My Work

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hand me down my can of beans

Where are we going?
I don’t know.
When are we going to get there?
I don’t care.
Why are we going?
Ah, that may be the proper question.

We enter yet another circling of that hot orb known as Sol, and many won’t remember because they will be drunk and stupid. Others will be on the journey and remember. Neither is a requisite. Back to the question. The only answer allowed is simply:

Because we’re here.

Entering the year 2017 isn’t a mother-may-I quiz, it’s simply a case of not dying on December 31. So we accept our lot in life, but do we enter as intelligent adults, screaming children, or fools? Answering is not mandatory since we will enter as we leave. That is, if we’re a fool leaving 2016 we will enter 2017 as a fool.

I have experienced 79 New Year celebrations and yet, I’m but 78 years old. They are getting a bit tedious but I’m not willing to give the next one, or the next many, up. I’ll simply sleep through the process as I’ve done for probably 73 of the previous orgies. Since I’m a believer in personal freedom I don’t believe I have the right to suggest that you shouldn’t celebrate this time of entering the next orbit, but I will ask what it is you think you’re celebrating.

I have danced naked on the streets of Virginia City, but not on New Year’s Eve. Too damn cold. My good friend Jose Cuervo danced with me, and we sang “Hand Me Down My Can of Beans” over and over. I’ve jumped naked in the icy cold waters of Lake Tahoe. But never on New Year’s Eve. Too cold. I believe I was swimming with Jack Daniels on that occasion. We sang “Ninety Nine Bottles of Beer On the Wall.”

Some use this new year concept to recreate themselves by swearing before the gods of ancient Greece that they will lose weight and not be late for work and use their turn signals and take out the garbage without being asked. I found this little ditty on facebook the other day and have taken it in to be nourished and loved.

Don’t expect any New Years resolutions from me.
I intend on staying the same awkward, Sarcastic,
Foul-mouthed delight
You’ve all come to know and love.

Patty and I planned to have a smoked salmon salad sometime around four o’clock with dinner of roasted goose, mashed potatoes and gravy, and home made rolls at about seven or so. A movie I won’t remember will follow, and then it’s off to bed. Surely some idiot neighbor will fire off a few rounds, not giving a damn where the bullets might land, sometime around midnight, and I’ll whisper Happy New Year in her ear, and thus, the next orbit about old Sol will begin.


Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Can You Feel It?

Can you feel it? Oh, that wonderful time of the year when sleigh bells ring, icicles gleam, and visions of sugarplums fill the eyes of all us children. There’s fresh snow on the ground and more is promised, most of the harvest has been canned, frozen, or smoked and hanging, and we can hear a Christmas song or two on the radio. Once again, I’m ten-years-old, quivering in anticipation, and knowing that I’ll get my traditional package of underpants from Aunt Barbara.

Hot chocolate is good, laced with schnapps is better, and the fireplace stays lit all day long. Mama sneaks off to the bedroom when no one is looking and wraps things labeled, “Do Not Open Till Christmas”, which gives Papa a chance for another well-laced hot chocolate.

The neighbor adds a garland of bells to the breast collar on his favorite gelding and pranced down the lane singing at the top of his lungs, “Sleigh Bells Ring, are you listenin’?” and we are, and we join in. There’s not a scrooge one in this old neighborhood. One more hot chocolate and I’ll put a garland of bells around my neck and go prancing down the lane myself.

Get the lights out, strung all over the living room floor, and sure, you bet, there’s one bulb out. Where did I put those extras? Mama! She brings me a green one and I wind up the lot and take them onto the porch for stringing. What would I do without that charming lady?

Those Holly Jolly Blues
For Mama

Here he comes,
Dancin’ and shakin’ and laughin’ and givin’,
Awash in the holly jolly mood, covered in
Wools and fur, reds and whites.

‘An here I am,
Cryin’ and poutin’ and cussin’ and sad,
Feelin’ sorry for me, not carin’ ‘bout nothin’.
Ripped denim, dirty socks, not white.

In you walk,
Dancin’ and shakin’ that bootie, givin’ me life
Prancin’ about in heels and net, covered in
Silks and gauze, reds, and sheer.

No blues tonight,
Not with a princess in hand, Santa Claus smile,
Santa Claus laugh, a holly jolly mood, us covered
In reds and whites and satin sheets.

