I’m often asked why I wrote a traditional Western, especially since I had read very few. I do like good Western movies though. The book idea started as a contemporary novel involving today’s drug cartels on the Texas-Mexican border, but doing research I decided I could do a lot more setting it in 1880s. Besides, I liked the challenge.
I will be the first to say that it is gritty and violent and far from PC. Its 1886, not today, and I strongly believe I building an accurate and authentic impression. The big surprise for me is the number of women who like The Hardest Ride. That is because of Marta, a feisty 16-year old mute Mexican girl. She is quite endearing and becomes a focus of the story.
The Hardest Ride won the Western Fictioneers’ Peacemaker Award for Best Western Novel 2014, was a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Finalist for Best First Western Novel 2014, and was a Western Writers of America Spur Award Finalist for Best Traditional Western Novel for 2013. It was a USA Today best seller and an Amazon No. 1 best seller.
I had thought it would be a standalone novel, but the demand for a sequel led to Ride Harder which has been just released and at least two more sequels are scheduled.
Excerpt—The Hardest Ride BUY HERE
At one point Marta, confused about Bud, his intensions, and what her fate as an all alone orphan might be, leaves Bud’s campsite during the night and returned to a town they’d passed. She’s torn between trust her life with Bud or striking out on her own.Stringing Burro to Cracker after moving over all the gear I’d piled on Cracker, I headed back to the church. I dismounted and tied Cracker to a hitching post. I don’t know why I turned and looked across the plaza. I spied a tiny figure sitting cross-legged beside a saloon door. I walked across the muddy plaza leading the animals.She held her eating bowl in her lap. A passing mechanic dropped in a coin. Two of those wretched New York railroad trash came out of the saloon door. They said something to each other, their heads together. One laughed and hocked a gob of chewing tobacco at her bowl. He missed, splattering it on her shawl. Marta didn’t move, didn’t look up. They laughed mean like and saw me coming.“Here’s a sporting cowboy. You want a piece of that chili-popper, fella?”“This here greaser runt’s free for the takin’,” said the other with no room to talk, seeing his shirt and pants front were black with grease.I clutched my revolver’s grip and felt a pistol-whipping coming on. I kept a hold on my temper and paid them no mind. The two maggots smartly left without saying nothing more.She was shivering. I knelt down and wiped the spit off with my bandana. “Disgusting damn Yankees.” There were tears in those big dark eyes.I don’t know why, but I stood and reached out my hand. She glanced at me, seemed to sigh, reached for my hand, hesitated, and then took it. A chill shot though me, but it wasn’t from her cold hand. I don’t know what it was. Gripping me like she’d never let go, she held on tight until I wrapped her serape around her and lifted her onto Burro. I didn’t care who saw it. She sat there sort of limp, looking all played out, just staring at the ground.“Let’s go to Eagle Pass. I’ll get that job, and we’ll see what’ll happen.”Marta was still shaking with tears in her eyes and her lips quivering. Taking out a pair of wool socks, I worked them over her hands.“We’ll stop early today, build a big ol’ fire, fuego,”—I made hand signs—“and we’ll haveyour frijole beans.”She gave a sorta smile and nodded. I stuck the hand mirror into her tow sack. I felt real queer and couldn’t explain the feeling in my belly.
The sequel, Ride Harder, has recently been released.
Ride Harder–The sequel.
The Hardest Ride–A Western novel, Hartwood Publishing
USA Today Bestseller
Peacemaker Award Winner– Best Western and Finalist– Best First Western Novels
Spur Award Finalist– Best Traditional Western Novel
Tears of the River–A YA survival e-novel, Hartwood Publishing