Jul 27

A New Western Adventure From M. Allen: Jackson Sutton: An Assassin To Kill For: A Western Adventure

Jackson Sutton had always been the brother who went his own way. After cutting a bloody swath of revenge across the Texas territory with his family, Jackson sought to make his own fortune doing what he did best—killing. For years, he’d kept his brothers separate from his life as the top assassin within the network of skilled killers known as The Eighth Circle. But when one of his fellow agents double crosses the Eighth Circle, threatening to take down the whole enterprise, they call in Jackson to face the only man who might be able to kill him, Gabriel Dubois, and protect the woman he’s loved for years.

Hannah Baldwin lived a life of high status, money, and death. Known in the underground as Lady Black, she has earned her own reputation as a top assassin not to be trifled with. But when Gabriel Dubois, a former flame, comes after her family and the business they’ve built, she is forced into calling upon the one man she vowed never to see again—Jackson Sutton. The distance and years between them has done nothing to rid her of her feelings for him. Now faced with being hunted down, she has to put her trust in the man who broke her heart years ago. As the two of them team up to turn from hunted to hunters, can they stay away from each other long enough to remain alive under Gabriel’s hot pursuit?

 

AVAILABLE NOW FOR PRE-ORDER

 

Jul 26

Praise For The Groundbreaking New Gospel Western Story Collection From Jim Burnett, Michael Haden And Many Others

From www.scottharriswest.com

From Scott Harris:

Usually for my Thursday’s Featured Book blog post, I highlight a novel written by a single author. All of the authors I highlight on Thursdays are living, unlike Monday’s Western Review when I blog about Western books and movies, new and old. It’s my way of trying to shed a little light on some of the writers who are keeping Western novels alive.

This week’s blog is a little different. It’s an anthology, which I’ve grown to love. They’re a great way to be introduced to new writers. Some are good, some not so much, but either way you can learn a lot in a short read.

This particular anthology, “Guide My Hand, Precious Lord,” had eight stories by eight different authors.

Full disclosure: One of the stories, “Crisis of Faith,” is mine.

What makes this a bit different than other anthologies, and maybe even unique, is that it is Bible-based, with each of the stories striving to be inspirational and spiritual. And they are.

Pastor Jim Burnett is one of the writers in this anthology, and he also introduced each of the stories, closing each introduction with a short prayer. As Jim says in his introduction…

“We hope you will be encouraged, challenged, inspired, and renewed as you read these short stories of people of the Old West who relied on God through the thick and thin of life and found Him faithful.

You will laugh at the humorous situations that crop up in the characters’ lives. And a merry heart, as Proverbs says, is like a medicine. Other times, you will weep as you relate to their heartaches and imagine yourself walking in their boots.”

It’s a fun read, and besides stories from Jim and myself, you will find some from other well-known Western authors, including Douglas R. Cobb, Robert Andrews, G.P. Hutchinson, Fred Staff, Michael Haden, and a newcomer to the Western world, Arlo Flynn. I have had the pleasure of sharing pages with some of these gentlemen in previous works, but this one is different.

I hope you give it a try, and I’d love to hear your feedback.

Thank you, and enjoy!

From Pastor Jim Burnett:

Dusty Saddle Publishing and I are excited to share with you the first dedicated inspirational Western collection, “Guide My Hand, Precious Lord.” Tales of love, loss, regret and honor written by some of the greatest Western stars of today!

We hope that you will be encouraged, challenged, inspired, and renewed as you read these short stories of people of the Old West who relied on God through the thick and thin of life and found Him faithful.

You will laugh at the humorous situations that crop up in the characters’ lives. And a merry heart, as Proverbs says, is like a medicine. Other times, you will weep as you relate to their heartaches and imagine yourself walking in their boots.

But most importantly, we hope as you saddle up with us and come along for the ride that you will be reminded of the powerful love our heavenly Father has for all of us. He is faithful, and you can trust Him to love you, guide you, and be with you all of your days.

Enjoy as you read and look through the lens of these talented Western writers as they bring the Bible to life, wrapping spiritual stories in Western heritage.

