Friday, July 4, 2014

Remembering Jory Sherman

Troy D. Smith

Last Saturday evening I arrived at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to visit my daughter and her family for a few days. Within minutes of checking into my hotel, I received some bad news- my friend Jory Sherman had passed from this mortal coil. It did not come as a surprise- Jory had been wrestling with serious health issues for years, and just a few days earlier his son had announced Jory was refusing to take anymore treatments and was just coming home to spend the time he had remaining him with his family. Nonetheless, I was struck hard by the news; I thought the world of Jory.

He was such a fascinating guy. Not only was he a novelist (and Pulitzer nominee), he was also an accomplished artist and poet. It showed in his work, too; every piece of prose he did was also a painting, also a poem, all at once. I loved his stories, it seemed that in his career he had known virtually everybody. Of particular interest was his long friendship with the poet Charles Bukowski- beginning in the 1950s at the height of the beat poetry movement in San Francisco. Jory wrote a memoir about that friendship that I highly recommend:

In the late 1990s I was just getting started as a writer in the western genre, having been at it then for four or five years. There was an online magazine edited by Taylor Fogerty called American Western that published several of my short stories and poems, and gave me some much-welcome attention when I was first nominated for a Spur in 1998. Taylor had a sort of message board, where western fans could actually interact with some of their favorite authors; I was technically in the latter category, but I was a star-struck fan when I got to actually communicate with so many people whose work I had loved for years, including Jory Sherman. The friendship between the authors who participated in that little venture outlived the online magazine itself, and morphed into an informal group of writers that we called The Campfire, who were in near-constant communication with one another about writing, the genre, and just life in general, and continued to do so for years. We started as about ten or twelve writers who'd been featured regularly at American Western, and our number gradually doubled. Eventually, in 2010, The Campfire was the nucleus for the formation of a new writers' organization, Western Fictioneers. Jory played a large role in the discussions that arose in planning that organization (which has, since then, become quite a success.) In fact, in an email on March 23, 2010, Jory recommended the name "Western Fictioneers" (and, in a reply, Bob Randisi -who had suggested forming the organization -recommended we call our award "The Peacemaker.") In the last couple of years Jory has received the lifetime achievement award from both Western Fictioneers and Western Writers of America.

That group of writers known as The Campfire has been a unique group. Many of its members knew one another personally through membership in WWA, but many did not. (We lost another original member of that group, Ellen Recknor, in February of this year.) I have met most of those original Campfiristas (as we called ourselves) "in the flesh" in the intervening years...but I never have been in Jory Sherman's physical presence. Nonetheless, he and several others I have not actually met "IRL" have for years been on my list of close personal friends. I have one story in particular about Jory that demonstrates what kind of person he was, and why he has meant so much to me (aside from the fact that I love his work.)

About ten years ago I was going through a very painful divorce. Among the various things I lost (and by no means at the top of the list) was my computer. I was struggling to provide for my then 12-yr-old daughter and myself, and times were very hard. The only way I could even check my email was at the public library. Jory asked why I had been so scarce lately, and I told him my situation. I few days later I got a package. He had sent me a laptop and a printer, and a message that said "There go your excuses, now get to work." He refused to let me pay him for the stuff when I had the money later, and refused to let me return them. He insisted that, instead, I give them to some needy writer who needed them, which is what I did. He also sent a copy of his newest book- I have several autographed and inscribed Jory Sherman books, but that one has a special place on my shelf and in my heart.

I used that laptop to write my blues mystery novel Cross Road Blues.

Only a few days before Jory passed on, I had finished editing his chapter in our most recent Wolf Creek book STAND PROUD...I wrote the final chapter, and had his character Roman Hatchett and mine, Seminole scout Charley Blackfeather, share a quiet moment after the climactic shootout to talk about courage and the importance of having a big heart and trying to make the world a better place. Because Jory had those things, and imparted them to you by the osmosis of his words, and the world is a better place for having held him.

I will close with a link to Jory's blog, and an especially evocative piece...

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Schoolboy's War: A WWII Memoir

Ebenezer Press is delighted to announce the release of A Schoolboy's War by Derek Couturas. It is a touching memoir about the British home front in WWII, through the point of view of a little boy. (Note: if you enjoy the BBC series Foyle's War you'll love this.) Here are some readers' comments about the book:

A School Boy's War is an insightful, heartfelt and well-crafted tale of a young boy, acutely aware and blissfully ignorant of the dangerous world he and his family struggle to survive. Funny and heartbreaking and written in a voice as powerful as Frank McCourt himself. 
- Erin Holroyd, Literary Teacher, Journalist, Staff Writer. 

A first person history of a young boy in England during WWII ('39-'45)… Couturas takes you with him, beside him as bombs fall and families' lives are being torn apart. 
- David Gregory, Poet, Actor, Radio Personality. 

Derek Couturas whisked me away and regaled me with his poignant memories, his understandable fears, and his enthralling adventures as he watched history unravel before him. 
-Pamela Walton, Freelance/Staff Writer, Journalist and author of Life Lessons: Book One. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Give yourself a Valentine treat...

Try out one of these great new releases to get in the Valentine's Day swing of things!


Presented by the Foxleaf Authors Workshop

A grab-bag of Valentine-themed stories, essays, and poems, with several genres represented -standard romance plus sci-fi, fantasy and horror!

