Sunday 7 December 2014

The Sheriff by Chuck Tyrell

 I'll be bringing the Archive back to life this week, after weeks of being snowed under with work and I've got some exciting western related news coming, including stirrings from the Chap O'keefe camp, as well as a look at the latest titles from the astounding line built up by Piccadilly Publishing.

And so to kick things off I'd like to direct western fanatics to the new book from Chuck Tyrell. The book's available as a low priced eBook, and anyone wanting a western fix should check it out.

 Four riders pounded toward us from the east, raising a cloud of dust and firing like they had all the bullets in the world. I took a bead on the lead horse, a three-color paint, and squeezed off a shot. The horse went down and the rider tumbled head over heels to the ground. When he scrambled to his feet, I put him down again with a shot in the brisket. I jacked another shell into my Winchester. 
    I switched my aim to another rider, not worrying about the one I’d shot. He was dead.
    The other three scattered. There wasn’t all that much cover on the flat, but they ran for what there was. Andy was firing, but the running horses showed that his lead took little effect.
    “Aim for the horses,” I hollered.
    A six-gun cracked and a bullet plowed into the dirt not an inch from my left foot. I whirled and pulled the trigger when the Winchester’s muzzle lined up with Denny, whose hand worked at earing back the hammer of an old Colt Army M1861. My bullet took him just above the belt buckle and knocked him on his butt, where he sat, staring with disbelieving eyes at the blood stain spreading on his shirt.

The eBook is available now - it's on my own Kindle and I'll be getting to it pretty soon - things have been so frantic lately that I haven't had any time to read fiction of any kind - (rare for me since I've always got a book on the go). And I can recommend this book with confidence because Chuck Tyrell, a man who also, like myself, publishes westerns with Black Horse Westerns always delievers a totally readable and enjoyable book. But don't just take my word for it - Chuck's won an award or two.

Charles T. Whipple, an international prize-winning author, uses the pen name of Chuck Tyrell for his Western novels. Whipple was born and reared in Arizona’s White Mountain country only 19 miles from Fort Apache. He won his first writing award while in high school, and has won several since, including a 4th place in the World Annual Report competition, a 2nd place in the JAXA Naoko Yamazaki Commemorative Haiku competition, the first-place Agave Award in the 2010 Oaxaca International Literature Competition, and the 2011 Global eBook Award in western fiction. Raised on a ranch, Whipple brings his own experience into play when writing about the hardy people of 19th Century Arizona. Although he currently lives in Japan, Whipple maintains close ties with the West through family, relatives, former schoolmates, and readers of his western fiction. Whipple belongs to Western Fictioneers, Western Writers of America, Arizona Authors Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Asian American Journalists Association, and Tauranga Writers Inc.

Monday 10 November 2014

Publication is now set for Feb 28th 2015
Looks at the Cardiff Pals and other local regiments who fought in the Great War and how the experience of war impacted on the area, from the initial enthusiasm for sorting out the German Kaiser in time for Christmas 1914, to the gradual realization of the enormity of human sacrifice the families of Cardiff were committed to as the war stretched out over the next four years. An important place for Coal export this book looks at how the balance between working and fighting was achieved by the Dockyard workers The Great War affected everyone. At home there were wounded soldiers in military hospitals, refugees from Belgium and later on German prisoners of war. There were food and fuel shortages and disruption to schooling. The role of women changed dramatically and they undertook a variety of work undreamed of in peacetime. Meanwhile, men serving in the armed forces were scattered far and wide. Extracts from contemporary letters reveal their heroism and give insights into what it was like under battle conditions.

Voices of the Welsh

This weekend I was interviewed by Emil Franzi on radio for the show Voices of the West which broadcasts from Arizona - Voices of the West is a radio program originating in Tucson, AZ over AM 1030 KVOI on Saturday at 4pm.

I enjoyed the chat and find it incredible that here I was, communicating via Skype, sat in wet and windy South Wales while my voice was being broadcast live across the west. I've never set foot in Arizona, though I believe several of my books have made it there and now my voice travels ahead of me. Voices of the West is a great radio show that western fanatics will love and many of the episodes are made available online after broadcast - You can hear my episode by clicking HERE and while you're there you might as well check out all of the old shows in the archive. Western fans are bound to find much of interest.

This weekend also saw the Rememberance Day services across the UK, and the Great War was very much on my mind because at the moment I'm going through the final edits on my book, Cardiff and the Valleys During the Great War which is due out next February from Pen and Sword Books. Add to that several other projects that I'm working on and it's pretty chaotic here at Archive Towers. I've recently gone through the proofs of my next Black Horse Western, The Man From Jurusalem (out next year) and am falling behind on a western novel, Outlaw Fury. I'm also working on the next Granny Smith novel, Murder Plot, which will see a sad loss in Granny's household and a gruesome murder in the vegtable patch. Never fear though because Granny Smith, Miss Marple on steroids, is here to put things right.