Affectionately,
Jim Burnett

 

Available Now From Amazon

 

 

Jul 24

Writing To Set The Staff Straight: Meet, Learn And Discover The Secrets Of Future Western Million-Pager Charles Ray

Submitted for your consideration… a writer of westerns who I recently met. A man who has made a living out of noble deeds—politics and the military. A man who has served. A man who now continues to serve by writing westerns for an appreciative reader base. Meet Charles Ray. His latest release “The Adventures of Bass Reeves Deputy U.S. Marshal” is currently climbing the charts—and you’ll love it.

An image posted by the author.

About Charles Ray:

“I’ve been writing fiction since my teens, having won a national short story writing contest sponsored by a Sunday school magazine. During the 1960s I wrote poetry for the European edition of Stars and Stripes, and have done articles, reviews, cartoons, and photography for a number of publications in Asia, Africa, and the U.S. I write in several genres, mystery, fantasy, urban fantasy, and humor, in addition to non-fiction; but, my favorite is mystery.

I wrote a book on leadership, Things I Learned from my Grandmother about Leadership and Life, in 2008, which continues to enjoy modest sales but a growing reputation on three continents. In 2009, I went back to my first love, fiction, with Color Me Dead, the first in my Al Pennyback mystery series.

I was editorial cartoonist for the Spring Lake (NC) News from 1977 to 1981 and had a regular cartoon page and did cover art for the now defunct Buffalo magazine, a publication geared to showcasing the contribution of soldiers of color in US history.

I began the Al Pennyback mystery series from a desire to see stories about Washington, DC, my adopted home, that focused on the ordinary people rather than spies, lobbyists, and politicians.

I write for a number of Internet sites; I was a featured travel contributor on Yahoo Voices from 2010 to 2012 until the featured contributor program was terminated, and am the diplomatic correspondent for asnycnowradio, an Internet radio station based in New York.”

How did you get involved with Westerns, of all things?

When I was ambassador to Zimbabwe, I’d already been publishing, mostly mysteries, for several years. I noticed, though, that the young people on my staff were abysmally ignorant of the true history of the Western frontier, so I decided to write a few novellas to set them straight. Initially, I categorized them as historical fiction, but soon after publishing the second in the series (the Buffalo Soldier series is now 15 volumes and counting) I noticed that reviewers were calling them Westerns, which I suppose they were. So, I started tagging them as Westerns on Amazon, and sales began to take off. Amazingly, I found that I enjoyed not just writing them, but doing the research to make sure they were as historically accurate as I could make them, so I began writing other ‘Westerns,’ such as The Last Gunfighters and Mountain Man. The latter is one of my more popular books, which continues to sell well six years after publication. I don’t consider myself a Western writer or a mystery writer anymore, but just a writer who tries to tell a story that the reader can identify with and enjoy. If I had to choose, though, I’d have to say that I enjoy writing the Westerns most of all.

Now, you’re a heavy reader, aren’t you? Do you actively read Westerns, or are you interested in other kinds of books?

I’m an avid reader of just about everything (except possibly romance—not my favorite genre.) I’ve been reading since my mother taught me to read when I was four, and by the time I was in fourth grade had read every book in my school library.

Where did your interest in Bass Reeves come from? Was he always someone you wanted to write about?

I learned abut Bass Reeves when I was doing research for one of my Buffalo Soldier books. I was instantly fascinated by his story and felt that this was one that should be shared with a wider audience. I did the first one, Frontier Justice, and was planning one or two sequels, when I was contacted by a Western publisher in Texas and asked to do a series of stories about Bass Reeves that would appeal to younger readers. That series, The Adventures of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, has become five books that are doing quite well with readers of all ages, and I’ve got at least five more in the pipeline. So, I suppose the answer is that I became interested in Bass Reeves after learning of his existence, but now he has become an integral part of my writing life.

Why do you think we are currently seeing a huge resurgence in interest when it comes to Westerns?

The Western is a truly American creation, describing as it does—not always accurately in the past—a defining era in American history. The world is currently in such a state of turmoil, I think people see the Western, with its codes of conduct and themes of man against nature and other trials, as a haven to escape for a few hours from the seemingly insurmountable problems of the present.

How do you feel about the writers who are currently having such success with Westerns? Do you enjoy the new wave of Western writers?

Now that I’m writing in the genre, I’m discovering that the community of Western writers is much larger than I would’ve imagined it to be. I’ve also discovered that Western writers, in the main, are a much more sharing group than those in many other genres. I’m as happy as a hog in mud to be associated with such a community.

