Monday, November 22, 2010
Truth of the matter is, I've been having eye problems... again. It's that danged, old left one, too; the one I had surgery on in the spring of 2009. Over the past eight months I've developed a rather nasty cataract that has progressed at an alarming rate and, currently, I'm pretty much blind in that eye, only able to see shadow and light. Also my loss of focus in my left eye has thrown it off kilter again and it's been wandering all over creation, like a pack of coon hounds off the leash.
Anyway, I'm going under the knife tomorrow morning in Nashville at 9:15 AM to get the problem taken care of. Hopefully, tomorrow's procedure will give me decent sight in that eye once again and, in turn, straighten it back out. And, as a result from seeing in 3-D again, I should grow alot more prolific with the Southern horror and more sociable as far as my blogging, emailing, forum-posting, etc. are concerned.
If you're the praying kind, say a little one for Ol' Ron when you get up in the morning and, if you ain't, some good thoughts and vibes sent my way would be greatly appreciated. The thought of someone taking a scalpel to my eyeball tends to rattle my cage a bit and who knows what might happen. The doctor might sneeze or fart at just the wrong moment.
Anyhow, I just wanted to let you folks know what was going on. If you're P.O.'d at me for failing to return your email or meeting a writing deadline, hopefully you won't take a cue from Poe's "Tell Tale Heart" and end up burying me beneath the floorboards... even if I do have the accursed "vulture eye" for it.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Brian will recieve a future copy of the upcoming Undertaker's Moon limited edition, a Blue Wolf print by Alex McVey, the Wolfman Legacy DVD collection, and three werewolf stories written, inscribed, and illustrated by yours truly.
Congratulations, Brian, and a big thanks to everyone who entered this year!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Since October 1st marks the beginning of the Halloween season, I'm starting out Southern-Fried & Horrified with a couple of announcements that would make the most down-in-the-mouth Jack-O-Lantern grin with fiendish delight! So here we go...
Hell Hollow... now in digital!
Today Crossroad Press released my latest novel, Hell Hollow, in digital format. Now you can join Keith, Rusty, Chuck, and Maggie on their quest to defeat the evil medicine show man, Doctor Augustus Leech, on your Kindle or home computer. And, considering that this book is a whopping 500 pages, you can't beat the price at a mere $4.99. That's right, that's less than a penny a page for a trip to the dark and dangerous depths of Hell Hollow! The signed limited edition of HH is still available from Cemetery Dance for $40, but if you prefer the convenience and affordability of the digital version, you can get it now at Crossroad Press: http://crossroadpress.com/catalog
A Horribly Hairy Halloween Contest
Well, it's that time again! Time for our 3rd annual Halloween contest at my official website, Ronald Kelly.com. This year we're paying tribute to one my favorite monsters; the howler of the night, the shunner of wolfbane, the moon-bathed hunter of man and beast alike... the beloved Werewolf. And the hirsute prize package we're giving away this year is likely to please the most faithful lycanthrope lover! This year's lucky winner will recieve the following items:
One of the very first copies of my Irish werewolf novel, scheduled to be released in Spring of 2011 by Publisher X (no, I'm still not going to let the cat out of the bag... not yet!). This limited hardcover edition of Undertaker's Moon (formerly published as Moon of the Werewolf by Zebra Books in 1991) will boast upgraded production values, a bonus novella titled "The Spawn of Arget Bethir", an insightful article on the writing of the novel, and, of course, Alex McVey's infamous "Blue Wolf" cover. As soon as I recieve my author's copies of UM, a single copy will be reserved for the contest winner and personally signed and inscribed by Ol' Ron.
Blue Wolf art print by Alex McVey
A large, suitable-for-framing, high-quality print of Alex's blue werewolf cover, signed by the master himself.
Universal's THE WOLF MAN Legacy DVD Collection
A brand-new, unopened copy of Universal Studios' The Wolf Man Legacy DVD Collection, featuring such time-honored horror classics as the original 1941 The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr., Werewolf of London, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and She-Wolf of London.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
If you were a horror fan back in the late 80's and early 90's, the name William C. Rasmussen would have been a familiar one to you, along with folks like Bentley Little, Elizabeth Massie, and Wayne Allen Sallee. Rasmussen was a fixture in the various small press magazines that were so plentiful during that time; a dependable and creative writer who could deliver great stories of darkness and suspense time and time again without disappointment. Bill and I shared the table of contents in quite a few of those limited-run magazines... publications like Deathrealm, Eldritch Tales, and 2 AM, to name only a few. We both appeared in the first issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine, too, so we pretty much found ourselves bumping into one another (story-wise) on a regular basis during those fun days of small press horror. Then toward the mid-90's we both disappeared from the scene; me because of the implosion of the horror market and Zebra's dumping of their horror paperback line, and Bill due to the pressures of family life and working as an FBI agent in New York City, which gave him little time to write, let alone pursue a full-fledged writing career.
