My western novel, The Willing Spirit, comes out on the 8th of December from Pen-L Publishing.
But you can read a few teasers here to see what you’ll be buying (and you are buying it–of course, you are). Here’s the first:
The sun had risen twice since the nighttime shootout and was setting again. Dowland’s body bore the weariness of continual shock and labor. He sank into a bed of needles beneath an elder pine, surrounded by a cover of trees, sure that the lot of them would stand aside and show him to a waiting world at his enemies’ command.
There had been men on horseback both days, always in the distance on the top of a hill or the far end of a valley, too far to shoot and too far to identify as belonging to the Willises. Was it hours between each one or only seconds? Weary bones and empty stomach made time swirl and blend together, and fear exaggerated every sighting.
They all may have been railroad workers, ranchers, and prospectors, but his nerves told him that he was watched, that the encirclement was tightening. For every one he’d seen, a hundred more must have been hiding behind rocks and trees and boulders. They were coming for him. Every step, whether at a full run or a furtive creeping from cover to cover, shoved him like a fox toward the hunters’ waiting guns.
But surely that was foolishness. The rugged land stretched too wide for even this gang to cover every mile. Besides, a man had to rest sometime, even if the whole world were after him.
And he had to eat. Dowland dug through his pack, but nothing more than one good meal was left. He had only a guess as to where he was, but the nearest settlements were at best many days of hard walking away. Taking a shot at game would announce his presence to anyone within miles. Hunger, though, no matter how quiet it was, offered no satisfaction.
He stood and pressed forward toward an open space filled with light from the west. A broad field of grass with a stream flowing through its middle presented itself. Somewhere, a creature must be grazing in the calm of the evening.
The thought of fresh meat gnawed at his stomach. One shot, then a little time to clean the kill and a small fire to cook it wasn’t too much to ask.
He scanned the land about him. Nothing moved. Dowland knelt beside a boulder and drew Alpha. He rested his elbows on the rock and steadied his right hand with his left. He turned from side to side, the muzzle following his gaze. His joints scratched across the rough surface, but his stomach mattered more at the moment than did his sleeves.
Brown ears rose above a tuft of grass.
An orange ball of fire erupted and was consumed in white smoke. A rabbit sprang forward, only to tumble and collapse in the grass.
He’d fired without a thought. When his mind caught up with what had happened, he gazed at the rabbit’s body, sixty yards out, but it lay still, dead by the flowing water where it had been drinking a moment before.
His stomach growled, and he stood to get his meal. A stone under his left foot shifted, though, and he stumbled and swung his right foot around to save himself.
There on a far hill, two miles at least, a sparkle of light caught his eye. The rays of the setting sun reflected back to him for a second, then the glint vanished.
Damn it! Someone was watching him. He shoved Alpha back into his belt and ran toward the stream. That rabbit still called to him, and he leapt over the water to the muddy ground beyond and hurried toward the kill. He snatched up the body and tore it open, eating what pieces he could as he ran on toward the cover of the forest on the other side.
Watch this site for more teasers and announcements.