The Winds of Change are Blowing

Summer is here, and Oghma Creative Media has seen incredible changes since the first day of Spring. Our staff has grown by leaps and bounds, our horizons have expanded, and incredible new books keep rolling out.

First and foremost, our Spring/Summer issue of Saddlebag Dispatches hit the virtual shelves last week. Chock full of stores of the West, poetry, and fantastic photographs, this issue is also a tribute to Dusty Richards, the man who lent his dream to the creation of the magazine. And on a personal note, you will find my first published story in this issue—in the form of a feature article about Dusty’s life. Available in paperback and a special hardcover commemorative edition, get your copy now at saddlebagdispatches.com, and wherever books are sold.

Dusty Richards wanted to create a magazine that brought together stories of the Old West, the spirit of the New West, and everything in between. Oghma Creative Media is fully committed to keeping that dream alive, for Dusty, for the fans, and for ourselves. We’ve had staff changes and additions with the magazine, to keep up with the steady flow of submissions we are getting, and to make sure that each issue is the best we can create. At this time, the magazine is published twice each year, and each future issue will be themed. Look for the Autumn/Winter edition in mid-December, focusing on the world of rodeo.

Speaking of staff growth, this summer Oghma Creative Media hired a new full-time editor to help with the work load, and ten interns for the summer and beyond. Because we are growing and moving forward so quickly, we need the extra help. And because of our humble roots, we want to continue to help others succeed in their dreams by teaching them how to succeed in the publishing world. We have six interns in the editing department, helping with story development, editing, and quality control. We now have three creative interns to put the books together and add those fantastic covers you see on our books. And we’ve added a wonderful intern to our marketing department, to help us get the word out.

So many exciting changes… but wait, there’s more news. We have expanded out distribution channels, and all our books are available everywhere English is spoken. Libraries, bookstores, and online retailers across the globe now carry our titles. This is especially exciting to us as we continue to add new, talented authors from around the world.

What next, you ask? Well, as soon as we have a moment to catch our collective breath, we will be pursuing foreign language sales. After all, we want to make sure that everyone has access to our fantastic and ever-expanding catalog!

If you haven’t yet done so, go on over to oghmacreative.com and saddlebagdispatches.com, and find out what you’ve been missing.

Happy Reading!

~ Cyndy

International Thank an Author Year

I am declaring today the beginning of “International Thank an Author Year”. To my knowledge, this has not been previously declared, and I believe it is long overdue. And since Earth does not yet have an international government, I believe that I am as qualified as anyone else to declare this event.

Think about it for a moment. How many of you have a favorite book? Or an author that you absolutely adore? Have you ever learned an amazing fact by reading a book? Did you find a great recipe in a new cookbook? Has a favorite children’s book allowed you to spend quality time with a child or grandchild? Have you browsed travel books or novels with exotic locals, visiting those places in your mind? What about that special series of books, whose characters feel like your best friends? When life gets a little too crazy, do you escape between the pages for much needed relaxation?

Once Upon a TimeIf you answered YES to any of these questions, you should THANK AN AUTHOR. Without the efforts of those writers, you would have missed out on having some wonderful experiences. Just imagine how empty your life would be without books! On second thought—don’t imagine it. It is a horrifying image.

You may be asking, “How do I go about thanking an author?” I have several suggestions, but the most gratifying one for most authors is to WRITE A REVIEW. Just about everyone has an Amazon account, and that is probably the easiest way for anyone to leave a review. Many people also use Goodreads, or other reading-orientated sites. Many libraries also allow reviews on their websites. The advantages of writing a review are many. YOU get to tell the author how much you like the book, and even if there are some things you liked more than others. The AUTHOR gets thanked for all their hard work creating that book for your enjoyment. And POTENTIAL readers can be pointed in the right direction to find their own new favorite book.

Thank an author. Leave a review.

Does the author have a website? Sign up for their newsletter. Newsletters will keep you informed of upcoming public appearances, new books coming out, and other news about the author. Authors love communicating with their fans.

Do they have a blog? Follow the blog, like, comment on, and reblog their posts so that others can get to know your favorite writers. This also lets the writer know that someone is reading what they write, and allows them to learn what topics people are most interested in.

