December 2009 – February 2010
Riding the Range
Blast to Oblivion
Tyler Hatch and Twins
December 2008All Guns Blazing
Jim Bowden & Co.
Revolver ConversionsSeptember 2008
Power of the Premise
West on Wheels
Plot or Not Debate
Plotters and Pantsers
More Horse Talk
Peace at Any Price
Artist Michael Thomas
Judging by Covers
The Schofield Revolver
The Walker Colt
Sydney J. Bounds
Jake Douglas & Co.
Facts for Fiction
Writers and Money
The Genesis of Ross Morton Hoofprints
Defending Faith a Futile Exercise Sex, Violence – and Boredom
The Frank Gardiner Mystery New Black Horse Westerns
Not all writers are comfortable writing about their writing. Many
prefer to hide behind the anonymity of a pen-name or pen-names.
Particularly, this has been the case with the Black Horse Western
series published by Robert Hale Ltd. Various explanations have been
offered. Some have proven ludicrous in enlightened times. "I wasn't
born and raised in America" or "Well, I'm actually a woman" fall into
In an age when promotion and publicity sometimes seem to count as
much as, if not more than, substance, the Black Horse Extra has for
the past few years striven to persuade many fine BHW writers to stop
hiding their lights under bushels. With one or two notable exceptions,
the job hasn't been easy. The exceptions have in many cases been writers already at home on the Net, sometimes running their own
websites and blogs. Since the Extra's inception, these other resources have
proliferated – a welcome development, given the minimal effort made in
earlier years to bring BHWs to the reading public's attention.
The exceptions have also
been authors who don't
accept an assumption that the identifying qualities of a BHW writer
come a poor second in significance to the imprint their books carry; that
bylines can and should be attached and changed-about with a minimum of
Few readers base their preferences on a publisher's imprint alone, though
elsewhere in the western genre author names owned by publishing houses confuse
the picture. Only when a strong, consistent editor manages to impose his
or her will and a rigid set of rules on "writers for hire" – and the readers
like the results – can this method of producing books in series be one hundred
Also in such situations, an important requirement
for unity and success would
appear to be a series hero with a well-understood back story on which
each entrant into the team of ghostwriters is thoroughly briefed.
The Black Horse Western line does not have
one series hero, although it does have many sub-series in which
individual authors continue the stories of their own creations. Iron
Eyes and Misfit Lil would be among current examples.
A common-sense view was once expressed in our Hoofprints section in
these words: "I really don't understand what imprints are for. Or labels
in the music industry. I can't even be bothered to check which publishers
have put out a certain book; why would I pay any attention to the imprint?
I keep track of writers."
In this issue of the Extra, we are delighted to host Nik Morton, aka
Ross Morton, a relative newcomer to BHW ranks, but a writer with a
wide range of experience in the writing of fiction. Nik offers a
comprehensive and inspiring article on his writing career and his
distinctive western novels.
Elsewhere, the thorny issue of violence and sex in fiction is
re-examined. Thriller, adventure, crime and western fiction all
frequently contain these elements in the plot mix. What is
wanted; what isn't? Why is some sex and violence in bestsellers plain boring?
Some new Hoofprints can also be followed, and Paddy Gallagher, aka
BHWs' Greg Mitchell, presents the fascinating true story of an
Australian bushranger. Paddy's trail of history and mystery takes us to San
Francisco and Colorado and back to Australia.
Your comments and western news are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
FREE excerpt here
|From TV favourites to writing novels |
THE GENESIS OF ROSS MORTON
eyed the small scar on his forehead. Reaching up, she brushed a hand gently
through his black hair, lingering on the clump of white hair on the left,
just above the scar. At one time her touch would have sent his heart pounding;
now he just felt sad. Finally, her gaze lingered on his. There was no mistake.
Recognition widened her eyes and moisture formed at the rims. She stepped
back a pace, a hand rising to her chest, over her heart. What little colour
she had seemed to drain from her face. ‘Corbin? Is it really you?’
The $300 Man
LIKE most young boys
of the 1950s, I’d been brought up on westerns – the movies, the
comics and latterly the TV shows. In retrospect, it appears it was a
golden period for the western. In 1959, for example, when I was an
impressionable 11-year-old, there were 39 western movies in
production and 48 western series on TV. That doesn’t mean that they
were all great or even good, but they fed a need in the cinemagoer
and viewer. My favourites were Wagon Train, Cheyenne, Maverick,
Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel, Bonanza, Boots and Saddles,
Laramie, The Range Rider, Rawhide, Tales of Wells Fargo and
latterly Kung Fu.
While I’d read Shane
at school, I didn’t normally read western novels until I joined the
Royal Navy. Most armed services run libraries for their troops to
while away the long periods of enforced idleness, especially those
long weeks at sea in my case. I discovered Sudden, Edge, J. T. Edson’s
many characters and Max Brand, among others.
Until that time, I’d
read Burroughs’s Tarzan novels and Martian series, most of the
great science fiction writers, the Saint, Dennis Wheatley’s Gregory
Sallust and Duc de Richleau series, the horror collections of Herbert
Van Thal, Ian Fleming’s books and all those spy series that
followed Bond’s success, such as Jason Love, Modesty
Blaise and Boysie Oakes. So it was a pleasant introduction to read
western novels and appreciate the realism and excitement transferred,
as it were, from screen to the page. Will Henry’s The Last
Warpath showed me what could be done with the genre.
Thorp eased his sorrel horse to a halt on the outskirts of the small town
of Bethesda Falls, which nestled at the base of the mountain’s foothills.
He was dressed entirely in black. Black because he was in mourning. Mourning
the men he had killed. – Death at Bethesda Falls
drawn pictures from an early age, learning by copying from comics and then
photographs. I drew a fair share of western characters, some invented by
myself, others copies from comics – Straight Arrow and Roy Rogers, for example.
At the time I signed them Rob Ross – I was adopted and christened Robert
and my adoptive mother’s maiden name was Ross. Then I moved on to drawing
cartoons, spies, Tarzan and super-hero illustrations, abandoning the Old
West. The two quick sketches here are from 1966.
I’d finished my first novel when I was 16, entitled A Man Is Known by the Company He Kills. That’s probably why I didn’t do so well with my GCEs…. The sequel followed, Kill a Man While He’s Down.
