Western Trail Blazer
Western Trail Blazer was established in 2010 by Rebecca J. Vickery. Becca worked tirelessly to make the imprint a success, and to make quality western paperbacks and ebooks available to a hungry audience. WTB came along just as the ebook revolution was entering full swing, and has played a large role in reinvigorating the western short story genre in particular. She has grappled with health issues in subsequent years, though, making it ever more difficult for her to find the energy to tend to her brainchild as she would like. As of January 1, 2014, therefore, she has transferred ownership of the imprint to Troy D. and Robin Smith; Troy has been with WTB almost since the very beginning as a writer, and is just finishing his tenure as president of Western Fictioneers, whereas Robin is a watercolor artist and trained tax preparer. Troy is here to tell us about their plans for WTB.
In the summer of 2010, not long after the writers’ organization Western Fictioneers had been founded, I got an email from fellow WF member Kit Prate. She told me about Becca and WTB, and said they were looking for new stories – or old stories to give new life to. I had never released any of my work digitally before, so it was all new to me, but I was excited at the prospect of getting in on the ground floor of something. I sent a handful of short stories that had been published in the 1990s, and they did well right out of the gate. Over the next few years Becca was enormously helpful to me, and we got all my backlist out and available.
I was deeply honored when she approached me back in the summer about taking over, because I know how important this venture has been to her. Her faith and trust in me mean the whole world, and I’m determined to keep up WTB’s tradition of excellence. Of course, much as I wanted to, I could never have said yes without the help and support of my wonderful wife Robin. I’m looking forward to helming this ship as partners.
Well, we have three anthologies, which we’ll be discussing in more detail the next few days. The first is called Twilight of the Gun – it is a large volume with about a dozen stories, representing many of our regular WTB authors. This one is intended as sort of a general sampler, so readers can get a sense of what we’re all about and the breadth and depth of our pool of talent.
The second one is called Ladies Love Outlaws, and is intended to be the first of an ongoing series of western romances.
The third is also the first of a series… it is called Western Tales! (exclamation point included!) Every volume will have five short stories by WTB authors, many of which will also be available as ebook singles – but in this format, fans will be able to discover new writers (or new to them) whom they can follow individually if they wish. We’ve had so many submissions to this series it’s going to be monthly, maybe even biweekly.
On the single-author front, we have several exciting ebook singles. Cheryl Pierson’s suspenseful story Shot for a Dog tells about a young man whose jealousy and ill-will get the better of him, with shocking consequences. Tom Rizzo’s A Fire in Brimstone deals with a smalltown lawman whose dark past catches up with him. And in the fourth installment of Bowen & Baile, by Frank Roderus, our two heroes are approached by a conscience-plagued outlaw with a strange request- he wants help in returning his loot. The rest of his gang, though, aren’t so keen on the idea… Frank also has one called Morning Shadow, in which a French trapper has to make a fateful decision that will affect a little Indian girl.
Finally, we have three short stories by Lee Aaron Wilson. Lee, a good friend to many of us at WTB, passed away suddenly in 2012. His wife has delivered us several of his unpublished manuscripts, and we are deeply honored to be able to keep his legacy alive. These three are: Last Badman in Desolation, The Old Dog’s Day, and It Takes a Man.
And even more!
And even more!
This is really only the tip of the iceberg. We have other projects coming up the pike that we are just as excited about. If your readers haven’t tried out Western Trail Blazer yet, now is the perfect time to get onboard. And if anyone out there has stories they’d like us to consider, by all means send ‘em our way.
In the meantime, we’re extremely grateful to Jacquie for this opportunity to make our “second debut.” Over the next three days we’ll have more details about the stories and writers in those first three anthologies.
I’m going to leave you with a brief excerpt from Lee Aaron Wilson’s Last Badman in Desolation, in which love blooms between that Badman and a bad – but not too bad – girl:
Last Badman in Desolation
by Lee Aaron Wilson
"Am I too forward. Jacob? You been to see me. It was pretty nice. I'm ready for it to be just you, for as long as you want it that way. For a long, long time seems nice."
"I remember. I liked visiting you. I tried to take my time and hoped you liked it, too."
"After the first time, you came on Sundays."
"It seemed you were less busy Sundays and we could take our time."
"We did." She blushed slightly, surprised she could still do that. "Did you know, I don't work Sundays? I just saw you, when you asked, 'cause I liked you. It seemed as if the rest of the time, and the other men, were my job. I was being a dreamy little girl. When you came to me, I imagined I was your gal and you was my feller."
"Oh, I... thank you, Mattie. Me, too. I didn't know you kept Sundays special. I just knew you didn't seem rushed, and I could take my time... we could take our time, and... and..."
"And you could make love to me, not just get your poke into me, and be on your way."
"Uh, yeah, sorta." He looked red now.
"Do we need to rush back? You aren't the stable boy any more. I guess you want to get into your new job?" She took his hand and strolled back into the big bedroom, with its made up bed.
"I'm in no hurry. Be nice to talk a while and get to know each other."
"Earlier you said something about testing the bed."
"That name's for work. My real name is Mary. Do you want to?" When he didn't move, or speak, she added, "I do. I'm ready. I've decided to be your woman. If you want me."
He touched her cheek. She put her fingers over his and leaned to meet his lips. The first kiss was soft and tentative. The second felt much better. When she opened her mouth during the third, he knew how to kiss.
Shot for a Dog
A Fire in Brimstone
Bowen & Baile 4: Trapped!
Last Badman in Desolation
It Takes a Man
The Old Dog’s Day
Twilight of the Gun
Ladies Love Outlaws
Western Tales! Vol. 1