Jen, Miss Tess, and I returned to our wee homestead in Maine late yesterday following a stunning weekend in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. What, you may ask, were we doing so far from home?

Well, pull up a chunk of oak and warm your hands by the campfire while I tell you. You see, a couple of months ago, I received the amazing news that my novel, STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVAL, was selected by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, in Oklahoma City, as the recipient of the 2018 Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Outstanding Western Novel. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation of Western culture and promotes education of the same. The event began on Friday, April 13, with a morning Q&A with actor, screenwriter, and novelist, Robert Knott. We then toured the world-class collections—inside and out—of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. A visit to this amazing venue should be on everyone’s list of places to see. That evening, the museum hosted a cocktail reception and book signing. This was followed with a soiree for honorees held at the nearby home of the director of the museum.

The next day dawned as hot as had been the previous day—80 to 85 degrees, and windy? Hoo doggy, if I wore a wig it would have ended up in Texas by nine. That evening, when the awards ceremony took place, all the movie stars, painters, writers, sculptors, oilmen, filmmakers, ranchers, and rodeo queens converged on the Museum. Jen and I did the same, dolled up in our best bib-n-tucker and shined boots. I must say, my wife, Jennifer, looked especially stunning (always does). I was so very proud to walk in as her arm candy (poor dear, stuck with a sourball like me!). The ceremony was preceded by a fine meal. In truth I picked at my plate, not wanting to miss my cue to drift to the stage for my acceptance speech. The iconic actress, Katharine Ross, and her husband, the equally iconic actor Sam Elliott, emceed the event, and a number of notable folks introduced the recipients. My turn came about thirty minutes into the proceedings when I was introduced by Wyatt McCrea and Bruce Boxleitner. I spoke to the sold-out crowd, thanking everyone I could in my few minutes on stage, then I was given the beautiful (and heavy!) Wrangler Award, a bronze statue of a cowboy on horseback, and led offstage by a genuine rodeo queen! (I am not certain how my wife felt about that. I, however, enjoyed the moment. Ahem.)  
No, no, I won’t name drop. I won’t do it. Oh, okay. After all, how often does one get to talk movies over a cuppa joe with Bruce Boxleitner? Yes, we did. And a more gracious person you will not meet. Unless, perhaps, you run into Buck Taylor, or Wyatt McCrea, or Barry Corbin, or Sam Elliott, or Katharine Ross, or RW Hampton, or Michael Martin Murphey, or Robert Knott. Yep, we met them all, and many more kind Western folks, and we are richer for it. Our humble thanks to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for hosting this, the 58th annual Western Heritage Awards. To have my novel, STRANDED: A STORY OF FRONTIER SURVIVAL, recognized by this institution, and for this honor, is a dream from which I’ve still not awakened. And I hope I never do.