Monday, August 12, 2019

My Favorite Song by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #folkmusic #songs

We all have songs that mean something extra special to us whether by our associating them with a special event, a loved one, a precious moment, a situation, etc. In fact, if you’re like me, I could go on for hours singing the words to all the songs that are near and dear to me.

 But there is one song. The one song that tops all the others. The that brings a tear to my eye and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.


“My” song is an American rendition of Greensleeves, which is an old English folk song of complicated, and not entirely identifiable origins. Greensleeves was a familiar song (tune) in Shakespeare’s day, because he referenced it in his play, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' in 1595. Falstaff: “Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’!”

There is a legend that the original song was written by Henry VIII for his future wife, Anne Boleyn, but that is apparently a myth as there is evidence the song was around before Henry’s time.

By 1690, or so, the original song was becoming associated with Christmas and New Year’s. Then by the 19th century, any Christmas songbook worth its salt included some version of the original folk song (lyrics and tune) as a carol. Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, and a host of other crooners have recorded their renditions of Greensleeves.

Here is a clip from The Rifleman with Johnny Crawford singing Greensleeves.

As a Christmas song, we know it as What Child is This? which has also been recorded by too many artists to list here.

For those of you desiring more history about Greensleeves, click HERE, HERE, and HERE. 

My favorite song is A Home in the Meadow. The lyrics were written by Sammy Cahn and the song was performed by Debbie Reynolds in the 1962 western movie (and book by same title written by Louis L’Amour), How the West was Won.

For your viewing and listening pleasure, here is the YouTube clip from the movie. If you've not read the book How the West was Won AND watched the 1962 movie of the same name, you should remedy those most egregious oversights as soon as you can. You can thank me later. *wink*

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

Writing through history one romance upon a time

Stay in touch with Kaye

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Old West Trivia

Here are some snippets and bits of trivia about the Old West. You may or may not be able to use them in your writing, but they do make interesting reading.

Rumor has it that the habit of spreading sawdust on the floor of a bar or saloon began in Deadwood, South Dakota. So many miners were spilling gold dust that saloon owners began using sawdust to hide how much dust was actually on the floor. At the end of the night, the dust (and gold) would be swept up and separated.

“Hanging” Judge Roy Bean once killed a Mexican official in a battle over a young lady. A friend of the official tried hanging Bean, but the young lady cut him down in time to save his life. However, afterwards, the judge could never fully turn his head due to his injuries.

The term “red light district” came from the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City, Kansas. The entire front door was made of red glass, and the glow lit the way to the brothel. The name later came to mean that entire part of the city.

Wyatt Earp was indicted for horse theft in Van Buren, Arkansas on May 8, 1871. He jumped bail to escape his trial and fled to Kansas.

Harry Longabaugh became known as the Sundance Kid because he served a term in Sundance, Wyoming for horse theft.

The Oregon Trail, from Independence, Missouri to Fort Vancouver, Washington, measured 2,020 miles. An estimated 350,000 emigrants took this route. One in 17 died along the way. The most common cause of death was cholera.

The infamous Dalton Gang only operated for a year and five months – beginning with a train robbery in Wharton, Oklahoma on May 9, 1891 and ending with the shootout at Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892.

Although the term “stick ‘em up” is widely used in Western film and literature, the term wasn’t actually coined until the 1930s.

In Tombstone, Arizona’s brief heyday (from 1878 to 1886) some 80 million dollars’ worth of silver was mined there.

America’s first train robbery is believed to have taken place on October 6, 1855 in Jackson County, Indiana. The two bandits, John and Simeon Reno, got away with $13,000 from the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.

From the end of the Civil War until 1890, some 10 million head of cattle were driven from Texas to Kansas.

On September 8, 1883, Sitting Bull delivered a speech at the celebration of driving the last spike in the Northern Pacific railroad joining the transcontinental system. He delivered this speech in the Sioux language, deviating from the one prepared for him by the army translator. In this speech, Sitting Bull denounced the army, settlers, and the U.S. Government, though listeners believed he was praising them. Periodically, the Lakota chief would pause for applause, bow and smile, then continue insulting the audience as the translator delivered the original speech in English.

