Thursday, February 27, 2014


Buy here at AMAZON



The drifting half-breed, Yakima Henry, is fleeing a warrant on his head in Colorado and longing for a stake and some long-sought peace and quiet in Old Mexico.

But when he stops in the little town of Horsetooth for a drink to cut the trail dust, he ends up having to kill a saloon owner and falling for the dead man’s beautiful wife.

A man just can’t help himself when assaulted by the wiles of the beautiful Mexican seductress, Paloma Collado . . . the former Mrs. Clancy Brewer.

But Yakima’s new round of trouble is just beginning . . .

It turns out that the lovely Paloma already had a lover—one who’d just robbed an Army payroll and after being scalped and blinded in one eye by Apaches, hid the loot somewhere in the Chiricahua Mountains. And she wants Yakima to help her find it.

Only, a whole lot of other people are also after that loot, including an albino cavalry lieutenant, a man who may or may not be a deputy United States marshal, a slough of banditos, and several swarms of blood-thirsty Apaches...



“Yakima.” Paloma pulled the buckskin up to within ten feet of the half-breed. Her eyes were round and soft. She hadn’t called him anything but a pig since he’d rescued her from the rustlers’ ranch, so this was a change. “You know there is almost a hundred thousand dollars in gold, silver, and paper money in that box.”
         “That’s what I hear.”
         “If you shoot this man, this so-called lawman, it can all be ours.”
         “Hey, now,” MacElvy objected.
         “He is not even a lawman,” Paloma said, wrinkling her nose at him. “He calls himself one, but everyone knows he is an outlaw. He stole that badge from the deputy United States marshal he killed. Everyone knows that, too, but no one says anything because they are afraid of him. He runs with no gang, but he is a killer. A shootist. A regulator. If someone wants somebody dead, and they have enough money to hire it done, they hire him to do it.”
         “Well, now, listen to this,” MacElvy said, laughing. “That’s pretty damn good. You must’ve been concocting that story for a time now. That’s why you been so damn quiet. Been runnin’ your brain instead of your mouth for a change. That lie ran pure as rain water off your devilish little tongue, senorita.”
         MacElvy caught Yakima studying him, and he opened and closed his gloved hand around the breech of his carbine.
         “Don’t make the mistake of falling for that, now, breed . . . uh, I mean Yakima. She’s pretty, and I’m sure you had a good time in the sack with the lyin’ little trollop, but lyin’ little trollop is just exactly what she is.”
         Paloma stared at Yakima, her wide, dark-brown eyes deep with desperation. “Once he gets his hands on that money, he’s going to kill you. And then he’ll kill me”—she turned to stare in repugnance at the beefy lawman—“after he’s done what he’s been imagining doing to me, that is.” She shuddered. “The thought sickens me. I’d rather lie with javelinas.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Read the Opening of Mean Pete's Next Yakima Henry Novel!

Here are the first several paragraphs of my next Yakima Henry novel, which Mean Pete Press will have up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on March 1! Possibly even sooner…