Thank you for the books.Do they have an author page on Facebook? “Like” their page, and invite your friends to like it too. This is a quick and easy way to show the author you are paying attention, and are interested in what they are doing. The same principle applies to Twitter. Spread the word!

Is an author appearing at a public venue for a book signing or lecture? Go see them, buy a book, get it autographed, and say “thank you” in person. You will probably be able to have you picture taken with them as well.

I challenge you to go forth, fellow readers, and kick off International Thank an Author Year!

~ Cyndy

A Guardian Angel

When I started this blog, my purpose was to give readers a look behind-the- scenes at the world of writing and publishing. To let others see what writers go through to write their books, to get published, and to promote the books they have written.

I spend my days communicating with many writers, both those that Oghma Creative Media publishes, as well as those that publish elsewhere, and some that don’t publish at all. Some writers are seasoned veterans, others are just getting started.

Along the way, and as an expected hazard of my job, I caught the dreaded writing bug. The beginnings of this blog are rooted in that illness, and I thought that the blog would cure my illness. I was unbelievably mistaken. My dreams have taken off, and I am now planning a cozy mystery series, a biography, and various articles to be written.

I communicate with writers daily. I look for ways that writers can promote themselves and their work. I look for new avenues to promote Oghma Creative Media as a company. I read constantly and offer suggestions to others. I encourage everyone to be the best person they can be, the best WRITER they can be.

And in the course of all this – I forgot to write. No excuses, I simply forgot to sit down and do it. Luckily for me, I have a guardian angel. I’ll call her Brenda, because that is her name.

Guiding LightsBrenda and I met at a writer’s conference last year, and I felt an instant connection with her. She came there to learn, and to pitch her book idea. I was there to represent Oghma Creative Media. We spent some time talking, and have kept in touch ever since.

A couple weeks ago, Brenda sent me an email with the beautiful picture featured here. She said she felt led to send it to me, and wasn’t sure why. When I received it, I admired the picture and had thoughts of writing about it. I framed a post about her generous gift of a lovely image, another post about how writers need someone/thing to light their way, another post about using random images to spark a story.

But you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t write.

Every day I encourage others to write. To simply put their butt in a chair and get to it. And I somehow neglected to apply that to my own life. This week my guardian angel nudged me again. She didn’t nag, she didn’t criticize, she simply encouraged me to sit down and write.

So I did.

Brenda gently reminded me of the most important thing a writer must do. To be a writer, one must sit down and write. It doesn’t have to be great literature, nor does it need to be hundreds (or even dozens) of words or pages at a time. But we must write. Let the stories out onto the pages. Don’t worry about what will happen later –the editing, the publishing, and the marketing. Those things are necessary tools that we need later. But not right now.

I hope that all of the aspiring writers in the world can find their guardian angel to guide them gently down the path to success. But a word of warning—stay away from Brenda. She’s mine, and I need her.

~ Cyndy

Let’s Talk About Love

Now that it is February, everyone’s mind is turning toward Valentine’s Day. Hearts, flowers,
roses, boxes of chocolate, sappy greeting cards. The one day a year we are reminded and
encouraged to pay special attention to the ones we love. And yes, I know many of us say we
don’t need a Hallmark holiday to remind of us of what’s important, but we still participate
because we enjoy it.

Before the internet gets overwhelmed with Valentine’s greetings and stories about Cupid, I want
to talk about a different perspective on love. One that isn’t all hearts and flowers.
The matriarch of our Oghma Creative Media family is known for writing romantic stories. Velda
Brotherton has been writing hot and steamy stories for years. Whether the setting is the Ozark
hills, the western plains, or somewhere in between, her writing is said to be sexy, dark, and
gritty. She does just write romances, but those are what I want to talk about today.

Velda BrothertonBecause I’m working on a couple of projects with her, I’ve had the chance to spend a little more one-on- one time with Velda, and get to know her. She’s been around a little longer than some of us have, and experienced a few more things. And no matter how arrogant we are, we’re going to have to admit that she’s bound to know more about love.

