Time Periods of the Old West

What part of the old west do you like most? There are at least four distinct periods of time in the old west. (All overlap and dates are very general.

 

The first people – anything before 1800

 The Mountain Men – to about 1850

Settlers and Cowboys – up to 1900

The recent west – anything after 1900

 

I am sure that we could break this down into many smaller groups but this is the way I see it. Now which is your favorite? Many people hedge and say, “all of them,” and I guess that is all right. But really do you have a favorite?

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Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 2:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Gun that Won the West

 Most cowboys’ didn’t carry one but when they did the 1873 Colt Peacemaker, a .45 caliber single action revolver was the gun of choice. And you could buy it mail order for less than twenty bucks including postage. It didn’t look fancy but was quite reliable; enough so that the U.S. Army adopted the gun. From that time on the gun was usually referred to as the Army Colt. The gun the military purchased came with a seven and one half inch barrel and was much preferred to the civilian mail order model with the shorter five and a half inch barrel. This became the gun of the gunfighters—even if most of the famous gunfighters were only in novels and later on television. This is the gun that won the west. But not all famous gunman of the west carried the .45 Army Colt. Some like Bill Hickok (I really don’t like him) carried a .36 caliber Navy Colt made in 1851. As a matter of fact he carried three, along with an array of other weapons. Dime novelists claimed he often carried several knives and at least one derringer. His Navy Colt’s were a little lighter than the Army version but had the same barrel length. The model came out more than twenty years before the 1873 Peacemaker and fans of the Army Colt liked the larger caliber and claimed it to be more accurate than the Navy. Hickok and many others of the old west did not agree. Hickok’s guns were chrome plated and engraved with his initials. Looked like TV western guns of the 1950s and 60s. Oh, by the way—Wild Bill was killed by a .45 caliber Colt.

Story Research

Research can be tricky. If you get bored doing it – might not make a very good story. On the other hand if you get carried away and can’t write because the research is too good to quit reading—you have the start of a story. And that’s what happened to me the past few days researching Jack Wilson (Wovoka) for a story. Great stuff hope the story works out.

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fantasy Western Anyone?

Well, I did it. I got out of my comfort zone and read two—not just one—of Terry Brooks fantasy fiction books. It started when I read his book on writing. I can’t remember the name, (it is only twenty feet away on a bookshelves, but I am sitting in my easy chair and much too lazy to get up) It is a good read. I am now back to reading my typical, mysteries and westerns but I must say, I learned something. A good story is good regardless of the genre. Not sure if I will venture this far out of my comfort reading zone again but I liked Mr. Brooks work and can certainly understand why he has sold millions of books. Just in case anyone wants to know, I read, Magic Kingdom for sale—Sold and The Black Unicorn. One caution—Terry Brooks tells a great story but he really likes adverbs. ell, I did it. I got out of my comfort zone and read two—not just one—of Terry Brooks fantasy fiction books. It started when I read his book on writing. I can’t remember the name, (it is only twenty feet away on a bookshelves, but I am sitting in my easy chair and much too lazy to get up) It is a good read. I am now back to reading my typical, mysteries and westerns and but I must say, I learned something. A good story is good regardless of the genre. Not sure if I will venture this far out of my comfort reading zone again but I liked Mr. Brooks work and can certainly understand why he has sold millions of books. Just in case anyone wants to know, I read, Magic Kingdom for sale—Sold and The Black Unicorn. One caution—Terry Brooks tells a great story but he really likes adverbs.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Why I hate editing and other horror stories.

 

            I understand that there are writers that enjoy editing. Somewhere there are probably people that enjoy flat tires, painting the fence and swatting mosquitoes, but I am not familiar with any of those folks.  I do not like editing, I try anything to get out of it and it always works—trouble is the material stays the same. Yep, you guessed it, needs editing.

            I have a completed manuscript and have edited seventeen pages (of nearly 300) in the last fourteen months. Instead of editing I have spent my time writing stories. Writing is more fun and more rewarding than editing. So I chose to write not edit.

            Do you know why people blog—I do, no editing. Not here anyway.

            Well back to editing and my unending search for the extra adjective and the hated adverb.

            Now I am too tired to tell other horror stories—good night!