I still have the manuscripts; they’re spy stories featuring novice spy Adam
Strong. I had a polite rejection from a literary agent but didn’t pursue
the matter further. Over the next few years I dabbled with writing articles
and short stories, but didn’t send them out. In the meantime, I joined the
RN and went on to edit the ships’ magazines – the days of ink, skins and
In 1970 I paid for a writing correspondence course which guaranteed that
I’d earn my fee with my writing. The course also steered me to The Writer
magazine. My first attempt at their 250-word competition achieved a win,
and others followed. Encouraged, I knuckled down to write and study how to
analyze markets and plot stories.
My first magazine sale was in 1971 and within a short time I was a regular contributor to Parade
with adventure and crime tales. I was so successful that the course administrators
asked me to be a tutor but the role clashed with my naval career – I had
to be on the end of a phone.
Hovering in the background was the idea of one day writing a western, but
I felt that this was a pipe dream. (I used to smoke a pipe but discontinued
some time before our daughter was born.) I reckoned I didn’t have the knowledge
to write westerns. I should have analyzed that belief, really. I didn’t have
the knowledge to write crime or ghost stories, but I did, and they sold.
stopped singing and it was as if the very breeze stilled in the sparse treetops.
Wolf Slayer sang and a chill ran up Daniel’s spine and he felt light-headed,
so tragic yet moving were the dying man’s words. Facing death. Not fearing
it. Simply acknowledging it. – Last Chance Saloon
Since my early failures, I put off
starting another novel until 1973. You guessed it – a spy yarn. It was inspired
by a fun ouija session while on course in a naval barracks. In 1974 Robert
Hale rejected The Ouija Message, saying it was better written
than many books published, but he didn’t like the psychic elements. As the
psychic aspect was the crux of the story, that was it, I guessed. I moved
on to co-write with a fellow karate enthusiast a fantasy quest novel, which
took a few years since we both lived long-distance and all correspondence
was snail-mail then.
Time passed during which I acquired many reference books on the Old West.
I left the navy, became an IT analyst and was involved in producing a small
press science fiction magazine, Auguries, for many years. I
felt my efforts should be directed towards SF, fantasy and horror and had
some success with short stories. After I was made redundant, my wife Jennifer
and I decided to move to Spain early. We’d always intended to move there,
but brought it forward. That was in December 2003. I was still pushing my
novels, seeking an agent or publisher; and came close many times, but got
no cigar – didn’t smoke them, anyway. I also became sub-editor of a monthly
magazine, the Portsmouth Post, continuing even after I moved to Spain.
In 2005 or thereabouts, I entered a Writing Magazine competition, the subject being "Chance would be a fine thing". I wrote a western tale set in a saloon, The House Always Wins:
it didn’t – win that is. But I enjoyed the research and creating the characters.
At about the same time, a phrase kept haunting me and I made a note, a beginning
for a western: "He wore black. Black for mourning. Mourning the men he’d
killed." That phrase lay there, among many other potential story ideas.
About a year later, as I was having no luck with my other genre books, I
finally decided to write a western. First, though, I needed to do some market
research. I found the Yahoo group website and helpful tips from Adam Wright’s
It had to be destiny. As luck would have it, a secondhand bookshop in our
urbanization in Spain was selling a stack of Black Horse Westerns. I promptly
bought ten and started to read and analyze them.
I began my western Death at Bethesda Falls on 20 August, 2006
and worked on it for eight days when I was informed that my competition entry
(first three chapters) for the Harry Bowling Prize was a contender. I attended
the ceremony, was joint runner up and diverted my energies to rewriting the
novel Pain Wears No Mask in three months for an agent. The
agent was enthusiastic but said "no", so, undeterred, I went back to the
western on 18 January, 2007 and finished it 11 days later.
At this point I decided I wanted a different pen-name for my westerns and
settled on Ross Morton. I sent off the first three chapters to Hale on 13
February, received a note asking for the rest and sent the full MS on 22
February and received the acceptance letter on 28 February.
After very many years, I had finally achieved the sale of a novel! This was
a great feeling, and a month later my crime thriller Pain Wears No Mask was accepted by Libros International, following a month’s appraisal.
stepped down from the boardwalk, crossed the alley entranceway, and ascended
the steps. The next lot announced that it was the Doctor’s Surgery. He glanced
along the side-alley. An external staircase climbed to a door and there was
a window in the wall; maybe the doctor lived above his job. His job? He corrected
himself immediately on seeing the shingle dangling outside the surgery door.
M. Dix, M.D. The left hand that he didn’t possess twitched and tingled, as
if his ghostly memories were its own.
Corbin Molina had survived the hell of battlefields, being half-deafened
and suffering six or seven minor wounds; many mere grazes – fortunately none
from the devastating high-calibre minié-balls – but this experience
at the assault on Fort Fisher was something completely different. – The $300 Man
To help me with Death at Bethesda Falls,
I drew a street map of the town, with names for the various businesses and
citizens. Also I drew and labeled the outlying ranches, their owners, the
land leading to the falls and the mountains. This would assist me in orientation
during the writing. Character sketches and back story developed gradually
as the plot unfolded; 11 characters described in all. I wanted to bookend
the story so came up with the idea of having the same feature at the start
and end of the book, namely the town’s "welcome" notice and population count,
which would be somewhat depleted by the story’s close. In the editing process,
I managed to lose 300 citizens, but don’t tell anybody – it might make a
story, one day….
Preferring to show rather than tell a story, I used flashbacks to show some
incidents in the past that would affect our hero’s present. I prefer chapters
to have titles – goes a long way back, I suppose, to enjoying those cryptic
chapter headings of Fleming. If I can invoke a little wordplay as well, that
suits me fine. Chapter 1 is entitled "Rue the Lash" because a whip is involved
in an altercation – but it’s also a nod to that film star Lash Larue. Chapter
6 has "Just the Facts, Ma’am" which is what detectives say to suspects in
crime novels. Besides true love overcoming many obstacles, this book is about
the past returning to haunt and do evil.
Rather than sit around waiting for the book to be published, I was busy writing other novels – The Prague Manuscript and its sequel, The Tehran Transmission.
I certainly wanted to attempt a second western, hoping it wasn’t a fluke.
That short story about the saloon came to mind and initially became the beginning
chapter, but as the characters intertwined, additional sub-plots convinced
me that the start had to be a stage robbery.
