Sunday, September 25, 2016

Creating a (Not So) Perfect Western Hero by Connie Vines

How Exactly does a writer create a Western Hero?

I thought I'd look at Hollywood's current take on what it takes to be a Western Hero in today's Wild West!

Since I have just started streaming Season 5 of  Netfix's"Longmire" on my iPhone, I thought we could take a good long look at Walt.  (Now I watched the show when it was on t.v (A & E). However, missed Season 4,)

Walt Longmire 
Fictional Character/ as he appears in the Longmire (the mystery series in print).

Full name: Walter Longmire
Species: Human
Gende:r Male
Occupation: Sheriff
Title: Sheriff of Absaroka County, WY
Spouse(s) Martha Longmire (deceased)
Childre:n Cady Longmire (daughter, b. 4/1979)
Nationality: American
Police career: 
Department: Absaroka County Sheriff's Department
Years of service: 1972–Present
Rank: Sheriff


A native of Durant, Wyoming (the county seat of Absaroka County), Walt attended the University of Southern California, where he played offensive lineman for the USC Trojans and graduated in 1966 with a degree in English literature. He was then drafted by the Marine Corps and completed boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and OCS at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division as a Military Police Officer, and served in country at Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Vietnam War. He served in the Marines for four years, and earned, among other decorations, the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. After serving in Vietnam, Walt spent six weeks assigned as security at Johnston Atoll.

Upon his discharge from the Marines, Walt returned home to Wyoming where he was hired by Sheriff Lucian Connally as a deputy sheriff in 1972. Walt was elected as the Absaroka County Sheriff in November 1988 after Lucian all but threw the race and decided to retire.

Longmire as he appears in "Hollywood" screenplays:

Here is a Nextflix preview:


Absaroka County native Walt Longmire, born c. 1953, is the well-respected sheriff that resides there. When the series begins, it is believed by most that his wife, Martha Longmire, died of cancer.

His father was a rancher who managed the stables of Absaroka County's most wealthy family, the Van Blarcoms. He is a graduate of Durant High School Class of '81, and his football jersey still hangs in the school's trophy case.

In their 20s, he and Henry worked at Prudhoe Bay Oil Field in Alaska.

Walt has been the Sheriff of Absaroka County since at least 2005; his immediate predecessor is Sheriff Lucian Connally (Peter Weller), the uncle of Branch.

In 2010, Walt arrested Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), the Chief of the Cheyenne Reservation Tribal Police, for extortion; he also has an adversarial relationship with the current CRTP Chief, Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), although the two have a bond of mutual respect.

So what are the differences between the books and the TV series?

One of the key differences between the books and the TV series is the character's age and subsequent backstory. In the books, it is established that Walt is a college graduate and Vietnam War veteran, and has been the Absaroka County Sheriff since the early 1980s. However, no mention of college nor a military career has ever been specified or even alluded to on the show (although it hasn't been ruled out either), and Walt's age has been established multiple times, having graduated from high school in 1981 and having been friends with Henry since they were 12 years old, 38 years earlier.

In a significant departure from the books, Walt's wife Martha does not die from cancer. While she is still diagnosed with the disease, in the TV series she is murdered, the details of which are slowly revealed over several seasons, significantly affecting Walt's relation with his deputy Branch and the Connally family.

While the TV series portrays Vic as interested in Walt, her feelings aren't reciprocated like they are in the books. Instead, the TV series has Walt slowly recovering from losing his wife, unable or unwilling to maintain a relationship with a woman called Lizzie Ambrose, before finally showing enough interest in a member of the opposite sex to actively court Dr. Donna Sue Monaghan.

In the books, Absaroka County has seen five murders in 24 years. The TV series has seen 27 confirmed murders in the two first seasons alone.

In both the books and the TV series, Walt's friendship with Henry Standing Bear is significant but in the books Standing Bear is a person of physical strength, good judgement and moral character. In the TV show he is written to be  of great moral character but with more attitude than substance.

