Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Black Horse Westerns - September 2009

Dead Man's Range
by Paul Durst

The murder trail was eight years old when Jeff Carmody got out of Huntsville Prison and the only clue he had was the rowel of a broken spur he had found that night beside Clint Merriweather's body. Booth Anson's rambling Anvil range hemmed the tiny Merriweather ranch on all sides, but Clint's widow, Anne, hung stubbornly on. Anson had killed to build his empire - his was a dead man's range. But a woman stood in his way now - would he baulk at killing a woman? That was when Carmody picked up his gun.

Silver Express
by Gillian F. Taylor

No one needed to tell Sheriff Alec Lawson that thousands of dollars in silver bullion had been stolen from a train on the Northern Colorado Railroad: he was on the train at the time. Now he and his deputies had to search the mountains and mining camps for the thieves. The more he looked into the robbery, the more Lawson was convinced that it was not just a simple theft. The desire for money was at the root of it all: bribes, bounties, social status and death. The Sheriff and his men were risking their lives for other people's money, and death seems very close when you're riding on the roof of a runaway train.

Beyond the Crimson Skies
by Owen G. Irons

Kendo was looking for salvation as well as retribution. Of these two retribution was the simpler to exact. Losing Frank Pierce's horse herd to raiding gunmen had not been his fault, but it was bound to ruin Kendo's reputation which had already been severely darkened by past failure. Left alone and afoot on the open plains by treacherous companions, he needed to track down the outlaws and recapture the horses, the sale of which Pierce was banking on to save his small ranch. That alone was a vast challenge and Kendo couldn't know how much worse it could get before he encountered the beautiful woman who was intent on building an outlaw empire in the far country.

Shoot-out at San Lorenzo
by Henry Remington

Blue gunsmoke roils as a vicious gang of killers puts the homes of Arizona settlers to the flames. Who is behind the terror attacks? Security man James Slaughter suspects the mayor of San Lorenzo, Joe Hagerty, may be the mastermind for he is buying up the settlers' dispossessed land cheap and fast. Does the mayor's haughtily beautiful wife, Jane, know more than she reveals? And who is the mysterious Mr Black who arrives at their casino in a private stagecoach in the middle of the night? Now the trouble comes thick and fast as Slaughter searches for the gang's hideout and their psychopathic leader. Lightning strikes and guns thunder.

Misfit Lil Robs the Bank
by Chap O'Keefe

Misfit Lil's misalliance with the reckless Texan cowboy Lucky M'Cline began while her true friend, mature frontiersman Jackson Farraday, was away in the Henry Mountains. Lil's crackshot skills saved M'Cline from the claws of a wounded, man-hating cougar but her actions earned her the enmity of M'Cline's former sweetheart, Virginia Whitpath. An unladylike fighting showdown with Virginia on Main Street, plus shooting pranks in a saloon with M'Cline, put Lil at the mercy of another arrival. Mesmerist. Dr Francois Guiscard, late of a Paris hospital infamous for the experimental treatment of madwomen, was entrusted with curing Lil of her behaviour problems. Lil had wanted only fun. Could she regain her freedom when Dr Guiscard had devilish plans to capitalize on her unique abilities?

The Raiders
by Greg Mitchell

A raid on a money shipment in the town of Appsley leaves a sheriff and a guard dead and another man wounded. Lawman Pete Hewitt is sent to keep order until the town council elects another sheriff. A chance discovery convinces Hewitt that someone in town could also be involved in the raid and a storekeeper's murder confirms his suspicions though most believe the events to be unrelated. Problems escalate when Hewitt antagonises a gunman called The Count and when it looks as if he can unmask the villains his life is in great danger. Can he survive long enough to run the law-breakers to ground?

Death Comes Riding
by Terrell L. Bowers

Lucas usually avoided contact with the Indians, but fate sometimes stepped in. When a simple job turns out to be a death ride, his relationship with one Indian in particular changes his life forever. In the midst of an impending war between the assembled tribes of the Black Hills and the army, Lucas partners Daniel Brooks, a half-Cheyenne who doesn't really belong on either side of the war. Daniel helps Lucas seek out the men who robbed and shot him, and then left him for dead. Then there is Iris Ducane, the girl who captured Lucas' heart, already being courted by Captain Bagot, a suave Creole Frenchman from the nearby fort, who wants her for himself...and he is willing to kill Lucas to win her hand.