What will your next Western be called… and what will it be about?

I haven’t made up my mind. My journal of future writing projects has about twenty potential plot lines, mainly about Bass Reeves, but I’m also writing about a young man who travelled with his family from Iowa to Oregon and who is growing up on the frontier (the Daniel’s Journey series), as well as some general Western stories, including a few stories about some of the African-American outlaws of the Old West, like Isom Dart. I’m sort of leaning, though, toward a story about Bass Reeves before he became a marshal, that I’ve tentatively titled Bass and the Preacher, which is a play on the title of an old movie, Buck and the Preacher, which I recently saw again on one of the retro TV channels. This is a fictionalized account of Bass running away to Indian Territory during the Civil War and during his flight encountering an itinerant preacher who lectures him constantly about ‘doing the right thing and living a righteous life.’ This is intended to be sort of a back story to explain Bass’s tendency to give morality lectures to the outlaws he captures. A totally made up story not supported by any historical evidence, but I feel that it adds an interesting dimension to the character.

How was the writing process? Did you have an easy time writing it, or was it more difficult?

I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter and done magazine writing, but writing a full-length work was difficult for me at first. A novel, even a novella, is so much different from the shorter stuff like articles and short stores, it took me a while to master it—that’s probably an overstatement, because I don’t think we ever master it, but I get better with each book. My first book, a nonfiction book on leadership, took me four years to write. Each book, fiction or nonfiction, is structurally and administratively easier than the one before it. By the time I wrote Frontier Justice, I’d already done over twenty mystery and Buffalo Soldier novels, so, once I decided how I wanted to structure it, the writing was easy. I think I finished the first draft in two months, and then another two months to polish it up. I can now complete a Western in a month. So, I guess the short answer to your question is that it has become easier for me.

How do you balance writing with your everyday life?

I was in the army from 1962 to 1982, and a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1982 to 2012, and I wrote in my free time. What that means is, I got up every morning about 5:30 or 6:00 and wrote for an hour before going to work, and then wrote again from about 9:00 to 11:00 pm at night. Since I’ve retired, my day is: up at 5:30 and get the emails and other administrative stuff out of the way, then write until around 10:30. I take a break until about 4:00, and then write for another two to three hours. I do this six or seven days a week, depending on what other projects I’m working on. Occasionally, I will take a day off, about once a week, and take the wife out for the day, or spend the day with my three grandchildren. But I always keep a notebook with me to jot down plot ideas, interesting dialogue or descriptions, or ideas for characters. Even when I’m doing something else, like the summer workshop on professional writing I run for Rangel Scholars, I’m running over story ideas in my head. It sounds confusing but works for me. And a plus is now that I’m retired and don’t have to get up and go off to work every day, my writing in my home office keeps me out from under my wife’s feet and thumb, which she’s happy with.

How did you get signed by Outlaws Publishing?

J.C. Hulsey contacted me to interview me about Frontier Justice, and after the interview we got to talking about how to attract new younger readers. I mentioned doing stories about Bass Reeves and also about young people on the frontier, and he offered me a contract. The rest is history.

What was the first record you purchased?

Wow! That’s a hard one. I have a collection of over 500 vinyl records from the ‘50s and ‘60s and have no idea which one I bought first. I have every Elvis album, the Coasters, Jackie Wilson, and so on. I imagine a Jackie Wilson album was my first, because I was always captivated by his vocal range and his songs, but it could also have been an Elvis album.

The first book you read?

The first full-length book I read was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, which was in my school library. I think I was in third grade at the time.

What was your first experience of the Old West?

In 1972, I was posted at Fort Huachuca, Arizona for intelligence training, and on weekends when we had down time, I would explore the region around the Huachuca Mountains and as far away as Tucson, Tombstone, and some of the other Old West towns and sites in the area. I even went horseback riding in the mountains, often alone, and pretended that I was an Old West pioneer trailing outlaws, which was a bit childish, considering that I was a captain in the army, but I’ve always had a somewhat childish imagination. Since then, I ‘ve lived or worked in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah, and have the opportunity to visit a lot of the famous Old West sites, towns, and forts, and they figure prominently in my books.

Thank you for your time.

It’s been my pleasure. I’m always happy to share my writing journey with others.

 

AVAILABLE NOW!

