Wednesday, May 29, 2013


(That fella there?  He's a writer who was caught revising.)

Here is a confession prompted by an email conversation I had recently with a writer pal of mine: I used to write when I didn’t know what the hell I was writing about.  I committed the unpardonable sin of wasting words, which is akin to pouring good beer on the ground.

I used to write even when I didn’t know where the plot of my tale was going, where the character or characters were heading and why they were heading there.  I had the sense that I would eventually write my way out of the trees and again see the forest, and that the plot and my characters’ motivations would again be clear, the incidents interesting to read about, and I’d rekindle my own as well as my reader’s interest in the utter crap I was oozing like pond scum onto the screen. 

But who on God's green earth wants to read all that meandering stuff, that crap between the interesting parts?

And what writer wants to revise it later?  If he didn’t revise it later and it somehow made it into print, well, in a metaphorical sense that’s the sort of thing that gets a writer tarred and feathered.  Or, at the very least, loses readers and thus the writer’s livelihood so that he must sell his family into coal mining slavery in Siberia.

Most writers have written when it isn’t going anywhere, and it’s a lousy feeling.  It feels listless and that’s just how it bleeds out on the page--one listless word after another.  Each word looks like a dead worm after a rain.  Of course, no writer in his right mind would send that stuff off to a publisher, so he’s tortured twice by it.  First, by writing it, and, second, by having to read it again in the draft he’s editing, and cut it or fix it in some torturous, mind-numbing way. 

And that’s like trying to perform CPR on King Tut.  Yuck!

Here is Mean Pete’s foolproof, tried and true way of fixing the slow stuff between the spurts of good, fast, colorful stuff.  Simply, stop typing when you’re no longer hearing the mad dogs barking in your head.  When you’re no longer feeling the tingle in her your fingers, the pitter-patter in your heart.  When you’re no longer chuckling to yourself and thinking that heck, if I don’t win the Nobel Prize for this there is something even more messed up with this world than I thought!

Stop writing and go have a beer.  Yes, you heard me.  You have hereby been granted permission to knock off for the day and pop a cold one.  Run like a child freed from the draconian torment of our public schools to your own sweet version of my Canyon Grill, belly up to the bar, and have ole Mort pop you a cold one, “And keep ‘em comin’, Morty.  Mean Pete said I could.”

And if you’re a mewling, yellow-livered ne’er do well who needs his little sister to tie his shoes for him each morning, you’ll do just that!

However, if you’re a ragin’ Cajun or a hairy chested Viking who salutes the gods of the writer’s bloody war only when the day’s work is done--when the day’s good work is done, the stuff you won’t have to stitch and sew and hammer to a pulp later because real men don’t revise because they do it right the first time! you’ll simply take a walk and think through the next three incidents in your novel or story or sports column or whatever it is your hammering the keyboard on.

That’s right.

Three incidents. 

Take a walk or mow the grass or paint the fence and think it through.  Come up with the next three interesting incidents in your yarn.  I’m talking the three most interesting, colorful, rollicking, bell-ringing, plot-driving happenings you can come up with--the best in the book so far, by gum!  A series of dramatic scenes or encounters or conversations that propel your plot forward with the velocity of a rocket launcher and that will have the priests blushing, the women swooning, the dogs barking raucously, the sailors slapping the tables with abandon, and the cowboys shooting their pistols in the air.

Imagine the next three things in your tale that leap right off the page to plop into your reader’s beer and take his breath away.

Then go grinning back to the ole salt mine of your worktable and get ‘er done.

So there you go.  Stop revising.  Revising’s for wussies.  No whimps allowed.  Go ahead, quote me on that! 

Real men--and women--get it right the first time.

Now, pardon me but I’m headin’ on down to the Canyon Grill for the good stuff and to ponder what color tie I should wear to the Nobel luncheon.


Mean Pete

(That gal there?  That's the sorta thing that awaits the writer who does not revise.)

Friday, May 24, 2013


Please come and be part of the Rogue Lawman Kickstarter Project...  

In a nutshell, I and some western-loving friends would like to get a weekly western web series going, base on my Rogue Lawman novels featuring the borderline psychotic vigilante lawman, Gideon Hawk.  We already have actor Channon Roe slated to play Hawk.  (See pic above!)

