Earlier this month, my Dead-Eye Dan novella, The Husband Maneuver, released as an e-single. I’ve written four novellas to date (one yet to be released), and I think Dan and Marietta’s story is my favorite. I just had far too much fun writing the dime novel scenes.
For those of you who might not have read A Worthy Pursuit, the novel that introduced Dan and Marietta as secondary characters, Daniel Barrett is an ex-bounty hunter turned mule trainer who is desperate to live down his gunman image immortalized in the Dead-Eye Dan dime novels some yahoo wrote based on Dan’s former life. How can he know if the woman he loves truly loves him, the ordinary man, and not the larger-than-life heroic image portrayed in those ridiculous books? Marietta, of course, adores Daniel for the man he is and only reads the novels as a way to feel close to her father’s foreman–the foreman who has sworn an oath not to fraternize with the boss’s daughter. That inconvenient vow prompts Etta to take matters into her own hands and try to maneuver a proposal from the man she loves.
Each chapter of the novella starts with a scene from a Dead-Eye Dan dime novel, written in the typical over-the-top, pulp fiction style. Here’s an example:
Dead-Eye Dan climbed the tall oak with the skill of a cougar. Jaw tight, he scaled the tree hand-over-hand, his gaze locked on the v-shaped branch above his head. He had one chance to slow his prey. One chance to gain the upper hand. He wouldn’t squander it.
When he reached the branch he sought, Dan positioned himself in the cradle, bracing his legs against the sturdy trunk. In a single, smooth motion, he slid his Remington long range rifle from the custom holster on his back and lifted the Vernier peep sight into position with a flick of his thumb. The walnut stock fit against his shoulder as if it were an extension of his body.
Dan leaned forward and rested the barrel against the branch in front of him, notching it against a broken twig’s stub to keep it steady. He located his target. Four horses, 750 yards ahead. Four thieves and a woman. His woman. Taken when the desperados left the bank. They thought to use her as a shield to keep him at bay. A fatal error. The moment they touched Mary Ellen Watkins, they’d signed their death warrants.
–from Dead-Eye Dan and the Outlaws of Devil’s Canyon
Dead-Eye Dan’s story originally appeared in the novella collection – With This Ring? I personally prefer the e-single cover art to what was chosen for the print collection. Etta’s outfit is a little hokey and reminds me of something one would see at a square dancing convention, but I love the dime novel she’s holding and the scheming smile on her face. The colors are bright and cheerful, and the ranch house fits my description almost perfectly.
The Husband Maneuver is now available to download as an e-single for all devices. At $1.99, it’s a bargain for a quick afternoon read.
- Do you enjoy reading novellas?
- Do you prefer collections or reading them on their own?
The Dead-Eye Dan quote in the meme at the top of this post was inspired by a famous movie scene. Which movie did it come from?