Posts Tagged With: books

Will Rogers Born 134 years ago

On this day, the cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers, one of the most beloved entertainers of the early 20th century, is born on a ranch in Cherokee Indian territory.

The son of a respected mixed-blood Cherokee couple, William Penn Adair Rogers grew up riding and roping on the plains of Oklahoma. An indifferent student, he earned only average grades in school, but he was by no means the ill-educated common man that he later liked to pretend. He was, in fact, highly literate and well read. In 1898, he left his family ranch to work as a Texas cowboy, and then traveled to Argentina where he spent a few months as a gaucho. But Rogers discovered his real talent when he joined Texas Jack’s Wild West show in 1902 as a trick roper and rider under the stage name “The Cherokee Kid.” For all his skill with ropes and horses, Rogers soon realized that audiences most enjoyed his impromptu jokes and witty remarks. Eventually, Rogers began to focus on making humorous comments on world events and created a popular vaudeville act with which he traveled the country.

In 1919, Rogers’ first book, The Peace Conference, was published. In the 1920s, he achieved national fame with a series of movie appearances, radio shows, lecture tours, magazine articles, and regular newspapers columns. Amazingly prolific, Rogers eventually wrote seven books, an autobiography, almost 3,000 short commentaries called “daily telegrams,” more than 1,000 newspaper articles, and 58 magazine articles. Rogers’ warm, folksy manner and penetrating wit were hugely popular during the Depression, and his concern for the welfare of average folks was genuine. He contributed frequent charitable performances in support of the victims of floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes worldwide.


Will Rogers, photograph taken before 1900


Hollywood discovered Rogers in 1918, as Samuel Goldwyn gave him the title role in Laughing Bill Hyde. A three-year contract with Goldwyn, at triple the Broadway salary, moved Rogers west. He bought a ranch in Santa Monica and set up his own production company. While Rogers enjoyed film acting, his appearances in silent movies suffered from the obvious restrictions of silence—not the strongest medium for him, having gained his fame as a commentator on stage. It helped somewhat that he wrote a good many of the title cards appearing in his films. In 1923, he began a one-year stint for Hal Roach and made 12 pictures. Among the films he made for Roach in 1924 were three directed by Rob Wagner: Two Wagons Both Covered, Going to Congress and Our Congressman. He made two other feature silents and a travelogue series in 1927, and did not return to the screen until his time in the ‘talkies‘ began in 1929.

He made 48 silent movies, but with the arrival of sound in 1929 he became a top star in that medium. His first sound film, They Had to See Paris (1929), finally gave him the chance to exercise his verbal magic. He played a homespun farmer (State Fair) in 1933, an old-fashioned doctor (Dr. Bull) in 1933, a small town banker (David Harum ) in 1934, and a rustic politician (Judge Priest) in 1934. He was also in County Chairman (1935), Steamboat ‘Round the Bend (1935), and In Old Kentucky (1935). His favorite director was John Ford.

Rogers appeared in 21 feature films alongside such noted performers as Lew Ayres, Billie Burke, Richard Cromwell, Jane Darwell, Andy Devine, Janet Gaynor, Rochelle Hudson, Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Joel McCrea, Hattie McDaniel, Ray Milland, Maureen O’Sullivan, ZaSu Pitts, Dick Powell, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Mickey Rooney, and Peggy Wood. He was directed three times by John Ford. He appeared in three films with his friend Stepin Fetchit (aka Lincoln T. Perry): David Harum (1934), Judge Priest (1934) and The County Chairman (1935).[15]

With his voice becoming increasingly familiar to audiences, he was able to basically play himself, without normal makeup, in each film, managing to ad-lib and even work in his familiar commentaries on politics at times. The clean moral tone of his films led to various public schools taking their classes, during the school day, to attend special showings of some of them. His most unusual role may have been in the first talking version of Mark Twain‘s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His popularity soared to new heights with films including Young As You Feel, Judge Priest, and Life Begins at 40 with Richard Cromwell and Rochelle Hudson.

On August 15, 1935, Rogers was on a flight to Asia with the famous pilot Wiley Post when the craft developed engine troubles and crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. The crash killed both men. Rogers was only 55.

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Heroes and Antiheroes in Westerns (Guest Post By Mathew Pizzolato)

We all have our heroes, some mystical, others superheroes, but me it was the outlaws and lawmen of the Old West. As an adult I still have those heroes, and in having them it fuels me to write at my best. Today as Matthew Pizzolato launches his book release  for Outlaw, he stops by to tell us who his heroes are, and compares heroes to anti-heroes in westerns. Welcome Matthew, thanks for dropping by.

