2016 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Winner

Author GP HUTCHINSON - 2016 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award Winner

“Strong Suspicions” Named National Award Finalist

NIEAseal-2016-Finalist-200The National Indie Excellence® Awards has just named Strong Suspicions a Finalist in the Westerns category of their 2016 indie and small press authors competition. Publishers Weekly lists the National Indie Excellence® Awards as one of the top book awards for self-published authors, stating, “Competition is fierce.”

As you would naturally expect, to place or win in a contest such as the National Indie Excellence® Awards, a novel needs to present a compelling story. But it has to do much, much more than just that. Books that are not well edited or polished are eliminated pretty quickly.

“Now I would say that 95% of the books that come in look basically the same as the books you might see coming from a major publisher,” says Tara Johnson, who manages the self-pub awards program at Writer’s Digest.

Strong Suspicions is the second Emmett Strong novel to receive National Indie Excellence® Awards honors. Last year, Strong Convictions was the contest’s Westerns category winner.

Both Emmett Strong novels have been gaining excellent reader following. Currently, both titles are ranked among the top 12 classic-style Westerns in’s Kindle store. And readers have been regularly giving 4- and 5-star ratings and reviews for both books.

Many thanks to each of you who has already read Strong Convictions  or Strong Suspicions and expressed your enjoyment of the reading experience. If you haven’t yet read either story, why not grab a copy today and “saddle up” for an entertaining Western adventure?

Actor Alex Cord Endorses “Strong Convictions”

Alex CordAlex Cord—the New York Times dubbed him “The Man Who Dared to Fill John Wayne’s Boots.” In the 1966 remake of the classic Western film Stagecoach, Cord played the role of the Ringo Kid—the same role that vaulted John Wayne into the limelight back in 1939 when the original version of the film was released.

Mr. Cord, also, appeared in the highly acclaimed Western TV series Laramie, Branded, and Gunsmoke. In 2001, he won a prestigious Golden Boot Award in acknowledgement of his significant contribution to the Western genre of television and movies.

So, needless to say, it’s an immense honor for me to share with you Alex Cord’s endorsement of my novel Strong Convictions: An Emmett Strong Western. Mr. Cord wrote, Continue reading

Gun Leather Art

Halfbreed Holster

By Michael E. Cumpston – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The gun leather worn by those who tamed the Wild West was generally pragmatic gear–something to keep your pistol close at hand, more or less clean and dry. Then as now, however, some folks didn’t mind indulging in a little something special when it came to how they carried their weapons. So singular were a few of these holsters and belts that I’m sure you’ll agree, they’re nothing less than art.

Among the earliest non-military holsters were the slim jim styles that showed up in significant numbers among those who flocked to California during the gold rush years Continue reading

Who Really Did Pack Iron in the Old West?

Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

So did just about everyone who populated America’s frontier West pack iron? Or is that a misconception perpetuated by Western fiction, TV, and movies? While I make no claim to be an expert on the matter, and though my scholarship on the topic is superficial at best, I believe I can offer some legitimate observations in answer to the question.

One way to know the extent to which citizens of the Old West characteristically carried weapons is to go to period sources, including period photographs. Recalling that the latter half of the nineteenth century was not exactly the era of the “selfie,” getting one’s picture taken was something of a special event back in those days. Consequently, folks might not have behaved–or even dressed–the same as they would in day-to-day life. Continue reading

Daydream Destinations of a Western Writer

The alarm clock goes off, and before my feet hit the floor, I’m reaching for my phone to check the Weather Channel. Is it 23 degrees out there this morning or 53? Crazy winter that it’s been. Whatever the temperature, the trees are still gray, and I find my thoughts drifting with ever-increasing frequency to late spring or early autumn and a vacation somewhere out beneath the big sky of the great American West.

Western LandscapeSouth Carolina is wonderful and it’s closer to my kids, but my heart yearns for the wide-open lands of mountains, deserts, canyons, and prairies.

Since it’s Saturday, I have a little time to let my imagination run with the notion. So where would I go? Top daydream destinations–what would they be? Continue reading

Readers Excited About Return of Emmett Strong

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The return of Old West hero Emmett Strong is drawing enthusiastic reviews from first readers of Strong Suspicions (Emmett Strong Western #2).

Look for it in paperback and Kindle editions around March 1, 2016!

