Get out the rain hats and ponchos! Maybe that will jog the Rain Spirits to send their wet arrows, and in quantity, We living things here in Southern Oregon (and in Northern California) surely could use it! Mount Ashland 40 miles south of Grants Pass had a dusting of snow this week and magnificent Mount Shasta got a light coat. White becomes those sacred sites.

But as Fall sweeps in, Summer is reluctant to leave. So we have both! Days in the 80s are back, with overnight lows in the 40s. I wore a cotton turtleneck, jeans and Carhartt vest yesterday to ride Brad. But I was ready to lose the vest if it got too steamy.

What to wear? What to do?

Rather like my journey as a new author (“Saddle Tramps”) finding my niche. I go back and forth. I call myself a writer of New West Mysteries. I love the American West, old AND new, tangled with mysterious circumstances that need to be straightened out. However, some stories I write are chilling thrillers and others sparkle with Hallmark Channel themes. “The Stone Horse” novella works as an inspirational parable and “Hannah of the Mustangs” shows a lost teen’s coming of age on Oregon’s Desert.

Like September being both Summer and Fall, I, too, do that cross-season, cross-genre thing. Refuse to be pigeonholed. Like to leave my options open.

Readers need not worry: In my books and stories you will always experience the New West. That’s the constant. And you will always find mystery, for isn’t all life a mystery? But you occasionally will see more, from other genres that catch my fancy. Or see my main genre shaken up with winds from new directions.

Summer to Fall. Then Fall to Winter. And at long last, Spring. New mixed with old. It’s what keeps us coming back for more, in writing and reading — as in Life

Say “Hey!” to the New West

I am branded a writer of New West Mysteries. In an earlier incarnation, I called myself a writer of Adventures in the New American West.

But exactly what is this “New West”?

Several best-selling authors working in the New West mystery genre—including Anne Hillerman—have spoken of this place both geographic and psychologic. I toss my cowgirl hat into the ring by first defining what it is NOT. That is a traditional Old West considered to exist in the United States west of the Mississippi between the mid-1800s through roughly 1900, give or take. Think pioneers, cowboys/girls, cattle drives. Think Native Americans, and those new to North America. Think range wars, water disputes, honor, courage and individualism. Most of all, think love for animals and the land.

Then bring such people, quirks, causes, critters and untrammeled lands into an updated geographic West which still contains pockets of the Old. An area that, by the way, includes Alaska, Pacific islands and other places that land-connected people are crazy for, will fight about, and traverse with reimagined Old West rigs such as boats, trains, and horses real or motorized. Not to mention new-fangled flying machines.

Be sure to bring your heroes, your gunfighters, spiritual leaders, peacemakers and homemakers, too. Big as the land, or small as the scorpion that changes – or ends – a life.

And there you have it. The New West. A little wild. A little old-fashioned. But a land of dreams, possibilities, do-overs. Whether set in a sky-wide desert or a mountain fastness, small town or glittering city, it resonates with places and people of a Western state of mind. They do not suffer new ways or newcomers easily. But they heartily embrace, and make their own, those who prove themselves worthy.