Wednesday, November 09, 2005

El Camino Real

Photo: Mission San Antonio
The Jan/Feb 2006 issue of True West Magazine
will carry an article I wrote on the California Missions, called El Camino Real.
Visiting the missions was a real adventure, especially this one. It's out in the middle of nowhere, sitting all alone. Of all the missions, it has the greatest sense of history and I felt as if I had stepped back into time.

Reaching this mission is an adventure in itself. The signs are few and far between. The roads are good but truely California back roads and you're lucky if you see another car. There are other ruins along the way that make for a great photo opportunities. There are few food or bathroom stops but that's kinda nice, too. If you visit the mission using those back roads, you will see California as you have never seen it before.

Please pick up a copy of True West and read my story on the El Camino Real. I think you'll be glad you did.

There are many books about the history of the California missions, which, in all honesty, I had never read until I got this assignment. It's a sad history because it started out with such good intentions and ended up very badly for the Spanish fathers and for the California Indians. Yet, some good did come out of it. The missions made California exploration much easier and exploration brought people and commerce.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Writing, Writing, Writing

I'm well into the new book but still no title, not that it matters much anyway, since I've yet to have a publisher go with the title I picked. It's a marketing thing, I'm told.

I came across some interesting research information about some very special horses in Arizona. They are called the Wilbur-Cruce horses and are descended from the Spanish barb horse herd that Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino established at Mission dolores at Magdalena, Sonora, in the late 1600's.

In 1885, Magdalena horse trader, Juan Sepulveda, drove a herd of Mission Dolores horses north, selling them to ranchers along the way. Twenty-five mares and a stallion were bought by Dr. Rueben Wilbur, whose ranch was located between Arivaca and Sasabe, AZ.

The horses lived "naturally" and thrived in this area,
undisturbed by man for over a century. In 1989 the herd was rediscovered by geneticists and heritage breed enthusiasts, and in 1990 they were sold off to people who promised to preserve their blood lines.

I just stumbled across this information while researching the book but it caught my attention and made we ask that old writer's question "WHAT IF?"

What if the hero was trying to save these horses? What is modern-day rustlers were trying to steal them, kill them? What if, what if, what if? I guess we'll find out in about 100 manuscript pages from now. Stay tuned....

Photo: Cave Creek, Arizona

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Stella Stevens--Silver Spur Honoree

Stella, dressed in black, wearing a holster and packin' a pistol took the stage and regaled the audience with some of her movie-making adventures.

In recent years, Stella has been writing and producing her own Westerns but it appears they haven't had much success. She made no bones about wanting the genre back and wanting to be a part of it.

I'm with her. I love a good Western be it a book or a movie. And, you have to admit, there's nothing so fine as a man in a startched long-sleeved white shirt, Wranglers, cowboy boots, a Stetson and chaps!

Long live the Western where the code of the West is all the law we need.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Queen Of The West

Say hello to Rhonda Fleming--the Queen Of The West!
Rhonda has appeared in over 40 motion pictures and some of my favorite Westerns including "Gunfight at the Okay Corral" and "Pony Express".

Rhonda's co-stars have included Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Burt Lancaster and Ronald Reagan.

Meeting Rhonda was the highlight of my evening at the Silver Spur Awards where she was being honored.

As you can see by this untouched photo (except for red-eye) Rhonda is still an incredibly beautiful woman.

Thank you, Rhonda, for making my day!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

James Garner--Maverick

What a night! The room was filled to capacity, at least 300 hundred cowboys and cowgirls, all duded up in their Western finest.

I attended the ceremonies with Elaine Palance, who accepted the award for her husband, Jack. Elaine gave a great speech which got everybody laughing. She's a natural, shouda been an actress herself.

We were seated at one of the head tables. I was surrounded by some of Hollywood's top stars. At the table on my right sat Morgan Woodward, a really tall and striking Texan and a couple of seats past him was James Garner.

Garner will always be Maverick, that fast-talking, quick-drawin' gambler. His most recent role was in the "The Notebook." What a tear-jerker that was! He got a giggle from the audience when he announced that he'd just gotten another job! As if we thought he wouldn't.

Stay tuned, more pictures to come...............................

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Silver Spur Awards

Have Camera Will Travel
I'm taking my trusty camera, packin' my gear and headin' down to the Sportsman's Lodge Friday for the 8th Annual Silver Spur Awards. My friend Jack Palance is going to honored along with other Western Stars. Jack's been a might under the weather so it doesn't look like he's gonna make it. Elaine, his wife, is planning on accepting the award for him.
I have an assignment to cover the awards for the Antelope Valley Press, so I'm hoping to get lots of good photos. As soon as I get back, I'll post some of them here.
I don't know about you, but I love those old Westerns and the actors who made them. We've lost so many of them and so award programs like this one are very important if for no other reason than to let them know how much they are appreciated.
It's not too late for you to attend. Just log onto And if you really want to see some great Western art, check out The artist is Spencer Tracy's grandson. He does great stuff.
Until next time, pard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Working On New Book--No Title Yet

Beginning a new book is always an exciting event. This will be my first contemporary, but even though it is set in the here and now, it will have lots of Apache history and more than a few touches of the supernatural.

My heroine is a museum curator, living and working in Tucson, Arizona. She's in her 30's, never been married and loves her work. She has just completed an exhibit, which includes 6 free-standing exhibit cases and a full scale diorama. And all of it is based on her Granny Em's diary!

Granny Em, you see, was captured by the infamous Apache chief, Cochise, in the 1850's. In Em's diary, she wrote about everyday Apache life and drew sketches of the camp and of Cochise, sketches which our modern day heroine uses to make a life-like mannequin of Cochise. A very "life-like" mannequin...................