Chapter 1

         The red-bearded bartender swung his freckled face toward the tall, dark man in a calico shirt and smoke-stained buckskin trousers just then pushing through the batwings of the Horsetooth Saloon & Hotel, and said, “Pardon me all to hell, breed, but you’d best take two steps back the way you came and read the sign posted to the front wall there!”
         Yakima Henry stared at the bar tender. The man stared back at him, frowning belligerently, a cleaver in one hand, a chunk of bloody rabbit in the other.  There were a half dozen other men in the dim, dingy place--three at a table near the front of the room, two more at a table near the bar, two more near the cold, potbelly stove. No fire was needed. The dry desert air was hot and oppressive, mixing the smells of the pent up saloon—raw meat, hot bodies, coal oil, tobacco, and cheap liquor--until it smelled like a bear den.  The three at the near table, all hard-bitten, pie-eyed men in cheap suits ensconced in billowing clouds of cigarette smoke, stared at Yakima with expressions that were a nasty hybrid of distaste and cruel delight.
         A dog had just sauntered into their camp.  They didn’t like dogs.
         “You hear me, breed?” the barman said.  “Step back out there and read the cotton-pickin’ sign. I put it up there for a reason!
         Yakima gave a sheepish smile. “I reckon you’re gonna have to come on out and read it for me, mister.”
         “Can’t read, huh?”
         The three men in cheap suits, which marked them as salesmen of a sort, chuckled and snickered though Yakima doubted they could read half as well as he’d taught himself to, from whatever books he’d been able to get his hands on over his long years on the remote western frontier. 
         He doubted the bar tender could read as well as he could, either.
         The barman sighed with strained tolerance, plopped the meat chunk into the pot, and set the cleaver down on the bar. As he walked out from behind the counter, he wiped his hands on his apron though Yakima doubted anyone could actually clean his hands on such a badly stained stretch of tattered cloth. 
         The barman was several inches short of six feet, but he was built like two rain barrel-sized slabs of suet sitting one atop the other.  He smelled like sweat, raw meat, and whiskey.  As he stepped out from behind the bar, he gave his hands another scrub on the apron that was so badly stained it was impossible to discern its original color, and strode past Yakima and out the batwings, holding the left wing open as he pointed.
         “There it is right there.  Come on out there--I’ll give you a little lesson in English.”
         He beckoned to Yakima.  The half-breed shrugged, stepped halfway through the batwings, and followed the man’s pale, pudgy finger to the sign nailed to the front wall right of the doors. It was a rough pine board on which someone had hand-painted blocky letters in dark-green trimmed liberally with dried drips.
         The portly barman pointed out each word in turn as he read, “If yor skin is any darker than these dors”--he paused and slapped the top of the sun-bleached batwing he was holding open--“then you can kiss my ass and point your hat in the opposite direkshun!”
         The men inside the saloon laughed.
         The barman opened his mouth to show his teeth and then he laughed, as well, thoroughly delighted with himself.
         “Give me your hand,” he told Yakima, as though he were speaking to a moron.
         Yakima glanced at the other customers, gave another sheepish hike of his right shoulder, and then gave the man his right hand.
         “That’s it--there you go.  You’re catchin’ on.”  The barman held Yakima’s hand, which was nearly the color of an old penny--heavily callused, scarred, and weathered--up beside the batwing door.
         The bartender clucked and shook his head as though the contrast saddened him.  “No, no.  Now, you see there--that skin of yours is about seven, eight shades darker than these here doors.  That means you’re about as welcome on these premises as a goddamn full-blood Apache.  Why, you’re no more welcome here than Geronimo himself. You see?”
         He grinned at Yakima, who stood a whole half a head taller.  Yakima stared down at the fat man from beneath the flat brim of his low-crowned, broad-brimmed, black Stetson.
         Yakima pulled his hand from the bar tender’s grip and used it to indicate the words painted on the pine board. “The sign says I should kiss—your—ass, don’t it?”
         The man’s smile faltered and a slight flush pinkened the nubs of his fat, freckled cheeks.  “Say again?”
         “The sign there says that if my skin is any darker than these doors, I should kiss your ass.”
         The barman gave a nervous chuckle, snorted, and glanced at the sign.  “Well, now, that it does, that it does.”
         The men inside had fallen silent.  They were all holding their drinks and cigarettes or cigars in their hands and staring with bright-eyed interest at the doings at the doors.
         “Well, then,” Yakima said.  “Let’s step inside so I can do the honors.”
         “What’s that?”
         “I said, let’s go inside so I can kiss your ass like the sign says.”
         The barman stared up at him, but now his smile looked glued on and his cheeks were growing pinker.  The men inside were snickering, one lightly slapping the back of his hand against his partner’s shoulder.  Yakima held the barman’s gaze with a stony one of his own.
         “What’re you talkin’ about?” the barman said.
         “Isn’t that what the sign says?”
         From inside, one of the card players said, “Come on in, Clancy.  If the breed wants to kiss your ass, let him kiss your ass.  We’ll watch to make sure he does it proper.”
         The barman stared up at Yakima, his smile fading fast though the flush was still building in his cheeks, darkening his freckles.  He rolled his eyes around, and then sucked his lower lip and pooched out his cheeks and gave a fake laugh, as though the joke were still on the half-breed, and said, “Well, hell, yeah!  That is what the sign says, all right!”
         He laughed and walked inside the saloon and stopped and faced the bar.  “Okay, there you go, Injun.  Pucker up now!” 
         He looked at the card players and the two men farther back in the room who were watching with keen interest now, as well.  The barman winked at the card players and snorted another nervous laugh.  “I want a nice soft one there on my left cheek.”  He leaned forward and patted his butt cheek.
         “Best drop your trousers,” Yakima said, standing in front of the batwings, thumbs hooked behind his two cartridge belts.  “So I can do it proper.”
         “Go ahead, Clancy,” one of the card players said, laughing with the others.  “Drop your pants so the breed can kiss your ass proper!”
         He whooped as the others laughed and yelled.
         “Go ahead, Clancy.”
         “Pull ‘em down, Clancy--what’re you waiting for?”
         “Oh, this is plush,” said one of the others.  “This is pure-dee plush!  Pull ‘em down, Clancy.  Give him your fat, white ass so’s he can lay a kiss on it!”