“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”
Ernest Hemingway

Western Author Matthew Pizzolato

I think that every child needs to have direction in life, something to emulate and admire and to strive to be.  Quite frankly, everyone needs heroes.  As a young man, I found my heroes by reading Westerns.

Mostly, I read Louis L’Amour but I partook of many others, from Max Brand and Zane Gray to Loren Estleman and Elmore Leonard and everything in between.  If it was a Western, I read it or watched it on the screen.  My heroes were Louis L’Amour, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and the characters they portrayed.

The earlier Westerns told stories of right and wrong and the heroes of the genre lived by a black and white code of good and evil.  There was no middle ground, and there is nothing wrong with that kind of story.  In fact, I prefer them because it’s what I grew up reading.

However, beginning mostly with the films of Clint Eastwood, a new type of character was introduced into the Western, the antihero.

While there are still similarities to the Western hero of old, there are some vast differences.  Antiheroes are flawed characters.  They are not perfect and don’t pretend to be, but they still possess heroic qualities.

Like the hero, the antihero possesses honor and loyalty, but may on occasion step outside moral boundaries that a hero cannot.  Sometimes their integrity may be called into question, but there is always a line that the antihero will not cross.

It is that aspect that opens areas of new storytelling for writers because instead of the moral unequivocalness of telling stories in black and white, the gray areas of morality can be explored.  I think that if writers want to create fresh and exciting material for readers, it’s going to be in that gray area and not rehashing the same stories that have already been told.

That is what I have tried to do with Wesley Quaid, the antihero protagonist of Outlaw.  He is a bank robber who has killed plenty of men and done some things he’s not proud of, but he is still a man of honor and loyalty.

Heroes provide examples of the kind of people we should strive to be even though we might not be able to.  As humans, we are inherently flawed and so perhaps we can identify more with the antihero.

Perhaps in the future, we should mix a fair amount of antiheroes into our Westerns.  We still need heroes to emulate because as humans we have to be able to strive toward something, but part of the joy of reading is the escapism it provides, so we need characters that we can identify with also.

Outlaw Book Link on Amazon:


Matthew Pizzolato is a member of Western Fictioneers. His fiction has been published in various online and print magazines. He writes a weekly NASCAR column for Insider Racing News and can be contacted via his personal website:

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OUTLAW Book Description:

The outlaw Wesley Quaid wants to put the past behind him and start his life anew in another place where no one has ever heard of him.  When a mysterious woman he once knew resurfaces, Wesley discovers that a man can’t run from his past anymore than he can run from the kind of man he has become.

To view or purchase Outlaw today visit

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My western inspiration

Growing up I was introduced to westerns on the silver screen, my late grandfather loved westerns, and would watch them regularly, which in most cases became a family night at my grandfather’s house ice cream sundae’s made by my grandmother, pop-corn or peanut brittle and good ole’ fashion horse-shit and gun smoke movie was a typical night at grandpa’s.

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My love for western writing didn’t really come until my mom brought home a book from a tag sale with the name Elmer Kelton on the cover, The Good Ole Boys. I was always told never judge a book by it’s cover, but when I got The Good Ole Boys, I flipped it over and read. “In Hewey Calloway’s world, his West Texas home of 1906, and the land of way of life that he loves are changing too quickly for his taste.” The way I had always felt an outsider looking in at the way life changed so rapidly around me. From then on The Good Ole Boys, became my favorite book, and Elmer Kelton my favorite author. I had to read more. Kids my age were collecting baseball cards, and comics, me I was collecting Elmer Kelton books.
Later I came to enjoy Louis L’Amour, and the Sackett’s, however, my personal favorite is Elmer Kelton. I have been told that my writing style is somewhat similar to his, although I take no credit from Mr. Kelton, as he was the greatest western author that ever lived, I do see some similarities in my western stories and that of the story of Hewey Calloway.

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Join me as I Romance the west with J.J. Devine

Today on J.J. Devine’s Blog, I show the romantic side of my western writing, and the romanticism that I have for the west.

The sun rises over the Rockies, and touches your face. You long for it, closing your eyes, you suck a deep breath of dusty, sandy air deep into your lungs, and for a moment it feels like heaven. You sit waiting patiently over crackling fire for the taste of hot and steaming coffee. When the fire extinguishes, you roll up your bedroll, and tuck it neatly into the rear of your saddle. You climb up and give your only friend a soft jab to his sides, forcing him to trot off over the rolling hills looking for a freedom not yet found………Read more at Defining J.J. Devine.weebly

Categories: Cowboy Code, Romance, Western, Writing, Writing Technique | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Shotgun Bo Rivers

With great pleasure I bring to you a fresh, clean, and exciting  look to Shotgun Bo Rivers, The Old West in the 21st century. This month marks my two year mark for being a self-published author and blogger, and this week my Ebooks are finally available for purchase and are in good format, which I have Mark Coker to thank for his wonderful Ebook Smashwords Style Guide.

