Wednesday, October 31, 2012

FIGHT CARD Interviews - Part I - Now Up on PULPED!

Tommy Hancock and the good folks at PULPED! have put up the first of the FIGHT CARD interviews.
Part One features an informative conversation with FC founders Paul Bishop and Mel Odom, followed by a segment with yours truly. Then, in weeks to come, there will be additional interviews with Eric Beetner, Kevin Michaels, and more. Be sure to check this out and then check back often to see ongoing features from PULPED!
Just follow the narrative and the links below:

PULPED! The New Pulp Podcast
PULPED! is a Podcast dedicated to the creators and fans of New Pulp! New Pulp, heroic fiction by modern artists written with the sensibility and in the tradition of the Pulp genre! Pulp creators Barry Reese, Derrick Ferguson, Ron Fortier, and Tommy Hancock are the helmsen of this venture and will bring New Pulp discussion, guests, debates, news, and even New Pulp's very own spokesperson, The Pulptress, to PULPED! each week! If you like your fiction heroic, if you seek adventure and action in every word you read, then come on in, take a seat, and get PULPED! PULPED! will post each Monday!
Tommy Hancock beings a multipart saga featuring the Creators, Writers, and Artists behind the New Pulp phenomenon known as FIGHT CARD!  This series of boxing focused Sports Pulp tales was created by veteran writers Paul Bishop and Mel Odom and in the space of a year has taken New Pulp by storm!  Listen as Bishop and Odom talk about the concept, how they put together so many writers, and why people WILL read stories of gloves, rings, punches, and black eyes!  Also Tommy talks to writer Wayne Dundee about his contribution to the series as well as vampires, Private Eyes, and Westerns!  Tune in at least the next two weeks for more FIGHT CARD!  And listen tonight as New Pulp works by David C. Smith, Jeff Deischer, Joe Bonadonna, and Stephen Jared receive special attention!
Check out New Pulp on at and on Facebook and at
Tommy Hancock-
Ron Fortier-
Barry Reese-
Derrick Ferguson-
ALL MUSIC used in Pulp is under a Creative Commons License. Opening and closing themes performed by the Red Hook Ramblers. Other music, including that used in commercial production, by Kevin MacLeod (
Direct download: FIGHT_CARD_PULPED_PART_1.mp3
Category:New Pulp -- posted at: 12:09 AM

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Blogging Today at KMNBOOKS

I have a guest post up today at Karen Michelle Nutt's blog site. Karen is a fine writer of paranormal/time-travel stories and books. I recently did a review, you may recall, of her highly entertaining time-travel Western, STORM RIDERS.
You can check out her site and view my 10/27/12 post, along with previous October entries, all containing horror-Halloween themes this month, at:

My post relates some quasi-amusing events that resulted from having the crap scared out of me at age 10 after seeing Hammer Films' Horror of Dracula.
But, having endured the fright and subsequent nervous nights, like all writers I took that what did not grind me into hamburger and eventually injected it into my writing. The whole thing eventually played a part in my vampire novel, NIGHT SPOOR, from earlier this year.

I hope you drop over to Karen's blog and check out my post as well as some of the othre features.
If you do and if you're interested, there is even a contest to win a signed copy of NIGHT SPOOR.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Look: THE BORN LOSERS starring Tom Laughlin

I saw this 1967 film when it first came out, as one half of a drive-in movie double bill. I don't recall having seen or heard anything about it prior to the viewing, nor can I recall what other movie was playing with it. So I suspect it was probably just another "biker flick" (which was how Born Losers was originally promoted, part of a sub genre that was quite popular during the mid/late 60s) double feature. Which meant neither the titles or stars really mattered, you went to see the action, the bikes, and some gratuitous sex and violence.
In retrospect, the best of these were pretty bad, the rest were downright terrible. Yet the studios (American International primarily) kept cranking them out—eternal classics such as The Glory Stompers, The Mini Skirt Mob, the enticingly titled Chrome and Hot Leather, etc.—and we ended up seeing most of them over the three or four year period they remained popular. (I say "we" meaning my wife and I; in most cases she obligingly went along with whatever movie fare I selected and it was only years later that I found out how much she actually loathed these violence-laden, particularly-abusive-to-women turkeys—which was one more example where her maturity and good taste far exceeded mine, especially in those early years of our marriage.)
But there was something different about The Born Losers. I recognized it right away. Yeah, it had all the trappings of your typical biker film, so it wasn't lacking in any way for those who came merely for that. But it also had more—primarily in the form of its protagonist Billy Jack, the half-breed former Green Beret who only wanted to be left alone but continued to get inadvertently drawn in to a series of confrontations with the Born Losers, a local biker gang led by Danny, a boyhood acquaintance of Billy's. The subtle depth of characterization for these two and the acting skills of those portraying them (Tom Laughlin as Billy; Jeremy Slate as Danny) lifted the film to another level. The rest of the cast mostly turned in performances ranging from wooden to barely adequate. Three additional exceptions were: None other than Jane Russell in a gritty, memorable cameo; the quirky interpretation of Elizabeth James as the college girl targeted by the bikers and subsequently rescued by Billy; and Jack Starrett as the psychotically macho sheriff's deputy. ("All I need is for one witness to identify you—and I'd settle for a liar," he threatens Danny at one point.)

