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Not Tired of Winning May 21, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, e-books, outlaws, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Awards are nice. Very much so, but cutthroat, dog-eat-dog competition for them has always struck me as worthless. A writer’s job is to entertain. An award for giving readers a moment’s fun is great. A writing award gained by maneuverings and political machinations is not so great. And I am unconvinced that putting “Winner of XYZ Award!” on a book cover has much selling power any more.

That said, I am delighted and incredibly honored to have won the Western Fictioneer’s Life Achievement Peacemaker Award for my work, especially since it puts me in the company of writers I respect and admire so much.

While I am considering having the award tattooed on my chest, I doubt it means much in the way of additional sales. A million-copy bestseller means 329 million people in the USA never bought the book. A trickle more might have read it in a library. Most of those who do read the book probably can’t tell you the author’s name. Just the way it is. As authors we want to establish ourselves as a brand, something readers will hunt out when they are in the mood for more entertainment. Practically, it doesn’t happen except for a very few. Love the award, thank everyone responsible for giving it to me, but the lifetime achievement and $10 might get me a small exotic coffee at Starbucks.

But would I trade it for that $10 cup of exotic Starbucks coffee? Not in a million years. It tells me readers (and other writers) appreciate the handful of books I (as Jackson Lowry, Karl Lassiter, Jake Logan, Jon Sharpe, Ford Fargo and others), have written.

As a real bargain, you can get not only what I consider my best Jackson Lowry western (The Artist) but also seven others from different writers for a mere 99 cents.

The Artist

Semi-Weird April 9, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in business, fantasy, Haiti, movies & TV, outlaws, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Weird westerns are like zebras, either black with white stripes or white with black stripes, depending on your viewpoint. Is it weird, ie horror oriented? Or is a western, complete with western tropes? Mixing the two requires some kind of a decision. Mostly, when I write weird westerns, I go with the western basis and the horror/fantastical added on top of it.

Considering the interests of the readership (is it western or is it horror?) I have chosen poorly going the way I have. Western readers don’t seem to like much outside the traditional. Horror readers are more eclectic in their tastes, and a western setting can be reshaped into Victorian or even Gothic. I tried a trilogy, which I quite like both in concept and execution, with the voodoo element causing the western protagonist all kinds of trouble. Marketed to western readers, it hasn’t done well at all.

Punished was called semi-weird by one reviewer because it isn’t the usual stew pot of weird (like Penny Dreadful with Frankenstein’s monster, vampires, witchcraft and about everything else in the supernatural arsenal). I stuck with one menace. A not very nice protagonist is cursed by a voodoo practitioner and slowly turns into a zombie. To lift the curse he has to cross country from San Francisco to New Orleans. Along the way the very people he hates most are the only ones who can help him hold the curse at bay. As a zombie he is old school, not George Romero brain-eating, shambling or hyperzombie.

Poor Vincente has lost everything and now deals with Navajo shaman, Chinese herbalists and reluctant black voodoo mama loi. But at its core, this is a western dealing with outlaws, riverboats and all the usual, including cavalry, hanging judges and snake oil salesman. I enjoyed writing the three books but if I had them to do over, I’d go the route of western romances (romance base, western setting). Undead, Navajo Witches and Bayou Voodoo would be horrific stories set in the West.

Undead

Punished 01

The Great West Detective Agency October 5, 2014

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, history, outlaws, westerns, Wild West.
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October 7. Write it down. Check it out…the release of The Great West Detective Agency by “Jackson Lowry,” of course. It has been a long trip getting here, or so it seems. Time travels in crazy spurts and long stretches like silly putty being pulled endlessly. The wait is over now and the book, both print and ebook, is available.

GWDA is my attempt at combining some elements of the traditional western and some humor a la Maverick with a mystery thrown in. I don’t think mysteries have to be murder mysteries necessarily. There are plenty of gunfights and bodies littering the pages, but this is a “Maltese Falcon” type of story with the ultimate discovery, amid political infighting and double-crosses, popping up at the end to wrap up a lot of subplots.

And it all starts with a gambler being hired to find a lovely lady’s poor little puppy dog.

This is the kind of story I enjoy reading. Something trivial snowballs into full-scale mayhem. GWDA has Russian revolutionaries, filibusterers, the possibility of Colorado seceding from the Union, millions in hidden treasure–and it all begins with Amanda Baldridge having her puppy stolen.

One thing about novels I’ve enjoyed is speculating on the backgrounds of characters. I’ve addressed that here with 4 Lives (in both print and ebook), a four story background on characters that play important roles in the story. In addition, the GWDA’s first chapter is included as a taste of the book itself. This is a good way to ease into the world of ne’er-do-well gambler Lucas Stanton and how he came to be the reluctant owner of the GWDA.

