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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Ms. Quote Interview with Troy D. Smith

MQ: Hello Fantastic Readers out there ‘cross the other side of the screen! Whee, I’m so excited! I’m gettin’ fan mail now! ‘Course I know I may never get the snicker-doodles amount that my hero, I.B. Nosey, the ‘official unofficial’ cyberspace reporter of Gum Drop Island fame gets, but shucks, I’m plum tickled to pieces! Who knows? Maybe I will become famous an’ stupendous an’ wondrous an’…an’ ever’thin’ else that’s ous. Even my producer, Billy Bob, remarked, “Huh. Who woulda thought it?” (presses finger to cheek in pondering gesture) Now, wonder why he said that? Anyway (flicks hair with airy hand) I’ve got another doozy interroga…uh, I mean, interview all lined up today. So, welcome, y’all. This is my column and it’s called…

Ms. Quote's WORDS with...

 Troy D. Smith

MQ: Yoo hoo, Mr. Troy D. Smith? You home?

TS: (calls from direction of patio) Back here, ma’am. I’m merely reclining in the shade with a glass of iced tea. Care to join me?

MQ: Oh, thank you, kindly. (heels tap across brick-lain walk as she sashays over to his table) But I’m a workin’ gal an’ I really shouldn’t drink while on the job.

TS: Ah. (peers at MQ through a haze of cigar smoke) I see you’re blond.

MQ: An’ I come by it naturally too! Oh, my! (gasps) What’s that standin’ over yonder next to the concrete fountain?

TS: The wooden Indian? I call him Old Blockhead. Just the sight of him inspires me while I type out my many western books.

MQ: (squeals) Yes! That’s what I want to interroga -- um, ask you questions about! Your book, Red Trail, for starters. Like, well, what makes it red?

TS: Because the road of revenge is a bloody, bloody trail. Or, for those Tolkien fans out there- “A Sword-Day, a Red Day, ere the sun rises!”

MQ: (blinks) Huh?

TS: Hm, yes. (puffs thoughtfully on cigar) Perhaps a reading of the blurb might be helpful. (pulls copy of book off top of table) Shall I?

MQ: Okey-dokey.

TS: RED TRAIL gets its name from the title story about a mountain man who embarks on a trail of vengeance against the Indians who killed his wife... and finds himself in danger of being consumed by his hatred. That volume also includes the two stories that were finalists for this year's Peacemaker Award, "Blackwell's Run" (about a cavalry sergeant captured by Indians and his bid for escape) and "The Sin of Eli" (the Peacemaker winner- about a godly farmer who is trying to reach his outlaw son, scheduled to be hanged.)

TS: And lest we forget the first book (holds it to face MQ). CHEROKEE WINTER: TALES OF THE WEST PART ONE...and in fact, the second part is RED TRAIL: TALES OF THE WEST PART TWO. Actually, it had been one big collection, but my publisher recommended dividing it into two books because smaller books sell better. Ahem, now the blurb: The title story of CHEROKEE WINTER is a story about real-life Tennessee frontiersman Thomas Sharpe Spencer, aka Big-Foot Spencer, an extremely colorful character and pal of Daniel Boone. The story is actually about his death... he was killed (in winter) in the very last Cherokee war in Tennessee, in 1793 (he had fought the Cherokees for decades.) So there are Cherokees... it is literally winter... it is the winter of Spencer's life... it is the winter of the Cherokees as a military power.

MQ: Ooh, Big Foot Spencer! Is he kin to that Big Foot fella who stomps through the swamps that everyone is so scared of?

TS: You mean my cousin Boudreau? I don’t think so. Boudreau’s last name is Bigg La Foot. He is best known by the sobriquet Bayou Boudreau Bigg La Foot.

MQ: (gives blank look) So--sobri--? Oh, bother. (waves hand in dismissive gesture) Anyhoo, how was Spencer a pal to Daniel Boone?

TS: They were “Long Hunters” together… long hunters were, well, hunters who went on months-long expeditions into the “frontier” of the 1760s and 1770s, present day Tennessee and Kentucky. Spencer and Boone went on such hunts together, with a handful of comrades, and were among the first Englishmen in Tennessee (the French and Spanish had already been through.)

MQ: Gosh. You seem to know a right smart ‘bout history!

TS: (purses mouth) Perhaps a bit. I’m currently teaching American history at Tennessee Tech, and serving as president of Western Fictioneers -the first national writing organization devoted exclusively to fiction about the Old West.

MQ: (giggles) Does Old West get upset if you write about Youn’ East?

TS: It’s kind of complicated, since the Old West is younger than the Young East, and since parts of the Young East were the Young West when the East was Young, so that makes the Western Young East the Old Young West. But East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, until at last we all shall rest at God’s great judgment seat. This is because Twain, who was from the Midwest and became famous in the Old West before he moved to the Old Young East, long ago met his demise, despite rumors to the contrary… after rumors of his demise were initially mistaken.

MQ: (nibbles on end of fingernail) Uh huh.

TS: (sips iced tea) What other information can I provide for your listening audience?

