Saturday, February 1, 2014

Twilight of the Gun at Western Trail Blazers #NewRelease #anthology

       Twilight of the Gun
Troy Smith

by Troy D. Smith
Since Robin and I took over Western Trail Blazer on January 1st, we wanted to start this new phase of WTB by letting readers know who and what we are. So we started with a nice, big anthology that includes work from many of our regular authors — Twilight of the Gun. Many of the stories in it are tales that we have previously released as shorts; hopefully fans of the individual writers will find it, and discover other authors who are new to them that they like.

Why Twilight of the Gun? To be honest, just because it sounds cool. But there is, of course, a certain elegiac element to the traditional western, the feel that things are changing and the frontier is in the process of receding from the moment it is discovered.
Here are the stories and writers included:

  • This Old Star   by  Wayne Dundee 
  • Blackwell’s Run   by  Troy D. Smith
  • The Keepers of Camelot   by  Cheryl Pierson
    Lee Aaron Wilson
  • A Fire in Brimstone   by  Tom Rizzo 
  • Sharpshooter   by  Kit Prate 
  • Trail’s End   by  Les Williams
  • The Downfall of Ross Dent   by Lee  Aaron Wilson  
  • West of Dancing Rock   by  John D. Nesbitt    
  • Morning Shadow   by  Frank Roderus 
  • The Prodigal   by  Chuck Tyrell
  • Tucker’s Homecoming   by  Kevin Crisp 
  • Angel and the Cowboy   by  Celia Yeary                   

Some of these stories have made a huge impact. This Old Star won the Peacemaker Award, and both Blackwell’s Run and The Keepers of Camelot were Peacemaker nominees. Sharpshooter and Angel and the Cowboy have been two of the best-selling books in WTB’s history. And the others are great, as well.

Some of the authors have agreed to say a few words about their stories, and about WTB:

Kit Prate: Sharpshooter is part of a projected series, a trilogy covering 1841 to 1941; about a pioneering Arizona family who struggles to hold on to their land — part of a vast Spanish land grant that came to the patriarch of the clan through a fortuitous marriage.

As often happens when you are fleshing out a story you find yourself intrigued with creating a past and a future for a particular character who seems entirely real.

That's how it was with Clete Benteen.  Where did this boy come from before he assumed the role as the Terril's family Segundo; what was his beginning and how did he end up at Trebol? And is he strong enough to remain?

Les Williams
Les Williams: In 2011, Western Trail Blazer published my first Lance Kelly story Unwanted Reputation. I was surprised that the sales of this story exceeded my two previous westerns. Rebecca said someone had told her they thought the reason was the main character, Lance Kelly, reminded readers of Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. Rebecca suggested I write another story featuring Marshal Kelly of Freeman, Nebraska. I had an idea of Calvin Hawk , the protagonist from my first published WTB story Under Nebraska Skies, making an appearance in another western. Out of that came the story Trail’s End. I’ve since gone on to write a third story about this frontier lawman.

 My first short western, Under Nebraska Skies, was published online and in a small booklet by Wanderings. This was followed up by being reprinted in The Storyteller Magazine. Then I “met” Rebecca Vickery when she joined Western Fictioneers. When she mentioned that she E-Published short stories as Dime Novels, I knew I had found another outlet for Under Nebraska Skies. Rebecca was easy to work with and ready to answer any question I had, no matter how simple or complex it may have been. WTB came around at a time when no one else was publishing short western stories. She was a big boost to the genre. I’m sure I am not alone when I say: my short western fiction would not have been available to the reading public had it not been for Rebecca and her imprint WTB. Our stories were able to reach a wider section of the western fan base because her. Due to her health preventing her from keeping up with the demand required to keep WTB a force in the western publishing industry, Rebecca turned the reins over to Troy and Robin Smith. I see nothing but a bright future for WTB for now and in the years to come.

Kevin Crisp
Kevin Crisp:  Tucker's Homecoming is a story about two brothers.  One is a by-the-book lawman, but the other will do just about anything to protect his fiancée's inheritance.  Together, they want to ensure that the estate is deeded over to her before anyone figures out her brother Tucker's not dead after all.  But how can they get Tucker out of the picture...  without killing him?

