Many thanks to The Novel Approach for allowing me to guest blog about Dreamspinner Press’s release of my new novel, JOHNNY TWO-GUNS, on Friday, March 18. JOHNNY is my first collaboration with Dreamspinner, and I’d like to give a shout-out to the company’s competent and helpful staff. Now I’ll bore you with some stuff about me before taking a look at a scene from the book.
A transplanted rural Okie now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I devote most of my time to writing. Given that I am a history nerd (one of my double majors in college) and am fascinated (since childhood) by Native American cultures, guess what? Those are the usual themes in my 60 or so published short stories, novella, and seven novels. Roughly half of the Wildyr books and a few short stories have historical settings. As a widower with two adult sons, My Dell, Inspiron, Three-in-one computer and I live a quiet existence; however, I try to give back to the literary community by teaching a free writing class every Monday afternoon at a local multigenerational center.
The following scene takes place in Chapter 3 shortly while Roger Mackie, a Denver architect, is giving a young Chippewa a ride to Arizona. They are heading south down I-15 toward Las Vegas when Johnny reacts to a road sign for a shop called Blackhorse Traders. Roger pulls off the Interstate to visit the place, thereby giving the reader a glimpse of the setting and major characters of an earlier book called CHARLIE BLACKBEAR. The reference to the “Joseph Sixkiller figurine” loops in another book called THE VICTOR AND THE VANQUISHED.
Excerpt: Three miles later, I exited the highway and halted at a stop sign before a two-lane state road. White letters on a green background proclaimed Flynn’s Corners to be ninety miles east, while Blue Valley lay only ten miles west. I turned right, and in no time, we entered the small town of Blue Valley. A couple of blinks of the eye, and we were through it. Shortly after that, we were on reservation land. Eventually we spotted a frame building sitting on the south side of the road, all by itself.
“That must be it.”
Johnny nodded. I could tell his interest in the venture was dropping fast. That shy thing, again.
“Let’s check it out.”
I got out of the car with my camera hanging around my neck and stepped onto a broad veranda beneath a huge sign that said Blackhorse Traders. This looked to be a wholesale place that didn’t see much tourist traffic.
A stout, pleasant-faced young woman introduced herself as Sally and asked if she could help us. I was right, Blackhorse filled orders for Indian traders around the country, but they had a small counter of retail goods. I examined it while Johnny worked up the courage to talk to the woman. One piece caught my eye immediately, an exquisitely wrought, fifteen-inch porcupine made out of marble. But it looked poured rather than worked. Cultured marble, they call it. I picked it up and was surprised by the signature on the bottom. Joseph Sixkiller. I’d seen his work before. Stan Mancuso had two of his pieces. I’d turned to tell the clerk I was interested in the porcupine when she called out.
“Charlie, Daniel, there’s a friend of Norman Chillers out here.”
Two extremely attractive young men walked out of a back room. After a moment Johnny turned and included me in the introductions. A little thrill went through me when he said I was a friend, not some guy hauling him down to Arizona.
Charlie Blackbear was the bigger of the two men. He wore his hair long and loose, and it framed a strong masculine face that was as handsome as any I had seen… until I turned to gaze into Daniel Warhorse’s dark eyes. Was he even better-looking? Hard to tell. Then my gaze fell on Johnny Two-Guns. I’d never be able to untangle that Gordian knot. I was virtually surrounded by three sexy men who made me think of things I didn’t ordinarily dwell on. Butterflies started in on my stomach.
The two traders, both in their twenties, wore bracelets, just as Johnny did. But theirs were heavy on silver and turquoise whereas Johnny’s were coral and bone. Cultural differences, likely. The men told us how they’d come out of a mountain logging crew one season, taken their accumulated savings, and started selling Indian-made goods to traders. Signs of their success were everywhere. The showroom held quality merchandise. The two pickups out front were new. The place wore comfortably on me.
I paid the clerk—actually introduced as the office manager—an ungodly amount for the Sixkiller figurine, while listening with half an ear to the men talk about their mutual acquaintance. Johnny’s cousin, Norman Chiller, was apparently a grass dancer of some repute. Whatever that was.
Just as I figured I was looking at the best trio of men I’d ever seen in one place at the same time, the front door opened and another stunner walked in. I found myself shaking hands with a fellow not much older than Johnny named Aden Smith. Aden worked for the other two.
It was hard to turn down an offer to meet the trio later at a bar in Blue Valley called the Lazy Eight. It would have been pleasant to spend a few hours in the company of such men, but I was afraid to trust myself around them with a few drinks under my belt. Why in the hell was I coming to understand things about me I’d never suspected before? After they all gathered for a couple of photos in front of the store, Johnny and I took our leave.
Blurb: When vacationing Denver architect Roger Mackie rolls into a quaint old trading post in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountain Range to gas up his car, it’s the start of a life-changing journey. Lean, handsome Chippewa Johnny Two-Guns is looking for a ride. He’s on a mission to recover some clan treasures. Roger is immediately smitten and drives Johnny all the way to Arizona.
Although the two successfully build a friendship, Roger is unable to initiate the intimacy they both seem to desire. A second visit gives Roger another chance to draw Johnny out of his shell. The payoff is spectacular, leading to a week of sex and discovery, during which Johnny’s innocent enthusiasm shows Roger a new side of love between men. But trouble is on the horizon for the new couple, as fate seems set against them. And what does the sudden appearance of sexy young architect Brad Beaver portend for the future?
Do you get the feeling Rog is beginning to understand a few things about himself he had only sensed before?
Again, thanks to The Novel Approach for allowing me to guest post this blog. And thanks to you for reading. Readers are my favorite people.