Like me, he vanished for a long time. Also, like me, he is back behind the keyboard again. Bill's first short story collection, Claw Marks & Other Disturbing Diversions has just been released as a digital e-book by Crossroad Press. I had the pleasure of reading Claw Marks before its publication and, believe me, Mr. Rasmussen is still a master storyteller with much to offer the horror genre. The collection contains 16 stories. Some are gems from those small press days of the past, while others are new and just as frightfully gripping as a Bill Rasmussen story should be. All in all, it's a fun and entertaining selection of tales that will keep you on the edge of your easy chair.
You can purchase Claw Marks & Other Disturbing Diversions from Crossroad Press at http://crossroadpress.com/ for an incredible $2.99. Take it from me, this would be a wonderful opportunity for fans of Horror Past to relive some great stories from one of the best short story writers around at that time and for current horror readers to discover an incredible talent they were previously unaware of.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
No amount of soothing words on my part could end that nerve-grating tantrum. It wasn't long before Joyce had had enough and, screeching to a halt off a nearby exit, hopped out of the van and dealt some old-fashioned Southern mother discipline. Nothing drastic, mind you -- we don't believe in beating our young'uns half to death, the way our parents did back in old days -- but she delivered just enough of a "leg-pop" to end Makenna's demand for Sun Chips and bring blessed silence to the interior of the Town & Country once again. Looking around, I saw everyone was in need for a pit-stop and, since it was already approaching six in the evening, I suggested "Why don't we stop somewhere nice and eat? Maybe Cracker Barrel?"
That seemed to lift everyone's flagging spirits considerably. Cracker Barrel has always been a favorite restaurant with the Kelly family. The rustic setting, high-backed rocking chairs on the front porch, Southern-themed antiques hanging from the walls and ceiling, and gallon upon gallon of sweet tea... all make for a comforting atmosphere for folks who grew up eating in Grandma's kitchen instead of a prim-and-proper dining room.
So we detoured off an exit just outside Atlanta. Everyone was hungry and ready to eat. Fortunately, we hit the restaurant at just the right time; we were ushered to our table with no waiting involved. Customarily around suppertime, you can wait up to an hour or more for a table at Cracker Barrel, but this time we were sitting at our table within the span of forty-five seconds. The waitress, who seemed new and inexperienced -- she wore no year-commemorating stars on her brown apron -- showed up to take our orders. Our drink orders were a no-brainer... sweet tea all around. When it came to ordering our food, Joyce and I decided that the catfish plate would be a good choice. So we placed our order and waited. The kids occupied themselves with Cracker Barrel coloring books and that weird triangular puzzle with the colored pegs that graces each table.
When our food arrived and the plates were set before us, a pall of silence fell over the Kelly family (which can be both disturbing and a bit frightening, considering that we, as a bunch, are never silent for more than two seconds at a time). "Hope you enjoy your meal," piped the waitress, then left. My wife looked down at her plate. Anpeculiar expression crossed her face; sort of like she had been clubbed between the eyes with a ball-peen hammer. Uh-oh, I thought. This isn't good.
Lately, Cracker Barrel has been doing what every other restaurant chain has been doing since that mini gas crisis happened a couple of years ago; you know when gas reached three bucks and more a gallon? They've been trying to con the consumer into believing that less-bang-for-your-buck is a good deal, increasing prices while becoming downright stingy with their portions. They no longer bring out a heaping plate of cat-head biscuits and cornbread muffins, but ask which one you prefer and bring you out one or two for the duration of your entire meal. And where they used to serve you a mountain of turnip greens or hashbrown casserole, they now plop down a portion that had to be doled out with the smallest ice cream scouper imaginable.