This story first appeared in Frontier Tales eZine in June 2013.  It's part of a series of stand-alone but related tales I've written about my small town in Minnesota, as I imagine life might have been like here back in the mid-1800s.  Another story in this series is Doing Right by Dodd, which will appear in the Western Tales anthology (volume 2), also from Western Trail Blazer.

John D. Nesbitt
John D. Nesbitt:  West of Dancing Rock was my first published short story.  I wrote it as a conscious effort in writing a western story, and I also tried to write it in a more convincing first-person voice than I found in some of the western fiction I read at the time.  I was very fortunate in placing this story with a commercial magazine that came out at about that time.  It was called Far West, and it paid real money, so I was thrilled.  I was also thrilled to walk into a Seven-Eleven and see the magazine, with my name on the cover, on the magazine rack.  This was in 1978.  Several years later, when I included this story in a collection of western short stories entitled One Foot in the Stirrup, I was impressed with what I might call its purity of form as well as with its almost existential starkness.   It was like reading something written by someone else, which is always a good experience when a person goes back and reads something he or she wrote.

The short story collection went into large print and later into e-book format with Western Trail Blazer.  This collection, along with an individual story entitled Rose of Durango, got me started with Western Trail Blazer.  This has been a very good publishing outlet for me, as I have been able to have individual short stories and a book-length collection made available in e-book format, plus a series of traditional western novels, a contemporary western mystery, and a collection of poems all available in both e-book and print format.  

Celia Yeary
Celia Yeary: Angel and the Cowboy is the first Dime Novel I wrote of four. I used Max Garrison, who appeared as a young boy in my first "Texas" novel, Texas Blue. I pictured him as a grown man who left the business of being a U.S. Marshal so he could ranch and settle down. On a trip into town, he noticed the small Tea and Book Shoppe decorated for Christmas. He laughs to himself about the name of the store, but the deceased owners were British. Inside, he encounters the daughter, Daniella Sommers, whose British lineage doesn't ring true.

I almost wrote this story with my eyes closed. It seemed to have a life of its own, a story already formed and all I had to do was write it. There's a twist at the end, a surprise, and I have been thrilled that readers "got" it and told me so.

Western Trail Blazer came along at a time when I wasn't certain I would continue writing Western Romance. When Rebecca J. Vickery first invited me to write a story for an anthology, I accepted because I thought so highly of her. I wrote Angel and the Cowboy, and the anthology was a success. Then she allowed me to publish it as a separate story for her imprint Western Trail Blazer under  the 99Cent "Dime Novels." How clever and catchy! And the magic continued with three more Dime Novels she published for me. In particular, Addie and the Gunslinger has been on one to three of Amazon's Top 100 lists for two years. Needless to say, I have loved those checks!

My desire is to continue a line of novellas with Western Trail Blazer. This depends on my writing ability and if they fit the requirement for Western Trail Blazer. Why give up a good thing?

Chuck Tyrell
Chuck Tyrell: The Prodigal started as A Death in the Family,but the publisher wanted something that didn't give anything away. Again, we’re high on the Great Colorado Plateau, where I've placed my Havelock family. I didn't know this story would involve Ness Havelock until I wrote the first paragraph. I knew that the protagonist was an older lawman, and I knew that he was after his own son for a capital crime. Ness Havelock’s always been a first-person narrator, so I let him carry the ball.

In The Prodigal Son parable, the strong-headed boy who leaves his family and goes out to seek his fortune in the world ends up in a pig sty and repents and walks home to a joyous reunion with his father. In The Prodigal, the boy has been spoiled by his mother and he resents his lawman father, so after he leaves, he goes over to the dark side. It’s hell to have to ride after your own son, but it would be even more painful to leave him to be apprehended by another man. The problem is, of course, that a son who has committed murder will not willingly allow his lawman father to arrest him.

