Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I love featuring Stephen on my blog. This time, instead of an interview, he's written an article about his newest book release.

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon/Novel As Memoir
By Stephen Bly

"The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they didn’t bother burying it until last fall."
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, Stephen Bly

The plot for Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon developed like homemade stew in a crockpot. A slow simmer. Then, the image of the 1950s kitchen filled with sweet aromas and sights and sounds. Hours later all the parts seemed ready.

The story grew out of fond memories from my childhood. What makes it real personal is that I was 10-years-old in 1954, just like the narrator. And I did hear numerous accounts about the “old days.” At that time, Johnny Appleseed was a legendary hero. I learned about him at the knee of my Indiana grandma. She figured anyone who dedicated himself to planting apple trees must be a good guy.

I often get asked where I grew up. Readers of my westerns suppose I was born and raised in some rough and tumble part of the west amid gunfights and wild adventures. Well, they’re somewhat right. Home for me was a ranch north of Visalia, California, in the great San Joaquin Valley.

“That doesn’t sound like the wild west,” they say.

They’re wrong. From Joaquin Murietta to the Dalton Brothers, Visalia Saddles to the Miller and Lux Ranch. . .that valley’s filled with western history. One of my favorite tales involved the gunfight and capture of Sontag and Evans at Stone Corral, a few miles down the road from our home.

"Cribbage and cowboys. . .I figured I fit right in."
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, Stephen Bly

It seems quite natural for me to write about a grandpa and the game of cribbage. My grandpa taught me to play when I was 4-years-old. I played him once or twice a week until he died when I turned 15. In the book Pop’s name is Theodore and his wife is Katie, same as my grandparents.

Talk slow and think deep. It’s part of the Code of the West. Some scoff at the notion of an unwritten set of rules that honest men lived by. Politically correct history books deny the Code’s existence. Those authors and professors didn’t grow up in the West. I remember in the mid-1980s standing at the graveside of my uncle. At the time, his place encompassed around 14,000 acres. As I looked down at the coffin of my Uncle Buster, an old-timer slid up beside me. “He was a good man, son. He lived by the Code.”

"There’s a quiet buzz from antique ceiling fans, like six thousand crickets, all out of tune. You don’t even notice, until there’s silence."
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, Stephen Bly

Woolworth’s department stores provided lots of pleasure for kids like me. Like a Dollar Store, they included a soda fountain lunch counter, better merchandise, and a friendly clerk behind every counter. By 2001 the company focused on sporting goods and changed its name to Foot Locker Inc. A classic example of a company that adapted to the market needs.

In today’s consumer shopping mall world, it’s hard for some to envision the incredible thrill of merchandise-packed Five & Dimes. I couldn’t believe so many products existed. I’m not sure kids today can experience anything near that excitement. A $.49 badge? That’s what Little Brother, the 10-year-old narrator, gets. A little spendy for 1954. I remember getting a 25-cent a week allowance, provided I did all my chores, in a time when $1.00 per hour provided a decent wage.

My bedroom teemed with White Owl cigar boxes, my granddad’s favorite cigar. He didn’t smoke them much; mainly he chewed them. And because I lived across the road from him, I got many of his boxes. Lots of childhood treasures can be stored in a cigar box.

"Folks today think that 1954 existed in some other galaxy, on some other planet. Maybe they’re right. It’s hard to believe that world and this one are made of the same stuff."
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon, Stephen Bly

I can’t tell you about television in 1954. We didn’t have one yet. Didn’t matter. Didn’t need one. When I came home from school, I did chores or played outside until dark and Mom made me come indoors. Now, that does sound like a century ago.

I did not know cowboys named Quirt, Bronc, Thad, Shorty, Coosie or Pop. But I knew men much like them. In fact, most folks called my Grandpa Wilson “Pop.” I once met an old-timer in Magdalena, New Mexico, who had been a sheriff in the 1930s. He still packed a pistol and watched the door, just in case someone he sent to prison got out and scouted him for revenge. I based my character, Quirt Payton, on him.

All the aged cowboys I ever met wore long-sleeved shirts, usually some faded shade of white, with the collar buttoned. This kept the dirt out when he rode down the trail or behind a herd of slow moving cows. Also, an old beat-up Stetson and yellowed cigarettes stained their fingers.

