Holly is back, and the story of how this book came to life is amazing. It’ll be a ‘more’ traditional post for a less usual book (at least to me), with me introducing the book and then her, but read what she has to say!
The book is Six Shots Each Gun: 12 Tales Of The Old West by Russ Towne and Holly Bargo, a western romance.
This collaboration between
bestselling author of westerns Russ Towne and fiction author Holly Bargo—the
two “guns”— presents 12 tales of the Old West. Each author has contributed six
stories or “bullets” to this anthology. We hope to satisfy readers of the genre
with rousing stories that not only meet expectations, but also add some
uncommon insight into the short period of American history known as the Wild
Heart of Gold: A dying man begs an honest cowboy to take a fortune in gold through a lawless territory with Indians on the warpath. He didn’t reckon on becoming responsible for keeping the man’s daughter safe along the way.
Wolverine McClean: The men who fought beside Aloysius McLean in the War Between the States knew him as a shy and quiet man, but in the heat of battle he fought so fiercely and fearlessly that they nicknamed him Wolverine. With the war now over, McLean goes to visit a war buddy and finds he’s disappeared under suspicious circumstance after striking the motherlode. To help his friend’s family, Wolverine faces off against a wealthy, powerful man who has a special armored train with three mounted Gatling guns and his own private army.
The Lesser of Evils: Cast from the native tribe that adopted her and the only home she’s ever known to make her way in the white man’s world, Sun Gold finds herself faced with a language barrier and a choice she never wanted.
Catherine & the Comanche: A white woman and Indian brave must overcome hatred, prejudice, and mutual cultural ignorance as they fight for their lives and try to avert a bloody war.
The Saint: A wounded outlaw throws himself upon the mercy of a Mexican priest. His demand for sanctuary gains him more than just temporary safety.
Never Judge a Book: Cowhands get the surprise of the lives when a gang tries to steal their hard-earned pay.
Survival of the Fairest: A woman kills her abusive husband and flees, heading west to restart her life under an assumed name.
Last Man Standing: Gus Roundtree has come to Shady Bluff with his guardian Arliss “Patch” Elkins. Too young to be deputized, he learns he really is his father’s son when he embarks upon a business venture.
Welcome to Shady Bluff: As the town of Shady Bluff prepares to swear in their new sheriff, former U.S. marshal Arliss “Patch” Elkins, outlaws decide to rob the bank.
Hair Trigger: A female gunslinger returns to her hometown to claim her inheritance and get justice for her father’s wrongful death, but crashes into a statute of limitations.
A Bloody Day in Destiny: The past comes calling with a six-gun and a score to settle, and there’s no place to hide.
The Escort: Picking up where Russ Towne’s “A Bloody Day in Destiny” ends, Buck Evans hires on as an armed escort to accompany a rancher’s haughty daughter and her companion to Boston for her debut into polite society. Both young women are lovely, but the young companion catches Buck’s eye and warms his heart. He thinks he’s too old and jaded for this innocent girl; but, when danger strikes, he’ll risk his life to save her.
Best-selling author Russ Towne released the first of his approximately sixty books in 2013. They can be found on Amazon.com, KDP, Audible, iTunes, and elsewhere.
Russ lives with his wife in Campbell, California, USA. They’ve been married since 1979 and have three adult children and five grandchildren. His passions include family, friends, writing and investing.
Russ savors experiencing nature, especially near rivers and streams that run through giant redwood groves, and along shores where powerful waves collide into ancient picturesque rock formations. He enjoys watching classic movies, reading, and his tiny fern garden and redwood grove. Russ greatly enjoys managing the investments of clients of the wealth management firm he founded in 2003.
Holly Bargo never outgrew a love of fairy tales, legends, and myths. Or horses. However, one foot must remain firmly planted in the real world which is where Holly makes her living as a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband have two grown children and live on a southwest Ohio hobby farm with a menagerie indoor and outdoor animals.
When she’s not working on other people’s documents or reading, Holly finds time to transfer the voices in her head to paper … er … computer. If she doesn’t, there’s a definite possibility her mind will explode.
And for those who might wonder from where the pseudonym of Holly Bargo came, it’s quite simple really. Horses. Namely an elegant and temperamental Appaloosa mare who has long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is fondly remembered for guarding toddler children and crushing a brand new pager.
But that’s another story.
Walking on the Wild, Wild West Side
By Holly Bargo
I regularly edit for an author who produces children’s books and action-packed westerns. I’d like to think we have a friendly relationship after all this time. Under that assumption, I griped to him about one book that I consider a tour de force for all its short length: The Falcon of Imenotash. I couldn’t get anyone to buy it. Author, client, and friend, Russ Towne, kindly offered to buy an e-copy and read the book.
He left an absolutely glowing review, which made my heart go pitter-patter. Then he extended a real compliment: he asked me to collaborate with him.
You bet I was flattered! You bet I agreed.
Since I work as a ghostwriter as well as an editor, we decided I had the greater flexibility in adopting a new genre rather than have him hop over to romance. After discussing whether to co-write a single, long story, possibly with alternating viewpoints (him taking the hero’s and me taking the heroine’s), or something else, we agreed to produce an anthology of short stories in the western genre. Readers of westerns tend to prefer the shorter format, opposite of readers of romance who generally prefer longer length novels.
After more discussion, we cobbled together some ultra-brief plot summaries and chose our stories from among them with the understanding that we could each contribute stories not included among those options. Russ asked me to take one of his characters and add to that in a new story. I accepted the challenge. See how that worked out in “The Escort.”
As usual, Russ used me as his editor. I used him as my beta reader before revising and sending my stories off to “my” editor. I’m sure she was surprised by the switch in genres, since I usually write under the romance umbrella. Truthfully, most of my stories for the anthology imbue a romantic subplot. (Luckily for her, my next release, Triple Burn, gets very explicit.)
Collaborating with Russ proved both fun, interesting, and informative. I quickly realized that he has a much better command of the mid- to late-1800’s lingo and weaponry than I do; however, I’m better versed in history and horses. I learned that readers of westerns don’t mind romance, but they prefer their romance “gentle,” as he described it. In other words, the folks who look to Louis L’amour and Zane Grey as examples of masters in the genre don’t want explicitly sexual content. Since my mind often takes a turn for the dirty, weaving in the romance without going beyond a kiss—and still engaging readers—proved an exercise in storytelling discipline.
For what it’s worth, explicitly written violence is perfectly acceptable in the genre. Shoot ’em up, boys and girls, but don’t expose any private parts. I find that a little puzzling.
I worked with Russ to select a cover image we both liked and then used my limited graphic design background to compose a cover that both of us thought did the trick. We collaborated on the cover blurb, which includes what the movie folks call loglines for each story in the collection. I formatted the book and Russ sent it to his publicist, Nick Wale, who published it on Amazon. The e-book and print version are listed separately.
Russ kindly mentioned that he, too, enjoyed the collaboration as well as my stories. I enjoy his stories; Russ has a wonderfully twisted sense of irony that I appreciate. I’ve never met Russ in person, but I’d be happy to ride that trail with him again.