 

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Jul 24

REBLOG: How To Write A Bestseller With Western Writer Scott Harris: Mile 1: Why Me?

Scott Harris. An enigma in the Western writing business. A man who has scored hits with each of his releases. There isn’t enough room to name them all here… and now we are presenting his thoughts about writing. Each one of these blogs will give you the thoughts of a bestseller… directly from his mouth! Read on and discover more about Harris’ writing world…

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I’ve decided to write a series of blog posts about writing Westerns, specifically from the perspective of a new writer. This is the first one. If I were you, and I was considering reading this series, I’d be asking the following question…

Why him? It’s a very fair question, so I asked myself…

Why me? I’ve been writing novels, for less than two years — which means I’m very new to it and have plenty to learn. So what makes me think I’m qualified to write a blog about writing books, specifically Westerns?

I believe it’s the fact that I am so new to writing novels that makes what I have to say relevant to those who have also just begun, or are about to begin, this journey. Where do I write? When? What software? How do I get published? Do I need an agent? Who can I turn to for help? What are the tools that allow me to grow? Where can I meet other Western writers? Editors? Proofreaders?

My thinking is that my role as a new writer, combined with the experience and knowledge I have gained, might position me ideally to offer some advice and guidance. I’ve written and published (both self-publishing and with a publisher) several books, and yet I am still new enough to the process to easily remember (and in some cases still be dealing with) all of the things that race through a new author’s mind, many of which serve as a distraction from the actual writing.

I’ve published four novels in my Brock Clemons series (Coyote Courage, Coyote Creek, Coyote Canyon and Battle on the Plateau), a companion book of short stories (Tales From Dry Springs) and a nonfiction Western (52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels). I also have another nonfiction Western about to be released (52 Weeks • 52 Western Movies), and have had my short stories included in a variety of published anthologies. So I have gained some experience and sold a few books.

Will you benefit? I certainly hope so. My plan is for this blog to be entertaining and helpful, especially for, but not exclusive to, the newer writers among us. When I started my first book, I found plenty of advice from seasoned writers — and it was, and is, of value. But so many of the books on writing, including the great ones by Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, etc., don’t address what it’s like to get started. I didn’t find much, if anything, from people who were new to the hobby/profession, and I think I would have enjoyed that. So writing a blog that speaks to newer writers, from a new writer’s perspective, is the plan.

What will I write about? The journey, which is what this is. Valuable tools to help you write. Motivational ideas to get you over the rough patches — and there will be some. Time management tips. Self-publishing vs. an agent vs. a publisher. How to connect with others on the same, or a similar, trail. The value of writing when trying to become a writer. The value of reading when trying to become a writer. The value of candid and honest friends and family when trying to become a writer. How to promote your book.

Will it be fun? Absolutely! Writing Westerns, for me, is a hobby. Someday, if I sell a few more books, there may be more of a business component to the process, but for now, it’s a tremendous amount of fun, with an occasional small check thrown in. But the key is, it’s fun! And I plan on this blog being fun as well, for you — the reader — and for me.

I’m hoping this journey will be interactive, that I’ll hear back from you with questions, comments, critiques, and if it goes well, the occasional attaboy!

So let’s saddle up and get started, and if you already have something you’d like to share, or a question you’d like to ask, send me an email at Scott@scottharriswest.com.

Thank you and keep writing!

 

CATCH THE LATEST SCOTT HARRIS WESTERN BESTSELLER!

Click here to download your copy

The latest adventure from one of the most exciting Western authors of today! This is “Mojave Massacre” from Scott Harris! A sure-fire reader pleaser!

Brock, Sophie and Huck are still living with the Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But their lives are threatened by the murderous and vengeful Paiute, and Brock and Huck, seeing no alternative, race one hundred miles to a small trading outpost, hoping to buy the rifles that will give them a chance against the much larger Paiute forces.

They stumble across four slaughtered Hopi Indians, track down the murderers, and find help in very unexpected places from friends – new and old.

The final battle is brutal, bloody and decisive.

Mojave Massacre is the exciting second book in the new Grand Canyon trilogy and the fifth book in the best-selling Brock Clemons Western series, following the tremendously successful Dry Springs trilogy. Click here to download your copy of this exciting new book!