In Strong Suspicions, Texas Ranger Emmett Strong is back in the saddle, returning home to San Antonio with the girl he longs to marry. But finding someone to tie the knot for them is proving to be a challenge, owing to the fact that she’s the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Along the way, there’s a ruckus in El Paso’s Wild Hog Saloon, and by noon the next day, folks are convinced that it was Emmett and his compadres who robbed the saloon owner and beat him unconscious. Meanwhile, a bested enemy, set on revenge, hires the notorious fast gun “Three Finger” Ned Cage to dispatch Strong, his amigos, and even his girl.

Emmett’s not one to go looking for trouble, but trouble’s come calling on him–by the spadeful. Question is, can Emmett deal with all the danger before it puts him under?

Haven’t yet read the first Emmett Strong Western, Strong Convictions? Grab it while you can before the sequel comes out!

The American Cowboy: Two Different Pedigrees

I’m painting with a broad brush today as I share these fun facts about the cowboy of the 19th century American West, but did you know that, in the heyday of cowboys and cattle drives, two distinct cattle culture traditions developed side by side?

"HerdQuit" by Charles Marion Russell - Uploader took photo at museum. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -

“HerdQuit” by Charles Marion Russell – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons –

There were the cowboys of Texas heritage, of course, many of whom were unemployed Civil War veterans who heard that there was lots of free beef on the hoof down in the Lone Star state and a huge demand for it on the depleted tables to the north and east. Then there were the buckaroos who came up via the California vaquero tradition. Continue reading

Music: Not Exactly My Muse, But Still…

Music Staff 1With my busy schedule, I can’t afford to wait for my muse to move me before putting words on paper (or text on screen). I’ve got to snatch up every hour I can find and make the best of it. So how do I transition quickly from mundane, sometimes mind-draining tasks directly into writing? Well, two things that help are my earbuds and the right music.

When I first started writing, I feared that music would distract me too much from thinking about what needed to happen next in the story. I was especially concerned that anything with lyrics would seriously interfere with making the best word choices.

Then I read Write. Publish. Repeat., an outstanding how-to volume by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. I can’t remember which of the two mentioned it, but one of them talked about turning out massive word counts while listening to some seriously raucous, lyric-laden tunes. Since then, I’ve come across several other big-name authors who relate that they, too, do their best writing while headphones pump one variety or another of music into their ears and brains. I thought, If it works for big-leaguers like them…

Wow! Was I surprised! Not only did the music help drown out the real world around me, but it also helped me enter into the universe of my story—far better than I’d ever imagined it would. Even songs with lyrics are fine, having little negative effect on my concentration and creativity. It’s gotten to where I usually prefer to write with music playing, and about the only time I don’t listen to music while writing is when, for some specific reason, I don’t want to completely shut out my wife, daughter, or dog.

Old West Costume Hat Miller HatsOf course, choosing the right music is a huge factor. Not every tune needs to be Western in flavor when I’m working on Westerns, but certain melodies have the remarkable power to fire up the creative juices time and time again–almost every time I hear them.

My favorite playlist for working on Westerns includes tunes by Calexico such as Minas de Cobre and Tres Avisos. I also like Theme of the Glowing Amigo by Diego’s Umbrella, Buried West by The Inner banks, and a number of Western movie themes. Scores from The Magnificent Seven, El Condor, and the old TV series The Virginian come to mind.

What works for one author may not work for another. And the same thing doesn’t necessarily work every single time. But when this writer wants to make some serious progress on crafting a story, the right music is often as helpful as anything for making the jump from the ordinary, everyday world around us into the world of my created characters.

Audible Version of “Strong Convictions” Now Available

Audible Version of Strong Convictions Is Here

StrongConvictions_AudibleDo you prefer hearing a story over reading one? Do you anticipate a long trip soon–a trip that would be a whole lot more enjoyable if you could pass the time listening to a gripping story as you travel? If so, you just may be interested to know that Strong Convictions: An Emmett Strong Western is now available in audio book format.

The Narrator

The Audible version of Strong Convictions is narrated by talented voice actor Alex Zonn. Alex’s voice evokes images of the old-time tradition of storytelling beside a snapping campfire. You’ll imagine yourself beneath a crystal clear nighttime sky somewhere out in the broad expanses of the American West. Before you know it, Alex will transport you back to 1881, to the world of Texas Ranger Emmett Strong. Alex has recorded for the reader the entire award-winning novel, unabridged–so you won’t miss a single captivating scene.

Audible books can be listened to on a broad spectrum of devices from smartphones to tablets to smart TVs. (TV listening may require Amazon Fire, Chromecast, or Roku-type devices.)

Special Offer

From the date of this post, the first 25 NEW subscribers to will receive a FREE copy of the Audible version of Strong Convictions (a $21.83 value). So hurry and sign up using the pop-up before the 25 free copies are gone!