Tuesday, June 28, 2022


What a life! In putting this interview together I was struck by how writing and creativity have no age restrictions. Big Jim Williams, and he is quite tall, has led such an interesting life. I hope you feel as inspired by him as I have been. Read on!

Photo Provided by Big Jim Williams

Where did you get the idea for your latest release? What is the elevator pitch for it?

GALLOWS JUSTICE, my fourth Jake Silverhorn novel, was released on Amazon in April 2022. The story: Jake and three other Texas Rangers make a long ride through hostile weather-warped lands from Texas to Arizona’s Territorial Prison in Yuma to bring back three killers for execution in Texas. They face deadly troubles from landslides and explosions to storms, floods, fires, shootouts, angry mobs, and endless attempts by gang members and the leader’s beautiful girlfriend to save the killers. Have also added twists and turns and subplots to make it more interesting.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I generally create one or two characters and then start writing to see what they will do. That works when writing short stories. However, after writing several novels, I’m beginning to outline the plots and scenes before writing. In the past, I’ve ended up wasting time by getting lost in my own story. I’m now outlining my next novel. This should avoid a lot of rewriting, and speed up the process.

* Is there a writing routine you follow or do you write when the muse strikes?

I’m an early riser, often up by 5:30 a.m. and working at my computer. Also, write during the day and often during evenings and weekends since I live alone. However, I’m also known to kick back and not write for several days to recharge my batteries. I’m also good at goofing off when needed.

I wrote publicity copy for years, so try to write “tight” to say what I want in as few words as possible when writing fiction.


* Is there anything else you feel people would like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a great fan of “The Golden Age of Radio,” when dramas, action, music, and other programs were broadcast on radio before TV came along. I’ve spent most of my life working in radio as an announcer, morning DJ, interviewer, and newscaster. I’ve also been a “news stringer” for the Voice of America, the U.S. Information Agency’s shortwave broadcast service, narrated and acted in industrial, sales, and motivational films, and sang in amateur musicals. Did press releases for years––some bordering on fiction––but prefer writing Westerns and short stories.

Fortunately, I’m in pretty good health and will continue to write as long as I can. I may be the oldest member of the Western Fictioneers. I recently turned 90. I’m also an Army veteran (worked in Army TV), later was in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, have two adults sons, four grandkids, and one great-grandson. My wife, Joan, and I were fortunate to travel in Europe and the Pacific before her passing in 2015. Hope to do more traveling.

* Do you write in other genres?

I’ve written many short stories, including those dealing with crime, humor, California’s gold rush, and ghost stories, which have been a kick to write, several published in Suspense Magazine. My radio drama, “Close Encounters of The Confederate Kind,” aired on over 100 NPR Radio Stations.

* Research, do you find it important?

Now writing a novel featuring a Black Mountain Man, an escaped slave from America’s south prior to the U.S. Civil War. Have read much about wilderness survival, and the Mountain Men seeking beaver pelts in America’s frontier around 1820-40 and beyond. So I continue researching this historic time and the men who lived it. My central character marries a Cree Indian woman and eventually fights in the Civil War to help free his mother and family. The book is not a biography but is loosely based on the life of James Beckwourth, a mixed-race real Mountain Man and former slave.

Also working on a first-time juvenile book that is also fun to write.

* Do you have unique ‘marketing’ tips you are willing to share?

I’m a novice regarding the marketing of books. However, to help sales, I’ve recently hired a publicist. We worked together before. He was a big help. Will see how it goes this time.

I’m a realist. With all the thousands of books published, one does need to be a famous person or household name to get the right media exposure and sell books. If you’re a famous actor, politician, or crook, it all helps. But if you’re a new writer trying to get established you need help. I don’t have an agent, but wish I did.

I now have nine books posted on Amazon. I also have numerous short story credits in online and print magazines, and in anthologies. I’ve been getting published since 1998.


* What advice would you give to those who dream of writing, or what advice would you give your younger self?