As well as all that I need to find time to eat and sleep - ahh well, pipe full of Virginia Flake in mouth, and it's back to the grindstone. No rest for the wicked, I suppose and believe me I can be wicked......

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 3 Nov - 9 Nov 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits1742101671871861932261,343192
First Time Visits1732071661871831912251,332190
Returning Visits1310321112

Monday 13 October 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 6 Oct - 12 Oct 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits126133129117125130137897128
First Time Visits118118114111121118132832119
Returning Visits8151564125659

Wednesday 8 October 2014

DON'T PANIC, DON'T may actually be OK

The Old and the New
My first thought was, Oh My God, this can't be true...

 I mean come on this is almost as bad as casting Tom Cruise as a tall, muscular ex - military policeman who gets into all kinds of scrapes, but you never know it could turn out OK.

Not you though Tom, you'll never be OK  and you've really Reachered too far. I'd rather watch paint dry. Shit, I'd even sit through a Bon Jovi concert before watching you mutilate Lee Childs.

Jones now and the original
 I'm talking about the fact that there is to be a big screen movie version of the iconic British sit-com, Dad's Army  - and now the movie's received a boost with the news that it will be distributed by Universal. The film starts shooting this month and there is excitement at the seemingly superb casting. Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier were flawless as Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson and the actors chosen to reprise the iconic roles are enticing - Toby Jones as Mainwaring and Bill Nighy as Wilson. Both are excellent actors and have both the look and mannerisms of the originals. Tom Courtney as Corporal Jones also seems like perfect casting. All in all this film is looking more and more like it may something worth watching.

Perfect casting aside the new film has a lot to live up to.

Dad's Army ran on the BBC from 1968 to 1977 is widely considered to a classic of British TV. For many people, myself included, it is the NO 1 all time sit-com. For me it even beats Falty Towers in the LPM stakes - that's laughs per minute.Telling the story of a team of home guard volunteers, the show ran for nine seasons and also produced a spin off big screen movie, as well as a radio series and several stage plays.

 So popular was the series that in June 2010, a statue (pictured) of Captain George Mainwaring was erected in the Norfolk town of Thetford where most of the TV series  was filmed. The statue features Captain Mainwaring sitting to attention on a simple bench in Home Guard uniform, with his swagger stick across his knees. The statue is mounted at the end of winding brick pathway with a Union Flag patterned arrow head to reflect the opening credits of the TV series, and the sculpture has been designed so that members of the public can sit alongside Captain Mainwaring for the purpose of having their photo taken.

Originally intended to be called The Fighting Tigers, Dad’s Army was based partly on co-writer and creator Jimmy Perry’s real-life experiences in the  Home Guard. Perry had been 17 years old when he joined the 10th Hertfordshire Battalion and with a mother who did not like him being out at night and fearing he might catch cold. Thus, he bore more than a passing resemblance to Whisky Galore!, and the work of comedians such as Will Hay whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike.
the character of Frank Pike. An elderly lance corporal in the outfit often referred to fighting under Kitchener against the "Fuzzy Wuzzies"  and proved to be a perfect model for Jones as played by the wonderful Clive Dunn. Other influences were the film Whisky Galore!, and the work of comedians such as Will Hay whose film Oh, Mr Porter! featured a pompous ass, an old man and a young man which gave him Mainwaring, Godfrey and Pike.

The new film comes from a script by Hamish McColl and will be directed by Oliver Parker who recently scored hits with the new St. Trinian's movies.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one, and I'm starting to feel that this one could be a hit. After all as a franchise Dad's Army is perfectly suited to the big screen. Back in the day a lot of Brit Sit-coms had spin off movies made and the Dad's Army movie was one of the better big screen outings for small screen sitcoms.

Ahh well, only time will tell.

Below, courtesy of You Tube, are some of Dad's Army's best moments

Tuesday 7 October 2014

RIP Baron Samedi

Sad to hear of the passing of Geoffrey Holder best known for his role as Baron Samedi in the Bond movie, Live and Let Die which was Roger Moore's first outing in the role.

According to a family spokesman, Holder died on Sunday in New York from complications caused by pneumonia, He is survived by his wife, Carmen de Lavallade, and their son Leo.

Monday 6 October 2014

Those Voices of the West

I've gone and found myself a new favourite podcast that I think readers of the Archive would be interested in - Voices of the West -  Voices of the West is a long-running radio program that examines the Old West and its many characters–both good and bad. The show is hosted by Emil Franzi, recipient of the 2014 Western Writers of America Lariat Award.

