Monday, April 29, 2013

Brand New Rogue Lawman Now Available!

“You’re the posse now?”
“Close enough.”
“That’s right.”
“Where’s your badge?”
Hawk slid the lapel of his black frock coat to one side, revealing his sun-and-moon deputy U.S. marshal’s badge.  The whore leaned forward slightly in her chair, frowned as she studied the three ounces of tin-plated copper.
“I hate to tell you this,” she said with a dubious look.  “But you’re wearin’ it upside down.”
Her look was skeptical.  “May I ask why?”
“It’s an upside down world...full of upside down laws.”
“And you’re an upside down lawman...?”
“Houndin’ upside down owlhoots.”  Hawk grinned as he threw back the last of his shot.

Now Available and Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mean Pete Writing Tip--Keep It else....!

[I've slacked off on the writing tips lately mainly because I've been writing so hard on the next Rogue Lawman--HEED THE THUNDER!  The tips will be back sporadically, so keep your eyes skinned.]

I've been told by more than a few readers that they love how fast my books read.  I blush like an Amish bride on her wedding night when I hear that.  Because a fast pace has always been something I've striven for and keep striving for.  

I learned to do it by simply not staying too long with any one fictional element.

Here are the main elements of a novel:

Narration (Forward Action)
Reflection (Characters' Thoughts)
and Background

I try never to stay too long with any one of those things.  I mix them up.  A lot.  Dialogue by its very nature reads fast but a conversation will slow down if you stick with it too long.  So don't have your characters sitting around too long "chinning," as they say in the Old West.  Or yakking it up.  The reader will get tired of it.  He'll feel bogged down.  

And bogging down your reader will get your book turned into the used book store faster than you just read this sentence.  And he'll think twice about buying your next one.

During and on both ends of conversation, throw in some description or narration or reflection or even a little background.  But beware of background and reflection.  Both, while necessary, stop the forward action, and you don't want to do that.  The novel is a shark.  It needs to keep swimming, moving, feeding, or it will die.  You want to keep those two elements to only a few sentences here and there.  Never write more than four or five sentences of background or reflection in any one spot, because that'll stop the reader cold. 

And the last thing the reader wants is to be stopped cold.  Remember that book exchange!

Do the same with narration and description, too.  Mix it up.  Throw in some dialogue or little pieces of reflection and background.

The one element you can get by with fairly large chunks of is action.  As long as it's violent and vivid.  But it has to be violent and vivid--with colors, sounds, smells, anxiety, aches and pains.  Make the reader share in it with all his senses.  If the point of view character gets shot, make the reader feel the bullet tearing off his pinky!

By never sticking too long with any one element except violent action--and by "too long" I mean over a few sentences apiece--you'll give the reader the sense of what he wants most--a breakneck pace.  Or at last a fast jog.

He'll get the sense of the pages damn near turning themselves! 

Remember, the average reader doesn't give a rat's incisor about any of those elements I just listed.  He just wants to be transported into the world you're creating one word at a time.  He wants to disappear into the story, into the movie you're directing in his head, and see how it all turns out.  

He essentially wants to enjoy what's happening and then go onto what happens next and enjoy that just as much. Because that's what reading for entertainment is all about. 

Now, I've said as much as I need to, so I'm signing off with a sneaky little teaser from HEED THE THUNDER, which should be available on Monday:

Hawk rolled away from the handcart to the other side of the barrel cactus.  The three remaining shooters stood crouched and firing their rifles from their hips. 
            They’d lost rack of Hawk for three vital seconds.  The Rogue Lawman took advantage by shooting out from the right side of the barrel cactus.  His aim was muddy from this position, however, and he managed to clip one man only in the knee.  By the time he’d emptied the Henry, he’d wounded only one more.  Tossing the empty rifle aside, he pulled both pistols.
            Lead hammered the ground in front of him.  
            The smell of cordite was pepper on the breeze.
            Hawk pulled his head back behind the cactus as two bullets plunked into it, spraying pulp and thorns.  Hawk triggered his Russian around the cactus’s left side.  The bullet clanked off a rifle and plowed into the jaw of one of the shooter’s who screamed and dropped his weapon as he buried his face in his hands.
            The two others were backing up, eyes bright with anxiety, apparently looking for cover behind them.
            Hawk aimed his Colt carefully around the right side of the cactus, and drilled one of the retreaters in the belly.  As that man folded like a jackknife, bellowing curses, Hawk drilled the other one in the left shoulder.  As the man screamed and jerked back, Hawk’s Colt leaped and roared again.  The bullet slammed into the man’s neck, just right of his Adam’s apple.
            The shooter dropped his rifle and twisted around and fell.  He rolled over onto his back, rose to a half-sitting position, and tried bringing his rifle up once more. 
            Hawk gained a knee, aimed the Colt carefully.  The wounded shooter stared at him, terror in his wide-open eyes.  He opened his mouth to scream.  The Rogue Lawman’s next shot shattered the man’s front teeth and shredded his tongue before blowing out the back of his head.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Looking for the Dutchman's Secret Mine--An Excerpt from the New Rogue Lawman Novel!

