Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WESTERN FICTIONEERS Nominations for Fifth Annual (2015) Peacemaker Awards


This year's nominees (final results to be announced on June) are as follows:

BEST NOVEL:
THE BIG DRIFT - Patrick Dearen (TCU Press)
BUST OUT – W.M. Shockley (Western Trail Blazer)
MORGAN – Frank Roderus (Wolf Pack Publishing)
THE PIANO PLAYER – Carolyn Niethammer (Oak Tree Press)
DESPERATE STRAIGHTS – Janet Squires (Whiskey Creek Press)

BEST INDIE WESTERN:
HANGMAN’S KNOT - James Reasoner (Rough Edges Press)
OUTLAW RANGER – James Reasoner (Rough Edges Press)
LEFT HAND KELLY – Elizabeth Foley (Second Sentence Press)
FUGITIVE TRAIL – Wayne Dundee (Bil-Em-Ri Media)
TRAIL REVENGE – Wayne Dundee (Westward Tide Productions)


BEST SHORT FICTION:
THE 2ND BEST RANGER IN TEXAS – Kathleen Rice Adams (Prairie Rose Publications)
LAW DOG – Wayne Dundee (Western Trail Blazer)
THE RESURRECTION– McKendree (Mike) Long (La Frontera Publishing)
THE BUFFALO RUNNERS – D.B. Jackson (La Frontera Publishing)
GUNFIGHTER’S GIFT – Vonn McKee (Western Trail Blazer)

BEST FIRST NOVEL:
PRODIGAL GUN - Kathleen Rice Adams (Prairie Rose Publications)
COMANCHE TRAIL – Carlton Stowers (Signet)
CATTLE DRIVE – Big Jim Williams (High Noon Press)
THE PIANO PLAYER – Carolyn Niethammer (Oak Tree Press)
THE CALLING – James P. Hanley (5 Prince Publishing)



Also of note is the announcement of James Reasoner as the recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Monday, April 13, 2015

RON SCHEER'S EMPTY SADDLE







Ron Scheer’s death this past Saturday (4/11) left another empty saddle, and a mighty conspicuous one, amongst those of us who appreciate and still ride the trails of the Old West—if only in our imaginations, or perhaps on the screen or the pages we read and sometimes write.
Nobody appreciated that bygone time—the stories, the people, and most of all the words and unique terminology—more than Ron. He wrote about these things, along with book and movie reviews, on his blog, Buddies In The Saddle.
Like so many others, I got to know Ron largely through this blog … augmented by exchanges on my own blog, Facebook, e-mail correspondence, and my writing (which he read and insightfully critiqued). Plus, we had the “Nebraska connection”—I relocated here and fell in love with it, he originated here and never lost his love for it.
During the past year or so, after being diagnosed with cancer, Ron’s blog also became his personal journal. Much of it read like poetry—all of it rang with inspiring courage.
It saddens me to think about Ron being gone … But I’m sure glad I got to know him while he was here.
So long, buddy. Know you’re fillin' a mighty fine saddle now … Let ‘er buck!

Upon Ron’s passing, his wife Lynda communicated the loss with the following, which needs to be shared:
Ron left us early yesterday morning. A blessing to know that he has flown high--like the hawk Anne recently watched in the desert, wheeling and turning on the wind--away from pain and struggle. My heart is shattered. He was the love of my life, but he meant so much to so many people. It is comforting to know my loss is shared with all of you who knew and loved him. Anne and Jeremy are on their way here, to the desert and the enormous sky Ron loved and took so many wonderful photos of, and I look forward to a little time with them, remembering.
Thanks to you all for your kind messages.
[For years Ron has supported the Behrhorst Clinic in Guatemala, where he spent a college summer volunteering. Should you wish to make a donation, the foundation's website is aldeaguatemala.org/]

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Available Now: GUNFIRE RIDGE (Bodie Kendrick - Bounty Hunter #4)





For the bounty on their heads and for the sake of personal vengeance, Bodie Kendrick is finally closing in on the notorious McLory brothers. Their trail has led him far from his normal stomping grounds down in the Southwest and brought him to the remote Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska.
 
The danger awaiting him when he at last faces the McLorys is bad enough.
 
But, in addition to that, he’s also under threat from members of the fiercely determined Cardiff clan who are hot on his trail in order to deliver some vengeance of their own.
 
And then there’s the pretty gal he’s become responsible for since she risked her neck to try and help him.
 
Not to mention the renegade Indians who’ve begun raising hell throughout the territory directly in their path …

Everything converges and then erupts into a violent climax on the powder smoke-shrouded heights of Gunfire Ridge!

