Excerpt From “Scoundrel” by Bud Fussell

In his first novel, Bud Fussell has penned an epic: a struggle between two very different brothers; a pioneer man of the early 19th century building a family and an empire; a troubled soul far from home encountering travel and grace. Jake is the Scoundrel, an unforgettable character living out a saga that remains in the reader’s mind and heart long after the book is finished.


Lying awake, thinking, something came over Jake, unlike anything he had ever experienced. More than just a thought, it was like a command he must obey. A revelation telling him what he was to do. Initially, it shocked him. He struggled, then, finally acquiesced to do what he must to help the people of Mexico. Immediately, he was at peace and went right to sleep.

He woke up the next morning and did something he may have never done before; he got on his knees and prayed. “God, was that you last night? I believe it was, Lord, and I just want you to know that I’m going to do what you told me to do.”

At breakfast, he sat down with Leann and Ina. “I want to talk to you for a moment. Do you remember looking at the Gonzalez Ranch? I asked if you would like to live in Mexico and live on that ranch? You both said you would. Leann, have you thought about it? Have you?”

“A little.”

Then Jake said, “Well I hope you thought about it more than a little and decided you would like to live here because I think we’re going to move.”

“What made you decide to do that?” Leann asked.

Jake told them about the experience he had last night. “It was like a vision. I’ve never had anything like it before. I think maybe it was God, telling me what I have to do to help these people. I could probably live at the J I Ranch and do the same thing, but I feel strongly that I should be here, and I hope you two will agree to do it.”

“Ina, since you and I are not technically married, you don’t have to, but I hope you will.”

“I would like to move here with you. I love you and Leann, and I want to spend my life with you.”

“What about you, Leann?”

“If this is what you want, then, I do too.”

“Great. I’m going to talk to Joey and President Ruiz this morning. When I get back, I’ll tell you what I have decided to do, so please don’t go anywhere until then.”

He asked Isabella to have his horse saddled or a carriage brought around. Either would do. He had to go to Joey’s office right away.


Jake raced up the stairs to Joey’s office. “Son, will you please ask President Ruiz to come in here? I have to talk to both of you about something very important.”

Joey didn’t question Jake and left immediately to find the President. As soon as they were back to Joey’s office, Jake began. “I’m pretty sure God appeared to me last night, telling me what I must do.”

“First of all, Leann, Ina, and I are going to accept your offer of the Gonzalez Ranch and move down here.”

The president was pleased. “Wonderful.”

“I plan to go home next week and hope you will send two or three guards with me as escorts. When I get home, I’m going to get my sons together and tell them I’m moving and what I want to do with my ranch. I’m going to retain ownership of the J I Ranch and will put my oldest son, Raymond, in charge of running it.”

“I have seen how hard it is for some people to get grain and necessities because they have no money. The fifteen thousand dollars I gave has helped, but not enough, so I will give you twenty-five thousand head of cattle, five thousand head of sheep, one thousand hogs, and fifty percent of our vegetable crops from the upcoming harvest.” ….

President Ruiz was dumbfounded. “Jake, I don’t know what to say. First, Joseph foretold this horrible drought and then through some kind of divine intervention, you were brought into our situation. Your son saved our people by predicting the drought years ahead of time, so we had time to prepare, and you have come offering more than anyone could ever imaging, saving countless more lives. Joseph told me when I first met him that he believed God was responsible for his being able to see the drought in his mind. Coming when you did must be part of that plan, too.”


Bud Fussell was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and moved to Mount Airy, North Carolina in 1967, where he currently lives. He is 76 years old and has been married to his high school sweetheart, Jane Ward, for 57 years. Bud and Jane have 3 sons, 7 grandsons, 2 great-grandsons, and one great-granddaughter. He is retired after spending many years in the apparel and hosiery industries. In addition to his new-found love of writing, Bud loves to hunt and fish.

Click here to buy: Scoundrel 

Excerpt From “Last Stand at Bitter Creek” by Tom Rizzo

Grant Bonner desperately wants to put his days as a Civil War spy behind him, but reluctantly agrees to one last mission. He finds himself in the crosshairs of a cunning Union Army commander, the architect of a malicious scheme involving cold- blooded massacre, a two million dollar gold heist, and the theft of a priceless historical document.

Entangled in a complicated scheme of murder, betrayal and deception, Bonner becomes the target of an unrelenting manhunt as he searches for justice and redemption as he fights for survival.