He draws on his stable of guests like authors Johnny Boggs and Cotton Smith to talk about the cowboys. Author Jerry Egan chimes in frequently to talk about hiking Apacheria. And, Green Valley News writer Scott Dyke joins Emil on a regular basis to talk about anything and everything concerning the Old West. And past guests have included Peter Ford, the son of the late Glenn Ford and Pam Marvin, the widow of Lee Marvin. Voices of the West has also talked with Old Tucson’s Bob Shelton to remember the great movies made at the famous movie set.

Darn tooting it's good.

 Voices of the West is a radio program originating in Tucson, AZ over AM 1030 KVOI on Saturday at 4pm MST. Host Emil Franzi talks with folks who believe America was better off when our TV shows were about Cowboys instead of Lawyers!, and now that the show is available in podcast format from iTunes and all other podcast delivery systems, as well as on the show's own website HERE. The show can be downloaded for use on your computer or mobile device. Or if you prefer you can simply stream the show from the website.

There's a large archive of old shows on the website - I recently listened to a show that looked at the westerns of James Garner, the actor having recently died when the show was recorded, and it was excellent and a fitting tribute to the great man. The way the host and guests discuss the relative merits of each movie make for entertaining listening for any western fan. The show also plays themes from western movies but given copyright restrictions the podcast and archived shows only contain  few seconds of each song - this is something the BBC also does with the Desert Island Discs. Mind you because most of the show is speech based the listener isn't really missing out on any of the entertainment.

Visit Voices of the West by clicking HERE

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 29 Sep - 5 Oct 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits115157124153118111137915131
First Time Visits111140122142109107132863123
Returning Visits417211945527

Friday 3 October 2014 up a storm

History has not bestowed upon them the notoriety of The James Gang, nor are they as well known as The Daltons but in their day The Cook Gang were every bit as feared as any of the Old West's outlaws.

"They are a stench to the nostril of lawful men." Said one Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) newspaper in 1890. and during the height of their crimes they were pursued by a team of U. S. marshalls, the Army and even The Texas Rangers.

Their leader was William Tuttle Cook but their ranks changed so often that it is impossible to pin down all the names of the actual members.

The first recorded incident of Bill (William) Cook falling foul of the law was in 1892 when the half Cherokee, was charged with selling whisky in Indian Territory. Later Bill worked as a posseman for U.S. Marshall Will Smith. But when his kid brother Jim was charged with larceny and jumped bail in 1894 he moved over to the other side of the law and joined his brother on the lam. It was not too long before the two brothers met and joined up with Crawford Goldsby, an outlaw, better known to history as Cherokee Bill.

Together with other men, drifters mostly, including Jim French, Skeeter Baldwin and The Verdigris Kid (Sam Mcwilliams then only 17 years old), they started stealing horses whilst keeping one step ahead of the law.

In the Spring of 1894 the U.S. Government passed the law that became to be known as, 'Strip Money'. This was $7 million of compensation to be paid to the Cherokee Nation at Tahlequah. Now Cherokee Bill and the two Cook boys were entitled to payment under the scheme but being on the scout, as they called it, they didn't see how they could claim it. They eventually gave written persmission to one Effie Crittendon to collect their shares on their behalf.

When the law learned of this they sent a Cherokee posse out to Effie's home at Fourteen Mile Creek to capture the outlaws. The posse included Effie's husband, Dick Critterdon. There was a shoot out and Sequoyah Houston, a respected member of the Cherokee police, was killed. The two Cook brothers and Cherokee Bill managed to escape. Though Jim Cook was wounded by buckshot.

Following the incident the newspapers were calling the men 'The Cook Gang' and so began a trail of theft, murder and unspeakable violence that would turn The Cook Gang into household names across America.

Yet they are not remembered today in the way other Old West Badmen are -there was nothing romantic about the Cook gang, nothing to really mythologise though some did try - legend says that as Cherokee Bill was finally led to the hangman his last words were - "I came here to die and not make a speech. It is a good day to die." Though in fact documents record that he had no last words.

Bill Cook, leader of the gang, died in prison in 1901. His brother Jim had died the year earlier when he came second place in a gunfight over an argument about a steer.

If this brief article has prompted anyone to want to learn more about The Cook gang then I suggest getting hold of Black, Red and Deadly by Art Burton, or then again you can check out this video which was made by Samantha Ponce and tells the story using her children's toys. Or click HERE

Thursday 2 October 2014

The Ladies who won the West

Whores, or soiled doves, were an important part of the Old West. Because of the shortage of women, respectable or otherwise,  on the early frontier prostitution was a lucrative business.

 There were many euphemisms for the saloon and dance hall whores -night workers, frail sisters, the horizontally employed - and although whores back East were employed in luxurious brothels, the whores in the cowtowns had  a much more frugal existence and often lived in small back rooms of the saloon or dance hall that employed them. This enabled the saloon and dance hall owners to exploit the girls even further, for not only would they get a slice of their earnings but they also took a little more for room and board.

