5 Questions with A J Aalto — Ninetoes Loves Books

A J Aalto, author of the wildly popular Marnie Baraniuk Files (TOUCHED, DEATH REJOICES, LAST IMPRESSIONS, WRATH & BONES, BLIGHTMARE) as well as several shorts involving Marnie, was kind enough to answer my 5 Questions, as well as a sixth just for Marnie fans! It has been said that to be a good writer, you […]

via 5 Questions with A J Aalto — Ninetoes Loves Books

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.

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In addition to the novels we publish and the events for writers that we are involved in, we have an incredible western-theme magazined 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.

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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.

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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
Oghmacreative.com
Amazon.com
barnesandnoble.com

Welcome Painted Woman, Happy Birthday Dusty Richards

My apologies, loyal readers, for making you wait for this post. Yes, it was due Saturday past but I’m hoping that you will understand when I say that the weekend was crazy busy for me my husband is a Veteran).

Let’s start out with the film Painted Lady. Unfortunately, I was not able to personally attend the screening in Poteau, Oklahoma due to short notice and prior commitments. Our company was represented by other members, so I did get some wonderful insights to share with you.

Most importantly, I had the chance to talk to Dusty Richards himself about the film. If it weren’t for Dusty and his masterful storytelling, the film would not exist. As I previously mentioned, the characters in the film Painted Woman are loosely based on characters appearing in the Dusty Richards Spur-award winning novel The Mustanger and the Lady. Although the “Woman” in question is an important character in the novel, she is not the central character. But the world of film being what it is, some things just need to be adapted to fit the film, and create new audiences.

For those of you familiar with Dusty Richards and his work, you know that his stories are written in a traditional western style. Cowboys and their lives and goals are the central theme, throw in some bad guys, and a few women here and there for balance.

In Painted Woman, the woman is the central character, recreated as a strong, determined woman characteristic of today’s women and adored by audiences. This does not lessen the appeal of the film, and I strongly suggest you go see it if you have the opportunity (ask your local venue to request it). Dusty is very pleased with the film, and is particularly fond of Stef Dawson (of Hunger Games fame) who landed the leading role in the film. In Dusty’s words, “it’s a great film. And that Stef, she’s a great gal, she’s going places.”

Saturday, Western Sizzler in Poteau was the site of Dusty’s 80th birthday party. That is an accomplishment all by itself. Fans were invited to stop by and meet Dusty and wish him a happy birthday. Add that to the premiere of his first film, and it makes for a very exciting weekend for those of us here at Oghma Creative Media.

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Reminiscing with the Ranch Boss

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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.

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Na-No-What-What??

For those of you who haven’t heard, November is also called NaNoWriMo. And if you don’t know what that is all about, let me take a few minutes to explain.
Apparently, a few years ago, some writers got together and decided that the holiday season wasn’t causing people enough stress. Between Halloween decorations and costumes, Thanksgiving dinners and family obligation, and the impending gift-buying season, they still had too much time on their hands.
So, being writers they asked the question, “What if?” In this case, it was, “What if we came up with a way to motivate writers and challenge them to set goals, form support groups, and write a novel? And just for fun, let’s tell them to write AN ENTIRE BOOK in a month. And for even more fun, we’ll schedule it for November, dropping it smack dab into the middle of the holiday season!” And so they did.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and as I stated above, it occurs every November. All joking aside, it really is a fantastic program. It’s easy to sign up for, you can challenge yourself, or work with buddies to try to outdo each other, learn some great motivational skills, and also WRITE A NOVEL.
As I stated in my first post, I have dreamed of seeing my name on the cover of a book since I was a small child. What better way and time than NaNoWriMo to give it a try? I would have a structured environment, plenty of support, and a tiny taste of what our authors at Oghma go through year round. And as I told one author, even if I crash and burn, I still have material for my blog. What do I have to lose?
I promised myself I would not start early, (some authors do, and that’s ok), because I wanted the most authentic (in my mind) experience. But I did spend the end of October thinking about a storyline, obsessing over a title, reading about NaNoWriMo, visiting their website (www.nanowrimo.org ) to get hints and tips, and preparing to WRITE.
My husband (the real writer) (you know, the guy with published books) is completely supportive of my project, and says I’ll be a great writer (bless his heart). I set my account up (it’s free) and started my profile, found a couple buddies among our authors, and anxiously started planning what I would do next.
I discovered you can EARN BADGES, connect with BUDDIES, find events in your REGION, and other fun activities. You can participate completely online, or meet up with groups in your area to write for a few hours. My favorite feature is the spot where you can update the number of words you have written, to show your progress as well as find out your expected completion date if you follow your current pattern, and the number of words you still need to write to reach 50, 000 for this project. I’m basically lazy, so this is a nice touch. You can also see how many words your buddies have written when they update their word count.
The main point is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. You “win” if your reach the goal by November 30.This comes to an average of 1667 words per day, and I advise that said words are actually found in some known language and form coherent sentences. In all fairness I did not see anything in the rules that said you must follow this formula.
It is also not against the rules to continue a work-in-progress if you are already writing something, or want to use this time to work on a collection of short stories or poetry, whatever YOU need to write for your own fulfillment. The only real rule is to keep writing!
On November 1st I logged into my account (my handle is SecretKeeper17 if you want to be my buddy and follow along), added my title and synopsis, then found and uploaded a cute picture for my book “cover”. There is a space to upload an excerpt from your novel, but not enough space to upload the entire book. That isn’t the purpose of this site anyway. The purpose of http://www.nanowrimo.org is to provide a motivational community. You write your novel in your own space, and track it online.
On day one I fell a little short of the word count, on day two I wrote enough to exceed the necessary words for the day as well as make up for my previous shortage. The goal of 50,000 words is achievable. I do have an idea of where my story is going, but I am writing without an outline and meeting my characters as they come along.
Is this easy? No, I’m not a writer, and I have a family and a day job. Will I someday have a novel on the shelves? Maybe, but it’s not why I am doing this. I am embarking on a new adventure, meeting new friends (some real, some not real yet), and gaining a greater understanding of what every author struggles with when telling us their stories.
So go ahead— give NaNoWriMo a try. It’s not too late to get started!