October 23, 2016

Cowboy, Actor, Marine and Multi-Genre Author, Ken Farmer Says: OF COURSE IT’S TEXAS

 I was born in the east Texas oil boom town of Kilgore. It just happened to be where we lived when it was time for me to make my appearance in this world. My dad worked in the ‘oil patch’ for Shell oil and I guess we lived in most every boom town of the day…mostly in Texas. However, I did attend twenty-one grade and middle schools in seven states growing up. That’s an education in and to itself.
By the time I hit high school, we had moved to Gainesville, Texas…for the third time. Guess you could say that was my ‘home town’. Dad didn’t want to move us since I was playing football and would lose a year of eligibility, so he took a reduction in job classification from Driller to Pumper—at a substantial cut in pay although I didn’t know that at the time.
As soon as I graduated, dad went back to Drilling and pushing tools (a Field Supervisor) and he and mom moved to the oil play at Liberal, Kansas. I went off to school at Oklahoma University to play football under Coach Bud Wilkinson. My best friend from high school called me the following summer while I was working seismograph for Shell Oil out of McAlister, Oklahoma and said, “Hey, Kenny, I just joined the Marine Corps…Come go with me.” Well, what the hell. 
When I got out of the Corps, my high school football coach, the venerable Buddy Ryan (later of NFL fame) called me to come to Lake of the Pines near Marshall, Texas and be Water Front Director for an exclusive boys camp named for the wonderful Hollywood actor…Camp Dale Robertson. Buddy was Camp Director.
Toward the end of the summer, I started thinking maybe I’d better be for getting back to college somewhere. Coach Ryan was friends with Bill “Red” Conkright, head coach at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and he got me a tryout for the football team. Coach Conkright offered me a full scholarship for my final three years of eligibility. Who knew?
No, I didn’t major in writing. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama and also one in Business in 1964. Guess I’ve always been somewhat of a ham.
After working for IBM and in the insurance business for a while, a cousin of mine, who was a petroleum engineer, called and said, “Hey, Kenny, let’s start a drilling company and punch holes in Texas.” Well, what the hell. We formed Texas Western, Inc. and started drilling oil and gas wells over a goodly portion of west Texas—I became a genuine Texas wildcatter.
I had always been a cowboy at heart and decided that instead of living in Dallas, I’d make my home base at a ranch. I sold my interest in Texas Western, bought some land outside of Athens, in east Texas, and started raising registered Beefmaster cattle and Quarter Horses. Who knew.
I was dating a model with the Kim Dawson agency in Dallas in the early ‘70s and would go into the agency on occasion with her. The agent, Kim, kept trying to get me to sign up with her, saying I had a great look, LOL, but I looked around at the guy models that she had and said, “I don’t think so…Don’t believe I fit into your program.”         
Well, sometime later, I was in there with my girl friend and Kim came up to me and asked, “You ride horses, don’t you?” I laughed and replied, “Been thrown off of one or two, yes, ma’am.” She said, “I don’t have anyone in the agency that can ride.”—You see, there’s a big difference between someone who can ride and a ‘rider’…I’m a rider.—I looked around at the pictures of her guys she had on the wall and said, “I can believe that.”
She asked, “Would you go and represent my agency on a Dairy Queen audition?” Now, I hadn’t told her I had a degree in Drama and didn’t then. I finally said, “I don’t have any pictures.” She said, “Doesn’t matter, they’ll take a Polaroid.” (Tells you how long ago that was.) So, I go in my usual outfit, jeans, boots, denim shirt and cowboy hat and the director is casting—it was even before the days of the casting director. He looked up when I came in and says, “Oooh, love your costume.” I got in his face and said, “Costume, my ass.” Now, I don’t know if he fell in love or got intimidated, but I got the part and introduced the Dairy Queen Belt Buster hamburger.
Later, after we had shot the commercial, I got to thinking, “They’re gonna pay me that kind of money to sit on a horse and eat a hamburger…Well, what the hell.” That was forty-five years, some fifteen or so feature films—including Silverado, Uncommon Valor, Newton Boys, Rocketman, Last of the Warriors, and Friday Night Lights—fifty plus TV episodes (including six Dallas and six Walker, Texas Ranger) or MOWs and I quit counting TV commercials at 260, including eight years as spokesman for Wolf Brand Chili…and only God knows how many Industrials and VO (voice over) jobs I’ve done.
