Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Clarence and Dudley, Christmas Angels First Class



If you're like me, the Christmas season doesn't seem complete without a viewing of the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life. I'm sure you know the story: George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a good man frustrated by life, is about to commit suicide when he is visited by an angel, Clarence (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George what life in the town of Bedford Falls would be like if George had never been born. George learns that he is rich indeed, because he has the love and respect of so many people. No one in my house can get through the movie with a dry eye.

BUT- I bet many of you have never seen another movie with similar themes, that was also released in 1947- The Bishop's Wife (though more of you may have seen the 1996 remake, The Preacher's Wife.) I've seen the original version two or three times, but this year I just happened to see it soon after seeing It's a Wonderful Life, and the two movies together have given me a lot to think about.




In The Bishop's Wife, David Niven plays Bishop Henry Brougham. The Bishop prays for help to get a new cathedral built -it is his dream project, but has encountered many snags. The answer to his prayer is a suave angel, Dudley, played by Cary Grant. To the Bishop's dismay, everyone seems to love Dudley more than they love him, even his wife Julia (Loretta Young). Dudley even visits the wealthy widow that has been hesitant to contribute to the bishop's project... the angel convinces her to make a huge donation, but not for a cathedral. Instead, she insists (at Dudley's suggestion) on giving the money to the poor. It seems that Dudley was not sent to help the bishop build his impressive cathedral -he was sent to teach him what is really important. Henry realizes that he must fight to win back his long-ignored wife's affection.



In some ways, this movie is almost the opposite of It's a Wonderful Life. George Bailey is a good man who doesn't realize how good he is, and how much he had meant to his town; he thinks he is a failure. He is visited by a rather bumbling angel, who shows him just how loved he is.



Henry Brougham is the opposite of George Bailey; he is arrogant and self-righteous. He is not really trying to build a cathedral for God, he is doing it for himself. He is sent a debonair angel, who basically shows him that he is an arsehole, and had better change his ways before he loses his family. The lesson is learned. Instead of learning, as George did, that he has been a good man all along, the bishop learns to become a good man- or at least find the good man dormant within him.



Ultimately, though, both angels bring the same message to the prayerful supplicants who summoned them.

You have so much to be grateful for.

You are so blessed.

Angels are envious of what you have.

The most important thing in life is giving to those in need... who are less fortunate than you. Praying doesn't bring you more physically -rather, God calls on you to give more. And then your non-physical blessings will grow.




All those messages are perfect for this season -and for every day. Next year, I highly recommend you watch them back-to-back and think on what Clarence and Dudley have to say.

Heck, there's no reason you have to wait for next year.


PS: Another thing the two films have in common- Robert Anderson, who plays young George Bailey and a singer in a choir that the angel Dudley works with.


 














Thursday, December 20, 2012

99 cent Christmas stories, and more

Jacquie Rogers is featuring several 99 cent books at her site on Dec. 20 and 21.... (if you're reading this after the 21st, several of the books are regularly 99 cents while some have been marked down to that price.)

She has collected them into several categories:


Christmas ebooks
Western ebooks
Fantasy ebooks

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lines of Blue and Gray, now in paperback

LINES OF BLUE AND GRAY: TALES OF THE CIVIL WAR is now available in paperback as well as an ebook...

"Short stories by Troy D. Smith, winner of the Spur and Peacemaker Awards

The American Civil War was by far the most dramatic time in U.S. history. No one could escape its influence who lived in America while it was fought; indeed, we can still not escape its influence today. It was a contest for the soul of the nation, to define who and what America was to be.

And that's a heck of a great setting for a story.

This volume is a collection of several Civil War short stories I've written over the years, as well as stand-alone excerpts from three novels. In some, the heroes are the Yankees and the villains are the Rebels-in others, vice versa.

It's all about perspective."

Paperback, $9.99- https://www.createspace.com/4094503
amazon, $2.99-  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AJSLHC8
smashwords, $2.99- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/264269




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Wolf Creek Christmas!

The third volume of Western Fictioneers' collaborative novel series is out now- Wolf Creek 3: Murder in Dogleg City!

"Dogleg City is what folks in Wolf Creek call the seedy part of town. Life is cheap there, and death is common. At first this murder seemed like any other –but the more Marshal Sam Gardner and his deputies learn about it, the more it seems this death will blow Wolf Creek wide open…"

The western lover in your life (even if it's you!) would surely appreciate finding paperback copies of the first three Wolf Creek volumes in their stocking.... I'm just sayin'.