It all starts with Halloe’en, with children playing as ghosts and goblins, gathering baskets full of candy and goodies, while Mom and Pop dress up as childhood heroes, acting as silly as the children. Then, of course comes Thanksgiving, with families coming together to cheer their favorite football team, argue their favorite politician, and eat tons of everything that Grandma can cook. More pie, darlin;?

The stores light up, strobe strength, with sales on top of sales, insisting that you can do no better for your friends and loved ones than by shopping with them. Raise the price thirty percent on Wednesday, and have a twenty percent off sale on Friday. It’s Green Christmas all over again (Thank you Stan Freeburg). But, with just one more little cup of laced hot chocolate, everything will be fine.

These wonderful times finally come to a close on New Year’s Day, and we discover that the world is still there, those same politicians are still making vague promises, and those twenty percent off sales happen with regularity. No more parties until February second, Ground Hog Day.

Mama, can I please have just one more hot chocolate, with just a wee drop of schnapps?

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I'm Thankful

Thanksgiving. Traditionally celebrated at harvest time, and for the first one hundred and fifty years or so of our union, harvest was the proper time, to say thanks. Thanks for a great harvest. But times, as is so often the case, they are a-changing. What’s foremost in my mind is to be thankful for the fact that I was born an American.

We just went through an excruciatingly hideous election cycle and we came out the other end of that cycle as the Untied States of America. We didn’t come out in wild rebellion, we didn’t come out with someone declaring to be a dictator, We didn't come out under martial law. No, we came out the same as when we went into the cycle: Free and living in a democracy which elected a president by way of the law of the land.

And we learned a few things. We know there are several million Americans who are not aware of what our constitution and its amendments actually say. We know there are several million Americans who are not aware of what the word tolerance means or how a lack of tolerance affects many fellow Americans. We know we cannot depend on the Internet, the major media outlets, or truth in advertising rules to offer us the truth.

I’m thankful that I have the right to vote. More than seven billion people inhabit this old blue marble and there are more than three hundred million of us Americans who have that right. We are in the minority world-wide. I’m thankful I have the right to publish this blog. People are jailed or executed in many other places in the world for doing what I’m doing. I’m thankful that I have the right to, or not to, worship within a religion.

I’m also thankful to know that I have the right to fight to the death to defend those rights.

Now, smile, say something brilliant, and eat your turkey.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

more holiday fun

As I said in the previous entry of this continuing tome, this is an exciting time of the year from so many different angles. Parties of course, banquets, and from my point of view, even my work. This is when publishing companies invite those that are contracted with them to produce work for holiday themed anthologies, and I for one love the idea.

Short stories are difficult to write because they have to be short for them to really pop. The most difficult part of the story is how to bring it to a justified but definite end. An end that is satisfying to me as the writer, and satisfying to you the reader.

Solstice Publishing has just released their annual horror anthologies, that’s right, two of them this year. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Volumes three and four. I have a short story in volume four called Over There. All of the stories in both volumes are scary as hell, which makes it fun reading this time of year.

Solstice then releases the individual stories as stand alone short story e-books, which is really nice. I’ve been lucky to have stories in Now I Lay Me Down volume one and now volume 4. I also have stories in the valentines anthology, Adventures in Love, and coming up on Black Friday, the newest Christmas or Holiday anthology, which I’ll be touting your way soon.

There’s more to it, of course. The publishing company has an opportunity to offer, in one publication, the work of many of their writers, thus possibly introducing those writers to a new audience. It’s a win=win for the publishers and the authors. If you should buy volume four, for example, you will be introduced to several authors you may not have read before, which could lead to more book sales for the publisher and for that author.

When I made the transition from writing as a news reporter to writing fiction, I broke in by way of short stories. I was very lucky and had many short stories published over the years before I attempted to write novels. I still love writing short stories and jump at the opportunity to indulge.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Vol. 4 is available now, in e-book or print,
and the new holiday anthology will go on presale in a week or so and be available on Black Friday, amazon. I’ll put up the information on FaceBook and Twitter.

Patty made a batch of sugar cookies yesterday, and it’s my job to taste test, so I must run. I’m sure you understand.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Precious Season

I’m a warm weather person, so it will seem a bit strange after hearing that, to hear too, that this period of the year is precious to me. I was born in Santa Cruz, California, along the northern coast of fabled Monterey Bay, spent my high school years on the Island of Guam, and the U.S. Army felt a need for my services in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Simply stated, I love warm weather.