It seemed a waste not to use the same town, so I did, including some minor
characters who were brought to more prominence. Originally entitled Showdown at Bethesda Falls,
I started it on 15 May, 2007 and from then till mid-October spent some 30
days on it. (In that period, I also co-edited an anthology, Where Legends Ride, edited by Matthew P. Mayo for the Express Westerns imprint. My short story Bubbles was one of 14 featured.)
In all, there were 17 described characters in my second western. This was
harder, and more words, because I was dealing with several character storylines
converging to the showdown. Although Hale stipulates that they don’t go for
Indian Wars storylines, I wanted an Indian as a major character and invented
the most necessary shaman who could speak English and possessed a sense of
irony. I utilized a flashback to describe the hero’s fight with an Indian
warrior and his discovery of gold. The story begins and ends with the stagecoach
driver, Alfred. Chapter 1 became "The House Always Wins", but was not the
original short story in its entirety as other plot ingredients were now in
the mix. Two chapters refer to "Chance" and "A Gamble" since the book involved
gambling. The story is about the small people standing up to be counted,
to fight for what is right.
I sent off the three chapters on 17 October, 2007, was asked for the full
MS three days later and received an acceptance on 15 November. The first
western wasn’t a fluke, after all. However, Hale asked me to change the title
so it wouldn’t be confused with the first book. I offered several alternatives
and they went for Last Chance Saloon.
honey, it will all be over,’ Corbin said, cupping Malinda’s melon-shaped
breasts and kissing them. A light scent of lemon verbena clung to her skin.
‘It’s a dangerous game you play,’ she whispered, running a finger over the welts in his shoulder.
‘With you – or the Walkers?’
‘Oh, the Walkers. This is no game we play, darling Corbin. This is serious.’
She kissed him and for the second time this night they made love, though
now it was languorous and not a frenzied catching up of lost years. – The $300 Man
Brewing in my mind
was the next western, inspired from a snippet of information I’d gleaned.
During the Civil War, many states opted for conscription if they couldn’t
supply the quota of men. However, a conscript was permitted to pay $300 for
a substitute. I had my title, even if I had no story: The $300 Man.
Sounded a bit like a cut-price Six Million Dollar Man, which convinced me
the character had to have some kind of prosthetic – and settled on a hook
in place of a hand he lost in the War.
Even so, the plotting took five days over as many months, while I worked
on other projects. Then on 4 April, 2008 I started in earnest and in a different
fictitious town, as the storyline demanded it. This was a complex story and
there were 28 described characters. The word-count was roughly the same as
Last Chance and it took 31 days to write and self-edit.
Even more than previous books, the story hinges on a number of pertinent
flashbacks, relating the hero’s adoption by a family and also how he lost
his hand. The first and last chapters are titled "The Hook" and "El Gancho",
the latter being Spanish for "the hook". The book starts with a train robbery
and that’s the hook for the reader, too. Chapter 1 is "Heaven’s Gateway"
which is the wordplay name of a bordello. Chapter 5 is "Lean Pickings" –
I was tempted to call it "Slim Pickings".
While the hero is pretty handy with his hook, which is interchangeable with
other utilities, he is also useful with the pen, as seen in Chapter 12, "The
pen is mightier…" The two main protagonists enjoy poetry, notably Whitman
and Rossetti, which may be a bit of a departure for a western. While this
is another tale about the past emerging to confront the hero, it also says
that something good can come out of the carnage of war.
bowed to the distraught woman and handed her the wedding band. ‘Yours, ma’am.’
Her hazel eyes widened as she noticed his bloodstained shirt and jacket.
She swallowed, nodded and snatched the ring and put it on a trembling finger.
He’d seen similar reactions before. People of a delicate sensibility tended
to feel uncomfortable near him when violence erupted. – The $300 Man
I like strong characters who don’t flinch when the going gets
tough; they just get on with it, trying to find ways round the obstacles,
never ever giving up. All three books have this kind of hero – James D. Thorp,
Daniel McAlister and Corbin Molina. They also feature strong-willed female
characters: Jim Thorp’s lost love, Anna, Daniel’s lovely saloon-girl Virginia,
and Corbin’s newfound love, Malinda. And of course a slew of bad guys, some
of them being quite sympathetic. Certainly, I wouldn’t mind writing more
about all three main characters some time soon.
A Ross Morton short story will appear in the anthology A Fistful of Legends
which I’ve been editing for the Express Westerns imprint. There are 21 short
stories, almost 100,000 words. It should be out at the end of the year or
My fourth western – Blind Justice
– has begun but I’ve been
busy with a few other projects so at present it’s stalled, waiting for some
of the characters to evolve the plot in the back of my head. Two new characters
– Clint Brennan and his wife Belle – are going to be put through the mill
and it’s also back to Bethesda Falls again to utilize a number of minor characters
mentioned in the earlier books.
While BHWs are shorter by word-count than mainstream novels, they can still
pack a great deal of characterization, a sense of place, suspense, drama
and action, and that’s what I strive for, also adding a few additional layers
of interest along the way.
– Nik Morton writing as Ross Morton
Mike's special trip.
|Impressions of a diverting kind
friendships between BHW writers are commonly formed and maintained online.
Not so the one between David Whitehead (aka Ben Bridges and Matt Logan) and
Mike Linaker (aka Neil Hunter and Richard Wyler). They were first introduced
to each other by fellow western writer Peter Watts (aka Matt Chisholm) way
back in 1978. Recently, they got together in person for the first time in
almost 30 years, and more than made up for lost time. For Mike, the highlight
of his trip from Derbyshire to Dave's place on England's east coast was
realizing a long-held ambition to buy a Henry repeater. For Dave it was simply
not getting shot at! During Mike's visit, Dave also showed him his copy of Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope. Mike, a fan from way back of slim, original
western paperbacks of the Gold Medal type, "was mightily impressed". Dave,
who had a lot to do with the BHE book's production, said he found it ironic
that the first book in the new venture was not reaching a wider audience.
"I truly don't think prospective buyers and readers know just what they will
be getting for their money."
|Screen Daily reported that v
eteran US actor Sam Shepard
will head the cast of Spanish screenwriter-director
, a western set to shoot in Bolivia next year. It will tell
the story of an old American named James
(alias Butch Cassidy
), played by Shepard, who raises horses
in Bolivia but is dying and wants to return to the US. Along
the way he crosses paths with a young Spanish mining engineer accused
of robbing a mine (Noriega), and the two slowly strike up a friendship.