The small group rode in silence along a trail slicing through undulating hillsides and thick woodlands under a hot sun on a journey of several hours. Bonner rode between Coffey and Ford with Mecklin at the rear. His hands were not bound, but an escape attempt would get him a bullet in the back. Every now and then, he glanced over at the man named Ford. He looked familiar, but couldn’t place him. A short time later, the group neared North Bend Station and the man named Coffey pointed to a stream at the bottom of a slope, just a few yards off the trail.

Mecklin guided his horse to the water, and stood in the stirrups stretching while the animal lowered its head to drink. Sunlight glanced off twin iron rails stretching into the horizon, not far from where the train derailed months ago. The two deputies exchanged whispers. When they drew their guns, Mecklin turned and saw them.

“What the hell are you two doing?”

“End of the road for our prisoner,” said Coffey. “You, soldier boy, get down.”
“Don’t move, Bonner,” ordered Mecklin. “You two have lost your minds. This man’s my prisoner.”

“Talk sense. This man’s guilty as hell. We’re saving everyone a lot of time and expense.”

“He hasn’t been tried in a court of law yet or found guilty. No need for any of this. We got him. We got a motive. He is heading to jail for a long time. Or, to the gallows.”

“This is the last time I tell you to get down,” Coffey said to Bonner.

Bonner dismounted and got a closer look at Ford, and spotted a deep scar carved across the man’s eyebrow and forehead and realized where he had seen him before.

“I know you,” he said to Ford. “Mecklin, this is one of the men who robbed the train and shot me.”

“Yep,” said the detective. “Things like that happen when you commit a crime and try to escape.”

“That’s a load of bull,” he said. “These two planned on killing me all along. I didn’t escape. I ran for my life, and they gunned me down. Them and the other train robbers—”

“They’re the ones who caught you red-handed taking the safes from the express car,” Mecklin countered.

“All you’re going on is the word of these two. I carry the scars from their bullets. They want me dead, plain and simple, and you’re just in the way.”

“Shut your mouth, killer, or I’ll shoot you where you stand,” said Ford, who stepped in front of the prisoner, and whipped the handle of his gun across his face.

The force of the blow caught Bonner unprepared, and he stumbled backwards, crashing to the ground, the side of his face numb, blood trickling out of the gash in his cheekbone.

“Look, detective, let’s play this out nice and easy,” Coffey said. “We give the kid a chance to escape. Next thing is you’re headin’ back to town with the body and you’re a hero. The killer is dead. Railroad’s happy. You’ll get a promotion for taking care of a big headache so quick. At the same time, you’re richer for it.”


Bonner took his time getting to his feet. He saw Coffey smile, exchange looks with Ford, and then with Mecklin.

“You might call it private reward money for him dead rather than alive. You take the money and what’s left of him and we go our way.”

“Still don’t understand why we need to kill him.”

“It’s gotta be this way,” said Coffey, dismounting and motioning Mecklin down. “C’mon, let’s get this done.”


Tom Rizzo’s writing journey has taken him from radio and television news reporting to The Associated Press, where he worked as a correspondent, followed by several years in advertising and public relations. He grew up in central Ohio, lived in Great Britain for several years, and now calls Houston, Texas home.

Author and historian Troy D. Smith says “Rizzo has produced a real page-turner . . . equal parts Bourne Conspiracy, National Treasure, the 1990s Robert Urich western series The Lazarus Man, and old-fashioned Louis L’Amour adventure yarn. And it works.”

Website: http://www.TomRizzo.com
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n6Tw-YqS80A
Available in paperback and ebook from:
Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Last-Stand-at-Bitter-Creek/dp/1475284446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350658038&sr=8-1&keywords=last+stand+at+bitter+creek_
Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/last-stand-at-bitter-creek-tom-rizzo/1111192901?ean=9781475284447)

Click here for an interview with Tom Rizzo, Author of “Last Stand At Bitter Creek” at “Pat Bertram Introduces…”

Excerpt From “Homesteader: Finding Sharon” by D.M. McGowan


Staking a homestead claim in the untamed Canadian frontier of the 1880s was a hard proposition. When the manager of a large cattle company, Portis Martin, runs roughshod over the settlers, Hank James takes a stand.

Martin had been using every trick he knew against the homesteaders, but then James and his partner arrive to take him on.

Fighting against the land-grabbing cattle company, James decides he wants it all, including the woman he loves. He finds Sharon calling herself Miss Sadie and running a bordello. The true grit of Western settlers is tested in this historic saga.


[Miss Sadie]

After we had turned our horses into one of the corrals, I said, “A lady we knew over in Farwell came down this way last fall. Name of Sharon Dalton. Wouldn’t mind talkin’ to her while we’re here.”

He screwed his brow into a frown, and then shook his head. “Don’t recollect nobody by that name. Come on the cars?”

