Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for August

Thought I'd send everyone who is tired of the heat a reminder of what's coming up for most of us in just a few short months.

For August, I decided to answer the question every author hears, and usually quite often: "What made you decide to become a writer?"

In my case, it was a pretty convoluted path. I never even considered writing a book. Then, when I discovered Texas Ranger Magazine, and decided I had to track down every issue of the pulp ever printed, I ended up joining the Yahoo group Western Pulps, which of course was started by our very own James Reasoner. One thing led to another, and one day James asked me to answer a question about horses' hooves for him, with the promise in return he'd write me into one of his books as a Texas Ranger character. He did just that, in SHENANDOAH and APPOMATTOX in his Civil War Battle Series. He also told me I could write Westerns. I was skeptical, to say the least, but James kept pushing. I wrote a couple manuscripts, sent them off to good old Avalon and a couple other publishers, , and never heard a word. Couldn't seem to get anywhere, and had no interest in self-publishing. Well, after two years, I decided to use iUniverse to release my first book, TROUBLE RIDES THE TEXAS PACIFIC. It did pretty well, so I released a couple more the same way. THREE YEARS after I first sent the ms; for TROUBLE RIDES to Avalon, out of nowhere I get a message from them asking if I still had the ms., and they would like to publish it. I know it takes a long time to hear back from publishers, but THREE YEARS! C'mon. So I had to tell them it had already been released. The person who contacted me said they might be interested in more from me, but she was leaving the company the next week. I didn't bother to send them anything else.

Skip ahead a year or two. I got a lead that Jon Tuska was looking for someone to write a new series of Texas Ranger novels. I got in touch with him, had a long conversation, and he asked me to send him a manuscript. I did, my first Cody Havlicek story, BIG BEND DEATH TRAP. I thought it had everything he wanted, but it never got past his wife, who I understand screens any submissions to him first. The response I got was the novel was too old-fashioned. But, after Tuska rejected it, I sent it to a small publisher, Condor Publishing, Inc. Gail at Condor loved it. So BIG BEND DEATH TRAP turned out to be my first published, not self-published, novel, after all.

And I've been at it ever since, a mix of some self-published titles, but mostly now Westerns released by small imprints. I'll never be able to live on the money I make, but the royalties are a nice supplement to my income, and best of all I'm getting paid for something I love to do. And it all goes back to that question from James.


  1. What a great journey. Thanks for sharing. Doris

  2. It's interesting, the different paths we each take to reach this place in our lives. Thanks for sharing yours, Jim.