Gil says, "One of the things I like most about westerns is that it’s a truly moral
genre. The characters face life and death, and other very important
matters (freedom, commitment, loyalty, courage, treachery, justice,
friendship…and even love) in very pure and simple terms. The decisions
they make are not only very dramatic, but set examples. What more can
you ask from a film?"
Sam will be Butch.
Forgotten star writer.
|Collectors of genre fiction are noting with interest the December BHW
re-publication of The Kansas Fast Gun. Until now, it was understood
Hale's policy on western reprints was to limit them to books that had
appeared before only overseas or in a paperback, non-library format.
Asked about the December book, bibliographer Steve Holland told us, "I
was originally published by Hale themselves back in 1958." Steve believes author Arthur
, a London journalist, wrote only two westerns. Keith Chapman
) tells us, "I met Arthur in the 1960s when he was working in the syndication
department of Beaverbrook Press and I was a teenage junior on the
editorial staff of the Sexton
Blake detective series. Arthur wrote many fine hardboiled Blake
thrillers including The Weak and the Strong, Special Edition – Murder,
Wake Up Screaming and Stairway to Murder. I'm looking forward to
reading his western, which I haven't seen before. I always held
Arthur's work in high regard. When I edited the inaugural number of the
Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine in 1964, I chose for its second story a
16-pager by Arthur Kent, Night of the Hijack. The first story was an
obligatory rare Wallace item, of course. At the time, Arthur was aged
38, had worked for the Australian Daily Mirror and the London News
Chronicle and was the author of some 20 books. Long Horn, Long
Grass (a western) had been published by Robert Hale in the spring and
Black Sunday was due to appear in the autumn."
|Nik Morton, contributor of our lead article, can boast a clutch of
great reviews for his Ross Morton stories. Here is a selection. Steve
M, Western Fiction Review, on The $300 Dollar Man: "Ross
Morton presents a fascinating character in Corbin
Molina, not least because his mixed blood causes him problems, but due
to him having a hook in place of a hand...." Maureen Moss on Death
: "Ross Morton has
created a vivid sense of place, and his use of language is so
authentic that the reader is immediately transported into the times
and mores of the Wild West. I couldn't put it down. A thoroughly
enjoyable read." Ray Foster
, aka Jack Giles
, on Last Chance Saloon
: "This is one good
It is not a typical western – it has character, humour and storylines
with enough questions in the plot to maintain interest from beginning
to end. Strongly recommended."
Richard, Meridian Bridge, on Bubbles:
"I’m hard-pressed to
pick a favourite story from Express Westerns’ anthology Where
....One of the very best tales is Bubbles
Morton, a work that starts out typically enough with Josh Mason
wrangling a herd of longhorns through a storm-swelled
river. It’s soon clear, however, that the author has more in mind
than just another buddy story. Within a handful of pages Morton
presents three-dimensional characters that live and breathe and
wander through the years like real people, and we’re treated to a
heartfelt overview of a friendship that spans the decades."
The good people
at Magna Books recently sent out a plea for more westerns, prompted by a shortage of top-rated titles
with world large-print rights available. Rights manager
Diane Allen pointed out to David Whitehead, "Our readers still love their westerns." Magna will reissue over the next 12 to 18 months no less than eight of Dave's earlier
westerns, which appeared as BHWs under his own name or as Ben Bridges
or Matt Logan. The titles to be published in the all-new editions are Hangman's Noose and Shoot to
Kill (stories of Carter O'Brien), Hang 'Em All, Law of the
Gun, Barbed Wire Noose, and Judgment Day (stories of Sam Judge/Matt
Dury), Gunsmoke Legend (first book in the Ash Colter trilogy)
and The Spurlock Gun. More details can be found at Dave's Ben Bridges
The books will be available worldwide, "including the United States of
America and its dependencies". Other BHW writers making welcome returns in Magna's Dales Westerns series include Link Hullar (Wheeler, Bordertown Wheeler, Panhandle Showdown, Montana Shootout and Bones, Bullets and Badmen) and Mike Stotter (Tombstone Showdown, Tucson Justice and Death in the Canyon as by Jim A. Nelson).
By request, Dave Whitehead passed on the Dales SOS, and fellow author
Chap O'Keefe was
able to recover and offer rights in five of his rare, early BHWs of
which good secondhand copies are sometimes offered by online dealers
for prices in excess of $100. Dales will reissue all five. The
Sheriff and the Widow was first published in book form in 1994 but
is currently available only as an e-book at Gary Dobbs' Tainted Archive
site. The four other Dales O'Keefe titles will be Shootout
at Hellyer's Creek, The Sandhills Shootings,
The Outlaw and the Lady and Doomsday Mesa. The first
and second of the four feature the popular ex-Pinkerton adventurer
Joshua Dillard. Shootout at Hellyer's Creek was the book that
introduced Dillard and was the second O'Keefe BHW. Reader "Mister Roy" Bayfield,
who is director
corporate marketing for English university Edge Hill, commented on the
Dales moves at the
Archive blog: "Good news for the book-on-paper enthusiast. Just
read Misfit Lil
Gets Even ... O'Keefe writes a fast-moving tale with panache,
characters and a real-West feel. I'll certainly look these out."
Star at the Lone Star.
In our last Hoofprints we congratulated top Australian BHW writer Keith Hetherington (aka Jake Douglas, Rick Dalmas, Hank J. Kirby, Tyler Hatch)
on his 52nd wedding anniversary. Congratulations are in order this time,
too – on Keith's 80th birthday. He says, "I had a great birthday. Went down
to [my daughter] Chris's for the weekend and she took me to a place
called The Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. Beauty, mate! Plain plank floors,
patchy walls of corrugated iron or old timber, genuine heads of bison, longhorn
steers, deer, wild boars and wanted posters of the James Brothers
and so on. Also warning signs everywhere: Don't Mess With Texas! Gen-u-ine
Texas steaks, which were good but nothing out of the ordinary. Then someone
let slip it was my birthday and the staff descended on the table and I had
to stand up while they put me through their version of Happy Birthday. Lots
of hand clapping and yeeee-hahs! as well as boot-scooting. Then they presented
me with a fish bowl full of ice-cream and chocolate sauce. Not cowboy fare,
but the gesture was nice.... I dunno how readers take these things when they
realize, with a bit of a shock, that some old bugger who can only shuffle
around is writing all this action stuff. Incidentally, I can hardly believe
I've hit the 80 mark myself. Mentally, I don't feel it; physically – well,
that old saw about the spirit being willing, etc. Anyway, I know there are
a few more hard-riding heroes hidden away in the depths of the old grey matter
... only a case of bringing them to the fore!" Keith has not one but two
new BHWs publishing in December: Shoot, Run or Die! and Six for Laramie.
