Friday, May 7, 2010

Never Aspired to Be a Writer by Stephen Bly

This Fortifying Friday, we're pleased to welcome Western writer, Stephen (Steve) Bly. He's graciously volunteered to share his journey to publication story. We hope you're encouraged by his story. Happy Friday and happy writing!

by Stephen Bly

Folks often ask me if I always wanted to write books about cowboys. Nope. Not me. I never once dreamed of being a writer. But I did grow up wanting to be a cowboy. I had Roy Rogers pjs and Roy Rogers curtains. And a little plastic statue of Trigger graced my dresser.

As a lad, I didn’t read only western novels. My aunt and uncle stored a box of dusty dime novels in a room next to their garage. I’d go to sleep reading them every chance I got.

History caught my fancy most of all. I liked the nonfiction accounts of life in the Old West and learned to grab every available University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska title.

After marriage and arrival of our sons, I read lots more Westerns. My mother gave me her Zane Grey stories. Then, I discovered B. M. Bower, Owen Wister, Will James, Luke Short, Ernest Haycock, Elmer Kelton, Vardis Fisher, and over sixty Louis L’Amour novels.

Meanwhile, my wife Janet attended several writers’ conferences. One day after transcribing some of my sermons, she announced, “Some of this is pretty good. Would you let me clean parts up a bit? I think I can pull some articles and stories out of here.”

“Sure, no problem,” I told her. “But I don’t want to write. That’s your thing.”

Several months later a couple checks arrived in the mail with my name on them. My whole attitude changed. Over the next few years I created hundreds of short stories and articles for numerous magazines. The writing yen took hold as I developed the craft.

Somewhere in the midst of reading the 63rd L’Amour tale, the idea struck me, “I can write one of these!”

By then, I had authored a dozen nonfiction books. . .on discipleship, theology, and family themes. . .so I suspected I might be able to fill the pages. But I didn’t know if I could spin a story folks would want to read.

So, one summer Janet and I and 6-year-old Aaron camped in the Beartooth Mountains, south of Red Lodge, Montana, where I wrote my very first western novel, THE LAND TAMERS. Since I had no idea if I’d ever have the chance to write another piece of fiction, I tried to pack every scene imaginable in that one book.

The Tyndale editor who finally accepted the tome for publication told me, “It moves too fast in places—like an Indiana Jones movie.”

“Well, Indiana Jones hasn’t done so bad,” I replied.

As it turned out, THE LAND TAMERS became the first of numerous novels the Lord allowed me to produce. I haven’t run out of ideas yet. Someday, I hope to write, “The Man Who Stole Nevada” or “A Swing To Die For.” Ah, but that’s another story.

And I’m pleased to report that THE LAND TAMERS was re-released last year in hardback by Center Point Press.

On the trail,
Stephen Bly

Here are some interesting facts about Steve:

Married to writer, Janet Chester Bly, 46 years; they’ve co-authored 18 books.
Resides in northern Idaho at 4,000 ft. elev., on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.
Father of 3 sons: Russell, Michael, & Aaron. The family includes daughters-in-law, Lois, Michelle & Rina Joye, plus grandkids: Zachary, Miranda (& husband Chris), and Keaton.
Third generation westerner, Steve spent 30 years working family ranches and farms in central California.
Hobbies: Collects and restores antique Winchesters; studies histories of Old West; does construction on Broken Arrow Crossing, a false front western village next to his home. He also plays a par game of golf.

To Be Released June 2010: Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon
Recent books include: Creede of Old Montana (2009), The Land Tamers (re-issued 2009), One Step Over The Border, Center Street/Hachette; The Horse Dreams Series—Memories of a Dirt Road Town, The Mustang Breaker, and Wish I’d Known You Tears Ago (B&H); Paperback Writer (B&H); and Fortunes of the Black Hills Series (B&H Publishers). Find out more at

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