Keep writing and never give up. Also, get to know other published writers in your area, take writing classes at your local junior college, and join a writers’ group. I’ve found that most writers love to talk shop, and are also willing to provide help and advice.

* What books or authors that you grew up with that inspired you to take pen to paper?

My favorite fiction writers are Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, O. Henry, and Guy de Maupassant. Their stories, with countless twists and turns, are the best. My favorite Western authors are Zane Grey, William MacLeod Raine, Max Brand (Frederick Faust), Ernest Haycox, and Jack Schaefer, especially for his great novel, MONTE WALSH.

I have wonderful memories of being exposed to great writing when I was in grammar school in Ojai, CA. My sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Herman, read wonderful stories to us every day: TREASURE ISLAND, KIDNAPPED, TOM SAWYER, IN A DARK GARDEN, and so many other books. During those years the teachers would march our class across our one-block town to the library where Miss Harding and other librarians would read to us while we sat on the large Spanish floor tiles. I loved those times, and the great adventure stories that have inspired me to also become a writer.

* If it were possible would you choose to go forward in time or back?

I love the pioneers, the men, women, and children, who had the guts and courage to move West in frontier America. Can you imagine joining a wagon train and traveling (mostly walking) across the U.S. to a new life in California, Oregon, or Texas? What brave souls they were. Would loved to have met those people. However, would miss today’s conveniences of good food, running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, computers, cars vs. horses, etc. So I’ll stick with living in today’s confused world.

But what great stories we could have gathered while living in frontier America, as many writers did.

* Have you considered writing a series, either by yourself or with a group?

I have been writing a series of novels for DS Productions featuring Jake Silverhorn, a young Texas Ranger. GALLOWS JUSTICE was released in April 2022 on Amazon. Other books in the series are BORDER JUSTICE, TEXAS JUSTICE, and, SEEKING JUSTICE. I’m now outlining a fifth book in the series.

I’ve never collaborated with anyone on writing. Have always worked alone, but, under the right circumstances, might try writing with someone on a book or movie.

To learn more and find all the wonderful books along with the anthologies Jim is a part of, check out his Author Page: Big Jim Williams author page

A huge thank you for a fascinating look into your life as a writer, Jim. I look forward to your upcoming stories and I also read William MacLeod Raine when younger. (Hey, he lived in Colorado for a bit.)  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Thoughts - The West and The Western

Post by Doris McCraw - aka Angela Raines

Photo Property of the Author

As the planet continues its journey around the star we call the Sun, I have spent time pondering Westerns, Awards, Exclusion, and Inclusion. 

I believe sometimes we get caught up in our own worlds, be that the worlds of our own creation, or perhaps the things that are happening in the world around us this in no way is diminishing the importance of those worlds to a person. At the same time, it seems that as we talk about the "demise" of the Western, which does not seem to happen. It may be our definition is a bit narrow.

We all have those stories that we grew up on. I remember watching 'Have Gun Will Travel' and purchasing the children's book version of one of the stories. I remember seeing my grandfather's paperback books. Those with the rough, formidable male, with pistol drawn, protecting the weak, timid female on the cover. As I got older I read many of the stories from the 40s and 50s up through the present day. 

Photo Property of the Author

I've often wondered why writers of Western Romance shy away from the Adult Western? Why do readers and writers of these various sub-genres of the Western think that they're exclusive in the stories they love? It never made sense to me that Western Romance had to be put in Romance or Adult Westerns were sometimes excluded from various outlets. 

Much like other genres, the Western is the story of the human condition. Sometimes, the endings may be heart-wrenching while other times it's a happily ever after. One is not exclusive to the other. While not a super fan I enjoy the occasional Zombie Western, Adult Western, and even a Western Romance. I have enjoyed some of those stories and others I didn't care for, but that does mean everyone else has to agree with me. That is the joy of the Over-Arching 'Western' story.

I truly do believe supporting writers who tell the story of the West, regardless of the sub-genre, can only enhance the work of others. 

