Musings from the Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Believe it or not, on the rare occasion, I do something besides write in my free time.

Although the last couple of days, it’s been hard to. I’m right in the middle of revising Return to Shadow Part I and I’ve had to force myself to stop revising when my allotted time is up. If I could, I’d be doing it almost around the clock — that’s how excited I am for this next book. It’s going to be a crazy next few weeks to be ready to publish at the end of November, but right now I’m loving every minute of it.

Our brand, the Rockin’ S.

That’s only been the last week though. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotions working my way through my next book. I’ve stressed about the deadlines. I’ve worried if my writing is improving. Most importantly, I’ve often wondered if I’m missing the mark on this whole “medieval western” thing I’m trying to create.

It’s important to me that Teutevar Saga and any associated books do more than just spin off of the epic/historical fantasy tradition. While I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) deny the roots of my inspiration and I also realize that it’s impossible to create some entirely unique, I still hope that I’m creating something special with my unique sub-genre. I’ll always tip my hat to the likes of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander, but in the same breath you’ll also hear me mention the songs, movies and history of the American West that I call home. That’s why I chose to make this post about my weekend at the Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry gathering.

Family farm at hay time: 1930s or 40s

I just want to clarify that, although I often wear boots and work on a farm, I don’t consider myself a cowboy. Even so, some of my earliest memories are listening to 8-track tapes of western music in my grandma’s car and cassettes featuring the likes of Marty Robbins and Sons of the San Joaquin in our old F-250. My interests branched out and grew with me, but even so, my heritage and the foundation of my creativity will always be here, in the west.

As John Wayne says on his spoken word album, Mis Raices Estan Aqui — my roots are buried here.

Immersing myself in this western spirit again these past few days was the creative inspiration I’ve been looking for to carry me through the revising and publication of Return to Shadow. Although I’m an advocate of living life outside of your comfort zone, sometimes it’s just as important to revisit our roots. For creatives especially, reflecting on where we’ve come from can be as inspiring as experiencing something new. Going back to familiar territory helps when you’ve lost your way in experimentation. Because experience builds on itself, it’s surprising how many undiscovered gems you can find digging in old dirt.

I came up with a surprising amount of new ideas and improvements after listening to familiar songs from time-tested western entertainers — creative bits I’ll use both now and later to improve my work.

My grandpa, a real cowboy

I always labor under the impressions that I’m going to be a bestselling author one day. For my current readers, I hope that means you’ll be able to look back and say “I read that guy’s stuff before anyone else ever heard of him.” I hope I’ve got a long and illustrious future as an author ahead of me. More than that however, I hope readers will be able to finish one of my books and feel that, in my own special way, I’ve shared a small piece of my western heritage with you.

Happy reading,


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1 thought on “Musings from the Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering”

  1. Thanks for posting this. I too got a creative push from attending Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Since my roots came from the same tree, I really appreciate the music and poetry that is show cased in their program. Seeing the vendors who come to sell authentic accoutrements and gear and maintaining both the western and handcrafting traditions sparks my creative urge as well. Between urban greed and sprawl, billionaire land barons, climate change, and gov’t interference, it will be hard, if not impossible, to maintain this way of life. Thanks for the picture of Dad and his favorite cow pony “Peanut”–we talked the old horse just days before he passed. Maybe they’re roaming the range on the other side…making the big gather for the Lord.

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