journey to find Cochise—and to try to forge a peace and an end to the Indian Wars that have raged for so long. During the journey, Choctaw begins to understand that there are some things about himself he doesn’t like—but he’s not sure what to do about it. Falling in love with Nahlin is something he never expected—and finds hard to live with. The death and violence, love for Nahlin and respect for both Cochise and Mr. Brennan, have a gradual effect on Choctaw that change him. But is that change for the better? Can he live with the things he’s done to survive in the name of peace?

Buy it on Amazon — or read free with Kindle Unlimited — here:


Choctaw blinked sweat and sunspots out of his eyes and began to lower the field glasses; then he glimpsed movement.

He used the glasses again, scanning nearer ground, the white sands. He saw nothing.

And then two black specks were there suddenly, framed against the dazzling white. They might have dropped from the sky.

They grew bigger. Two horsebackers coming this way, walking their mounts. As he watched they spurted into rapid movement, whipping their ponies into a hard run towards him.

The specks swelled to the size of horses and men. Men in faded smocks maybe once of bright colour, their long hair bound by rags at the temple. They had rifles in their hands.

Breath caught in Choctaw’s throat. Fear made him dizzy. His arms started to tremble. He knew who was coming at him so fast.


And you killed them or they killed you.


I'll give one person an ebook of THE PEACEMAKER just for leaving a comment.


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making Plans

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the horizon, with a New Year following shortly thereafter. Have you made plans for the New Year?

Sometimes it’s difficult enough to make plans for tomorrow let alone for a new year. And, with the busyness of the holiday season, time seems to slip away even more quickly. We are nearing the end of 2016 – where did the year go?! I had great plans for my writing career in 2016, and in essence, much of that came to pass. I authored two new books, both released earlier this fall, and I was part of Sundown’s Pawprints on My Heart as well as Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. I wrote several articles about Wyoming’s Vietnam veterans, a project of the Casper Star Tribune and the Wyoming Veteran’s Commission, and several of my pet stories were picked up and published by a company in Colorado called Prairie Times. I also authored several articles for Crossroads and WREN magazines, both published in Wyoming.

My goal is to become a fulltime freelance writer; I am much closer to that goal now than ever. We will see what 2017 brings. I have interviews scheduled yet this week with an editor looking for project writers and with the director of a non-profit seeking a social media/content creator – such additional work coupled with my “usual” monthly writing gigs and a social media content writer position I was recently asked to fill just may help tip me over into “fulltime freelance/virtual writer” – but no final decisions will be known for a week or so (perhaps next column I’ll have “good news” to share!).

In the meantime, this weekend (actually starting tonight) several books event opportunities present themselves, including reading my latest children’s story BobCat Goes to School at a library about 30 miles from where I live. I am grateful for these happenings and signings, for the librarians, booksellers, and occurrence creators who ask me to take part in an event. Sharing my work, words, and passion for pets thrills me, and I look forward to each opportunity, especially during the holiday season.

What career or other life plans are you making, whether you’re a writer or not? What holiday plans do you have that you are looking forward to?

Wherever you are, wherever you go, whatever you do, may your plans and opportunities bring you joy!

Gayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming writer, author, and speaker. She is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults, including a chapter book called Sage's Big Adventure, a kid's activity book titled Cody's Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, and a humorous and heartwarming cat story published last month called BobCat Goes to School, as well as two memoirs: Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned from My Blind Dog and Tail Tales: Stories of Pets Who Touched My Heart and Impacted My Life. She is also a contributing writer to several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and is one of the featured writers in Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heart, released by Sundown Press. She will be on the booksigning circuit in Wyoming during December. Learn more at