Jul 23

REBLOG: Forum Featuring Western Bestseller Fred Staff

A brand new interview from Fred Staff taken from “Forum.” You can read the original interview by clicking here.

About Fred Staff:

Fred Staff was born in Seminole and raised in Pawnee, Oklahoma His love of history drove him to write books that make history come alive and at the same time gives the reader action and excitement. The numerous reviews he has received on his first book ROCHA’S TREASURE OF POTOSI explains why it is a best seller in Bolivia and highly acclaimed in the USA.

When — and why — did you first fall in love with Westerns?

You must understand that I was raised in the middle of real life Westerns. My father’s office was next door to a saddle shop, in a very small town. I didn’t wait on him in his office; I spent many hours in the saddle shop. It was a hangout for all the farmers and cattlemen of the area, so from the time I was 8 or 9, I heard story after story from the men that were a part of the Western life. This was in the 1940s. Every Saturday, all of us boys had to attend the only movie house in town, and it always was a Western. Your life was a mess for a week if you missed it, and often I went to the same movie twice, the matinee and then that night. It was here that I saw “Shane” for the first time, and it opened my eyes to what a real Western story was. I also remember seeing “Duel in the Sun.” These movies where the good guy didn’t have to sing, wear white hats and ride a fancy horse sent me on the trail of the real West.

I was also raised in Indian Country, and for most of my life, Indian children were classmates and teammates. I visited their homes, and they visited mine. This gave me an insight into their families’ pasts as their parents and grandparents told stories of their early days. One of the most exciting things was attending the Ada, Oklahoma, rodeo. At the time, it was the third largest outdoor rodeo in the world. I rode in the parade several times.

My grandfather was the mayor of Stonewall, Oklahoma, and had been a small rancher. He was friends with Dick Truit and Evert Shaw, residents of the town, and they both were world champion rodeo performers. Through him, I met and visited these real men of the Western world.

We moved to Pawnee, Oklahoma, when I was 13 and Indians in blankets still shopped and visited on the streets. Many of their children and grandchildren were my friends. The town also had an Indian boarding school, and about a fourth of my classmates were from there. At that time, Pawnee had the world’s largest free Indian Pow Wow. I spent many a night watching the dances and mesmerized by the great costumes.

I had this strong background in the love of the West and was an above average history student. My family lived mostly in eastern Oklahoma, and I traveled that part of the country and heard many a story of that area. Many years later, I took three Western history courses from Royce Peterson at the University of Central Oklahoma. He has to have been one of the greatest and most knowledgeable teachers of the period. He and I became friends and spent several hours after class discussing the history of the West. I give him the credit for my LOVE of the West. I was into it, but never had the grasp of the magnitude until learning from him.

About the same time, I came to Bolivia to mine gold. I spent five years coming and going, and in one of those years, I helped build a school in Trinidad, Bolivia, not the island. This city was the center of millions of acres of cattle land, and the city was as if you had gone back in time at least 50 years. It was like the later days of the Old West.

Later I married a Bolivian, and her cousin was a witness to the exhumation of the grave that was thought to be that of the Sundance Kid. By the way, it was not Sundance’s grave. It was the body of an English mining engineer.

Of course, my conversations with Peterson had several times touched on Butch and Sundance, and I returned to the states and we shared more stories about Bolivia and the famous pair.

Who are your three favorite Western writers?

Zane Grey, Max Brand and Jack Schaefer

Which Western do you wish you’d written?

“Shane”

What is the most recent Western you’ve read?

“Riders of the Purple Sage”

The “Desert Island” question. What are your three favorite Western books?

Any of the books by my favorite writers. If I was going to be there a long time, Zane Grey books, because they are very difficult to read and would consume a lot of time.

What are your three favorite Western movies?

“The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Shane,” “Open Range,” “Unforgiven,” “Culpepper Cattle Company,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and “Tombstone.” Sorry I can’t name three. Each of these has something special in them that I really liked.

Of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite — and why? 

I would have to say the “Bass Reeves Trilogy.”  I spent hundreds of hours in research on these, and they all became best-sellers. No one is better than the other. In fact, they all have to be read to get a grasp of what a great man he was. I don’t know how many times I thought that his real story was fiction, as he was such an amazing man, so far superior to all of the more talked about Western lawmen.

What is the most recent Western you’ve written?

“Gunfighter’s Revenge”

Can you tell us anything about your next book?

