Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Makes A BHW So Good?

I'm still amazed at the amount of people I meet who have never dipped their nose into a Black Horse Western. If you ever wondered what you are missing, read Gary Dobbs (aka Jack Martins) take on the imprint in his Tainted Archive blog.

Read it HERE

Friday, October 16, 2009

Help Is Out There...

All of a sudden, writers blogs are filled with advice on how to win NaNoWriMo 2009 as the clock slowly ticks down to midnight on 31st October.

I found this post and I particularly like it as there is so much good stuff about writing whether it is for NaNoWroMo or not.

Check it out HERE at Routines for Writers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Part 11 of 'The Story With No Name' (Short Story Challenge)

Part 11 now up and running at Jacks Open Range


Write or Die!

Here's a novel idea for getting over writers block!
Try this website from Dr Wicked - it's a bit of fun but actually might be helpful for those of us trying to develop a writing habit of writing every day and churning out a certain number of words in a given time period. Perfect for NaNoMoWri participants!
Settings go from 'mild' to 'electric shock' although I haven't tried that yet!

The Story So Far!

Thanks to I.J. Parnham over The Culbin Trail for putting all the ten parts of the short story challenge together in one spot.

It's shaping up to be a great yarn!

Check out the whole story here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New BHW from Jack Martin

After the spectacular success of his debut novel, The Tarnished Star, (it is the fastest selling BHW western ever!) new author Jack Martin announces the release of his second book, Arkansas Smith.

Find out more on Jack Martins blog and don't forget to preorder your copy from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Hit Pay Dirt!

As a post script to the post on Time Life books.

I was in the local Oxfam shop in Lanark, browsing the shelves looking for Western related material, of which there is always invariably none!

Anyway, as I was standing there, a couple came in with bags obviously for donations. I didn't pay them much attention until I saw one of the store assistants starting to sort through the contents.

In one of the bags was a pile of Western Time Life books! I went straight across and sure enough, thirteen books of the series in pristine condition. The assistant was pricing them at £2 each. I said I would take the lot if she did me a deal, which she did. We shook hands on £20!

I was going through them at the weekend and there is enough material for a dozen BHW's

And of course, now I'm hooked. I've got to get the whole 27!

National Novel Writing Month

A few weeks ago I posted some information about National Novel Writing Month - also known as NaNoWriMo.
Well, I decided to register as an official participant to see if I could indeed write a 50,000 word book during the month of November. What I'm hoping to do is to 'brain storm' a first draft which after a lot of rewriting may be suitable as a BHW. I've never tried anything like this before so it should be interesting!
I'm beginning to put some notes and ideas together prior to the big event which starts at midnight on 31st October.
If you want more information or if you want to have a go yourself, click on the icon on my blog and it will take you through to the official website.
I'll let you know how I get on!

Time Life Westerns

A recent query on the Black Horse Writers forum asked where a good place would be to start researching the history of the Wild West. A few people suggested that the Time Life series of books on the West would be a good place to start.
This was a series of 26 handsome, leather bound books (27 if you include the master index) covering all aspects of the West including The Cowboys, The Miners, The Gamblers, The Mexican Wars, The Women, The Pioneers etc.
They were very popular when they were first issued but now are no longer produced by Time Life. However, they have become something of collectors items.
Following the advice of the forum I went onto Amazon and was delighted to find a lot of them from second hand dealers - and quite cheap too at about £2 or £3. I ordered The Cowboys, The Gamblers and The Forty-Niner's as I am currently writing a book set in the California Gold Rush of 1849 called Gold Fever!
The books were great! In very good condition and with a wealth of information that is invaluable to the western writer really trying to understand the context of the stories he/she is writing. I found the style informal but informative - an easy read - and unlike more 'academic' tomes, the book is liberally filled with photographs, maps, paintings and drawings which brings the whole thing to life. It's true about a picture being worth a thousand words!
Already it has given me a load of information I can include in Gold Fever which I hope will make the story more credible and interesting for the reader.
It also gave me an idea for a short story which I am currently editing called Angels and Devils which I will post on this blog once it is complete.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Louis L'Amour Official Website

After reading my first Louis L'Amour novel (see previous post) I was scouting around the Internet looking for more information on the man and came across this wonderful website.
Have a good look around - everything you wanted to know about the great man but were afraid to ask!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Writers Groups

To join or not to join? That is the question!