Now, about that precious statement. Growly and grumpy old men turn into slobbering puppy dogs or mewing kittens when seeing visions of roast venison or slow smoked duck at Thanksgiving. Battling, mean-tempered old witches become sainted on thinking of a finely decorated tree, and enjoying the aroma of a roasted goose, or even a traditional turkey.

And I’m right alongside them all. Patty and I protect these holidays; they are ours. We can have family in but we don’t go out unless it’s family. It’s a roast goose for Thanksgiving this year, done on the Weber, with some bourbon soaked oak chips providing the smoke. The oak is staves from whiskey barrels, and the aroma from that smoke will tempt the neighbors into an invasion.

I’m planning acorn squash soup for starters and sweet potato pie covered in whipped cream, the real stuff, to wrap it up. More than likely we’ll take a short walk to get things settled and then sink into easy chairs and spend a couple of hours with a movie.

It’s the plottin’ and plannin’ that makes it so much fun. I learned, nay, that ain’t the truth, Ruth. I’m still learning the art of slow roasting on the Weber, allowing the heat to come down before putting the meat in, stacking the coals to the sides and allowing for convection to work its magic, and adding coals at the proper time. Pork shoulder is my favorite to roast, and a large slab of beef would be next. Ribs? Always!

Chicken, duck, and goose take a little more finesse to roast, as does rabbit. Goat and lamb are as much fun as pork and beef, and the one that Patty likes the most is when I slow roast a large trout. She hovers near the hot kettle, picking up the smoke swirling from the top vent.

Tradition, as Tevia said, is more than just tradition, it’s that feeling one gets, way down inside, the thought that might bring a tear or a quick intake of air. On Guam, pigs were wrapped in banana leaves and put in the ground on top of hot rocks. In Cold Springs, I wrap the pig in seed bags and soak them in a tub full of white wine and put them in the ground on top of hot rocks. I like it both ways.

Fish too were often steamed while wrapped in banana leaves, and breadfruit would be sliced and fried or roasted as potatoes might be. And so, we slow roast the trout in the kettle and serve it with French fries.

It’s the food of every season that makes them special for me. Open pit grilling and barbecuing with roasted corn on the cob and ice-cold salads for the hot months, and steamy rich soups and roasts of large animals and fowl in the cold months make life worth living. The traditions of having family in, the giving and receiving of gifts, and the pleasure of the lights and music add to the winter season, but it’s the food that I take most pleasure from.

A pork roast in a Dutch oven, simmering in a Mexican sauce and served with great crusts of French bread can make the coldest day warm. Or a sirloin of beef on the Weber splashed with a Texas mop sauce will brighten spirits quickly. And, then, a large cast iron pot filled with venison, beef, pork, and goat, half a ton of Jalapeñoes, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, simmered for an afternoon is simply heaven on the coldest day of the year.

Yup, mi compadre, the winter season is precious. Until next time, read good books and stay regular.

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Festive Fall

As we move through the thirteen weeks of Fall, we can be mesmerized by the beauty of a changing natural world, or we can become overwhelmed by the ugly politics of the secular world. I vote for the natural world where we can visit at first hand with plants and animals preparing themselves for the harshness of winter. Trees and bushes and others in the world of vegetation withdraw, some deeply, and let the flush of spring and summer fall away in splendor.

Hibernating animals are the gourmands of the natural world, eating and eating, preparing for that long sleep. They mate, too, as do so many in the animal world. Even with humans, there seems to be more mating in coldest months. Ever notice how many of your friends were born in August and September.

The smart ones, along with making other preparations for winter, head south. Ducks, geese, sno-birds, and hummingbirds get away for the winter. Hundreds of thousands of animals are found huddled in their RVs in the great American Deserts every winter, and the dove season is anticipated along the border states.

Fall is hunting season and many the larder is filled with venison, water fowl, and upland game. Fishing in the fall months can be very good as well, with migratory fishes coming back to the streams where they began their lives. You might be challenged by some big old bears, but, stand your ground. On second thought, let the bear go first.

I remember a deer hunt with a friend many years ago, when I almost lost the gentleman as a friend. We were scheduled to be in the mountains of eastern Nevada for five days, and the fool shot his deer the first day. Oh, the names I used to describe his foolishness, and used them every mile on the way home.