Girls came from all over the Union and travelled West to become horizontally employed in the shanty towns that were springing up all over. It was a dangerous time and the girls often found themselves fighting the men who visited and even, on times, one another. The idea was for the girls to make as much money as quickly as they could and then move on to safer employment where they could bury their past and try to find a gentleman to marry, or failing that a lonely miner who had struck rich. Prospects for a long and healthy life as a whore were poor.

Some of the whores in the Old West became local celebrities with their exploits . It is a fact that prostitutes were often the first female settlers in newly created towns. They helped to develop the areas in which they worked their trade and would risk disease, injury and in many cases death for their effort.

Prices for the services of these women varied from town to town but an average cost was 25c for a Mexican woman to $1 for an American lady. Higher prices were charged if a woman was of unusual youth and often a woman with red hair would fetch the highest price of all. It was a popular belief around the mining camps that women with auburn hair were the most amorous women in the world.

Why though would women become involved in this profession?

The answer to that question was no different in the Old West than it is today. Many of them had been abandoned by their families or left alone when a husband died or ran off, others were mentally illiterate and others still were immigrants with no other way to make a living. And although their profession was frowned upon they were often a vital part of early cowtown life.

Below I have posted a 1915 poem by Dana Burnet:

THE SISTERS of the Cross of Shame,
  They smile along the night;
Their houses stand with shuttered souls
  And painted eyes of light.
Their houses look with scarlet eyes      
  Upon a world of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.
The sober Senate meets at noon,
  To pass the Woman’s Law,       
The portly Churchmen vote to stem
  The torrent with a straw.
The Sister of the Cross of Shame,
  She smiles beneath her cloud—
(She does not laugh till ten o’clock,       
  And then she laughs too loud.)
And still she hears the throb of feet
  Upon the scarlet stair,
And still she dons the cloak of shame
  That is not hers to wear.       
The sons of saintly women come
  To kiss the Cross of Shame;
Before them, in another time,
  Their worthy fathers came.…
And no man tells his son the truth,       
  Lest he should speak of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.

It's a Big Adios

A good thing about the eBook revolution is that it allows for a market that had long since vanished in the print medium to thrive. There was a time when western fiction magazines were plentiful, but those days have long gone...Those day are back - The Big Adios Western Digest is a digital magazine, the first issue is out now and available from Amazon and other eBook retailers.


A Man Called Masters

Click Here
Available on Kindle for a low low price - 70p UK/69c US

The short story, A Man called Masters was first published online in Beat To A Pulp and in print in First Edition Magazine. The story has been well received by western fans the world over. And is now available for the Kindle and will soon be out in other formats.

Buy the story - not only will you be getting a sort sharp intake of western entertainment, but you'll also be helping to support the Archive. It does take considerable time and effort to produce this blog, you know.

Readers may be interested to learn that Jake Masters is the brother of Cole Masters, protagonist of The Tarnished Star . I am currently planning a novel featuring both Masters boys which I hope will be a future Black Horse Westerns title.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sherlock Holmes - We deduce some incredible news

It's news that will have Sherlock Holmes fans roaming the moors and salivating like deranged hounds - A nearly 100-year-old silent film version of “Sherlock Holmes” starring famed Holmes thespian and American actor William Gillette has been discovered at the Cinémathèque Française, the French film archive announced Wednesday.

The rediscovered film is the only one Gillette ever appeared in, and is the actor’s only surviving appearance as the Baker Street detective, a role for which he was world-renowned in stage portrayals. It was Gillette who first donned the deerstalker hat that has remained popular through generations of Holmes performers, including the current favorite Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Gillette's portrayal of Holmes is legendary and was even praised by Holmes creator, Conan Doyle himself but until now there has been no way to see Gillette's version of the detective.

“It’s an amazing privilege to work with these reels that have been lost for generations. William Gillette’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ has ranked among the holy grails of lost film and my first glimpse of the footage confirms Gillette’s magnetism. Audiences are going to be blown away when they see the real Sherlock Holmes on screen for the first time.”  Robert Byrne, Film restorer and SFSFF Board President

The nitrate dupe negative of the film, directed by Arthur Berthelet for Essanay Studios in 1916, was discovered in the vaults of the archive a few weeks ago, and is undergoing digital restoration by a partnership of the Cinémathèque Française and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The restored film will premiere at Toute la Mémoire du Monde, the film restoration festival of the Cinémathèque Française, in January 2015, and will see its U.S. debut at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in May 2015.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 22 Sep - 28 Sep 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits129131123134115140126898128
First Time Visits128127111128108134122858123
Returning Visits14126764406

Monday 29 September 2014

John Wayne - His Ten Best Westerns

Doing all those B-westerns taught him how to be resilient. Doing all those quickie westerns taught him how to be John Wayne and it was with the movie,Stagecoach that the cinematic John Wayne was truly born.