Well, somewhere back around ‘84, like most actors, I started writing screenplays. There was always that thought in the back of your mind, “Hell, I can write better than some of the crap I’ve had to read for.” That was probably thirty or forty screen or teleplays ago. Good practice…especially in writing dialogue.    
Around ’90, I decided I’d had enough of Hollywood and moved back to Gainesville, Texas—for the fourth time. Bought a small ranch and figured if I had a movie or TV show to do, I was only about an hour from DFW airport.
In, 2009, a local friend, Buck Stienke, asked to read some of my screenplays. So, I gave him some and he took a shine to Rockabilly Baby...a fictional account of the birth of rock and roll in the ‘50s…With Buck producing and me directing, we shot it in Gainesville, with some students from my acting class I had been teaching. It won a few awards. 
In 2011, an old buddy from the Marine Corp, John Eastman, called and said, “Kenny, I wrote a novel.” “Hell, good for you John.” He asked, “Can you make a screenplay out of it?” I said, “Sure, send it down.” He sent a seven hundred page novel to me. “Damn, John, why didn’t you just send War and Peace…” Well, anyway, Buck and I adapted it to a 123 page screenplay in about three months, that is still making the rounds at Disney.  
Buck and I looked at each other after that and simultaneously said, “Shoot, we can write a novel.” Thirteen weeks later we finished our first, Black Eagle Force: Eye of the Storm. It was released in Feb. of 2012—that was fifteen novels ago. Seven military/action novels in the Black Eagle Force series; Two in the Aurora SyFy series and six in The Nation historical western fiction series, featuring the first black Deputy US Marshal, west of the Mississippi, Bass Reeves (Winners of two national Laramie awards). Two of the westerns, I wrote alone…HELL HOLE and the just released LADY LAW and my WIP in the same series is, BLUE WATER WOMAN.
Just after we had released the second western, Haunted Falls (winner of the Laramie Best Action Western, 2013) a fan asked why I hadn’t written about Delaware Bend up on the Red River between the Indian Nations and Texas. I said, “Didn’t know anything about it.” Well the reason was that it was mostly under Lake Texoma today. But, back in the 1800s, Delaware Bend (and Dexter, Texas), in Cooke County, was one of the three most notorious places in North America, along with Leadville, Colorado and Tombstone, Arizona—in addition to being the the winter camp for the likes of the notorious guerrillas, William Clarke Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson and later, the James Gang.
Wow, what a treasure-trove of history to weave a story around—and ACROSS the RED was born. Following that was BASS and the LADY, where I introduced Deputy US Marshal Fiona Mae Miller, the only female deputy marshal to serve in the Indian Nations under Judge Isaac Parker—the Hanging Judge. Gainesville became the home base for Deputy US Marshals Fiona Miller and Brushy Bill Roberts—Brushy Bill is said by many to actually be Billy the Kid after he faked his death by his close friend, Pat Garrett in 1881. Brushy Bill died in 1950 in Hico, Texas.
Texas has offered me an unlimited source of material for my historical fiction westerns. My current WIP, I mentioned earlier, is BLUE WATER WOMAN an Indian Shamaness for the Caddos of the mound building Atakapan Tejas Indian tribes back in the 1500s. Fiona Mae and her partner, Deputy US Marshal Brushy Bill Roberts go on a suspense filled encounter peppered with old west Indian mysticism, therianthropy, also know as shapeshifting and outlaws on the scout in BLUE WATER WOMAN.
In a country and lifestyle normally reserved for men, Fiona Mae Miller is a special breed of woman. She’s lightening fast, an expert shot…with either hand…can ride anything with hair on it and doesn’t tolerate injustice or rudeness anywhere...or from anyone.
Ken Farmer didn’t write his first full novel until he was sixty-nine years of age. He often wonders what the hell took him so long. At age seventy-five…he’s currently working on novel number sixteen—In addition to E and Print, eight of the novels, so far, are available in Audio…narrated by Ken. 
Ken spent thirty years raising cattle and quarter horses in Texas and forty-five years as a professional actor (after a stint in the Marine Corps). Those years gave him a background for storytelling…or as he has been known to say, “I’ve always been a bit of a bull---t artist, so writing novels kind of came naturally once it occurred to me I could put my stories down on paper.”
In addition to his love for writing fiction, he likes to teach acting, voice-over and writing workshops. His favorite expression is: “Just tell the damn story.”
All commenters will be submitted for a random drawing for five (5) Mobi files of LADY LAW.
Ken's VO Demo:

(Info provided by author)

October 16, 2016

Volunteers, Mountains, and a Dragon? Who but Helen Henderson Knows!