Appearing as Ford Fargo in Book 3:

Chuck Tyrell
Phil Dunlap
Matthew P. Mayo
L. J. Washburn
Troy D. Smith
Jerry Guin

BUY IT IN PAPERBACK
BUY IT FOR KINDLE
BUY IT FOR NOOK


And in Book 2: Kiowa Vengeance-

Jackson Lowry
Bill Crider
Kerry Newcomb
Robert J. Randisi
Frank Roderus
Troy D. Smith


BUY IT IN PAPERBACK
BUY IT FOR KINDLE
BUY IT FOR NOOK


And Book 1, BLOODY TRAIL:

James Reasoner
L. J. Martin
Cheryl Pierson
Clay More
James J. Griffin
Troy D. Smith




BUY IT IN PAPERBACK
BUY IT FOR KINDLE
BUY IT FOR NOOK





Friday, December 7, 2012

Lines of Blue and Gray: Tales of the Civil War

 
 
The American Civil War was by far the most dramatic time in U.S. history. No one could escape its influence who lived in America while it was fought; indeed, we can still not escape its influence today. It was a contest for the soul of the nation, to define who and what America was to be.
And that’s a heck of a great setting for a story.

This volume is a collection of several Civil War short stories I’ve written over the years, as well as stand-alone excerpts from three novels. In some, the heroes are the Yankees and the villains are the Rebels—in others, vice versa.

It’s all about perspective.
 
Buy it on kindle HERE... available soon on other platforms.
 
 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Comes to Freedom Hill

This short story, originally published in Christmas Campfire Companion, is now available as an e-book short. It's one I'm very proud of.

It is a story of faith, hope, and love... and Christmas miracles.



Little Danny Jordan and his family joined a wagon train headed West after the Civil War... they were Exodusters, ex-slaves banded together to establish their own town, which they named Freedom Hill. But a greedy cattle baron wants the town gone, and threatens to bring an army to burn it down if the Exodusters aren't gone by Christmas. Danny prays for a miracle for his town, but especially for his pa -a Union veteran who is now the marshal of Freedom Hill...

BUY IT HERE for kindle...
Or check out the Smashwords edition HERE

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Hero for Christmas


I wanted to share with everyone the news that my friend Cheryl Pierson has released a new collection, A Hero for Christmas, that includes four of her previously published Christmas-themed short stories. Cheryl has several irons in the fire at any one time- she writes romance novels, traditional westerns, and is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is also a freelance editor.


I first met her when she edited a couple of my books for Western Trail Blazer, and have worked closely with her on the Wolf Creek series from Western Fictioneers. Like most guys, I'm not into the really mushy stuff that goes along with the romance story, though I have many friends who write in that genre and there are a lot of crossover fans between romance and westerns. Last year I decided to give Cheryl's story "Homecoming" a look, because it's a Civil War tale, I know what an excellent writer Cheryl is, and I had heard so many good things about it. And as it turned out, not only did I like the story, it is one of my favorite short stories I've read in the last couple of years. It's included in this collection.

Long story short- especially if you're into romance or family-oriented stories, but even if you're not -you should give this Christmas collection a look.

And, of course, I must also mention the two Christmas anthologies my work appears in this season. The first one is called Christmas Campfire Companion, and features my story "Christmas Comes to Freedom Hill," the tale of a group of ex-slaves trying to establish their own town in Kansas after the war. The second is called Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas, and includes my story "Bitter Mountain" -a heartwarming family tale of murder and zombies. Both volumes also include stories by some of the best western writers working today -and Six-Guns and Slay Bells has a story by the aforementioned Cheryl Pierson, "Keepers of Camelot," that is very, very good.

Any or all of the three books would make a great stocking stuffer for someone on your Christmas list. Each is available in both digital and paperback format.





Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leesia Champion's HIDDEN IN THE STORM- Paranormal Fun!

My friend Leesia Champion is a natural storyteller, and has a great knack for making her characters feel like real people, even when they're interacting with vampires, witches, and other beasties. You should give her new book, Hidden in the Storm, a look.


Check it out here:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wolf Creek- Book 2! Kiowa Vengeance

Wolf Creek: BOOK TWO

Kiowa Vengeance


Welcome to Wolf Creek.

Here you will find many of your favorite authors, working together as Ford Fargo to weave a complex and textured series of Old West adventures like no one has ever seen. Each author writes from the perspective of his or her own unique character, blended together into a single novel. In our latest adventure, Wolf Creek is threatened by marauding Kiowa warriors who seek to avenge the deaths of their comrades at the hands of buffalo hunters. While the town fortifies itself, and a cavalry detachment looks for the raiders, the stage from Wichita is attacked –leaving a handful of Wolf Creek citizens alone and on foot in hostile territory…

About the author: Beneath the mask, Ford Fargo is not one but a posse of America's leading western authors who have pooled their talents to create a series of rip-snortin', old fashioned sagebrush sagas. Saddle up. Read ‘em Cowboy! These are the legends of Wolf Creek.