Wayne's introduction in the 1939 John Ford western, Stagecoach was heavily thought out. Ford wanted Wayne to do something flashy with his gun, but the script specified a rifle and Ford didn't want to diverge from the script so spinning six guns were out. And besides, Ford reasoned, any western actor worth his salt could spin a pair of six guns and it wasn't something the audience had not seen a hundred times before.

'Do something flashy with the rifle,' Ford told Wayne.

Stuntman Yakima Canutt, a close friend of Wayne's, suggested spinning a Winchester and then cocking it with one hand which was something he'd seen as a kid when Buffalo Bill's West Circus came to his home town. Wayne liked the idea and a standard Winchester was used but the barrel had to lose an inch because it wouldn't clear Wayne's body cleanly. The scene, almost 18 minutes into the film,  has become part of cinema legend - we don't see Wayne's character until then but we are told he is an outlaw and his presence is felt at the edge of each frame so when he finally appears on screen his entrance is breathtaking.

He has a youthful handsome face, not movie star handsome but compelling just the same. His deep blue eyes, which show up pale grey in black and white, command the viewer's attention. The camera lingers on Wayne's face for his introduction and although it is a face that has been seen many times before in one cheap movie or another, it has never been framed quite like this and for the first time we truly see John Wayne. By the time he made Stagecoach, Wayne had already appeared in more than eighty movies but it is with this movie that he assumes his position on screen as a true superstar - a position he would hold for the rest of his career. And indeed even now, many years after his death, he still ranks as one of America's favorite movie stars. Modern day movie stars don't even come close to Wayne.

Wayne became the personification of America and in many ways John Wayne was America. I am not an American, I am THE AMERICAN, Mark Twain wrote in his notebook in 1897. It's a famous quote and one which may suit Wayne even more than it's original author.

As an actor Wayne didn't really rate himself and believed that his stardom had been due to the support of others rather than his own hard work.

'The reason Pappy (John Ford) made a star of me was because I played cards with him.' John Wayne.

Though in this Wayne is wrong and whilst it may have taken him an age to become a true superstar, it was inevitable ever since he'd first appeared as an uncredited extra before the camera. Stagecoach wasn't Wayne's first big budget movie but it was his first real success - he should have become a big name almost ten years before  in Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail but the movie, which is these days considered a classic, was an expensive flop - and following the movie things were never the same again. True Wayne made several other B-movies following Stagecoach, but with each subsequent picture he became a bigger and bigger star. It wasn't until 1948 that Wayne delivered his second truly classic western with Red River but between that and Stagecoach there had been a few sturdy if not quite classic westerns - Angel and the Badman and Tall in the Saddle to name but two. Wayne followed up Red River with Fort Apache and from there on he seemed to crank out classic movie after classic movie, a great many of them westerns.

Wayne made many classic pictures which were not westerns, but it is for the western that he is forever associated, and so just for fun here is my own personal list of Wayne's ten best westerns. Putting this list together was  not as east as it seems, and I had to leave out several superb Wayne westerns in order to come up with a  definitive top ten. Likely not everyone will agree with me, so let's see your own choices in the comments section of this post.

Counting down....

 10 - THE COWBOYS (1972) - This is a rather sentimental western but never has Wayne's fatherly qualities been so well presented on screen. Wayne plays a rancher who is forced into hiring on a bunch of schoolchildren as cowboys for a cattle drive. The movie was an huge success and inspired a short lived TV series.

9 - She Wore A Yellow Ribbon ( 1949 ) - In my opinion the best of the Calvary trilogy that Wayne made with John Ford., The other two were Fort Apache and Rio Grande and both would have been on my list but I decided to allow only one of the calvary movies on my top ten list and so Yellow Ribbon it is.

8 - THE THREE GODFATHERS (1948) - Incredibly Wayne made three westerns in 1948, the other two being Red River and Fort Apache. 

7- TRUE GRIT (1969) - This was the western that gave Wayne an Oscar, and whilst it is a strong performance by Wayne it is far from his best. If not for Wayne's inclusion the movie would have been just another western but Wayne made the movie a classic, and his portrayal of the one eyed marshall created a true cinematic icon.

6 - THE SHOOTIST (1976) - Wayne's final movie is a bitter sweet movie about a gunslinger dying of cancer. Made when Wayne himself was battling the illness which makes the movie all the more compelling. Excellent

5 -  THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). Wayne here takes second fiddle to Jimmy Stewart but his considerable presence is felt throughout the movie, even when sharing the screen with the scene chewing antics of Lee Marvin.

4 - STAGECOACH (1939 - I had to include this in the top five as the character Wayne created here is part of the DNA of every western hero he played since. There are also some excellent stunt scenes in this rather brilliant movie.

3 - Rio Bravo (1959) -   A western so good that it was virtually remade later as El Dorado. Wayne is brilliant alongside Dean Martin. This movie set the template for many of Wayne's later westerns.

