Texas and Sam Houston: The Measure of a Man


If you want to know how writers choose their particular stories and characters, ask who their heroes are.

Those heroes will embody the writer’s values, their preoccupations.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a real man, writing about what makes a real man, and my hero is Sam Houston.

220px-SHouston_2Sam led Texas against Mexico during our war of independence, and won, personally fighting in the Battle of San Jacinto.

He was badly wounded.

Conclusion: I believe real men are willing to personally fight it out.


When Texas leaders were stupid enough to take Texas out of the Union and join the Confederacy, Sam–who was governor–not only worked tirelessly to stop them, he refused to sign the secession papers.

Texas legislators then replaced Sam with a man who agreed with them.

sam_houston_c1850-cropConclusion: I believe real men do the right thing regardless of the consequences.


But it’s not always easy to see the man inside the human, and it’s easy to criticize.

In my novel Scalp Mountain, Colum McNeal, a former reb, runs from his father’s killers and lies to himself about the past.

He will also do anything to make Clementine Weaver fall in love with him.

Clementine is his best friend’s wife.

But Colum is never able to destroy his own truth and sooner or later he gives it up. 51x4t5rynpl

I’ll let you discover what he does about Clementine.

Colum then faces his father.

Conclusion: I believe real men are courageous, they are willing to face themselves, to face danger and face the people who would destroy them.

They are redeemable.


I have taken a lot of flack for Mason Lohman, another Scalp Mountain character.

Lohman is obsessed with Colum, sexually and emotionally.

If I could save Lohman, I would.

It would have been better for Lohman, and Colum, if Lohman had walked away from his feelings, if he had started a new life, if he had searched for peace somewhere on this chaotic, painful planet.

He can’t. Lohman is at the mercy of his obsession.

Until he stakes everything on one roll of the dice: To destroy his obsession.

Again, courage.


texas_rangers_at_shaftter_texasCapt. William Henry is Colum’s haunted friend. He loved his family and they were killed.

Henry responded by revenging himself in a terrible way.

Henry, a Texas Ranger, spends the rest of his life regretting his revenge, and hunting down killers and bank robbers.

Henry also does everything he can to help Colum, the son he never had.

This includes risking his life.

Conclusion: Real men protect society, not harm it, they live by values and ethics and they take care of their families.

THE ADDICTED MANsamhouston-large

Real men also face their issues.

After his first wife left him, Sam Houston drank so much his Indian friends called him “Big Drunk.”

However, he eventually kicked alcohol, for his wife Margaret, and for Texas.


Saint of the Burning Heart contains three major women characters (I’ll leave them for another blog) and three male characters; Sheriff Robert Burkman, David Rodríguez and Frank Kendall.

Frank is not a man, he’s a boy. 41nudwpczgl

Frank is afraid; he’s afraid to acknowledge his Hispanic heritage, he’s afraid to love my heroine, Nicki O’Connor, he’s afraid to lose political power, and he’s afraid of David Rodríguez, the man capable of stealing his power and his girl.

Frank’s response to David? Torment.

Conclusion: Real men are not afraid to commit to self and others, real men do not have to validate themselves with power over others.


The-flower-CarrierDavid Rodríguez organizes an Hispanic political party and leads his people to justice in Santa del Corazón Encendido, Saint of the Burning Heart.

David works for his people’s good, though he’s sure to be punished for it.

Conclusion: Real men care about others more than they care about themselves.

I believe these things, I write about these things.

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