After a much needed, but much lamented, break from writing for this blog, I’m back on track
again folks. I know the past couple of weeks have been busy for all of us, and the next month
won’t be much better. The holiday season is always a busy time for everyone, and it’s not any
different at Oghma Creative Media.
In addition to the novels we publish and the events for writers that we are involved in, we have
an incredible western-theme magazine that we publish. Saddlebag Dispatches is a full-color,
glossy publication that comes out twice a year right now, perhaps more often in future, that
features fiction, non-fiction, interviews with western writers, articles, and advertising featuring
other western-themed writing.
And western-themed isn’t limited to cowboys. We are also serializing Bender, the Graphic
Novel, the true account of America’s first family of serial killers. The Bender family lived in
Kansas, and therefore fits the western criteria. Brothers David and Michael Frizell do an
incredible job of bringing the story to life in all its horror. If you’ve never heard about the
Bender family, I encourage you to check out either the serialization in our magazine, or better
yet, get the full-length graphic novels telling the story. The first two volumes are currently for
sale, and the third in on its way. Keep your eyes open for public appearances around the Midwest
as well. The Frizell brothers love meeting their fans and talking about their work.
When we say “western-themed”, we mean anything that happens west of the Mississippi River,
and embodies the spirit of the Old West, as most American imagine it. This of course includes
the cowboys, but also the pioneers, the women, the settlers from all nations who moved
westward to create a life for themselves and future generations. And it includes modern stories of
rodeos, and ranchers, and anyone else who continues to work hard, play hard, and keep the spirit
alive for all of us.
We’ve talked to romance novelist Linda Broday about the power of storytelling, interviewed
Craig Johnson, the man behind the incredibly popular Longmire books and television series,
included articles about Native Americans, and introduced our readers to museums and
collections that are relevant to all of our topics.
Our next issue will be out soon, but in the meantime pardner, mosey on over to pick up an issue
or two. Then grab a chair or a log, get a little closer to the campfire, and let yourself be
transported to the spirit of the West.
Like many kids of my generation, I loved playing the now-politically-incorrect-on-so-many-levels game of Cowboys and Indians. When my friends and I played, we didn’t care which side we were on, it was all about the game. As we grew older, we still played the game, but now we rode horses and imagined that someday we would reclaim the Wild West. Little did we realize at the time how much the “Wild” West had changed, and that the days of the cowboys as we imagined them were fading fast.
But every once in a while, a kid like me gets to meet real-life heroes. That is exactly how I felt when I sat down to talk to Dusty Richards. I’ve known Dusty for a while, and known of him pretty much all my life. Dusty has lived in Northwest Arkansas since before I was born, and has always been something of a local legend. Besides being a successful rancher in the area, he had a local radio program for years and appeared on a regional morning TV show, and everyone I know talked about the books he wrote and had published.
Wonderful, magical books about COWBOYS.
Meeting Dusty for the first time a few months ago was exciting for me and I managed not to fangirl too much. Even more exciting is the fact that Dusty is one of the authors at Oghma Creative Media, and that means I can talk to him anytime I want.
Dusty Richards is very friendly and approachable, and absolutely loves talking about his life and his books. As part of my official duties, I sat down to ask him about his life this past weekend. As Director of Marketing, I want to try to know our authors not just as writers, but as people—who they are, what makes them happy or sad, what brought them to the point they are now as artists.
Dusty had scheduled an appearance at the Springdale (AR) Public Library as part of Indie Author Day. He agreed to sit and chat with me until his scheduled time slot, and we found a place to settle in and get comfortable. The tables near the south windows offered light for recording, and space apart from the main activity to prevent us from interrupting others.
In my innocence (not being a published author) I asked the question “What got you started writing westerns?” Three hours later, I still wasn’t sure that I had a definitive answer.
But looking back over the interview, I discovered the answer was right in front of me. Dusty had given it to me in true storyteller fashion. I had expected him to say “This is how it happened,” but what he actually said was “This (a writer of westerns) is who I am, and here is how I got to this point in my life.”