MQ: Oh. (clears throat) How ‘bout somethin’ ease --uh, I mean, simpl-- well, that is, an’thin’ before you became a writer?

TS: A bio? Good idea. Going back to the beginning, I was born in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee in 1968. I’ve waxed floors, moved furniture, been a lay preacher, and taught high school and college.

MQ: (gives bright smile) If you’ve waxed floors an’ moved furniture an’ stuff, I bet you wash windows too! The studio that Billy Bob operates can really use a cleanin’, let me tell you, mister. How much might you charge?

TS: Absolutely zero. See, briefly, during my misguided teenage years, I worked for a window cleaning company, and hated it. Ever after, in my cleaning guy career, I refused to do windows. Strictly a floor guy.

MQ: Oh, pooh. Well, what else have you done?

TS: Rather than to have you sign me on for any kind of work with Billy Bob (flashes grin), I’m going to fall back on relating my writing career. I write in a variety of genres, achieving my earliest successes with westerns -my first published short story appeared in 1995 in Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, and I won the Spur Award in 2001 for the novel Bound for the Promise-Land (being a finalist on two other occasions.)

MQ: (eyes widen) Did that hurt? When you won the Spur Award?

TS: It kind of smarted a little- I can only imagine how those poor souls who’ve won five or six must feel. I’ve been hoping to win a second one, though, because with only one spur I keep going around and around in circles.

MQ: Maybe you should be nominated for a Pukelitzer Award! My hero, I.B. Nosey of Gum Drop Island fame, won one, you know. (pouts) I wasn’t even invited to his trophy ceremony. Did you attend?

TS: Oh, no. I’m holding out for the prestigious No-Bells prize… or at least the No-Whistles prize.

MQ: That sounds like fun! And, oops, before I forget Billy Bob had a special question. (flips pages of notepad) Here it is. Okay. (brow wrinkles in concentration) You write westerns, but in your photos you wear no coonskin hats, like a regular western dude would do. So…you chaw tabacca?

TS: (chuckles) Well now, I might write about the west, but I’ve never claimed to be a Western Dude. In fact I am a Southern Dude (and a sneaky one, as many of my westerns are either actually set in the South or have Southern protagonists.) And in the South, nobody chaws tabacca… they chaw ‘bakker (which makes me think that perhaps Wookiees are Southern.) Actually, as a writer of westerns and of mysteries, and as a professor/professional historian, I wear many hats. Shall I try on a few? (reaches into bag propped next to chair and withdraws object).

This is my rodeo hat.

My private-eye hat.

Add a wee bit of Scotland to this one.

And, of course, my white hat. (plops it atop head)

MQ: Oh, that’s cutesy-wootsy! It just sets off your blue shirt and red neck hanky!

TS: Hm, yes, well…(coughs) Forgive me, ma’am, but I must bid you adios. There’s a new plot I need to write up and I’m off to find it. (gives sharp whistle. Rustling is heard in nearby bushes and a muscular stallion trots over. TS leaps into saddle)

MQ: (points to horse) But that’s not a muscular stallion.

TS: (spreads palms) My interview, my words.

MQ: But I haven’t finished! Can’t you swoop me up and take me with you like those daring western heroes of old?

TS: Sorry, ma’am, but this southern dude doesn’t ride sidesaddle. Hi ho, Cowlick! (kicks horse and the pair gallop away in a cloud of dust)

MQ: Well! (stomps foot and then shrieks) Troy D. Smith! (glares after him as he and Cowlick ride off into the sunset) You teach that mangy horsey of yours some manners!

* * * * * * * * * *

Visit Troy at his site and blog
Amazon page

Friday, July 27, 2012


My birthday is July 28th. I share my special day with Jackie O., and only one other person I’ve actually met in my lifetime—my daughter’s best childhood friend, Hailey.
I always loved that my birthday came in July. The Oklahoma weather was traditionally hot. In those early years, we dressed in our best party dresses, wore white anklets and Mary Janes, and always, there were beautifully wrapped gifts (no gift bags in those days!) and a marvelous homemade cake.

My sixth birthday is one I remember vividly. We were in the process of moving, and our furniture hadn’t arrived. Mom never bought cakes, but this was an exception. She bought the only chocolate cake the store had—a German chocolate cake—forgetting that I was “the one” who didn’t like coconut. We pulled out the kitchen drawers, turned them on end and used them for makeshift chairs around our “table”—a large wardrobe box turned on its side. The same day we were moving in, another family was doing the same thing, just down the street. The best birthday gift of all? They had a little girl my age! Jane became my best friend.

Slumber parties were popular in later years. Parents endured a houseful of giggling, rambunctious elementary school-aged girls for the longest night of their lives…until the next year rolled around.

Costume parties were another fad. The pictures that my parents took of a costume party I had for my tenth birthday are unforgettable. I remember how much fun we all had, figuring out “who” or “what” we were going to be. Amidst a hippie, a leprechaun, and Indian princess, and a gypsy, I was a hula dancer. My oldest sister had just returned from a year of college studies in Hawaii, and I had a brand new grass skirt that needed to be broken in. My good friend DaNel, who’d moved just across the street, wore my kimono—another present from my sister. This was before Pizza Hut—we ate hot dogs for dinner.