On any kind of hunt, it isn’t always the filling of the game bag that’s most important. Long days getting shorter, magnificent country to spend hours traversing, delightfully warm campfires to broil steaks on and sip good bourbon near, and the aroma of the great outdoors are part and parcel.

Along with the visual delights of the season, the hunts and camping trips, and fine fishing opportunities, there are a couple of holidays thrown in as well. Halloween is more a fun time than a real holiday, but with a little creativity can be gastronomically extravagant. When the neighbor slips a note under your door labeled Party!! it’s time to grab your favorite mask, bake or cook something wicked, or whitchly, and answer that RSVP.

I’m the farthest thing from a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. The dinner, yes. The family, yes. Tradition ends right there. Over the years, Patty and I have fixed goose, duck, chicken, rabbit, goat, even standing rib roast of beef for the family table, almost always with acorn squash soup, and ending with sweet potato pie. If it’s to be stuffed, we prefer an oyster stuffing, and forget the marshmallow jello.

There aren’t a tremendous number of fall traditions. Most are centered around family activities. Football, particularly high school and college rivalries bring families to stadiums, often before a family gathering and feast. Hiking in the splendor of autumn is in many to-do lists during the period, and traditional meals with specialty baking and roasting are some.

Most families have a favorite meal or item for a meal, most can remember playing for or rooting for a high school or college alma mater, and relish the opportunity to help their team to another victorious season.

Patty is baking a couple of carrot cakes from carrots I harvested the other day, so I have to draw this little tome to a close. The aroma is getting dense and I’m salivating on the keyboard. Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Labor-less Festivals Await

It’s hard to imagine not liking a holiday, not wanting it to happen, but there is one American holiday that, traditionally, thousands hated and thousands more looked forward to. Yup, Labor Day. It used to be known as the traditional end of summer, traditions also dictated that school started immediately afterward, and summer frocks were put away.

"Please, Mama, I don't wanna go," was the cry of thousands of kids. "But I look good in white," was the plea of thousands of tanned young ladies. "Oh what a relief," was the moan of many mamas, and "It's back to dark woolies for you, little miss," was the cry of fashion mavens.

The federal government recognizes six big holidays and Labor Day is close to being or is the oldest. People started celebrating a labor day in 1878 and it became Labor Day, a federal holiday in 1894. The holiday has evolved from giant labor union parades and grand speechifying to festivals promising the best blue grass, the best ribs, the best of Luckenbach.

That’s not a typo el friendo. The tiny Texas town of Luckenbach, the one that Willie sang about, hosts an annual Labor Day Celebration, Texas-Style.

But, here’s one that makes my mouth water, since Patty and I raise goats for their milk, think cheese and ice cream, and their meat, think BBQ. Well, in the little town of Brady, Texas, up in the hill country, they have a World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-off. There are more goat ranchers worldwide than there are cattle ranchers, and goat meat is eaten as a protein staple in more countries than is beef. Don’t knock it until you try it, cuz it is good.

Texas believes in festivals, and Labor Day in Houston is Hot Sauce Festival time, and you’ll find aficionados of every temperature vying for honors. There will be samples of hot sauce, salsa, BBQ sauce, and they tell me, Bloody Mary mix too.

Not to be outdone by Bayou City, Nacogdoches is home to the Do Dat Barbecue Cook-off, which could very well take the top of your head right off.

The left coast is home to many Labor Day festivals, including a three day-er in Hermosa Beach, at the pier. They call it an Art Festival but there will be 270 vendors lined up to tickle your wallet. Looking for all that California Gold. Another big art festival takes place in Sausalito, near San Francisco, and this year will mark the sixty-second annual time it’s been presented. That’s impressive.

There are two major festivals that I would like to attend, and since I live next door to one of them, that will be where you’ll find me, at the Nugget World Championship Rib Festival in Sparks, Nevada. Usually about a hundred rib cookers from around the world participating, and you can smell smoked ribs as far away as Carson City. Patty and I like to go early on Sunday, just as the various contestants are opening their smokers to the public, and before the massive invasion of pork denied visitors descend on Sparks.

You know what they say about Reno? Yup, Reno is so close to hell you can see Sparks.

The big festival we’ll miss is the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. Stickball, Choctaw Princess Pageant, buffalo tours, fancy dancing, drums, concerts, and more dancing.