Recently there was a passionate debate on the Black Horse Western writer’s forum concerning ‘How To Write’ books. Both sides of the fiery debate, for and against, were well represented.

I think that Writers Groups (or Circles as they are sometimes known) have a similar polarising effect.

Personnally, I knew that there was a local group called The Lanark Writers but I resisted joining for many years. I really didn’t understand what they did and therefore couldn’t consider what they had to offer – or indeed, what I had to offer them!

I’ve been a member now for over three years and for me, it’s been a great experience and one that I would heartily recommend – but I realise it’s not for everyone.

Of course, I have only ever been involved in one writing group and I would suspect that we are one of the more proactive and innovative but I don’t know. It would be good to hear about other peoples experiences.

I think if you were considering joining a writers group, you might wish to weigh up the following:


You’ve got to write something every week! No sitting around waiting for the muse to visit. I’ve been amazed how many times I’ve been asked to write about a subject that I have absolutely no knowledge or interest in and would never have written about it under my own steam and yet something half decent comes out of it.

It exposes you to other styles of writing, ideas, genres etc that you just would not discover on your own. I would never have written my first Black Horse Western if I had not been listening to a guest speaker relating his experiences with Robert Hale and I thought, “I’ll have a go at that!”

It helps you network. Authors, competitions, Arts Council, publishers, guest speakers and loads of other invaluable contacts.

As long as the criticism is constructive, it can really boost your confidence. Good ideas are reinforced and bad ideas are nipped in the bud before you go and churn out 50,000 words.

It’s a pleasant (and cheap) evening out sharing your enthusiasm with other equally enthusiastic writers.

You may end up writing to please the group. One of the great challenges of writing is to find your unique ‘voice’ which may not go down well with members of your particular group.

Harsh criticism can destroy the confidence of a budding writer. The key word is ‘constructive’ criticism.

You can find yourself distracted from your own writing goal. For example, if you are working on a novel and most of the group are into poetry you may feel frustrated.

Although I have never had this experience, a more experienced writer may dominate the group.

I wonder how many other Black Horse Writers are or were members of writing groups and what their experience was in terms of a help or a hindrance to their writing careers? Would be good to know!

Monday, October 5, 2009

'Tucker' by Louis L'Amour

I have a confession to make - this is the first Louis L'Amour novel I have read.

I know that for Western fans he is a giant but I focused all my reading on Black Horse Western authors so only now have I got around to catching up on other writers.

I found Tucker in a second hand bookshop and immediately snapped it up. The blurb reads:

"Saddlebags filled with gold! They were the prize in a desperate manhunt that led across Comanche-infested prairies into rough frontier towns. When he began to pursue the three gunslingers who had stolen the gold and left his father to die, Shell Tucker was a boy. At the end of the bloody trail Shell Tucker was a legend-and a man."

It was great and I'm just sorry it's taken me so long to 'discover' him. Very quickly, within a chapter or two you get to realise why he is held in such great esteem. For me, it ticked all the boxes both as a reader and as a student of the Western genre. Believable characters, a plot that at times leaves you breathless, accurate dialogue, well-researched and in short, a riveting read.

I'll be looking out for more of Louis L'Amour. Highly recommended.

Part Eight of the Short Story Challenge

Part Eight HERE
There will soon be a novel at this rate!
(Flick through the blog to see the other parts)

Cowboy Joke

Three cowboys were hanging out in the bunkhouse. "I know that smart aleck Tex," said the first. "He's going to start bragging about that new foreign car he bought as soon as he gets back."

"Not Tex," the second cowboy replied. "He'll always be just a good ol' boy. When he walks in, I'm sure all he'll say is hello."

"I know Tex better than either of you," said the third. "He's so smart, he'll figure out a way to do both. Here he comes now."
Tex swung open the bunkhouse door and shouted, "Audi, partners!"

Part Seven of the Short Story Challenge

Catch up on the adventure HERE

Thinking of Writing a BHW Western?

Here's a great article for anybody who's considered writing a Black Horse Western. Good, solid advice that's stood many a beginning writer in good stead.