Dusty Richards told me about his early years, living in Chicago, moving to Arizona, meeting the people on the ranches, working with vaqueros, and learning to do things with his hands. He told me about learning to ride horses, entertaining the notion of riding bulls (he became an announcer instead). He told me about the authors he read, the stories he loved, the stories he wanted to write. He told me about his failures and successes, his mentors and supporters, his family and friends.
The closest to a “real” answer to my question came down to this. Dusty once had a friend who spoke about what he wanted to do when he retired. Unfortunately, his friend died before making his dream come true. Dusty said that woke him up. He told his wife he didn’t want to miss his own chance, so he retired from Tyson Foods after more than thirty-five years, and got serious about writing his stories. After more than one hundred books, numerous short stories, three Spur Awards, and now a movie deal, I can say that his fans are glad he took the chance.
Wait—did I just say there is a MOVIE?? Yes, folks I did. This summer (2017) Dusty earned his third Spur award from Western Writers of America for his novel The Mustanger and the Lady, published by Oghma Creative Media. The new movie Painted Woman is based on characters in that book and will be showing in select theatres around the United States. Friday night (November 10th) it will be premiering in Poteau, Oklahoma. That’s fitting, since it was filmed in Oklahoma. Ask your local venues if they will be screening it. If not, go ahead and ask them to request it. And while you’re waiting, pick up the book. We’ll talk more about this Saturday, after the show.
Small children love to hear stories, and I was no exception. My mother didn’t tell her own stories, so my bedtime stories came from books. I loved the books the stories came from, the look of the covers, the smell of the pages. Before I could read, I snuck books into my bed to sleep with the way other kids slept with stuffed animals. When I grew older, I took a flashlight with me so I could hide under the covers and read. I knew someday I would write the books and tell the stories. I dreamed of having my name on the cover of books, of going into stores and meeting my fans at book signings, of traveling the world to “research” my next novel.
I still love the stories and the books. But my reality has deviated from the dream. I’ve never written a book, a short story, or even a poem. My husband is an author, as are many of my friends. Other friends are working on making their dreams of publication a reality. I admire each and every one of them. I simply haven’t joined them.
My husband and I live in a log cabin, tucked away in the Ozark hills of Northwest Arkansas. It’s an idyllic setting for a novelist to hide away in and write, if you don’t mind staying home when the creek rises. Or having no internet access, because the cables don’t come out this far, and the satellites can’t receive a signal down in this holler. No TV signal either, for that matter. But we don’t view these as hardships—we are from a generation that grew up without computers, and children weren’t allowed to spend hours in front of the television. We do have indoor plumbing, and even electricity… we aren’t completely out of touch with the times.
We both grew up in this area, in the next county over. The town where we attended high school had less than 1500 people then, and you mostly knew the same kids all through school. Some of those people are still in our lives, and we consider ourselves fortunate because they are the people who made us what we are today. My husband is my rock star and has four published novels so far, and promises me there are more to come. He tells me I can write, that I should write, and I know he’ll guide and support me along the way if I choose to try. We shall see.
Along my life journey I managed to stumble into the world of writing, an exciting world populated by authors and artists, publishers and libraries and bookstores. I admit that it happened with the help of my awesome husband. I am currently the Marketing Director for Oghma Creative Media, a publishing house based on the principle of putting the authors first. We aren’t a “vanity publisher”, where anyone can pay to have a book published and call all the shots. We are a traditional publisher who understands that without talented authors and artists we have nothing to publish and sell. We work closely with the authors to help them achieve success, and think of ourselves as one big, mostly happy, family.
But this blog isn’t about the company, or even the industry. I love what I do, I love the people I meet and the places I go. This blog is about my amazing life on the fringes. Will I talk about Oghma Creative Media? Probably so. Will I do my best to introduce you to the authors and artists we publish, as well as others that I meet at conferences? Of course! Will you find book reviews on here, as well as shameless plugs for writers, books, and events? Absolutely! But this isn’t a place for sales and marketing. It’s a place to show you what life is like behind the scenes of my world.
So grab a comfortable chair, settle in with a warm quilt and a cup of tea, and let the stories begin.