Well, this evenings meal was no exception. When Joyce appraised her plate she found the following items: a small thimble-sized bowl of cole slaw, five steak fries, and a sorry little piece of breaded and fried catfish. One measly piece... not the two generous pieces that we were normally accustomed to.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
That was sort of how it felt for me, concerning my newest novel, Hell Hollow, which, incidentally, isn't all that new after all. Let me explain...
In 1996, my horror-writing career was in full-swing. I'd had seven novels published by Zebra Books and another, Blood Kin, was on the verge of being released. Plus I had a couple more in the wings; Hell Hollow and Restless Shadows, a sequel to my first novel, Hindsight. Things seemed to be moving forward in a brisk and positive manner. But then, sometimes things aren't exactly how they seem to be.
There was trouble brewing in the horror world at that time... something we old-timers call the Big Horror Bust. What it all amounted to was an oversaturation of horror literature in the mass market publishing field. The good novels were being totally drowned out by the white noise of too many novels that were mediocre to downright bad. Horror was immensely popular between the mid-80's and mid-90's, and the publishers had all jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. But then they started over-doing it, releasing too many books that just weren't up to horror readers' standards, and eventually sales began to suffer. By '95 and '96 most of the larger paperback horror publishers were cutting their losses by ditching their horror lines completely. It was an uneasy time for horror authors back then; watching their peers lose their publishers left and right. I never thought it would ever happen to me... I reckon I was simply naive. Then, in October of '96, my agent gave me a call. My hopes for another multi-book deal from Zebra were dashed when I was informed that Zebra was shutting down their entire horror line and that I was basically out of business as far as they were concerned. Blood Kin would be released, but the other two, Hell Hollow and Restless Shadows would not.
Needless to say, I was devastated. I tried to pick up the pieces and find a new publisher, but it was impossible. No publishers were taking on new authors -- even established ones -- and especially not if horror was their speciality. Eventually, I tired of butting my head against the wall and simply gave up writing altogether. I stuck Hell Hollow and the other novel in a drawer and returned to the normal world; one without dealines, release dates, and hours behind the keyboard.
For ten years I existed in a non-writing limbo, resigned to the fact that I'd had my shot at the writing life and lost it due to no fault of my own. Then, in 2006, something peculiar happened. Folks started asking about me on the internet horror forums and buying my old books off eBay and Amazon. Some very good friends and loyal fans contacted me and convinced me to come back to the horror arena. Is it possible? I asked myself. Do I really have a second chance? After much soul-searching, I decided to try my hand at it again. Believe me, there was a generous amount of doubt and fear involved. I wondered if I still had what it took to write good, effective horror... or if I could even write at all, being out of practice for so very long. But as I began to write and submit new work, I found that my worries were unfounded. If anything, I seemed to be more prolific and actually write better than I had a decade before.
One of my first big deals was with Cemetery Dance Publications. Richard Chizmar gave me a call and suggested we do a short story collection and novel. My story collection would be Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors (published in 2009), while my comeback novel would be the long-unpublished Hell Hollow.
The deal was done and I waited. And waited... and waited. Due to Cemetery Dance's huge backlog of unpublished titles, Hell Hollow was in the pipeline for nearly four years. But, finally, my coming-of-age novel about four summertime friends and their battle against an evil medicine show man incarnated from a serial killer will be released this month. It's a whopper of a tale -- nearly five hundred pages in length -- with a wicked cover by horror artist Alex McVey. The folks at Cemetery Dance have done an incredible job with this book and I'm happy that it'll finally be available to my fans, both old and new.
So Hell Hollow's unforeseen detour -- one that spanned fifteen long years from conception to release -- is now at its end. Now I can let out a sigh of relief... and hope that needless detours -- at least in my horror writing career -- are a thing of the past.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I'm pleased to announce that Bad Moon Books will be publishing print versions of my best-selling digital books, Cumberland Furnace & Other Fear-Forged Fables and Timber Gray.
Cumberland Furnace & Other Fear-Forged Fables is my second full-fledged short story collection of Southern-fried horror tales, on the heels of Cemetery Dance's Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors. The digital e-book of Cumberland Furnace, released by David Niall Wilson's Crossroad Press this past Feburary, was a collection of seven stories that were written following my return to the horror genre after an absence of ten years. The "real" book version will be greatly expanded... offering 21 stories in all, both new and old, as well as a few that were previously unpublished. In other words, Cumberland Furnace will pretty much include everything that Midnight Grinding missed the first time around.