We have nearly $6000.  We need $40,000.  We have 20 days to go!

Kick in a buck, two bucks, three bucks, four...or four hundred.  Better yet, four thousand!  Or kick in the whole kit'n'kaboodle and mingle with Mean Pete and the rich and famous on the set of Rogue Lawman.  And have the satisfaction of helping get a dang good western series up and running on the Web, and then--who knows--maybe HBO or Showtime, as well!

I hasten to add it's not charity we're asking for.  We guarantee a return on your investment.  The Kickstarter site tells all about it.  If you kick in so much, you can even be a prodoosah!  (That's Hollywood-speak for "producer.")

Here's the link.  Hop up in the hurricane deck, will ya?
Rogue Lawman Kickstarter Project!

On Writing

Here are some questions I answered about writing last week over at Tom Rizzo's blog: Rizzo Historical Adventure Fiction.  I thought I'd post the interview again here, since I haven't offered many writing tips lately.  The pic below of course is not Mean Pete, but I found it when looking for a general "Writer" pic to post.  It's Patricia Highsmith, and while I'm not a huge fan of her writing, I do love this writerly pic of her with the coffin nail and old typewriter, hammering it out.  She probably has a bottle of vodka in hiding.

StoryTeller's Seven Questions

1.            You've written a ton of books over the years as Peter Brandvold and as Frank Leslie. How many novels so far and in what circumstances do you use your Frank Leslie pen name?
I lost track several years ago of how many books I've penned under those two names.  I'd say around fifty.  I chose to work under a pen name when I started writing for Signet, which is under the same Penguin umbrella as my original publisher Berkley.  
Those two companies didn't want to compete with each other, thus Frank Leslie was born.  I don't really see much difference in the books I write under those names, but I will admit FEELING differently when I write as Frank rather than as Pete.  Not sure what that is.  Under the Leslie name, Yakima Henry, Spurr Morgan, and Colter Farrow were born.  Over the years, those characters have made guest appearances in my Berkley books.  That's always fun to do.  
I'm currently not contracted with Signet OR Berkley--we couldn't agree on money--and that's given me the opportunity to really fire up my own Mean Pete Press, which you can read about at my blog:  (The only contract I currently have with a traditional publisher is with Simon & Schuster.)  Mean Pete in all his frenzied, industrious nastiness intends to issue an e-book and possibly a pub-on-demand book a month until he's a hundred years old, possibly longer.  Which would be roughly 50 years from now.  (Mothers, hide your children!)  