And what about skating parties? Do any of you remember those? We had a skating rink with a wooden floor (yes, this definitely shows you how old I am!) and we never tired of skating around and around, couples skating, all boys, all girls, backward skate—the changeups were endless, as were the games.

This month I’ll celebrate a milestone birthday—number 55. I don’t mind getting older at all—hey, I can get my discount at IHOP now!

In my book, FIRE EYES, Frank Hayes, the youngest of the deputy marshals, has made an

embarrassing and potentially deadly mistake. Though Kaed Turner, the main character, survives, Frank has made the decision to give up law enforcement. Kaed seeks him out, along with Travis Morgan, another marshal, to have a talk with him about it. He shows Frank that no matter what, he’s part of a different kind of family now. Birthday reminiscing is how the difficult conversation begins.

“Well, Frank, I expect you’ll remember to tell someone next time, won’t you?” Kaed said quietly.

“Won’t be a next time, Mr. Turner. I don’t b’lieve I’m cut out for this.”
Travis started forward, but Kaed put a staying hand on his arm. Travis met his eyes and Kaed shook his head. He came toward Frank slowly. When he got within arm’s length, he stopped.

“How old are you, Frank?”

“Twenty. Or close enough. My birthday’s next month. My ma, she always made a cake.” He glanced around at Kaed, a flush staining his neck, making its way into his face. “Chocolate,” he mumbled, “if she could get it.”

Kaed gave him a half-smile and closed the last bit of distance between them. “You’re awful lucky, Frank. I lost my mother when I was just shy of nine. I’m not sure I even remember exactly when my birthday is. But, that’s not really important, anymore.”

Frank nodded, but didn’t look at him. He kept his eyes fixed on the gently swirling water of the creek.

Kaed went on. “When you became a marshal, you got another family. We all share the same life, the same dangers, the same loneliness of bein’ out on the trail.”

Frank shuddered, his lips compressing tightly. “I know you’re right, Mr. Turner.”
When he didn’t continue, Kaed said, “I’m not mad at you, Frank. Anybody can make a mistake. Travis, here, he was a couple of years older than you when he made his big one.”

Travis drew his breath in, and Kaed turned to give him a quelling glance. “Right, Trav?”

Travis nodded.

Kaed turned back to Frank. “You’ll have to get Trav to tell you about it.” He spoke easily, as one friend would to another, as if he thought Travis and Frank were on amicable terms.

Frank gave a short, brittle laugh. “I don’t think Travis Morgan is gonna talk to me about any mistake he ever made.”

“Trav, come on up here,” Kaed said.

Travis slowly stepped forward to join Frank and Kaed, swallowing tightly. “Frank, I guess I need to say—”

“You better do more than guess what you need to say, Travis,” Kaed said, his tone cool.
Travis glanced at Kaed and flushed. He nodded. When he turned back to Frank, his green eyes were apologetic. “I gave you a hell of a rough time, Frank. I’m sorry for that.”

He extended his hand. “Will you accept my apology?”

Kaed looked at Frank expectantly. He felt like an older brother overseeing two younger, quarreling siblings, forcing them back to brotherhood once more. But Kaed knew he was the only one who could end this discord between them.

Hesitantly, Frank reached for Travis’s hand and shook. “Sure. Forget it.”

“All right. Now let’s hear no more of this business of you givin’ up marshaling, Frank,” Kaed said. “You trained with Lem Polk, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. I think that might be my problem.”

Kaed nodded, sure that it was. “You ride with Travis for the next few months, see if he can’t teach you what you need to know.”

Both Travis and Frank started to speak, but Kaed held up a hand, giving them both a hard, cutting look. “Make your peace, boys. Travis, I expect you to teach him everything I taught you.”

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from FIRE EYES--all my short stories, novels and novellas are available at Amazon here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HEART SONG And It's Imperfect Hero

It’s not easy to write a story around a hero with a life threatening disease. The usual template for a hero is that he must be handsome, rich and strong. Of course, that would make a wonderful hero but, beneath those assets there has to be something even greater, assets that set him apart from good looks and money and that would be a foundation built on courage, heart and determination.
When I was approached to take part in a breast cancer survivor anthology, my first idea was to have a heroine with breast cancer. However, I realized quickly that it was not a unique idea. I decided to  research breast cancer and found, quite to my astonishment, that men not only get breast cancer, but fifty percent of them die from it. Right then I decided how I wanted to create my story and make it unique but also meaningful.  It was tricky business for me to come up with a man suffering from breast cancer and still make him a genuine hero. I hope that Heart Song captures the heart of an indisputable hero.

Heart Song
Released June 29, 2012
ISBN: 9781476235066
Short Story 53 pages
Publishing by Rebecca Vickery Publishing
Facing death might change Gideon’s life.


Gideon thought he had the perfect life as a musician with a beautiful model as his girlfriend, until he was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ashamed and afraid he may die, Gideon hits bottom when his girlfriend dumps him for a real man.