If none of the above winds your clock, just head out into your great back yard, fire up the BBQ, sing your own songs, dance your own dance, and enjoy this long Labor Day Weekend.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Ode to the Saloon

Ran into a feller the other day that I hadn’t seen in a few years, much to my delight, I might add. Delight, that is, that I hadn’t seen him in a few years. ‘A bit of an ass’ is the best description I’ve heard of him, and he fulfilled his obligation by asking if I still spent time in, as he called it, a tavern. There aren’t many in my crowd that tend to use the word tavern when discussing the pleasures of the partaking of John Barleycorn.

The encounter led me straight to one of my many favorite saloons, and believe me, this old town called Reno has more that a few. It also led me to wonder just how many names we use from time to time when discussing our favorite watering hole. Well, see, there’s one name, and then, we also have cantina, gin mill, and grogshop to consider. Alehouse is rarely used today as is cabaret, but joint? Yes, indeed, and sports bar, nightclub, and pub.

Being a jolly fellow by this time, I found a cocktail napkin that wasn’t yet drenched, and wrote a bit of a poem for the occasion. To wit:

Rhymes With Tune
By Johnny Gunn

These are meeting places, mating places,
Sometimes fighting places.
We go not to glory in the drinking of alcohol
But to glory in ourselves.

We burst forth in song or poetry
Create or destroy politicians
We meet our friends, lovers, enemies
Slap backs and offer sage advice

Ah, the saloon, the name rolls off your tongue
Like the lyrics of a tune
And the local behind the plank
Offers kind words, “What’ll you have, Pard?”

So, my friend Mick stands up and strolls across the grogshop floor and plunks himself down at the piano and serenades us few noontime regulars with Danny Boy, followed by a rousing medley of Irish music, during which most of us either join in the merriment or pretend to. As Toora Lura, Lura, or however that song is actually spelled, comes to an end, in walks Jose Francisco Lopez Garcia.

“I see the cantina is open,” he says, opening his guitar case, and offering Coo Coo Roo Cuckoo, or however that song is spelled. Joe Jingles waltzes into our little speakeasy and wants to act the tough guy, and we let him spout off for a minute or two, and then  tell him to leave the dive, that this was our roadhouse, and don’t forget it.

Amazing isn’t it, that such a simple thing as saying hello to someone you haven’t seen for a long time can bring such wonderful memories to the front. I see an ad in the paper for a new bistro opening, so, must run.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Independence Day Trivia and other Stuff

The Declaration of Independence was an unknown document by almost all Americans on the Fourth of July, 1776. It was approved at two p.m. but only those signing it at the time even knew that, despite the fact that we have celebrated its signing for all these years on the Fourth of July. It wasn’t read publicly until July 8. It was read to continental army brigades in New York on July 26. The soldiers thought so highly of the document that they toppled a statue of King George III. It is believed that the lead from that statue may have been turned into bullets.

Just one hundred years later, there were gala celebrations in Philadelphia that extended over at least three days. Susan B. Anthony took part hoorahing her Declaration of Rights for Woman’s Suffrage Association. General Sherman stopped by to review the troops, keeping in mind that the good old US of A had declared war on Turkey just the day before.

In Rhode Island, the parade of Naval vessels took place in the waters off Bristol and featured the sloop U.S. Juniata. In Washington a three-hundred-canon salute was fired, the first one hundred rounds at sunrise, the second one hundred at noon, and the final one hundred at sunset. That had to have been impressive.

It wasn’t all gayety in 1876, since the end of the Civil War was just a few years before this. In Hamburg, South Carolina an uprising by angry whites led to the massacre of many blacks.

Ten thousand people marched in a four-mile parade in San Francisco, while in Chicago a bunch of socialists read from a revised declaration of independence. One particular highlight from 1876 was thirty veterans of the War of 1812 marching with two of Napoleon’s soldiers in Utica, New York.

Jumping another one hundred years through the pages of history to 1976 we find Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, in Boston Harbor firing her cannons for the first time in ninety-five years. Across the country, at two p.m., bells were rung in thousands of communities, signifying the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

A wagon train consisting of 2500 wagons traveled across the country and arrived at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, while in Baltimore, a re-enactment of the bombardment of Fort McHenry took place after which celebrants enjoyed a 69,000 pound birthday cake.