Appearing as Ford Fargo in this installment:

Bill Crider, Jackson Lowry, Kerry Newcomb, Troy D. Smith, Frank Roderus, Robert J. Randisi.



Paperback- $8.99

kindle 2.99

NOOK 2.99

Friday, November 9, 2012

Barack Obama, Race in America, and the Significance of 2012



In recent months, a couple of studies have been released that I found very disturbing. One demonstrated that racial prejudice among white Americans has increased significantly since the 2008 election of Barack Obama; another reveals that white people today think they are victims of racism more than African Americans are.

I’ve been thinking about those numbers a lot lately, and what they might mean, and how they tie in to the election and re-election of Barack Obama.



I am going to begin this essay with a discussion of race in America, parts of which I have addressed in my blogs before (so this part may be familiar to some of you.)

CONSTRUCTING RACE

Colonial America was built around a racialized hierarchy, which was ultimately a hierarchy of power.
A hierarchy is a structure. If you wanted to rise to the top of that structure you had to be a WASP –a word that was pretty common when I was growing up in the 70s but isn’t heard that much anymore. WASP stands for “White Anglo Saxon Protestant.” (You could add the word “male” in there, too.) In other words, for most of American history, to be accepted at the highest levels of society you need to be descended from white English people.

As the “W” shows, that structure is racial as well as social. I demonstrate below a model of the racial hierarchy created in colonial America, which was the structure Southern culture was based on until the Civil War. Wealthy white planters were at the top of the structure, followed by artisans and craftsmen who would later be referred to as the middle class, then by a large number of poor whites. Below that is a thin layer –free blacks. There wasn’t a huge number of them. At the base of the structure were slaves- the foundation on which the whole culture was laid.
It was explained very succinctly to Massachusetts native John Quincy Adams by his colleague, South Carolinian John C. Calhoun (who would later serve as Vice-President to both Adams and Andrew Jackson) in 1820. As Adams reported, “After this meeting, I walked home with Calhoun, who said that the principles which I had avowed [that is, liberty and freedom]were just and noble: but that in the Southern country, whenever they were mentioned, they were always understood as applying only to white men.”


It was not in the best interests of the wealthy planters for poor whites and blacks to figure out they had anything in common –although in a lot of ways they had more in common with one another than with the other groups (These are the same tactics used in the 19th century to prevent blacks and whites from uniting in labor unions.) Therefore, a line of demarcation was introduced into the structure:


It was, of course, a color line. Since this is a power structure, and white is on top, you could also call it a whiteness line. The people at the very top could tell poor whites: “Hey, maybe you don’t have as much money as us, or education, or opportunity… but at least you’re on the right side of The Line- you’re white, just like us, and that means we’re on the same side… and, if nothing else, you’ll always know you’re better than the people on the bottom side of the line.” Hence, poor whites in the South –who could not afford slaves, and probably never would –went out and fought for the right of wealthy whites to own slaves. Even though slavery meant poor whites had very few job opportunities. (NOTE: in the mountainous Southern Appalachians, where cotton could not be grown and there were few slaves, most poor whites supported the Union.)

One way of demonstrating this is what I like to call “The Cookie Analogy.” Imagine Southern colonial culture as a plate of 10 cookies… with the planter class having 8 cookies, poor whites having one, and blacks having one. The Color Line is the Planter Class’s way of saying to the Poor White- “Hey, you better watch that black guy, I think he wants your cookie!” in order to create a false sense of camaraderie while also distracting the Poor White from thinking about the fact the Planter has almost all the cookies on the plate.


Another demonstration of how this works can be seen in the sit-com All in the Family. The character of Archie Bunker is a middle-aged, working class white man who is a) extremely bigoted and b)extremely upset about the ways the world he knows is rapidly changing. Archie grew up in an America where -even if he didn't have much going for him -at least he was better than those people. That position of security -being on the WASP team -gave him an innate sense of privilege which the socially progressive movements of the 60s and 70s threatened.

In essence, a new socio-racial hierarchy was in place in the U.S. by the late 1800s. Like in the earlier racial hierarchy model from the antebellum South, there is a line of demarcation that could be called a “line of whiteness”:


In this model, the farther away an immigrant group is from Northern/Western Europe –thus the farther away they are from Anglo-Saxon –the less acceptable they are.

Just as in the colonial model, African Americans are on the bottom. Writers and historians –from W.E.B. Dubois and James Baldwin to Winthrop Jordan –have long proposed that white identity in America was formed in opposition to black, using blackness as a defining “other.” I will speak more about that in the following section. Suffice it to say that for Irish and other immigrant groups to rise to the level of “white,” they had to also define themselves against the other end of the racial spectrum and make it clear they were not “black.”

Case in point: The New York Draft Riots of 1863.

