A writer needs readers…Who better to vet this story than my rancher cousin, Gus! Favorite genre?  Horror. Favorite author?  Stephen King.

A growing up story set in Big Bend might not really be his thing…Nevertheless, he’s agreed to be a beta reader.Gus has ranched cattle most of his life and really knows his stuff.  Lasso from lariat, rope from quirt.He drives a pickup with a novel on the dash, a Winchester on the seat…and on the console, a can of Chunky Soup. Soup? “Hell, yes. Because life is uncertain and you never know when zombies may show up.”

Bouncing along the rutted road on our way to visit “the babies,”  (a crop of red angus calves), he asks if I’m thirsty.He goes to a cooler strapped to the back of the truck and produces an ice-cold, pre-packaged margarita! Hell, yeah! If an apocalypse is coming, this guy is prepared. 

But back to the book… Capturing 1880’s Texas in writing is a head-on challenge.As of day one, when I first picked up a pen, I barely knew a hobble from a picket post.And IT MATTERS! It does! ‘Cause if you can’t trust the details, you won’t have faith in the story…And faith (or its sister, incredulity), is what keeps us turning pages.

Being a descendant of the book’s protagonist doesn’t hurt, either.As great-grandson of our hero, John, Gus is uniquely qualified to read and vet his story.Stay tuned for his comments on Part II.