         “Tryin’ to figure, huh?  I’m tryin’ to figure what in the hell ever got into me to listen to your wild story in the first place.  Now, not only do I not have a pair of saddlebags bulgin’ with nearly pure gold ore, but I don’t have that Rogue Lawman’s head in a gunny sack!”  Miller wagged his head from side to side, groaning.  “Did I say that head of his is worth twenty thousand dollars?  Did I say that?”
         “I believe you might’ve mentioned it amongst all your other caterwauling,” Jodi said, holding the map in front of her but looking back over her left shoulder at the large, red pinnacle of El Sombrero.
         The formation did indeed resemble a sombrero from this vantage--the steeple crown of the hat rising from a stark, red, boulder-strewn, cone-like mountain and presiding over the entire Superstition Range and the Salt River Valley, with the airy blue backdrop of Boulder Canyon to the southwest. 
         The vastness and starkness of the land here always took Jodi’s breath away.  It made her feel at once lonely and anxious but, also, knowing the ancient mine that the land contained, like a jewel clamped in the palm of a giant fist, it made her giddy and eager.  It made her heart tap-tap-tap-tap, like an Apache war drum, in her throat, in her ears...
         But, now, if she couldn’t find it, knowing that she’d been so infernally close, maybe within only two hundred yards after waiting for the old man to die or for her to work up the gumption to leave him behind and ride out here alone and chip off what she could from the precious jewel and then head for far, far better climes--the disappointment would be a bottomless well.
         She’d never stop falling into it. 
         If she couldn’t find the old Peralta mine, she’d put her pistol in her mouth and blow her brains out. 
         How could anyone go on living, knowing the riches they’d left behind?  She’d seen it!  After the Dutchman from Apache Springs had left with his two burros, she’d backtracked him, found the mine and explored it, seen the color in the walls. 
         It had been like the scales of a giant diamondback fashioned from raw, glittering gold!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dust and Bone--Another Rogue Lawman Excerpt!

This is from about halfway through the book:

Hawk’s grulla mustang crossed the arroyo easily though it had some trouble climbing the steep opposite bank that was slick with still-wet clay.  The horse’s hooves slipped, and as it fought for traction, the mustang’s lungs wheezed like a blacksmith’s bellows. 
         At the top of the bank, Hawk stopped the horse, giving him a rest, and looked around. 
         To his right, a saguaro leaned out over the wash.  The night before, the lip of the wash had eroded enough to uproot the cactus.  Now, amongst the bone-colored roots that had been partially torn out of the ground, something glistened in the afternoon sunshine. 
         Something Miller had left behind?  Possibly a canteen?
         Hawk swung down from the saddle, dropped to a knee beside the saguaro, reached through the roots, and took hold of the object. 
         He saw right away that whatever it was couldn’t have belonged to Miller, for it was too deeply entangled in the saguaro’s roots.  However, curiosity urged him to disentangle the roots until he was holding before him a badly dented and rusted Spanish-style helmet from which the rain had washed away some of the mud.  Despite the weathering, Hawk recognized the headgear by its flat, narrow brim and the high crest, like a rooster’s comb, running from front to back.
         Only one cheek guard clung to it.  The other was likely entangled deeper in the root ball, or maybe it had long ago been blown or washed away in rains similar to that which had ravaged this desert the night before.
         Hawk ran his hands along the helmet’s flaking metal brim.  Finding these ancient artifacts always gave him a chill.  They reminded him how small and insignificant he was.  Even how small and insignificant his misery was--merely one clipped scream amongst the barrage of screams and long, keening wails that comprised all of human life on earth from the first mortal forward.
         He peered through the claw-like chaparral toward the castle-like Superstitions rising in the south.  He’d heard that a rich Mexican whose family had owned a sprawling rancho had come north on a gold-scouting expedition about forty years ago.  Don Miguel Peralta had been chasing a legend that the Apaches had told Coronado about a vein of almost pure gold in the high, rugged range two hundred miles north of what is now the U.S./Mexico border. 
         Discovering that the vein was more than mere legend--that the nearly pure gold did, in fact, exist--Peralta recruited several hundred peons to work his “Sombrero Mine” deep inside the Superstitions, and over the next three years he shipped home by pack train millions of pesos worth of nearly pure gold concentrate.
         Hawk looked down at the helmet in his hands. 
         Could he be holding the headgear of one of Coronado’s men who, exploring this country in the sixteen hundreds, first became privy to the Apache story of almost-pure gold?  The gold that Don Peralta mined two hundred years later, and ended up selling his life to the Apaches for?
         Dust and bone...
         Hawk heard a scream.  Loud and shrill, it came from inside his own head.  It was the scream of his wife when Linda learned that their boy, Jubal, had been taken off the school playground and hanged by Three-Fingers Ned Meade. 
         Hawk tossed the helmet aside, swung up onto the grulla’s back, and continued south toward the stage road and, he hoped, more sign that he was on the trail of Pima Miller.
         The wind wasn’t blowing, but the rogue lawman could smell blood on the breeze...

