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Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: California Bound

California Bound, by Frank Kelso and John O'Melveny Woods, is simply great western story-telling. California Bound is gritty, tough and ruthless - the sort of Clint Eastwood style of action in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and yet, with the panache, flippant and flirtatious flamboyance of saddle-riding, gun-shooting cowboys who smile at danger and wink at death at every turn. The detail, the authenticity of the vernacular, the humorous dialogue and the touch of classic, "save the damsel in distress" - makes it an all-round good story to hang onto into the late hours of the night. Like Louis L'Amour, who drew the line in the sand, between the white hats and the bad hats, California Bound doesn't pull any punches when the life and death confrontations occur. The two main characters, Jeb and Zach, are like Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, only they are more remorseless when it comes to taking out the bad guys and when the blood and guts pour out, the authors have not spared the reader the vivid descriptions. Overall, a fun and entertaining read - true classic western-style stuff. We gave it five stars.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About Frank Kelso

I grew up around Kansas City, Missouri, the origin of the Santa Fe Trail. Historic sites, monuments, and statues abound, highlighting the journey west, including the Wagons West, Pioneer Women, and the Indian Scout located on the bluffs overlooking the wide Missouri. Writing western themed books fit with my upbringing. My parents considered storytelling a family tradition, and the taller the tale, the better, when sharing around the supper table. A biomedical research scientist in my day job, I write short stories and novels to keep the family traditions alive.

What prompted you to write? I operated in a “publish or perish” academic world, writing grants to fund my biomedical research. I raised millions for the medical center and university; I found success in addressing and taking peer reviewer’s comments to heart in order to improve my grant applications. On one groundbreaking application, the reviewer commented, “This application reads more like science fiction than science.” My research colleagues challenged me to write fiction. Creating my own worlds where my characters were free to explore their limits became an enjoyable pastime, which morphed into a new career.

What do readers like about your writing? Readers and reviewers often comment on my strong voice and crisp dialogue. Many enjoy my supporting cast of colorful characters.

Is there a message in your writing – something you want to inspire? I abhor “social justice” messages. In many of my stories, the protagonist dies in the end. My critique group teases, “nobody gets out alive in Frank’s stories.” The protagonists in my stories accept responsibility for their own action, even when it costs them their life. Individual freedom assumes the responsibilities for their action.

Tell us about The Posse… A group of authors I know complained about not having a market for their short stories. I said “Let’s quit complaining and publish an anthology of our short stories.” We did.

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