Photo Property of the Author

We recently announced the Peacemaker Awards. To me, this is a cause for celebration. We are telling the world these are wonderful stories and we invite them to enjoy the human experience that the stories offer. I would love to see the post announcing those awards shared by every single Western Fictioneer member on their own social media. Getting the word out about the commonality and the uniqueness of the West, in my opinion, is important. 

Let's not only share the stories we write but share what our fellow members are doing. I truly do believe that the stories we tell regardless of the sub-genre are a way to let the world know how the people who lived in the Old West overcame their challenges, and those readers, in inhabiting the characters realize they can also survive and thrive.

Thank you for listening. Care to share your thoughts? The more we share, the more we grow.

Peacemaker Award Winners and Finalists

Doris McCraw - President, Western Fictioneers.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Agnes Alexander - A Surprising Interview

I had been aware of the work of Agnes Alexander for some time and I was excited to get the chance to find out more. Oh my, did I. What a surprising interview this turned out to be. I hope you enjoy it also. 

Agnes Alexander - from 
Amazon Author Page

Is there anything you feel people would like to know or would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m starting with this question because there are a lot of folks who don’t know that Agnes Alexander is my pen name. All of my early writing was done under my actual name, Lynette Hall Hampton, though most of these writings are out of print. In fact, I started my writing career by writing occasional features for my local weekly newspaper and selling fillers and short items to magazines. I then progressed to children’s books. My first novel was a mystery, and it was followed by several other mysteries. In 2012, I sold my first Western Historical Romance.

The publisher I was working with suggested I should come up with a pen name since I was delving into a different type of writing. I thought about it and decided to honor my grandparents. Agnes was my grandmother’s name on my mother’s side, and Alexander was my grandfather’s name on my father’s side. Now as many people know me as Agnes Alexander as those who know me as Lynette Hampton. Just to keep things interesting, Lynette is actually my middle name. My first name is Martha, though I was always called Lynette. Some of my closest friends still don’t know about Martha.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I would call myself mostly pantser, with a bit of plotter. Though I have never sat down and plotted a book from beginning to end, I think I do some plotting along the way. I actually begin most of my books when a character’s name comes to me and won’t leave me alone until I tell their story. In my new book, THE SHERIFF, I knew immediately I wanted his name to be Buck. I also knew I wanted to tell his story when I introduced him in THE RANCHER, the first book of my Friendly Creek Series. I already had his career, and some of the ideas of what he’d face in book two, but I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out for him in the romance department. I simply sat down and started writing and things began to fall in place.

Is there a writing routine you follow, or do you write when the muse strikes?

I try to write most every day. I know this is impossible for most people, including me, but it is a goal I set for myself. Sometimes I can only add one sentence, but at least I wrote something on that day. I’m not a morning person, so most of my writing is done after lunch, or during those nights I’m up until two or three in the morning. My getting up time is usually around nine-thirty or ten, and the only thing I want to think about is what can I eat without having to do a lot of cooking. But in the afternoon, I seem to come alive.

Another quirk I have is that I like to make lists. Two of my daily lists I fill out are: Words Written daily in 2022, and Book Writing Goal for (Name of the Book). I also like to work on more than one book at a time. For this series, I plan on five books. Book three is almost finished and I’m working on books four & five.

Research, do you find it important?

I not only find it important, I find it absolutely necessary when writing in the historical field. Most of my westerns are set from 1870 to 1899, so you don’t want some sharp reader to tell you that you put something in the book that didn’t happen in that time period. So far, I’ve not been called on the carpet, though in one of my earlier books I did make a mistake. I had a character say ‘okay’. I learned later that word wasn’t used until the early 1900s. My only defense is that I now know better, and the book was one of my first and my readers have moved on.

The only problem with research is that you will often find it so interesting you spend too much time doing that instead of writing.


What life experiences influenced your writing?