2 -Red River (1948) - One of Wayne's best acting performances. When John Ford saw Wayne in this movie he remarked, 'I never realised that son of a bitch could act.'

1 - The Searchers (1956) - Not only Wayne's best ever movie but in my opinion the greatest western ever made, and certainly one of the most influential. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of cinema's most layered characters and Wayne brought him to life with a superb performance that ranks among the very best ever put on film.

If I redid this list tomorrow likely there would be some changes, and I am aware that I have left out several classic Wayne westerns, but I chose my top ten list in a way that I think reflects Wayne's versatility in the genre. For instance I have included True Grit when I think Wayne made several better westerns that didn't make my top ten, but True Grit better reflected the way Wayne's screen persona is remembered by movie fans.

Thursday 25 September 2014

The Great Granny ePromotion

It's the Great Granny Promotion

For the next four days you can buy Granny Smith Investigates on Amazon for a low low price, and also get the second and third Granny Smith book for free.

"I was brought up on Miss Marple. I loved the idea of an old lady solving cases through sheer nosiness and this is a modern day version.
It starts with a murder at the Village Fete. Unfortunately for the murder, she happens to be Granny Smith's next door neighbour and when the poor husband of the victim is arrested, Granny Smith leaps on her bike into action. With a surveillance team comprising of long suffering husband and gay son, she is on the case!!
A lovely easy read and a good plot- a real winner :)"
Five star review

"I've now read two books in this series and found both books entertaining and funny, really made me laugh, suggest people read them" Five star review

This was the first I've read this author and if others are as good, it won't be the last.

"I loved it from the beginning. The way that Granny Smith got her "nickname", the name it. She was not only an unusual character, but one that you'd never expect to find doing the things she did. The book was funny, interesting, fairly well written and made me want more. Definitely a hit with me. I recommend it highly for those who like a humorous mystery. Great!! " Amazon five star review

For the next four days you can get  the second and third books in the Granny Smith series for free. You can also get the first book, Granny Smith Investigates for a new low price.

Offer on Amazon worldwide.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

eBook news

The new Fire Tablets
Is the Kobo brand dead in the water? The always reliable Good eReader Radio Show Blog this week reported that Barnes and Noble have disabled the ability to download eBooks in its Kobo store. You can follow the story HERE. Meanwhile Amazon have announced both new eReaders and Tablets this month - in terms of eReaders the flagship product is the Kindle Voyage which is the company claims an improvement on the already excellent Paperwhite- several of the devices including a new version of the Kindle Fire which is aimed at children are now available for pre-order and the Voyage has already sold out on pre-order's alone.

Kindle Voyage

I'm still using my original Kindle Fire 7" tablet and see no need to upgrade to a newer model, but I am tempted by the Kindle Voyage. I love my current 1st gen Paperwhite, and didn't think the 2nd gen Paperwhite was enough of a upgrade to warrant buying the newer version. But with the Voyage there are enough bells and whistles to interest me - The display has been upped to 300ppi, and the front light technology has been vastly improved and now sets itself to give the best in whatever reading environment you find yourself. Integration with Good Reads is reportedly flawless. All in all this new device has a number of innovative hardware features such as Page Press and the front-light controlled by an ambient light sensor. Amazon has also developed exciting new software that even allows you share content with family members.

And sticking with Amazon - PC News reported HERE that Amazon have snubbed author's who have taken Hatchette's side in the eBook pricing war, from it's annual campfire retreat for writers. Bestselling name for hire, James Patterson informed the New York Times that he had not been invited this year, but said that he wouldn't go even if he had been invited. See what Patterson had to say HERE.

This year the Amazon/Hatchette battle has filled more magazines, newspapers and blogs than any other book related news, with a lot of bog name author getting involved. Two of Amazon's biggest defenders in the row are Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, and both have written articles on the subject that are well worth reading - check out these two for a start - HERE and HERE.

Monday 22 September 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 15 Sep - 21 Sep 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits121118136135103100130843120
First Time Visits11410413412810098127805115
Returning Visits71427323385

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Bond 24 to start shooting. Titled rumoured is Only Time Will Tell

The next James Bond movie, the 24th in the long running series, will start filming on Dec 6th and will once again be directed by Sam Mendes. At the moment the film is without a title though the hot rumour is that the film will be called, Only Time will Tell - you know that has a Bondian ring to it.