In Sparks, Nevada, the James C. Lillard Railroad Park was dedicated, and in Clinton, Missouri, the Henry County Museum was dedicated.

Well, here was are in 2016, and for many of us in western Nevada, that means we’ll be taking a nice drive to Virginia City, beloved Queen of the Comstock, for a day of parades, picnics, mining contests, and one of Nevada’s best fireworks displays.

It’s the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence that most of us remember, so poignant it can lead to a full bursting of dams that hold back our tears, tears of joy that have flowed since that fateful time of two p.m., July, 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
Description: in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
For a full reading of the declaration, go here
Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Introspection Anyone?

We’re moving toward the halfway point of the year, which might be a good time for a little introspection and reflection, maybe even some other ection if we can find one.

Our winter brought us some much-needed precipitation to the Sierra Nevada, the western Nevada valleys, and northern Nevada in general. Spring is an entirely different matter. We have gone from ultra gorgeous to fanatically evil on an every other week schedule.

Tomatoes and squash have suffered the most from the drastic changes, which included a hard freeze on June 15. If we can get the wind under high gale force, we might yet have enough veggies to fill the larder. Between chickens and rabbits, our freezer will look good for the summer and winter, but the shelves of home-canned veggies and stuff are empty.

On the publishing front, I’m dancing around like I had good sense. My very long, not quite novella length short story, Red Light Raven, has found numerous friends and appears to be selling well. The second book in the Jacob Chance, U.S. Marshal trilogy was released and is doing well. , and I had some good news from a new publisher, New Pulp Publishing. They have released Blood of Many Nations, the first novel in a planned series featuring wild and crazy private eye, Simon Sol Dorsey, .

Along with all that, Solstice Publishing has offered a contract on an action thriller I’ve been working on for several years called To Serve and Deceive. We are just getting started on the edit process and hope to have this little gem out in the next few months.

A publishing company in Great Britain has an historical frontier fiction piece under review at this time, I have an historical western fiction piece I’m working on, a second Simon Sol Dorsey piece is almost ready for review, and I’m doing research for two other westerns.

I retired from holding a real job several years ago, and I gotta say, I’m working harder now, enjoying the hell out of it more, during these retirement years, than I ever did working for the man.

I get up and five, coffee’s on auto-pilot so with a cup in hand, I feed the horses and chickens with our little Sparky Dog right at (Nay, under) my feet, then feed him, turn on the computer and have at it. When the sun comes up I head out and set the irrigation for the various garden plots, pour more coffee, and get back to it. By ten in the morning all the animals are fed and watered, the veggies are taken care of, and I usually have at least another thousand words in whatever project is on top of the heap that day.

That’s the end of the workday for me. After that, if the weather’s good, I’m outside playing with the animals or messing around in the garden or just sitting in the sun readin’ and grinnin’.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Just drive, please

Many, many years ago, I operated a small museum in Virginia City called the Pioneer Livery Stables and had more than twenty buggies, carts, wagons, and sleighs on display. I also had a team of Clydesdales and access to other horses and ponies that were trained in the harness.

It was a lot of fun to take the big team and a spring wagon into the Long Valley area, now all grown up with hundreds of houses, sometimes to spend the weekend at a springs or just take a day ride. Driving a beautiful team that is pulling a wagon that has seen a century of duty is pure happiness for me.

What brought this little commentary about has to do with driving, whether a single, a team, or more than one team. One of my wagons was used in the movie Silver Dollar, and we had four teams up on that wagon. That was surely a thrill.

The wagons, buggies, and carts were all set up to be driven from the right side, and in olden times, roadways and trails were often left hand traffic. There were few communities, territories, or states that had laws on driving. A quick view of old photos will show that, but don’t look for it in every western movie because that fact is often overlooked.

My child bride and I were watching a movie the other night and I pointed out that they got it right. The wagon was driven from the right hand seat and travelled on the left side of the road. Patty said, “When did we change to right hand traffic and left hand driving?”

There are more countries in the world with right hand traffic than left, with Great Britain and many of the old British colonies leading the left hand traffic pack. Consensus seems to be that because most people are right handed, and most weapons prior to the general use of gunpowder were operated with the right hand, if one were to meet an adversary on the road, it would be best if that enemy were to be on one’s right side. Thus, left hand traffic, which predominated until good old Henry Ford came along.

Before automobiles, though, Napoleon, a lefty, decreed that all the countries he conquered would have right hand traffic. Wonder what he would have done had he been ambidextrous?