I have to say that my parents inspired me to write, though they didn’t know it at the time. I was born, the oldest of three children, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in a rather sparsely populated area. Both my parents were avid readers. Mother read everything from Shakespeare to Grace Livingston Hill books. Daddy was an ardent western fan. I had all kinds of nursery rhyme books and other children’s stories. I actually wrote my first book when I was eight years old. It was a re-write of Beauty and the Beast. My 3rd-grade teacher introduce the class to a book called COWGIRL KATE. I loved that book and checked it out of the school library until it was suggested I try something else. It was at this time that I decided I’d one day write a book like that. A few years ago, I found that book in a used bookstore and paid $35.00 for a $2.98 book, but I display it proudly on my bookshelf. Though there were other influences, I consider these the top two.

What advice would you give to those who dream of writing, or what advice would you give your younger self?

Harold Lowery (Pen name: Leigh Greenwood) and I were members of the same romance writers’ group and were often at the same meetings. Around 2010 I was telling him that my father wanted me to write a western, but I’d been putting it off because I wasn’t sure I could do it. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Don’t put it off any longer. Go home today and write it. If it works out you may find you like writing the genre, I did. If it doesn’t work out, then you’ll know you tried.” I decided to take his advice and I wrote my first Western Historical Romance, FIONA’S JOURNEY, a wagon train tale. It came out in 2012. I’ve been in love with the genre ever since. To date, I have 28 published WHR novels, a few short stories, and a novella. Though I’m getting older, I hope to write a lot more before I get my final reward. And it’s all due to the fact that I tackled something that I was afraid to try. My advice to a new writer is conquer your fear and write it. It may turn out to be a best seller or it may land in your desk drawer. The important thing is that you did it and now you know you can write a book.

THE SHERIFF – Book 2 of the Friendly Creek Series was released on June 2, 2022.


Thank you 'Agnes' for a fun, fascinating, and informative interview. It has been a pleasure.

For those who would like to know more, here are additional links:

Agnes Alexander Amazon Author Page

Agnes Alexander - Facebook Author Page

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Western Fictioneers Announces the Peacemaker Award Winners

Western Fictioneers is proud to announce the winners of the 12 Annual Peacemaker Awards, presented for the finest in Western fiction published in 2021. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists, and special thanks to the judges who make the Peacemaker Awards possible.


David Whitehead


Winner: THE MRS. TABOR, Kimberly Burns (Thomas Bard Publishing)


CLAYTON SHARP: MESSENGER OF WARNING, Eugene J. DiCesaris (Five Star Publishing)

THE DEVIL'S HAND, M.J. Hayes (M.J. Hayes)

THE SHERIFF, Robert Dwyer and Austin Wright (TwoDot/Rowman & Littlefield)

THE WOLF HUNT, Will Brandon (Barbara Brannon) (Five Star Publishing)


Winner: OLD DOGS, Ron Schwab (Uplands Press)


BLOOD AND GOLD, Jeffrey J. Mariotte and Peter Murrieta (Sundown Press)

DOWNRIVER SOUTH, Greg Hunt (Five Star Publishing)

LOST MOUNTAIN PASS, Larry D. Sweazy (Pinnacle Books)

THE UNREDEEMED, D. Laszlo Conhaim (Broken Arrow Press)


Winner: "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary", Kathleen Morris, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Summer 2021 (Oghma Creative Media)


"Double Deceit", John D. Nesbitt, PERILOUS FRONTIER (Five Star Publishing)

"The Cowboy, the Librarian, and the Broomsman", Mark Warren, LIBRARIANS OF THE WEST: A QUARTET (Five Star Publishing)

"The Running Day", Richard Prosch, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Summer 2021 (Oghma Creative Media)

"When It Rains", Dennis Doty, SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Winter 2021 (Oghma Creative Media)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for June

 For this post, I'm doing something a bit different. I'm going to deconstruct oneof the most iconic Western songs.

Everyone has heard Marty Robbins' El Paso. And just about everyone, including me, loves the song. I love his followup, El Paso City, even more. However, El Paso, as written, is actually quite flawed.

I'll start with the lyric that grateso n me most. It's .."Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me." Every writer knows, or leans very quickly, never to repeat two such close sounding words, unless it's absolutely impossible. A simple change to "... Maybe tomorrow a  bullet WILL find me would have been a great improvement and solve the problem.. I can't believe not one person involved in the writing, producing, and singing of this classic didn't suggest the change. As it is, every time I hear that line, it makes me cringe, and want to grind my teeth.

