October 29, 2009


By Stephen Bly

In my newest release, Creede of Old Montana, Avery John Creede and Mary Jane Cutler (a.k.a. “Sunny”) ride down into a canyon toward the Missouri River near Fort Benton, Montana. I realize that every reader will visualize this canyon according to their own experience. Each mind will conjure up different images.

Some will think of
a dramatic place like the Grand Canyon with its sheer cliffs and dangerous drops.

Others will envision smallish hilly inclines.

But Avery and Mary Jane’s canyon is more like Hell’s Canyon (not far from our Idaho home).

The mountains slope down at a sometimes navigable decline to the Snake River. That’s the type of sloping grades along this part of the Missouri River.

My characters probably won’t fall off this cliff, but it’s not an easy descent. Especially when they’re under attack by gunfire. The canyon’s carpeted with short, brown, dry grass and scattered sage. Occasional prickly pear cactus break the landscape. So do huge granite boulders. That’s important for finding them protection, a place to hide.

It’s crucial that a writer know his or her terrain, the actual geography of a scene . . . and describes it in a way that the reader is on the same page.

When you read the word ‘canyon,’ what memory or picture comes to your mind?

On the trail,


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NOTE: Everyone who enters a comment on this blog article either today or tomorrow (October 29th or 30th) will be eligible for a drawing for a free autographed copy of Stephen Bly’s newest release, Creede of Old Montana.


Mark said...

I'd love to win a copy

Molly Noble Bull said...

Dear Stephen,
I liked your article very much. Please put my name in the hat for the drawing. I love westerns--as I am sure you guessed.
Molly Noble Bull

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed readng the comments. A canyon to me will always be The Grand Canyon since I live near and have seen it several times. It's breathtaking.
The one I always drive carefully through is the Salt River Canyon in Arizona. This is where you had better have a lot of water in your radiator. Lots of cars overheat going up and down the road. Not to worry, there are a lot of pull-outs.

Tina Dee Books said...

How funny that you say this. It's so true. We have several canyons around our area that we hike or bike, or ride horses through. They are not very deep, some have streams in them most of the year, but there are so many around here. Depending on which canyons in the area, you might find arrow heads, old shacks or remnants of small houses from the old rancheros, or 4 inch deep holes where Indians ground acorns.

They are are a bit similar in looks. Since that's what we have around here, I think I would have pictured one of those, except you've no doubt painted a great picture of your specific canyon. And I can't wait to read the book! I'm asking my library to order the book, and several other books by authors here, for me, so don't enter me in the contest.

Can't wait to read your latest!

Connie Sue said...

I have been to the Grand Canyon and the one at Fort Benton. You are right that to be able to write a picture in our minds as to what you are describing, being able to do that accurately just lends credence to the story. I know how hard you work to do your homework and make sure the story could be accurate if it really happened. One of the reasons I love reading your books, Steve...reality is right there in the fiction...makes the stories come to life!

Wendy said...

I love all your books and have read them all and plan to start rereading them. They are so fun. Thanks for the chance to win your latest.
wsmarple at gmail dot com

Stephen Bly said...

Mark, Molly, Connie Sue, Wendy & the rest of you: Thanks so much for stopping by and taking time to comment...and telling about your canyons!

Jules said...

So what do the canyons in the Austin-Stoner Files look like?
I really enjoy your books and now have my kids (ages 9, 11) hooked on them. A new one would be great to read!

Francie said...

Hi there,

I was on your blog site and tried to leave a comment, but I don’t think I have an account so I'm sure it didn’t go through.

Anyway, Just wanted to say that I went on AMAZON and read a review of your book. It sounds great and I loved that it comes in LARGE PRINT for those of us with WEARY eyes !!!!

Francie Tatko

bobnfran @ q.com

Stephen Bly said...

Jules: In the first book of the Austin-Stoner files, The Lost Manuscript of Martin Taylor Harrison, Linda & Brady explored the uncharted reaches of the western edge of the Grand Canyon, where no one has yet ever ventured. Very steep cliffs of course.

Patty Mathison said...

When I think of the word canyon, I think about rounding up cows when I was a kid. I would love to win your book. I'm just finishing another one of your books.

Stephen Bly said...

Patty: Thanks for your note! Glad to have you here.

Anonymous said...