Timber Gray is my first honest-to-goodness western novel. It is pretty traditional, but also dark and violent. Timber Gray is about a man who loses his family -- and nearly his sanity -- to an attack by a pack of rabid wolves, then, over the years, evolves into one of the most sought after wolf hunters in the western territories. He encounters a turning point in his bloody career when a cattleman hires him to hunt down and destroy a pack of fifty marauding wolves led by the legendary Cripplefoot. As he pursues them through Montana and into the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, he gradually realizes that, beneath the anger and bitterness that rules his life, there is still a human side that remains; a side he thought had died a long time ago.
Bad Moon Books will be releasing both Cumberland Furnace & Other Fear-Forged Fables and Timber Gray in affordable trade paperback editions. Publisher Roy Robbins and I are now hard at work preparing these two books for publication. As of right now, we have no definite release dates, but are hoping to make them available to the reading public by early to mid-2011. Watch for an announcement of the official release dates of these two new books in the near future, either here at Southern-Fried & Horrified, or at my website at www.ronaldkelly.com.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
The kids handled the heat and crowds well. Ryan, being in the midst of the Terrible Twos, had his shining moments of freaking-out hysteria and bouts of whining that would make fingernails on a blackboard sound like a soothing lullaby. He also developed what we soon came to call "The Sneaky Dance". He would begin to tip-toe slowly in the direction of a forbidden area, cut his eyes slyly at us, then laughingly run toward it like the Road Runner on speed. Restraining rails or ropes, or doors with EMPLOYEES ONLY had a maddening appeal to him for some odd reason and I found myself racing to catch him before disaster struck on more than one occassion (which isn't an easy feat for a fella who just turned 50 last November!) Once, a man in line snidely commented "You need to put that boy on a leash." I kinda gave him a dirty look, but, like a true Southern gentleman, held my tongue. I've always hated those child restraint leashes and will never subject my kids to such a thing. In Epcot I spotted a man leading three young'uns around on long leashes like a pack of baying bloodhounds.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
When I returned to horror writing in July of '06, I found that the face of horror had changed over a stretch of ten years. I reckon I was expecting maybe a nip and tuck job. Instead, the face of horror seemed to had undergone a complete transplant. Where the horror landscape of the 80's and 90's had been like a nostalgic stroll through my hometown, the one I set foot upon in 2006 was like landing on the alien soil of Mars or some distant planet. Everything had changed. The authors, the artists, the publishers.... EVERYTHING. Needless to say, this was a little disturbing to one who hoped to pick up where he left off. Everywhere I turned looking for familiar faces, there lurked a stranger. Friendly strangers (for the most part), but strangers nonetheless. The internet had flourished during my long hiatus and the horror genre was firmly entrenched with its various websites and message boards. In my case, it was as though a team of scientists had unthawed a neanderthal man, gave him a suit of clothes and twenty bucks, and sent him off into the modern world, to seek fortune and fame. Yes, I was that out of touch with what horror as a genre -- books, films, etc.-- had evolved into during that long period when I had basically "shelfed" my horror writing ambitions and lived strictly in the real world.
Has it been difficult for me to adjust? Well, no, not really. First I actually had to go out and buy a computer (yes, I ashamedly admit that I was almost totally cyber ignorant when I decided to return.) But it didn't take long before I got the swing of things. Publishers came knocking on my door, making deals (thank God!), and the ball began to roll. Of course, if you know much about the small press, that ball can roll mighty slow sometimes. It took several years before my first hardcover short story collection, Midnight Grinding & Other Twilight Terrors, was published by Cemetery Dance. Around that time, things began to happened: a slick chapbook of Flesh Welder by Croatoan, followed by a nice little collection called The Sick Stuff from Thunderstorm Books. Then in '09 and the first half of '10 there were stories in various anthologies and magazines, a bunch of interviews, and even a few journeys into unknown territories; several e-books put out by David Niall Wilson's Macabre Ink and even a movie script of my novel Fear making the rounds with various production companies.
As the fourth anniversary of my return to horror looms over the horizon, I've been thinking of what divides the two "eras" of horror that I've experienced; both the differences and the changes. Here's my take on what it looks like... the horror genre of then compared to now.