Hope comes in the form of his father’s ghost and a person he has just met. Can he beat the odds and survive? And if he does, can he ever find happiness again?


He had only himself to blame. Choosing a woman like Sylvia, beautiful, sexy, and narcissistic had proved ego boosting but emotionally exhausting. Every day her drama filled the house with tears or anger. A broken nail led to wailing that life wasn’t fair. A missed opportunity for a botox treatment led to tears and hysteria. She was, however, the perfect trophy girlfriend. Her perfect figure and her Elisabeth Taylor beauty perked up every social event. Envious males gathered around her at parties and wished they were Gideon with this exciting woman on his arm. If they only knew. A woman like that may be a great lover, a stimulating sexual partner in bed, but she wasn’t much of a friend and certainly no companion or partner.  First sign of trouble and she skedaddled into the arms of another man. He had chosen Sylvia for all the wrong reasons. Maybe he really wasn’t good enough.  He sure wasn’t a good judge of character. He felt about as empty as his house.

Places where you can find me:  
My website:  http://sarahmcneal.com
Places where I blog regularly:
Sarah’s Provocative Ponderings:  http://pasttheprint.blogspot.com/
Moonlight Romance Writers: http://moonlightromanceauthors.blogspot.com/?zx=f44efc849e7c64fc
Fantasy And Dreams (my blog): http://sarahmcneal.blogspot.com/
I am also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?&new_box_added_id=7100654162#
And Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Starcriter
My Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahmcneal
PbRBWT Author Page:  http://pbrjvwtb2.blogspot.com/p/sarah-j-mcneal.html

Buy Links for HEART SONG:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mr. Perfectionism

by: Michelle Rodriguez
I have a little man that lives inside my head.  He isn’t a very nice person; he’s usually full of mean comments and criticisms.  Incessant, unavoidable, and he truly talks more than anyone I’ve ever met.  Some might think he’s another character waiting for his story to be written, and believe me, if he were, I would have written that tale long ago and freed myself from his aggravating presence.  But I am not that lucky.  No, he is my sometimes friend, sometimes enemy, Perfectionism, and we’ve been together for as long as I can remember.

To some degree, every person has a voice of self-doubt.  Some are quieter than others’ and speak no more than whispers in the background that don’t interfere with life.  Confidence is supposed to mute its volume, and proven triumphs should build a barrier wall between the truth outside our heads and that nagging voice within that questions it.  For example: I am a writer; other people have told me that I am a good writer; therefore I should consider myself a good writer.  If only it were that simple!  But here is where Perfectionism puts a wrench in things.  Trial and error should have made this fact to me, but I have that cursed little man running circles in my head and insisting otherwise.  He never shuts up, no matter what proof I have that his claims are unwarranted.  No matter accolades and compliments, no matter the depth to which I love what I do, that voice argues against me.

I look at Perfectionism as a curse some of the time.  I cannot enjoy things for what they are because I’m so fixed on making them perfect, which is really sad when reality tells us perfection doesn’t exist.  Nothing I do can live up to the standard I set for myself.  That is the unfavorable truth of the matter.  But…for every grief perfectionism causes, there are advantages.  I am always pushing myself.  Whether it is on the stage singing or devising a new story that is outside my comfort limits, I never settle for anything but throwing everything out there.

In singing, that is such an integral component.  I have to get up onstage and just sing without the constant critique in my head.  When singing, you can’t trust your ears.  You have to trust how things feel on the inside.  My teacher constantly tells me to stop trying to listen because that’s what I pay her for.  And it’s true.  Your ears lie.  The sounds you hear are mere echoes of the sounds you’re making.  For a perfectionist like me, that is practically torture.  I have to discredit what I think I’m hearing and trust feeling instead.  Gasp!  When I’m onstage, I have no choice but to turn off Mr. Perfectionism and sing!  He has his say later when we can overanalyze every show together and pick at our faults.  But I don’t cower to his opinion and decide never to set foot on the stage again.  Instead, I try to exceed what I did last time: make my coloratura cleaner, faster, make the high note blossom on the pitch.  He is never happy with my performance, but he makes me a better singer because of it.

In writing, it’s an entirely different situation.  I throw it all out there when a pencil is between my fingers, but later, I have the final product before me to pick apart as I please.  A show is just that; once the final bows are taken, critique all you like, but the show is over.  Aside from video copies (which I never watch), no one will relive it except in memories.  With writing, I have physical proof forever before me.

For that reason, I cannot go back and reread any of my published works or posted stories.  That probably seems odd.  One would think I would draw inspiration by rereading, or that the mere fact I am so passionate about my stories and characters would mean that I revisit them often.  But I can’t!  I don’t read my own stuff for the enjoyment of it; I read and rip it apart.  It literally is like both a writer and an editor live in my brain at the same time.  That isn’t always a bad thing, but when Perfectionism gets thrown into the mix, then every critical word I have to say about myself gets amplified and overtakes.