I want to personally thank everyone that has guided, coached, helped, and supported me through the past two years, I can actually say I am still plugging away, I have a lot more to learn, and a whole lot more to offer the Western Genre community, readers and authors alike. I hope that those of you that have helped me in one way or another will still hang in there with me as I reach for the stars.

I also begin Dan Blanks, Build an Author Platform course this week and I am super excited. to get that under way.

Nonetheless without further ado, I Bring you Shotgun Bo Rivers, The Old West in the 21st century. be sure to visit my Facebook page for a special welcome link that I built just for you.

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What began my writing process(What truly made me want to write)

Many questions arise when people of my past realize what kind of person I have become, a writer, Why, and how, and truly what for?

I really began writing in 1993, during a troubling time in my life, I used my emotion in writing Poetry and Songs, and the feeling had always been there to explore many other things, at that point in my life, I just didn’t know how.

As the years have past I have picked up my journal, and written about good times, bad times, and where I have been and gone, and then I put it back down, to sit another year or so.

This all changed for me in 2009 when I lost my job to the economy this last time, I sat for many nights in front of my computer wondering where do I go from here. I had a journal with my poetry and songs collected over the years, and a half written chapter to a novel, that came to mind at one time or another, and a few short stories about rodeo life, this is about all I had left of the last 12 years, except for my wonderful wife and daughter.

So I began to research, how to publish a book, and I remembered a place that I submitted a poem to once, and received an award, they published books, but how?
For the most part the rest is history, and I am deep into my third book already, however, I still here the questions, what made you want to write?

It is simple for me, it is the story, the action and adventure all written in words to bring my reader to the edge of their seat and keep them lingering there, and grasping onto the page as if they were living the actual story, and I think if I can do that, then I have fulfilled what I sought out to accomplish thirteen months ago just sitting in my office with the sound of a piano echoing Lane’s Theme from the 8 seconds Soundtrack, and sipping on a hot cup of coffee freshly brewed at 2:30 in the AM.

Now I have your attention. I want you to sit back and enjoy, as I begin to tell you the journey I have taken over the last thirteen months.
At first it was only, and I was sort of restricted. I wasn’t sure where else to look, however one night as I was in the midst of attempting to publish the first edition of my poetry book, I stumbled upon a writers digest community and some other forums in which people just like me were trying to become authors or already were self-published authors, and they knew the game I was about to play. Working night and day to do the best I could on what I had I needed to cry out for “HELP”, and the answer came back within just a few days, I met several people that were established in the writing world. I used their advice to my fullest extent, and It was just two months later, that the second edition of my book was available at Createspace. I was off and running, with a good book in front of me,which I had published, written and marketed all on my own. Now my sales still are not that great and mostly I gave away more copies than I sold, but I am an Author now, and I was very happy with what I had accomplished.
I just had to keep going, and I started to have fun with my rodeo stories. I realized i didn’t have enough for my own book, so I thought, if I get my friends in on this, and put a small book of what a rodeo cowboy, or cowgirl goes through, or what their emotions are when they compete, then we would have a masterpiece, and we have done just that, at least I think so. We ran into a few minor glitches, but things are beginning to run smoothly and possibly the book will be available just after the holidays. I call it Merry Christmas 2. Laugh Out Loud.

Now underneath all of this was that half chapter of a western novel just sitting around, and at this point I am already doing it, it being an author, why not continue, so I have embarked on a journey back in time in the late 1800’s and well once I get back in the saddle in the next week or so, will probably be living in a ghost town outside of Garret Texas, living and breathing the desert sand, and living the life of Texas Ranger Laramie Taylor. Many times I have been stuck, my writing dwindled for a bit due to a six month treatment I had to have, but it is coming to and end, and i am just beginning to pick up a pen or my keyboard and begin again, the year is 1877.

If you were a Texas lawman, in this era, what would you do when a ruthless bunch of outlaws guns down your father, would you cross the line, or will you stay the coarse hoping that justice is someday done, the question that I have to answer in about 65,000 words, and doing so with an 1860 colt .44-caliber revolver, nickel-plated, with ivory handles, and CAPT John Taylor engraved on the side. Guts or glory Laramie will seek Vengeance I have felt it since the beginning. I hope you all agree. Thanks. Ritchie White

To view a portion of this novel visit my web page

I hope I answered the question why do I write, and if I haven’t in the above statements, well it is simple, I love stories, and the old west, and my child like imagination is still alive inside, and if I put history, the old west, words, wisdom, and imagination together, I can tell you a story, that will have you on the edge of your seat, and gripping the pages from the beginning of chapter 1 to the very end.

Categories: Western, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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