I nodded. “First part o’ last September. Good lookin’ lady, maybe five foot six. Dresses pretty well.”

I saw a light in his eyes which quickly went out as he turned off all expression, and then turned away toward his shop. “You might want t’ go down t’ Miss Sadie’s place. Other side o’ the Victoria House, down by the tracks.”

“Much obliged,” I responded, puzzled by his change in attitude.

The Victoria House sat north of the tracks not far from the McLeod Trail. Next to it, and slightly further back from the street was a large, two-story house with a small sign on one of the porch pillars that proclaimed it as “Miss Sadie’s.” We sat our saddles at the hitching rail in front of the Victoria for several moments.

“Looks like a damn cat house,” I observed.

“Yep,” Harry responded.

“Why would he send us to a cat house?” I asked.

“Wouldn’t know,” Harry replied.

“Maybe we should go back an’ ask him.”

“Be easier to ask Miss Sadie.”

We sat there for a few moments while I chewed my mustache. Finally, Harry swung down and flipped his reins over the rail.

“Well?” he asked.

“Ain’t never been in no cat house,” I admitted. I could feel my face turning to a fiery red.

Harry’s usually bland face showed what passed for surprise. “At your age? It’s time to continue your education.” He ducked under the hitch rail and stepped up on the board walk. “Come on. Get down off that horse. It’s not like the place is full of demons.”

“That’s pretty much what my mama claimed,” I responded, then swung down and joined him.

The man who opened the door to our knock had not a hair on his head. It was impossible to guess his age, although I felt he was old. He was large, at least as tall as my own six feet, but weighed more than two hundred pounds and his skin was a light brown, what the southerners call a “high yallar”, and most everyone else calls a black man. He wore pin striped, gray pants, and a fancy brocade vest under a black swallow tail coat.

“May I help you?” he asked, his voice deep and full of British sounds.

I was pretty much speechless. Not only was I upset about entering a house of ill-repute, but I had never seen such a person as stood before us.

“We would like to speak to, uh, the management,” Harry announced.

The big man almost smiled before his face returned to an unreadable mask. “I am the manager.”

Harry did smile. “And quite capable, I’m sure, of dealing with those areas for which you are responsible. However, you are certainly not the person we were instructed to consult.”

The big man’s left eyebrow rose as he stood there blocking the doorway. Finally, he stepped back and to the side, his left hand held palm up toward the interior. “Come in, gentlemen.”

He led us to a well appointed parlor and gestured toward the settee. Gratefully I sat, hoping that I could disappear into the cushions. Harry stood beside me, his hat held before him. When I noticed this I whipped mine off and dropped it in my lap. The big man left through a curtained doorway.

“Very nice,” Harry noted, looking around the room. There was another matching settee and several large, overstuffed chairs. Back in one corner was an upright piano, and on the other side of the room a fireplace.

It was certainly not what I had expected. I thought I would come into a room full of curtained bunks and naked women, but this was a room that might grace some of the finest homes in the east. The lace over the windows made it a little too dark for my taste, but despite that it was probably the nicest room I had ever been in.

“Shoulda cleaned up a bit,” I said, more than a little conscious of my brush scarred chaps, the sweaty band where my gun belt had hung, and the dark stains under the arms of my flannel shirt.

“Yes,” Harry agreed. “Trail dust and sweat does little to improve you.”

The big man came back through the curtains and said, “Miss Sadie will be with you shortly. Would you care for tea?”

“That would be fine,” Harry responded.

“Please, be seated, sir. Make yourself comfortable,” the big man said, then turned and disappeared through the curtains. Harry took one of the overstuffed chairs across a low table from me.

Perhaps ten minutes later the big man returned, his swallow tail coat now replaced by a short, white jacket. He pushed a small cart on which rested a tea service. Harry said later that it wasn’t silver, but it sure looked like it to me. That was my first experience with the ritual that goes with serving tea in genteel society. Thankfully, I had Harry’s example to follow.

We had drained our cups when the lady of the house entered through the curtained doorway. “Dreadfully sorry to keep you waiting, but we don’t usually have guests this early.” she said, stepping forward and extending her hand. “I’m Miss Sadie.”

It was about then that her eyes became accustomed to the light and she recognized me. She stopped and clasped her hands at her waist. The woman who now called herself Miss Sadie was the woman I was looking for, Sharon Dalton.


D.M. McGowan has been a cowboy, forest firefighter, heavy equipment operator, farmhand, gardener, road musician and businessman. He lives with his wife, Karen, and children and grand children in Northern British Columbia, where he works as a commercial driver.