Books available from: The Book Depository and

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Killing Kind by Lance Howard

Howard talks about his latest western at Dark Bits

Bestsellers on Amazon - 28 September

1. Dakota Manhunt by Alan T. Leacroft (Dec 2002)

2. Ruben's Ruse by Ben Coady (Jul 2001)

3. Law at American River by Jake Douglas (Sep 2005)

4. Arizona Payback by Robert Eynon (Sep 2001)

5. On the Great Plains by Logan Winters (Apr 2009)

6. Rio Bonito by Caleb Rand (Jul 2009)

7. Side Me at Sundown by L.P. Holmes (May 1994)

8. Iron Eyes Makes War by Rory Black (Oct 2009)

9. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Nov 2009)

10. A Bullet for Miss Rose by Scott Dingley (Oct 2004)

Monday, 28 September 2009

Ride The Trail To Success By Jack Edwardes

The following article about writing for the Black Horse Western series appears in the latest issue of the magazine Freelance Market News. Details on how to subscribe to this informative monthly newsletter can be found here

You’ve written short stories, perhaps sold one or two, but now you’re keen to take on a different challenge. Or maybe you’re setting out on your writing adventure and your ideas for a popular novel are becoming irresistible. You eye the racks of paperbacks at your newsagent and reckon that a typescript of, say, 40,000 words or more, is something you can handle. It’s time for serious market research.

And you quickly learn some hard facts. In a typical year, editors at Mills and Boon receive two thousand unsolicited typescripts. Of these, they may buy twenty. Many publishing houses will look at submissions only from agents, and agents are hard to find. Publishers who still maintain a slush pile reduce its height by regular deliveries to the local recycling centre.

But, hey, we’re freelance writers and we don’t give up easily. So whether you intend one day to write a crime story set in 21st century London or a romantic novel featuring Regency Bath you may choose to get started by following my trail.

The market I discovered is hungry for new contributors. You’ll have the chance to sharpen your prose style, hone your research skills and improve your plotting. You’ll be earning money as you prepare yourself to tackle the big book later on.

Next time you’re in your local library, look out for Black Horse Westerns published by Robert Hale Ltd. On their colourful jackets you’ll find dozens of tough-sounding pseudonyms, Tex this, and Dan that, covering the true identities of the authors, both men and women. In this market all are equal.

Robert Hale Ltd publish 72 Black Horse Westerns every year and market them in editions intended primarily for public libraries. A typical stock editor for a public library will buy each month half a dozen copies of selected editions to meet the steady demand from library users young and old. Follow some basic rules and your chances of acceptance by the publisher, therefore, are good.

Half a dozen stories, carefully analyzed, will get you started. The possible settings for your stories seem endless. From cattle drives to Comanches, range wars to railroads, homesteaders to horse-thieves, all should set your creative mind bursting with ideas.

You know nothing of the 19th century American West? Then think of crime-writer Dorothy L. Sayers. When her book The Nine Tailors was published she was invited to head the nation’s campanologists, such was her apparent skill at bell-ringing. She declined, admitting that she’d never touched a bell-rope in her life.

So solid research is called for. A good idea is to set your first novel in a particular State or Territory (you’ll soon learn the difference!) you’re studying. Careful reading will help you make informed references to flora and fauna, local laws, and, say, local trades.

The more you read the more material you’ll be able to use. In separate books I’ve featured three real people who travelled from Victorian England to the American West – Morley Roberts, writer and adventurer, Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the USA, and Isabella Bird, a maiden lady who hunted across the English shires and later showed the men of Truckee, Colorado how to stay in the saddle for six hours during a round-up of wild cattle.

Get hold of a copy of Dictionary of the American West (Wordsworth) and search second-hand bookshops for Denis McLaughlin’s The Encyclopedia of the Old West. Both books provide facts, figures, and western slang words and phrases. While we’re on that subject don’t worry too much about the speech patterns of your characters. Nineteenth century cowboys and gunslingers didn’t follow Hollywood scripts. Use the internet to track down details of contemporary weapons, and search old newspapers for the advertisements for button-boots and, say, mail-order brides. If you plan to feature a cattle-drive, download Andy Adams’s contemporary account The Log of a Cowboy from the Project Guttenberg website. But don’t allow the research to overwhelm the story. Black Horse Westerns call for action and lots of it!

Your typescript should not exceed 45,000 words. For my first Black Horse Western, Lannigan’s Star, I found it useful to have fifteen chapters. I’ve maintained this plan up to my sixth book, Trail to Fort Laramie, published a few months ago.