The Civil War was raging, and a draft had been instituted on both sides. In New York, a large number of Irish immigrants were drafted, sometimes shortly after they got off the boat. At that time, anyone able to pay a substantial fee didn’t have to serve –which meant that wealthier men didn’t have to be drafted if they didn’t want to be, whereas poor men had little choice. It was a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” This contributed to the anti-draft feeling in the city. What started as anger directed at draft officers in July, 1863, quickly escalated into a race riot that lasted for days, with largely Irish mobs invading the black neighborhoods and killing an untold number of African Americans (possibly hundreds, although the exact number is not known.) Among other things, they burned down a colored orphanage. African Americans had little or nothing to do with Irish immigrants’ situation; the fact they were targeted shows that the Irish knew where they were on the hierarchy.

As James Baldwin put it in the introduction of his 1985 work The Price of the Ticket (p. xx):
“…the Irish became white when they got here and began rising in the world, whereas I became black and began sinking. The Irish, therefore and thereafter… had absolutely no choice but to make certain I could not menace their safety or status or identity: and, if I came too close, they could, with the consent of the governed, kill me.”

W.E.B. Dubois wrote, in his essay “The Soul of White Folk,” that
“[America] aspires to sit among the great nations who arbitrate the fate of ‘lesser breeds without the law’ and she is at times heartily ashamed even of the large number of ‘new’ white people whom her democracy has admitted to place and power. Against this surging forward of Irish and German, of Russian Jew, Slav and ‘dago’ her social bars have not availed, but against Negroes she can and does take her unflinching and immovable stand... She trains her immigrants to this despising of ‘niggers’ from the day of their landing, and they carry and send the news back to the submerged classes in the fatherlands.”

This is how racial hierarchies function. To work your way into the upper levels, one must show solidarity with the upper levels against those on the bottom. Another important element is paternalism ; in fact, I would say that paternalism is the oil that greases the socio-racial hierarchy machine. This brings us back to our earlier discussion about All in the Family. The son-in-law Michael (or, as Archie called him, Meathead) was a liberal grad student engaged in many progressive causes, which was a source of endless arguments with his father-in-law. It was always evident to the viewer, however -especially when he was interacting with his (apparently only) black friend -that he had a strong and condescending feeling of paternalism.


THE PRICE OF THE TICKET

James Baldwin explained that European immigrants “come through Ellis Island, where Giorgio becomes Joe, Pappavasiliu becomes Palmer, Evangelos becomes Evans, Goldsmith becomes Smith or Gold, and Avakian becomes King. So, with a painless change of name, and in the twinkling of an eye, one becomes a white American… The price the white American paid for his ticket [My note: that is, entry into the top level of the racial structure] was to become white.”

Non-black groups –Italians, Irish, Poles, and non-Europeans (Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, etc.) can “become” white, but –in this racialized power structure -blacks cannot, because they are the defining other. “White” is the position above the color line; “white” is defined against the “debased” and “inferior” other. Thus, being white primarily means not being black. Or, as Baldwin put it, whites (almost tragically) have no identity of their own, they can only define themselves as what they are not, as though of all groups they are the one with “something missing.”

More practically, whiteness is the dominant end of a racialized, racist power structure. This dominant end sets in motion the necessary actions to maintain the structure. The purpose of the structure is for the top to have something to rest upon; in other words, the whole thing is there so that the dominant group will be able to define itself as the dominant group.

If you are a member of that group, you have –in Baldwin’s parlance –the ticket in your hand.  You have certain privileges that come with belonging to the dominant end of the structure –but you might not even realize it, because those privileges are so intrinsically a part of who you are, and seem so normal, that you often don’t recognize that other people don’t have them. Peggy McIntosh has a great article describing just what some of those privileges are, called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” The biggest privilege of all, though, is the one enjoyed by Archie Bunker: knowing that, no matter how tough your life is, you are part of the dominant group.

And as I mentioned, Archie Bunker felt very threatened in the early 1970s by the rapid social changes taking place- changes which threatened  to blur the sharply drawn hierarchy of American culture, and thus threatened the security of his place atop the structure.

A lot of Americans were talking, after Obama’s election in 2008, about a “post-racial nation.” A black man has been elected president; racism must be over. A year before that, I had expressed some serious concerns about the public’s apparent perception that racism was a solved issue, in an essay I wrote about the events in Jena, Louisiana:

“Do today’s white students believe that opposing racism is a passé cause? That the Civil Rights Movement occurred –so long ago, in their eyes –and the monster was slain? Or, worse, that race is a black problem, to be handled by blacks alone? Because friends, Jena, Louisiana –like Hurricane Katrina –have proven that racism is alive in America. Not the subtle, whispered kind practiced by some taxi drivers or store clerks, but the full-fledged, virulent sort which we are used to seeing only in black and white newsreels. We may comfort ourselves by saying that we slew that serpent long ago (I will not dignify it by calling it a dragon); the sibilant hissing issuing from the shadows of our country says otherwise.”

