Monday, June 28, 2010

Featured Genre Day: Westerns with Stephen Bly

Good morning everyone, Annette here. This Manuscript Monday we'd like to honor Stephen Bly as he's been appearing here all month with great articles on craft. It's hard to imagine him writing any other genre than what we've all come to know him for: Westerns. Today he shares about writing in that genre. Enjoy this Featured Genre Day!

How I Got Into Westerns
By Stephen Bly

Folks often ask me if I always wanted to grow up and write books about cowboys. Nope. Not me. I never wanted to be a writer. But I did grow up on a farm and wanting to be a cowboy. I had Roy Rogers PJs and curtains and a plastic statue of trigger on my dresser.

However, as a lad, I only read a few western novels. My aunt and uncle had a box of dusty dime novels in a room next to their garage. I’d go to sleep reading them when I got a chance.

Not much different than kids in the Old West. They had dime novels then too. Most were written by men who had never gone west. They invented many of the clich├ęs and stereotypes that linger today. Think of them as old time supermarket tabloids and you get the picture.

But what really caught my fancy was history. I liked the nonfiction accounts of life in the Old West. I learned to grab all the University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska titles that I could find.

After I married and started raising kids of my own, I read lots of western fiction. One birthday my mother gave me some Zane Grey stories. Then, I picked up novels by B. M. Bower, Owen Wister, Will James, Luke Short, Ernest Haycock, Elmer Kelton, Vardis Fisher and, of course, Louis L’Amour. Somewhere in the middle of the 63rd L’Amour book, the idea struck me . . . I can write one of these.

By then, I had a dozen nonfiction books to my published credit, so I knew I could fill the pages. But I didn’t know if I could spin a tale people would want to read.

One summer, my wife Janet and I and our youngest son camped in the Beartooth mountains, south of Red Lodge, Montana. I took along an old typewriter and wrote my first western novel, called The Land Tamers. Since I had no idea if I’d ever have the chance to write another, I tried to pack every scene I ever wanted to write in that one book. An editor commented that it moved about as fast as the movie, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. She meant it as a critique. I took it as a compliment.

As it turned out, that was just one of many tales I was allowed to write. I haven’t run out of ideas yet.


Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point) released this month (June 2010). Available through Amazon or


More about Stephen Bly:

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. His hobbies include collecting and restoring Winchesters; studying histories of Old West; doing construction on Broken Arrow Crossing, a false front western village next to his home. He also plays a par game of golf.

* authored and co-authored 102 fiction and nonfiction books,
including historical and contemporary westerns
* Christy Award winner, Westerns, 2002, The Long Trail Home
* Christy Award finalist, Westerns, 2003
* mayor of Winchester, Idaho, pop. 308 (1999-2007)
* pastor of Winchester Community Church
* speaker for men’s and writers’ groups, USA and Canada
* roving editor, Big Show Journal
* mentor, Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild
* represented by agent Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary
* Interviews and Media Kit available,
* Fresno State University, CA, Philosophy, summa cum laude
* M. Div., Fuller Theological Seminary, CA, 1974

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