Tuesday 31 December 2013

Out with the old and in with the new

I think I'll be glad to see the back of 2013 - it's got that 13 at the end, you see. Bad vibes and all that. On a professional level the year's been pretty good. I saw my fifth Black Horse title, The Afterlife of Slim McCord published, as well as another two books in the Granny Smith series. And I signed a commission with Pen and Sword books for a World War One non fiction work which will see publication in 2014 (Still got a lot of work to do on that one) and also I'll be writing a book for a western series that I'm not as yet able to give any detail on, but I'm excited by this. I've also got the last quarter of a new western Johnny Jerusalem to complete. So the first few months of 2014 will be busy busy busy - a western to complete, a western to write and the World War One book to complete. I also intend to bring my detective, Frank Parade back this year.

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other

On a personal level the year started off quite scary when I was diagnosed with basil cell cancer- a small tumour on my forehead. Cancer's a scary word -  it makes your bowels loosen but thanks to the brilliance of the doctors I was reassured. There's no such thing as a good cancer but if there were then my form was it. I had an operation in September which left me looking like Frankenstein's monster, but the cut healed well and the scar is now fast fading. A fortnight ago I was finally discharged by my surgeon.I am now free of the illness but will have to take care in the future - high protection sun screen and all that.

I've not paid as much attention as normal to pop culture this past year, but I was delighted by the excellent Django Unchained and disappointed with both The Man of Steel and the commerce driven Hobbit. I've not yet seen the Hobbit 2 nor do I intend to -I'm not sitting through two hours odd of nonthingness again just to get a hour or so of good stuff. 2013 also saw The Lone Ranger bomb at the box office even if it was a good movie.Looking ahead to 2014 it seems like we have more superhero movies to come - oh bliss! Mind you the news that Tarantino is to make another western is something to get excited about.

Dear Luck, .....can we be friends in 2014 Please? 

 Doctor Who was big in 2013, what with the 50th anniversary and the departure of kiddie doctor and Peter Capaldi becoming the new pilot of the TARDIS. Mind you, other than a few brief moments, we'll have to wait until late 2014 to see how Capaldi handles the role. Mind you in 2013 there was one TV show to rule them all - Breaking Bad ended its excellent run this year and just maybe my favourite TV series of all time. In other TV I thought Homeland finally jumped the ship with its third season and I don't think I'll be watching that again. The Walking Dead went into its fourth season and managed to mostly keep up the quality.

What about books? Well Piccadilly Publishing went from strength to strength and are now possibly the finest digital publishing house for westerns. We got a new James Bond book, a new Jack Frost Book, and even a new Jeeves book. Stephen King have us a follow up to The Shining and James Herbert gave us the long awaited Ash. The joy though was mixed with sadness when Herbert died in MARCH.

. eBooks continued to flourish during the year and physical books held their own in an increasingly competitive market.

Amazon of course continue to rule the eBook market and their dominance seems assured with their new Kindle Paperwhites, which are likely the best eReaders on the market.

Anyway ring in the old, ring in the new....

Monday 30 December 2013

Public Lending Rights unchanged for 2013

The Public Lending Rights incomes have been frozen for this year.

The money paid out annually to writers in order to compensate for books loaned out from libraries will be at 6.2 pence per loan, the same amount as last year, with a top payment of £6,600.

Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister and a man due to receive a 11% pay rise along with other fat cat MPs, confirmed recently that the amount allocated to the PLR scheme would remain unchanged.

Authors eligible for PLR will receive their statements in January and I, for one, can't bloody wait.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 23 Dec - 29 Dec 2013 


Unique Visits129123124105175141157954136
First Time Visits12210911497158137149886127
Returning Visits71410817486810

Friday 27 December 2013

20 Essential Westerns - A brief overview of the silent era

I have a large collection of western movies in my home library and have decided to select twenty titles from my shelves and over the next few weeks watch and review them here on the Archive. The films are not meant to reflect what I consider to be the best ever westerns, but rather to outline twenty differing examples of brilliance in the genre.

One thing I can assure you of is that all of the twenty movie selected will need to be seen by any serious western buff.

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”  

George Barnes
 It is  fitting the the world's first narrative film, that is a film with a plot rather than being a set of filmed events, was a western. The 12 minute epic (a running time Peter Jackson may want to keep in mind for the next Hobbit movie)  filmed by Edwin S. Porter in 1903 depicted a train robbery and the subsequent capture of the bandits. The film was made and released in the year that Butch Cassidy and his gang carried out their last train robbery which gave the movie  the ring of authenticity even although it was filmed in New Jersey.

