Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Some Questions for the Future

Post by Doris McCraw aka Angela Raines

Photo (c) Doris McCraw

We are getting closer to the middle of 2023. It is usually a time of reflection for me. I take stock of where I am in my writing, publishing, and marketing. 

In line with that concept, I would appreciate feedback on what you would like to read in my blog posts. As a student of Colorado and Women's History and pretty much an expert on Early Women Doctors in Colorado, which of these three topics would be the most useful to you?

Would you like more marketing information?

Photo (c ) Doris McCraw

Is there interest in joining together to create a series of short 'novels' that tie together on a theme, time frame, or event?

Where would you like to see Western Fictioneers go in the future? 

What can I do as I finish my time as President to help make sure this blog and the organization continue to be a vibrant community? Please know, it does take a village to make things happen. 

Your feedback will help me to craft the remainder of 2023. 

We are getting ready to announce the Peacemaker winners and I want to say, it was a banner year and judging was some of the hardest I've faced. I want to thank everyone who submitted their work. It tells me the genre of the Western is alive and well. We just need to make sure the rest of the world knows what we know, these stories are the stories of not only the past but are a glimpse into the lives we live now.

Thank you each and every one for a great first half of 2023.

Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.



Friday, May 19, 2023

Taking Charge of My Career

I've written a lot of books for a lot of publishers. I've been published by the biggest ones--Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan--and by some of the smaller ones. I like the advance money from the big ones, and I still get some nice royalties now and again for a young-adult quartet I wrote for S&S. But beyond that, there can be some frustrations when dealing with the big guys.

I've also been published by smaller houses, which are usually friendlier. And honestly, the bigger ones aren't interested in Western fiction anymore. Five Star folded up its tent, except for the occasional large-print book for library sales. Kensington hasn't said what'll happen there when Gary Goldstein finally retires, but I don't have high hopes. I wrote six novels in 18 months for Wolfpack Publishing, which--along with a very demanding day job and family responsibilities, wore me out. The best novel-publishing experience I've had lately was when your friends and mine, the wonderful Livia Reasoner and Cheryl Pierson at Sundown Press, published my Peacemaker-finalist novel Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta.

But I was itching to take matters into my own hands. Talking with a friend in the same boat--Howard Weinstein, whose wonderful historical Western Galloway's Gamble, a Peacemaker winner, was published by Five Star (which wanted a sequel, but then closed the door on him before he could finish it)--we decided to try something a little bit different. We have another batch of friends who run a writer's cooperative publishing outfit called Crazy 8 Press, where they mostly published science fiction, fantasy, and "New Pulp" adventure fiction. They had never published Westerns, but they're lovers of genre fiction, as are Howard and I. So we all decided to launch a new Western imprint through Crazy 8, and Silverado Press was born!

Silverado Press officially launches on May 30, which is the publication date for its debut title, my short-story collection Byrd's Luck & Other Western Stories.
The book contains my Peacemaker and Spur finalist story "Byrd's Luck," first published by the Western Fictioneers, and a sequel to that story, "Byrd's Law," that teams Byrd up with Cody Cavanaugh, the protagonist of my Wolfpack series. There are some other reprints, several of which have been published in anthologies from our fine organization, and some from other anthologies. Half of the stories are traditional Westerns and half are weird Westerns, a subgenre I've been associated with since the mid-1990s. The book's final story is a prose story based on a weird-Western comic book series I wrote called Desperadoes, which ran from 1997 to 2007.

It's kind of hybrid publishing, I guess--essentially self-publishing, but within the established infrastructure of Crazy 8. Everybody helps promote everybody else's work, in-house people handle book design and some of the marketing, but I get to make most of my own decisions and sink or swim on my own abilities. Howard's Galloway's Gamble 2 will be along in a couple of months, the sequel to Galloway's Gamble. After that, who knows? Silverado Press isn't just the two of us--anybody who's interested can submit a proposal to the Crazy 8 gang (Howard and I don't have editorial control over anything but our own work) and see if it flies. Ideally, we'll be another outlet for Western fiction, in a field that's been contracting faster than it's growing.