Those of you who know me from my frequently posted Phantom of the Opera stories have had glimpses of my self-doubting nature and my addled nerves every time a new story goes up.  What you don’t know is the true extent.  I edit everything before it is posted, and as words fly by and I try to fall into my story, I am constantly critical about what others will think of it.  That voice speaks up inside and insists that every reader will hate it, that it isn’t as good as some of the others I’ve posted, that it will make my every loyal reader turn away from me and wonder what the heck that particular story was.  There have been times where I’ve edited a story and put off posting it for days because I was so full of doubts that Perfectionism created, and even though they hold no real validity, they make me hesitate and question.  He’s never satisfied, and when I go back and reread, he makes me unsatisfied as well.

Perfectionism makes me strive for new stories in new places, makes me fight to write tales others wouldn’t touch, builds me up by promising if I have an idea, I can always work it out.  But then in the end, its voice gives a skewed view of the final product and makes me want to interpret what my readers will say.  How foolish indeed!  Mr. Perfectionism is a cunning one, and he knows right where to hit me.

It’s so difficult to find a balance.  Perfectionism is a curse and a blessing.  I push myself to more and better things because of it, but at the same time, I am never satisfied with the things I’ve already done.  But despite its undeniable power over me, I’m trying to chip away at its hold.  At the end of the day, if I gather courage enough to post the story I mentally ripped apart in edits or sing with every bit of myself on that stage, then I’m winning meager battles.  I’m never going to be cured or kill Perfectionism permanently, but for those few moments, I outwit his control, and I guess I’ll have to settle for that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Glass of Wine, Anyone? By: Stephanie Burkhart

I haven't been to Napa and Sonoma Counties since 2007, but to me those spots possess some of the most romantic scenery and ambience I've ever known.

There's something about wine that's romantic – an indefinable quality that warms our heart and makes us smile. Perhaps it's the alcohol content that slowly heats us up? The taste? Sweet or dry? Fruity? Perhaps it's the process and all the hard work put into making the perfect bottle.

When I began writing "Journey of the Heart," I knew I wanted to set the story in the heart of California wine county. Remember the movie, "A Walk in the Clouds?" I recalled the stunning landscapes, the heroine's rich traditions, and I knew my story would find it's heart set in a vintage time period, just after World War II.

In "Journey of the Heart," my heroine is Rachel Santori, 1st generation Italian, who is trying desperately to save her winery. It's 1946 and she lives in Sonoma CA. Enter James DiMera, a World War II veteran trying to find his place in the world. Rachel's winery makes a lot of red wines, but there's a small spot that produces chardonnay grapes as well.

Question: When you sit down to enjoy a glass of wine do you prefer a red or white? California, French or another country? Sweet or dry? Share you favorite glass of wine with us.

Some of my favorite CA wineries include Robert Mondavi and Clos du Bois. I love a heart Cab and I enjoy a German Riesling.

Enjoy this small excerpt from "Journey of the Heart:"

"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart.

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases.

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"

BUY LINK: http://amzn.com/B008G1JI6C

Thursday, July 12, 2012

REVIEW: Last Stand at Bitter Creek by Tom Rizzo


I've been hearing a lot of good things about Tom Rizzo's new novel Last Stand at Bitter Creek -and reading the book confirmed the positive buzz. My only previous experience with Rizzo was through his work at Wild West Magazine- and believe me, folks who write for that magazine have to know their history. Editor Greg LaLire makes sure of it.

In fact, it was an article Rizzo wrote for Wild West many years ago, about the first train robbery, that inspired this novel. Not only is there a lot of history in the book... in some ways the novel is about history.

The basic plot: in the final days of the Civil War, weary Union intelligence agent Grant Bonner accepts one final mission. A series of twists and turns follows, so intricate that I can't go into much detail for fear of betraying plot points. But there is a train robbery, accompanied by a larger theft -that of a priceless national treasure. Bonner ends up on the run, cut off from his handlers, wanted for crimes he did not commit -trying both to solve the crime and clear his name. It all comes to a head in the town of Bitter Creek, Wyoming.

First off, how could you have a better western title than Last Stand at Bitter Creek? I'm just sayin'. And Rizzo has produced a real page-turner. This book is equal parts Bourne Conspiracy, National Treasure, the 1990s Robert Urich western series The Lazarus Man, and old-fashioned Louis L'Amour adventure yarn.  And it works.

I recommend this highly to anyone who likes any of the stuff I just mentioned... or who just likes a good story.

Tom has graciously offered a free ebook copy of Last Stand at Bitter Creek to one fortunate visitor.
To enter just leave a comment.  
Please include your email address if you are not a Blogger member for contact purposes if you win. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why I Write The West

By Celia Yeary
The first Western Romance novel I read was This Calder Range by Janet Dailey. Before that, my adult reading material came in groups. One genre kept me busy for months or years, until I moved on to another.

I read Science Fiction, classics such as Willa Cather’s books, Women’s Fiction, and finally, Westerns. Plain old shoot-’em-ups, stories depicting cattle drives, rustlers, outlaws, and lawmen. Oh, I loved these novels, and Louis L’Amour became my favorite because he often had a little love story in there.

