Thursday, October 13, 2016


Today, Mimi and I met Tonia Harris for lunch. (In the photo, she's the gal on the right.)The widow of Sgt. Joe Harris, she was traveling through Santa Fe on her way home to Colorado after visiting her parents in Rio Rancho. Seeing Tonia is always a treat. Smart, attractive, and vibrant, she has come through the ordeal of her husband's murder over seven years ago with remarkable strength and fortitude. So has her lovely, whip-smart, seventeen-year-old daughter, Ally.
Joe, a sergeant with the Sandoval County Sheriff's Department and a 26 year law enforcement veteran, was on a stakeout with his partner when he was killed. He sacrificed his life to save his partner and managed to gun down the scumbag who shot him before dying from his wound.

Joe was a hero, and that's not a word police officers use lightly about each other.

Joe was also my friend. We shared the bond of brotherhood that exists between those who swear to protect and serve. He also liked my crime novels because he knew I got it right when writing about what cops do on the job. His death was tragic because it was totally unnecessary. Had he been fully informed and briefed by his higher-ups, he'd be alive today to see what a beautiful young woman his daughter has become.

Joe was a total professional devoted to his career. He loved the job. He also loved his wife and daughter with the that same devotion and commitment. It was with Tonia that he found a way to have the richly fulfilling family life he'd not had before.

A bear of a man with a zest for life, he was approachable and had a great sense of humor. He was the kind of officer you wanted at your side on those tough calls. He'd always have your back.

My photo with Joe was taken when he asked me to speak at the graduation ceremony for the Citizens  Police Academy he'd started with the sheriff's department to educate interested civilians about the  workings and basic functions of law enforcement. To this day, folks who went through the training Joe provided still revere his memory.

I know, because they tell me so.

So here's to the memory of Sergeant Joe Harris. I've told you about him because I want you to know what the best of police work is all about, and to remember the vast majority of men and women who wear the uniform do so to uphold the core values that bind us together as a civilization.

And here's to Tonia and Ally, because they are heroes in their own right for all they've had to endure and painfully recover from since that early morning of July 16, 2009 when Joe was murdered.

When you think of them, remember the sacrifices families make for loved ones who choose to protect and serve.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Kappa Book & Author Evening: a benefit for the Craig Hospital Scholarship Fund and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation Scholarships.

The Denver Kappa Friendship Fund, Inc. & The Denver Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma are pleased to present the 27th Kappa Book & Author Evening: a benefit for the Craig Hospital Scholarship Fund and the Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation Scholarships.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Palazzo Verdi: 6363 South Fiddlers Green Circle, Greenwood Village, CO 80111

5:30 p.m. Social/Dinner

Enjoy the MADDEN Museum of Art while socializing and enjoying small plates and drinks.

7 p.m. Program

Hear from the featured authors while having dessert and coffee.

Featured Authors

Michael McGarrity

John Fielder

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Buy tickets and leran more about The Denver Kappa Friendship Fund at

The Denver Kappa Friendship Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization 46-0917517. If tickets are purchased as a part of this contribution, $64 per person for the event is considered the value of the goods and services received; the remainder is tax deductible.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


In January after twenty years, I parted company with my old literary agent and found new representation with Marcy Posner at Folio Literary Management in New York City. Marcy is one of the most experienced, highly respected, and well-liked agents in the business. She has always been a fan of my work and I am delighted to have her in my corner.
It has been at her urging that over the last several months I've established a social media presence via Facebook, this Blog, and on the Goodreads and Amazon authors pages. Soon, I'll have an author page on LibraryThing as well. Who knows what's next?
For me it has truly become a new era in my career as a writer and it's not over yet. Just last week, W.W. Norton & Company, a major New York publishing firm, made an offer for my next Kevin Kerney novel, which we have verbally accepted. When I stopped in at the corporate offices to meet with my new editor, Amy Cherry, Vice President & Senior Editor, the first thing she said to me was "welcome home," for it was over twenty years ago in April 1996, that Norton released my debut novel, Tularosa, followed by Mexican Hat in 1997.
It was a happy homecoming for me and for my Kevin Kerney crime series, with Amy's warm 
welcome soon enthusiastically echoed by William Rusin, Vice President & Director of Sales and Marketing. I couldn't be more pleased. Sometimes you can go home again. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Best Little Library in New Mexico