I don’t know much about Velda’s personal life, and all that she has been through, but I do know that she was married to one man for many years, and was always true to him. Think about that. One man. In today’s world of transient relationships that’s something special.

Right now Velda is working on a sequel to a book she wrote in 1985, but didn’t publish until a few years ago. This book is called Beyond the Moon, and is dear to her heart. Recently I read this book for the first time, and I was stunned by the depth of love portrayed by her characters.

Beyond the MoonBeyond the Moon is the story of a Vietnam POW who comes home and ends up in the local VA hospital because he just can’t find his way back to the world. It is the story of an artist who recently lost her husband, and is trying to build a new life without her longtime partner. It is the story of these two people finding each other in a world that is new and strange to both of them, and learning what REAL love is. It is not always hearts and flowers. Sometimes it is tears, and nightmares, and fears of the unknown and the unknowable. It is standing beside the one you love, not because you should, but because it is the only thing your heart will let you do.

Beyond the Moon is a book I would recommend everyone read. If you’re a woman, a man, a person who’s been in love, a person who thought they were in love once, a person who’s never been in love—this book is for you.

Yes, there is romance. But above all, this is a love story.

~ Cyndy

The Best Characters are Real

The advantage of working in the publishing industry and meeting writers from different genres is that I get to meet the most interesting people in the world. I have the opportunity to learn more about different geographic areas, different time periods—past, present, and future—and meet incredible characters.

As readers, I know that you have favorite characters. Characters that you just can’t get out of your mind, that steal your heart, that you wish were real and you could learn more about after the book is finished. If you are very lucky, the character is part of a series that you can follow along with. If you are incredibly lucky, the character you adore is real.

In January 2018, I became an incredibly lucky reader. I met a character in a book, a young girl named Avery. Avery is very real, and very brave. Let me introduce you to her.

Avery lives in Canada, a country that I dream of visiting someday. A few years ago her mom Jodi looked at Avery’s back, and noticed that it looked, well, different. Jodi noticed that Avery’s spine appeared to curve a bit more than it should, and in a direction that it probably shouldn’t. A visit to the doctor confirmed their fears. Avery was diagnosed with scoliosis.

Personally, I knew very little about scoliosis before reading this book. I thought it was just something that people lived with, or at worst they might have to wear a back brace for a while. But not in Avery’s case. Her prognosis was so severe that surgery was her only option.

Imagine if this happened to you. You’re going along in life, don’t even feel like anything is wrong, and the doctor tells you that you have to have surgery. And not just a little surgery, like having your tonsils out, or your appendix removed. The doctor wants to cut your back open along your entire spine.

Now add the fact that you are a preteen girl. I don’t know about you, but I’d be terrified.

I don’t mean to minimize the effect of this news on her parents, or on her brother. This is their story too. This is the story of an entire family and how they acted and reacted to the diagnosis. As a mother, and a former preteen girl, I followed their story with trepidation and couldn’t help but think of how I’d react to the situation. And let me say, I don’t think I would have been as strong as they were.

One of the things that they did was turn to the internet for information. Not just medical insights—the doctors could provide that—but real-life anecdotes about what to expect during the process. And you know what they found? Almost nothing. So in an effort to help others, as well as deal with their own fears, they started a blog. On the blog, they took turns telling their story, so readers got different perspectives. And from that blog grew this book.

But don’t worry—this book is much more than a collection of blog posts. Yes, there are a sprinkling of blog posts throughout. This is a great way to experience the thoughts and feelings of the family throughout each step of the journey. The book also includes medical information about the journey and pictures. Lots of pictures. Pictures of the family, and before and after pictures of Avery’s spine.

That’s right folks—this determined girl not only bravely faced major surgery, she allowed her family to take pictures of her back, both before and after surgery, and she allowed the pictures to be shared. With total strangers. Around the world. Because she wanted to share her story with others who might be facing the same thing.

I don’t know about you, but there are very few pictures in existence of me at that age. I was awkward, and shy, and did not want pictures taken at all. And certainly not pictures this personal. And if someone did take a picture, I didn’t want anyone to see.

