Sunday, February 28, 2016

Wanderlust Creek and Other Stories by Elisabeth Grace Foley

I've had this book on my Kindle for PC for a few months, but hadn't got around to reading it until now. I thought Ron Scheer had written a review of it but I went back through his blog posts and couldn't find it. I knew that he could do a much better review of it than I could, because he had a really nice way with words, more formal yet not, just a great use of the English language. The book cover still shows on the front page at his Buddies in the Saddle blog. I followed him up to the end and am sure sorry he is no longer with us.

Anyway Elisabeth Grace Foley is a fine writer of short stories that she tells with grace and charm, even though some of them in this book are action-packed and bloody. She tells and show us the feminine side of life in these hard times of the West. The women had to endure much hand-wringing and worry over the men they loved and this is brought out in the final story, Wanderlust Creek. There are women in the other stories, but the woman in this one is more fully described in showing the type of life some women had to live through. This story is at the end of the lot.

The first story is Single-Handed, about a gunslinger that has a messed up gun hand from a fall that broke his wrist and must face an up and comer gun slick who challenges him. Does he live or die?

The Rush at Mattie Arnold's is a completely different type of story, being the tale of a small town cafe owned by Mattie and showing the daily routine she and her daughter goes through feeding and dealing with their clientele, both humorous and serious at the same time.

A Search for Truth is a story of cattle rustlers and ordinary men and women caught up in it. A fine story.

Another fine one is The Mustanger's Bride. Can a mustanger make a good, settled-down husband or not? Her father doesn't think so, but she ain't goin' to give 'im up.

Room Service is an interesting story of disagreement between father and son. I knew the young man was in trouble when he checked into the hotel and just had to keep reading to find out what was going on. 
Ms. Foley writes historical fiction and the Mrs. Meade Mysteries series. Her favorite authors she says on her profile page are O. Henry, B. M. Bower, Booth Tarkington, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Leo Tolstoy, Mary Stewart, P. G. Wodehouse, A. A. Milne, and Angela Thirkell. You can read her blog at

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tired of It!

I'm getting tired of not having any writing time over the past few days and weeks. I kept up with most of my blogs, but hardly any production on my novel. I have now about 110 pages of the first draft done and am getting ready to begin on the ending part, but just haven't had any time for writing. As I look back on it, where did the time go?

For one thing, it's income taxes. My little income is very taxing, but Uncle Sam says I have to send them something every damn year so they can build their bridges and streets. I have just about completed this year's submission and hope to finish it within a week. And another thing, is all the time I spend eating. I probably waste half my time for writing, stuffing the large, disproportionate, misshapen mid-section of my body with various chips, dip, bread, meat, cheese, veggies, etc . not to mention the time it takes to travel from and to the many restaurants.
And, there is still the continuing normal everyday "stuff" that takes up my time.

Anyway, here is another short excerpt from the draft:

The Merik house, which they saw from the trail was another quarter-mile set in a clearing surrounded by cedars and pine trees on the flats. Approaching a gate, the Kid and Bobby were jolted out of their silence by shots from a rifle that whizzed by a couple of feet over their heads.

"Hold up there, and don't come any closer!" a female voice carried through the darkening night. "Who are you and what do you want?"

"This is Kid Ferry and Bobby-Chase-the-Lord!" the Kid yelled. "We came to see about a cabin that we heard was empty. We need a place to stay for a while. We're comin' on in."

"Don't try any tricks or I'll let you have it with this rifle!" said Daphne Merik. "Come ahead slow and stay on your horses!"

"If you shoot you'll kill the new sheriff of Idle Springs or his deputy," said Ferry, nearing the front of the house. "Trace Schneider said you may have a cabin we could rent, and we're desperately in need of a place to take off our boots and grab some shuteye."

"It is you, all right, Mister Ferry," said Daphne, rising from her position behind the bushes planted along the front of the house next to the hitch rail. "I'm sure glad it wasn't that useless gang of thieves of Serge Castinat. Two of 'em came by here and threatened to burn us out if we didn't pack up and get out of Idle Springs. Pa told 'em we weren't going anywhere and they knocked him down jumped on him, and hit him some more. I don't know why anyone would want this place."