I don’t suppose the current generation has ever ridden in the open trunk of a car, nor let the air down in the tires to drive down a railroad track (and they call skateboarding an extreme sport). At one point, the six cowboys in the novel, plus Miss Diane Anderson, and the boy narrator, pile into a ’49 Plymouth, without seatbelts. I could have been the poster child for the need of such safety devices. I fell out of my parents’ car, going about 55 miles per hour, in 1949. I spent 10 days in the hospital nursing a major concussion.

At least one of the stories happened to me. In 1994, in Telluride, I was told by the hotel clerk I couldn’t get a room. He intimated I wasn’t their kind. My gruffy appearance after a week’s research in the wilds didn’t impress them. So, I drove all the way to Cortez for a room, arriving about midnight. To say I was ticked is an understatement.

It’s like I’m right there in the room with these old-timers. Some of these scenes I do recall first-hand. I remember going to see a friend of my grandfather’s at a 4-story hotel in central California in the mid-1950s. His room was carpeted with out-dated newspapers that he hadn’t got around to reading yet. Such images last forever.

My favorite things to do when the weather threatens and I can’t play golf: oil the saddles, clean the Winchesters, or write a novel about the Old West.

In Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon I discover that maybe I wasn’t born 100 years too late.

Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point) will be released: June 2010. Available through Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon (Center Point Premier Western (Large Print))  or http://www.blybooks.com/

Thank you, Stephen, for the interesting peek into your new book.

Readers, Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.



Katrina said...

I would love to win because I know my mom would enjoy reading it.

Robyn said...

I agree that a lot of great fun was lost with the end of the Five & Dime. I remember as a kid getting a little money to go to the drugstore and buy some candy as a special treat.

Thanks for the memories. Sounds like this book would bring back many sweet memories of a different time.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Wendy said...

I love ALL of Stephen Bly's books!

A J Hawke said...

I too miss the old Five and Dimes. Brings back memories...

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

A J Hawke

misskallie2000 said...

You can tell Stephen loves every thing about cowboys. The stories and tales passed down to the way they tackle their work and the pride that they showed. I still remember Hop A Long Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and all the old cowboys. Played cowboys and indians when I was little.
I remember the Five and Dime. Been shopping there in my younger days, lol..Telling my age here.

Thanks for the opportunity to enter to win this awesome book.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I would like to read this--thanks!


Anonymous said...

I'm another Stephen Bly fan! This one looks a little different from his others, but I'm sure just as good! :-) Thanks for the chance to win.

Stephen Bly said...

Greetings! Thanks for all your posts. I look forward to giving a copy of Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon to someone who comments here.
On the trail in ID,

karenk said...

please count me in...thanks :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

earlymorn23 said...

I would love to be entered in the drawing for this book--I have always enjoyed westerns and cowboys.
Thanks for the opportunity.

Cindy W. said...

Oh, I so want to read this book and would love to win a copy. Thank you for the opportunity to win it.

Stephen, I love the cover art on Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W


Annette M. Irby said...

My friend and I would love to read this book! Sign me up, Lena. :)


Linda Kish said...

Please include me.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

Anita Yancey said...

I would enjoy reading this book. Please enter me. Thanks!


apple blossom said...

Please include me in the drawing. Thanks
ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

kristen said...

What a fun plot.
Please enter me:)

Marla said...

I have a friend who would love this book. Thank you for the giveaway.


Trinity Rose said...

I love every book I've ever read of Stephen Bly. He is one of my favorites. Would love to win his new book.
Trinity Rose

Brenda said...

Please enter me!

dancealert at aol dot com

Tammy Griffin said...

Would like to read this book! Love Stephen Bly's books!



Tammy G. said...

Would like to read this book! Love Stephen Bly's books!



Maureen said...

I remember the old Woolworth's and we did have a TV in '54...there wasn't a lot on!
Please enter me!

Anonymous said...

Please enter me.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Nancye said...

Sounds like a good read! Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Molly(Buukluvr81) said...

Please enter me in this awesome sounding giveaway! Thanks!

Judylynn said...

I love Stephen Bly's books! Please enter me in this giveaway - Thanks!


Merry said...

I'd love a chance to win Cowboy For a Rainy Afternoon. Thanks for a sneak peek!

Memawof2boys said...

Please include me. Sounds wonderful!

Thank you!