The Californian Mustanger

Jim Burnett and I have worked on a couple of projects together, including each contributing a short to a project he spearheaded, “Guide My Hand, Precious Lord,” a series of religious-based Western short stories. We’ve never had a chance to meet, but have spoken and written quite a bit, and while we differ on some significant issues, I love the way we can discuss them. I know I learn from him and hope he might learn a bit from me.

I was honored recently to have my publisher, Dusty Saddle Publishing, select me for what they call a “tribute” book, where a variety of writers are asked to write a short story and the only requirement is that the story use the honoree’s name (in this case mine) for the protagonist. I have to admit it’s a thrill to read these, and one of my favorites was Jim’s short, “The Californian Mustanger.”

Of course, it’s fiction, so the hero in this story is about eight levels above the real life Scott Harris, but it was still exciting to read. Jim has put together a terrific short about a young man, flat broke but full of courage, and just naive enough to not understand that what he’s being asked to do is impossible. He stumbles across a small town rodeo in Salinas, California, and agrees to ride Diablo, the killer bronc, hoping to win $20 in eight long seconds. He wins so much more.

Jim did a little research into my life and included a few real life touches (Santa Susana Mountains, cigars and squirrels) in the short, and as always with a Jim Burnett short or novel, he weaves a couple of good lessons into his writing.

I hope you’ll give “The Californian Mustanger” a try, and I’d love to hear your feedback. You can find it as part of the “Scott Harris U.S. Marshal” collection.

Thank you, and enjoy!

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