What is the Corral about?

Well, simply, it is a place to round-up ideas, thoughts, comments and anything else you may like to hear about. My original intention was to have a forum but the time to manage such a gathering is really beyond me at this stage. But via email I can gather up your input and get it into the Corral.

So, would you like to make comment?

What is your favorite western story, either as a book or a movie?

Want to tell us why?

What are you currently reading, watching or listening to (regardless if it is a Western or not)?

What do you want to see in future Western stories (grit or romance, maybe both, gunplay or justice, grim reality or happy endings)?

Anything you would like to see in one of my stories?



March 2011

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January 2012














What am I currently reading?

The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton – how I would have loved to have met this author.

This month marks the first anniversary of this website, which was started to coincide with the release of Raking Hell. This month also marks the release of a new book, titled No Coward.

This story, like Raking Hell, is in the tradition of the gritty Western, where actions tend to be the primary method for problem solving, rather than negotiation and appeasement! Not that I wanted No Coward to be a replica of Raking Hell, but it is an adventure story, so daring deeds are a prerequisite.

As a hobby writer, I set myself the task of trying to write and have published, five Western novels, each with a difference, be it the plot, the characters, the point of view, or even the narrative style. This approach was not just to avoid sameness but also blandness. Now in doing so, I guessed that it would be a hit and miss affair and that has proven to be the case. Of the five submissions made to the publishers of Black Horse Westerns, three have failed to make the cut. However, determining if success has been achieved will not be with the publisher but with the reader, who I hope, like me, is looking for something a little different.

In No Coward, I wanted to take a look at aspects of courage mixed with devious behaviour, along with the development of a relationship between two very different and unlikely travelling companions. Does all this sound a bit pretentious? It does doesn’t it, but isn’t meant to be and has it been done before? I’m sure it has, a million times over, but hey, this is my take on it.

Pulling a novel together, at least for me, as a part time writer of average talents, is pretty much an annual event. Not that it takes a full year of constant writing, in fact once I have sketched out the outline, then the first draft can be on paper within a couple of months. The real dilemma is, getting that idea mapped out and into some sort of structure that will then hang together.

Being a ‘baby’ writer (or should that be infant?) I tend to like the tried and true three-act structure that was used in Greek theatre some two and half thousand years ago. You know how it goes, a beginning, middle, and end, or sometimes described in learning texts as: the problem, the deliberation, and the solution, or something along those lines.

Once I have got an idea into a complete outline, then I can see if the story makes sense, at least in a plausible way so that the horse is before the cart, rather than after it! It also allows me to see if the story flows, so that it can retain interest without miring in lengthy boring bits. Now, you are probably thinking, isn’t this a bit contrived, a bit mechanical, and I wish to hell at times it was, because then I could get on with some anguish-free writing, but in reality I have fond no magic formula. Most of my efforts result in a very messy and lengthy process, along with the uncertainty that the completed story will actually work.

If I have any approach at all that gives some logic or organization to my writing, then I’d have to say that it comes from a desire to understand how a good story works. I hear about a lot of writers who love to write because it gives them the opportunity to use language, and I guess that’s because they are very good at it; but for me it is the art of storytelling, especially via popular culture, that appeals. The answer of course is to end up with a good story well told, as opposed to an ordinary story told well, or a very good story told badly.

On getting the first draft down, I then put the manuscript away in the bottom drawer (fugitively speaking as it gets to reside in a computer file) for a month or two, before I commence the rewriting or editing process. At least six re-writes are undertaken, and each with a little drawer time in between. Then and only then, is it ready to submit to the publisher.

Each submission is made without any privilege. This writing is speculative, where the author is expected to come up with a story that is original, and meets the publisher’s guidelines. And it is when the manuscript is in the hands of the submissions editor that it is judged and passed (or rejected) on its merits.

No Coward is a little longer than the normal word count for a Black Horse Western, and I thank the publisher, Robert Hale Limited, for the leniency given and their ability to shoehorn it into the 160 page format. I for one find a tight word count a real challenge in trying to flesh out a well developed plot especially when trying to address some of the big issues of life like justice, loyalty, dignity, fear, and for this story, courage.

Anyway, it is out now and I hope you like it.


February 2012

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