Thursday 30 June 2011


'Man seeks beautiful woman for the journey of a life-time: I will lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help. Will you help me to die?'
Alice Mariani reads this on-line advert and begins a chain of events that has ended with her conviction for assisting a suicide.

Cate Austin is the probation officer assigned to the case. Her role is to determine, for the judge, a recommended sentence.

Alice insists that her story is one of misinterpreted love. Cate is, also, faced with the moral dilemma of the loophole between murder and euthenasia.

If only it was simple as that.

The book is not straightforward for as soon as the reader thinks that they know where it is leading, Ruth Dugdall throws a curve to keep you guessing.

Alice Mariani tells her story from the first person point of view while Cate's is in the third person. The flow of the narrative knits it all together. And then there is 'Smith' the man who placed the advert has a moment with his diary. Yet all the 'voices' are distinguishable and individual.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that has left a lasting impression on me. And I am impressed and I liked the touch where the reader finds out a little more about the fate of Rose Wilks who appeared in Ruth Dugdall's previous novel 'The Woman Before Me'.

Although this book is set in the English county of Suffolk, the story and the issues that it raises are universal. The characters are real and three dimensional - they walk among us.

'The Sacrificial Man' is a must read novel.

For a short time only this book, published by Legend Press, is available from Amazon for £4 - grab it while you can.

Monday 20 June 2011

SLAP BOOKLEATHER: A Western Site Worth A Visit

Just discovered this interesting site.
Western orientated with reviews of books, comics and movies as well as nostalgia on the age of TV westerns.

There is a link in the side panel or go to

Friday 17 June 2011


This 2009 western movie was written by singer/songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard and director Tiller Russell.
It boasts quite a cast list with Kris Kristofferson, Lizzie Caplan, Dwight Yoakham, Cote de Pablo and Scott Speedman.

The story is a good one. Juliette Flowers (Caplan) decides to bring her lover's, Ranson Pride (Speedman)body back to bury him at his mother's side. A thought that does not sit well with his shady father, Reverend Pride (Yoakham). Old friend Kris Kristofferson sends a couple of hired guns to stop Juliette who has enlisted the help of Ransom's brother Champ (Jon Foster).
Ransom's body is held for - er - ransom by a witch, Bruja (Cote de Pablo)who sends out her own minions to stop Juliette.
Along the way Juliette and Champ forge a relationship. They meet an array of characters who come to their aid. A dwarf weilding a pair of sawn down shotguns, Siamese twins and a portly, army sergeant.

With a good, strong cast and a storyline that should have put a good western into the mainstream, I should be rooting for it.
The constant flash one frame replays of the key gunfights, fast forward motion from day to night, and the jerky opening credits - all in all should contain a health warning for anyone likely to experience an epileptic fit. Much of the 78 minute running time is unwatchable. And there are other things like Ransom Pride's modern gun, the army sergeants motorcycle and sidecar, and the Reverend's motor car (ok, this I can take as steam cars existed back then but still looked out of place).

In one breath this movie goes from good to bad and made ugly by the cinematography.

Wednesday 15 June 2011


The last article 'Into The Void' was about the impersonal world of the e-book. No first editions. No more having to attend book signings. In fact no face to face interaction with the reading public.
In response BHW writer Chap O'Keefe, who has just released a new e-book version of 'The Sheriff And The Widow', had the following to say:

Your post "A Kind of Void" last Sunday covered the aesthetic side of the ebooks v. print books debate perfectly for me. The commercial side, of course, is something else. Ebooks will be available for ever; no more going out of print ... or so we are told. And no longer will publishers' employees be "gatekeepers", determining what should or should not be read. Authors/would-be authors can easily put their books before the public, who will become their own gatekeepers. But how will the public find what it wants, and what it collectively considers worth buying, when the choice already runs into tens of thousands of titles? The answer so far seems to be that they will be led like sheep through the Internet fields of social networking by authors who spend as much time on marketing as they do on writing books. Some ebook authors have no talent or liking for such promotion. Others are very good at it, and it appears to ensure their by no means exceptional books top various sales charts. Will writing genre fiction return to mild profitability? Perhaps, for the few successful self-promoters. The experts in blogging, twittering and facebooking will lead their followers like pied pipers to the right places in the ebook retailers' ever-lengthening lists. For authors who choose to rely on a professional publisher, I'm not so sure. The other day I was approached with an invitation by a UK publisher planning a new Western line (ebook and print). Their offer was 25% of the 70% or 50% of the download price that they would receive from a retailer (e.g. Amazon). Authors can, of course, collect the full 70% for themselves alone, if they self-publish. But to do this effectively, they have to provide their own covers, formatting and promotion. It doesn't follow that someone who writes a good book can do all these things well, or vice versa. For an author, the ultimate question to a publisher launching into what has quickly become the fiercely competitive ebook scene is: "Does your company have the ability to sell four times more downloads than an author working on his own?" At this stage of the game, publishers can only answer that one speculatively. Can I add a brief plug to this? A couple of weeks ago I prepared a new cover and reissued my 1994 Black Horse western The Sheriff and the Widow as a 99c (69p) Kindle ebook. Two other O'Keefe titles are also available, all languishing somewhere up the Amazon where only typing the right enquiry into a search box will allow a reader to come across them.