In the end, though, it was the introspection and ultimately reluctant heroics of Billy that, for me, made the film a cut above what I expected to see. Basically, Born Losers is a Western utilizing motorcycles instead of horses. Billy is the lone gunslinger wanting to mind his own business and stay on the periphery of things; Danny and his Losers are the rowdy outlaw gang shooting up the town and terrorizing its innocent citizens, thereby not allowing the loner to just ride away and ignore the situation. There is even a scene in the middle of the film where the Losers are gathered in a pack, getting ready to ride out, when Danny leads the charge, so to speak, by whirling his cap above his head and shouting, "Losers—yeeoww!" to which each of the other bikers gun their hogs in turn and give out with their own yells before roaring away. To me, it was instantly reminiscent of the famous "yee-hah!" scene in Red River when the cattle drive is first starting out.
For the anti-hero enthusiasts, Jeremy Slate's portrayal of Danny fills the bill nicely, giving the character his own strengths and (minimal) values, even though he is destined to come up short at the end. And his slow-motion death scene at the climax (hitting the screen months ahead of the slow-motion death dance in Bonnie and Clyde that was so widely heralded when Warren Beatty's film debuted nearer the end of the year) was truly jolting.
For all that, The Born Losers may have faded away with little fanfare other than from the handful of viewers like me who recognized it in passing as something special. Also, there was the little-known fact that it stood as American International's top box office earner until 1979's The Amityville Horror.
But everything changed when Tom Laughlin released his 1974 follow-up film, titled simply Billy Jack, in 1974. Although he used pseudonyms on the screen credits, Laughlin was the co-writer (along with Elizabeth James, who later had success as a mystery author), director, and producer (along with his wife Delores Taylor) of The Born Losers. According to one account, it was James who created the Billy Jack character and later sold it exclusively to Laughlin when he recognized its potential. The more popular version of late is that Laughlin created the Billy Jack character and the basic plot of Billy Jack as far back as the mid 1950s but couldn't get any studio interested in doing a story that touched on the plight of the American Indian. So, at the suggestion of his wife, he took the character and melded him into a biker gang actioner that would be more marketable, then took the profits from Born Losers to finance Billy Jack on his own. Although not without some initial struggle, Billy Jack of course turned out to be a phenomenal success. So much so that it resurrected The Born Losers, causing it to be re-released with claims of: "The film that introduced Billy Jack" and "The original screen appearance of Tom Laughlin as Billy Jack".

After that, Billy Jack established the ranks of popular cinematic heroes (leading the way for the likes of Dirty Harry and Rambo) whose mere name, when mentioned, carries universal impact and meaning to the point of becoming part of our popular language—such as: "You don't watch out, I'm gonna go all Billy Jack on your ass!"
I'll refrain from commenting much more on Billy Jack, the film, except to say I was one of its biggest fans when it first came out and for some years thereafter. This was partly due to the validation it gave my Billy Jack, the one from The Born Losers, I'd first recognized as something special seven years earlier.
I wasn't yet thirty when I first saw Billy Jack. It seemed like great stuff then. Now, from the perspective of thirty-five added years, it no longer holds up as well for me. It still has some fine moments and Delores Taylor (Laughlin's real-life wife, going before the cameras for the first time) turned in a truly Academy Award-worthy performance that got completely overlooked. But too many aspects of the "hippie school" sub plot, particularly many of the bratty, disrespectful kids who populate it, tend to make me feel annoyed, even pissed off, rather than sympathetic these days. Chalk it up to cranky old age perhaps, but, for whatever reason, much of it now falls flat for me.