I think of the horror genre of the 1980's and 1990's (at least until around 1996) as the "Golden Age" of horror literature. Stephen King was king, followed closely by Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and Anne Rice. Past masters of horror and dark fantasy -- Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Robert Bloch, and Richard Matheson -- were respected and held in high regard. There were numerous new horror authors on the scene, all with their own distinctive voice; Robert R. McCammon, Clive Barker, Joe R. Lansdale, Ray Garton, Poppy Z. Brite, to only name a few. Great mass market magazines of dark fiction graced the newstands; The Twilight Zone, Physical Graffiti, Night Cry. Small press horror was flourishing and dozens of limited-run magazines were the discovery zone of hungry readers and the proving ground of equally hungry new writers: The Horror Show, Deathrealm, Grue, Noctulpa, New Blood, After Hours, 2 AM, and, of course, the new kid on the block, Cemetery Dance. There was an almost festive aire about the genre. Readers basically read, rather than collected the work of their favorite horror authors. Publishing houses like Dark Harvest and Ziesing Books put out signed limiteds, but also inexpensive hardcover trade editions. Anthologies were cherished and featured the best of the big name horror writers and was the springboard for many a new author like Elizabeth Massie, Bentley Little, and yours truly. There was a tremendous amount of excitement about what was being written and published at that time. Those who read the splatter-punk of Skipp & Spector also enjoyed the quite, atmospheric horror of Charles Grant. The Horror Writers of America organization was held in high regard. Everyone who was anyone was a member and to finally make the proper sales to be able to join its ranks was a goal that was both earned and enjoyed.
Okay, now here's the...
I am a little hazy about what saved the horror genre from the Big Horror Publishing Bust of the mid-90's, but this is my personal opinion. Much of it
had to do with the stubborn persistance of Richard Chizmar's Cemetery Dance Publications by publishing great horror when the mass market paperback publishers jumped ship. Also a single author seems to have had a great deal to do with reviving interest in horror fiction. Brian Keene. His zombie novels -- The Rising, City of the Dead, Dead Sea -- as well as novels like Terminal and The Conqueror Worms, seemed to have injected a fresh vitality into a genre that had been oversaturated with mediocre to just plain bad offerings in the mid-nineties. The genre seems much darker to me now; all business with very little levity to it at all. Extreme horror has become the cornerstone of today's dark fiction. Readers seem to prefer the brutal works of Keene, Bryan Smith, and Ed Lee to more subdued fiction. Maybe it's because they actually like their horror that way... or maybe it's because that's all they've ever known. When I come across a new horror reader, more than often, they began reading horror with Keene and went forward from there. Many seem annoyingly ignorant of great authors like McCammon, Lansdale, and Chet Williamson. I don't think that's actually their fault; a reader's focus seems to be narrower than it was back when I was writing horror for the first time. Everyone seems to gravitate to their favorite type of horror fiction and remains there, like a satellite orbiting a planet. When I suggest they try some novels from the 80's and 90's, many look at me like I just flicked a booger on their shirt or something. They seem oddly resistant to reading anything BK (Before Keene). Many say they don't want to invest alot of time in reading a new author (can you hear my teeth grinding in frustration?) Also there seem to be distinct factions or camps of fans who support certain authors -- mainly on various forums and message boards -- rather than a widespread horror community like it was back in my day. Many small press publishers flourish these days, releasing more horror than the mass market does... the exception being Leisure. These books are mainly high-dollar editions targeted for the collector, rather than the reader. The HWA -- now the Horror Writers Association, encompassing the world rather than simply the USA -- seems to have lost much of its initial respect. Hardly any big name authors pay dues there anymore and its ranks are mostly made up of unknown writers who have made the pro-cent-per-word requirements and campaign for Stokers like baby kissing (and butt-kissing) politicians.
Does my opinion of the horror genre's present state ring as negative compared to my positive memories of those golden days when I evolved from a high school senior with a dream into a full-fledged horror author? Well, maybe. It is vastly different and I'm slowly adapting to it. I find that my fiction is gradually becoming darker and more brutal as this second phase of my horror writing career progresses. Am I trying to imulate authors like Keene, Smith, and Lee? No. Am I trying to compete with them. Probably. The economic state of today's publishing industry is such that customers are having to pick and choose who they can afford to buy and collect. I know my old fans, as well as many new fans, will still buy and enjoy my old-style tales of Southern-fried Horror, but there are some who will become fans because of my more extreme fiction. Stuff like The Sick Stuff and other no-holds-barred books and stories that I have on the horizon.