Romance? Didn’t read it. None, zip, nada. Too trite, I’d heard—the novels always ended the same way—happily-ever-after. Same plot, boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a falling-out, make-up, get married. I'd heard this from a cynical friend who only read literary works, and so I thought..surely there's something better for reading as a pastime. The idea of involving myself in deep literary works didn't especially thrill me, though--had enough of that in college.

In 1990, when I visited a used-book store and bought the paperback by Janet Dailey, I couldn’t put it down. Remember, I love Westerns, and this even had a HEA. I fell in love. I searched the used-book stores and eventually the library until I’d found and read all ten in the Calder series. Her latest, I believe, was released a couple of years ago.

From there, I discovered LaVyrle Spencer, a master of romance writing, who retired from writing in 1997--at just the time I discovered her books. Dorothy Garlock, Maggie Osborne, and Linda Lael Miller are favorites, plus many more. I still search for new authors who write exciting, satisfying Western Romance.

In 2004, I sat down and began to write a story. And yes, it was a Western romance—a historical. Probably I’ll never be in the same category with my favorite authors, but each one has been an inspiration and a benchmark for me. The title was Texas Blue, and it's the beginning of my career--writing Western Romances.

Why do I write the West? I find it difficult to put into words.

The Final Frontier, perhaps? No, that’s the name for space exploration and Star Wars.
Romance in Sweeping Vistas with a love story set in a different time, perhaps? That’s how we describe novels set in early Scotland.

The Era of the Strong, Silent type who always gets the girl while he brings justice in full measure, perhaps? That’s how we describe Indiana Jones adventures.

See? I cannot exactly describe my feeling when I begin a new Western Historical novel, either reading one or writing one. Oh! Now I know Why I Write the West! It’s like falling in love.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
My Website
My Blog
Sweethearts of the West-Blog
My Facebook Page 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

REVIEW: Road to Rimrock by Chuck Tyrell

I was lucky enough to get an advance view of a western novel set for release next month by Black Horse Westerns -an excellent outfit across the Big Pond, the United Kingdom to be exact, that has been producing action-oriented westerns since the 1960s. The novel in question is Road to Rimrock, by Chuck Tyrell -an American living in Japan, writing for a top-notch British press that specializes in the American West... and he's as interesting as he sounds.

Matt Stryker is the marshal at Rimrock, Arizona... a mining town whose silver mine has played out, and which even the most optimistic citizens would admit is possibly on its way to ghost town status. Stryker's job mostly consists of putting the town drunk, Stan Ruggart, away for the night. But then one day everything changed...
"Stan Ruggart went on living and drinking, Matt Stryker went on making his rounds, and Rimrock went on dying. Then Tom Hall rode in."

Soon Stryker is caught up in murder and conspiracy, unsure who to trust as he carries out a promise to a dead friend. He gains several unlikely allies along the way (including, briefly, Wolf Wilder -protagonist of Tyrell's novel A Man Called Breed.) He also picks up enemies -targeted not only by the killers he pursues, but also a trio of gunmen from his past, bent on revenge, and a couple of very shady ladies. The story unfolds via Tyrell's usual well-paced action and engaging dialogue.

For decades now -off and on -people have been pronouncing the death knell of the Western, much as the Rimrock of this novel is written off as a dying prospect. But it keeps bouncing back, as new generations of writers infuse their energy into the genre and give it new twists even as they pay homage to its storied traditions. There are several such authors on the scene in the 21st century, and Chuck Tyrell is right there at their leading edge. I have read and enjoyed several of his books in the last couple of years, and he is becoming a name well worth noting. If you haven't read his work yet, Road to Rimrock will be released on July 1. I also highly recommend Tyrell's western books that have been published by WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER:

Troy D. Smith, reviewer

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Ms. Quote Interview with Paula Martin

Hello Fantastic Readers out there ‘cross the other side of the screen! You don’t know me. Yet. I bet ya an’thin’ , though, that you’re familiar with my hero, I.B. Nosey? Oh, sure. He’s that absolute yummy hunk dubbed the ‘official unofficial’ cyberspace reporter of GumDrop Island fame? Well, I’m not him but my dream is to become famous an’ stupendous an’ wondrous an’…an’ an’thing else that’s ous. To that end, the delightful authors on this blog (aren’t they just the sweetest thangs!) are allowin’ me to interroga…uh, I mean, ask ‘em questions. Ooh, I’m plum excited to get to know ‘em better! Aren’t you? So, welcome, y’all. This is my column today and it’s called…

Ms. Quote's WORDS With...

Paula Martin

MQ: Helloooo! (yells over edge of crater) Are you Maula Partin?

PM: (looks up) Watch it, lady! A volcano is no place to wear open-toed heels!

MQ: Ow, eek. (gingerly steps off steaming rocks) Ouch, that smarts. But, uh…(peers over edge again) I’m lookin’ for Maula Partin an’ I was told to find her at…(scans surroundings) wherever this place is. (fans face with hand) Boy, it sure is boilin’ here. What are you doin’ down there?