The publisher is best approached with a synopsis and three sample chapters in hard copy. Include a s.a.e. for a reply. You may choose to write the full novel before making this approach or wait for a reply before setting to work. From the beginning I chose the latter course, although after my first book was published I dropped the sample chapters. If your work shows promise you’ll get a personal answer from Mr John Hale.

On one occasion his good advice sent me back to the desk to rewrite a synopsis that eventually led to my third book, Stage to Cheyenne. You’ll be pleased to learn that Robert Hale Ltd answers your query promptly – usually within a week.

How long you take to produce the finished typescript is up to you. Black Horse Westerns have been written in less than a month. Programmed in with my other writing I usually take about eight weeks.

Your initial payment will be modest, as with most apprenticeships. But that first cheque is just the start. A yarn good enough to attract the publishers of Large Print editions will prompt further cheques. Five of my six novels have their Large Print editions. (I’m still pondering on the fate of the missing one!)

A further asset is the Public Lending Right (PLR). Each time your book is borrowed from a public library PLR credits 5.98 pence to you as author. The sum, paid annually in February, soon mounts up. Now that PLR is being extended to the Republic of Ireland I’m hoping that the Irish are keen western fans!

One final piece of advice. The readers at Robert Hale Ltd can spot the author ‘writing down’ at fifty paces. Treat your western as seriously as that planned crime story or that Regency novel. Like the cowboy mounting the unbroken mustang you’ll not be short of challenges. You may be in for a bumpy ride but hard work, careful research, and lots of writing (count those words daily!) will, I promise, lead to publication.

Opening the publisher’s box of six complimentary copies of your first western takes some beating. The trail to success is open before you.

Jack Edwardes has had six of his Westerns published by Robert Hale Ltd. They have recently approved his synopsis for the seventh. Jack has now been encouraged to write a full length crime novel. Additionally, he has had historical articles published and a number of articles have appeared in a writers’ magazine.

(c) Freelance Market News 2009

(With thanks to Nik Morton for forwarding a copy of the newsletter)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Linford Westerns - September 2009

Kid Dynamite
by Michael D. George

Government agent Scott Taylor arrives in Adobe Wells to tackle the corruption which is rife. But Cody Carter has other plans. He's ruled Franklin County for years with an army of outlaws and Cheyenne warriors to do his killing for him. Forewarned of Taylor's mission, Carter sends out his top gunman to stop the agent. Scott doesn't know that Kid Dynamite is waiting to kill him in his own evil way and looks as if he is doomed.

Showdown at Dane's Bend
by Jack Holt

Sam Limbo, innocent but jailed for murder, is forced to remain in Dane's Bend, a powder-keg town. The townsfolk are awaiting the arrival of the notorious Donovan brothers, intent on avenging the killing of the youngest Donovan. The brothers have a big interest in the bank which, with a secret stash, has taken on hired private security. Limbo breaks out of jail, but returns, lured by the marshal's daughter. And it's Limbo who saves the town that wanted to hang him.

Saddle Tramps
by Owen G. Irons

Corey Keogh believes that when you work with a man, ride with him, eat the same food and even love the same woman, you stay loyal to him. But then his gun-happy partner, Andy Givens, turns killer and sets about robbing banks. Then he forces his attentions on Corey's one love, Marly Pierce, and the day of reckoning has arrived... Now friend must turn against friend, and it seems that only guns can sever the bond between them.

Blood on the Sky
by Elliot Long

Will Hopkirk is settled for good with Diaglito's White Mountain Apaches and his beautiful Apache wife Sonseray. But then Diaglito is devastated when Tobias Hatch kills his young son, Choate. And white man's justice outrages Diaglito when it finds Hatch not guilty. The war chief vows that white man's blood must spill to satisfy the wrong done to him and his people. Now Hopkirk must choose where his loyalties lie, as the frontier erupts into a rage of violence.

by Joseph John McGraw

Daco Ward is a drifter with just seventy cents when Bill Dodds offers him a job. But Dodds easily makes enemies. He bests Tucker Lankton at cards and Lankton, backed by his sidekick Ed Crants, vows to get even. Daco also felt that Dodds had made a fool of him. He had a score to settle. Now Daco would find himself in the middle of a deadly game of deceit and murder, the prize being the riches of Silveroo.