Another gritty, action-packed adventure from Peacemaker Award-winning author Wayne D. Dundee.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Re-Pricing/Re-Branding for the WESTWARD TIDE series






















Effective immediately, the first two titles in the Westward Tide series (TRAIL JUSTICE and TRAIL REVENGE) are now available at the bargain price of only 99-cents each. Also, the byline on these books has been changed from "Jack Tyree" to "Wayne D. Dundee writing as Jack Tyree".
The Tyree name did not seem to be connecting with readers. Hence, Mel Odom (who also will be writing forthcoming titles in this series) and I decided that, going forward, we will just use our own names on the respective titles that we do. I opted to put the "writing as Jack Tyree" tag on these particular ones because they'd previously been available under that name and I wanted to avoid confusion and the risk some reader might make a new purchase thinking it was a different story because the author's name had changed.
If you aren't familiar with this series yet, I hope these changes will influence you to give it a try. The tales are exciting and filled with a big cast of colorful characters meeting challenges and adventures on the Oregon Trail.
For those who have read TRAIL JUSTICE and TRAIL REVENGE and have been waiting for more, just hold tight. As soon as Mel and I get our calendars cleared of other obligations later this summer, we surely intend to have more available.




Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Look: THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956 Western, starring Glenn Ford)



Here is an often overlooked Western that foregoes the wild, wide open spaces and much of the action to be found in most “oaters”. That is perhaps why it does tend to get overlooked and is seldom included on lists of Best or Favorite Western films.
Nevertheless, it is quite a good feature. It’s heavy on atmosphere and drama, features very little in the way of humor (except in an early barn dance sequence that includes a prolonged and awkwardly out-of-place dance number by Russ Tamblyn, showing up here in between appearances in bigger, splashier movies like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and West Side Story), and boasts several fine performances by a number of veteran actors.

The plot is centered around quiet, unassuming store clerk George Temple (Glenn Ford) who, along with his wife Dora (Jeanne Crain), has been running the general store in Cross Creek for the past four years. What no one else knows is that George has a tortured past. His father was a notorious gunfighter turned lawman who taught George how to handle a gun until the kid became faster and better at it than his teacher. But when his father was killed from ambush, George discovered that, no matter how good he was with a gun, he lacked the fortitude to use one against another man, not even the killer of his father. His guilt over this has kept him running ever since, spurred on by periodically displaying his gun prowess to others only to have to move on immediately afterward for fear of the fast guns that will inevitably come flocking to test him.

When frustration causes George to once more reveal his secret to the stunned citizens of Cross Creek, the inevitable then must follow: Word will spread, fast guns will start showing up, the quiet little town will be disrupted and threatened, and George will have to start facing the challenges … or again slink away.
This time, the townsfolk convince him to stay. They do so by promising --- actually swearing to it in church --- to keep his secret. Almost immediately, however, that promise is broken in an unexpected way and exactly as (in a rather wild coincidence that stretches credibility mighty thin) a notorious, nearly psychotic gunfighter named Vin Harold happens to be passing through. Naturally, Harold insists on a showdown to see who is fastest. He threatens to literally burn down the town if his challenge is not met.
I can’t say too much more without spoiling what is a surprising, wholly satisfying ending with a nifty twist.  

In addition to Ford, Crain, and Crawford, the cast contains a whole host of recognizable character actors including such stalwarts as Noah Berry Jr., John Dehner, Leif Erickson, Paul Birch, Dub Taylor, Virginia Gregg, and John Doucette. Ford is typically low key which is especially effective here, Crain looks a little too beautiful for a small town storekeeper’s wife but does a nice underplayed acting job, Erickson and Gregg are solid, and Dehner damn near steals the whole picture as one of Vinnie Harold’s cronies. Noah Berry, who almost always does a fine job, is disappointingly flat here. And Academy Award-winning Crawford (no, not for this film) over-acts to the point of practically making his character more comic than menacing.

The Fastest Gun Alive was directed and co-written by Russell Rouse. His co-author for the screenplay was Frank D. Gilroy who originally did a version of the story as a teleplay.
Worth checking out as a slightly offbeat, though still reasonably traditional, Western.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Available Now: HANNIBAL AT RISK - The Joe Hannibal Collection, Volume III

Available now for Kindle: A great way to kick off your summer reading list. Two complete novels and a collection of key Joe Hannibal stories, including the Edgar-nominated "Body Count" --- all for the super bargain price of only $1.49!