So, with all that said, which era do I prefer? Then or Now? Honestly, both have their positives and negatives. The 80's and 90's were great for a horror author coming into his own, but there were downsides, like snail mail, lower pay, and, of course, the Big Bust. The horror genre of today has its share of advantages and opportunites, too, as well as its disadvantages. I'm currently working toward re-establishing myself as a popular author of horror, which is no easy feat these days, take it from me. To do that, I know I must make an effort to embrace both the past and present of horror, and, hopefully, use the best of both eras to satisfy old fans, while enticing new ones.
Horror has a new face. Ol' Ron's got a new one, too... a little older and grayer in the mustache, but also a bit wiser and hankering to break out the chills and thrills for a whole new generation of horror reader. I'm sharpening my pencils and keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully, with your help, I can pull it off...
Friday, May 7, 2010
Issue #63 of Cemetery Dance Magazine is now out and about, slithering its way into the mailboxes of subscribers and lurking in the racks of Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other fine book stores. Although it's a few months later than the actual holiday, #63 is a special Halloween issue. But, hey, for lovers of Halloween (like yours truly) it's nice to have a creepy slice of October in balmy May.
This issue features fiction by Simon Clark, Rick Hautala, Elizabeth Massie, and other top names in horror, as well as some cool artwork by Steven C. Gilberts, William Renfro, Keith Minnion, Alan M. Clark, and a mixed pallet of other talented folks. And you'll read some of the best horror-related columns in the business by Mark Sieber, Bev Vincent, Ed Gorman, Ellen Datlow, Don D'Auria, and Thomas Monteleone.
Ol' Ron has a few things in #63 as well; a new short story, "Pelingrad's Pit", an interview conducted by Shannon Riley, and a spot in Brian Freeman's The Final Question. I'm right excited about appearing in this issue, since it's the first time I've had work appear between the covers of Cemetery Dance since way back in 1996.
By the way, if you read my story and say "What the heck does this have to do with Halloween?", well, it should have. CD has had "Pelingrad's Pit" for awhile and, when it was slated for the Halloween issue, I agreed to rework it and set it during All Hallows Eve. Then they turn around and use the old one instead of the Halloween upgrade. Go figger! But, heck, I'm just glad to see one of my stories in my favorite horror magazine once again.
You can get your copy at the local bookstore, or buy it direct here:
Now that Cemetery Dance Magazine is gravitating toward a steady schedule, we'll be seeing alot more of the best the horror genre has to offer. CD #64 promises to be a good 'un; a special Bentley Little issue with two new stories. Kudos to Richard, Brian, and Mindy at CD Publications for another hit run with issue #63 and, of course, their successful release of the much-heralded Blockade Billy by Stephen King. I'm looking forward to more excellent releases... let's say, maybe, uh... Hell Hollow, by a certain author of Southern-fried horror. Ya know what I mean?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I’m pleased to announce that my first honest-to-goodness western novel, TIMBER GRAY, is now available from Crossroad Press in digital format. This full-length novel is not horror, but a traditional western, although it is gritty and violent with a dark twist to it. Here’s a short preview of what the book is about:
After his family is killed by a pack of rabid wolves, Jefferson Gray survives the horrid disease himself, with the aid of a Cherokee medicine man. But, unfortunately, he can not banish the hatred that dwells within him. An animosity toward dangerous game, particularly timber wolves.
Fifteen years have passed. Timber Gray is known throughout the western territories as a seasoned tracker and hunter: a man who can conquer any threat for the right price, be it grizzly, mountain lion, or, his specialty, wolves. But can Timber tackle his greatest challenge… a pack of fifty wolves led by the legendary Cripplefoot? Such insurmountable odds, combined with an approaching blizzard and a band of renegade bounty hunters, would seem to be certain death to most men. But, to Timber Gray, it is only another reason for staying alive…
You can order your copy of TIMBER GRAY now at:
This novel was a labor of love for Ol’ Ron, since I’m a big western fan myself and originally wanted to be a western writer. I put alot of time and research into making this book as gritty and authentic as possible (even looking up old maps from the late 1800’s to find actual locations, as well as trails and little towns that no longer exist on today’s maps). And take a gander at the grisly, blood-splattered cover Zach McCain worked up for the book!
