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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why Westerns for Younger Readers

We all keep hearing it.  "The Western is dead". "No one reads Westerns anymore, except for old folks."

Well, that just isn't true, although Johnny Depp and Disney have probably done more to kill off the Western movie with their truly awful Lone Ranger movie than a hundred bad books. It was a disaster at the box office, and deservedly so.

But, back to writing Westerns, especially for younger readers. Kids do still read, despite the distractions of computers, video games, organized sports, growing up too fast, and so on and so on. However, you have to write what kids want to read. It's especially hard to write stories that will interest boys. This is where the Western novel fills the bill perfectly. A good Western has plenty of action, which is the main thing boys look for. There's riding, fist fights, laughs, and of course shooting and gunfights, which boys weaned on shoot -'em -up video games eat up.  So you've already got something that will appeal to a lot of boys.

Then, you add in a suspenseful plot, usually make the hero, or one of them, a boy of fifteen or a bit younger, and toss that kid into the middle of the action. You sneak in some history, and the reader has a learning experience without even realizing it.

And that's another reason I write Westerns. Too much has been forgotten about the heritage of our own country. Everything nowadays is diversity, and respect for other cultures. That's all well and good, but in too many cases we've neglected, or even worse, made the people who settled the United States and Canada out to be the bad guys. Diversity has to include everyone, and that includes the people who settled our countries and made them great. So I write Westerns to help keep our heritage and history alive. If they're entertaining, and enjoyable to read, then I've done my job. I hope some of you agree with me that I have.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

PPB New Release: Lone Star Ranger Volume 2: A Ranger To Reckon With by James J. Griffin

We are giving away one free ecopy of James J. Griffin's A Ranger To Reckon With. You have to leave a comment for a chance to win.

Nate Stewart’s parents and older brother are brutally murdered by a gang of raiders on the Texas plains, and Nate is left for dead. But a company of Texas Rangers saves his life, and through a twist of fate, Nate proves himself as a provisional Ranger.  At fourteen years old, he’s too young to join the ranks of the Rangers just yet—but he’s not too young to seek out the men who killed his family!
From fighting with a knife to imbibing his first bottle of tequila, Nate learns some much-needed lessons in growing up. But when he and pal Hoot Harrison confront a gang of bank robbers, Nate is faced with self-doubt.

A bloody confrontation with the pale-eyed devil who leads the band of marauders comes unexpectedly—quickly, violently—and ends with the deaths of more innocent ranch hands in a raid eerily similar to the one that took Nate’s family. Only this time, Nate isn’t the green youngster he was before. He’s got a gun and he knows how to use it. He’s A RANGER TO RECKON WITH…

   Texas Ranger Captain Dave Quincy had recruited two new men, Larry Cannon and Lee Shelton.  After supper that evening, they were sitting by the slowly dying campfire, along with Jeb Rollins, having final cups of coffee and cigarettes before turning in for the night.
   “Jeb,” Lee said. “Those two boys who rode in earlier today. They seem awful young to be Rangers, especially that Nate kid.”
   “They’re both older’n they look,” Jeb answered. “Hoot’s been with us for quite a spell now. As for how Nate became part of the outfit, that’s quite a tale. And, he’s still a probationary Ranger.”
   Jeb took another swallow of his coffee, then a drag on his cigarette.
   “Well, don’t keep us waitin’,” Larry said. “Tell us about him.”
   “All right. We came upon Nate just after his family’s ranch was raided. His ma, pa, and older brother were all killed. Nate had been shot and left for dead. We found him in a root cellar. After we patched him up and buried his folks, we had to decide what to do with him. Bein’ as he had no family left in Texas, the only choice—or so we thought—was to send him back to live with relatives in Delaware, where his family’d come from. Somethin’ happened to change those plans, though.”
   “That’s pretty plain,” Lee said. “What was it?”
   “Nate decided he wanted to stay in Texas. We couldn’t figure out a way to do that. Then, as luck would have it, I ran across a bunch of rustlers the Rangers had been after for quite a spell. Mort Stevenson, and four others. Ended up havin’ a shootout with ’em. Carl Swan, the hombre who rode in with those boys today, took a hand. So did Nate. One of Stevenson’s men was about to plug me. Nate jumped on him and knocked him out. Saved me from a bullet in my guts. So, I figured he had enough sand in his craw that we could take him on as a camp helper. Cap’n Quincy put him on as a probationary Ranger instead. And that sure turned out to be the right decision.”
   “How so, Jeb?” Larry asked.
   “Nate wasn’t so certain he could cut it as a Ranger. Truthfully, neither was I. The boy was real green. Still is, in some ways. But he’s a real quick learner, and got plenty of guts to go with his smarts. Not long after he joined us, the same outfit who killed his folks ambushed us. They’re a right clever bunch. Sent a deputy who was in cahoots with ’em to start most of us on a wild goose chase. We rode straight into a bushwhackin’. And while we were lookin’ for ’em, some of the outfit attacked the men we left behind. One of those was Nate. The deputy had also remained in camp, supposedly because he was too worn out to ride with us. But he was with another part of the bunch. They intended to hit the camp and wipe out every man in it. However, Nate ruined their plans. He spotted what the deputy was up to, and warned the camp just before they were attacked. We did lose six men that night, four who were with the patrol and two in camp, but Nate kept ’em from killin’ everyone who stayed behind, while they were sleepin’. Got himself shot that night, but he healed up right quick. No sir, don’t you worry about Nate bein’ too young. That boy’s gonna be a Ranger to reckon with.” 

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