For over three decades, Joe Hannibal has stood tall on the fictional PI landscape. The Hannibal books and stories have been translated into several languages and have been nominated for an Edgar, an Anthony, and a total of six Shamus Awards.
Almost from the outset, Hannibal was dubbed "the blue collar PI" due in equal parts to the series' initial smaller-city setting of Rockford, Illinois, and its surrounding rural areas - as well as to the middle class roots and values that his creator brought to the writing. Later, after author and character both moved to the even more rural setting of west central Nebraska, the distinction only deepened.

Hannibal has matured and evolved as a character and the writing has been honed to a finer edge. But the admiration for and love of the PI genre that was always at the core and heart of the series has never changed.

While new Hannibals continue to be written, the original titles, though somewhat sketchily available over the years, remain strong, entertaining works. In order for readers to be able to discover this for themselves, a series of "boxed set" collections is being re-issued.

Volume III, presented here, sequentially features the seventh through eighth full-length Hannibal novels, and the Casefiles collection of some of the best Hannibal short stories:

GOSHEN HOLE
BLADE OF THE TIGER
BODY COUNT – (The Joe Hannibal Case Files, volume I))

Read, enjoy, stay on the lookout for more … And spread the word!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Look: CHUKA (1967 Western, starring Rod Taylor)


I first saw this movie at a drive-in theater (where I tended to see most movies back in those days) in the late sixties, shortly after its release. I didn't remember a whole lot about it, other than recalling it to be somewhat boring and generally unimpressive. My disappointment, I suspected afterward, might have been partly due to the fact that one of the female co-stars was a particularly curvaceous Playboy Playmate named Angela Dorian (later to be known as Victoria Vetri) who, despite having a fairly prominent role, kept those curves very modestly covered all through the picture.
Now, having recently watched the film again after 40-odd years, I still found it disappointing but for reasons notably apart from Ms. Dorian's unfortunate wardrobe choices.

In point of fact, CHUKA is an ambitious Western that hits much of what it aims for yet nevertheless misses some key marks.
Rod Taylor (who produced and co-wrote, in addition to starring) is quite effective in the title role. The name Chuka comes from a time when, as a youngster living on a ranch, he was found always hanging around the chuckwagon. He is described as "a quiet, lonely man" who has grown to become a renowned gunslinger. Taylor plays the part with a lot of intensity and comes across very convincingly as a tough hombre. He also handles the action scenes well. There is one sequence where an arrow streaks in through a window of the cavalry commander's quarters and hits one of the officers present --- Taylor (as Chuka) immediately plunges headlong out through the same window and goes into a rolling dive that ends up with him on one knee in the dirt, gun drawn, and blasting at the fleeing brave who fired the arrow. One may question the wisdom of plunging so recklessly toward where an arrow just came from, but the swiftness of the reaction --- while everyone else is momentarily stunned into frozen inactivity --- distinctly marks Chuka as a man of action and unquestionable bravery. There are other scenes of Chuka's remarkable speed with a gun and his endurance to survive a brutal fistfight that serve to reinforce this image.

The central plot of the film involves the plight of a remote army fort surrounded by starving, desperate Arapahoes preparing to mount an attack for the sake of gaining the food and supplies they are so badly in need of. The fort personnel is made up mostly of rejects and exiles from elsewhere, led by a former British commander who is dealing with personal demons of impotence and perceived past cowardice.
The commander is played by veteran John Mills, who does a nice job of playing a tormented man. Also on hand are other veteran character actors, James Whitmore as a salty, hard-drinking scout; and Ernest Borgnine as what at first appears to be just another heavy of the type he could play in his sleep, this time a bullying sergeant. The storyline and Ernie's acting chops, however, combine to give the sergeant some unexpected and even sympathetic depth. Also present, in addition to the aforementioned Ms. Dorian, is Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi playing a Spanish noblewoman who is escorting her niece (Dorian) to California for an arranged marriage. Arriving at the fort via stagecoach, the two women are stranded there until the Indian threat is quelled.
I don't want to give away too much about the ending, but the Indian threat is not quelled and the climax is a full-out attack on the fort with very grim consequences.

Another film veteran, Gordon Douglas, handles directing duties with a sure hand. The script is co-written (along with Taylor) by author Richard Jessup, based on his novel of the same name.
Ultimately, for me, the film's shortcoming comes from too much melodrama and angst covered by the back stories of the various characters. Layered a bit too heavily over the grit and action, the end result is … well, more depressing than exciting. Still, as I said at the outset, the film's goal is ambitious and it does have several good sequences. I'm glad I watched it again, I came away with a different and better impression. For the Western movie completist, I'd recommend it as worth checking out if you catch it on cable some time, or maybe as a bargain bin DVD. Your take might be more positive than mine.