On my way to speak at the Ruidoso Library on August 27, I stopped in at the Capitan Library to see my old friend Debbie Myers, Assistant Director. She's a volunteer at the library as is everyone else who works there. I also had the opportunity to meet the director, Pat Garrett, several other volunteers, and take a tour the facility.
Inside and out, the library shows the love and commitment of the dozens of citizens who give their time and talent to the small ranching village of some1,400 people located in a lovely valley between the Sacramento and Capitan Mountains in beautiful Lincoln County. The building sits within shouting distance of the town hall where, as the story goes, the trustees turned down the chance to acquire the library for one dollar from the non-profit organization that runs the outfit.
Nobody could tell me why those elected village leaders where unwilling to take stewardship of such a worthy and valuable resource to the community.The only thing I could come up with is that somebody slipped stupid pills into the water pitcher on the evening the trustees voted down the offer. 
Even a bunch of half-drunk yahoos could have surely seen the civic value as well as the personal bragging rights for claiming such a valuable prize.The Capitan Chamber of Commerce should have been outraged.
But never mind that--back to the library. It's a charming place with neatly organized stacks, a children's area, a bank of Internet-connected computers, a serene outdoor space suitable for quiet reading or contemplation, comfortable seating, a pleasant checkout and reference counter, an office for staff use, and an unique resale shop, "Not 2 Shabby," where donated items are sold to help fund the operation. Like most libraries, it also sells donated books to raise money, and on the first Saturday of every month you can buy a bag of books for five bucks. Its website puts the Capitan Village website to shame, and they even run a blog. It has a cheery, bright, welcoming feel to it, and operates under abbreviated hours five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday.  
The library offers workshops, special reading programs for children, an "Adult Reading Group," and is a community center for literary and cultural events. It is the only true public resource for books in an area that stretches along highway US380  from Carrizozo to Hondo, a distance of over forty miles.
I was so impressed, I sent them a box of books, including a hardback copy of "Death Song" the eleventh book in my Kevin Kerney series which opens in Lincoln County and Capitan.
Would you writers and book lovers out there like to join in? If so, your send books to my friend Debbie Myers, Assistant Director, Capitan Public Library, P.O. Box 1169, Capitan, NM 88316. She would most definitely love to get some more audio books for the collection. Help support the Best Little Library in New Mexico. Thanks.

Friday, September 9, 2016


Hastings Books & Music, a regional retail chain headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, is bankrupt and shutting down. Unlike the dissolution of Borders, a national bookstore chain, the news of the demise of Hastings has caused hardly a ripple of broadcast or print media attention, except in those small markets where it was the only bookstore in town.

Over twenty years ago, in April, 1996, when my publisher at the time, W.W. Norton, sent me on a book tour for my debut novel, Tularosa, one of my first signings was at the old Hastings store in a strip mall on 10th Street in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Because my novel was set mostly on the nearby White Sands Missile Range, my editor at the time, Hilary Hinzmann, figured it would be a sure-fire hit in that small city. Indeed he was right, and I've been back to Alamogordo to sign every one of my books since. 

The citizens of Alamogordo have embraced me over the years, turning out in droves for each new novel, to the point that I like to brag that I'm the best-selling writer in that city of some 30,000. The folks I personally know down there don't disagree, especially after the publication of my American West historical trilogy, set squarely on their turf, which had them singing my praises.

Several years ago, the company moved to a brand new store on the main drag through town, White Sands Boulevard, and it was by far one of the nicest, neatest, best organized Hastings Store I'd ever been in, unlike the dingy, messy Santa Fe store that I always left feeling an urgent need to wash my hands. (My guess is the Alamogordo store stood out because a number of the employees were military dependents from nearby Holloman Air Force Base, and nobody does "neat and tidy" better than the armed services.)

I was there this last May, for the release of the final book in my trilogy, The Last Ranch, and the line stretched almost out the door with over a hundred smiling, eager people wanting to say hello and have me sign their books. It's the kind of event every writer dreams about. 

Now, their only bookstore is about to close. So what's the big deal, you may ask. There's always the Internet. Or if they really need to go to an actual bookstore, they can travel up to Becky Ewings' Books Etcetera in Ruidoso, or Mike Beckett's COAS Bookstore in Las Cruces, or Ed Woten's Imaginary Books in Cloudcroft, all no more than an hour drive away.

Well, the big deal is that when a town loses its only bookstore, it also forfeits a significant amount of cultural enrichment. No longer will parents be able to take their young children to find the perfect, new bedtime story. No longer will students be able to browse for that special book they need to finish a term paper or school report. No longer will readers be able to dive into the mystery, romance, or science fiction section looking to discover a new author or to grab the latest release of a favorite writer.

Some modern classics that are unavailable at the public library won't be stacked on those empty shelves. The enjoyable pastime of randomly looking for an interesting title will have ended. That wonderful dialogue between book lovers and book sellers who love books, will have fallen silent. Finally, all the writers who appeared at the store to talk about and sign their latest book, will be there no more. The excitement in the community about books and reading, literacy and learning -- perceived or not --will have waned.