During the early years of the western there was often some overlap with the actual Wild West - Wyatt Earp, the famed lawman, became a technical advisor on many movies as did one time outlaw Emmett Dalton. It was during this period that the young John Ford became friends with Earp and when Earp presented Ford with one of his old rifles the director kept it by his bedside for the rest of his life. So well known in the fledgling movie industry did Earp become that when he died in 1929 the cowboy stars Tom Mix and William S. Hart were bearers of his coffin.

One of the extras on the Great Train Robbery went onto become the first real cowboy screen hero. He was Max Aronson who played Bronco ( sometimes spelled Broncho) Billy in around 400 silent shorts,

 Embedded here is the 1912 movie, Broncho Billy and the School Mistress. Another early star of the western was Tom Mix who, with his faithful horse Tony, rose to fame in a series of western shorts. Mix moved onto full length features and even survived the transition of sound when he came out of retirement in 1932 for Destry Rides Again. Mix didn't like talkies but he remained popular until his untimely death in a car crash in 1940.

Perhaps the most famous of the early screen cowboys was William S Hart.  With his long chiselled face that actor truly looked the part in the many westerns he made, and he became world famous. One of his best movies was the 1916 Hell's Hinges, a true classic of silent western cinema, and something of an inspiration for the Clint Eastwood western, High Plains Drifter.

Hell's Hinges is embedded below

The film saw Hart playing a character named Blaze Tracy, an appropriate name given that the character ends the movie by torching the entire town. The standout scene which shows a burning church is incredibly effective and serves as a metaphor for the evil which has taken over the town.

Hart made his signature movie Tumbleweed in 1925 and not too long afterwards grew tired of the movie business and retired from the business. He died in 1946, his position in the formation of the western assured and widely recognised.

The first truly epic western was 1923's The Covered Wagon which was directed by James Cruze and grossed a stunning $5 million - an unheard of sum during the period. It was during the silent period that John Ford, perhaps the western's finest ever director, started to learn his trade. In 1924, after a string of shorts, Ford delivered his first classic western - the 133 minute long, The Iron Horse. Made for Fox the movie  the movie was set around the building of the transcontinental railroad, a shining path from sea to sea. The movie would rake in $2 million in the US alone, and Ford followed the film by another western, 3 Bad Men (1926) and although the film had its merits it was a financial failiure. Ford then quit westerns, swearing never to return to the genre but thankfully he had a change of heart and would later direct many of the best westerns ever made - My Darling Clementine and The Searchers to name but two of many.

By 1927 sound was starting to make itself heard in the cinema and this was the end of the silent western era. In the grand scale of things the silent era was brief but it was during these years that the rules of the genre were laid down.

 As a film genre the silent western is unique. Historically, it overlaps with the decline of the Wild West. Like the dime novels the silent movies were a medium for mythologising a vanishing frontier. The movies blurred the line between reality and myth, with real life  cowboys-turned-actors and outlaws-turned-directors.

The western was here and it was here to stay,

Next article in this series will start the countdown of the Archive's 20 essential westerns. Whilst these 20 movies may not be the best ever made they are certainly among the very best and represent films that any serious western buff will need to see.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

New Discoveries

I never thought I'd like a contemporary mainstream artist again - I'm not sure if it's an age issue but I don't think so, since the stuff that comes from the X-Factor, and dominates the charts, is at its best middle of the road crooning and at its worse overly commercial, over hyped, talentless karaoke singing. Simon Cowell is towards the top of my list of tosspots.

Music is in a sorry state when the chart are dictated by a bunch of middle aged men in suits and a fucking red haired harridan. Music should be about ideas and come from the heart and not the findings of some research department in Simon Cowell's hide out.

Was a time when music used to say something, reflect the modern world and was put together in such a way that every chord was anti establishment, every lick a mini riot. Back in the day we would have not had the opportunity to cheer at One Direction or JLS because the fuckers wouldn't have made any impact in the first place and the X Factor would have been laughed off the screens.

Though my faith as been restored by a nineteen year old singer songwriter who rocks like it's still Nineteen Sixty Eight. This man is Jake Bugg and make no mistakes this is a truly colossal talent, and someone who is giving music a much needed kick in the arse. I

Two albums so far, both of them commercially successful and critically acclaimed.

Happy Christmas

to all Archive readers - big changes coming for the Archive in 2014

And here are some tasteful Christmas images to get you in the festive mood

Sunday 22 December 2013

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 16 Dec - 22 Dec 2013 


Unique Visits13513012412913494109855122
First Time Visits12411811911512494102796114
Returning Visits11125141007598

Thursday 19 December 2013

Granada admits future of Jeremy Kyle is uncertain.