It was great fun to write. I hope you’ll find it as much fun to read.

Great West Detective Agency

Great West Detective Agency

Playing In Someone Else’s Sandbox (Part 5)(mosaic series) March 16, 2014

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, ideas, outlaws, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Imagine a stained glass window, only every piece is cut and installed by a different artist. That’s the way a mosaic novel is done. Each author writes a chapter or two in an overarching plot, then the pieces are strung together like a pearl necklace. (A single author can also do a mosaic novel, loosely interconnected short stories telling a greater story. My favorites in this technique include Edward Bryant’s Cinnabar and Joe Landsale’s The Magic Wagon.)

But that loose congregation of stories isn’t exactly what happens in the Western Fictioneers’ series, Wolf Creek. Editor Troy Smith, a Spur Award winner, comes up with a plot and then each author takes his own special character and stirs it up in a chapter or two to advance the story.

Each novel stands on its own but the entire series progresses well in developing not only the town of Wolf Creek, Kansas, but also the major characters. That each book stands on its own allows change in the characters but readers choosing “out of sequence” won’t be too shocked by differences. My character is a lowlife named Wilson “Wil” Marsh, the town photographer always on the outlook for the quick (and shady) buck. He takes blue pictures of the town’s most prominent women because he knows their secrets. He sells lurid photos of dead outlaws and slain Indians to magazines back East hungry for such notoriety. And he even manages to get photos of bank robbers, not to use as evidence in court but to blackmail them. He’s not a nice guy, but he drops money in the poor box at a church he hates and has some empathy for the downtrodden. Why is slowly coming out as I work in my miniature stories within the mosaic novels.

To date I’ve done chapters about Wil in The Quick and the Dying
and Kiowa Vengeance with a new story about a Sand Creek-like massacre on tap. And yes, Wil has a new way to profit off his photographs not involving blackmail but still fraudulent as hell.

What is strange about this for me, at least, is that my Jackson Lowry pen name, has a pen name (Ford Fargo). Others taking part include some of the finest writers working today in the western field. Frank Roderus, Robert Randisi, James Reasoner, Matthew Mayo, LJ Washburn, Cheryl Pierson, Jory Sherman, Meg Mims, Bill Crider, LJ Martin, Jacquie Rogers and a whole lot more.

What you get in every book is a spectrum of top writers and a complete novel-length plot. And an exciting read.

Wolf Creek #2

Wolf Creek #2

Slap Leather, Pilgrim October 7, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, history, iPad, New Mexico, outlaws, Texas, VIPub, westerns, Wild West, writing, zeppelin.
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The past few days have been spent getting a talk ready for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium coming up at the end of the week. I’ll be on a panel Friday morning, give my talk on New Mexico railroads both Friday and Saturday afternoons. For me talking that much is a marathon event and I’ll likely end up hoarse (horse? Sorry!)

From a writing standpoint, I’m trying some new marketing ideas. I’m turning my notes into an epub for easier use on my iPad, then will post the ebook on my store next week (for free, of course) for anyone wanting to see more details since I don’t anticipate going too deep into any one part of the talk.) Along with the talks, I’ll be selling copies of Karl Lassiter and Jackson Lowry westerns, hyping Karl’s upcoming China Jack
because it is about railroads and specifically railroads in that region of the country, and seeing how a special project goes.

Just for the getogether, I’ve done a mini-anthology of three stories about Texas Rangers, past, present and future. A memento for the event. Something easily carried (as opposed to a copy of The Traditional West)

If this experiment works, I’ll do something similar, Tales from New Mexico, for the SW Festival of Books next May. Targeted to the regional interests, relatively inexpensive, a keepsake for remembering the event. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Who knows? I might even take pictures at the symposium and lost a couple here, but it will have to be next week. Still working on finding tidbits about railroads in NM (including the 1880 tale of a fish-shaped hot air balloon dropping blue origami flowers and a teacup on the Galisteo railhead. Most inexplicable.)

More soon. Until then you might want to check out

Just Playing Around September 19, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, history, outlaws, Texas, VIPub, westerns, Wild West.
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I finished the mini-anthology, Tales From Texas, and will debut it at the Lincoln County Cowbowy Symposium before going wide/public with it. Let me know what you think of this first attempt at doing a book trailer. Limited to 30 seconds, no control over the fade or effects, but I think it works pretty well for a first effort from an aesthetic idiot.

texas tales video

And here’s a look at the cover.

Forthcoming TALES FROM TEXAS

Quick on the Draw–2012 SASS End of Trail July 1, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, Billy the Kid, conventions, history, hobby, New Mexico, outlaws, westerns.
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Turn left at the mailbox painted with Bill the Kid’s face, another left and a right and you’re at the End of Trail, the annual Single Action Shooter’s Society getogether. All this in Edgewood.

