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?






















What am I currently reading?

The Open Range Men by Lauran Paine.

What would I like to read?

The Lone Rider of Santa Fe by Buck Dexter. Very rare I believe!

OK, let me kick this first entry into the Corral off with a little background to the origins of Raking Hell. It all came from just one word rake.
I was watching an Australian national television program on a Friday evening called, 'Can We Help' (June 2009), which includes a segment on language called Wise Words. A viewer had written in asking for the origin of the word rake. I was aware of the expression and that it was a disparaging term but thought it was like being called a cad, nothing more. However, I hadn't heard the word used in years and guessed that it was, well, just a quaint old fashion term that had long passed out of fashion. The panelist on the program that deals with the language segment, Professor Kate Burridge from the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University, confirmed that it was indeed a derogatory term, saying that it had came from the 1600s to describe fashionable young men of promiscuous habits and had come from the saying that you would have to rake hell to find a person of such bad character. She then went on to say that the female form of the word would be slut, slag or whore. So, I immediately thought, wow, that is a serious insult being called a rake, which then led to the thought, what a wonderful title for a book, rake hell or maybe raking hell.
I started thinking about a possible plot that same evening and again the next morning as I lay in
bed before I went to fetch the papers. I then commenced to sketch out a storyline on paper that weekend and wrote the first chapter on Sunday evening just before dinner. It was just 1,000 words long but I wanted to see how my initial thoughts translated onto paper, as a story, and to see if it had a hook to grab the reader. I thought it did, so I then continued to flesh-out the plot over the next week, jotting down notes whenever something came into my head. I find the subconscious mind plays an important role in this process and that it is best to let the grey matter sort it out in its own good time, but when that idea, that little light comes on (as dim as it maybe at the time) it has to be grabbed and scribbled down quickly before it is lost. Once the plot, the structure of the story, is shaped-up then it was just a matter of writing up each chapter of an evening and on the weekends, which took about a month. From then on it was just rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. In fact, six revisions in all before it was ready for submission in late 2009.
Now, this was never going to be a done deal as my two previous submissions of Western stories to Robert Hale Limited had been declined. But on each occasion I had received favorable feedback from the publisher. This time the comments were flattering before they got to the weakness! The ending was considered unsatisfactory and it was recommended that the final chapters be re-written. It was sound advice. I had been too smart by half with the original ending that left an important issue unresolved and this would have left the reader annoyed (maybe as annoyed as hell). It might have been a whimsical finish, but whimsy was never part of the story, it was too gritty for that. Sheriff Will Price had to deal with the realities of his judgment, both good and bad. A face-to-face confrontation, a final showdown was not just necessary but unconditional. I had fortunately been given a jolt, a reminder from a wise head.
I thought that pulling that new ending together was going to take a bit of doing, but over the space of a weekend and a little contemplation, while looking into the bottom of a glass of red wine or two, it seemed to fall into place. But I leave you decided how well it works. I would certainly love to hear your thoughts.
With Raking Hell being accepted for publication in early 2010 and due for publication in early 2011, I commenced work on a follow-up. This is a new story called No Coward with new characters, in a new location but more about that in the future.

Till then, yeehaw,


March 2011

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