The election of Barack Obama in 2008, sadly, did not prove that the serpent was dead –it brought said reptile out into the daylight, as racism became more obvious, and commonplace, than it had been in decades. Racial hate groups grew in membership across the country. Seemingly intelligent people started distributing cartoons of the president with a bone through his nose, or the first lady eating watermelon, or both of them depicted as apes. One friend of mine, a lifelong Democrat before that election cycle, sent a frantic email after Obama’s 2008 victory saying that we had become the United States of Africa, and that blacks would riot in the streets, and that no white person’s job would be safe. And this was by no means an isolated incident.

Which brings us to one of those surveys I mentioned at the outset which I find disturbing. Racism among white people has significantly increased since 2008. Some people point to that survey and say “See how divisive this president is!” If he has been divisive, it is a result of who he is, not what he has done. Obama has been center-left for the most part –one of the most moderate Democrats on the public stage, the sort of politician who would once have been described as an Eisenhower Republican. Yet he has been portrayed by a large (and overwhelmingly white) section of the American public as a socialist bordering on communism (and the policies pointed to as proof were based on Republican suggestions and models), as a foreigner, an outsider, someone who bilked the American people into electing him when he is not actually American at all. He and his wife have been portrayed as “angry blacks” and as Muslims (which, in a democracy, should be irrelevant even if it were true, which it is not.) Several of his opponents have also accused him of being overly influenced by the “Kenyan ant-colonialist” politics of his father –as though being “anti-colonialist” was somehow intrinsically bad.

When someone points out how racist that rhetoric is, the common reply is that the real racists are those who are offended by it, including you for bringing it out; that decrying racism has somehow become racism. (See HERE for my discussion about “reverse-racism.”) These folks insist that Obama has stoked racial anger –among blacks. It is now white people, they insist, who are victims.

I think this should be called the “Archie Bunker Syndrome.” A large section (though by no means all) of White America has become a lot more open about their suspicion of other races and groups, and fearful that their privileged position is threatened; that growing rights, and political power, among people of color automatically translates into less power for the white majority, threatening to disrupt the whole social structure America was built on, and that those folks define their identity through. And boy are they pissed. Does that mean White America has grown more racist? Not really… it means that the institutional racism that many people tried to suppress in public, or even hide from themselves, has bubbled to the surface. Not because such folks are mean and hateful (though obviously some of them are), but because their sense of self –based on where they are on the hierarchy –is threatened, and it scares them. 

I can’t help thinking about Baldwin’s assertions about whiteness –that it is a concept defined against other things, and has no true identity of its own –when I reflect on the 2012 election. Obama –far more so than in 2008 –was portrayed by many as the dark, evil “other.” 60% of the white electorate opposed Obama and supported Romney because they approved of Romney’s –what, exactly? What was Romney running on? He was deliberately vague, refusing to divulge details about either himself or his plans. Except, of course, that whatever plan he actually followed would support the interests of the wealthy (“job-creators.”) In fact, that was the only thing anyone could be sure about in regards to this chameleon of a man- that his raison d’etre was to protect privilege. 

Romney’s entire campaign message, then, could be nailed down to two parts. A) Power (and money) should go to those at the top, and B) “Obama is bad, and I’m not him.” Mitt Romney was the living, breathing embodiment of critical race theory, whiteness theory, and the racialized power structure I have described in such detail. He really was the Whitest Man in America.

The presidential election of 2008 left me feeling very hopeful –but I was not one of those who believed it meant the “end of race.” I firmly believe that such a thing can only happen when enough people understand how race was created in this country, and how it works, and then actively disavow it. I was by no means surprised when racial division in this country got worse instead of better.


WHY OBAMA’S RE-ELECTION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS ELECTION

I believe, however, that 2012 may be the true turning point (though certainly not an endpoint.) Romney received 60% of the white vote, and in fact 95% of those who voted for him were white- his campaign strategy was to appeal directly to the majority of white people by playing on their fears, an approach that has worked well for Republicans since Nixon (and, to be fair, for Democrats before that.) He gambled that if his support among the white majority was overwhelming enough, it would counteract all the minorities put together. This was demonstrated in microcosm at the nominating conventions this summer: The Republican convention had a relative handful of minorities, mostly seated behind the speakers so the cameras would be sure to catch them, while the convention floor was, by all accounts, a sea of white (except, of course, for that black camerawoman who was subjected to racial taunts by people throwing peanuts at her.) The Democratic convention, in contrast, was like one of those human rainbows that has become such a cliché. White folks, Latinos, Asians, African Americans, Native Americans –not a handful of each lost in a white crowd, but a legitimate blend.