Featuring the works of:

Troy D. Smith
Vicki Cypcar
Cindie Miller
Ralph Bowden
Brooke Kennedy & Briana Gaitan
Patricia Gentry
Beth Nelson
Kaylee Rae
Eric G. Bowens
Carol Gazlay
Linda Ann Siggelko



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Western Trail Blazer -new releases

Troy D. Smith

We're trying to start 2014 off right over at Western Trail Blazer. In our first month of WTB's new era, we've released three new anthologies, two of them the first installments of what we hope to be regular series. We've also released seven ebook shorts -two of them were in the final days of 2013 and we mentioned them last month, but we thought they should be included in this first official monthly list of new releases as well. The two new stories by Frank Roderus, in particular, have been tearing up the chart.

TWILIGHT OF THE GUN consists mostly of stories already available from WTB as singles (though not all of them)... this is our way of re-introducing WTB, and showcasing several of our regular authors.

LADIES LOVE OUTLAWS is the first of many western romance anthologies.

WESTERN TALES! is more than a single anthology; it is going to be a regular series, each with five western short stories. I view it as a digital echo of great magazines of the past like Louis L'Amour Western Magazine, which is where I got my start. We've tried to capture some of that old, exciting pulp feel in our covers.

They're all available right now- grab one today!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

FIGHT CARD: hardboiled boxing stories, for a good cause

The folks who produce the popular FIGHT CARD series- featuring short stories about the sweet science of pugilism, set in the 1930s and 1940s- have released the first in a new series which will all be for charity. Some will be for medical needs of writers, others for literacy campaigns. The first, IRON HEAD AND OTHER STORIES, is to benefit acclaimed author Jory Sherman, who is facing some severe health crises. Jory has a story -the lead one, in fact, "Iron Head"- as do several other authors. Including yours truly. My story is called "Go for Broke," and is about the prejudice a Japanese-American combat veteran-turned-boxer faces when he comes home from World War II.

Check it out! You can get it HERE.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Yesterday in this space I wrote of how my wife Robin and I have taken over ownership of the publisher Western Trail Blazer, which had published a lot of my work in recent years, and were issuing a call for submissions -for traditional westerns, western romance, western horror, steampunk, western paranormal, western mystery, and more. You can read that post HERE if you missed it (or just scroll down.)

But there is more. A few months ago we established our own CANE HOLLOW PRESS, of which Western Trail Blazer is now an imprint. We've already received a lot of questions about other genres, so I thought I'd better let you all know what other publishing opportunities we have.

Here are our other imprints. Within each of these we will publish short stories, novellas and full-length books. In most cases the latter will also be made available in print.

This is our "mothership." Here we will offer general fiction and nonfiction as we see fit, sometimes with a more literary bent, as well as poetry.

RAVENFLIGHT PRESS will feature science fiction and fantasy. One example would be THIS NOVEL by my friend David Allen and me:

WINDIGO BOOKS will offer horror fiction. And by horror I mean tales of terror, no sparkly daytime vampires allowed. Like this non-sparkly vampire short story:

CRIMINAL INTENT PRESS will offer tales of crime and mystery. Like stories about my 1950s blues detective Roy Carpenter.

EBENEZER PRESS, as detailed HERE, is an inspirational imprint. Often that will denote a religious/spiritual element, though not always from the same perspectives. In other cases it will involve people's struggles, defeats and victories... as the word "ebenezer" means in a biblical context, "This far I have come with God's help." Our first title is a collection of faith-affirming essays by Pamela Walton:

You'll notice most of these works -so far -are by me (hey, ya gotta start somewhere.) We are looking to grow them all, though, and are thus inviting submissions to . Bear in mind, though- we are a publisher, not a printing service. That means we will accept manuscripts that fit into our vision, and are professionally done.

Please email us if you have any questions, or think you might have something that will fit our needs.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


My wife Robin and I have assumed the reins at Western Trail Blazer, which has been one of the success stories of the ebook age. And we are looking to expand.

We plan to release several series of anthologies, each one 25-to-30,000 words, and then release each individual story from those anthologies as an ebook single. If you would like to submit a new story, or a previously published one to which that you've retained the rights, send 'em on! Here are the series titles:

WESTERN TALES- just what it says. Traditional westerns, though some could have contemporary settings.

LADIES LOVE OUTLAWS-  western romance. (we may also do other variations- LAWMEN LOVE LADIES, for instance.)

TERROR IN THE WEST- western horror stories.

PARANORMAL PLAINS- for those "softer" supernatural stories.


THE MOUNTAIN MEN- tales of the fur trappers, especially but not limited to those in the Rockies.

KILLING BRAND- mysteries set in the American West.

REQUIREMENTS: stories must be a minimum of 4,000 words. If you have novels or novellas, those are welcome as well. Send them to and put the series you are submitting to in the subject line of the email. 

ROYALTIES: If your story is accepted and published, you will receive 70% of actual royalties (after distributors' fees) for each 99 cent short story ebook, and receive an equal share of 70% with the other authors included in each anthology. Visit our website at for other such details.

DEADLINE:  Since these are going to be series of anthologies, there's no real deadline. For example, as soon as we accept enough western horror stories to fill a 30k volume, they will be released as TERROR IN THE WEST vol. 1, and the next western horror stories we get (and accept) will go into TERROR IN THE WEST vol. 2, and so on.