Monday 8 September 2014

Hell on Wheels

I'm enjoying AMC's western, Hell on Wheels and other than a few shakey episodes I'm of the opinion that the series has been pretty damn good, with many standout scenes - for instance last week's episode (series 4, episode 5) had an incredible set piece which surely rates as the most original escape from a hanging scene in all western history. The show has some great characters and with AMC's expertise with small screen production it certainly looks good in a gritty kind of way. And yet the series has largely failed to connect with the critics -

The Huffington Post called it "tedious," TV Guide "heavy-handed," USA Today "as subtle as a sledgehammer," The San Francisco Chronicle "cartoonish," The Philadelphia Daily News "meandering," and Variety "diluted and herky-jerky." Slate, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times said much the same. Two glowing reviews from The Washington Post and The Boston Globe notwithstanding, even the positive write-ups in Newsday, The Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Post, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal seemed to conclude that the show was solid if unspectacular, a significant come-down for a network accustomed to scooping up Emmys by the handful. 

A lot of western fans read the Archive and chances are many watch the series so it would be interesting to know what Archive readers think of the show. Personally I enjoy the show and whilst I don't rate it as highly as that other relatively recent TV western, Deadwood I still rate it pretty highly. And of course westerns on the small screen are rare these days so it's a nice change amongst all the cop dramas and zombie-filled soap operas.

The show is set around the construction of the first transcontinental railroad across the USA, and the moveable towns called Hell on Wheels that exists alongside the railroad. AS soon as one stretch of rail is completed and the railroad moves on, the town goes with it. The current season (season 4) is set in 1867 and chances are given the reasonable ratings (it's the networks second most watches show just coming in behind The Walking Dead ) and AMC's track record is that the show will be renewed for a fifth series - I do hope so as I want to see the conclusion to this story.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 1 Sep - 7 Sep 2014


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits115138120119117111125845121
First Time Visits111131116117114104118811116
Returning Visits4742377345

Friday 22 August 2014

J.T. Edson: The Forgotten Bestseller

J T Edson
"Hell No! it would involve riding a horse, have you seen those things? they're ugly at both ends & darn uncomfortable in the middle"   J. T. Edson upon being asked if he'd like to be a real cowboy.

He was once one of the world's best know western authors, perhaps coming only second in name recognition, if not in sales,  to Louis L Lamour, and yet these days he is virtually forgotten - so much so that recently there was a debate on Facebook amongst a number of western addicted friends about the author. Strangely most thought he had died and there was little to confirm otherwise on the internet. I put on my investigating hat and discovered that J. T. Edson was indeed alive and residing in an old people's home just outside Melton Mowbury. In later years the author had become a recluse due to ill health and was no longer writing - mystery solved, then. However the story took a twist and  it was shortly afterwards that we heard the author had died at the age of 86.

He had been responsible for more than 130 westerns and although an Englishman, who most recently lived in Melton Mowbury he was an honorary deputy of Travis County, Texas - something that came about because of his once huge popularity in the US.

Edson had been  a dog handler in the British Army - he served in Kenya.  Like many writers he worked many jobs before finding success -  running a fish and chip shop and working the production line  in a pet food factory were only two of the jobs he did before finding success as a writer which enabled him to concentrate on his craft full time. Overall he was responsible for paperback sales totalling more than 20 million. Once he had been a household name but the western fiction boom is now long over and he remains unknown to all but western aficionados.

"My father did  inherit a love of good quality, 'genuine cowhide' leather belts & cowboy boots, I must stress, no cowboy would stroll out, guns at dawn in one of his many very loud Hawaian shirts!" Sam Page, daughter of J. T. Edson.

Edson's style was for straight forward storytelling, fast paced and action packed though he was fond of historical detail and many of his books contained footnotes that were often more than a page in length. These could on times be tiresome and many readers skipped them, but when they worked they added a level of authenticity to the story. Often these footnotes would concern issues of continuity from book to book, but on times they would contain vital historical detail - I learned a lot about the real Old West from J T's footnotes.

The author often made in-jokes within his books and in 1984 the Labour Party protested about the characters in JT’s Ladies: they included a gunslinger called Roy Hattersley (then the party’s deputy leader) and his sidekick Len Murray and three desperadoes named Alex Kitson, Alan Fisher and David Basnett — all of them well-known trade union leaders.J T then, was not a lover of trade unions. Edson developed a deep disapproval of Liberal and Liberal-Radical politics and was avowedly Right of Centre in his political ideology.

Edson was also no fan of his critics and a dedication in one of his books (J. T' Ladies) read: " For all the idiots of the press who have written articles entitled things like 'Fastest Pen in Melton Mowbray’ and have been filled with the most stupid, snob-oriented pseud-jargon never to appear on the pages of mine or any other author’s books. May the bluebird of happiness fly over them when it has dysentery, because that is catching.’’ 

The books of course live on and are still out there - Edson titles are pretty common on the used book circuit, and hopefully the books will soon find a new lease of life in the digital marketplace.