Excerpt From “Partners” by D.M. McGowan

Thomas Brash is trying to escape but knows he never will. Pursuing him is the memory of the family he lost to cholera. Perhaps he believes that traveling alone in a wild, dangerous land will end all his memories; there is no doubt he wishes to be alone. Whatever his intentions the appearance of Frank Clement and the circumstances of that meeting upset those plans. Brash views Clement as an uneducated child who requires fatherly protection and guidance. Clement views Brash as a tenderfoot and can not understand how anyone who knows so little could live so long. These two loners are joined by others and they all become partners. Having achieved relative sanctuary and surrounded by civilization their wilderness past comes back to haunt them.


The climb was much steeper and longer than he had anticipated, but he did finally approach the top of the hill. Before he crested the ridge however, he heard a murmur that he thought might be human voices.

His mount stopped when he dropped the reins. He stepped back beside the animal and drew a Colt revolving shotgun from the scabbard that hung down from the cantle. With the scatter gun in his hands he continued up the slope, cautiously scanning the country as he moved forward. He knew that he might meet full blood Indians who would not be as friendly as the Métis’ he had camped with. The Assiniboine, Cree and Blackfoot all claimed these Cypress Hills as their own. None of them looked kindly on those who might trespass, but those who met the Blackfoot seldom complained about poor treatment. If they did object it was only to their captors just before they died.

The voices grew more distinguishable as he advanced, though he could still not understand any words.

A shot rang out so close that Brash dropped to his knees thinking for an instant that it had been aimed at him. A scream was cut short by the sound of a blow. Tom dropped to his stomach and crawled to the top of the ridge where he could look into the hollow beyond.

A lake lay before him, perhaps the very one he sought, one arm of it disappearing off to the left. Directly below him on the shore of that lake were the remains of a camp that had been destroyed. A small teepee lay torn and scattered through the remains of a cooking fire and utensils. The body of an Indian man lay tied to the remains of a travois frame, a hole near the center of his bare chest, and blood staining the earth beneath him. Another form from which Brash thought he could hear moans – and guessed was a woman by what he could see of her dress – lay near the bound corpse. The camp was bordered by the lake and the hill, and by thick stands of aspen and willow which gave way near the water to wide strips of cracked and drying mud.

Two men also stood in the clearing. Each of them wore full, dark brown beards and buckskins, the clothing showing as much grease and almost as dark as the face hair. One wore a battered felt hat, his leggings tucked into high topped riding boots. The other wore a fur cap, the ear lugs tied together on top, his feet in moccasins which extended to just below his knee. The one with the felt hat held a rifle in his left hand, and a coil of rope in his right. Fur Hat had just finished loading his rifle and was removing the ramrod.

“Well, I reckon we isn’t gonna have any more fun with the Injun,” Felt Hat commented.

Fur Hat cursed. “Wasn’t much fun in ‘im, Seth. Got more out o’ watchin’ his chest blow up.”

Seth poked the moaning bundle with the toe of his mule-ear adorned boots. “Well, mayhap Mrs. Injun’ll be more entertainin’.”

“Nope!” a new voice announced.

Both men spun to see a slight figure step from the trees. From his perch high above, Brash saw a boy of perhaps fifteen in cloths that were little more than rags. He wore no hat and his hair was a long, snarled mess. A piece of rope was tied around his waist to hold his pants up, but just under it was a gun belt. The right side of his too-large coat was hooked behind the butt of a large holstered revolver. In his hands he held a rifle, thumb on the hammer and finger on the trigger.

“What’s yer prob’em, boy?” Seth asked.

The boy nodded at the moaning bundle. “No more hittin’,” he announced.

Fur Hat grinned. “Well, she ain’t no use then, is she?” He cocked his rifle and swung the muzzle.

The boy cocked his rifle and swung it toward Fur Hat.

“Look out, Hank,” Seth called.

Before Brash could even realize that what he had thought was a rope was actually a bull whip, Seth flicked it toward the boy. The very end of the braided rawhide snapped around the barrel of the boy’s rifle. Seth jerked and the rifle landed in the dirt.

Hank laughed. Seth grinned and brought the whip back, swinging it over his head for another strike at the boy. A shot rang out and the whip flew from his hand.

The boy stood with a smoking pistol in his hands.

Brash knew his eyes had been on Seth and the whip, but the appearance of the weapon was a shock. Apparently it was also a shock for Seth and Hank. Seth was doubled over holding his ringing right hand between his legs, eyes large and round, and fixed on the smoking muzzle. Hank’s eyes were similarly fixed, his thumb still holding the hammer of his rifle at half cock.

“Hammer down,” the boy instructed.

Hank gently released the hammer.