Sunday 12 June 2011

A KIND OF VOID: The Impersonal World Of The e-Book

Two things happened recently that gave me pause for thought.
The first was one of those peculiar twists of fate where I discovered that I lived just seven miles from an old classmate. We had a brilliant reunion going through the school register of our mind and recalling the teachers. As he was leaving he caught sight of one of my bookcases and said the usual 'Oh! My God, I remember that.' Well, yeah it was one of those that went around the class.

The second was just sitting in the high street waiting for the wife. I had a bag of books and I took time out to read the back cover and the potted bio of the author.

On the other hand I had a couple of e-books but apart from a link to the authors themselves. I knew the writers but what about those that I've never met? There is something impersonal there. Holding a book, smelling either a newness or the warm scent of something well read, is missing from the download.

Now there are those who will offer and opposing arguement and this is not an anti arguement. It's just that the pro and anti lobby miss a fundamental point and that is that both print and download can co-exist. I think that it is essential.


I have books in a bookcase because I am a collector (and a hoarder).
Being a collector has an importance in the world of books. Where, then, can I find a first edition of Tony Masero's first novel 'The Riflemen'? In years to come it will be lost in the void - maybe, even forgotten. No one will remember that the author was the man who, as an artist, gave Edge his face or Tupelo Gold her sexuality. I know this but will the generations to come?
In a way electronic publishing is dismissing and disposing of the first edition as though such a thing has no place in the literary world.

Readers, like those who enthuse about music and movies live in a visual world. They need something that touches all the senses. Maybe, that is why kids today tend to turn to the video games where there is a kind of reality that they can identify with.

Without a balance between e-books and real books many authors will just disappear into a digital void.

Wednesday 8 June 2011


In 1949 the BBC made a serious attempt to bring a British western series to radio. This was the brainchild of Charles Chilton was would be instumental in creating 90 episodes spread over six series that ran from 1949 to 1953.
Using actual documents and diaries of the time Charles Chilton created a real world for Jeff Arnold (Paul Carpenter), the old timer Luke (Charles Irwin) and the daughter of the owner of the 6T6 Ranch, Mary,(Corrine Carr)and the dog 'Rustler' to inhabit.
The series covered the opening of the Chisholm Trail and the building of the Atcheson,Topeka and Santa Fe and the Union Pacific Railroads. Real characters turned up like Billy The Kid and Jesse James.
As a jazz musician himself, Charles Chilton knew the value of music and the series contained musical interludes.
In 1950 the Eagle comic approached the BBC for permission to create a comic strip version of 'Riders Of The Range'. Charles Chilton became involved with the stories for the strips and remained with there until the early sixties.
During the years of involvement with this series Charles Chilton became something of an authority on the history of the west. In 1961 he published a book called 'The Book Of The West' that won him the 1963 Western Heritage Award For Juvenile Books.
Unfortunately, none of the radio episodes exist today but I heard most of them when I was a child.
When the radio series of 'Riders Of The Range' ended in September 1953 Charles Chilton already had something new to take its place. He would take us forward to November, 1965 with a new hero, Jet Morgan, who would take us on a 'Journey Into Space'.

Monday 6 June 2011


After shooting his best friend Jesse Tripp is forced to go on the run.
Two years later Jesse escapes from an irate husband and climbs aboard a cattle truck. Events that set him on a reluctant return to his home in Wickett, Texas.
Here he learns that his father is dead and that he has a son by one of the servants. His brother has taken over the ranch which has grown in size and married Jesse's girlfriend Holly.
Jesse has to weigh up whether to find out what lay behind his father's death or just move on. However the law, in the shape of a devious sheriff Turgoose, makes his mind up for him.
Through all the twists and turns of this story where not all is as it seems Jesse Tripp comes close to death before unravelling family secrets.

Caleb Rand has written yet another good page turner full of characters and a plot that keeps the reader hooked.
Buzzard Point is published by Robert Hale's Black Horse Western brand and is due for publication on 30th June.

Sunday 5 June 2011



For many years James Arness thrilled western fans as Marshal Matt Dillon in the series 'Gunsmoke'. Sadly, on the 3rd June at the age of 88.
He will never be forgotten.


Yes, the Genesis singer/drummer is rumoured to be writing about the Battle Of The Alamo. He says that he has a connection to this part of Texas as he has been told that in a former life he was a Texan courier who survived the massacre.
Well, I don't know if that last bit is true but I seem to recall that in the movie the Texan courier was played by a singer - Frankie Avalon.


'Tis the season for Award ceremonies and the latest appears to be the Global e-Book Awards sponsored by Dan Poynter.
Though there seems to be a problem - there is no category for westerns.
Charles Whipple (aka Western writer Chuck Tyrrell) approached one of the men in charge, Joseph Dowdy, who said that no one had thought of a category but that he would go and talk to Dan about it. And, of course, there would have to be a panel of judges.
As long as there are companies committed to bringing the western out in e-book form like George G. Gilman's 'Edge:The Loner' and Chuck Tyrell's 'The Snake Den'; and Robert Hale who have re-published four Black Horse Western titles in e-book form - then there should be support for this category.
So check out and help make a case for the western.