I'm indebted to the Western Fictioneers for jump-starting my moribund Western writing career when you published "Byrd's Luck" to such acclaim, and for the friendships I've found here. I wanted to be sure to get my somewhat-monthly blog post in this time, to ensure that you'd all see the news, and to invite you to join us at Silverado Press if it seems like something you're interested in. I don't know if we'll make any money...but if not, it won't be for lack of trying!

Monday, May 15, 2023

13th Annual Peacemaker Awards Finalists and Lifetime Achievement Peacemaker


Larry J. Martin



13th Annual Peacemaker Awards Finalists

For Western Novels and Stories Published in 2022






THE END OF NOWHERE, Patrick Dearen (Five Star) 

ALL MY SINS REMEMBERED, Rod Miller (Five Star)

FALLEN CHILD, Kathleen Morris (Dunraven Press)

COLDWATER RANGE, John D. Nesbitt (Five Star)

BONE NECKLACE, Julia Sullivan (Brandylane Publishing Inc.)




RAWHIDE JAKE, J.D. Arnold (Five Star)

A MAN CALLED JUSTICE, John Deacon (Self-Published)

BONE NECKLACE, Julia Sullivan (Brandylane Publishing Inc.)




“No Quarter”, Kathleen O’Neal Gear (REBEL HEARTS, Wolfpack Publishing)

“On the Trail With Packer”, Ben Goheen (SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES, Oghma Creative Media)

“Run For Ruby Camp”, Vonn McKee (OVER WESTERN TRAILS, Western Fictioneers)

“Buckskin Trail”, John D. Nesbitt (Speaking Volumes)

“Irish Kelly and the Heartbreak Kid”, Sharon Sala (REBEL HEARTS, Wolfpack Publishing)




Winners will be announced June 15, 2023 on the WF website ( and on this blog.


Western Fictioneers (WF) was formed in 2010 by professional Western writers, to preserve, honor, and promote traditional Western writing in the 21st century. Entries were accepted in both print and electronic forms.


The Peacemaker Awards are given annually. Submissions for the Peacemaker Awards for books and stories published in 2023 will be open in July, 2023. Submission guidelines will be posted on the WF website. For more information about Western Fictioneers (WF) please visit:


Western Fictioneers would like to thank the judges and James Reasoner for being Awards Chair and for the excellent job they have done.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

On This Day in the Old West: May 12

May 12 was a little sparse as an anniversary date for the 1800s, but in 1901, President William McKinley paid an historic visit to San Francisco. From the time California joined the Union until the 1920 census, San Francisco was the largest and most prominent city on the West Coast. Of course, this encouraged US Presidents to make the cross-country trip from Washington, DC to court the local power brokers and seek votes and influence. McKinley wasn’t’ the first president to make the trip—that was Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880—but his visit garnered a good deal of support for the president.

A Stereoscope of a young lady photographing the President


The original plan was that the president’s grand six-week “victory lap” around the country to celebrate his second term would begin in Washington at the end of April, head west by the southern route, and return home via the Northwest. San Francisco on the Pacific Coast and Buffalo on the East were to be the highlights of the trip. Unfortunately, by the second week of May, the First Lady took ill, and the official touring party of 43 (cabinet members, executive staff, friends, servants, and newspapermen) called a halt in the City by the Bay. For days, Ida McKinley hovered between life and death. When she finally regained consciousness, the entire city breathed a sigh of relief.


The presidential itinerary was, of course, delayed during Mrs. McKinley’s illness. Events were rescheduled for May 19 through the 24th, and the presidential party returned to the East Coast on May 25th. The highlight of his visit, apparently, was his visit to the Presidio for the dedication of General Hospital (later renamed Letterman Hospital). McKinley addressed veterans and patients from the Philippines on his visit. The San Francisco Call gave this account of the event:


President McKinley's visit to the Presidio yesterday will live long in the memory of the gallant soldiers who were greeted by the commander in chief. Three-thousand strong, the recently returned volunteers from the Philippines listened to stirring words from the head of the nation, while the wan and wasted faces of the sick soldiers in the General Hospital brightened as the President passed through the wards and gave a kindly word to the men who lost their health in faraway jungles while fighting for the stars and stripes.

