What I am Reading – Longarm


Yes, I read Adult Action Westerns (blush). For those that don’t know, the Adult signifies that there are typically two or three scenes per book that would make Larry Flynt blush. Yes, it’s formulaic. And they usually have very little to do with the story. And for this reader they are uncomfortable to get through.  But…

These are the modern day equivalent of the Pulp Western. The action part of the books is fun. They can pretty pretty easily be read in a single night (they’re usually 40-50k words). And in the right hands, the storytelling is strong.

The traditional publishing companies dropped all the Adult Action Westerns several years ago, at the same time they all but finished publishing Westerns in general. Longarm was one of the most popular of the lines. It followed the adventures of U.S. Marshall Custis “Longarm” Long over approximately 400 novels…all written under the Tabor Evans, pseudonym.  Because, they are written by many authors (and more often than not, it’s impossible to discern who the writer is), the quality can be uneven.  But one of my favorite modern pulp yarn spinners, James Reasoner, has written a great many of them, and I have set about collecting those.

For those who aren’t aware of Reasoner, he, by his own count, has written over a million words a year, 14 years running.  As a result of this productivity, he has has had over 300 of his novels published during his career. Many, like Longarm, under an imprint’s pen name. As you might (or should) expect, that much practice has made Reasoner a very skilled storyteller.

The book I just completed, Longarm and the Border Wildcat (#229), was no exception. Longarm is assigned to the Texas border town Del Rio to essentially as body guard to U.S and Mexico diplomats meeting there to agree on border disputes.  Longarm is partnered with a Texas Ranger, who is all Texan. Of course, all hell breaks loose when a group of outlaws raid the town from south of the border.  And I won’t spoil any more of it, other than to say it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in the genre (certainly the series), and that Longarm’s “relations” do have a bearing on this story…so grin and bear it and read the “50 shades”-stuff.

Side note – 50’s crime paperback legend Harry Whittington wrote a handful of Longarms early in the run. I lucked out and found a few of these collectibles at a reasonable price on eBay, and they are on their way.  I look forward to reading to see how they stand up to the Reasoner entries.  Lou Cameron penned Longarms are generally pretty good as well.

— TD

What this is all about

Once upon a time, I realized I enjoyed writing.  I’m not sure I can isolate when.  Was it when I joined the School Paper in Middle School?  Or was it when I secretly wrote stories in my notebooks while I was supposed to be listening in Chemistry class in High School?  Was it when I jotted snippets of stories in a notebook while on the road with my college baseball team.

It was probably earlier.  It was probably when I realized that I enjoyed reading.

About ten – fifteen years ago, I began writing in earnest.  I participated in National Novel Writing Month annually.  I even wrote to completion on a couple of novels.  I took a Creative Writing class at the local Community College.  I joined and participated in writing groups.  I read like a demon every book, website, magazine on what it took to be a writer.  I was impassioned.

A couple of problems led to me letting it all go.  Namely:

  • Over consumption of all the expert advice had me spinning my wheels. A lot of the advice contradicted itself, and I probably lacked the self-awareness to identify which, if any, of these rules could apply to me. Some of the advice, made writing not fun.  Looking back, it seems that should have been the telling thing for me.  Any advice that took the joy out of something I enjoyed doing, should have been ignored.
  • Sharing my work.   Ultimately, we tell stories to be heard/read.  I never got in the habit of sending my work off for fear of rejection.  This is something I still must conquer.  A lot has changed in the 7-8 years since I was writing earnestly.  I suspect I will be going directly to readers with novels.  Shorts, I probably will be collecting rejection slips.  When it’s all said and done, I still have to face the fear.

I want to write, though.  And I want to have fun doing it.  I want to write the stories that I enjoy reading.  I want to get better, too.  And to do that I will need to practice a lot.  So Pulp, it is.

The Pulp writers wrote tons of words in stories for the Everyman.  For readers like me.  Now, I make no guarantees that everything I write will fit neatly in one of the Pulp Genres (Detective, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Western, Weird/Horror), but I hope to write in the spirit of the Pulpsters.

So what’s this all about?  I’m going to share how things are going here.  I’ll share what I’m working on and how it is progressing.  Beyond that, anything goes.  Maybe, I’ll share my thoughts on stuff I read or watch.  I’ll try to keep it on topic, though.  The topic is Story (and writing).

What am I working on now?

Glad you asked.

Pulp Detective Novel with the working title of “Happy Hour” – 7,700 words currently

Short Story titled “Welcome to the Jungle” – approx. 300 words currently.

What about goals?

Daily = 1,500 new, clean words per day

By midnight Halloween => 71,000 new, clean words (to include completion of Happy Hour and a total of 6 short stories)

I hope you will cheer me on.