The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral only lasted about 30 seconds.

Jesse James was called “Dingus” by his friends.

The telephone was invented in 1876. After the White House, the first community to have one was Deadwood, South Dakota.

According to witnesses, Wild Bill Hickock could hit a dime tossed into the air nine out of ten times at 25 paces. At the same distance, he could knock an apple from a tree with one shot, then hit the same apple on the way to the ground.

Doc Holliday claimed he almost lost his life nine times. Four attempts to hang him were made, and he was shot at five times.

Annie Oakley (Phoebe Anne Mozee) never lived further west than Ohio.

The first gold rush in the United States was not the California gold rush of 1849 – it took place in Georgia in 1828. It was her that terms such as bonanza, gold digger, placer and gold belt were coined.

After surviving decades of notorious outlaws, retired marshal Bill Tighman was shot and killed by a corrupt Prohibition Officer in 1924 – he was 70.

About one-third of gunmen died of “natural causes,” living 70 or so years. Of those who did die violently (shot or executed), the average life span was 35. Gunfighters-turned-lawmen lived longer lives than their totally criminal counterparts.

One practice credited to the Old West is the Indian practice of taking scalps. However, that actually began in the French and Indian War when General Edward Braddock offered five pounds sterling to his soldiers and their Indian allies for every French scalp. The Indians actually learned the practice from the British.

Female bandit Pearl Hart was the last person to rob a stagecoach in the Old West in 1899.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Western Comics Focus: The Seven Deadly Sins

Troy D. Smith

The western comic book continues its ride... they are not as plentiful as they were in the 1930s-1970s (when they were ubiquitous), but they seem  more common now than they were a couple of decades ago. This is due, in part, to the existence of smaller, independent comics publishers (and a growing amount of online content).

TKO is one such publisher. Their recent western entry was a six-part miniseries (collected last year in a single graphic novel volume) called The Seven Deadly Sins. It is written by Tze Chun, who is best known for his television work (including as writer for the show Gotham). The illustrator is Russian comics artist Artyom Trakhanov. The plot is sort of a mashup of The Magnificent Seven and The Dirty Dozen, as directed by Quintin Tarantino.

The book is set in Texas in 1867. A kind priest, Father Antonio, rescues six killers from a stagecoach that is taking them to their just reward (to wit, hanging in San Antonio). The priest describes each as a "deadly sin," with himself providing the seventh -sloth. He had been peripherally involved in a great injustice ten years earlier, you see, and had only now summoned the courage to try to set it right.

Antonio is the subordinate of Father Threadgill, who is head of the mission. Father Threadgill has a maniacal hatred of Indians, but wants to save the souls of their children... save them from their very Indianness. In 1857, after taking Antonio in when his own mission had failed, Threadgill took his new assistant along on a secret mission. He had hired a company of corrupt Texas Rangers to attack a Comanche village while the men were away hunting, kill all the adults, and capture their children. The kids were to be taken back to the mission, identified as Mexican, and give away for adoption (well, not exactly given away.) It was not the first time.

One infant was deemed too small to make the trip back, so the Rangers were going to kill her. Antonio begged for the child's life and took responsibility for her. He named her Grace, and from then on he was her surrogate father, Her real father, though, was the fierce war chief Black Cloud. His fury at his child's abduction caused him to step up his band's war on whites along the border tenfold, and for years he wreaked his vengeance by slaughtering settlers and stealing their children.

Finally, Father Antonio's conscience could take no more. He stole a large amount of money from the mission -money "earned" by selling Indian children -and freed the six outlaws, offering them a hefty payday if they would help him accomplish his mission.

Taking Grace deep into Comanche country in search of the dreaded Black Cloud -to give her back. Pursued along the way, of course, by Father Threadgill and his corrupt Rangers.

Father Antonio has assembled a colorful crew...

JERICHO  MARSH (wrath). Clearly modeled on Samuel L. Jackson's character in The Hateful Eight, Marsh had led a group of black Union guerrillas during the Civil War and was wanted for war crimes. When the war ended, his two daughters were forced to sign labor contracts- their contracts were sold and they were taken away. This is a pretty rare pop culture reference to the very real historical situation for ex-slaves in the years immediately after the Civil War, when state legislated "Black Codes" were passed that kept them enslaved every way but in name.