The Born Losers, on the other hand—which I watched again for the umpteenth time the other night on TCM—still holds up pretty damn well. If you haven't seen it in a while or maybe have never have seen it at all, I recommend giving it a try. If you can't catch it on cable, you can buy a DVD copy fairly cheaply on Amazon. You can even buy the whole "package" of Billy Jack films (The Born Losers, Billy Jack, The Trail of Billy Jack, and Billy Jack Goes to Washington). The package deal might be worth your time strictly as a scholarly excercise. It saddens me to say this, inasmuch as I greatly admire the creativity and gumption Laughlin showed in getting his initial films made, but the franchise grew progressively worse (Washington is barely watchable) due to an ego left unrestrained as the result of Laughlin's early success.
My advice is to watch The Born Losers for the sake of seeing Billy Jack at his best; and then Billy Jack to see what struck a chord with the public and made the character an American folk hero. Skip the other two, you'll thank me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Noteworthy Reads: SAVAGE BLOOD by James Reasoner

A new story or book by James Reasoner is always good news.
And SAVAGE BLOOD, his latest Western novella, is exceptionally good—in a tough, gritty, moody, hardboiled kind of way … And, much as it pains me to resort to the term since it is so widely (and erroneously) overused these days, SAVAGE BLOOD also stands as a prime example of Western noir.
Eva—Tom Brodie's beautiful, calculating, seductive wife—is at the center of everything that happens in this fast-paced, brooding yet action-packed gem of a tale. Allegedly believing that Tom had been killed in the war, Eva took off with a mutual acquaintance, Martin Caney. Brodie returned after the battles were over, alive but minus his left arm, only to discover he was also minus a wife. Embittered, he never went looking for her but instead fell into an empty life sustained by a series of menial jobs that could be handled by a one-armed man.
Now, as this story opens, ten years have passed. Eva dramatically re-enters Brodie's life when a gut-shot dying man arrives at the saloon where Brodie is tending bar. With his last words, the stranger blurts Eva's name and tells Brodie she needs his help in the town of Salt Crossing, some hundred miles to the north.
For reasons he doesn't completely understand, Brodie finds himself compelled to respond. Upon arriving in Salt Crossing, Brodie soon learns that Eva and Caney are at serious odds with the local power baron, a man named Flannery. It seems Eva fairly won Flannery's saloon from him in a card game and the man's ego not only can't handle the embarrassment but neither is he willing to tolerate the competition of his former saloon continuing to run successfully while he has the rest of the town in his grasp.
Before Brodie can make up his mind whether or not he might be willing to help Eva and Caney, a trio of hardcases in Flannery's employ attempt to brace the new arrival and the confrontation that ensues results in making up his mind for him.
From there the tensions mount quickly and lead starts flying on a regular basis. Everyone soon learns that underestimating Tom Brodie because he is missing one arm can be a deadly mistake. There is plenty of action, some deep emotional undercurrents, and a couple of nifty plot twists before everything is finished. In the end, the scheming, bewitching Eva is forced to face the fact that, even though men have once again risked their lives to gain her favor, the only man she may ever have really wanted can no longer be counted among those she is able to wrap around her finger.
Strongly recommended.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dundee Interview at ROMANCING THE HEART

Writing-wise, my byline may not be the first one you'd think to look for under the heading of "Romance", right?
Aw, come on—you don't need to agree so quickly. Just wait until I come out with my sure-hit best seller, Fifty Shades of Viagra, then you'll see.

But in the meantime, I hope we can agree that there often are romantic elements to a sweeping Western. And the same can hold true for a detective mystery, even the hardboiled kind. Romance—strong feelings of the heart, in other words—are frequently what makes the tough protagonists of these tales do what they must do.

So there's my story and I'm sticking to it.
And if you need any more convincing that my byline and the kind of stuff I write can be included with the word "Romance", just check out my interview at the fine blog: Romancing The Heart.

Hope you have a look. Enjoy. Leave a comment.

Persevere — WD

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullet-Fast eBooks Available Now!

