The Mountain Man Novel is Almost Here!

I’m pleased to announce that the New Mexico mountain man novel I’ve been working on since The Pain and The Sorrow is about to be published!

It’s called Not Just Any Man and is both a gripping and gritty mountain man story and a love story. An early reader tells me the love story’s an exciting one!

Not Just Any Man 3d cover

The publication date is November 15. That’s next week! You can place your order for the ebook ahead of time. It’s available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and  Books2Read. Or mark your calendars for next Thursday and order a paperback online or from your favorite bookstore!

I’m excited about this book. It given me the chance me to continue to research and write about the subject most interesting to me–New Mexico’s history. Or, as I like to put it, the history of Old New Mexico. I hope you’ll check it out!

Here’s an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

When Gerald tops the low rise and sees the mule-drawn wagons strung out along a rutted track across the prairie, it takes him a moment to adjust. After five days walking westward, he is still absorbing the healing beauty of the wind bending the grass, the bulk of buffalo in the distance. The sweep of the land has been a balm to his eyes. So the eight mule-drawn wagons jolting along the rutted trail below are a bit of a shock.

A loose collection of mules and horses meander to one side. Gerald stops, considering. Approaching the train is the sensible thing to do. It’s pure luck that he hasn’t encountered any Indians so far. But he isn’t quite ready to give up the silent grassland, regardless of the risk to his light brown skin.

Then a long-haired man with a wind-reddened face canters a chestnut-colored horse out from the wagon train. A firearm is braced in the crook of his right arm. Gerald moves toward him, down the slope.

The man on the chestnut reins in at a safe distance, rifle still in a position to be easily lifted and fired. Gerald stops walking and lifts his hands away from his sides, palms out.

“Ya’ll stranded?” the man calls.

Gerald takes off his hat, runs his hand through his curly black hair, and shakes his head. “Headed west.”

The man turns his head and spits. “Lose yer ride?”

“I figure my feet are more dependable.”

The man snorts. “And slower.”

“They also give me a lower profile, out of Indian sight.”

The other man nods begrudgingly, then jerks his head toward the caravan. “Wagon master says come on in, he’ll trade ya for a mount ’n some food.”

“Where are you headed?” Gerald asks.

“Santa Fe, where else?”

“I’m hoping to reach Don Fernando de Taos.”

“Same thing, pretty much. North o’ Santa Fe a couple o’ days.” The man jerks his head toward the wagon train again. “Young’s got a mercantile there.”

“Young?”

“The train master. Ewing Young. He’s been merchanting, bringin’ in goods from Missouri, selling ’em, then goin’ back fer more.” The chestnut stirs restlessly. “Come on in an’ he’ll tell ya himself.”

If he refuses, they’ll suspect him of trouble and who knows where that will lead? Gerald nods and follows the horseman toward the wagons.

As he gets closer, a tall, powerfully built man wearing fringed buckskins and a broad-brimmed felt hat walks out from the lead wagon. In his early thirties, the man’s air of command is enhanced by intelligent brown eyes under a high forehead, a hawkish nose, and a mouth that looks as if it rarely smiles.

“Well now, it’s not often we find someone walkin’ the trail,” he says in a Tennessee drawl. He looks steadily into Gerald’s face.

“A horse seemed like an unnecessary expense and more than likely to make me a target,” Gerald says.

“It’s a slow way to travel, though,” the other man observes.

Gerald glances toward the wagon trundling past at the pace of a slow-walking mule. The way it lurches over the rutted track says it’s heavy with goods. “If I had what you’re carrying, it would be,” he says.

The man sticks out his hand. “I’m Ewing Young, owner of this outfit.” He jerks a thumb toward the rider who’d met Gerald on the hill. “This here’s Charlie Westin, my scout.”

Gerald nods at the scout and reaches to shake Ewing Young’s hand. “I’m Gerald Locke Jr., hoping to one day own an outfit.” He grins, gray eyes crinkling in his square brown face. “Though not a wagon outfit.”

Young chuckles. “Well, out here just about anything’s possible.” The last of the wagons trundles past and he gestures at it. “Come along to camp and we’ll talk about how you can get started on that.”

Gerald falls into step with the older man, cursing himself for a fool. He doesn’t need to tell his intentions to everyone he meets. It comes from not speaking to another living being in the last five days, he thinks ruefully. Solitude makes a man too quick to speech. How often has his father repeated, “Words can be a burden”? He’d do well to heed that idea. Especially until he knows the character of the men he’s fallen in with.

from Not Just Any Man

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