Thursday, March 31, 2011

Berkley's westerns

When Dorchester announced it would cease publishing printed books, I was really
surprised. A genre publisher with a big footprint—at least in the stores and I
libraries I frequent—was going to cease business as usual and go the eBook route

For me, that meant I wasn’t going to see a lot—or any—of the pulp authors back
in print that Dorchester—under its Leisure Books imprint—had published the past
few years, Max Brand (Frederick Faust) in particular. While Brand had never
gone completely out of print, Leisure was instrumental—greatly by the work of
Jon Tuska—in returning names like T.T. Flynn, Robert Horton, Dan Cushman, Dane
Coolidge, and others to the bookshelves.

Sure enough, as I write this, six months after Dorchester ended its print runs,
none of their products are to be found on the retail shelves in my community.
What I find are westerns from Pinnacle/Kensington (primarily the William
Johnstone series), Bantam (really, only Louis L’Amour), and Signet (a number of
authors). I’m not sure if HarperCollins is still publishing westerns—I don’t
recall seeing any recently.

The local WalMarts carry very few westerns, only the Johnstone titles. Kroger
carries Johnstone and the Signets (mostly Ralph Cotton and the ghosted Ralph
Comptons), and a handful of L’Amour titles. The local chain bookstores carry
these same authors, for the most part, although the selection seems to end with
author names starting with L (for L’Amour), because there aren’t any other
titles on the shelves after the string of Bantam L’Amours, unless the store
carries the Trailsman series.

But I noticed recently that I rarely if ever saw any westerns from Berkley on
the shelves—and I know they’re publishing westerns, because James Reasoner just
had a new book published by that house.

So I went searching. Apparently no one in town is selling Berkley westerns. I
have to order them online. (Okay, I take that back--the stores are selling the westerns written by Robert B. Parker and published by Berkley. But he's the only Berkley western writer I saw.)

The local lack of availability seems odd to me, because Berkley is part of a big
combine, Penguin Books.

So I decided to hunt down some Berkley westerns and read a few. Upcoming posts
will take a look at those books.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bill Crider reviews Pretty Polly

Another Texas gentleman, Bill Crider, has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly at his blog, Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine.

Bill is an accomplished author in the crime and western genres. He writes the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series. He's written some excellent westerns: Two of my favorites are Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante, both about a female gun-for-hire--the story is tough and action-filled, and the prose thrums with that masculine energy that marked the best Gold Medal westerns of the 1950s and '60s.

Bill also is one member of the triumvirate of authors behind the new Rancho Diablo series of novels. The other two writers are James Reasoner and Mel Odom, and the three are penning these western tales under the shared pseudonymn of Colby Jackson. An interview with Bill about the series is available at the Pulp Serenade blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review of Pretty Polly

Texas gentleman James Reasoner has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly over at his blog, Rough Edges.

James is a fine writer with more than 200 books to his credit, and more to come. Everything I've read by him has been entertaining. One of my favorites is Under Outlaw Flags, which combines the western with World War I action.

He has two recent releases:

One is a western, Rancho Diablo #2: Hangrope Law, under the pseudonym Colby Jackson. Jackson is a name shared by three writers--Mel Odom, Bill Crider, and James--who are writing a western series they've created under a single nom de sixshooter. They are releasing the Rancho Diablo series as eBooks for the Kindle and the Nook.

His second new release is from Berkley, Redemption, Kansas. It's available both as a paperback and an eBook. Troy D. Smith has a nice review of Redemption, Kansas, over at the Western Fictioneers blog.

James' review of Pretty Polly suggests that the villain, Griswold Bear (aka Grizzly or Grisly, depending on whom your talking to), should make a return appearance. I have to admit I hadn't thought about that. I fully expect Sheriff Shoat to show up in another story, but maybe Griswold also deserves another fictional outing. I'll have to let that percolate in the brain pan. It's worth considering.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pretty Polly now available for the Kindle

Now available as a Kindle eBook from Amazon!

Great entertainment value!

About Pretty Polly: Griswold Bear--a.k.a. Grizzly (or Grisly, depending on who's talking) Bear--a vicious outlaw, enters the town of Wicket with the intention of terrorizing the inhabitants and filling his saddlebags with money and whiskey. However, his plans take a sharp turn into unexpected territory when he meets the Sheriff of Wicket, who offers the marauder a deal. You can get it by clicking here.

Praise for Pretty Polly in its print edition (Pretty Polly first appeared in Where Legends Ride):
"For outright horsey humor there is Hard Times For The Pecos Kid by Les Pierce and Pretty Polly by Duane Spurlock. Both could have been made into movies with James Garner, they have the same light, hilarious flare to them." -- Ron Fortier, Pulp Fiction Reviews

Many thanks to Anthony Schiavino for his critiques of my cover designs as they were in progress. Anthony is the creator and scripter for the Sgt. Zero comic. He's a professional designer--he's the brains behind Episodes from the Zero Hour, for which I provided interior illustrations for Volume 3, Mac Samson: Secrets of the Lost City--and spent some time at Tor Books designing covers.