PM: (scrambles to pick up equipment) I’m gathering first-hand material for my book, Changing the Future. And by the way…(leaps over hissing geyser)…my name is Paula Martin.

MQ: Oh, no, it can’t be, sugar. Billy Bob sent me out to interroga -- er, that is, to interview a Maula Partin. She wrote that book you just mentioned.

PM: (pauses and gives Ms. Quote a quick once over) Billy Bob?

MQ: My producer. Why, of course you know him, honey! (chortles) His promotional service is 'Dim the Lights'. All kinds of hip publishers hire him.

PM: Mm. Fitting name. (glances at clouds building on horizon) Okay, let’s get a move on. Is that mike live?

MQ: I’m recordin’ right as we speak. (flashes bright smile) So where is Ms. Partin?

PM: (sighs) How about I fill in for her? Would you happen to have a copy of the book?

MQ: Why, I brought it with me, don’t you know! I'm prepared for all emergencies. Let’s see…(searches through handbag) …silver tube of Black-Eyed Beauty mascara, deluxe pack of Fake & Rake extra-length fingernails, an’ -- here it is! Oh. (blinks) My Make ‘Em Smack peppermint passion flavored lipstick has melted all over it!

PM: (hangs head and mutters) Why me? Why me?

MQ: Oh, goody, you’re wearin’ gloves! (shoves book to Paula) Just wipe off that inky-pinky smear. will ya darlin’, an’ read the blurb to our listenin’ audience.

PM: (grinds teeth, takes deep breath, then clears throat)  Lisa Marshall is stunned when celebrated volcanologist Paul Hamilton comes back into her life at the college where she now teaches. Despite their acrimonious break-up several years earlier, they soon realise the magnetic attraction between them is stronger than ever. However, the past is still part of the present, not least when Paul discovers Lisa has a young son. They can’t change the past, but will it take a volcanic eruption to help them change the future?

MQ: What was that word again?

PM: Which one? I just read 78 of them.

MQ:  Number seven, volcanol -- or was it victrano -- (waves dismissive hand) Phooey. Anyway, I know you really meant to say ‘ventriloquist’. 

PM: Huh. (mouth twists in considering expression) Okay, so my Vulcan, Mr Spock … oh, wrong story, huh? So maybe my vOlcanologist had to learn to throw his voice loudly enough to cause an earthquake to make the volcano erupt? Now why didn’t I think of that?

MQ: Well, you’ll really need to ask Maula Partin, the author.

PM: Ah. Of course.

MQ: Which reminds me. Don’t feel bad an’ I know you’re only a substitute--

PM: (rolls eyes, and turns to grab knapsack, throwing in pad and pencil and length of rope)

MQ: But what can you tell us about her? The author, I mean.

PM: A little about her background? Let’s see, how’s this… Paula Martin had some early publishing success with short stories and four romance novels--

MQ: (squeals) Ooh, I love romance!

PM: Uh, yeah, sure you do. Anyway, as I was saying -- She then had a break from writing fiction while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years--

MQ: That’s a long time!

PM: It sure is. (hesitates) Did you want to know more?

MQ: (eyes widen) Like what?

PM: Like how Ms. Martin retired from teaching and recently returned to writing fiction, and has had three romance novels published in the last year, with another one scheduled for November publication.

MQ: Really? What’s the names of those books?

PM: ‘His Leading Lady’, published in June 2011, ‘Fragrance of Violets’ in February 2012, and ‘Changing the Future’ in May 2012. All very different, and I’ve been in love with three heroes in a year, too. I’m fickle like that.

MQ: I know what you mean! (winks) Aren’t those romance hunks just the…uh…well, hunkiest thangs you ever did see!

PM: (laughs) I have to agree with you there.

MQ: So tell me, Ms. Partin -- what was the reason for the “acrimonious break-up” between Lisa and that hunky hero Paul?

PM: Well, she thought that he… No, he said that she …No, she blamed him and he blamed her… Anyway, they each got it all wrong – and then they had a big fight. That’s all I’m telling you. You’ll have to “Read All About It” (in Chapter 2).

MQ: Ooh, suspense! I just love cliffhangers! Except when…(moves to find a spot further from crater rim)…they’re so danged hot!

PM: Careful there. Your soles are melting.

MQ: (gasps with dismay) Oh, oodle-doodles! Would you happen to have another pair of She-Girl’s Sassy Stilettos in your carry-all bag?

PM: Sorry. But don’t worry. A storm’s brewing and that’ll cool off your hot foot. (frowns in thought) Or is that hot foots? Hot feets?

MQ: (glances overhead) Oh, then I guess I better get busy as a bee an’ ask you more questions!

PM: I’m listening.

MQ: (clears throat) I’m curious about that Lisa. What course does she teach in college?

PM: She’s head of the TV Journalism Department because she was once – yes, you’ve guessed it – a TV Journalist.

MQ: Television! I wonder if she knows Billy Bob?

PM: (chuckles) Not likely.