Then there's the backgrounds of the characters and action. First of all, Felina was no maiden. Not even close. Of course, perhaps she was to  a cowboy in lust (yes, I use the word lust as opposed to love purposely. She was a female entertainer in a Mexican cantina, who clearly was willing to use her charms to seduce any man.

Second is the fatal gunfight itself.  The "handsome young stranger" drew first. Robbins' character shot him in a clear case of self defense. Unless the cowboy had a lot of friends, which since he was a stranger it would seem he didn't, Robbins' character would have gone free. No need to run,

Third, the horse theft. Despite popular myth, horse thieving was never a capital offense in the Old West. Of course, vigilantes or the horse's owners might take it into themselves to hang a horse thief. I know I would. Either way, it's likely Robbins' character would have been strung up for horse theft rather than killing a man in a fair showdown.

The return trip is also a problem. It was dark, so how did all those cowboys see Robbins' character coming back? How could they know it was him? They were shooting from long distance, so it was impossible to tell who they were shooting at. And how did Feline know it wsa him.

So, a clqssic song that I love, but is deeply flawed.

Bonus: I've only heard one version of Ghost Riders in the Sky which I just can't tolerate. It's Frankie Laine's version. Laine doesn't have a particularly good voice, in my opinion, but it's a change in the original lyrics that makes me crazy. Instead of "horses snorting fire" Laine added a word: "horses snorting flaming fire" Huh? As opposed to non-flaming fire? Just dumb.

\Okay, until next month.

"Ranger" Jim

Monday, June 13, 2022


Post by Jesse J Elliot

aka Julie Hanks


or What Killed Doc Holliday

Plague Gallery


    Although less common today than during the mid-

 to-late 19th century, TB remains a horrible, painful 

disease. The disease may be acute or chronic and 

generally attacks the respiratory tract, although other 

parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, and 

the spine, may be affected. The symptoms (fever, loss 

of weight, etc) are caused by the toxins produced by 

the infecting organism, which also cause the formation 

of characteristic nodes consisting of a packed mass of 

cells and dead tissue.  Tennant F. “Doc” Holliday: A 

Story of Tuberculosis, Pain, and Self-medication in the 

Wild West. Pract Pain Manag. 2012;12(11).

     By the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis—or consumption—had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Tuberculosis is a lung disease caused by a bacteria. Although the disease was not curable, health officials saw that a change of climate brought respite. Warm dry climates were suggested and often improved the quality of life as well as extending it. Arizona was one of the main destinations while others headed for California.



      Tickets bought to a Sanitarian and/or a trip out west were always one-way tickets, as nobody survived the slow, consumptive pain of the disease. The only known treatment was fresh air, a good diet, and an ever-increasing dose of laudanum, a mixture of opium and other embellishments.

      One of the most famous victims of this disease was Doc Holiday, the notorious friend of the Earps. Doc Holliday’s mother died of TB when he was just 15.  Holliday was from a “genteel, Southern family.”  He was well educated, and he even went on to become a dentist.  His coughing seizures, however, made the practice of dentistry impossible. To support himself, he became a gambler.  Though a heavy drinker and later as his disease progressed, a user of laudanum, he remained outstanding with a gun and a pack of cards.  His gun training had come from his uncle, and his card skills came from one of his uncle’s female slaves!

Doc Holliday

     What kept Holliday going so long is impossible to say. There was the suggestion that the alcohol and laudanum he consumed not only enabled him to endure the excruciating pain he lived with daily but provided some antibacterial roles as well. Doc Holliday died 14 years longer than he was diagnosed to live.  He died at the very young age of 36.  One more historical victim of TB.

     Though the bacteria that caused tuberculosis was identified in 1882, no medication existed until the discovery of the first antibiotic found to be effective against tuberculosis—Streptomycin in 1943. Breakthroughs in the 1960s were even more effective, though the presence of this disease is still daunting. Still considered to be a dangerous disease, every educator must still take a TB test every five years.