Granada Television have been left red faced after several guests from daytime TV's Jeremy Kyle show escaped and were rampaging through Manchester.

Police issued a statement that a security lapse at the show had indeed resulted in several members of the British lowlife making it to the streets. However a spokesman for Granada admitted that the flow of vermin was greater than official reports suggested and that there may be many more scumbags running around than the police are admitting.

'We are used to people storming off after hearing their DNA results,' Jeremy Kyle told the Archive. 'But they usually bolt to our hospitality room and hide amongst the rubber plants. We then coax them back onto set so that their shame can be played out to the baying audience.'

If you see this woman - RUN LIKE FUCK

The latest news is that police have shot one of the scumbags but that several dangerous chavs, all said to be dressed in shell trackies, are still at large. Known to be among these is Kyle from Bradford, speciality taking it up the wrong un, and Justin from Penrhys who is known to have a string of children each with different mothers from the estate.

Police have warned the public to be vigilant and to ensure that any White Lightening Cider and Fags are hidden away for safety.

Monday 16 December 2013

Pasta Blasters: Any Gun Can Play AKA Vado... l'ammazzo e torno

Cynical and stylish, bloody and baroque - these are the pasta blasters, the spaghetti westerns. Those movies that for a period from the mid Sixties to the early Seventies revitalised the western genre.

Any Gun Can Play (1967) may not be one of the best remembered movies in the sub-genre, but it is a pretty good entry nonetheless.

 The movie opens with a truly excellent genre in-joke in which three men ride into town - these are dressed and cast to look like the iconic Euro-Western characters played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Franco Nero. The opening scene pays homage to the style developed from the Leone school of thought and it is not only the look of the three characters that remind us of earlier movies. However the film immediately pulls the rug out from under our feet by having the three men shot down by the real hero of the film - The Stranger played by George Hilton.

The plot involved our bounty hunter witnessing a train robbery while looking for bandit, Montero played by Gilbert Roland who manages in some shots to resemble a mid-period John Wayne. Of course the bandit was involved in the robbery and now seems a much more attractive proposition given that the bounty on his head has risen dramatically.

The film aims for laughs as much as thrills and although it is not a comedy western in the sense of the Trinity movies, it is very much a comedic oater ,though a disjointed one at that. The first quarter of the movie is quite violent and fast paced and the robbery of the train carrying the gold is excellently staged. It is only later that the film becomes uproariously funny - the fistfight between the stranger and Clayton (Edd Byrnes)  has to be seen to be believed. From this point in the film becomes ever more outlandish, the fight scenes ever more audacious. The scene in which Clayton escapes several gunmen in a small town would not look out of place in a James Bond movie.

The movie, like most others in its genre, has an effective score -  this was only the fourth film score from the great Francesco De Masi (1930-2005) and is very much influenced by the styles set out by the legendary Ennio Morricone which is no surprise since Morricone layed down the blueprint for pasta western scores with his work for Sergio Leone. There are lots of guitar strums and whistling in the score.

The current DVD release from Pegasus and its Cowboy Classic Collection is adequate but nothing more. There are no special features and although the picture, when upscaled to 180p is pretty good the audio could do with a complete remaster.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 9 Dec - 15 Dec 2013 


Unique Visits155161147145123133124988141
First Time Visits143153140139118125120938134
Returning Visits12876584507

Wednesday 11 December 2013

The Welsh Ripper KIllings

My novel, The Welsh Ripper Killings, the Kindle version, is currently on a countdown deal for only 99p - the clock is ticking though and there's only 48hours left so go grab the eBook.

Monday 9 December 2013

Tis the season of ghosts and ghouls

Christmas is a time of fun, frolics and ghosts.

‘My ghostly little tale.’

That was how Charles Dickens referred to A Christmas Carol which was first published in 1843 and has since become arguably Dickens most celebrated work. It has been adapted countless time into all other media – movies, TV, comic books, audio plays, stage plays and is largely responsible for the way we celebrate Christmas today. The Christmas of the book is not so much about religion but the cold winter and the even colder heart of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Over the years the book has become to be known as a Christmas tale, which it of course is, but it is first and foremost a paranormal thriller that terrified the original audience – Dickens had written of supernatural events previously when Gabriel Grub from the Pickwick Papers is visited by goblins, but with A Christmas Carol the author brought the paranormal to the fore.

“A national benefit and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness.” William Makepeace Thackery.
Dickens has a social message behind his story, because he felt that the poor, many who had been displaced by the industrial revolution, should be provided for and treated humanly by society and by using ghosts to get his message across, he was picking up on an oral tradition of telling supernatural stories at Christmas.