 

The title of the book is Bent But Not Broken, which perfectly sums up Avery Butters. When you get your copy of the book, you’ll notice that she graciously allowed her father Andrew to place his name as the main author, and her mother Jodi to have her name as an author as well. They did contribute significantly, and they wrote many of the words between the covers of the book.

But Avery is the real author of this story. She lived it, she wrote it, she shared it with the world.

So buy her book—she’s a character you’ll never forget. And best of all—she’s real.

 

 

Goodbye to an American Legend

What do you do when you’re a master of words—a publisher of them, even—but none will come to describe the hole that has suddenly appeared in your heart? What do you do when your stock-in-trade can’t come close to conveying the depths of emptiness and despair at the loss of someone you looked up to more than anyone? You keep going. You keep typing. You keep doing the one thing that your mentor admonished you to do above all other things… You keep writing. Because today the world is changed, and that mentor has moved on.

They say that a child doesn’t come into their own unless and until the death of their father. If that’s the case, we as a company were shoved into adulthood this morning when we learned of the passing of our mentor, legendary Western author Dusty Richards.

Keep writing.

What can we say about Dusty? The real question is what can’t you say about him? To say that he was larger than life is the grandest of understatements. He was an irresistible force and an unmovable object all rolled into one, a personality wider than the western skies he wrote about. He was an eternal optimist, a man who woke up each and every day renewed and ready for the next job, the next challenge, the next good fight. He was a father, a patriarch, a mentor of the first order. He toured the country teaching and encouraging new and experienced writers alike, challenging them to follow his lead, tell the next inspiring story, pen the next Great American Novel. He was a fighter, a lover, a joker, an entrepreneur, a canny businessman, a television and radio personality, a famous rodeo announcer, a cowboy, and, perhaps above all else, a master storyteller. Dusty was everything that fit under his trademark ten gallon hat and so much more, and we could keep writing for a year and not do him justice. He was a legend, and one that touched the lives of many, many thousands—possibly millions—of people.

What would he say to us right now? “Dig in those spurs and get on with it.” He’s sitting around that big ol’ campfire in the sky right now, Pat at his side, swapping stories with the likes of Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and his old friends Jory Sherman and Cotton Smith. He was not one for self-pity, grief, or taking his foot off the gas for a second. He wouldn’t want to be grieved, but celebrated. He’d want to keep his memory alive by following his lead. By chasing the sunset with all that we’ve got, pursuing our dream, living with passion, and cherishing the ones we love. And that’s what we’ll do, how we’ll honor our beloved father. Keep writing. Keep fighting. Keep telling stories. Keep doing what Dusty did until we can’t anymore.

Happy trails, Boss. We’ll see you again someday.

Keep writing.

The Woman Behind the Man

I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks, because when my emotions are highest, my voice is the softest. As most of you know, a few weeks ago, right before Christmas, our dear friends Dusty and Pat Richards were in an automobile accident. The accident was dreadful, leaving both of them in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.

They were listed as stable but critical, and the prognosis was hopeful but guarded. There have been small gains, and small losses. Our emotions have been riding a constant rollercoaster. We have tried to carry on business as usual at Oghma, but I’m sure you all understand that is almost impossible when family members are going through trials. And Dusty and Pat have been family since the beginning of Oghma.

We worried about their conditions, waited for any and all updates, wondered what the updates meant for their futures, wondered if we were hoping for too much, or too little. We agonized as Pat went through surgery for her back, her arm, her wrist. We waited for news of Dusty regaining consciousness, regaining memories, we wonder if he will ever again be the Dusty we know and love. We agonized over infections, celebrated the removal of ventilators, celebrated as Pat began rehabilitation and we were told she might regain some movement in her legs after all, and not be completely paralyzed.

Last week, unexpectedly, we received the news that Pat had passed from this world. It was her birthday that day. I choose to view this as a positive sign. Everyone who ever met Pat Richards can attest to her strong spiritual nature. What better way to begin a new phase of her spiritual journey than to celebrate her heavenly birthday on the same day as her earthly birthday?