Fads in reading come and go and although westerns are not currently the most popular genre for escapist fiction, they will no doubt have their day again. And when they do then J. T. Edson will again be riding high can't, after all, keep a good man down.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Sunlight: A hundred years dead

Watching filmed footage of the First World War one gets an odd sensation - we are aware that what we are witnessing are horrific events, and yet there is so much distance between now and then that it is difficult to fully appreciate the enormity of the situation presented in the grainy film. The movements of the men on the screen seems jerky, almost as if they were created by animation and the explosions are merely puffs of smoke, fleeting and seemingly insubstantial. Photography is basically the capture of light and what we are watching is sunlight a hundred years dead.

Prior to starting work on my book, Cardiff and the Valley's In The Great War (published Feb 28th 2015 by Pen and Sword Books), my knowledge of the so called Great War was limited to a list of dates and major battles. But by the time I finished the book I had a far greater understanding of the conflict. It had been brought closer to me, and now I saw it as a very human story. No longer was it some far distant war, the combatants made up of anonymous names and faces, the devastation lessened by the passing of the years, but something very real, something that I felt on a deeply emotional level. There were times when I was writing that I found tears in my eyes - one such instance was when I detailed the eventual fate of the Cardiff Pals, but there were others too. Writing the book had brought me closer to these soldiers who long before I was born took to the foreign fields to protect a way of life for future generations...for you and me, if you like.
One of the many memorials in Welsh Towns - this one is Llanharran

The research for the book was immense and I spent many hours going through old newspapers in Cardiff's excellent Central Library, covered many miles traveling up and down the country visiting graveyards and the offices of military records and on several occasions meeting people who had stories to tell of relatives who had fought in the war.

I am immensely proud of this book and now have to work with the publishers on the proofing stages, before the book is ready for the printers. It's due out on Feb 28th 2015 and is already showing up on Amazon where you can request to be informed when the book is available for purchase.

I do hope many of you pick up a copy.

Cardiff in The Great War - Looks at the Cardiff Pals and other local regiments who fought in the Great War and how the experience of war impacted on the area, from the initial enthusiasm for sorting out the German Kaiser in time for Christmas 1914, to the gradual realization of the enormity of human sacrifice the families of Cardiff were committed to as the war stretched out over the next four years. An important place for Coal export this book looks at how the balance between working and fighting was achieved by the Dockyard workers The Great War affected everyone. At home there were wounded soldiers in military hospitals, refugees from Belgium and later on German prisoners of war. There were food and fuel shortages and disruption to schooling. The role of women changed dramatically and they undertook a variety of work undreamed of in peacetime. Meanwhile, men serving in the armed forces were scattered far and wide. Extracts from contemporary letters reveal their heroism and give insights into what it was like under battle conditions.

Monday 11 August 2014

Amazon V Hatchette: The Battle intensifies

The Amazon/Hatchette war looks set to continue as both sides dig in their heels - recently Amazon posted an email out to writers and readers asking them to write to Hatchette asking for them to lower eBook prices. Hatchette recieved a large volume of emails and have now respoded with the following statement:

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch
Thank you for writing to me in response to Amazon’s email. I appreciate that you care enough about books to take the time to write. We usually don’t comment publicly while negotiating, but I’ve received a lot of requests for Hachette’s response to the issues raised by Amazon, and want to reply with a few facts.
• Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone.
• We set our ebook prices far below corresponding print book prices, reflecting savings in manufacturing and shipping.
• More than 80% of the ebooks we publish are priced at $9.99 or lower.
• Those few priced higher—most at $11.99 and $12.99—are less than half the price of their print versions.
• Those higher priced ebooks will have lower prices soon, when the paperback version is published.
• The invention of mass-market paperbacks was great for all because it was not intended to replace hardbacks but to create a new format available later, at a lower price.
As a publisher, we work to bring a variety of great books to readers, in a variety of formats and prices. We know by experience that there is not one appropriate price for all ebooks, and that all ebooks do not belong in the same $9.99 box. Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue. We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more. We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish—hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and ebook. While ebooks do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries a share of all our investments in the book.
This dispute started because Amazon is seeking a lot more profit and even more market share, at the expense of authors, bricks and mortar bookstores, and ourselves. Both Hachette and Amazon are big businesses and neither should claim a monopoly on enlightenment, but we do believe in a book industry where talent is respected and choice continues to be offered to the reading public.
Once again, we call on Amazon to withdraw the sanctions against Hachette’s authors that they have unilaterally imposed, and restore their books to normal levels of availability. We are negotiating in good faith. These punitive actions are not necessary, nor what we would expect from a trusted business partner.
Thank you again and best wishes,
Michael Pietsch

And below we have the original Amazon email which sparked the above response.

A Message from the Amazon Books Team
Dear Readers,
Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.
With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution — places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.
Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette — a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate — are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.
The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.
Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.
But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books — he was wrong about that.
And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read). A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures. And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.
We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.
We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.
Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:
Copy us at:
Please consider including these points:
– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help — not hurt — the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
Thanks for your support.


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