Greetings from western Tennessee. I’m Helen Henderson and describe myself as a tour guide to the stars and worlds of imagination. Magic and fantasy are my stock in trade. Dragons are my friends and I was able to catch the picture of a water dragon sunning itself on the grass at Discovery Park in Union City.

Today I’m proud to share a few thoughts about my heart-home Tennessee.

As a recent transplant, I can’t hide my northern heritage and background. My jersey burr tinged with Pennsylvania coal country accent gives me away as soon as I open my mouth. However, there is the place that you were born and the place you were meant to be from. The first time I crossed the Natchez Trace, I knew I was home.

So let’s talk Tennessee.

Tennessee is rich in music, history, natural beauty, to name a few things. Depending on your tastes, the word music brings to mind the twang of a county song from Nashville, soulful blues on Beale Street in Memphis, or the sound of the King, Elvis Presley. However, there is more than what comes from the recording studio. Concerts don’t have to be in large venues. The sound of bluegrass and fiddle drift over town squares or from the porch in places such as the Shelby Forest General Store. And don’t forget to try one of their world-famous hamburgers.

Speaking of food, one of the first things I had to adjust to after moving to the mid-South was “slaw.” To the uninitiated, that is the quick way to say coleslaw. The condiment is usually matched with the question, “Do you want slaw on your barbeque?” BBQ sandwiches have more than sauce atop the meat. Slaw is there too.

This post is too short to go into the history of Tennessee. Tales can be of life and death, of settlement and re-settlement. From the volunteers who came out of the mountains to defend the country to the dead of the Civil War battlefields, there are stories to be told in every town. And I look forward to exploring them all as I travel my adopted state, Tennessee.

As I range farther from the Memphis flatlands and the Mighty Mississippi towards the Great Smoky Mountains, there will be lush forests and waterfalls, each more gorgeous than the one before. Come on down and join me. I’ll be sitting on my porch watching the hummingbirds and dragonflies flit amidst the crepe myrtle and working on my next novel.

I’m offering readers who comment on this post a choice between a pdf of Windmaster (Book 1 of the Windmaster Novels) or Dragon Destiny (Book 1 of the Dragshi Chronicles). Please indicate your preference in your comment and leave contact info. Winner will be chosen at random. I look forward to your comments.

A former feature-story writer and correspondent, Henderson says she has also written fiction as long as she could remember. Her heritage reflects the contrasts of her Gemini sign. She is a descendent of a coal-miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer. This dichotomy shows in her writing, which crosses genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. As far as her writing style, a reviewer said she “creates fast-paced stories with characters who come to life in the reader's mind.”

Henderson’s debut novel was Windmaster. Revenge set Ellspeth and the Archmage Dal on the path to her destiny, but prophecy controlled the journey.Trapped within the Oracle's Temple, Ellspeth must choose between her own survival, saving the future of magic... or love.

The Dragshi Chronicles started out as a short story. It grew into a full-length novel, Dragon Destiny. The characters refused to leave and the tale of the trader girl Anastasia, the dragshi Lord Branin, and his dragon soul-twin Llewlyn, grew into a series with the fourth volume, Hatchling’s Vengeance, released in July 2016.

Helen can be found online at the following places:

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/1eWhhGB

(info provided by author)

October 9, 2016

South Dakota Humanities Council

By the time this post airs, the Festival of Books, held in Billings, South Dakota is over.  That event occurred September 22nd-25th.  You can check out what happened with this link http://sdhumanities.org  and browse the other features offered about writers and the arts.  I believe it’s an annual event so make sure to check it out in 2017.

Supporting the Humanities in South Dakota Since 1972
The South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC), founded in 1972 in response to an act of Congress, is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and the only cultural organization in the state whose sole mission is to deliver humanities programming to the people of South Dakota.
Our vision is to lead statewide advocacy for the humanities, working with other partners to foster literary and civic engagement.  Visit this website to learn more http://sdhumanities.org

2016 One Book South Dakota—Most states have the One Book program.  I know Nebraska does.  Check out South Dakota’s when visiting the South Dakota Humanities Council website.