Photo by Cheryl Clarke, Whispering Tree

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Jack Palance as Toriano, the Apache War Chief

Jack Palance -- Western Super Star

May I present Jack Palance and Fiesta. I've known Jack and his wife, Elaine, for some time and over the dinner table I've listened to many of his movie adventures. One in particular was during the filming of "Arrowhead." Jack played Toriano, a young Apache warrior, who goes east to learn the White man's ways, then returns to the West and uses his knowledge to start an Apache uprising! During a fight scene with Charlton Heston, Jack picks Heston up and holds him over his head. Heston yells at him to put him down but Jack just keeps holding him. The dialogue between the two, according to Jack, was rather... colorful. I can only imagine! Jack is an interesting man and very talented. He has kept a daily journal for more than 40 years, has written a poetic book called "The Forest of Love" ($22.00 + tax) which is prose/poetry and is available through my daughter's bookstore (signed). Email: or (661) 822-8440. He's written a half dozen other books which he hasn't sent out to a publisher and he paints. Boy, does he paint. He has hundreds of canvases. Jack loves animals and they love him. Yes, the tough guy (Jack Wilson in Shane) has a real soft sport for all things furry and feathered. And then there's Jack voice. To hear it is to never forget it. I consider myself lucky indeed to have had a friendship with Jack and Elaine and to have shared many of their celebrity adventures. You can't imagine what just standing next to him in Lowe's is like!

I've compiled a number of those dinner conversations into a biographical article on Jack which will be reprinted this month in Wildest Westerns Magazine. Check out their website for ordering a copy.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Apache "Power" and the hero of Medicine Man

The fun part about writing Medicine Man was, besides bringing two people together against all odds, researching Apache myths, legends and power. Their culture is so different from mine and yet so similar. They believe that hearing an own is a bad omen. I was raised to believe that walking under a ladder would bring me bad luck.

In Medicine Man, Dr. Logan Kincade, whose Apache name is Sonachay, has the power of the wind. He can summon this power by touching his sacred medicine cord. In the early part of the book, Logan refuses to acknowledge his power. For that matter he refuses to acknowledge ANY supernatural power because it goes against everything he has been taught in medical school.

Logan's power, when called upon, makes his invincible--or at least it makes him feel invincible.

Far fetched? Not really. "'Enemies-against power' is a power related to 'wind power.' When on the warpath men painted wind tracks along the outside of their moccasins to make them light." Source: Western Apache Raiding and Warefare, from the notes of Grenville Goodwin.

From the same source is this very interesting statement. "The Western Apache term diyi (I don't have the tools to punctuate this properly) (supernatural power) was used to refer to one or all of a set of abstract and invisible forces which were believed to derive from certain classes of animals, plants, meteorological phenomena, and mythological figures within the Western Apache universe. Any of the 'powers' could be acquired by man..."

In reading my books, you will learn a great deal and I promise it won't hurt a bit. I also promise my research will not overshadow the romance but instead will enhance and make it a more enjoyable reading experience. This is my way of giving back. I hated history. Flunked it or just about. Boy, would I love to find my old high school history teacher and say, "Ha!"

Photo: by Cheryl Clarke, Sable Ranch, filming of Camp Grant Massacre for Hallmark Channel, June, 2005.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Medicine Man

The book I currently have for sale is MEDICINE MAN, a 112,000 word Native American Historical romance. It is represented by Deidre Knight of the Knight Agency.

The Apache wind spirit spoke: "Tell the young ones to gather wood for their fires, food for feasting and drink for celebration. Tell them a medicine man with great power will come from the East. He will speak two tongues--the Apache and the White man's. Tell them he is the one they have waited for. He is The Medicine Man.

I am Dr. Logan Kincade, also known as Sonachay. Years ago when I was a boy, I vowed to go East, learn the White man's medicine and bring it home to my people. Now, in spite of his fine Boston manners and prominent social standing, Logan is still just a little bit savage. His blood isn't blue like his peers but red--Apache red! Logan reads his brother's letter and knows he can no longer put off going home. The time has come to keep his promise to his little sister, to confront his father and to make good on his vow.

Sadie Davenport, a gifted healer, running away from exploitation by her greedy uncle, applies to Logan's ad for a teaching position in the Arizona Territory and vows to never use her supernatural power again. But Sadie can no more deny a person her healing hands than she can deny her passion for Logan, whose intelligence and dedication to medicine are as intoxicating as his powerful warrior's body.

Jealousy turns Logan's love for Sadie to resentment. He immerses himself in the culture of his youth and falls victim to an ancient Apache spell that makes him a stranger even to himself. His only hope is Sadie, but can her hands heal the savagery that dwells within him, or will he forever be lost to himself and to the woman who loves him?

Represented by: Deidre Knight, Knight Agency

Photo by: Cheryl Clarke while on the set for the History Channel's filming of The Camp Grant Massacre. June 2005.

Romancing The West

"...and they rode off into the sunset."
I love the Old West. People say I live, eat and breathe it. I also write it.
I write Western historical & contemporary romance novels, articles for magazines and newspapers on Old West history, lifestyles and decorating.
And I take pictures of the West like this incredible sunset which was taken in Death Valley, CA in the spring of 2004. I started this blog to share the next phase of my life, the best phase, the I-can-do-anything-phase. So, if you love reading about the West, the characters both real and historical, historical events and if you want to meet my friends, Jack Palance--Toriano to his Apache brothers in the movie Arrowhead and other Westerners I know--visit this blog frequently and let's get to know each other.

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