Tom Rizzo
Tom Rizzo: A Fire in Brimstone represents my first Western short story — the first of a series of stories based in this fictional frontier community. The focus of the story is Sheriff Cass Ryan, a man on the mend, psychologically, with a dark past he'd rather keep secret. 

I've always been fascinated by the real-life characters who populated the Old West. They were complicated men and women, many of whom survived a blood-bath called the Civil War, and either returned to their homes on the frontier to resume their lives, while others drifted into the West, hoping to find somewhere to call home. 

Whatever the reasons, these occupants of the expanding American frontier could be generally classified as either hero or rogue, depending on their mindsets and ambitions. But, it's the third category that attract the most attention from me — those individuals who walked both sides of the street of law and order. Lawmen who became outlaws, outlaws who pinned on badges, and the ones that enforced the law but, at the same time, broke the law. In many ways, nothing was as it seemed. A situation that makes for great storytelling.

Cheryl Pierson
Cheryl Pierson: I've always been fascinated by Arthurian legends from my childhood days. In The Keepers of Camelot, the characters we know from those legends, Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, appear in a most unlikely circumstance.  Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot have lived a thousand lives since that fateful day in centuries past when Camelot fell. But when they “return,” they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen, or how long they’ll be able to “stay” in that life. As The Keepers of Camelot begins, we find Arthur on a stagecoach in the middle of hostile territory, and it’s not long before the Apaches attack.

Once the stage makes it to the nearby stage station, Arthur is even more concerned to discover that Guinevere is the wife of the station’s owner. As the Apaches come back for another round of battle, he discovers what Guinevere already has known…Lance is their leader. Will Arthur be able to stop Lance from destroying the station and all the people inside, including the woman they both love? And how will they ever be able to end this endless circle of  lives without the one thing, forgiveness, they all seem unwilling to give?

Rebecca Vickery is one of my heroes. A few years back, after we'd both been "had" by an unscrupulous publisher, Rebecca did something about it. She opened her own publishing company! She asked me to write a short story for her first anthology with her brand new Victory Tales Press. From that time forward, I contributed to many of her anthologies, and at one point, we talked about how great it would be to have a western imprint. A dream was born and took flight, and Western Trail Blazer came into existence. I was thrilled! Not only another venue for short story writing (which I had discovered I loved to do!) but for my western novels, as well.  

As a free lance editor, I worked for Rebecca, and that's how I met Troy Smith. I've had the pleasure of editing many of his works and through the years, have developed a wonderful friendship with him, as well. Due to health reasons, Rebecca decided she needed some capable hands to take control of the Western Trail Blazer imprint. Troy and his wife, Robin, stepped up and took the reins — and they have made some fantastic plans for expansion with Western Trail Blazer. 

I'm so proud to have been on the ground floor of this venture, and to continue on with it through the reorganization. Western Trail Blazer is a publishing company with the highest standards of integrity. More than the treasured thrill  of seeing my short stories and books in good hands all through these years, is the gift of friendship of two of the best people I could ever hope to meet — Troy and Rebecca.

Here's to many more years of high ridin' for Western Trail Blazer!

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  1. This sounds like the best book ever. I would love to have it. I have enjoyed Cheryl's writings and would like to expand my knowledge of the other writers.

    1. Connie, thank you! You won't be sorry--there are many wonderful writers with Western Trail Blazer!

    2. Please contact us at CaneHollowPress at gmail- you're one of our winners!

  2. You may find one of your new favorites :-)

  3. I loved that we get to hear the authors in their own voice and the reason they write what they write. Again, congratulations on keeping the 'fire burning'. Doris

  4. Thanks for telling us about this terrific new anthology to launch the "new" Western Trail Blazer. I'm very grateful that you and Robin could take up the reins when Becca had to step back. This is quite a venture and I'm glad to see these singles available in anthology form--also excited that these same authors have novels available through WTB as well. It's all good!

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and learning how everyone came to join WTB and about their stories. I've read most of these, but I always love "the story behind the story"! Thanks for having us, Jacquie! And thanks to Troy for getting this all together!

  6. Nothing better than adding to my author & reading list - except the actual reading I guess. A fabulous & informative post thank you.



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