Post by Doris McCraw - aka Angela Raines
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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.
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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.
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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.
As usual, I agree with you, Doris. I really would like to enter the Peacemaker Awards, but was not sure how my western historical romances would be viewed. I've been called "a cross between Janet Oke and Louis L'Amour" and that thrills me. My books are romances, but I make every effort to be accurate to the time period of the book. I always enjoy your blogs!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Caroline. Your thoughts are important on this subject.Delete
My thoughts about the Peacemaker is, a good story is a good story whether it has romance or not. Please consider the idea of submitting. Doris
I completely agree, Doris. Especially regarding inclusivity and sharing the successes of our peers.ReplyDelete
My only concern for our genre is that so many of us have entered the "arthritic years". For that reason, as you know, I set a goal this year of finding and mentoring a young writer to carry the torch to a new generation.
I'm pleased to say, that I found a talented 23-year-old writer with an interest in our genre to mentor. Her name is Megan McCain and I expect you'll be hearing from her as she progresses. I hope all our members will wish me well in this endeavor and hope many of you will take up the challenge to find your own young writer to mentor. It really is a joy.
Dennis Doty - Vice President, Western Fictioneers.
Dennis, I love your taking on the mentoring of young writers. The support you offer is invaluable. It is a project I've considered doing here. Now may be the time.Delete
I do believe that which we share only grows. Thank you for helping to keep the stories alive. Doris
The definition of western vs. another genre name can be confusing to new writers. And if it confuses the writer, it's going to confuse a reader too.ReplyDelete
I went to a writer's conference once & pitched an idea for a western I had. In essence, his reply was, "that's not a western, that's historical fiction." It may sound silly but that raised my hackles--having been born & raised watching westerns and reading all the Zane Grey I could get my hands on, my thought was 'of COURSE it's a western!" Humph! I find the 'historical fiction' label too generic and widespread for my taste. When I hear the term western I'm thinking "set in the American west in the 19th century." That offers a writer a lot of leeway with a multitude of story ideas. A chance for exploration of many different people and groups who made up the settling of the American west--the stories that can be told are endless. It isn't just shoot 'em ups, and romances are just one type of relationship that can be explored in a story. There are friendships, families, people thrown together at a particular moment, etc.
But then when it comes time to publish and list your book--you're faced with that same confusion. How do you categorize your book? I'm not yet published and I haven't investigated closely, but I assume most people list under both historical fiction and western to maximize reach.
All I do know for sure is that I will always need westerns because I always want to be able to read about a time when there were new horizons to develop and explore in the United States--about a time when you could swing your arm out and not hit another person because you had plenty of space to do so. 8-)
BK, well said. We may never get a consensus, but we can make some noise. It is through discussion and marketing we can hopefully bring more understanding of this amazing genre.Delete
Best to you on this author journey and the stories you will tell. Doris
Caroline - all you have to do is submit an entry. I entered a self-pubed novel and a published short-story. I was a finalist for the short. Keep submitting.ReplyDelete
I agree that we need to start paying more attention to the romance genre as it pertains to the Western Era. I, myself, don't write many romance novels, but all my stories have some sort of romantic tension in them somewhere...ReplyDelete
I always smile, for I'm considered a romance writer, but other than the HEA, it's about time, place, connection, and how they play out in the story I tell.Delete
I appreciate all the insights that people are sharing. Gives me good food for thought. I thank you. Doris
Doris, I'm late to the party but I wanted to say thank you for this eloquent description of something I'm sure many of us have noticed through the years. I'm in complete agreement with you: Let's shout it to the rafters and be happy for one another's accomplishments, no matter the subgenre. There is room at the table for all of us, no matter which direction we take our western stories, because there are readers out there for everyone's writing. And we need to lift one another up and be encouragers. Thanks again for calling attention to this! Much appreciated!ReplyDelete
It is my pleasure, Cheryl. Sometimes my idea 'soapbox' just cries to get out.Delete
At the same time, I believe what I'm saying and want the authors of this organization and others to have the chance to tell their stories, to offer them the widest possible pool of readers. This can best be done by all of us sharing. I try to lead by example, but I do fall short sometimes.