Friday, February 21, 2014


            Sometimes the writer needs to train his brain to be seen and not heard. Sometimes the writer’s brain is just not necessary—unless said writer is doing his taxes or composing a grocery list, of course.
            I remember long ago reading that Ray Bradbury had a big card on the wall above his desk that read DON’T THINK! At the time, long before I was published, I scratched my head at that.
            How can a writer write if he doesn’t think?
            Now, believe me, I know how right Mr. Bradbury was. All of my own best writing comes when I’ve quieted down that big ugly mass of wrinkly suet there under my scalp, when I’ve put the old thinker box in time-out and replaced it with the pure Zen of only my eyes.
            With the powerful, all-seeing WRITER’S EYE.
            In other words, sometimes you need to stop thinking about what you’re writing and let your eyes just see what you’re writing, and let your pencil or fingers on the keyboard merely transcribe those scenes and actions. When your brain engages, it’s like your least favorite uncle stumbling into the tree house drunk, spoiling all the kids’ fun. It plucks you out of that magical realm of the imagination and hurls you back into the humdrum world of reality.
            So what I do is literally take my brain for a walk and let the fella do what he’s always just dying to do--THINK. So while I’m walking with my dog, good ole Syd, I think about what needs to happen next in the book I’m writing, so that everything follows logically what I’ve written over previous days. I let my brain sort of rough in the day’s scenes, in the way a painter first roughs in a sketch to which he’s going to add the colorful, three-dimensional splendor of oils later on.
            Then, when my brain and ole Syd are exercised and satisfied, I go home, pour myself a cup of mud, settle down in my recliner while Syd starts snoring on the sofa, and I take up my laptop. Before I start typing, I send my brain to time out. Believe me, it often doesn’t want to go. It wants to keep jammering. Sometimes I have to snap my fingers and point to the “time-out room” several times. Sometimes it throws a real kicking and screaming fit on its way down the hall.
            Boy, what a pugnacious little cuss the brain can be! You’d swear it had been raised in the forest by wolves!
            But when it’s finally gone away, the invisible eye just above my nose takes over, and what a sweet, quiet feeling it is. The world of the story washes over me until I can smell the man sweat and saddle leather, the odor of the horses and the pine trees, hear the soiled doves tittering in their lairs, hear the old Baldwin locomotives panting down at the Denver rail yards. I’m right there in the scene, watching Sheriff Ben Stillman ride into the dusty little cow town where a bushwhacker lies in wait above the hotel, and a stray pig wanders across the otherwise quiet street looking very proud of itself for the corncob its holding in its jaws.
            Now, see—if I were relying on my brain, my eye would never have seen that pig above the brain’s infernal bluster!
            That brainless world, friends, is where the real work gets done.
            It’s the writer’s pure bliss, and it's damned addictive.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quote Me on This--Villains!

Don’t make your good guys too good, or your bad guys too bad. The only one who’s ALL bad is Mean Pete. Hah!

Ahem...anyway, Mean Pete and one of my old gym teachers aside, most folks are a combination of good and bad, and to not instill both qualities in your hero and villain is to deny them depth and dimension, to keep them from seeming human enough to be real. If your characters aren’t real, the reader won’t identify with them. And you want your readers to identify with both the hero and even to some extent with your villain, so that not only can the reader see how the hero came to be who he is, they can see how the villain came to be who he...or, as well.

Don’t be afraid of making your villains women. I love having the occasional villain in my own westerns be a woman because one, it’s somewhat unexpected, and, two, women can make even better villains than men because women are innately aware of our male heroes' soft spots. And a really nasty female villain will not be at all reluctant to exploit those soft spots for all she’s worth.

But remember not to make your female villain ALL bad—a disease that’s going around these days in both books and movies. In Misery, Stephen King helps us identify with Annie Wilkes by showing us how mentally disturbed she is--and often sad because of it--so that we can imagine what a lousy childhood she probably had. 

But that doesn't it make it any less fun to see her get her head bashed in with a typewriter!

Oh, sorry. Was that bad?