It will be fiction. I love to write historical novels, but I have a request for a fiction book, and it will be about a Civil War sniper who has turned against the evil of the time, because his family has been destroyed physically and financially by the war. He will become known as the Devil by those he hunts. He will ask no quarter and give none.

If you could go back in time, what would be the time and place in the Old West you’d like to have lived in for a year?

The development of Oklahoma. There was more action from 1870 to 1910 here than any place in the U.S. What year is up for grabs? I would think that anyone who survived a year during this time should have gotten a medal.

Is there a question you’d wish I asked? The answer?

Have you written anything other than Westerns, and why?

The answer? Yes, my first book was “Rocha’s Treasure of Potosi.” It became a best-seller, and I spent more than 15 years developing the story. It is set in the most industrialized city in the world during the 1500s and the source of much of the riches of Spain. It is based on the true life of a man that nearly broke Spain and the Catholic Church. I had never written a book of any kind till this, and its great success drove me to write more historical novels. The thing that I tried to do with the story was educate the people of the United States that South America has a history that far surpasses the States’, and events there greatly influenced the States’ history, yet few know anything about it. An example is that the $ sign was based on the mint stamp used in Potosi for the billions of dollars of silver shipped to Spain.

 

THE LATEST WESTERN BESTSELLER:

AVAILABLE NOW FROM FRED STAFF

 

Jul 20

‘Harmon Bidewell: The Town Tamer’ From John D. Fie, Jr. Is Now Available

THE BEST SELLING WESTERN ACTION SERIES HEATS UP!

The Luke Pressor U.S. Marshal Series is campfire hot with the first three books on the Kindle bestsellers list. Now it’s about to get hotter when Harmon Bidewell, “The Town Tamer,” joins the series.

Judge Clarkson receives an urgent letter from the citizens of Cattlemen’s Crossing, begging for help. The town’s sheriff along with his deputy are murdered on the same day.

This normally quiet little town is now without law and quickly turning into just another wild trail town, filled with out of control trailhands.

Judge Clarkson has one name on his mind—he had applied for a job as a deputy marshal, but he has a checkered past. It’s a hard choice for the judge to make. But harsh times call for a harsh man!

 

AVAILABLE NOW

 

Jul 16

New GP Hutchinson Western Novel Coming in Late August 2018!

(From the official GP Hutchinson Website)

Looking for a fresh new angle on stories of the Old West? I believe I’ve got just the thing for you, and it’s coming in late August 2018. My latest novel, Cimarron Jack’s Real Wild West, includes many familiar elements from classic-style Westerns–cattle drives, conflicts between lawmen and outlaws, range wars, etc. But I’ve taken these elements and approached them from a perspective rarely presented in Western novels.

Synopsis

Cimarron Jack Wheatley is just wrapping up a tremendously successful first tour with his very own highly acclaimed “Real Wild west Extravaganza” when his show is stricken by a rapid succession of oddly coincidental setbacks–injuries, formerly satisfied troupe members suddenly quitting, and then a catastrophic train wreck. It soon becomes apparent that someone intends to ruin the business that Jack has invested his entire life into–and end his life, as well. Now, everything that Cimarron jack is supposed to represent as a symbol of Wild west heroism in the show, he is called upon to actually be in the deadly reality of chasing down answers and outlaws.

Don’t Miss It

There’s plenty of rip-roaring Wild West action in this upcoming new novel. I’ve had you, the reader, in mind as I’ve written every page of it. The novel features engaging new Western characters and plenty of fictional drama, adventure, and romance set on an historically accurate stage.

Look for the book in paperback and eBook editions on Amazon in late August!

Jul 16

Western Writing Star Cobb Questions Reviews: “What Is the Gold Standard for Accuracy in Westerns?”

What is the “Gold Standard” when it comes to accuracy in Westerns? All authors of Westerns—of course, myself included—strive to be as historically accurate as they can, even though they are writing novels and not works of nonfiction, biographies or autobiographies. There is a lot of “wiggle room” for authors of Westerns, and rightly so, for any number of reasons.

For instance, were any of us alive when the historical figures we often write about roamed the West and had their adventures? No, we weren’t, and unless they wrote about something they did or were directly quoted, what they said to each other has been lost to the sands of history. But that doesn’t prevent us, us authors, from trying to come up with possible things they might have said, and for the most part, the kind folks who read our humble efforts are fully aware of that. They only expect certain things to be accurate, not every single aspect of what an author has included in his or her novel.

