Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Review by Geoff Gander

The Snake Den is the harshly realistic, yet ultimately uplifting, story of Shawn Brodie, a 14-year old boy living on the frontier in late 19th century Arizona Territory.  Faced with the need to feed his mother and younger sister, Shawn comes across a lamed cow on the open range.  He puts is out of its misery, and is caught while carving off a haunch to take back home.  Judged to be a common thief, he is sentenced to three years in Yuma Penitentiary, a place that is widely known to be a hellhole from which no one escapes.
Once there, we see the horror of prison life through Shawn’s eyes.  He is reduced to a number, or, even worse, forced to answer to crude nicknames.  He is beaten up by guards, subjected to arbitrary punishment – including confinement in an isolated cell known as the Snake Den - and threatened by fellow inmates with death.  At the outset, one wonders whether Shawn will survive his sentence.
Fortunately, he is not alone.  Shawn’s three cellmates – Shoo Lee, “Kid” Pringle, and “Shark” Blanchard – take a liking to him, and become his protectors, friends, and teachers.  He learns life lessons from each of them, and as the novel progresses he grows in ways that would not have been possible had he not been sent to Yuma.  Pride of place goes to Shoo Lee, a taciturn Oriental man who teaches Shawn how to meditate, and how to defend himself, and whose guidance gives Shawn the confidence he needs to face his enemies.
By the end of the novel, after surviving a major, much-anticipated conflict, Shawn is well on his way to becoming a strong, independent man.  The story concludes with the door open to further adventures.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  Mr. Tyrell does an expert job in bringing the reader into Shawn’s world, presenting the prison through his (at first) terrified eyes, and later making that world somewhat less intimidating as Shawn matures and begins to figure out what he needs to do.  I would certainly recommend this to anyone. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

And the winner is . . . . . .


This novel was a labor of love. Many times I've told the story. I sailed my boat DoriKam from Olympia WA to San Diego, where I left her for three months as I could not take more than two weeks off at a time. I had an extra day or two, so I rented a car to drop off at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, and drove across the bottom of California to Yuma.

Yuma is so close to sea level that you have to wear galoshes just in case (not true). It's also so hot that you can dig down two feet and hear voices. It's that close to Hell. Maybe that's why they called the Yuma Territorial Prison the Hell Hole.

Well, anyone who writes westerns who gets within shouting distance of the Yuma Prison (now a state park) and doesn't go, is not true to his (or her) craft. Naturally, I went. I saw the cells, the watchtowers, the brick yard, the sallyport, and a large-scale model of the prison as it was in 1880.

And I found out one fact that set my mind racing. The youngest inmate ever incarcerated in Yuma Territorial Prison was only 14 years old. THE SNAKE DEN is the story of that 14-year-old. Totally fiction, except for the setting, but one of the toughest growing-up stories you'll ever read.

THE SNAKE DEN refers to what the original inmates called the "Dark Cell." A solitary cell. A cube made of iron straps, five feet on a side. It hangs by chains from the top of a cave dug in the south hillside that formed the wall there. It's totally dark inside, except for the ventilation hole in the top of the cave. That's where the snakes crawl to get out of the hot sun. Rattlesnakes. Diamondbacks. Sidewinders. You name it. How does a kid of 14 stand up to THE SNAKE DEN. What gives him the strength to see it through?

Read THE SNAKE DEN and find out.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This is why I write

Reba Wagner has an invalid husband and she reads westerns to him. She said she had gotten through all in the library and wondered if there were others we could help her with. I sent PDFs of Vulture Gold and The Snake Den and asked her to review them and have her husband review them when they finished with them. Here's is Reba's 2:30 a.m. post on Western Book Readers group of Facebook.

Good morning everyone, Look like I'm not the only one up at this hour of the morning. I wanted to say thank you to Charles Whipple for the books he sent us in pdf. format. I received his e-mail this evening with the attachment. I thought I would take a quick look and then maybe start one of them this weekend.

Wellllll, I took a look alright, and here it is 2:30 a.m. and I just finished "The Snake Den". I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't stop, just had to see what the next page was going to bring. What a character Shawn Brodie is. We look forward to reading more about him in future stories.

Thanks again Charles and I will be reading this to my husband over the weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vulture Gold is a finalist

My novel Vulture Gold is a finalist in the Global e-Book Awards. It is available on Amazon in either Kindle or print versions. Or, it can be ordered from SmashWords or Barnes & Noble. The publisher is Western Trail Blazers.

Garet Havelock was a Cherokee half-breed and the marshal of Vulture City. But that wasn’t enough to stop outlaw kingpin Barnabas Donovan from sending in three armed men to rob $100,000 in bullion from the Vulture Mine headquarters, killing two people in the process. Havelock set out to catch the thieves and recover the gold and in the unforgiving Mojave Desert, Jicarilla Apaches forced Havelock and Donovan’s bunch together in a cave on Eagle Eye Mountain. Then there was Laura Donovan, half-sister to the outlaw leader . . . Now Havelock must survive the Apache ‘run of death” and face Donovan’s gunslingers to get the gold and the girl.