A Dallas newspaper told its readers that in Germany the love of the Wild
West is bigger than Texas. A report from the Associated Press quoted Martina Hagedorn,
secretary of a country and western club based in Oberursel, near Frankfurt.
Founded in 1997 on a lark after someone's birthday, the Bommersheim group
now has more than 300 members. Every Thursday night, Martina dons her boots
and cowboy hat — and sometimes a fake pistol — and lets her inner Texan take
over. "Sometimes I think the Germans are more into cowboys than the Americans,"
she said. The fascination is evident across the country. Mock battles between
Germans dressed as cowboys and Indians draw crowds, as do Texas-themed restaurants
with names like the Texas Bar. In Berlin, visitors to Old Texas Town can
tour "Main Street", stop by the Bank of Texas and a gold mine, then practise
square-dancing or drop in for a drink at a saloon. In Frankfurt, dude patrons
of the Texas-American Saloon tear into a steak called the "Wild Bill" while
the Texas House Band cranks out music with a Lone Star theme. Though many
Germans express disdain for things they identify with Texas — the death penalty,
gun rights, George W. Bush — their fascination with the state reflects longstanding cultural and economic ties. Author Karl May,
famous in Germany for westerns he wrote in the 1800s, also deserves
some of the credit. Though he never visited the US, his books sold millions
and created perceptions that persist today.
A Lil from Lillie.
Busy BHW and Linford Western Library cover artist Michael Thomas
who was interviewed in our September 2007 edition, has produced a fine
and appealing illustration for the new large-print edition of Misfit
Lil Cleans Up
. "The face was based on an old photo of Lillie Langtry
he says. A hugely popular actress, Lillie (1853-1929) was the daughter
of a dean and came to London from the Channel Islands. A renowned
beauty, she was nicknamed the "Jersey Lily" and had a number of
prominent lovers, including the future King Edward VII
. Edward –
"Bertie" – arranged to sit next to her at a dinner party while her
husband was seated at the other end of the table. Although Bertie was
married and had six children, he became
infatuated with Lillie and word was soon out that she had become
his mistress. She was even presented to Edward's mother, Queen Victoria
The affair lasted from late 1877 to June 1880.
Edward once complained to Lillie, "I've spent enough on you to build a
battleship," to which she replied, "And you've spent enough in
me to float one." In 1897, Langtry became a US citizen, and divorced
her husband in Lakeport, California. Langtry was portrayed on film by
in The Westerner
(1940), and by Ava Gardner
in The Life
and Times of Judge Roy Bean
. The legendary Bean
– self-proclaimed "law
west of the Pecos" – was played by Walter Brennan
in the first movie
and Paul Newman
in the second, both times as a man obsessed by the
beautiful Lillie Langtry.
Work has started on a four-part mini-series co-written by Mike Linaker and David Whitehead from an original concept by Mike. "In Colter's Quest,"
Mike says, "we plan to present a classic tale of the West. Ben Colter embarks
on a hazardous trek when his wife is kidnapped, his horse ranch razed to
the ground and his Apache helper murdered. The only true fact is that the
raiders have left a clear trail for Colter – because they want him to follow
them. While Colter can't figure out why his wife has been taken, he intends
to get her back. The pursuit isn't going to be easy, though, as Colter is
drawn into unforeseen incidents that take him along different paths, each
delaying his urgent journey. Renegade Indians, the Army, vicious bounty hunters
and an Apache on a blood hunt.... Colter's Quest has been a
long-held dream of mine, but somehow I never got around to writing it. When
I finally decided to ask Dave if he would like to collaborate, he jumped
at the chance. Together we intend to tell an epic tale of struggle and loyalty....
The books will appear as regular-sized paperbacks, and the covers will evoke
memories of the classic Gold Medal westerns we both grew up on."
Peace in the valley.
Regular readers may remember that the family of author Chris Kenworthy
(aka Walt Masterson
planned to scatter his ashes equally by the sea and in Monument Valley, Arizona
– places where his novels and research projects showed he belonged. Chris's
writes to tell us that the mission is accomplished. "We had a wonderful ceremony
on the beach near our house, led by a friend of ours. It was a beautiful,
clear, windy day. The kind Chris loved. In July we made it to Arizona, and
Monument Valley. I managed to book a Navaho singer/flautist/drummer, to sing
a song of farewell to my hero, in the Big Hogan and on John Ford Point. He
also sang a song of welcome to Anja
the sweet grand-daughter born a month too late for Chris to see. Chris would
have loved it. We all felt his presence.... He's out there now as well as
at home. He loved the West...." And Chris is still with the readers of his
westerns, of course, most recently in the welcome Dales and Linford reissues
of Gunfight at Dragoon Springs
and Showdown at Painted Rock
A western writer BHE respects highly is the late T. V. Olsen, whose
BHW-reprinted titles included a Spur Award-winning Fawcett Gold Medal
The Golden Chance. In a piece he wrote in 1962 for the Western Writers
America, Olsen raised the question of what was
wanted in westerns. He answered that the commercial writer of his day
"would do well to regard each book as a new creative challenge in
development of plot and situation and highly varied characterization,
with mature and intelligent concepts of theme and treatment – but
strive simultaneously to recapitulate more truly the traditional
elements . . . the historical feel of the place and the people and the
times, the sense of freedom of a wild and wide-open land, sex presented
more honestly but still not sensationally, tough-minded men who did
what they damned well had to and never mind about Mr Jones, a swift,
close-knit pace carried by lots of fast-moving action, and the decisive
triumph of good over evil by a protagonist who can make mistakes and
commit an occasional wrong because he is understandably human." In
2009, Olsen's views remain as pertinent and timely as ever.
And golden advice.
Chap O'Keefe considers a changing scene
DEFENDING FAITH A FUTILE EXERCISE
Riding into trouble was a habit with ex-Pinkerton detective Joshua
Dillard and his sentimental journey to a mission graveyard in Texas
proved no exception. Guns blazed and chips flew off the headstones as
he intervened to save a girl called Faith from the clutches of Lyte
Grumman and his gunhawks.