In my humble opinion, the Western fiction landscape is as rich and exciting these days as it has been in a long time. Perhaps, inasmuch as I've put my own brand on a few of the titles roaming around on that landscape, I am somewhat biased. Or maybe just hopeful.
But I think it's more than that.
I think the reality is undeniable, and I think eBooks are playing a big part in why this is taking place.
But don't take my word for it. I offer, as back-up, the following evidence.
Here are a few recent titles that present a wide range of styles and plot devices that demonstrate some of the skill and freshness that is helping to revitalize the genre:

Here is a gritty traditional Western, a novella featuring Wesley Quaid, who has appeared previously in a number of short stories by Pizzolato. Quaid is the quintessential anti-hero, the outlaw of the title. Specifically, he is a bank robber, a wanted man in Texas who arrives in the quiet town of Leesville, Kansas, seeking to change his life—after he makes one more "forcible withdrawal" as he dubs his bank transactions.
But Quaid has barely climbed down from his saddle before he is caught up in a series of events that end up diverting him drastically off course from his simple plan. First he backs down a snot-nosed punk who turns out to be the spoiled son of the area's wealthiest and most powerful rancher; then he encounters a lovely brown-eyed young woman who stirs deeper feelings in him than he thought possible; and then—even more surprising and unlikely—he signs on as Leesville's new deputy marshal.
But Pizzolato is only getting warmed up with these initial plot twists. There are plenty more as the story propels along. Without spoiling too much, let me just say that Quaid goes from outlaw to lawman to hero and, ultimately, back to outlaw again before the conclusion is reached. But even Quaid the Outlaw is likable, in a cockeyed kind of way. And certainly in comparison to the evil scum he must overcome at the climax.
The action is relentless (including dalliances with some lovely and willing females), the characters colorful (in addition to the aforementioned females), and the passages of introspection on Quaid's part give the reader a welcome dose of insight into the man.
A real (electronic) page-turner. Recommended.
This is an exciting Western made even more so by having it play out within a paranormal/science fiction framework. And the best part—thanks to author Nutt's clever characterizations and writing skill—is that the elements of all genres utilized are handled in a respectful, wholly satisfying manner.
The setting is Bodie, California, 1879. At the last possible second, Ace McTavish is saved from hanging for a pair of murders he is innocent of committing. His rescuers are two "Storm Riders"—operatives from the future, sent by a government monitoring agency to mend "rifts" in time that, if left uncorrectred, will have disruptive affects on the space/ time continuum. The rift in this case would be allowing McTavish to be executed; exactly what future disruption this would cause is unclear.
But things turn out not to be as simple as just rescuing McTavish from the hangman's noose. In addition, you see, he is supposed to stay alive. And, since he immediately states his intentions to go back to Bodie in order to try and clear his name, there is every reason for the Storm Riders who rescued him to believe he will be apprehended and end up on the gallows all over again. That means that, in order to completely fulfill their mission, the Riders—Samantha and Denny—must help McTavish clear his name and set things right.
What ensues is a series of twists and turns that meshes Old West shoot-outs and cunning with futuristic gadgetry and intrigue. Along the way, Samantha and McTavish begin to develop feelings for one another. Storm Riders are forbidden from ever interacting with a "package" (someone they've time-traveled to save from a fate gone askew) in even the slightest way—let alone get romantically involved with.
There is a slam-bang climax, a final surprise twist at the end, and plenty of action along the way. All seasoned with sharp dialogue and straightforward descriptive passages, as a testament to Nutt's writing talent.
A very well done change-of-pace Western. Or maybe a change-of-pace Science Fiction adventure … Depending which angle you're coming at it from, I guess.
In any event, a fun read that I strongly recommend.
And, last but not least, the sure hand of Peter Brandvold proves itself once again with this recently released novella featuring Gideon Hawk, one of Mean Pete's many recurring characters. Dubbed the "Rogue Lawman" due to his relentless pursuit of lawbreakers and evil-doers following the savage murder of his wife and son, Hawk's ruthless handling of the worst scum on the frontier—often outside the boundaries of strict legal procedures—at times puts him on the wrong of "the law". But that doesn't deter him from still doing things the way he sees fit.
Case in point: The recent stagecoach robbery pulled by the Bobcat Jack Bunch. After successfully seizing all the money and valuables they were after, the Bunch mercilessly ran the coach over a steep cliff, sending the two women and children who aboard to a bruising, bloody death.
One by one, Hawk has tracked down four of the five gang members and dispatched them in his coldly efficient way. The trail of the final killer leads Hawk high into the mountains where the warmth and hospitality of a lonely widow who has buried her own loved ones offers welcome respite from the manhunter's trail … If, that is, everything is as it appears on the outside.
Brandvold writes gritty, blood-spattered action and evocative imagery as good or better than just abut anybody who's ever worked in the genre. This fast-paced yarn is proof that he shows no signs of slowing down. Things start off with a bang (or, more literally, a "BOOM!") and the pace never lags after that. Mean Pete can damn sure still pack a punch and he can also pack a nifty surprise or two.
Highly recommended.

Persevere --- WD