A man named Albert C. Rose, some refer to him as being the unofficial historian of the U.S. Public Roads department, seems to think that in colonial times we had right hand traffic, but I challenge that simply because of the way buggies, wagons, carts, and sleighs were built, particularly I would like to point out, that brakes for those vehicles were operated from the right side and harness for teams was such that they worked better from the right side.

The earliest automobiles that were steered by way of a tiller had them mounted in the center, but when steering wheels came along, they were, for the most part, mounted on the right side. It was Henry Ford’s Model T that changed things. Ford put the steering wheel on the left side, and by about 1915 or so, all the American manufacturers did the same. I couldn’t find out why Ford decided to put his steering on the left side.

I also spent many years working in the mines in Nevada, and driving the huge haul trucks is something else again. Most mines demand left hand traffic on the haul roads leading from the pits to the mill. And, to make things a little more interesting, the driver often sits on the left side, but there is a good reason for that. The machine is huge, carrying as much as one hundred fifty tons of ore, and knowing where that truck is when approaching another truck is tricky. The driver is trained not to look at the other truck but rather guide his or her truck by watching the left side of the road. It works.

Driving the underground haul trucks is a whole nuther story. The drifts and tunnels are just wide enough for the vehicles to get through, and if you value your job you do not want to take out rib posts as you haul the ore out of the mine. You’re trained to look far down and in the middle of the drift or tunnel. That way your vehicle stays in the middle of the very narrow roadway.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

To Garden Or Not To Garden ...

My beautiful child-bride Patty and I live in what some call the inter-mountain west and others call the great basin, right along the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, about twenty miles north of Reno. Between an altitude of somewhere close to five thousand feet above sea level and the weather pattern disruption created by those lofty mountain peaks, gardening is a crap shoot every year.

There is no normal, but there is an average when we speak of end of frost danger, and that’s where the crap shoot comes in. If one wishes to make a fairly certain bet one could say there will be a cold storm with freezing temperatures and probable snow over Memorial Day weekend. One could get away with saying the three weeks before that would be sunny and warm.

Just one hundred miles to our west, right now, as you read this, in the great central valley of California, gardens have been planted, the plants are growing and blossoming, maybe even showing some fruit. I’ll not plant, even the strongest of my crops until at least May 20, and those veggies most susceptible to frost, on or about June 6. And still be fearful.

The ground is tilled, manure plowed under, seeds purchased, and I don’t even dare start them indoors since we’re talking more than a month before I could put them in the ground. A delightful friend put up one of those hoop house green houses and watched it head for Utah at more than sixty mph last year. It was last year that a dust devil lifted the horses’ weather stalls right out of the ground and set them back down in splinters.

No, a green house in western Nevada is not the answer, unless it’s made of brick and iron, which of course defeats the purpose. Some might ask, ‘why garden?’ Because of such things as fresh corn, tomatoes, green beans, squash, cucumbers, peas, melons, and chili peppers. We eat them fresh all late summer and early fall, can the rest, therefore, eat fresh from the garden food all winter, too.

It’s grand to light the BBQ on a summer’s eve, with two beautiful USDA Prime rib-eye steaks ready for the hot coals, and stroll out to the corn patch, rip a pair of ears from a stalk, and roast them, all the while toasting the gods of summer with either cold beer or fine wine.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, enjoying the aroma of a leg of lamb in the oven, watching the blizzard bring next summer’s irrigation water to us, feeling the warmth of a roaring blaze in the fireplace, and waiting for a bowl full of green beans, swimming in butter, garlic, and crispy bacon, that you grew, picked, and canned.

So, this period, between the middle of April and the middle of May is true hell. Three days of warm weather and you are champing at the bit, and then it snows. And then, another two or three days of warmth, but no, don’t do it. The big box stores sell thousands of tomato plants to the newcomers the second week of April. Another several thousand a couple of weeks later, and then, damn me, another several thousand a couple of weeks after that. It takes a couple or three seasons before the newcomers catch on.

There’s a mountain peak called Peavine, just northwest of Reno, that stands as the gardeners’ beacon, and those that have lived in the area for many years swear by it. “Don’t plant your tomatoes until the snow is gone from Peavine.”