 

-N-

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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New Story-Still Working

I am still working on my modern day western mystery. I have a tough time writing this one. Not sure if I do not like the story or the time period. I still want to finish it, as I have already written about 40,000 words and it is a good story. I think the problem is the story flashes back over a hundred years every twenty or thirty pages. It is becoming more of a task than I thought to tie these flashbacks to modern times. And, if that’s not enough the story revolves around two mysteries, one, a murder in present day and the second, a lost treasure from the 1800’s. I am hoping to finish by the first of July but other things keep holding me back. Lately I have been doing some research on the role of the Buffalo soldiers during Wyoming’s, Johnson County War and hope to write a sequel to a western that I have yet to shop—but one I really like. Excerpts from the above work—presently titled “Mystery at Hell’s Half Acre”

Present Day– Casper, Wyoming

Jimmy took a hand from the wheel and rubbed his eyes, either a truck was upside down in the road just ahead or he had a vision of one. He twisted the knuckle of his right hand in one eye then the other, blinked and looked up through watering eyes. It was gone, good, and then he saw it again. “Robert, is there something ahead, a wreck, in the road?” “Just pavement man, Indian sidewalk, you know, so Indians can walk back to the rez after the car breaks down.” Robert chuckled at his own joke then continued to eat his chicken nuggets. Jimmy pulled over to the side and then off the pavement, got out of the car and looked ahead. He stood looking for at least a full minute and Robert helped himself to Jimmy’s fries. Jimmy opened the door to get in and heard a tremendous crash. They both looked up the road as a semi exploded into flame as it skidded on its side past the Ghost Town truck stop. It was easy to see, from their quarter mile away vantage point what had happened. The burning semi had pulled out onto the highway in the path of another truck that had not seen him or was going too fast to stop. Jimmy got back into the thunderbird and looked at his friend. Robert too dumbfounded to even speak finally blurted out, “you saw it, before it happened; you saw it, some kind of vision, didn’t you?”

Flash Back Time–

August 1775, the canyons of Hell’s Half Acre Wyoming

Runs-With-Ghosts and Snow Bear sat in the shade of the natural earthen shelter eating choke cherries, talking and resting. Theirs had been a long journey. Throughout their young lives both had many visions of the visit to the medicine wheel in the north, the visit, now complete. But they did not know when they left the village on the flat river that it would be nearly two snows before they returned home. For many sleeps they had traveled and then wandered trying to find the great wheel, the wheel of the stories passed to them from their grandfathers who learned the stories from their grandfathers. When they found the great Medicine Wheel, it was more than they could have ever imagined much greater than the stories and dreams. The two young warriors spent many days there praying and dreaming. After leaving they traveled to the west and then south until they found the perfect hillside. The perfect hillside to build the perfect sign, the sign that was their destiny to build. They called it the site of the arrow; later the Shoshone would call this place, the meeting place. Snow Bear and Runs-With-Ghosts spent many days in this place because it was a place where they felt the medicine, the same medicine they felt praying at the Medicine Wheel in the north. Runs-With-Ghost especially felt like they were in a place of great mystery the first day they stood on this windswept hillside. The young warriors, now both eighteen summers, stayed through two new moons, finding and moving rocks into place. When they completed building the great arrow of rocks on the hillside they rested and prayed, and the prayers were prayers of thanksgiving, giving thanks for the many days of successful labor. The great arrow they, had completed, would last as long as the wheel itself, pointed to the north and to the east—to the Medicine Wheel.

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 3:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Read or Write

I have been reading and doing research the past few weeks. Have not writen a single word. But this is the time of the year I usually get going. Wish me luck and look for some good posts soon.

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Old Westerns

If you love old westerns go to this site, you will love it. http://oldfortyfives.com/thoseoldwesterns.htm                                   Sorry, but if you are less than 40 years old this might not bring back the memories it does to us older types.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 3:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Good Guys and Bad Guys

 

What makes a good read? I am on the final pages of my second western novel and just realized that after two books and a hundred thousand plus words there have been no: draw downs on main street, bar fights, serious injures from getting thrown from a horse, drinking red-eye till they can’t see scenes and no fat rich guys ruling the west like the mob. But they do have good guys and bad guys, romance and card playing, some shooting and second guessing about life and what I believe are really good stories.

Published in: on February 6, 2009 at 3:43 am  Comments (1)  
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No Western Today

Today we have a new president number 44. I watched the inauguration and much of the additional coverage and was highly impressed with everything.  If we could keep that same feeling of patriotism, togetherness and usefulness all year long everyone on earth would think—wow, they really are the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

 Good Luck President Obama and God speed.

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 3:50 am  Comments (1)  
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