Jericho Marsh will do anything, and kill anyone, to find his daughters.

MALENE JOHNSON (envy). A pregnant ex-slave. The father was her former master, with whom she was in love and who had promised to marry her -but who betrothed himself to a proper white lady instead, whereupon his whole family perished in a house fire. Malene was convicted of arson and murder.

HOGG SMYTHE (gluttony). An overweight and simple-minded Confederate veteran who, when besieged by Yankees, killed and ate ten of his comrades.

IRISH CLAIRE (greed). A foul-mouthed, hot-tempered young Irish woman who is a notorious bank robber -described by others as a "tomboy" and a Lesbian (or more accurately, a Trans person who identifies as male, and wants to be called Clarke.)

DAPPER DUDLEY (lust). A crack shot, formerly a pistoleer in Wild West shows... also a vain con man and a consummate showman. His face is scarred because his former wife mixed mercury in with his stage makeup to get revenge for his raping her ten-year-old sister.

CHANG (pride). A brilliant surgeon in China and San Francisco who was forced into indenture and made to work on the railroad. He killed in order to make his escape.

The above description may seem like I am telling you a lot... but it is really just setting the scene for the story. Needless to say, there are a lot of shootouts, double crosses, and occasional acts of redemption (sort of).

It may not be for everyone. If you think Tarantino's westerns are too violent and profane, you won't like this. I certainly enjoyed it, though- it was fresh take on some very time-honored themes, and felt a lot like a spaghetti western.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The 10th Annual Peacemaker Awards Now Open for Submissions

Submissions for the 10th Annual Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards are now being accepted for works originally published in the year 2019.


First time in print must be between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, no reprints or revisions. Limit of 2 entries per category.

Books and short stories may be published in any country in the world (submissions must be in English) in print or electronic format. Electronic submissions must be made with Kindle/mobi, PDF, or Word/text files. WF reserves the right to decline any submission for consideration of an Award.

Authors, agents, or publishers may submit a work for consideration of an Award.

At least three entrants in a category must be received during the submission period for an Award to be presented.

Novels and short stories must be set in the time period between 1830-1920 to be considered Westerns under WF guidelines. Time periods beyond the 1830-1920 traditional western focus may be included in submissions as long as the periods outside of the 1830-1920 span constitute no more than 50% of the story. At least 50% of the story MUST TAKE PLACE in the 1830-1920 period. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Finalists for the Peacemaker Awards will be announced on May 15, 2020 and the winners will be announced on June 15, 2020.

The WF Peacemaker Award will be awarded in three categories:

Best Western Novel – Any novel published during the award year set in the appropriate time period (1830-1920), at least 30,000 words in length. There are no format requirements. The novel may be a hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, or eBook.

Best Western Short Fiction – Any short story, novelette, or novella published during the award year set in the appropriate time period (1830-1920), from 500 words to 29,999 words. There are no format requirements. The short story may be published in any publication, print or electronic.

Best First Western Novel – Must meet the same requirements as Best Novel, and must be the author’s first published Western novel. If the author has published novels in any other genre they will not disqualify the author from the Best First Western Novel Award competition. Submissions for Best First Western Novel may also be submitted in the Best Novel category in the same year.


If sending print form, one copy of the work must be sent to each judge (3 per category), and the Awards Chair for a total of four, accompanied by the appropriate form.

Electronic versions should be emailed to the Awards Chair, James Reasoner, with the appropriate submission form. The electronic submissions will be distributed to the judges by the Awards Chair. All entries must be postmarked or received via email by midnight, CST, January 15, 2020. Judges should not be contacted by any entrant concerning their entry during the consideration period. Doing so may result in disqualification of eligibility for the WF Peacemaker Award. Works submitted will not be returned after the awards have been announced. There is no fee to enter. There will be no exceptions made to the submission procedures, for any reason.

Links to forms to include are at the bottom of the list of judges. You will need 4 copies for each printed entry, one for each judge and one for the Awards Chair.

Awards Chair: James Reasoner

P.O. Box 931

Azle, TX 76098-0931