That is how we all lose. Every town that sees their last bookstore close, ripples like a wave that diminishes us all. For one, I am personally sad for Alamogordo, New Mexico.   


Monday, August 29, 2016


Well almost, but over 70 people turned out to hear me talk about the American West trilogy, which flabbergasted the lady from the library friends who introduced me on Saturday morning and later commented that she'd never seen more than 15 folks show up for an author event before.

After my talk, Peter De La Fuente and I both signed copies of the final book in the trilogy,THE LAST RANCH, before repairing to Longcoat Gallery where we signed copies of the limited edition print "White Sands Hideaway" -- which as the Ruidoso News said in a Friday feature article "graces the cover" of THE LAST RANCH. (As indeed it does.)

Did you know that "White Sands Hideaway" twenty years ago also graced the cover of my debut novel, TULAROSA?" How's that for some cocktail party small talk?

It was a grand day in Ruidoso. Thanks to the friends of the library, Corey Bard, the director, Becky from Books Etc., who handled the sales, and Dave and Judy at the gallery. And a special thanks to my friend, artist Peter De La Fuente.
Read what the Ruidoso News had to say about it here...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

RIP Di Bingham

It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the passing of Ms. Dianna Bingham, who died peacefully at her home in Brisbane, Australia, late last week.

As many of you know until recently Di created and ran my website as a volunteer for almost sixteen years.  Over time she became a dear friend, trusted advisor, and my biggest and best Aussie fan. Almost everyone on my website mailing list (including me) always looked forward to her little personal messages from "down under" that accompanied my monthly updates.

I'll miss my faraway friend. Her strength, courage, generosity, and loyal friendship were unmatched.

Monday, August 15, 2016

An Appreciation of Michael McGarrity’s American West Trilogy and its concluding volume, The Last Ranch by Robert L. Patten

I’m delighted and honored to share with you a major review of my American West Trilogy, by Robert L. Patten,  distinguished scholar and  Senior Research Fellow at the University of London.

An Appreciation of Michael McGarrity’s American West Trilogy and its concluding volume,
The Last Ranch

By Robert L. Patten
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies,
School of Advanced Study, University of London

