How About a Western?

Rawlins: An update on the latest work in Progress

Rawlins is the tentative title for the novel I am now writing. I don’t want to give away too much, but here’s a brief outline: The story begins in West Tennessee during the last full year of the American Civil War and eventually leads westward to the Oregon Trail. The protagonist, Virgil Rawlins, is a seventeen-year-old boy who finds himself un-expectantly slapped in the face with the reality of war, death, and loss. With an animus-driven by the deaths of friends and family, he seeks those responsible. The question becomes: Does Rawlins follow in the footsteps of other infamous outlaws of the time (James, Younger, etc.), or will he survive his quest without appearing on a wanted poster? To tell his story with historical accuracy is requiring quite a bit of research. My hope is that it may lead to a series, but that’s tentative. And, as always, yes, it’s also a love story.
I still owe my ‘Vietnam War Series’ readers another book, which I will begin writing later in the summer. In related news:

The new hardcover edition of Valley of the Purple Hearts with BIB Award.

A hardcover edition of the latest novel, Valley of The Purple Hearts, is now published. Special thanks to interior designer Carol Carlson who did a great job. The hardcover edition of this “Best Indie Book” award winner for literary fiction is now available on If you wish to receive a signed copy, contact me directly with your name and mailing address. The book retails for $38.95 plus postage. I will sign, package and mail a copy to you for $42.00. Be sure to include the name of the person for whom you want the book signed (exactly as you want it to appear). Since packaging and mailing books isn’t something I want to do long-term, I will limit this offer to the months of March and April 2018.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The February monsoon ended here in North Mississippi. That wasn’t necessarily because it stopped raining but rather the month ended. I think we had somewhere around twelve to fourteen inches of rain in February. Knowing it could have been much worse with things like tornados, snow, etc. you will hear no complaints from me. However, a little sunshine for a while would be nice.

As always, putting your written reviews of my books on Amazon makes me very happy, as does seeing your comments here on the site. Best wishes to all.


You may also enjoy: Valley of the Purple Hearts and Book One of My Southern Fiction Series: Tallahatchie


Bear Sighting – DeSoto County

Sometimes a photographer just has to get lucky…

I was down in the Coldwater River Bottoms near Highway 305 shooting photos of wildlife this morning. For those who may not know, when I am not working on a new novel, I try to get out and take wildlife photos. (Okay, time for a moment of truth in advertising–and/or when I am not doing whatever the wife needs to have done first.) Today, however, I was free. Problem was, things were pretty slow this morning with only a few shots, of some birds and deer.

This is the one of the deer—a doe and two yearlings—not a great shot, but what the heck. Every shot can’t be a classic.

Junco in The Snow

I also got these birds, a junco in the snow, and a thrush looking pitifully about for some sunshine.

It had grown cloudy again.

Thrush: “Is it spring yet?”








This sparrow shot was one of many, but I did get a pretty decent photo of a bluebird in a cedar tree. I may actually post this one on my photography website.

Bluebird in Cedar

The swamps and canals remained frozen, so there were no ducks, waterfowl, beavers and such anywhere around. I gave up a little before noon and headed back to the pickup.

The outing was nothing to write home about, but I’m not complaining. It was a pretty good morning spent ghosting around in the river bottoms in search of critters. Little did I know I was about to be the most famous bear photographer in DeSoto County. Yup, I always did want to be famous–have groupies and order my olives stuffed with jalapenos instead of pimento.

I cranked the old pickup truck and eased up the dirt road toward the blacktop. Thankfully it was still frozen, and I had no problems getting out of the bottoms.

As I was coming up Adair Lane toward the highway I was having visions of hot coffee with eggs, bacon, and grits, when I glanced to my left and there he was—a bear.

I could “bearly” believe my eyes. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) Having often heard folks tell of sightings that include cougars, Big Foot and other such “rarities” while almost never producing photographic evidence, I was determined to get something that proved I had seen this critter. Stopping my pickup, I grabbed my camera. Luckily it was on the seat beside me with the telephoto lens still attached.

The bear seemed to be resting against a tree and mesmerized by the warming temperatures. And in case you thought me foolhardy, rest easy. I didn’t dare get out of my truck, but rolled down the window, and got my photo. The animal seemed content and never moved. He was still there when I drove away. By the way, this one did not at all resemble our native black bears, not even the Ole Miss variety, so perhaps someone with a little more knowledge of wildlife can tell us exactly what kind of bear it is. The photo is below.

Incidentally: With the good lord above watching my every move, I give my word, this is exactly how I found him, and the photo was in no way staged. I checked with some of the locals down there, and they too have seen him previously. After seeing my photo, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has declared no interest in this bear sighting–typical government coverup.

You may also enjoy: Road Trip: Jackson Hole and Rawlins Research and Rick DeStefanis Wildlife Photography

Valley of the Purple Hearts wins the 2017 BIB Award






Valley of the Purple Hearts wins the BIB Award for Literary Fiction…


The Best Indie Book Award

Valley of the Purple Hearts, Book #4 of The Vietnam War Series, has been awarded the Best Indie Book Award for Mainstream Literary Fiction for 2017. I am humbled and honored, but most of all I am grateful to you guys, my friends and readers, for your words of encouragement and the reviews you have posted. It is because of your support that my passion for writing has not waned. I am, however, taking a break.

Although rewarding in many ways, creative writing can be a tedious endeavor as well as an emotionally draining one. Writing Valley of the Purple Hearts was particularly so because the story is based on facts and the actual experiences of several friends with whom I had the honor of serving after their return from Vietnam. While in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg I spent many a less-than-sober weekend with these men as they spilled their hearts out and related their Vietnam experiences to me; something they did with no one else and never when sober.

The story of an infantry squad in Vietnam.

I will begin a new book after the first of the year. It will be a departure from the Vietnam War Series. A western of sorts, it will begin near the end of another war that fractured our nation over a hundred and fifty years ago. Because my stories are “fact-based,” this next one, too, will require extensive research, and I have no idea how long that will take. Regardless, it will be a welcomed respite from Valley of the Purple Hearts and writing about the Vietnam War.

If you have any comments, please contact me. I do enjoy hearing from readers and friends, and if you have read one of my books and wish to leave a review on under the book title or it will be more than appreciated. Your reviews are what keep me writing.

Click here to purchase Valley of The Purple Hearts.

You may also enjoy: Rawlins: No Longer Young and Silver Medal: Readers’ Favorite Award