Sacred Hills Massacre
J.D. Ryder

Conroy and Kincade's dream was to build a ranch. Old Angus Newell took them into the Black Hills hoping they'd come back with gold enough for that ranch. Margaret Baldwin went into the Black Hills to find who killed her uncle. Bart Starkey guided her, but he wanted to get his hands on the gold. However, the Lakota Sioux warrior Blackhand was ready to kill white men whose presence violated the sacred land that the Indians call PAHA SAPA...

Books available from: The Book Depository and

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Howard Hopkins on villains in Westerns

Article at Dark Bits

Bestsellers on Amazon - 21 September

1. Arizona Payback by Robert Eynon (Sep 2001)

2. On the Great Plains by Logan Winters (April 2009)

3. Rio Bonito by Caleb Rand (Jul 2009)

4. Side Me at Sundown by L.P. Holmes (May 1994)

5. Iron Eyes Makes War by Rory Black (Oct 2009)

6. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin (Jun 2009)

7. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Nov 2009)

8. A Bullet for Miss Rose by Scott Dingley (Oct 2004)

9. The Short Creek Rustlers by J.D. Ryder (Jul 2009)

10. The Frontiersmen by Elliot Conway (Oct 2004)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Dales Westerns - September 2009

Drummond Takes a Hand
by Alan Irwin

When Sheriff Will Drummond's brother Clint is tortured and murdered by outlaw Luke Brent, Will quits his job and sets out to find the killer. Learning that Brent's father, Eli, owns a ranch in a valley in Wyoming, he rides there in the hope of finding his quarry. He discovers that Eli Brent is mounting an operation to force all the homesteaders to leave the valley to make room for more of his own cattle. Will decides to take a hand, but can he possibly succeed in his twofold task of lifting the threat to the homesteaders and bringing his brother's killer to justice?

Range Rustlers
By Greg Mitchell

Tom Connell is a deputy hired by the Cattlemen's Association to combat rustling on the open range, and Clifford Crossley-Hunt, a tough former soldier, works for the Diamond R ranch. Both men arrive in a district where suspected rustlers are lynched and stock thefts are alleged to be excessive. However they soon find that all is not as it is claimed to be. The matter is further complicated by an unknown gunman who starts killing men from a large local ranch. Tom and Clifford finally forge an alliance, which ends in a bloody battle to bring justice to a troubled range.

Books available from: The Book Depository and

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bestselling Linford Westerns on Amazon - 14 September

1. The Lone Rider by Lee Phillips (Apr 2000)

2. Wanted by Lance Howard (Nov 2001)

3. The Gallows Ghost by Lance Howard (Jan 1997)

4. Sundance-Manhunt by John Benteen (Sep 1990)

5. The West Wolf by Lance Howard (Sep 2002)

6. The Rawhiders by James Gordon White (Mar 2001)

7. The Devil's Peacemaker by Lance Howard (Jan 2002)

8. Sundance-Overkill by John Benteen (Jan 1985)

9. Wolf's Head by John Benteen (May 1994)

10. The Dying Tree by Edward Thomson (Feb 2007)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The landscape of Hell Fire in Paradise

Charles Whipple reports on a visit to the location of his forthcoming novel Hellifre in Paradise at Tokyo West

Monday, 7 September 2009

Bestsellers on Amazon - 7 September

1. The Short Creek Rustlers by J.D. Ryder (Jul 2009)

2. The Frontiersmen by Elliot Conway (Oct 2004)

3. Trail Scum by Corba Sunman (Jan 2001)

4. Ruben's Ruse by Ben Coady (Jul 2001)

5. Iron Eyes Makes War by Rory Black (Oct 2009)

6. Bowie of the Alamo by John Glasby (Dec 2002)

7. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin (Jun 2009)

8. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Nov 2009)

9. Bad Men Die Hard by Dave Hooker (Mar 1994)

10. Gun Law by Lee Walker (Dec 2009)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Bestsellers at Amazon - 31 August

1. The Frontiersmen by Elliot Conway (Oct 2004)

2. Ruben's Ruse by Ben Coady (Jul 2001)

3. Trail Scum by Corba Sunman (Jan 2001)

4. Iron Eyes Makes War by Rory Black (Oct 2009)

5. Bowie of the Alamo by John Glasby (Dec 2002)

6. The Tarnished Star by Jack Martin (Jun 2009)

7. Trail of the Burned Man by Thomas McNulty (Nov 2009)

8. Bad Men Die Hard by Dave Hooker (Mar 1994)

9. Gun Law by Lee Walker (Dec 2009)

10. Lobo and Hawk by Jake Douglas (Feb 2004)