Here's the new Cody Wells cover for RIDING WITH THE DEVIL'S MISTRESS!

I wanted to post this Lou Prophet cover for the third book in the series, which will be out in June from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere.  I just got it from David Whitehead at Piccadilly Press, and I think it's a real winner.  My hat's off to the great artist, Cody Wells!

I'm very happy with how David and Mike Stotter are republishing the series.

And Mean Pete ain't never very happy with much!


Mean Pete

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Brief Peek and First Look at the New Rogue Lawman Novel!


Sneak Peek From The First Chapter:

  The girl was the only one in the long, dingy saloon outfitted with a dozen or so tables and rickety chairs.  She rose from the piano bench and, keeping her oblique, dark gaze on Hawk, strolled behind the bar.  She wasn’t wearing shoes.  The feather earrings jostled as she moved. 
     She stopped about halfway down the bar and leaned forward on her elbows, giving Hawk a good look at her cleavage, and said, “Drink?”
     Hawk glanced around once more, at the wooden staircase rising at the rear of the room, just beyond the piano.  There was a colorfully woven rug at the foot of it, an unlit bracket lamp hanging on the wall over the rug.  Above the lamp was the snarling head of a mountain lion.
     Hawk glanced at the low ceiling through which the voices continued to emanate--one high and shrill, the other low and even.
     “That him up there?”
     “Him,” the girl said, frowning curiously and thoughtfully tapping her right index finger against her lower lip.  “Hmmmm.  By ‘him’ do you mean the owner of that horse out there?”
     She may have looked half-Apache but she did not speak in the flat tones of most Apaches annunciating English.  This girl’s English was easy and lilting though touched with a very slight Spanish accent.
     Hawk stared at her without expression on his severe-featured, mustached face that betrayed his own mixed bloodline.  His father had been a Ute, his mother a Scandinavian immigrant.  It was the jade of her eyes that made his own such a contrast to his otherwise aboriginal appearance with beak-like nose and jutting, dimpled chin.  Unlike most Indians, however, Hawk’s sideburns were thick, and his brushy mustache drooped toward his mouth corners.  He kept his dark-brown hair closely cropped.
     The girl’s mocking half-smile faded, and she blinked once slowly as she said, “Doc’s with him.  Diggin’ that bullet out of him.  Yours, I take it?”
     A shrill cry came hurling down the stairs:  “Ow!  Oh, Christ--that hurt like hell, you old devil!”
     The low voice said something Hawk couldn’t make out.
     The shrill voice said, “Bullshit, you take it easy with that thing or I’ll...”
     The shrill voice trailed off as the other, lower voice said something in calming, reassuring tones.
     The girl said, “You’d swear it was the first time he’d been shot.”
     Hawk moved into the room, loosened the string tie around his neck, and set his rifle down on the table nearest the batwings.  “Doesn’t sound like I’ll be goin’ anywhere till that bullet’s out of him.  I’ll take that drink if the offer’s still good.”
     “Offer’s good if your money’s good.”
     Hawk kicked out a chair, dug a coin out of his pants pocket, and flipped it off his thumb.  It flashed in the window light as it arced toward the girl, who snatched it out of the air with one practiced hand. 
     She looked at the coin and arched a brow.  “For that, you can have a drink, and”--her cheeks dimpled as she offered a lusty smile--“pretty much anything else in here that isn’t nailed down.”