Thursday, June 9, 2022

On This Day in the Old West: June 10

 Wow—where has the year gone? June already and we’re into the sweltering Summer. It’s a good time to talk about refrigeration! On June 10, 1869, the first shipment of frozen beef arrived in New Orleans aboard the Agnes. And, of course, there’s a story behind it.

Commercial refrigeration theories came mainly from Europe, particularly the Scots, English, and French. However, it was the Texans who did most of the early experimental work to develop the techniques in the United States. “The development of mass production of artificial ice,” according to Woolrich and Clark, “was pioneered in Texas and Louisiana.” However, the most interesting bit of refrigeration history comes from 1861 to 1885 in Texas.


During the Civil War, the natural ice supply from the North was cut off. Inventors in Texas and Louisiana began looking at mechanical ice manufacture and food preservation. During the war, a Ferdinand Carré absorption machine, patented in France in 1859 and in America in 1860, was slipped through the Union blockade into Mexico and then into Texas. This machine used a mixture of ammonia and water as a refrigerant.


Somewhere around 1865, Daniel Livingston Holden installed a Carré machine in San Antonio and began making improvements to the machine. He equipped it with steam coils and used distilled water to make clear ice. By 1867, three different companies were making artificial ice in San Antonio—at a time when there were only eight ice plants in operation in the whole country. Sometime around 1866 or 1867, Holden had gotten the Peter Henri Van der Weyde compression patent, which used petroleum ether and naphtha as refrigerants, and in 1869, he took out a patent on his own designs.

In that same year, Holden assisted in the installation of a sixty-ton-capacity Carré plant in New Orleans and extended his refrigeration activities across Texas and into the South. After the Civil War, the expanding Texas beef industry “encouraged and financed research” into cold storage. Andrew Muhl of San Antonio, in partnership with “a man named Paggi,” built an ice-making machine in 1867, then moved it to Waco in 1871. In the late 1860s, the development of mechanical refrigeration for the Texas beef industry began in Dallas with Thaddeus S.C. Lowe’s carbon dioxide machines. These machines had originally been utilized to fill balloons he’d used for military purposes but were not used to create dry ice.


With the dry ice manufacture in place, Lowe designed a refrigerated ship in 1868 called the William Tabor. Lowe was in competition with Henry Peyton Howard of San Antonio, whose steamship Agnes was fitted with a cold-storage room twenty-five by fifty feet in size. The men planned to ship frozen beef to New Orleans. When they arrived, the William Tabor drew too much water to dock in the New Orleans harbor, so Agnes won the prize. In July, Howard threw a huge party at the St. Charles Hotel, where he served his transported beef to his guests. 


Because Lowe failed to accomplish his goal, he didn’t receive proper credit for his attempt. However, his “singular accomplishment” of a refrigerated ship established the compressor process of refrigeration used in ships delivering frozen beef to New York and Europe. Carbon dioxide, after all, is nontoxic and inflammable. It was used as a refrigerant by the military well into the Twentieth Century. 


Daniel Livingston Holden came back into the picture between 1871 and 1881, when the first mechanically refrigerated abattoir in America was “planned, established, and successfully operated” in Fulton, Texas. This was designed for the express purpose of chilling and curing beef for transport to Liverpool, England, along with other destinations across the pond. Holden, his brother Eldridge, and Eldridge’s father-in-law George W. Fulton took part in the development of this new process of beef packing and shipping. There were many further innovations in the refrigeration industry, mostly from Texas, but that’s the gist of the early history of the process.


Your character, depending on when they lived, could have benefitted from the transport of frozen beef from Texas, or even been involved in the process. Perhaps they worked at one of the refrigeration plants or in the abattoir itself. Maybe they were sailors aboard one of those two famous ships or had relatives who were. Refrigeration did exist in the Old West and your characters could easily have been aware of this fact.


Source: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/refrigeration


J.E.S. Hays