Michael McGarrity’s trilogy of the New American West tells the epic story of a large part of the US that never makes it into our national imaginary. Tied not to northern Europe but to the Iberian peninsula and through Mexico up the Rio Grande to the Sangre de Cristos, the southern eruption of the Rocky Mountains, this vast West comprising parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah came to be part of the United States by treaties between 1836 and 1848. McGarrity’s history begins at the close of the Civil War, when Yankees and Rebels, cowboys and Indians, traders and gunslingers, rode westward to scrape out livings on the hotly contested high deserts watered by the snows of the upper Rockies.
            John Kerney, veteran of the Civil and Indian wars, opens this series, scrabbling a living in West Texas, and thereafter in the Tularosa basin where the struggle for a sustainable living continues. Full circle, the end of the third volume sees John’s great grandson, Kevin, returning from Vietnam to face the new challenges of domestic life. In between the four generations of Kerney men and women interact with a hard, harsh, withholding, achingly beautiful and deadly, land, and its similarly diversified inhabitants--ranchers, outlaws, raiders, and settlers.
            The land anchors these stories; its vistas and bosky sanctuaries beautifully captured by the paper wrapper painting of the Kerney ranch by Peter de La Fuente, grandson of Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, artists who themselves left the ground of Valley Forge Pennsylvania to settle in the shadow of the Sacramento Mountains. 
            The amazing thing about these novels is that they portray, in the lead figures, a persistent, tough, sometime amoral, goodness that is captivating. They try to survive without doing violence to others or the land; and their dying, while in a long view inevitable, is in the close-up of their difficult and courageous efforts to subsist, crushing. I quit the first volume twice, because I too much loved the strength and honesty of the characters to see them pass.
            This remote land is not exempt from global warfare. That’s another way in which McGarrity understands the paradox of Western settlement: Civil War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, make men’s fortunes and take their lives with inescapable fatality. The railroad comes to transport food and provisions for troops, whether stationed in the old forts that dotted the frontier, or in the growing cities housing major bases. And after World War II, the largest and most toxic land grab of all is conducted with ruthless efficiency by the government. White Sands Proving Grounds takes up 3,200 square miles of southern New Mexico: turning towns into cities, ranches into missile ranges, and the clear air of the high desert into an atmosphere poisoned by the exhalations of the first atomic bomb.
            What, then, distinguishes McGarrity’s trilogy from other great works about this part of the world, such as Paul Horgan’s Pulitzer and Bancroft prize-winning biography of the Rio Grande and Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop? This trilogy captures sympathetically both the characters and sensations of the region Cather so sharply depicts and the clashes among Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo cultures that through often violent and fiercely tribal ways together shaped and exploited the riverine land. All who came to these lands believed they belonged to them—90% of the Mexicans living in the region when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1836 chose to become American citizens.
            All that scope, all that history, all that space, is encompassed in McGarrity’s narrative. But it is discovered, experienced, and wrestled with by characters distinctive in their style, passions, and outcomes. Perhaps most wrenching is Patrick Kerney (1875-1964), orphaned, lonely, bitter, determined, who makes and loses his beloved ranch and his family, and yet modulates in his later years into a nearly silent witness to a century’s transformations. He manages not to hang onto anything much, but those with whom he lives and works are as loving and heroic as, down deep, he is. No one is better drawn or more moving than his wife Emma; her efforts to survive, provide a home and education for her sons, and understand her dogged, absent husband elevate her to the pantheon of strong women who shaped the West as much, sometimes more, than their men.
            Patrick’s son Matthew dominates the second and third volumes. Injured in Sicily during World War II, he arrives home only to have his land seized, a crazed convict seek to kill him, a marriage go sour, and a young son materialize who somehow has to be nurtured and raised. He loses often, but never gives up. This third volume, The Last Ranch, is the most mellow and domestic of the trilogy, though it is set during the cruelest time the West has known, the atomic era. A lot of it is concerned with small-scale events: housing, small-time ranching, rodeos, education, growing up and growing old. That era is one I know firsthand. Every detail of McGarrity’s reconstruction of post-war life is perfectly on pitch. The muted gains and set-backs of the postwar decades are rendered in a precise, unadorned prose that resonates deeply with the feel of those times.
            Time after time, in the midst of this historical reconstruction, McGarrity shocks. Events slash the fabric of lives and dreams like lightning igniting forest fires. Time after time people have to rebuild their loves and lives, or lose one or both. Unlike fiction, history doesn’t always reward winners or punish the guilty. McGarrity knows this, writes this unconsoling truth. So the background of millennia of occupation and abandonment, and the foreground of individual journeys, merge in a comprehensive and hugely moving panorama of a great part of America.
            It’s a story that hasn’t been told enough, isn’t understood by its own denizens, much less those north and east of the Mississippi, and is utterly fundamental to any conversation we might have nationally about our heritage, our purple mountains’ majesty, the scarcity of fruited plains, and the resolute destructive and creative builders of a mestizo civilization comprising ranches, minerals, grand parks, the theft and redirection of water, Las Vegas NM and Las Vegas NV, Hollywood and Santa Fe.
            The McGarrity trilogy achieves an encompassing history real, heart-stopping, and harshly beautiful. For its achievement it should be a contender for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.    

Monday, August 1, 2016

Book Signing & Talk Video

For those of you over the years who haven't been able to attend one of my book signings and talks, here's your chance to see me in action. And for those of you who may have attended one of my past book signings but have yet to hear me speak about THE LAST RANCH and my American West trilogy, here's your chance.

The event was hosted by my dear friends, John Walcott and his wife the writer Jann Arrington-Walcott, on Sunday evening, July 10 in the community center at Aldea of Santa Fe. It was a full house and the audience seemed to enjoy it.

 I hope you do also.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Has Book Reviewing Changed For Better or For Worse?

Just prior to the release of "The Last Ranch" in May, a very positive review of the book was posted online at "Tonstant Weader Reviews" with a note that a review copy had been provided by my publisher. It got me to thinking about how much the world of book reviewing has changed since my debut novel, "Tularosa" was published in 1996.

Twenty years ago, most newspapers, including my hometown paper the Santa Fe New Mexican, had journalists who served as book editors and who routinely got advanced reading copies of books from publishers asking for review consideration. Because of that a whole lot more authors had their books reviewed and a whole lot more readers were drawn to books they might not have otherwise discovered.

For the writer, if the print reviews were positive -- and even better yet plentiful as well -- chances for strong sales could skyrocket. It was always a happy occasion when good print reviews came in from Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York or another major market. That doesn't happen anymore for most writers.

Nowadays with the growth of the Internet and increasing popularity of reader reviews on websites,  book editors at newspapers have become all but extinct and a writer's chance of having a book featured and reviewed in a major print market is almost nil.

While I can understand how economics can make publishers decide not to run a weekly book page, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Doesn't their livelihood depend on readers reading? Wouldn't they want to encourage that by recommending worthwhile books? I know booksellers would love it.

Fortunately the Santa Fe New Mexican continues to review books and I truly appreciate that. But with social media, author websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. now dominating, do newspaper reviews even matter in the digital age?

I think so, but what do you think?