(All info downloaded from  http://sdhumanities.org/)

October 2, 2016

Peaches Mean South Carolina . . . not Georgia by C. Hope Clark

Summertime is peach time in the state of South Carolina. While Georgia is called the Peach State, the Palmetto State actually out-produces its neighbor in the fruit. During a normal year, South Carolina grows 60,000 tons of peaches which makes it obviously the state fruit.
Peaches took hold in the 1850s but grew in popularity in the 1920s when cotton farmers hit hard by the boll weevil made a shift from cotton. The current value of this crop to the state’s economy is $40 million, which is a lot of sweet-smelling, sticky, nutritious, luxurious fruit. Over  18,000 acres of those babies.

Most of these farms are located on beautiful, smooth, rolling hills which make production simpler and the view ever so easy on the eyes. The carefully manicured ten-foot trees, speckled with fruit, create a uniform landscape painting you could get lost in. And the aroma . . . oh my goodness.

Southern Living has even covered South Carolina and its major peach producers, most of them family operators who claim that this state’s peaches run bigger, sweeter, and juicier that those found next door. Below is a list of places where you can take a rest in your travels across the Southeast and pick up some fantastic peaches and peachy snacks. South Carolina is not a large state, and in the summer you probably come close to one of these farms, and you would be sorely remiss if you didn’t stop.

Abbott Farms, Spartanburg, Florence, and Gaffney, SC - www.abottfarmsonline.com
Belue Farms, Boiling Springs, SC – www.beluefarms.com
Big Smile/Yonce Farms, Johnston, SC – www.bigsmilepeaches.com
Black’s Peaches, 1800 Black Highway, York, SC - http://www.blackspeachesandbakery.com/

Callaham Orchards - https://www.facebook.com/Callaham-Orchards-152822858065270/ 559 Crawford Road, Belton, SC
Chappell Farms, Barnwell, SC – www.chappellfarms.com
Cook’s Roadside Market, 1236 August Road, US Highway 25, Trenton, SC - http://www.cooksfarm.com/
Cooley Springs, SC Highway 11, Chesnee, SC - http://discoversouthcarolina.com/products/26393
Dixie Belle Farm, Ward, SC – www.dixiebellepeaches.com
Fishers Orchard, 650 Fisher Road, Greer, SC - http://www.fishersorchard.com/
McLeods Farm, SC Highway 151, McBee, SC – www.macspride.com
Sease Farms, Lexington, SC – www.clintonseasefarm.com
Springs Farm, 1010 Springfield Highway, Fort Mill, SC - http://www.springsfarm.com/
Titan Farms, Ridge Spring, SC – www.titanfarms.com
Watsonia Farms, Monetta, SC – www.watsoniafarms.com
Oh, while you’re cruising across the state, hopefully in the summer, why not stop at one of three peach festivals!

Lexington County Peach Festival - http://www.lexingtoncountypeachfestival.com/ - usually held around the 4th of July in the Gilbert CommunityPark in Gilbert, SC. This one is only thirty miles from the state capital of Columbia.

Ridge Peach Festival - http://www.ridgepeachfestival.com/ - usually held mid-June with a huge representation by several of the farms mentioned above. Location Trenton, SC.

South Carolina Peach Festivalhttp://www.scpeachfestival.net/ - held mid-July in Cherokee County, in the town of Gaffney. You can’t miss the big town water tower shaped like a peach!

Fresh peaches, peach salsa, peach cobbler, peach pies, peach jam, peach ice cream, peach sauce on chicken and ribs, peach French toast, and melt-in-your-mouth peach BBQ sauce. What can’t you make with peaches! Especially the sweeter SC peaches. And don’t forget that August is National Peach Month!

And if you don’t believe me that South Carolina does peaches better than Georgia, just listen to Steve Colbert.

C. Hope Clark offers a change to win one of her Edisto Novels.  Comment here to enter.  Leave your contact info and your book of choice.  Visit C. Hope Clark website below for more info on her work.

C. Hope Clark adores her state to include writing all her mysteries about South Carolina. Her latest, released August 2016, is Echoes of Edisto, book three in The Edisto Island Mysteries. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com
(Info Author Provided)