Does this willing suspension of disbelief, as it’s often been called, have exactly the same rules for every fan of Westerns who reads them? No, it does not, except for basically accepted tenets—like cowboys shouldn’t be wielding ray guns (unless it’s maybe a sci-fi crossover, a separate but related topic). They generally wear boots and not shoes like Nikes or high tops, etc.

But as one historical figure I have written about said (at least, I wrote his words, though there’s zero evidence he did say it), “If it was a fair game, I’d play by the rules, and may the better man live to fight another day. But, in this case, it’s definitely not a fair game.”

There is not really any established “Gold Standard” across the board for every Western ever written. In the novel True Grit, by Charles Portis, for instance, people accept that Marshal Rooster Cogburn never really lived, but was a fictional character, based on several other lawmen who lived in Arkansas. The first movie, based on the novel and starring John Wayne, is supposedly set in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but it was filmed in Colorado and included the Rockies as a backdrop in some scenes. Wayne used a Winchester made in 1893, which was not in existence during the time period Portis was writing about. Do any of these facts make the novel less of a classic, beloved by fans of Westerns, or the movie also less beloved by fans of it? I would argue that just because neither the novel nor the movie adhere strictly to facts, that has little bearing on their popularity or the ratings that fans give them.

However, in other cases, like a recent review of The Guns of Heck Thomas, how a fact was interpreted by the reviewer led to the book receiving a rating of three stars at Amazon. Now, three stars is not exactly a terrible rating, but the headline title of the review was: “Heck deserved better.” The review was all of three sentences:

“Well U.S. Deputy Marshals did get rewards! Unless it was a federal warrant. This book fails historical review.”

I did take some pains to try to get as many facts in The Guns of Heck Thomas as accurate as possible. One was regarding whether deputy marshals in Fort Smith under Judge Isaac C. Parker ever received any rewards, other than the pay derived from elements like the numbers of outlaws they arrested and brought in alive, and the miles that they traveled and got reimbursed for, for example.

Deputy marshals in Arkansas were not bounty hunters, in any sense. A couple of park rangers I personally asked about this question, while researching the novel, told me that receiving rewards wasn’t the policy of deputy marshals who plied their trade out of Fort Smith during the 1880s. One newspaper of the era called the “Fort Smith Elevator” made no mention of any rewards that Thomas ever received in the accounts about the arrests that it mentioned and trials he attended, like one in which I write about in The Guns of Heck Thomas, involving surviving members of the Lee Gang from Texas.

Thomas did receive a reward for his part in being a posse member in Texas, and assisting in killing two of the Lee brothers, who both resisted arrest. But he was a private detective then, not a deputy marshal, and I duly mention that in the Western. He split the money with his co-leader of the posse, Deputy Marshal James Taylor, but that was in Texas, not Arkansas, and prior to Thomas moving with his family to Fort Smith.

Then, while a member of the famous trio, the Three Guardians, there is at least one account from a newspaper from the 1890s that he received a reward for his part in bringing a criminal to justice. That was, however, after he began the second part of his career, and each state may have had their own guidelines when it came to such considerations.

Before and during the Civil War, Heck Thomas referred to black people as “darkies.” I wrote in my novel that the war changed him, and afterwards, he came to regard each person based not on the color of his skin, but on his character. Where’s my “proof” he had changed his opinions about black people? I didn’t have any and still don’t have any proof of that. He may have remained just as bigoted and racist, by today’s standards, at any rate, as he’d ever been. But I chose to portray him more heroically, as a more complex and nuanced person, a more three-dimensional one.

Was that doing Thomas a service or a disservice? At least, in my personal opinion, I was attempting to portray him in the best light possible, though I did not leave out that he, like all men, had faults and personal issues, some of which led to his divorce from his first wife.

Even when it came to bounty hunters working out of the Fort Smith area at the time of the 1880s, I was informed by the park rangers I spoke to in downtown Fort Smith that there were some, but a very low number of them—maybe two or three. Their names weren’t disclosed by newspapers to protect their privacy and prevent retaliation.