So, what does a frustrated old farmer do in these long weeks before one can plant? There’s a fridge full of cold beer. A rack full of fine wine. And a library full of good books. I believe I’m in heaven.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

You can find my novels, short stories and anthologies at
Solstice Publishing


Barnes and Noble

Monday, April 4, 2016

Learn Something New Everyday

I’ve always believed in the thought that one can and should learn something new everyday and not be afraid of the process. Many people don’t learn because they shy away from the thought or are egocentric to the point of believing there really isn’t anything new that they would be interested in learning.

I tried at one time to be a salesman for one of the radio stations I worked for, and while the change in career path failed miserably, I learned a little something from one encounter I had with a potential advertiser. He said to me, “I don’t need to advertise, everyone knows me and my business.”

I mentioned that to my sales manager and asked what my reply should have been. He said it happens often, and one trick he uses is to ask for the telephone book, pick a page at random and a number at random, make a call on the speaker phone and when the party answers, simply say, “We’re doing a quick one word survey. Do you know Don’s Vacuum Service Company?”

Unless it is a big successful business, most often the answer will be “no.” and the owner will hear that. Think about that the next time you’re putting together a little face book comment or tweet for your business.

This brings up something I learned recently about the publishing business. I haven’t been completely sold on the e-book concept, being a codger, a lover of hard-bound books, and a former newspaper and magazine publisher. You gotta hold it in your hot little hands, gotta smell the ink, feel the paper’s texture.

At the same time, I love to write short stories, and the real market for them is not in print magazines because few even publish short stories anymore. With fifty thousand short story writers and less than ten national publications paying for short stories, the market is limited. This is where the e-books really shine. A short story is a quick read, so taking one or two to camp over the weekend, or to the beach for the day, or on that quick flight to see your sister works perfectly.

Until my publisher, Solstice Publishing brought it up, it would never have occurred to me to think about publishing something in book form under eight thousand words. Novels generally run from about fifty thousand and up, up, up words, novellas are generally between twenty thousand and fifty thousand.

At the beach, at the weekend camp, on a day cruise across the bay, can be hard on a book, and I believe that until recently the majority of books taken out like that would be printed novels. Now, without much trouble at all, one can take one or more short stories in E format for quick reads.

Getting back to that advertising sales job, the sales manager was kind in every way when he suggested that I was a far better announcer and copy writer than I would ever be as a salesman, but I keep his thought in mind about understanding that with more than seven billion people on earth, presently, not counting our alien visitors, of course, there are just an awful lot of people that have not heard of my books. I’ve got to get busy.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Magical, Mythical, and Historically Accurate

The Mid 19th century into the first decade of the 20th is welded into our minds as the time of the cowboy, the local sheriff, the town marshal, the outlaw, the murderous Indian, and the frontiersman. It’s a time of myth in which the myth may well be reality, the legend is history.

Bank robbers and saloon girls, cattle rustlers and train robbers, card sharks and gunfighters are as real in our minds as are mountain men and horse soldiers, Deputy U.S. Marshals and frontier doctors, preachers and saloon keepers.

There are people performing basically the same work today, but what’s missing is the romance, the immediacy, and the flavor that was written into the history during its own time. The writers and poets of the time flavored the history for us, gave it a cream topping that won’t be felt until … well, maybe when we really do end up with classic space jockeys, and real Captain Kirks exist.

What is it about the “cowboy” that so enthralls today’s public? The cowboy is almost always portrayed as having loads of common sense, impeccable manners, a sense of wrong and right, and personal responsibility dominates. There is a duty to defend the underdog, to respond instantly to danger, and to defend a lady’s virtue at all cost.

The frontiersman of myth dominated fiction and life during the latter 18th century and then it was time for the cowboy. Is it because the heroes are singular? We have heroes and myth surrounding war, but those myths rarely involve individuals. But the frontier hero and the cowboy hero are individuals. Even the anti-heroes, the outlaws such as bank robbers, gunslingers, and rustlers are often singular.

What will writers of fiction use for heroes a hundred years from now? Crime and mystery fiction also often features individuals, and sometimes is based on fact, but not to the extent that western fiction is. My prediction is that space cowboys are going to exist, because it’s what our mythical cowboys are made of that made them heroes in the first place, and the goodness of the human, when it is threatened makes for fine stories.

Until next time, read good books and stay regular

Johnny Gunn
Member, Western Fictioneers
Member, International Thriller Writers
Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?