Joshua learned that Grumman was a ruthless cattle baron who’d lost a
thousand head of longhorns in what he reckoned was a rigged poker game.
Grumman was intent on recouping his loss, whatever it took. . . .
Buying in on Faith’s behalf, Joshua soon found his skills with a Colt
Peacemaker to no avail against superior numbers and a deadly tangle of
inopportune passions and doublecross.
Then a grim past and a frightful present turned Faith’s hand insanely
against all men!
Faith and a Fast Gun
WORK in any business long-term and you will see changes. I leaped into
the fiction business straight from school as a teenager and now, in
I'm still in it, though it's very different to what it once was.
Along the way, it was necessary to switch to less appealing career
options. In my twenties, I chose with my wife to make a home in New
Zealand. Here, no genre fiction industry existed, the markets were all
far away and in those days we had no internet. To make a decent living,
provide a comfortable home and fulfil responsibilities as a family's
breadwinner, many years were spent in journalism – daily newspapers,
trade journals, women's magazines. In all these, too, I saw changes.
Genre fiction, especially western fiction, has waxed and waned over the
years, as a look at the books' formats alone will show. For a while, the slim
paperback ruled. Now, the biggest sales in most countries appear to be of
library books – hardcovers and trade paperbacks and large-print editions.
Even within a series that has clung to a fairly consistent appearance, you
will observe change. Overall, the covers of today's Black Horse Westerns
emphasize brighter, carnival colours far more frequently than their predecessors
of a decade or two ago. As one of the veteran English Hale western writers
wrote to me recently, "Good, but I think I preferred the older style dustjackets."
Taste will always vary from person to person, and a bright,
unsubtle cover on a paperboard book can still be a very good cover, but one drawback is that
strong use of primary colours is perceived to be an appeal to young children
or people of lesser intellect.
This assumes vital importance when you consider that the larger part of
a western's print-run is bought by library staff who will not be
reading the book. If an impression is formed from the cover and style of binding that a book is meant for
juveniles, a library will not look kindly on receiving complaints that
the content is in an adult vein.
I remember writing a few years back to an eBay seller who was
auctioning Black Horse Westerns, including Frontier Brides, as children's
books. Fortunately, the lady was most apologetic after she'd read the
first few pages and obligingly corrected her mistake.
As well as libraries' expectations of "squeaky clean" kiddie books, we have to
contend with a growing body of opinion that public-purse money
should not be spent on providing the leisure reading of a minority;
that it should go instead to funding non-fiction, computers and even drop-in
coffee lounges. Thus we have more excuse for libraries to reduce their
purchases and holdings of westerns. In recessionary times, the
libraries have to find their budget cuts somewhere. Why not pick on the
"nasty", politically incorrect little western?
Perhaps it should come as no surprise, therefore, that publishing houses like
Robert Hale have become increasingly cautious about what they will
allow authors to keep in their stories. Several cuts had to be made to
Faith and a Fast Gun – as they also had to be made to most of the more recent O'Keefe
westerns. What was okay in earlier Joshua Dillard novels, like The
Gunman and the Actress (1995), Ride the Wild Country (2005) and Sons
and Gunslicks (2007), is out for 2010.
The storyline survives, but at several irritating expenses. Consider
short passage which comes after Faith has entered into a marriage of
convenience with Lyte Grumman's besotted but far from stupid son, Chet:
He was persisting in extracting maximum pleasure from what he was
pleased to call their honeymoon, overruling Faith's objections in the
latest of a succession of hotel rooms.
Today, he'd proposed they undress and take a bath together. Under
pretence of washing her, he'd given his hands every liberty before
finally taking forceful possession.
`You're sick,' Faith said with a shudder as water slopped over the
edges of the big tub.
`I never said I was perfect.'
In the published book it's rendered as follows:
He was persisting in extracting maximum pleasure from what he was
pleased to call their honeymoon, overruling Faith’s objections in the
latest of a succession of hotel rooms.
‘You’re sick,’ Faith said with a shudder.
‘I never said I was perfect.’
Though minimal, the cuts remove an entire picture in words, the bathtub
scene. Thus the reader is merely told
Faith is in a
predicament; we are not shown
she is. To any experienced
writer, if not to a publisher or editor, this goes against first
principles. Politely worded protest was unable to make the publisher
John Hale's decision was, "I do not
believe that any reader of even basic intelligence could fail to
implications of the truncated text. There cannot, of course, be any
moral argument against a man sharing a bathtub with his wife, or come
doing much else besides. The point is that we don’t want it spelt out
these westerns, even more so because I regard it as unnecessary to
point you are making in the book. The words ‘You’re sick,’
Faith said with a shudder’ say it all."
But do they say it all? I'll be interested to see what the reviewers
think. Importantly, the repulsive advantage Chet takes of Faith
validates and gives credence to her extreme actions later in the book.
My own thoughts remain that "truncating text" to accommodate
unreasonable moral objections – presumably from the libraries as Mr
Hale has warned on earlier occasions – is misguided practice. Readers do want it
"spelt out". Fiction writing – storytelling – depends on detail for
its colour, flavour and entertainment value. Taken to its extreme, the
story of any novel can be condensed – even reduced to as little as a
plot synopsis of a few hundred words. Nothing is lost in terms of
"establishing the points", but the strength and the texture is.
Mr Hale also said, "whilst you are at total liberty to write
exactly what you want, equally so we must claim the same right to
we feel is appropriate." And later, "equally
the publisher is very much held to account if readers think the work is
unpleasant and should not have been published."
Against that, the only
recourse for an author who wants his work to reach unabridged an audience he is
convinced doesn't find it "unpleasant" is continuous
So what will be the solution to the new, unwarranted library resistance
the publishing company response to it? One answer might be a
return to the original paperback novel, but that remains to be shown.
The retail book market's appetite is for the blockbuster-size paperback,
which is far from the ideal format for a briskly written, action-packed
western. Perhaps, too, the readers want cheap books. The old Gold Medal
and Ace books, of which many have fond memories, were certainly
inexpensive, readily available entertainment of a kind clearly no
longer possible in today's business environment. Fifteen dollars or ten
pounds for the slimmest of paperbacks – say, 160 pages – is the best
that can be achieved until the western can be restored as a mass-market
At the end of the day, the reading public will make a choice. Its
answer might be something else entirely. E-books? Change is always in
Candice Proctor offers thoughts on. . .