Romney’s gamble failed, as it turned out. Not just racial and ethnic minorities, but women, young people, blue collar whites from the industrial Midwest, all participated in a successful coalition to keep Barack Obama in office. Already, GOP strategists are making comments to the effect that their party can only survive if they reach out to other groups… cognizant as they are of the changing electorate in this country (in Reagan’s era, the white vote was 89% of that electorate; this year it is 72%, down from 74% in 2008, and it will continue to decline.)

I was also pleasantly surprised by some individual incidents during this election season. The three most racist people I know personally –all working class white males from the South, and all very close to me by ties of either blood or affection –all supported Barack Obama this time around, when they did not do so in 2008. They did so because they believed he had far more concern for the working class than did Romney, and all admitted they thought he had done the best anyone could’ve so far with the hand he had been dealt. This flies in the face of the numbers, of course- Romney’s support in the White South was overwhelming –but it boggles my mind that all three of these individuals chose class rather than race as their primary motivator, which is the sort of thing that, if more white working class people do it, will go a long way toward starting to dismantle that racial power structure.


People with “Archie Bunker Syndrome” are right, on one hand; America’s changing demography does threaten their place on top of that hierarchy of privilege. They are wrong, however, in fearing that or believing it to be a bad thing. White Americans are not destined to become a persecuted minority, as the O’Rileys and Buchanans would have us believe; not being “on top” does not equal persecution (although, to those used to being on top, it might feel like it.) No, White Americans will instead be the largest of several minority groups who have to learn to cooperate.

I spent several years earning a Ph.D. in U.S. History, with my primary focus being the study of race. I did this because I believe with all my heart it is extremely important, and that by using education as a tool it really is possible to one day dismantle the racial hierarchy in this country, even though such a project would take generations.

For the first time, I am beginning to think I may see a solid beginning to that project within my lifetime. I hope I am not proven wrong –though if I am, it will only be a temporary setback in the grand scheme of things.

For, as Dr. King told us, the arc of history may be long… but it bends toward justice.



Some of my previous blogs:











Also- my novel about race in the 19th century, winner of the Spur Award:














Monday, October 29, 2012

Two Great Christmas Anthologies

I am delighted to have my work in two different -and very different from one another -western-themed Christmas anthologies this year, either (or both!) of which would make great stocking stuffers.

And -quite by accident -both my stories have a very similar theme: the supernatural bond of love between father and child.

My story in CHRISTMAS CAMPFIRE COMPANION is called "Christmas Comes to Freedom Hill."




 Amazon   B & N

In this tale, a group of "Exodusters"- ex-slaves migrating west -try to establish their own town in Kansas. A local cattle baron is opposed to such a venture on land he considers his, and threatens to wipe them out -on Christmas. Little Danny Jordan's father, a Union veteran, has agreed to be the marshal of Freedom Hill... and Danny knows he must pray for a miracle...


My story in SIX-GUNS AND SLAY BELLS: A CREEPY COWBOY CHRISTMAS is called "Bitter Mountain."

Amazon
Donald Andrews killed Curtis Baker because he wanted his friend's wife for himself. He wasn’t too happy about the boy that came with the deal, but figured he could work around that.Curtis Baker is buried where he was murdered, on Bitter Mountain.


But little Jimmy says his daddy has been visiting him late at night, and promising that this Christmas he is bringing his son one final gift...



Needless to say, both these books are filled with great stories from some of the best authors working in the genre today. Check them both out, and buy a copy for that western or horror lover in your life!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wolf Creek Characters #6 Dr. Logan Munro

Wolf Creek is probably the most unique Western series ever produced. It is published by Western Fictioneers and written by Ford Fargo- who is actually about twenty different Western authors. Each one has created a unique character, and in each installment six authors collaborate to tell a story from the points of view of their particular creations.


amazon     B & N


It may sound complicated. but the result is anything but: each volume holds together remarkably well, and the series has been creating quite a bit of buzz.

I am the series editor, and one of my two characters appears in each book to help tie things together. Other than me we have a wonderful mix of genre veterans and best selling authors and up-and-coming newer writers who are making their mark.

This blog is the fifth in a five-part series highlighting the six main characters / writers of Wolf Creek Book I: Bloody Trail. The sixth installment will appear on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and the previous ones can be found here:

Part 1- Spike Sweeney, by L.J. Martin
Part 2- Sheriff G.W. Satterlee, by James Reasoner
Part 3- Charley Blackfeather, by Troy D. Smith
Part 4- Bill Torrance, by James J. Griffin
Part 5- Derrick McCain, by Cheryl Pierson

GIVEAWAY: One of our authors, Chery Pierson, has upped the ante- she has offered to give away a trade paperback copy of Bloody Trail to one of our visitors. Anyone who leaves a comment on this or any of the other five blogs and leaves a contact email address will be eligible to win (you can also send said addy to me, at troy_d_smith@hotmail.com, if you prefer it not be public- but you still have to leave a comment!)