Today we celebrated the life of Pat Richards at her funeral. The family provided photographs of beautiful memories to help us celebrate with them. Wedding pictures, family vacations, community events, glimpses into a life well-lived. Friends and family sent beautiful flower arrangements to remind us that life is indeed beautiful, yet fleeting, and should be celebrated.

Yes, we are devastated to lose her. But our tears are for ourselves, for all of the things we won’t say, the times we won’t see her, the events we won’t enjoy along with her. And we cry for Dusty, who lost his partner of 56 years, her daughters who lost their mother, her grandchildren, her extended family, her friends, and her community. Pat Richards lived a beautiful life, and her spirit was strong, her faith stronger still. There was no need to cry for Pat, because as long as even one person remembers her, she is never truly gone. And knowing she touched so many lives, and so many generations, she will live on for many years here on Earth, as well as in Heaven.

Thoughts and Prayers for Dusty

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And so it always goes. While we were all busy planning vacations, honeymoons, family gatherings, and drumming up Christmas cheer yesterday, two other members of our family had life throw them a curveball.

For those of you who don’t yet know, our friend Dusty Richards and his incredible wife Pat were involved in a serious car accident yesterday afternoon near their home in Springdale, Arkansas. Both are now in critical but stable condition in a local hospital, though Dusty remains in a coma after incurring a head injury during the crash, and Pat is currently undergoing surgery for a spinal injury.

There really are no words to convey the depth of our grief over this turn of events. Dusty is a true living legend. A big man with an even bigger personality and a heart of gold, there isn’t a writer in this region whom the Ranch Boss hasn’t helped or influenced at some point in the last thirty years. Heaven knows he’s had a massive influence on all of us here at Oghma, and there has never been a better mentor or greater friend for any of us. As for Pat, she’s the perfect foil for our favorite cowboy, the epitome of grace under fire, as quiet as he is boisterous, but as strong as they come. They’re a matched pair, and one we’re honored to count among our family.

Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Pat or Dusty, please glance through these photos of him, and join us all here in the Oghma Creative Media family in keeping them and their loved ones in your thoughts and prayers, both today and in the days to come.

NaNoWriMo Lessons

It’s December now, and NaNoWriMo has been over for more than a week. I promised to report back to you on my results, and here I am to keep that promise. Not surprisingly, I crashed and burned on my first attempt at winning NaNoWriMo. The reality is that I pretty well stopped writing after the first 5000 words or so. I’m not going to make any excuses for myself, but I do see reasons why it happened.

First, I am not a professional writer. I haven’t yet developed the discipline needed to complete a project of that magnitude in a short time. I’m sure that you will agree with me, as you have experienced evidence of me trying to “find my groove” here on the blog.

Second, as a reader, I had no real idea of the WORK that is involved in getting the stories and characters from my head to the page. When I’m thinking a scene through in my mind, it seems as if the events and the dialogue go on for hours. On the page, it turns out to be a few paragraphs, may be a couple pages if I’m really lucky. Now what do I do? Go to a new scene? Create more dialogue? More background information? It’s a delicate balance.

Third, I’ve spent my life as a wife and mother. I have not yet learned that it’s okay to create a time and place in the day for me to concentrate on myself. People are constantly talking and writing about “self-care”, and this is just another form of that. Learning that I am important, and that it’s okay to put aside the needs of others in order to accomplish my own goals. I’m honestly not sure that is a lesson I can ever learn.

Fourth, I am a professional procrastinator. I’ve told many people that my house was never cleaner than when I was going to college. Every time I had a paper or project due, I suddenly discovered the dishes or laundry needed washed, or a closet needed cleaned. Or something similar would occur at the most (in)convenient time.

Having said all that, I have a question for you—have you ever seen anything crash and burn? Does the fire instantly die out? NO. What happens is that the fire continues to burn, consuming everything, burning brighter when it finds more fuel. And that is what has happened to me. No, I didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year. I didn’t really expect to. But I did light a fire, and am now consumed with the dream if being a professional writer.

So come along with me, follow the adventure, join me if you will—the dream is burning bright.

~ Cyndy

Back in the Saddlebag Again

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.

Bender: Volume 1     

 

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.

SaddlebagDispatches.com

~ Cyndy