I believe that a big reason why there weren’t very many bounty hunters in the area was that bounties for criminals were not often offered. Did that stop me from writing about a fictional bounty hunter, Matt “The Boot Collector” Hardy, in my Western, Gunshots On Hell’s Border? No, it did not. It’s a work of fiction, like The Guns of Heck Thomas and my other Westerns.

I welcome any opinions, comments and feedback about what are or should be considered as “Gold Standards” when it comes to Westerns. Please feel free to leave a comment about my musings here, or about any of my Westerns. An individual’s feelings about the books that he or she reads is what’s ultimately important to that particular person, though his or her rating can potentially, of course, influence the future sales of the novel and the income of an author for the better or the worse.

Thank you.

Douglas R. Cobb

Just a question! Have you tried “The Guns of Heck Thomas?”

From Douglas Cobb, the bestselling author of “Crossing the Dead Line: The Guns of Bass Reeves,” and “Men of Iron Will” comes his new hit Western, “The Guns of Heck Thomas.”

When Heck Thomas became a United States deputy marshal, he had already begun a colorful career in law enforcement. His mission to rid the country of despicable outlaws began in Georgia, took him to Texas, and finally to “Hell’s Border,” in the wild town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Join United States Deputy Marshal Heck Thomas on his quest to avenge injustice throughout Indian Territory. He’ll stop at nothing, even at the expense of his personal life, to hunt down and capture the violent men wreaking havoc in the region.

Meet “The Guns of Heck Thomas” from Douglas R. Cobb.

 

Download your copy today!

Jul 13

Announcing A Brand-New Western Novel From GP Hutchinson

FROM DUSTY SADDLE PUBLISHING

COMING IN LATE AUGUST 2018

 

 

Cimarron Jack Wheatley is just wrapping up a tremendously successful first tour with his very own highly acclaimed “Real Wild West Extravaganza” when his show is stricken by a rapid succession of oddly coincidental setbacks—injuries, formerly satisfied troupe members quitting, and then a catastrophic train wreck. It soon becomes apparent that someone intends to ruin the business that Jack has invested his entire life into–and end his life, as well. Now, everything that Cimarron Jack is supposed to represent as a symbol of Wild West heroism in the show, he is suddenly called upon to actually be in the deadly reality of chasing down answers and outlaws.

Don’t miss the rip-roaring Wild West action in this upcoming new novel from GP Hutchinson!

 

Keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground for details on this exciting new release.

 

  1. Engaging new Western characters
  2. A fresh new angle on classic-style Western storytelling
  3. Fictional drama, adventure, and romance set on an historically accurate stage

 

COMING SOON IN PAPERBACK AND E-BOOK EDITIONS

Check out the Official GP Hutchinson Website 

Jul 12

The Latest In A Long Line Of Western Hits From Paul L. Thompson Has Arrived!

Yes… it’s finally here! The latest hit from super-bestselling Western author Paul L. Thompson. When it comes to Thompson… each of his fifty-nine great Westerns has taken up a residency on the bestseller charts. Each golden hit has given readers the three things they love most about Western adventures…. guns, crime and repentance! “Yer In The Wrong Town Mister,” promises great Western fun! Grab your copy today…. and read the snippet below to discover your next Western adventure!

A Snippet of the New Story:

Shorty was wounded and had lost more than a dab of blood. He was slouched over in his saddle as he rode into Holbrook, Arizona. In front of him tied to their saddles were the Collins brothers. He slid from the saddle in front of the sheriff’s office. Tying Dunnie he told Jody and Jim to get down. ‘Can’t, we’re tied to the saddle horn.”
Shorty didn’t untie the ropes, just cut them with his knife. They dismounted and walked inside. A deputy jumped to his feet. “What’er you doing’ with Jody an’ Jim?”
“Where’s the sheriff?”
“Gone over to Page.”
“I’m lockin’ these fellers up for a spell.”
“Yer in the wrong town Master. This is Frank Collins’ town an’ them are his sons.”
“Are you gonna help er get in the way?”
“Only help I’ll give is get you the doctor, if you don’t pass out first.” Out the door he ran as Shorty locked the boys up and sat down behind the desk.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THIS GREAT NEW ADVENTURE TODAY!

 

U.S. Marshal Shorty Thompson - Yer in the Wrong Town Mister: Tales of the Old West Book 59 by [Thompson, Paul L.]

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