A winner will be chosen at random at 9am Central Time Friday morning, October 26, and will be emailed with the good news- it will also be announced in a comment here. You can multiply your chances to win- by commenting on more than one of the six blogs. For every installment of the blog series you comment on, you will get one additional entry in the contest (alas, only one more per blog, so a possibility of six in all.)

So, that said, let's look at the character/writer who rounds out Book One of our series!

LOGAN MUNRO
(Doctor)
Clay More

 Logan Munro is a Scottish doctor. Shortly after graduating from Edinburgh University he served with the British Army Hospital in Scutari in Constantinople during the Crimean War. In 1856, at the end of the war he had the opportunity to go to India. While there he married Helen, a young governess. A year later The Indian Mutiny took place and he was involved in the siege. Sadly, Helen died from malaria. Disillusioned with life, and bereft at losing Helen, Logan sailed for America. Along came the Civil War, during which he served as a surgeon in the Union Army. When the guns ceased and the smoke cleared he settled down in Wolf Creek. He has seen a lot of action in the three wars he served in and he has honed his surgical skills on the battlefields. He is tired of all the killing and he just wants to settle down as a family doctor in a sleepy town.

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CLAY MORE is also a Scottish physician -Dr. Keith Souter. In addition to being a medical writer, Keith publishes fiction in four different genres.

"I am a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, International Thriller Writers, the Society of Authors, Western Fictioneers and the Western Writers of America. With my medical hat on, I am a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of various other professional bodies.
                                              
I live with my wife Rachel in Wakefield in West Yorkshire within arrowshot of historic Sandal Castle."



*
I have been accompanying my introductions to our authors' point of view characters with a description of a member of the supporting cast. This time around it is Tsu Chiao -or, as most citizens in Wolf Creek pronounce it, "Soo Chow."
Tsu is in his early 60s. He speaks very good English, having grown up in Hong Kong- as a young man, he had fought against the British in the opium wars. Now he sells opium in his own den. The establishment has a large common room, decorated in red, for lounging –and several small private rooms. There is another interior room, called the Jade Chamber, where clientele can choose the services of one of the several young Chinese women and girls who borrowed money for passage to America and are now trapped in a life of prostitution. He has several young Chinese men on hand as security- he calls them his nephews, but it is doubtful they literally are. 

Tsu is a very well-educated man, and one of the Five Chinese Classics is a novel called The Dream of the Red Chamber- perfect for an opium den. He calls the inner room where one can choose among his prostitutes the Jade Chamber because that is a Taoist euphemism for the vagina.
 
Tsu has an adversarial relationship with Li Wong. Li Wong and his wife Li Jian are in their early 40s. They have five children- the oldest is a lovely 16 year old daughter named Jing Jing. There are not very many Chinese in Wolf Creek, so one might assume Li would interact with Tsu Chiao –but he does not. Li Wong despises the opium dealer and pimp, and is very protective of his own daughter -Tsu would like nothing better than to corrupt her. Jing Jing, meanwhile, is having a secret romance with one of Tsu's "nephews," Tsu Dong.

 Now, a brief excerpt from WOLF CREEK: BLOODY TRAIL featuring Dr. Logan Munro:


Almost immediately, like human buzzards, Wil Marsh - with some help from Elijah Gravely the undertaker - started arranging the bodies of the gang into suitable poses. Then, with his tripod and camera, he methodically set about taking the photographs that he imagined he would be able to sell to the Eastern magazines. 
Sheriff Satterlee took control and started to form a posse from the available able-bodied men and whoever had horses. He called an impromptu meeting in his office and prepared to swear in whoever could go.
            "Doc Munro, you had best stay in town and look after the wounded," he said, as he looked over the volunteers gathered in the office.
            "The hell with that, Sheriff. I have done what needs to be done. Doctor Cantrell knows enough medicine, as a dentist, to look after the wounded here. And Martha Pomeroy is a capable nurse." He started filling his meerschaum pipe. "I took the Hippocratic Oath and it is my duty to tend to the sick. I think I need to go, just in case any more of my friends here get hurt. And if we shoot any of that gang, it will be my solemn duty to treat and keep them alive."
He lit his pipe and his eyes narrowed as he blew out a stream of smoke. "Until we can hang the bastards, that is!"





Friday, October 19, 2012

Wolf Creek Characters #5 Derrick McCain

Wolf Creek is probably the most unique Western series ever produced. It is published by Western Fictioneers and written by Ford Fargo- who is actually about twenty different Western authors. Each one has created a unique character, and in each installment six authors collaborate to tell a story from the points of view of their particular creations.


amazon           B & N


It may sound complicated. but the result is anything but: each volume holds together remarkably well, and the series has been creating quite a bit of buzz.