And whilst A Christmas Carol is the ghost story most associated with Christmas, it is worth remembering that M R James started writing his ghost stories to be told to friends on Christmas Eve, the frame story in “The Turn of the Screw” has a bunch of friends sitting around the fire on Christmas Eve And the Andy Williams  song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has the line there’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago. The modern Christmas owes much to the Victorian idea of the holiday and the Victorians loved ghosts stories and each year the popular annuals would feature at least one festive ghost story.
And so remember this Christmas not all spirits come in a bottle and have a scary Christmas and a chilling new year from THE TAINTED ARCHIVE.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 2 Dec - 8 Dec 2013 


Unique Visits1521291801671321531731,086155
First Time Visits1371171701621251491581,018145
Returning Visits151210574156810

Saturday 7 December 2013

An Old West Christmas

By the mid 1800s the American Christmas tradition included much of the customs and festivities it does today, including tree decorating, gift-giving, Santa Claus, greeting cards, stockings by the fire, church activities and family-oriented days of feasting and fun. For those out West, far away from civilisation - pioneers, cowboys, explorers, and mountain men, usually celebrated Christmas more meagerly.Those on the prairies, they were often barraged with terrible blizzards and savage December winds. For mountain men, forced away from their mining activities long before Christmas, in fear of the blinding winter storms and freezing cold, the holidays were often meager. But, to these strong pioneers, Christmas would not be forgotten. Even in the Wild West one had to keep up standard, you know. 

On Christmas Day 1863, Mark Twain received a gift from a Miss Chase - "The box contained nothing but a ghastly, naked, porcelain doll," Twain wrote in The Virginia City Enterprise. In fact Virginia City has a long Christmas tradition and even today the city hold an annual Christmas on the Comstock celebration in which original oil lamps from the 1880's are lit alongside the regular Christmas lights. But even in the 1880's Christmas was not a new thing on the frontier - the tradition of lighting small bonfires to guide Catholics to midnight mass on Christmas Eve was started by the Franciscan monks in the 16th century.

Merryweather Lewis and William Clark celebrated Christmas in 1804 at Fort Manden in what would become North Dakota. They apparently celebrated by shooting off guns and drinking a lot of brandy.

The mining camp of Denver City had only been established a little over a month when in 1858 Christmas was celebrated in high style. Richen Lacy Wotton arrived in camp on the day with a barrel of Taos Lightening and gave the entire town a Christmas drink or two or three. All the potent moonshine led to singing and the Christmas service planned by Rev. George Fisher had to be cancelled because of drunkenness.

Newspaper man, William Lawrance wrote a Christmas poem in 1890 that has become famous:

'Way out in Western Texas, where the Clear Fork's waters flow,
Where the cattle are "a-browzin'," an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-whistlin'" from beyond the Neutral Strip;
And the prairie dogs are sneezin', as if they had "The Grip";
Where the cayotes come a-howlin' 'round the ranches after dark,
And the mocking-birds are singin' to the lovely "medder lark";
Where the 'possum and the badger, and rattlesnakes abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin' o'er a wilderness profound;
Where lonesome, tawny prairies melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber, in heavenly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin' and the lonely plovers call—
It was there that I attended "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The town was Anson City, old Jones's county seat,
Where they raised Polled Angus cattle, and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "bammy," an' dry an' full of health,
And the prairies is explodin' with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western, that Hec. McCann supplies
With news and yarns and stories, uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger," on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant, and might hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter, John Milsap, from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff, back East, in Paris sah!"
'T was there, I say, at Anson with the lovely "widder Wall,"
That I went to that reception, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The boys had left the ranches and come to town in piles;
The ladies—"kinder scatterin'"—had gathered in for miles.
And yet the place was crowded, as I remember well,
'T was got for the occasion, at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was a fiddle an' a lively tambourine,
And a "viol came imported," by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged out gorgeous-with mistletoe and shawls,
And candles flickered frescoes, around the airy walls.
The "wimmin folks" looked lovely-the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin': "Whoa! fellers, let's stampede,"
And the music started sighin', an' awailin' through the hall
As a kind of introduction to "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