"Why don't you put down that piece of artillery and we'll dismount and take a cup of coffee with you," said the Kid, "Or if you haven't had supper, we'd sure like to join you. How's Mister Merik doin'?"
"Pa's in bed licking his bumps and bruises them cowards put on him, but he'll be up and around in a day or two," she said and opened the front door. "Come on in and I'll warm up some beans and throw in some bread and a cantaloupe fresh off the vine. That's about all we have to eat right now."

"Sounds like a biblical feast to me the way my stomach has been growlin'," said Bobby, rubbing his midsection. He removed his hat and followed her into the cabin behind the Kid.

"Can I talk to your father a minute, Miss Merik?" said Kid Ferry. "Maybe he can help identify those skunks that beat him up."

"He's probably sleepin'. His room is down that hallway there, the first door on your left. If he's awake, he'll talk to you."

The house was an oblong, five-room affair with the front room taking up the area from wall to wall. The hall was on the right side of the house that led past three rooms and to the kitchen. The kitchen was the same size as the front room and held a wood-burning stove in one corner on which always sat the coffee pot. A large dining table and eight chairs made up the bulk of the furniture. Against one wall were the cupboard and a smaller table for food preparation or other use for which there was a need.

Bobby followed the lady of the house to the kitchen, where she told him to take a seat at the table. She disappeared through the back door and returned carrying a cantaloupe and some raw potatoes.

"They was the Castinat twins, Willie and Wylie, that beat me up," said Mister Merik from his bed. His face was white where it wasn't bruised or cut. "They both had beards coverin' their faces them cowards. I was just finished milkin' my cows when they rode up saying they wanted to parley. They began cussin' at me tellin' me I better hightail it out of Idle Springs. Wylie yelled that his father wanted this no-good ranch for his cattle. And when I told 'em I wasn't movin' fer anyone, they both climbed off their horses and Willie knocked me to the ground. They both jumped on top of me and I couldn't do nothin' with Wylie holdin' my arms pinned to the ground and Willie hittin' me with his fists. I was about to pass out when Daphne shot at them and missed. They ;jumped up and shot back, but nobody hit anything, thank God. They hopped on their horses and rode away. Daphne said she thought she winged one of 'em, but couldn't tell for sure. She helped me up and led me to my bed and here I lay That's about all there is to tell you, Sheriff."

"Why them dirty polecats, pickin' on a ole man," said Kid Ferry, looking at the bed at the beat-up face of Merik. "First thing tomorrow, me and Bobby are goin' to make a call on the Castinats. How many are they anyway? I thought we was up against only that Serge after Bobby shot his brother. We heard he went back into town with a gang. Who are they, Mister Merik?"

"Probably Willie and Wylie and their cousins the Barnetts. There's a passel f them, too."

(Copyrighted material.)

NOTE: The Header picture is a photo of the cliffs that are on the northwest side of Sedona. Rocky, the tour boss, took us to a ranch there that was now abandoned, but is an attraction for tenderfoots. An interesting and picturesque old place with remnants of the ranch house still standing. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Texan by James B. Hendryx

I'll start right off by giving this novel five stars, which it deserves in my opinion. I say, if you like stories about a cowboy from Texas now living in Montana and may be or may not be looking for a wife and has a French-Canadian metis for a partner, this book is for you. Oh, yes, and it is written in the vernacular of a cowboy that twists his words and prolongs the sentence endings by adding typical colloquialisms of an earlier time. It reminds me of Wolfville by Alfred Henry Lewis and is just as humorous.

The story begins in a saloon in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he meets the half-breed, and quickly moves on to a small town in Montana. There is a train wreck nearby and the regularly scheduled train has to pull aside and wait for the tracks to be replaced. On the train are two easterners, a man and a woman, and the woman wants to experience the real west, but the man only yearns to return east. It so happens that they've come upon a day of celebration and a perfect excuse to partake of some local color. The man (called a pilgrim throughout or a tenderfoot by the cowboys) stays on the train and the woman walks into town and gets ready to watch the rodeo. She finds a seat on a pile of lumber just as a breeze carries way her white handkerchief. The Texan and another cowboy happen to see it flutter to the ground and they race to pick it up and that's the first meeting of the Texan and the lady.

The story moves on with the pilgrim getting himself in a terrible fix only to be saved and taken from the town by the Texan with the woman tagging along.

The tale becomes more complicated as it wends its way to the end and it kept my attention to see what was going to happen next. I found it to be funny, suspenseful, interesting, and a break from the usual modern day western. Mr. Hendryx certainly did a fantastic job putting all that old cowboy talk together.