Thousands of citizens flocked to the Presidio yesterday morning to witness the ceremonies. The big parade ground facing the General Hospital, was the spot where the volunteer soldiers gathered to listen to the words of the President.

Suddenly the thunder of the guns told of the approach of the commander in chief and a tumult of applause greeted him as his carriage and escort swept past thousands of sightseers. The band struck up "Hail to the Chief" as the President's carriage drew up at the reviewing platform. As he walked along, the President glanced with pride at the 2000 stalwart men who stood rigidly at attention. The soldiers wore blue coats and trousers, brown leggings and brown slouch hats and carried no arms. As the President advanced to the front of the platform, the buglers sounded the salute and the cheers of the soldiers rent the air in mighty volume. The President raised his hand in salute, and when the cheering subsided addressed the men in terms of glowing praise.

"I count myself very fortunate to have been in the city of San Francisco upon the arrival of your two regiments. I join with my fellow citizen of this city in giving you a welcome home, and at the same time express not only my own thanks as President of the United States but the gratitude of the American people for the splendid service you have rendered to your country in the past two years. Our hearts have been with you, our hopes have been with you; and we have realized in large measure peace as the result of the splendid work you performed in the Philippine Islands."

If your character was in San Francisco in 1901, they could have been in the crowd during one of McKinley’s appearances or speeches. They may even have voted for the man in the recent election.

J.E.S. Hays

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Classic Country Ballads of Lost Love – Cross the Brazos at Waco #westernfictioneers #countryballads #classiccountrymusic

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s listening to the country music of that era. I stuck with country music through the 70s. I made it into the 80s but, by the late 80s, country music as I knew and loved was headed in a direction that, with a few exceptions, I wasn’t interested going. So I didn’t. (Get off my lawn.)

The old west gunfighter and trail ballads, drinking songs, and revenge songs had an influence on me that was, and still is, every bit as strong as the impact Louis L’Amour’s books left with me. My lifelong interest, perhaps fascination bordering on obsession, with everything old west—truth, legends, and myths alike—have roots in those old cowboy and country songs.

I’m inviting you to read along with me this year as I post one or two nostalgic-for-me country ballads on the first Wednesday of each month. I will share a snippet of trivia about each song along with a YouTube video.

Each month, I will include a link back to the previous month’s article as reference to those songs. The common thread that runs among the songs I’ve chosen for this musical memory lane excursion is tragic lost love.

January – Marty Robbins – El Paso and Feleena
February – Faron Young – TheYellow Bandana
March – Willie Nelson and Ray Charles – Seven Spanish Angels
April – Marty Robbins – San Angelo

This month’s song is Cross the Brazos at Waco by Billy Walker.

Cross the Brazos at Waco was first recorded (May 1964) and released by Billy Walker (August 1964). The song was written by Kay Arnold, who also wrote his song Matamoros.

Here we have a story of an outlaw who chooses to put his guns away for the love of Carmela. 

His reputation as El Bandito had been too much for her, and she’d walked away from him. 

Time passed. Love endured. An opportunity to reunite came along when someone saw Carmela in San Antone, and that someone got that message to the outlaw. He interpreted her presence there as a sign that she wanted to see him. He sent a return message for Carmela to meet him on the banks of the Brazos River that very night. 

He rode toward San Antone with one eye on the trail ahead and one eye on the trail behind. He was guardedly hopeful that posse wouldn’t find him, but he’s a realist. He’s watching out for pursuit.

Ride hard and I’ll make it by dawn
Cross the Brazos at Waco
I’ll walk straight into old San Antone

He made it to the banks of the Brazos, saw Carmela waiting for him, and he dropped his gun belt to the ground to show his love for her and that he’d changed his outlawing ways. 

But, tragically, a Texas Ranger and a posse were waiting for him.

Then the night came alive with gun fire

He died in Carmela’s arms. His last words were, ironically... 

Cross the Brazos at Waco
I’m safe when I reach San Antone

I’m safe when I reach San Antone


Cross the Brazos at Waco, San Angelo, and Seven Spanish Angels have a common thread of the man being hunted and then killed by Texas Rangers or a posse.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
Lasterday Stories - writing through history one romance upon a time