Western Fictioneers is proud to announce that Bill Crider will serve as president of the organization and Douglas Hirt will serve as vice president for the next two years.
Greetings and Salutations to all the Western Fictioneers.
I learned today that I’d been elected as your president by an overwhelming majority of the vote. Or possibly by only one vote. But numbers don’t matter. I am the president, and I’m honored to serve such a fine organization of writers.
Most of you, I know, have never met me, but I met at least a couple of our founders, James Reasoner and Bob Randisi, long ago. Those two and I go back over 35 years now, and counting. Both of them are younger, more prolific, and better looking that I am. They’ve been publishing longer, too, as have a good many of you here. I’m humbled to be the figurehead of a group with so many distinguished and successful writers in a genre we all love.
The first westerns I remember were movies. Every Saturday afternoon, I’d be at the Palace Theater in Mexia, Texas, for the double feature with Johnny Mack Brown and Monte Hale, or Tex Ritter and Wild Bill Elliott, or Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. I remember radio, too. The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Bobby Benson and the B Bar B Riders, Gunsmoke, Have Gun, Will Travel. The books came later. Will James, Zane Grey, the Whitman books about Roy and Gene. The 1950s brought some great western movies for grown ups, like Shane and Winchester ‘73 and Seven Men from Now. I saw them all, and I was watching TV, too. Wanted: Dead or Alive, Wyatt Earp, Maverick, and many, many more.
My own career in westerns began back in 1987 when I told my agent that I’d always wanted to write a western novel. She asked me why, and I more or less recited the previous paragraph. She told me to go for it, and Ryan Rides Back was published by M. Evans the following year. Some of you, I know, wrote books for that house. I can only hope you got paid. My own experience with the company was less than pleasant. A couple of the books were reprinted by Ballantine. One of them went into a second printing, which I found out about when I saw it on the stands. I was never paid a penny for any of the paperbacks. The only benefit I got from them was that I met the Ballantine editor at a convention for mystery writers. That’s when I learned that the western field was in trouble. She told me that Ballantine wouldn’t be acquiring any more westerns, and when I asked her why, she said that while westerns were making money for the company, they weren’t making “enough money.” She didn’t specify what “enough” was, but I knew that attitudes like that weren’t good for the genre.
In the years since then, I’ve written a good many westerns, some of them under my own name but most of them under other names that some of you have also assumed from time to time. I don’t know about you, but I loved writing those books. Some of the most fun I’ve had in writing was in working out plots for characters that someone else created.
We don’t see a lot of westerns on the paperback racks now. (For that matter, we don’t even see paperback racks.) Westerns on TV are hard to find, and western movies don’t come along very often. It’s a shame, for sure, but the members of Western Fictioneers keep the flame burning. A good many of you have not only continued to write high-quality western fiction but are actually making money at it, thanks to the eBook revolution. We old dogs have learned new tricks, and westerns are selling well, no matter what the traditional publishers say. Western Fictioneers keeps calling attention to the genre with the Peacemaker Awards, too, and I’m very proud to have won one of them.
I hope that in the next year, this group will continue to flourish and grow and that we’ll see westerns continue to sell and to rise in prominence. If we all keep plugging, it can happen.
I’m not quite sure yet what my duties as president are, but I’ll do my best to fulfill them. For now let me say again that I’m happy to serve, and I think you all for bestowing the honor of the office on me.
BILL is the author of more than fifty published novels and numerous short stories. He won the Anthony Award for best first mystery novel in 1987 for Too Late to Die and was nominated for the Shamus Award for best first private-eye novel for Dead on the Island. He won the Golden Duck award for “best juvenile science fiction novel” for Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror. He and his wife, Judy, won the best short story Anthony in 2002 for their story “Chocolate Moose.” His story “Cranked” from Damn Near Dead (Busted Flush Press) was nominated for the Edgar award for best short story. Check out his homepage at www.billcrider.com, or take a look at his peculiar blog at http://billcrider.blogspot.com.
Hello stranger. Haven’t seen you around. New to town? Don’t be shy. Come on over and say howdy. Here, have a sarsaparilla on us. Who are we? Whal, we’re some of the friendliest folks you’re likely to ever meet. We’re a passel of professional fiction writers, and although our members write about all sorts of things, what ties us together is that we mostly write westerns.
We’re a purty young outfit and some of our shoots are still a mite green and tender, but not our rootstock. Our roots are strong and they go down deep. You see, these roots have been nourished by some of the finest writers who ever put a quill to foolscap, or rolled a carbon copy set into a typewriter platen (you young’uns can look that up on Wikipedia), or have fought the infamous blue screen of death to beat a deadline. You’ll certainly recognize some of their names: Zane Gray, Wayne D. Overholser, Donald Hamilton, Gordon D. Shirreffs, Elmer Kelton, Frank Roderus. The list is long and proud, and it even includes a bunch of TV shows and exciting movies that go all the way back to 1903 with The Great Train Robbery.
If you’ve a hankering to write westerns, then you just might want to ride along with us. We’re all pretty serious about this western writing business and so we’ve set a few requirements. They aren’t too onerous. You simply have to have written a western novel or short story, and have been paid for it, not self published. If you have done so, and you think you’d like to ride for the brand, then welcome aboard.
Tell them Douglas Hirt sent you. I’m honored to be vice president of this fine organization. I’ve been writing westerns professionally for over thirty years, and I can truly say you’ll not meet a friendlier, more helpful group of writers anywhere than the Western Fictioneers.
DOUGLAS was born in Illinois, but heeding Horace Greeley's admonition to "Go west, young man", he headed to New Mexico at eighteen. He drew heavily from this "desert life" when writing his first novel, Devil's Wind. In 1991 Doug's novel, A Passage of Seasons, won the Colorado Authors' League Top Hand Award. His 1998 book, Brandish, and 1999 Deadwood, were finalists for the SPUR award given by the Western Writers of America. A short story writer, and the author of thirty-four novels and one book of non fiction, Doug makes his home in Colorado Springs with his wife Kathy. When not writing or traveling to research his novels, Doug enjoys collecting and restoring old English sports cars. You can find more about Douglas Hirt at www.douglashirt.com
WF thanks Cheryl Pierson and Keith Souter for their great service as president and vice-president for the past two years.