2.            What's your latest project, and the "inspiration" behind it?
My latest project is/was (it just went live at Amazon and B&N) is a Rogue Lawman book:  HEED THE THUNDER.  I really can't talk about "inspiration," but I've been wanting to write another Rogue Lawman for several years but the bean counters at Berkley didn't want me to because my other series were selling better.  But I know that the Rogue Lawman has a loyal following, and I personally love ole Gideon Hawk, and I've wanted for a long time to set a book in the Superstition Mountains with the Dutchman of the "lost mine" fame as well as HEED THE THUNDER went snapping and crackling onto the computer screen.  It's doing pretty well now, too, as an ebook original.  I describe it as one part Edgar Rice Burroughs to one part Fawcett Gold Medal with a good dose of Mean Pete Brandvold thrown in to really keep things moving!
 3.            I read an interview where you mentioned the newer writers of westerns don't much appeal to you because of "cornball dialect" and characters that are "way too goody-goody." Would you elaborate on that a bit?
No.  They'll get drunk and drive by my house yelling nastiness or mess with my lawn ornaments.  But I will tell you that some of my current FAVORITE western scribes are James Reasoner (I just finished WEST OF THE LAW and loved his take on Bill Tilghman) as well as Wayne Dundee, Matthew P. Mayo, and my adopted mother, "Ma" Kit Prate.  She is absolutely the best western writer I've ever read from any time and it's a shame she hasn't written more.  But we're remedying that--wink, wink.
 4.            Tell us something about your work habits. What kind of planning is involved for someone who seems to have lots of irons in the fire? Outlines? Charts? Do you move from beginning to end?
I just take long walks up and down Horsetooth Mountain and ride my mountain bike (I'm a mountain-biking fiend) and let the movie in my head get going and come back and write it down.  For one book I take about as many notes as can fit on one legal pad page and most of those are just so I can keep guns and horses straight and remember names I come up with.  ("Claudia" as opposed to "Claudine" and that sort of thing.)  I don't plan very far ahead.  I just get the overall gist of the story and the opening scene--imagine it down to the finest detail including what that spider looked like that crawled over the hero's dusty boot, and then I roll up my shirtsleeves, pour a cup of coffee, and burn up the keypad, laughing maliciously.
 5.            You started your own eBook publishing company called "Mean Pete Press." Give us an idea of what you're trying to accomplish with in.
 I'm just publishing everything that Berkley and Signet used to publish.  Very little difference except that the books might be a little shorter and definitely much cheaper.  I'm a curmudgeon and I love going rogue, having all the control myself.  So Mean Pete is really snickering in his dingy offices right now, getting the old virtual grease can out with which he's oiling his virtual presses with which to publish his next wild ride!
 By the way, Graphic Audio is currently negotiating with me and Penguin to put out almost all of my books in audio format.  I'm very excited about that.  For years, people have been asking me why they can't listen to my books in their rigs as they're wheeling down the Interstate.  Soon, they'll be able to.
 6.            Your books tend to be fast reads with little interruption storyline. What's the trick or technique to keeping a story moving and compelling?
Coffee and bourbon.  (he-he)  Really, I just see the story in my head like a movie playing on a screen.  Movies can't slow down for much backstory, or they have to include backstory in more artful ways than with flashbacks and long passages of dry expository dialogue.  So in my books as in good action movies, the story has to keep plunging, plunging forward.  Just when the reader thinks it's going to slow down...that's where you kick it into an even higher gear.  You, as you're writing, have to feel the tingle of creativity, which I guess is adrenaline.  Go ahead and be a ham.  Entertain the crowd!  Make the girls gasp and giggle, the men suddenly jump up and whoop and start shootin'!  Don't let up!  Another secret is to make the writing as spare and breezy and lucid as you can, and that's hard to do and there's really no way to teach it.  You just have to want to do it and keep trying till you get it so that your prose is as transparent as a newly cleaned window. 
 7.            You've written about the west for a long time. If you had the opportunity, what three individuals would you have liked to have met from the Old West era and what one – and different – questions would you ask each one?
 I can't think of any off hand.  I have a feeling most of those guys wouldn't be very good conversationalists.  But I WOULD love to sit down and have a beer with some of my own characters one day.  Lou Prophet, especially.  Now, that'd be fun!  Gideon Hawk, however, probably wouldn't say a whole lot and I'd be kind of worried that if he got to drinking too much he might suddenly go off on me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Something Completely Different Coming Soon From Mean Pete Press!

This is the cover of the wild-assed action-western I'm hammering this poor old, tortured keyboard on.  The hero is a thirteen-year-old-boy, and it will be suitable for younger readers.  It's a rough and rowdy coming of age story, and it's the kind of story Mean Pete would have loved reading when he was thirteen...between dips into Mickey Spillane, that is...

It also features Wilbur Calhoun, the old man from my "Old Gun Wolf" yarn, which is for sale at Amazon and B&N (wink-wink.)

I might send this to a traditional publisher--one has shown interest--because I'd like to see it in libraries where kids can flip through it and soil the pages with their sticky, grubby hands.  I loved libraries as a kid and attribute the old Carnegie Library in Wahpeton, North Dakota, in the mid-70s for turning my head to reading and writing and thereby missing out on a life of crime by a hair's breadth.  

If only those dear old ladies could have taught me math!

Anyway, here's the opening:

Chapter 1

     Something screeched through the air about six inches in front of Lonny Gentry’s face and made a loud whunk! as it crashed into a tree just ahead and left of him.  The crash of a rifle cut through the afternoon silence of this high mountain forest, and flatted out over the valley below, chasing its echoes like a rabid dog trying to bite its own tail.
     Lonny shouted a curse as he leaped back along the cattle trail he’d been following on his search for bogged calves.  He stumbled back so quickly, his heart turning somersaults in his chest, that he got his boots tangled, and went down hard on his butt.
     His hat tumbled off his head.
     He cursed again.  The pain of the fall felt like a bayonet blade rammed up his rear end.  This time the curse was drowned by another loud whunk! as yet another bullet screeched in from his right to ricochet loudly off a mossy, gray boulder on the upslope to his left.
     “What the hell?” exclaimed the thirteen year old who reserved his “barn talk,” as his mother called it, for when he was alone with just his horse...or when someone was trying to drill a tunnel between his ears with a bullet.
     Lonnie grabbed his hat, scrambled off the trail’s downslope side.  The rifle crashed again on the heels of a dull thud, which was the bullet plowing into the pine needle-carpeted slope on the other side of the trail.
     That shot was well shy of Lonnie, which told him the shooter had lost track of him.  Holding his hat as he lay belly down between two tall pines and staring along the slope, in the direction he’d been heading when he was so rudely interrupted, hot fury washed through Lonnie Gentry.  His first thought had been some cork-headed fool had mistaken him for a deer or an elk, but the persistence with which they’d continued shooting had made him begun to doubt the possibility.
     Now a man’s voice yelled from the densely forested upslope, “You git him, Chuck?”
     And another man’s voice answered, “Not sure!  Seen him go down, but he might’ve hotfooted it!”
     The rage in Lonnie dwindled quickly to fear.
     Nope, they hadn’t mistaken him for game.  They’d known he was two-legged, and they were either after money, which he didn’t have, or his horse.  Possibly the Winchester .44-40 repeating rifle riding in the scabbard attached to his saddle.  Which, in turn, was attached to his horse, General Sherman, whom he’d left down trail a ways to forage for himself along Willow Run, a cold mountain stream cutting straight down out of the mountains.
     “Let’s move in slow-like and check it out,” called the man on the upslope.  “Take care--the rest are probably around!”
     The hair along the back of Lonnie’s neck pricked.  They were heading toward him, and he hadn’t liked the sound of their voices.  They were pinched voices.  The voices of determined men.  Likely, desperate men. 
     Probably outlaws on the run from some posse.  Maybe in need of guns, ammo, and horses.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Mean Pete would like to introduce you to a brand-new, adult western series in the style of Longarm, Slocum, and Trailsman.  Only cheaper by half, and better!


Mike Sartain, the Revenger, grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans where he was taught how to fight by some of the toughest, meanest SOBs in any port. 

He was taught how to love by some of the most beautiful women in the world.

When the War Between the States broke out, the young Cajun lied about his age to join the Confederacy.  At war’s end, he came west and joined the frontier cavalry.  Wounded by Apaches in Arizona, he was nursed back to health by a gnarly old prospector and his beautiful daughter, Jewel.

When the prospector and Jewel were viciously murdered by marauding Yankee bluecoats, Sartain hunted the soldiers down and killed them one by one in his own fierce Cajun style.  Killing the prospector had been bad enough.  Killing Jewel had been far worse, for the young beauty had been carrying Sartain’s unborn child.

That’s how Mike Sartain’s lust for revenge got started.  That’s how he became a wanted man, with a dead-or-alive price on his head.

Now, with no choice but to keep on riding, the Revenger rides for anyone who has a justifiable ax to grind...


In this first book in this brand-new, sexy, all-action western series, the Cajun is lured into a trap baited with two names from his New Orleans past.  When his best friend takes a bullet meant for him, the Revenger straps on his LeMat and rides for his own white-hot brand of revenge once more...

***For Mature Readers Only***

Here's an Excerpt:


“I’m up here, pendejo.
Sartain slid his gaze up from the marshal of Sonora Gate’s deep, olive cleavage, beyond her slender neck and across her rich lips and cool nose to her eyes that smoldered out from her smooth, tanned face that could have been carved by a master craftsman out of the finest oak, depicting a heart-rendingly alluring senorita from the pages of ancient Spanish myth and legend. 
A more perfect, intoxicating creature Sartain had rarely seen.
“Claudia, you’re...all over,” Sartain said, wagging his head in awe at the creature before him, feeling a drum beating in his loins.
“As I was saying, I should arrest you.”
“And go and spoil a good time?”
“What good time?”
“The one we could have later”--the Cajun grinned again, showing all his white teeth--“if you played your cards right and promised not to disrespect me in the mornin’.”

Buy it at Amazon: A BULLET FOR SARTAIN

Buy it at Barnes & Noble:  A BULLET FOR SARTAIN