MQ: Has she won any awards? My hero is I.B. Nosey of Gum Drop Island fame. I’m sure you’ve heard of him? (doesn’t wait for PM to answer) Gosh, yes, he’s the man! Anyway, your Lisa is bound to know he won the Pukelitzer Award for journalism, right? I don’t have any ideas what the rules might be for winning such a trophy, but shucks, why couldn’t little ol' me have a chance to win that one day?

PM: (has to look away) No question about it. Pukelitzer prizes are always won by people who break the rules – but, of course, you need to know what the rules are first so you know which ones you can break.

MQ: Wow, that is so deep! Oh! (wipes hair off face) The wind’s pickin’ up, isn’t it?

PM: Storm’s going to be breaking. (bends and extracts object from knapsack) Like you said, got to be prepared.

MQ: (points to edge of volcano) What’s that?

PM: Lava flow. We’re going to have to get out of here.

MQ: Wait, I’ve not finished!

PM: More questions? We don’t have time!

MQ: I have to have a good interroga-- um, interview, Ms. Partin! Here, let me see. (flips pages of pad) Oh, yes. The author. Is she from around here?

PM: (spreads arms to encompass surroundings) Do you see anyone living on top of this smoking hole?

MQ: Um, well, where is she from?

PM: You mean, where does she live? Near Manchester in North-West England.

MQ: All by her lonesome?

PM: She’s not lonesome. She has two daughters and two grandsons.

MQ: An’ it says here…(scans list of questions) What else does she do beside write wonderful romances?

PM: Apart from writing…(ties up knapsack securely)…she enjoys visiting new places and has travelled extensively in Britain, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada.

MQ: She certainly gets around!

PM: She certainly does. And her favourite places are the English Lake District and Ireland.

MQ: But you said she enjoys visiting New Places. Where is that and what’s it like?

PM: New Places is wonderful. It’s anywhere you’ve never been but always wanted to see. She’s been to lots of New Places since she retired, but there are still a Lot More Places she wants to see.

MQ: Maybe she’ll take me with her! Oh, no! Thunder! (casts wary glance to sky)

PM: Right. This interview is over, Ms. Quote. (scurries away)

MQ: (grabs PM’s elbow) Ooh, but you just gotta tell me about that man Chester Ms. Partin lives near in England. Is he absolutely the mostest?

PM: The man Chester? (frowns in confusion) Oh. Chester. (nods) Definitely. Man Chester is famous for once being a Roman fort, then a medieval market town, and then the centre of the 18th century Industrial Revolution in Britain. (smirks) Am I losing you?

MQ: Actually…(gives nervous giggle)

PM: Right. Let me continue. The first ever modern canal was built there, and we had the first ever passenger railway too. (reconsiders) Oh, who am I kidding? These days most people have heard of Man Chester because of its two famous football (i.e. soccer) teams. In Man Chester, you’re either a red (United) or a blue (City) fan, or, in my case, neither.

MQ: Oh. Okay. (gives slow, dazed nod) Whatever that means.

PM: By the way, (turns back briefly) Ms. Martin’s also interested in musical theatre and in tracing her family history. Now, I really have to scoot--

MQ: But how can she do that? Wouldn’t tracing a family history take an awful lot of tracing paper?

PM: Absolutely. (gives mock serious look) Lots and lots – in fact 11 large files full. Trace is possibly the wrong word – unless that also includes squinting at the funny writing in parish registers, and scraping moss off gravestones. Oh, and finding a few skeletons in the cupboards too. Like a great-great grandfather who … no, better not mention him.

MQ: My hair! (shrieks as rain drops fall) I need an umbrella, or a limousine to take me back to shelter!

PM: Only one way off this ‘cano. (pops open inflatable raft)

MQ: What in the world are you goin’ to do with that?

PM: I’m leaving by means via that river of lava.

MQ: B-but…(squints as rain falls heavier) won’t a raft melt?

PM: Are you kidding? I’m a writer and I can create thousands of daring, dashing escape routes. (throws raft on lava flow and leaps inside)

MQ: But you can’t leave me! (stomps foot) My mascara is streakin’!

PM: Stop! (waves arms in warning gesture) Don’t jump in here with those spiked heels!

MQ: (lands in raft, then gives PM small, sheepish laugh) Oops. Did I make that itty-bitty hole?

PM: Aaaiiiiiii!!!!

* * * * * * *
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Changing the Future 

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Amazon UK here.

Be sure to return next month to check out who Ms. Quote's next 
victi...uhm...interviewee will be.

From all our authors and staff...

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Monday, July 2, 2012

"My name is Dallas Lowe and the life of a law enforcement officer is never easy, but it is rewarding. Then receiving our gold detective shields, and working together fulfills a childhood dream for me and my best friend Brian. We live on top of the world-until the day comes all policeman dread-the day when things go wrong, and someone has to die."

LAST ASSIGNMENT is available for FREE at Lulu, Smashwords, and Monkeybars. It will will soon be available for FREE on Kindle, Nook and other Ereaders. Currently LAST ASSIGNMENT is listed in the top 5 free books at Monkeybars.