SEX, VIOLENCE – AND BOREDOM
CANDICE PROCTOR has been a guest contributor here before. She is a successful,
working writer who posts "must-read" accounts of her experiences
at Candy's Blog. That means valuable short essays – like the one we re-publish
below with her kind permission – are online at www.csharris.net/blog.html, free to all writers and prospective writers. As we've said on other occasions,
Candy's observations are usually as apt for Black Horse Westerns as for other
Candy writes the Sebastian St Cyr Regency mystery series under
the name of C. S. Harris and thrillers as one half of C. S. Graham. The
other half is her husband, army intelligence officer Steven Harris, and their latest book is
The Solomon Effect (HarperCollins).
I’M in the midst of slogging my way through
the latest thriller by a New York Times bestselling author. I’m putting myself
through this torture because I like to keep current with the publishing industry,
and because the subject of this particular book touches close to something
I’ve written myself.
Since I’m not enjoying the process, I’m reading fast. And I’ve found I can
skip the action sequences without missing anything. I’ll come to one and
think, Oh, good; the bad guys are going to try to kill the heroes again;
I can skip ahead at least ten pages!
If that isn’t the definition of gratuitous
violence, I don’t know what is. I’m reminded of the gratuitous sex scenes
that populate so many of today’s romance novels. When I was judging RITA
entries, I frequently found myself skipping sex scenes, too. Now, since authors
put in sex and violence in order to make their books more entertaining, yet
some of their readers are actually skipping those scenes, something is obviously
So how does a writer keep an action sequence – or a sex scene – from being boring?
the best action sequences or sex scenes, something happens that
actually moves the plot forward. We learn something new about the
characters. The characters learn something new about themselves or each
other. The action ups the stakes. Or it changes the characters’
motivation. Or it changes the characters’ goal. Or the characters
acquire new information that causes them to alter their course of
action. But something has to
happen besides just violence or sex.
When nothing changes – if the
characters and the conflict are all the same at the end of the scene as
they were at the beginning – then the scene is gratuitous. The writer
could yank the car chase/shootout/sex scene from the plot (or the
reader could skip it) and no one would notice. The plot line would flow
on without interruption or confusion.
Unfortunately, today’s audiences are so
addicted to sex and violence that writers frequently feel the need to insert
sex/violence every so many pages/minutes. Now, it’s pretty hard to make each
and every one of those scenes pivotal. Yet I do think it is possible to have
gratuitous sex and violence without boring the more discriminating members
of your audience. How? By creating sympathetic characters.
If your readers care about your characters,
they will be carried along by the action, both because they care what happens
to the characters and because they like spending time with them. If I’m watching
a movie and I don’t like the characters, I have nothing at stake; I couldn’t
care less if they get killed or caught. Oh, our heroes are being shot at again?
Yawn. Let me go make another cup of tea….
Even if I don’t care about the characters,
an action sequence can still hold my attention if it’s well done, if the
sequence is original, or funny, or cleverly orchestrated. Ironically, the
NYT bestselling author of the thriller I’m reading at the moment writes really,
really bad action sequences. They’re unoriginal, unbelievable, and badly
executed. There is absolutely nothing to entice me to read them. So, I skip.
course, a lot of people really don’t care if the sex and violence in a book
or movie is gratuitous or unoriginal – they're actually reading/watching
for the sex and violence. Sigh.
Black Horse Extra applauded Candy's excellent approach to a thorny issue and commented: "A related problem now creeping in is the editors
who can no longer discriminate between what is and what isn't
gratuitous. There's sex and violence, and there's sex and violence....
But the knee-jerk reaction is to delete the lot! The key is in your
paragraph 5. Should be required reading by all authors and publishers."
Candy replied, "I suspect it's a house rules kind of
thing. My St Cyr editor frequently wants me to tone down the violence
('Can't some of these people be allowed to live?') and show more of the
sex. My thriller editor likes the violence, and also wants more sex
(which I refuse to put in because I want the relationship between Jax
and Tobie to be on a very slow simmer). Other houses don't want sex or
violence, just lots of praying!"
HarperCollins describes The Solomon Effect as
"a riveting thriller that combines authentic CIA spycraft, unearthed
Nazi secrets, and biological terror in a tale that races full-speed from
the opening paragraph to a heart-pounding conclusion." The book is designed
to appeal to a wide audience – from fans of Tom Clancy, James Rollins, and
John Le Carré to dedicated aficionados of Tami Hoeg.
|A true story from Greg Mitchell|
THE FRANK GARDINER MYSTERY
Outlaws are plaguing the Santa Rosa area and Marshal Tim Cleary is sent there
to investigate the theft of military rifles. He joins forces with Sheriff
Lou Braga in an attempt to break up the gang and to determine the fate of
Red Baxter, the freight company driver moving the rifles.
Diaz, a delusional Mexican goat herder, claims to have seen
the bandit leader and believes him to be the Devil. Now the two lawmen must
try to decipher Diaz's terrified ravings, and weave their way through false
trails, before they finally track down and unmask the Devil and bring retribution.
Track Down the Devil
THE story of Frank Gardiner begins and ends in mystery. Only his
criminal career has been fully documented. We know for certain, though,
that he was one of Australia's most notorious bushrangers, that he was
the only Australian sent into exile, that he spent the latter part of
his life in the western United States and that he pulled off one of the
biggest gold robberies in history.
But did two Americans – possibly his sons – later visit his old
haunts and spirit away a fortune in his hidden loot?
Gardiner's true name was almost certainly Francis Christie although he
also called himself Clarke, Smith, Jones and Gardiner. The latter name
was believed to be that of the man who taught him to ride.
Some writers claim he was born about 1830 at Boro Creek near
Braidwood in the southern part of the colony of New South Wales. Others
say that he was born in Scotland and arrived in Australia aged four.
All agree that his father was the storekeeper at Boro Creek cattle and
sheep station [ranch]. These isolated stations brought in a year's
supply of necessities at one time. The storekeeper issued supplies,
kept track of the inventory and arranged the next year's orders
Legend has it that young Frank left home at an early age and
wandered for a while with the native tribes along the Shoalhaven River.
One of his nicknames was "Darkie" although he was not Aboriginal.