The leader was a feller that came from Swenson's ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy," from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was "kinder keerless," big spurs and high-heeled boots;
He had the reputation that comes when "fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle 
upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated an' a mighty, movin' sight,
When he commenced to holler, "Neow, fellers stake your pen!
"Lock horns ter all them heifers, an' russle 'em like men.
"Saloot yer lovely critters; neow swing an' let 'em go,
"Climb the grape vine 'round 'em—all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up- Jest skip her waterfall,"
Huh! hit wuz gettin' happy, "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The boys were tolerable skittish, the ladies powerful neat,
That old bass viol's music just got there with both feet!
That wailin', frisky fiddle, I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a-singin'—I think I hear him yet—
"Oh Xes, chase yer squirrels, an' cut 'em to one side;
"Spur Treadwell to the centre, with Cross P Charley's bride;
"Doc. Hollis down the middle, an' twine the ladies' chain;
"Varn Andrews pen the fillies in big T Diamond's train.
"All pull yer freight together, neow swallow fork an' change;
"'Big Boston,' lead the trail herd, through little Pitchfork's range.
"Purr 'round yer gentle pussies, neow rope 'em! Balance all!"
Huh! hit wuz gettin' active—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"

The dust riz fast an' furious; we all jes' galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy that T Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled to our partners, an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook our hoofs like lightning, until the early dawn.
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions, or germans. No sire 'ee!
That whirl at Anson City just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's, of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-d
own, backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar: when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness, and so I sorter know—
Oh, Bill, I sha'n't forget yer, and I'll oftentimes recall,
That lively gaited sworray—"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

So this Christmas why not give a western and continue the long tradition of the Cowboy Christmas.

Poverty in the Rhondda - humbug so says MP Chris Bryant

Apologies for the politics but ahh well it's Christmas

The Rhondda Valleys are one of the poorest eras in the UK – there is little industry, little employment and the local council are currently planning savage and painful cuts. Our MP, Labour, is Mr Chris Bryant and when he today Tweeted : 
I’m feeling very Christmasy and full of love for the world

I,in a grouchy mood Tweeted back:

 Unlike your constituents you can afford to feel Christmasy. You should be fighting RCT cuts not singing carols. Humbug!

To which our caring MP replied: 
@jackmartinwest Bah! humbug!

Ghost Stories Wanted

FROM Eerie Place

I'm thinking of adding a 'Your Ghost Stories' section to EeriePlace.com.

I get a few people emailing me their paranormal experiences and it seems a shame that I'm the only one reading them... I would love to share them with everybody!

So, if you have a ghostly experience you're willing to share and don't mind it being published on EeriePlace.com for everyone to read, then please email it to me at... 


Only stories over 300 words will be considered for publication... so please go into as much detail as possible!

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Here she is...it's Miss Marple on steroids

The following is the foreword from the latest Granny Smith book, The Welsh Connection - AVAILABLE NOW

I needed to tell this story in order to flesh out Granny Smith’s world and bring the characters to a certain point. The book concerns not only a mystery but also the wedding of Granny’s son Gerald to his long time partner Wayne – the latter being an event that Granny thinks of as, ‘The Royal Wedding.’
As I say this story had to be told.
I knew it didn’t warrant a full-length novel but that the long short story format, a novella if you like, would better suite the story. And that’s one of the strengths of the Granny Smith character – she lends herself to all kinds of stories, many different formats. She and the world she inhabits is fluid enough to accommodate all kinds of stories. Granny can be hard-boiled, funny and even romantic. One story may be a straightforward crime mystery; another may be a cozy mystery and yet another may be a breakneck thriller.
The Grannyiverse lends itself to all of these genres.
            This entire story takes place over three days and packs a lot into such a small space of time. So I hope you enjoy this little adventure featuring our intrepid pensioner sleuth, and that you will return for Murder Plot, the next in the Granny Smith series, which will see publication in summer 2014.


Monday 2 December 2013

Granny's Back

Age is a state of mind!

Granny Smith, that intrepid pensioner sleuth is back in a new adventure, The Welsh Connection.

It's the wedding of the year as the Smith clan jet off to Disneyland Paris to celebrate the marriage of Gerald and Wayne. The usual murder and mayhem follows - the world's gayest wedding could be one of the deadliest.

To celebrate the publication of the spiffing new novel, the previous two Granny Smith novels are on acountdown deal where they will be priced at next to nothing for 144 hours.

So go get The Welsh Connection available exclusively at Amazon for one month before appearing in all other eBook stores. And while you're there why not take advantage on the superb deals on the first two books - not only will you get a damn good read but your hard earned pennies will help this writer heat his freezing garret this winter.

'Even chicks with dicks lose their appeal next to Granny Smith.'

Get connected - Granny Smith: The Welsh Connection Available now.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 25 Nov - 1 Dec 2013 


Unique Visits1831891672191631521671,240177
First Time Visits1651741541931451391461,116159
Returning Visits1815132618132112418


 Last night I watched the new cleaned up version of the Beatles Let it Be documovie - it was great to finally see it cleaned up, thanks to P...