Personally, I find Longmire (Hollywood version) has become more of a believable hero from Season 1.  During the 1st Season he see to be a Western version of NCIS "Gibbs" complete with hating his cell phone and refusing to use it even in an emergency.  I've vacationed in Wyoming and an wonder where those cell towers are in 'Walt's World" especially during winter snow storms.

I would also like to see Henry Standing Bear be shown as a person rather than a "walk-on Native".

What do you think?  Does Longmire seem like the perfect Western Hero?

The Western hero is the possessor of physical strength, stamina, and an innate sense of the right thing to do; he rejects eloquence, refinement, and superior intelligence as standards of measure.

Yes. Walt fits the standard.  However, I'd wish that Hollywood would have let Longmire keeph is original backstory (change to Gulf War).  Having the retired high school football jersey bring to mind Al Bundy (Married with Children), not a Sheriff with a wealth of life experience and education to draw upon.

Still, the Wyoming country-side, and Robert Taylor are easy on the eyes.


Remember to stop at by and see what everyone else is talking about today!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What Eccentric Writing Habits Have I Never Mentioned? By Connie Vines

Most authors, of course, have personal eccentric writing practices. Fueled, no doubt by his or her
personal muse.  Agatha Christie munched on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots, Flannery O’Connor crunched vanilla wafers, and Vladimir Nabokov fueled his “prefatory glow” with molasses.

Then there was the color-coding of the muses:  Alexandre Dumas, for decades, he penned all of his fiction on a particular shade of blue paper, his poetry on yellow, and his articles on pink; on one occasion, while traveling in Europe, he ran out of his precious blue paper and was forced to write on a cream-colored pad, which he was convinced made his fiction suffer. Charles Dickens was partial to blue ink, but not for superstitious reasons — because it dried faster than other colors, it allowed him to pen his fiction and letters without the drudgery of blotting. Virginia Woolf used different-colored inks in her pens — greens, blues, and purples. Purple was her favorite, reserved for letters (including her love letters to Vita Sackville-West, diary entries, and manuscript drafts. Lewis Carroll also preferred purple ink, but for much more pragmatic reasons: During his years teaching mathematics at Oxford, teachers were expected to use purple ink to correct students’ work — a habit that carried over to Carroll’s fiction.

So how do my little eccentric (or never before mentioned) writing practices measure up?  Is my personal muse quirky, dull, or out of control?

Since my quirks are normal for me, I had to think about this for a bit.

I always drink coffee that is part of my current ‘setting’.  When my setting is New Orleans I mail order my coffee from my favorite spot.

CafĂ© du Monde.  I have my cup and saucer, and a portable mug when I writing outdoors.   I have a blue coffee pot and matching tin cup when I writing westerns (yes, the coffee is VERY strong and black).  And of course, a Starbuck cup or a Disneyland mug when my novels take place in So.Cal.

My music and my menu planning also is linked to my settings.  All within the range of normal.  Though I have more than my fair share of coffee mugs and cups.

I listen to diction videos on YouTube so that I am not relying on my memory for the sound of a Cajun accent, Texan’s drawl, etc.

I visit areas on Google Earth and Zillow.  Even if I have lived or vacationed there, I may have forgotten an interesting ‘something’ I can insert into dialogue, or find a way to describe a scene.

I talk to myself.  Or not simple little sentences.  I’m talking about a two- way conversation: “Do you think that might work?”  “No.  No one is that stupid!”  “How about. . .”  This is the time my husband walks by to find out who’s on the phone, or if I’m asking him a question.  The dog even pokes her head in to see what’s going on.  I’m thinking this is a bit outside of the ‘normal’ range.

When I write I have to make certain my work space in in perfect order.  I have colored folders/pens/notebooks that match and are exclusive to the story I’m working on at the moment.

I never enroll in an online class when I’m writing—it’s guaranteed writers’ block.  I never talk about my WIP because I mentally clock that as writing time and lose interest in the story before it’s completed.

Whatever story I’m am working on is my favorite.

I survive on 3 hours sleep when I am deep in a story.  I know I drink coffee, but seem to run the story in my mind when I sleep too.

I also pick up the quirks of my heroines.  I have several friends who are in theater and said it’s a bit like ‘method acting’. Fortunately, I’m back to my state of normal a couple of weeks after typing THE END.