His first recorded brush with the law saw him convicted of horse
theft in the colony of Victoria. Frank escaped from Pentridge Stockade
and resumed horse stealing in New South Wales. He was captured again,
served part of a prison sentence on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour
before being paroled to the Goulburn district. This was the Gold Rush
era and the goldfields were nearby, but Frank had no intention of
becoming a miner. He opened a butcher shop at the goldfield and had a
good business until the police became interested in the source of his
On the run but ever versatile, he opened a new trade. Robbery under
arms could be a hanging offence but with his bush skills and the best
of stolen horses under him, Frank quickly went to the top of his new
profession. The police took a dim view of his activities but their
efforts to catch him mostly ended in embarrassing failures that
provided amusement for those who had nothing that bushrangers would
want to steal.
In 1861, Gardiner gathered a gang around him and tried for the
biggest prize in the Australian colonies, the Gold Escort. This was
a coach guarded by police that regularly took gold from the goldfields
the Treasury in Sydney. The gang, as well as Gardiner, included Ben
Hall, Johnny Gilbert and Johnny O'Meally, all destined to become
legendary outlaws. Charters, Fordyce, Bowe and Manns made up the rest
of the gang.
At Eugowra Rocks, an isolated part of the road, the gang stopped
the coach and a brief gun-battle ensued. This was a time of
slow-loading percussion firearms and the police escort with their Navy
Colts and Terry carbines, outnumbered and outgunned, were forced to
retreat. A police sergeant was slightly wounded and another trooper was
killed after the holdup when a police revolver accidentally discharged.
The gang escaped with more than 2,087 ounces of gold conservatively
estimated today at worth more than $US2,000,000. It was the biggest
robbery since the pirate Henry Morgan sacked Panama in the 17th
Then the police, with their black trackers, had a bit of luck. They
captured Hall, Charters, Manns, Fordyce and Bowe and managed to
retrieve 1,500 ounces of gold. Charters turned informer, confirming
that Gardiner was the mastermind but for some reason, he refused to
incriminate Ben Hall who was released. Fordyce and Bowe were sentenced
to life imprisonment and Manns, who foolishly incriminated himself, was
Gardiner and the two Johnnies remained at large and Ben Hall
changed from cattleman to professional bushranger. All were good at
their work and held up coaches, stations, travellers and even towns.
The mounted police efforts to curb the bushrangers soon became the
subject of sarcastic comments and satirical poetry regularly appearing
in various newspapers. The police under Inspector Sir Frederick
Pottinger were seen as figures of fun by the general public.
Gardiner rode into a police ambush one night while visiting his
lady friend Kitty Brown at Wheogo. Mounted on a grey horse and an easy
target on a bright moonlit night, he was surrounded by troopers but
managed to shoot his way out again and escaped. Some anonymous wit
described the incident in a poem entitled The Bloody Field of Wheogo
Describing Gardiner's escape, the poet wrote:
But the 'ranger proud, he laughed aloud,
And bounding, rode away.
Sir Frederick Pott shut his eyes for a shot,
And missed – in his usual way
The scene became too hot for Gardiner. He fled the colony with Kitty
Brown and his gang joined Ben
Hall. The police lost Gardiner's
trail completely and there were even rumours that he was dead. It was
Kitty who brought about his undoing. They'd been living quietly for
more than a
year in outback Queensland as Mr and Mrs Christie, when Kitty
foolishly wrote to her sister. The sister's husband, a former
policeman, saw the letter and noted the writer's address.
Gardiner was arrested and tried in Sydney in 1864. All who knew him,
including Charters the
informer, swore in court that they did not recognize him and he was
of the escort robbery. He
was, however, found guilty of wounding a police sergeant and other
earned him a 32-year sentence.
Another anonymous poet wrote:
Frank Gardner he is caught at last
And now in Sydney jail –
For wounding Sergeant Middleton
And robbing the Mudgee Mail
For plundering of the escort
And Cargo mail also
It was for gold he made so bold
And not so long ago.
After ten years he was released on condition that he left Australia.
In 1874 he sailed via Hong Kong to San Francisco. By 1877 he was the
proprietor of the Twilight Saloon at 1051 Kearny Street. His saloon
became a gathering place for Australians passing through San Francisco.
In 1879 he was reported to have married a rich, young widow. This
information was relayed from the Sierra Citizen in 1881 to an
Australian newspaper. The couple were said to have had twin sons.
Nobody knows how or when Gardiner died. It was rumoured that he was
shot dead in a card game in Colorado in 1903 and he would have been 73
if the report was true. The San Francisco earthquake in 1906, with its
destruction of records, has been suggested as the reason why Gardiner's
trail disappeared. But another mystery remains.
Australian author Frank Clune wrote that in 1912 two Americans,
Monty and Fred, turned up at Wheogo claiming to be radium prospectors.
The owner gave them permission to camp on the property and loaned them
tools. After a week they departed with bags of "rock specimens" and
were never seen again. Later, the property owner found Gardiner's old
campsite dug up to a depth of two feet. Were these Gardiner's sons or
members of a syndicate following written directions to recover the
long-hidden loot ? We will never know as the trail has been cold for
too many years. Frank Gardiner is still the subject of both history and
– Paddy Gallagher, who writes his BHWs as Greg Mitchell. His book
Track Down the Devil is a current Dales large-print reissue.
Old San Francisco
Published by Robert Hale Ltd in November, December and January
|McRae's Last Trail
||0 7090 8814 1
|Trail of the Burned Man
7090 8817 2
|Take Me to Texas
7090 8819 6
|Always the Guns
7090 8820 2
|Revenge by Fire
7090 8821 9
7090 8826 4
|Waiting for the Hangman
7090 8829 5
|The Kansas Fast Gun
7090 8794 6
|Shoot, Run or Die!
7090 8825 7
7090 8833 2
7090 8834 9
|Long Ride to Yuma
7090 8837 0
|The Branded Man
|J. D. Ryder
|0 7090 8838 7
Six for Laramie
7090 8846 2
|Quinn's Last Run
|Owen G. Irons
7090 8827 1
|Dead Man's Guns
7090 8843 1
7090 8852 3
|Faith and a Fast Gun
7090 8854 7
7090 8859 2
|I. J. Parnham
|0 7090 8860 8
|To Die This Day
|0 7090 8861 5
Misfit Lil Cheats
978 1 4092 8943 2
Horse Westerns can be requested at public libraries or ordered at bookstores. They can be bought online from the publisher at www.halebooks.com,
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