Sunday, May 10, 2009

Special Days

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers of all kinds out there, be you biological, adoptive, or 'like a mother' gals. No matter how well your kinfolk and pards treat you today, take a few minutes to reflect on what's made you the woman you are, because that's your true gift to the world. And the world needs all the good women it can get. None of us would be here or last here without you.

My hat's off to all the mothers all over. You gals done good.

A.E. Stanton

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The (Current) Age-Old Question

Is the Western really dead?

I hear this more and more. The pundits and those who claim to know all say that the Western is indeed dead.

And yet I see evidence of it everywhere. In successful movies and TV miniseries. In books on the shelves. In advertising.

So the Western isn't dead to Madison Avenue, meaning it's not dead to the consumer. So why is it said that it's dead? Why is it so hard to get a book set in the Old West sold? Why are the Western TV shows and movies now so few and far between? (Aside from the fact that horses are costly beasts. :-D)

Now, there's the school of thought that says it isn't dead and gone -- it's just packaged in a spaceship (Star Wars or Serenity), or it's wearing a suit and carrying a badge and a gun as well as a squad car (pick almost any cop show), or it's been updated (No Country for Old Men or Deadwood). And I agree that this is so, and good as well. Nothing wrong with taking the feeling of an indelible time and using it elsewhere, or turning the conventions on their ears.

But the idea of the conventional Western -- where there may be bad guys, but a good guy or gal or group is gonna come along and save the day in the end, while riding horses and being true to their pards and wanting their freedom while, at the same time, having a yearning for 'something' -- that I keep hearing is dead and gone.

And I don't believe it.

Maybe because I don't want to (I write in this genre, after all), but maybe more because, to me, the heart of a Western is tied up in my nation's image and history, so much so that it's almost genetic. You're an American (or, so my Aussie friends tell me, an Australian) and the rough and tumble that helped forge your homeland is in the bone, whether or not you were born here or immigrated.

Maybe it's simply that I don't believe the Western is dead because I don't believe the spirit that built this country is dead. Or I'm a stubborn old fool. Or, as my spouse says, probably both.

A.E. Stanton

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Another Day, Another Dollar Spent on a Research Tome

I have a confession. My name is A.E. Stanton and I'm a research addict.

Oh, sure, I know, there are a lot of us out there. And we can say that our addiction doesn't hurt anyone. And that's probably true.

However, I think my little problem might be going nova. I'm running out of bookshelf space.

I already have cases in the garage dedicated to books on history, biographies, interesting tomes that I refer to now and then, boring books that contain key nuggets, and so forth. And not all of them are on the Old West, either, I feel forced to add. (A lot are, to be sure, but not all.) But everything's full to bursting, and most are stacked at least two, sometimes three deep, and my spouse suggests that I should somehow either get rid of some of these books (the horror of the idea!) or stop buying new and old ones alike.

I'd love to do that, but I just can't. It goes against my grain. A book is with you for life. And a book can influence your life forever.

Nope. I can't part with any of them. Why, I'd sooner part with my motorcycle. And dear? That's not happening any time soon.

A.E. Stanton

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Little Irritations

Maybe it's because I'm not as young as I used to be (who is?), but I'm finding lower tolerance for certain things.

I'm not talking the big things that shouldn't be tolerated, like prejudice and bigotry and injustice. I'm talking about little things that used to slide right off my back.

Like the bathroom.

We have cats. We have a lot of critters, but among them we have cats, and they live indoors. That means they have a litter box. It's in our guest bathroom because that's the best place for it. It's always been there, because we've always had cats. Every visitor to our home has seen both the cats and the litter box. Some have lucked into sharing the space with one of the cats, both in similar pursuits.

We also keep the toilet lid down when not in use. Why? Started when the child was young, because it's safer. And we've also always had dogs and dogs, as we all know, love the porcelain drinking bowl. So, there has not been a time when we haven't had dogs or some kind of small child around, so, we keep the toilet lid down.

And, save for a small handful, every single human who enters our home and uses the guest bathroom insists on leaving the toilet seat up and the bathroom door firmly shut when they exit.

We've explained, over and over again, why we prefer it the way they found it. And, again save for those small few, the folks nod and say, "Oh, I got it," and then they proceed to leave the toilet seat up and the bathroom door firmly shut.

I used to laugh about it. Now it irritates me. I don't know whether it's the fact that folks just don't seem to pay attention, or if it's more that they don't pay attention to anything I say.

Probably the latter.

A.E. Stanton

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To Dialect or Not to Dialect?

Is that even a question any more?

I have it on good authority -- my agent's and a variety of editors' -- that using dialect in novels and short stories is a hard, if not impossible, sell.

I can't argue that too much. I don't use dialect all that often. I'm a firm believer in the 'one vocal tic per character' rule.

And yet, there are plenty of works done in dialect that I enjoy. And not all of them are from the 19th century, either. Sure, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens used dialect all the time, but today's response is that they were writing at a different time. But I've read dialect-heavy stories in The New Yorker, and those recently. Most of them weren't in the Western genre, however.

So, what're your thoughts? Love it, hate it, couldn't care less about it, it's fine if it works but it's hard to make it work?

A.E. Stanton

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays, Pards!

Hope all my pards near and far have a most glorious holiday season, no matter what holiday they may celebrate.

Keep the feelings of love and joy going all year long, and here's to everyone having more than they need and all that they want in 2009!

A.E. Stanton

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Howdy, Pards

Like so many of my peers, I’m dragging myself into the world of blogging. Why? Because I’m an author and it’s one of the things we’re told to do. I’ve resisted as long as I could -- I love reading other folks’ blogs but haven’t wanted to do my own -- possibly because I’m worried I’ll run out of things to say.

I write historical novels set in the Old West and futuristic novels set in what I like to think of as the New West. I’ve dabbled in a few short stories, but mostly I’m a novelist. I have a great agent who’s shopping my first historical. Will it sell? I believe so, yes, but since it’s set in the Old West there’s a tendency to hear “We’re not looking for Westerns”. It’s the risk I knew I was running when I started out. But, like horseback and motorcycle riding, I write for the love of the thing.

I’m going to focus my blog on my two passions -- writing and riding. So, welcome, friend, and set a spell.


A.E. Stanton

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