Seth took his hand from between his thighs and shook it violently. “He ain’t fast enough to shoot us both,” he concluded. He still held his rifle in his left hand.

On the ridge above, Brash realized that at least twenty feet separated Seth and Hank. Even for someone as fast and accurate as the boy appeared to be it would be difficult to stop both men before he was himself hit by someone’s return fire. Brash also suspected that there was a great deal of luck involved in the shot that took the whip from Seth’s hand.

“You first,” the boy announced, his revolver pointed at Seth.

Hank smiled. “Then you second,” he said swinging the muzzle around toward the boy.

“I believe you may be second.” Brash did not know what made him call out. One of the things that had forced him from his home was well meaning people who, after the death of his family, constantly demanded that he communicate with them, and here he was getting involved with people he didn’t even know. What he had just witnessed, however, was brutal, and the boy needed help. He shoved the muzzle of his shotgun over the hill and into view.

In the clearing, Hank had stopped the swing of his rifle. Seth had started to raise his own weapon and the weight of it against his left wrist was starting to make his arm tremble.

“Put ‘em down,” the boy said.

Seth and Hank leaned over and carefully placed their weapons on the ground.

“Short guns an’ knives,” the boy said.

Two large Bowie knives, a Colt, and a Smith and Wesson revolver hit the ground.

The boy pointed with his chin. “Over by the Injun,” he commanded.

Both men walked backward until they stood near the corpse.

Still holding his pistol, the boy retrieved the weapons. The knives he left on the ground. One pistol he put in his own holster, the other behind his rope belt. The rifles he picked up with one finger looped through their trigger guards. His eyes never leaving the two men he returned to the edge of the clearing, leaning the rifles against a tree.

The pistol at his waist was a Smith and Wesson. He broke it open, dumped the cartridges on the ground, and then threw it to land near the knives. “Stand,” he ordered, then exchanged his own weapon for the one that had been in his holster. It too was a Colt, so he used the tool from his gun belt to pull the caps from the nipples, then threw the weapon to land by the Smith.

Still facing Hank and Seth so he could keep an eye on them while he worked, the boy turned to work on the rifles. The first was a Springfield .58, muzzle loader so he simply pointed it over the lake, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger. Throwing the empty weapon to land near the pistols and knives, he raised the other rifle. It was a Spencer similar to his own so he opened the loading tube in the stock and dumped the rim fire cartridges on the ground, then worked the action to eject the one in the chamber. He threw the Spencer to land by the Springfield.

With his chin the boy indicated the pile of weapons, then the horses. “Mount up,” he advised. The heel of his hand rested on his holstered Colt.

Hank and Seth looked at each other then slowly and carefully picked up their rifles.

As he picked up the Smith and Wesson, Seth eyed the cartridges that lay on the ground at the boy’s feet. “Them car’ ridges is hard t’ get,” he complained.

“Rough,” the boy replied

Keeping an eye on the boy the two men moved quickly toward their horses. In turn the boy didn’t fall too far behind them, watching to ensure they took only their own mounts and pack horse.

On the ridge above, Tom Brash rose and returned to his own animals. With reins in hand he led his mount over the hill and down into the campsite, the pack animals following readily.

Having just watched the two men ride away the boy returned to the camp site, but did not acknowledge Brash’s existence. Instead he went to the Indian woman and rolled her over on her back. Her left eye flew open and her arm came up over her face.

The boy squeezed her shoulder gently. “Won’t hurt yuh,” the boy said.

Tom could see a bad cut on the right side of her forehead that was already causing that eye to swell and close. The left side of her mouth and left cheek were also swollen and discolored.

“I have some medical supplies,” Brash announced.

The boy looked up at him and nodded.

Tom removed his bandanna and held it out to the boy. “Perhaps you could take this to the lake and get it wet? We will need to wash her off before we bandage her.”

The boy nodded again, took the bandanna and rose. Tom turned to his horses to retrieve bandages.

As he reached into the pack about where he knew his medical supplies to be, a scream came from behind him that made the horse jump. He turned to see the woman sitting up and looking at the dead man, her hands over her mouth. The boy was running back from the shore.

The woman jerked sideways and fell over the body of the man just before Brash heard the sound of a shot. Both he and the boy looked to Seth and Hank, who were in the relatively open area along the lake perhaps two hundred yards away. Hank held his Springfield over the limb of a tree, smoke still rising from the barrel. In the silence following the shot they could hear the two men laugh.


D.M. McGowan has been a cowboy, forest firefighter, heavy equipment operator, farmhand, gardener, road musician and businessman. He lives with his wife, Karen, and children and grand children in Northern British Columbia, where he works as a commercial driver.