Come on over, pahdnah!

They have built up a great facility over the years, with a main street lined with permanent buildings. Newly added this year (or maybe in the past 2 since I missed last year’s) is a white church with a steeple. For those rootin’ tootin’ two-gun weddings, betcha.

I think something went wrong with their online coupon. Scott, Pat and I got out there and entry was free, no parking charge, the awards presentation was in full swing. The public is pretty much welcome whenever as long as you don’t cause a fuss, but the paid entry days have more of a rodeo/sideshow atmosphere. But all the shops were open. Scott and Pat are inveterate clothes shoppers. Me, I was wearing a shirt I got 30 years earlier. But they actually wear the stuff they buy, so it isn’t “costume” as much as daily wear for them.

By the big Red Rider

After meandering up and down in the hot sun, Scott suggested lunch in Edgewood at Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill (spellings are all accurate, btw) to partake of the Thunder Burger, a deep-fried hamburger. Deep fried anything is a tad repulsive sounding to me, but since I’d never done it, why not? I sorrowfully admit the Thunder Burger was not only good, but I would order it again (maybe with more green chile). The meat had green chile and cheese mixed into it before the deep frying, but it came out more like meatloaf. From the heat, I assume. Most tasty. Today, hamburgers, tomorrow…deep-fried Snickers? I hang my head in shame even as my arteries harden at the mere idea.

Me and Red Rider gunnin’ for the bad guys

Warning: the awards are for marksmanship

Last stage ot Albuquerque

The new Old West

Writing the High Desert June 17, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, history, movies & TV, New Mexico, outlaws, Texas, westerns, writing.
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The Western Writers of America convention ended last night after a 5 day run. I passed up some of the events only because this is home territory for me (I’ve seen enough of Santa Fe, thank you, which was the field trip this year) and I had impossible amounts of catchup work to do. The Albq Comic Expo ended last Sunday, Monday was “off” for me and WWA started Tuesday.

A huge tribute to Max Evans provided some rare moments of insight into the movie biz, along with jokes and reminiscences that were touching and informative.

Max Evans at WWA

The outstanding panel had to be the innovative “New Mexico vs Arizona” faceoff since 2012 is both states’ centennial of statehood. Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble and editor Bob Boze Bell vs the NM team of Centennial Historian Don Bullis and former feature reporter Ollie Reed. Trimble ought to be a standup comic (he comes from a town in AZ that’s so small its sister city is a Taco Bell in Nicaragua). Cowboy Mike, Sherry Monaghan and I were chosen (and bribed) as a jury by judge Johnny Boggs. After great tale telling and, perhaps not a little tall tale telling, the winner was declared to be … Iowa.

Ollie Reed, Don Bullis, Johnny Boggs, Marshall Trimble, Bob Boze Bell

The writing western mysteries panel lacked a microphone and I lacked hearing acuity so I went to what proved to be a great presentation on the Civil War and various backwaters of its history that have been unexplored (or under-explored). Fascinating listening to Boggs talk about baseball and Pati Nagel on the war in NM, Jerry Poole on medicine and Terry del Bene on, well, just about everything I never knew and ought to have.

There were two autograph sessions, one I arranged at Page One Books for Chuck Tyrell (aka Charlie Whipple from Chiba, Japan), Courtney Joyner and Jackson Lowry to plug The Traditional West

Newer writer Rob Kresge was there, too, with a series of mysteries set in the west.

The other autographing, this one WWA sanctioned, happened at B&N. 73 authors officially participated but some, like LJ Martin, were signing but not at formal tables hawking their goods. This pointed out another problem with big dead tree bookstores: books they refused to order but sold on consignment will take 6 weeks to 3 months to be accounted. I am not sanguine about our chances of ever seeing money off those sales, or at least an accurate accounting.

The final panel I took in was on promotion with Steve Law, a rancher from WY, Jim Frenkel and David Morrell. You’ve heard all this via me or Mike Stackpole or Kris Rusch or Dean Wesley Smith. But simple things like QR codes were new to most of the audience. The rancher seems to have the finances to pay $800/mo for a media consultant and $300/mo to have someone do his tweets. Must be nice and, sorry, “you can start out paying less” doesn’t make it for me or most of the folks in the audience. As they say, YMMV. I am also less sanguine about doing autographings in grocery stores (I did one once sitting next to Tony Hillerman–the display of Pennzoil next to us did far better sales). High traffic, yes, but directed interest traffic seems more productive to me (such as the Albuquerque Comic Expo, the upcoming Cowboy Symposium and next year’s SW Book Fiesta.)