I am the series editor, and one of my two characters appears in each book to help tie things together. Other than me we have a wonderful mix of genre veterans and best selling authors and up-and-coming newer writers who are making their mark.

This blog is the fifth in a five-part series highlighting the six main characters / writers of Wolf Creek Book I: Bloody Trail. The sixth installment will appear on Tuesday, Oct. 23, and the previous ones can be found here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

GIVEAWAY: One of our authors, Chery Pierson (who is being highlighted today) has upped the ante- she has offered to give away a trade paperback copy of Bloody Trail to one of our visitors. Anyone who leaves a comment on this or any of the other five blogs and leaves a contact email address will be eligible to win (you can also send said addy to me, at troy_d_smith@hotmail.com, if you prefer it not be public- but you still have to leave a comment!)

A winner will be chosen at random at 9am Central Time Friday morning, October 26, and will be emailed with the good news- it will also be announced in a comment on Blog 6, "Logan Munro." You can multiply your chances to win- by commenting on more than one of the six blogs. For every installment of the blog series you comment on, you will get one additional entry in the contest (alas, only one more per blog, so a possibility of six in all.)

That said, let's take a look at Cheryl's character.

DERRICK MCCAIN
farmer


Derrick is 18 when the War Between the States begins. His two older brothers leave immediately, refusing to take him with them. A few days after they leave, Derrick strikes out on his own, determined to make his own way. He joins up with the regular Confederate Army, with the hope that one day he will return to Wolf Creek and marry his sweetheart, Jolene. Things don't work out as he'd thought. His brothers are killed at Shiloh, and not long after, he receives word that his father, Andrew, has been murdered for his outspoken politics by a band of Jayhawkers. At this news, Derrick deserts to join up with Jim Danby's guerrilla band, who ride with Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson,  to seek revenge on the Jayhawkers who murdered his father. 
The day comes when Danby intends to do something so heinous that Derrick rebels, refusing to obey direct orders from the gang leader. Derrick tells him that he will not torture and murder their captives,  a small band of black Union soldiers who were sent to attack Bloody Bill Anderson during the Centralia Massacre. Danby has Derrick beaten and left for dead, giving orders for the others in his band to shoot the Union soldiers. But one of the black men, Charley Blackfeather, manages to get away, never knowing that Derrick stood up for them.
Derrick is found by a farmer who lives nearby and taken to the man's house, where he's cared for. The end of the war comes as Derrick heals enough to ride once more. He returns to Wolf Creek, not sure of his place in the world--Jolene has married a Yankee, and he finds himself the only male survivor of the McCain family. He steps into the unwanted role of settling into the life of a farmer, his younger sister less than welcoming since she has married due to necessity because of his absence. Derrick's world is turned upside down a few  years down the road when the Danby gang comes to pay the citizens of Wolf Creek a call. Derrick is sure of only one thing this time around: in order to make peace with himself, he has to ride with the posse to avenge what Danby's gang has done to his town. He swears to kill or be killed, on the BLOODY TRAIL.




With each installment, I have also been including info on one of the supporting characters that the writers share. This one was also created by Cheryl Pierson:

CARSON RIDGE:  A full-blood Cherokee and Derrick McCain's childhood best friend. Raised in the eastern part of Indian Territory in the Cherokee Nation, he's well-educated having attended the Indian school where Derrick's father was headmaster for several years. When Derrick's family moves to Wolf Creek, Kansas, Carson hopes that once Derrick learns the reason for the move, he will someday return to Indian Territory and the heritage that belongs to him. Carson's past is something he doesn't talk about much. He has become a Lighthorse officer for the Cherokee Nation. As the years pass, he believes he will never see his friend again...until fate brings them together under the most unlikely circumstance.



And here is some background on Cheryl Pierson:
Cheryl was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, and grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and holds a B.A. in English. She has taught numerous writing classes and workshops over the past years and also works on an individual basis with many of her students, and other authors, locally and nationwide.

Cheryl's most recent publications include the first two novellas of her YA historical western serires, "KANE'S REDEMPTION" and "KANE'S PROMISE," with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER publishing. Her debut novel, "FIRE EYES," was released in May, 2009, and was an EPIC AWARD FINALIST in 2010. With a brand new cover and a complete re-edit, "FIRE EYES" was re-released in 2012 through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS. Her second novel, "TIME PLAINS DRIFTER," was re-released through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS in July, 2011. Switching from the historical genre to contemporary romantic suspense, her third novel, "SWEET DANGER" was released through THE WILD ROSE PRESS in 2010.
Cheryl lives with her husband in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she has been for the past 27 years. She has two grown children, ages 23 and 26.
You can e-mail her at fabkat_edit@yahoo.com