I think all of this part of a writer’s voice.  It is what we, as readers, look for in a story.  Hopefully, it is what my readers, enjoy about the novels, short-stories and novellas that I write too.

Happy Reading!


Please stop by and visit every one participating in this months’ Round Robin Blog Hop:

Skye Taylor
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rhobin Courtright

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Snippets: Topic: Villain(s) 9/18/2016

A change of pace this Sunday this Sunday.  Instead of a snippets from my featured novel, "Brede".
I thought I post a writing topic.

One of the most important characters in a story, the person we love to hate.  The 'villain'.

a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted towickedness or crime; 
a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency 
in the plot.

My personal faves (if you can label a villain as such): 

White Witch from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis
The White Witch is a beautiful, proud, and cruel villain who has made herself Queen of Narnia against the wishes of all who live there. It is because of her that it has been always winter and never Christmas for the last 100 years. If anyone tries to rebel against her, they are sure to be found and captured by her spies, at which point the rebel will be imprisoned or turned to stone. She is also the witch who wages war against Peter, Lucy, and their Narnian army.  (She still frightens me).
Jane Eyre was really is like a Cinderella story in some ways, with plenty of villainy for our heroine to cope with as she proves herself a princess.  (Skillfully written, this novel is a favorite of mine).
Darth Vader, Star Wars. The Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard of Oz.
Do I write these type of villains?  
No. ( I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.). Usually, villains in my novels are people who did not start out as evil; if the villain is evil, she/ he is mostly off stage (remember Meerkat Manor gives me nightmares).
In my YA novel, Whisper upon the Water, Sister Enid, did a great deal of good before her focus changed.  Since this was a YA novel (Dream Real Award Winner, National Book Award Nominee, and Frankfurt eBook Finalist), which deals with Native American issues, I was careful not to make the evil a racial focus.  Instead, Sister Enid and the circumstances where a product of the times: ignorance and fear, which became hatred.
The Purpose of Villains.
In my opinion,the villain can be worth more than the hero. I say this because the villain, or antagonist, serves many purposes. In his or her simplest form, the villain is a foil to the protagonist. The values and goals of the hero are contrasted and challenged by the villain. 

The villain and the hero both play different roles in the plot. While the villain initiates and develops the conflict, the hero finds the solution.  In many novels and stories, the villain is far more complex than the hero. What led them to choose his or her path?  A hero may have "greatness thrust upon him," but a villain leads a life of isolation. What I mean to say is that no matter how difficult it gets for the hero on his or her journey, Good will always be there for support. In contrast, the villain chooses Evil —a path he or she will walk alone. 

The antagonist and villain figures of fiction and real life teach us more about ourselves than the hero. In the villain we identify our best and worst qualities by either disagreeing with the villain's actions or attempting to comprehend the vile deeds he or she commits. 

It must be emphasized that heroes and villains are interchangeable and far from black and white, but in their most stereotyped forms, they contrast. A hero may struggle, but his or her values are strong and unwavering. A villain, like Darth Vader, may switch to the Good side. 

Villains provide fiction with entertainment, plot and philosophical depth. In many ways, it is the villain that defines the hero - chooses him. 

Happy Reading,

Please visit the other wonderful writers who participate in our weekly blog hop:

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sunday Snips & Stuff

Oh, Mercury retrograde. You are here, AGAIN. You have arrived on our collective doorsteps in all your messy glory. 
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here we go. The planets are swinging around at all times, and their movements affect us all in different ways. All planets go retrograde, but Mercury’s journey seems to impact people much more than any other. (Even people who “don’t believe in astrology” often “believe” in the crazy aftershocks of Mercury retrograde!)
Why is that? It’s because Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde — which means that it looks like it’s going backwards in the sky — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up. Mercury isn’t really going backwards, it’s just hanging out by the sun, but from Earth, that makes it look like it’s in reverse. It typically runs for a couple of weeks, a few times a year.
Check out these dates below and put them in your calendar!
In 2016, Mercury is retrograde from…
January 5th to January 25th
April 28th to May 22nd
August 30th to September 22nd
December 19th to January 28th (2017)
Note: We sometimes start to feel the effects of Mercury retrograde a few days early. It’s nice to give yourself a bit of leeway on either side of the prescribed dates!
All sorts of things! It’s like everyone you know has suddenly gone mad! You might find yourself getting into bizarre arguments about nothing at all, being unable to finish sentences or barely even able to form a coherent thought. Your computer and other electronic equipment is more likely to go on the fritz. You could experience travel delays, too. Double-check your flights and take a book with you to keep you occupied while you wait for the train! We don’t tend to get all the information we need at this time, so it can be hard to make big decisions and it’s not always the best time to sign a contract, either.
Expect to hear super-loud complaining from your friends who are Gemini (me!) or Virgo, since both are ruled by Mercury! Mercury also rules a lot of industries like publishing, writing, editing, advertising, sales, public relations and anything to do with transport, like airlines, the post office and cabs! This means it can be particularly rough for Gemini train conductors and Virgo magazine editors, so be kind to any you know!
I often find that Mercury retrograde makes me want to go into hermit mode. I feel like half my brain is missing so I’m really not that interested in interacting with anyone, plus every conversation seems to go in an unusual, confusing direction. I feel much more irritable and frustrated and things just don’t seem to go how I want them to.
So that’s the bad news. Mercury retrograde can be a total kick in the teeth for those of us who normally pride ourselves on having our karmic shit together! The GOOD news is that Mercury retrograde provides us with lots of beautiful opportunities if we can just tilt our head and squint.
Mercury retrograde wants us to move back spiritually. It is providing us with a chance to re-examine various areas of our life which may need a little more work, so that we can move forward to a bright new dawn. Now, more than ever, the time is right to look at things with clear eyes. 
It’s also a terrific period in which to tie up loose ends. So many of us have unfinished projects… Maybe that door just needs another lick of paint, or you’ll decide to put away your ex-boyfriend’s love letters once and for all. 
One of the best ways to cope with it — as with anything, really — is to just “go with the flow”. When you fight Mercury retrograde, that’s when life gets really ugly. Just take some time, go slowly, be careful, don’t freak yourself out by expecting to be uber-productive-perfect right now. Be good to yourself and the people around you, now more than ever!

 Be sure not to take things too personally. People will often say offensive things they didn’t mean around this time, because their thinking is clouded and their communication skills are on pause! If your best friend suddenly became the most insensitive person in the world, give her the benefit of the doubt.
 Back up your data!
 Don’t purchase any big ticket items, because they will often have flaws or issues that you weren’t aware of! Of course, life doesn’t stop just because of wacky planetary movement, so if you absolutely have to get that car, computer or iPhone, TRIPLE-check all the paperwork, and make sure you have a warranty!
 Take things with a grain of salt. Everyone is a bit confused, and people are much more inclined to change their mind once Mercury goes direct. Mercury can be a bit of a trickster — could it be that the next few weeks are a big karmic joke?!
 Read the small print on any contracts. Ask lots of questions. Again, you can’t put your life on hold just because of some silly planet, but adapt your lifestyle a bit so that things run more smoothly. Communication can be a mess right now, but do your best to get as much information as you can.
 Finish things you started a while ago. Home improvement projects? Wardrobe re-organisation? Short stories? Love affairs?! This is an excellent time to tie up loose ends and file things away forever.
 Get together with old friends, reminisce and laugh!
 Double-check any information you’re given, especially as relates to travel arrangements! During one particularly formidable Mercury retrograde, I actually caught a cab to the wrong airport! Check times, delays, baggage allowances, reservations… everything!
 Allow Mercury to nudge you in unusual directions. If you seem to find yourself “back to the future”, don’t just try to wriggle out of it — look at what the universe is trying to show you. What can you learn from this situation? This is a fantastic time to re-examine, accept and move on.
 Use the things you’ve discovered in the past to create a dazzling new vision so that you’re ready to blast ahead when Mercury goes direct!
See you next Sunday!
Please stop by and visit the members of our weekly blog hop!