So saddle up, load your ol’ Winchester, and head out to the blizzard-swept territory of Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains with Timber Gray! Yeee-Hah!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Looking at the photo of Phoebe Prince, I saw a beautiful teen-aged girl with everything to live for. I also saw a reflection of my own daughter in her face. And that scares the hell out of me.
My daughter, Reilly, is an amazing young lady. A beautiful twelve-year-old with a genuinely good heart who faithfully loves her family, friends, and her God. She possesses a beautiful singing voice, plays the piano, and loves music. She writes the most amazing stories and is a wonderful artist with much potential. Reilly has won numerous 4-H contests over the last couple of years and won first place in DARE's essay contest last spring. Of all the people on this earth, Reilly is the most like me than anyone else.
But Reilly has problems. She has undergone therapy for abuse (at the hands of a relative, which we had no idea was taking place) and has had her own battle for sustaining her self-esteem. Reilly has a problem with high cholesteral and her vision (both hereditary, from my side of the family unfortunately). And she has a weight problem. In my opinion, she isn't overweight at all; just as we Southerns call it, a bit "big-boned". Let's just say that she isn't the same as 95% of the other girls in her sixth grade class; anorexic scarecrows who have a warped idea of what makes a girl popular and what doesn't.
During this school year, Reilly has had a bad problem with bullying; some dealing with her unique personality (she is NOT a carbon copy of the other girls in her class), but most having to do with her weight. Surprisingly enough, most of the verbal abuse she recieves is not from the girls, but from the boys in her class. These insults are made openingly in front of both classmates and teachers. And it is not just one or two boys, but quite a few. Despite the concerns of me and my wife, the school faculty -- both teachers and principal -- seem to think it is really nothing to worry about. "Boys will be boys," they tell us.
Well, sorry, but I'm not buying that. When I grew up in middle Tennessee in the mid-sixties, yes, boys were boys, but there was one line they did not cross (unless they were the typical school-yard bully) and that was disrespecting someone of the opposite sex. In that day, folks taught their young men that a woman (or a young girl their own age) was someone to be respected and cherished. I, too, was taught that lasting lesson and I carry it on to this day.
If I had insulted or bullied a girl when I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I would have been dealt with severely, first in the school system, then later on at home. And that lesson of respect would have finally been set firmly in place, never to be forgotten again.
But apparently such lessons of restraint and respect are no longer being taught here in the South, if my daughter's male classmates are any indication. They constantly comment on her weight or question her intelligence. Recently, one particular boy called her "Fat Albert". Reilly reacted rather strongly to this insult (after silently enduring similar jibs) and took the matter to her gym teacher. This teacher made the offender write a letter of apology to my daughter, which he begrudingly did. Did it cure him of his disrepectful behavior? On the contrary. The very next day he called her a "fat-ass" and a "bitch". Several of the teachers have told Reilly that she should "toughen up" and not let such silly talk bother her so much.
Have we enforced equality between sexes to such a point where young men believe it socially acceptable to belittle and bully young women to the point of totally tearing down their sense of self-worth? After all, the age of twelve is a very impressionable age for a girl. If every boy in her class treats her like crap, then why would she think of herself as otherwise? If you call a young lady "whore" and "idiot" enough times, is there any wonder that they may follow that path later in life?
It's very apparent that the old ways of Southern respect and hospitality are sadly fading with the passage of time. When I was a child, I was taught to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am", to always see a fellow classmate as an equal, despite their race, religion, or the type clothing they wore, and to say grace at each meal. I see very little of those time-worn traditions going on with today's youth. Teachers believe that respect and restraint should be taught in the home, while parents believe the teachers should maintain order and instill structure to their children's lives. In the thick of it all, neither is being done effectively and who suffers from the failure of the adults? The children, of course.
Take it from me, this is not a big urban school that I speak of, but a small country school with little more than two hundred students. It is now the end of the school year. If this bullying should continue next year with nothing done to put an end to it, I will have no course to pursue other than taking it to the school board. I could have very well mentioned the name of the school in this blog, as well as the principal and teachers involved, but everyone knows that I'm not that sort of person. But a Southern gentleman can only be pushed so far when the physical and mental welfare of his children are concerned. And I will protect my children... even if it means taking the matter to the state school board... or beyond.
To you parents and teachers out there, we must look at the terrible case of Phoebe Prince very closely and take it to heart. Because, unless respect and restraint is instilled in our own children, it will happen again. And again.