I survived, had fun, met lots of new people and am looking forward to doing it all again next year in Vegas (and then Sacramento and still thenner, in San Antonio). Masochistic me testing to destruction. And I love it.

Top nf writers Don Bullis and Leon Metz

Thern and Texas June 6, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, history, iPad, movies, movies & TV, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Texas, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Or maybe Thurn and Taxis, if you are a Crying of Lot 49 fan.

But therns. I saw the supposedly awful John Carter movie again on Monday. 2D this time, a better look for the movie (the colors die in 3D, it appears). I say “supposedly awful” because that is a critics’ opinion, not mine. I liked it even more the second time. I might even try for a 3rd view before it leaves the big screen, or as big a screen as the $1 movie theater has. This is a movie that deserves to be seen in IMAX.

The look of the movie is good, the pacing is off, taking too long to get moving, but the plot is heroic fantasy and the sfx are lovely. (That adjective can be applied to Dejah Thoris, too). Taylor Kitsch (what a name!) might not have been my pick for the John Carter role, but he does fine. I even liked Woola a lot more this time around. The reworking of the original book plot makes it into a stronger movie–face it, a 100+ years makes astral projection kinda clunky. Go for that Stargate!

An entertaining movie which comes out in Blu-ray today (or soon–I don’t have a Blu-ray so don’t pay close attention). I’ve heard that there will be an iPhone/iPad app that will add to the experience. No idea what it is but this pushes the connection of home theaters and iPads a bit closer together.

Also of note are the new westerns. History Channel did Hatfields and McCoys starring Kevin Costner and Bill Pullman. I enjoyed the first 4 hrs or so but began to tire of the repitition in the final 2 hours. All this killing over a pig. Sort of like the War of Jenkins Ear. Lots of background to what sounded like a trivial reason to go to war.

Better is A&E’s Longmire. A modern day western with cowboys and sheep herders and Indians and six-gun totin’ marshals set in Wyoming, or maybe Montana. The pilot was a bit contrived, making me think the bad guy would never have been caught if he hadn’t used an antique rifle and instead relied on a .30-06 but the show has promise. I’ll tune in again.

Chasing Away the Dust Bunnies…For Now April 20, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, contest, e-books, End of the World, iPad, New Mexico, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Second Life, VIPub, weather, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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No specific theme today but a lot of tidbits that have accumulated during the past few days. It’s been a busy time for me. The last science fair judging of the year is past and, as before, the Manzano Day School kids had some great projects. This was the year when high tech really kicked in. One budding scientist had a video (taken underwater!) showing the effect of drag on swimmers. Another surveyed cooking pans to find which baked the best chocolate chip cookies (I told her bribing the judges with the cookies would have worked well–didn’t really matter. She did a good job. I didn’t know the high-end cooking pans were dual layer with air between. And yes, they seemed to cook the most evenly.) Analysis on the cookies included using a cellphone gizmo to evaluate color which correlated with even cooking. Amazing.

These were 4th and 5th graders.

A couple days ago I got a surprising call from my agent. Last year Berkley decided the Slocum Giant books weren’t selling and eliminated the annual book. My last royalty statement was extraordinary. And I have a new Slocum Giant to do ASAP for likely publication in November. Working title: Slocum and the Silver City Harlot. Others in Western Fictioneers have commented on improved royalties for their westerns. If you live long enough, the wheel always spins back to you. Do love those westerns.

I also love my sf. Check out this review of Moonlight in the Meg from Virgil Kelberwitz of Second Life fame. His reaction to the protagonist not being named until late in the book is interesting. Final Blackout used this technique to even better purpose, I think. Best use of the techniquye–ever–was in The Prisoner.

As you know by now, I didn’t win the $650m Megamillions lottery (I did win $2, though. BFD) However, someone who did win something of both worth and usefulness is Terri D, the winner of a Kindle Fire in Scott Gamboe’s contest. A great prize and I’ll try to get Scott to do a guest blog here on how the contest helped his numbers on Amazon.

Check out another Scott’s new blog. Scott Phillips is now doing a daily blog. Very funny stuff. And touches on a lot of nostalgia. If you remember 8-tracks and hate spiders and…well, read it for yourself. Rattle and Blast.

After 30 years I have stopped receiving a daily newspaper. The $200/yr was a factor but realizing I can get all the news and features on my iPad convinced me to save a tree and cancel the Abq Journal. Their national news is always 2 or 3 days late and local news tends more toward pet adoptions now. I will miss the Trever cartoon on Sundays, but he used to do more and is mostly retired. Having lunch with John on occasion will have to suffice.

I am not sure how many new blogs will be done in the next couple weeks since I am heading over into Tornado Alley. Trust me, I want nothing more than to get back to this keyboard in sunny, dry, twister-free Abq as soon as possible.