Canyons...they really are different. My mind goes to the western Colorado box canyons, and my South Dakota "badlands" canyons now. What I always think is, how did the pioneers get through these areas with a wagon? It's a mind boggling thing!

I'm so excited to read this book. Would love to win it!
Michelle S

Marjorie said...

Beauty and a great gift from God,
is what comes to mind.
I would love to win this beautiful

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Linda said...

The picture of canyons to me would be the Grand Canyons, as I've visited there one time and loved it. Would loved to have gone down to the bottom my mule (physical problems prohibited it.) Since I've never read any of your books to date, I would love to win this one and get started! Please enter me. Thank you.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

BK said...

What a timely post. This is something I'm puzzling over as I write my current WIP. I know people get different images of canyons, and its hard to figure out exactly how to give enough description as a guide but not too much and going overboard. My beloved Arizona is most noted for the Grand Canyon of course, but that's just a drop in the bucket compared to the variety she has to offer.

And speaking of physical descriptions of the land, I word I commonly read in westerns growing up to describe areas of rock was a "defile" Interestingly, no one seems to have heard of this word as I had two or three people comment that they didn't know what that was. But it's up to me as the author to make it clear.

Carly Kendall said...

I'm in good company here because whenever I hear the word 'canyon', I picture the Grand Canyon. I like the way you described the canyon that is in your book. It sounds wonderful and I would love to win a copy. Thank you.

Janice Olson said...

I love the paintings in your article--beautiful and wonderful color, and the black and white reminded me of Ansel Adams. A canyon? I always picture the ones in the Califoria foothills around where I grew up and it didn't help that I watched too many western movies while growing up either.
To win a copy of your book would be spectacular.
Blessings on your writing.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. To me, a canyon is a deep hole with maybe a river running through it. So I want to read your book to see if you describe it better than me.
JFWisherd (at)aol(dot)com

Brenda said...

I would love to read your book. The photos are beautiful!

dancealert at aol dot com

Nate said...

I'm new to the Bly's - just read about Stephen in a devotional. Best wishes to you - God bless.

Nate said...

I'm new to the Bly's, but would like to read some of their works Take care.

Stephen Bly said...

Thanks again for all the comments. You will all be entered into the drawing for a book. I'm thinking of giving away 2 because of the amount of entries. Will pick winners tomorrow (Saturday) and let you know!

On the trail,

Rusty La Violette said...

OK, this is my third try at leaving a comment. I wrote a long one, then a medium sized one, now just an attempt. I wished I knew what I was doing wrong. Rusty

Tina Dee Books said...

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for trying again. I've been having some issues--don't know if it's blogger or what. But we do appreciate you dropping by and trying again.

--Tina Dee

Rusty said...

Rusty here. I made three attempts to post a comment and they didn't get on. I don't know what I did wrong. I wrote in the dialogue box, then put in my google acct. # and password and clicked to send it (or
whatever it said... not "send", but whatever...) Anyhow, I even
wrote a description of the canyons of my youth and the canyons now. aaaarrrggghhh I am just NOT a techie or on-liner person I guess.

God bless you and yours,
Rusty La Violette
r_mlavio @ earthlink.net

Stephen Bly said...

Send us the information you wanted to post . . . we'll enter the info for you. Sorry about that . . . others have had a problem too.

Rusty said...

I live in a canyon right now, a gentle one, with a creek (that’s “crick” ) running through it. The mountain rises right behind us to the South, gently at first, then shoots right up, blocking “a clear view of the southern sky” so we do not even get satellite TV. The canyons of my youth were much more rugged, rocky and foreboding. My favorite movie scene of a canyon is where the people on horses are waiting for the sun to rise and create a shadow off the needle-like pinnacle. The shadow that is created from the pinnacle shoots across the canyon floor with the riders racing after it as it leads them to a secret opening in the seemingly blank canyon wall. My NOW canyon is clothed in golden Larch, blue Spruce, and soft Fir trees––no pounding of horse hooves, no racing shadow–– just the deer family, the song birds, and an occasional wild turkey flock passing through. It fits me better now than the badland canyons of the past would have. Yes, I know canyons.

Stephen Bly said...



Congratulations! Send me your snail mail addresses via e-mail address below and we'll get you a copy of Creede of Old Montana as soon as we can.

As for you others, if you're not able to purchase a copy, check one out at your local library.

On the trail,
stephenandjanetbly @ connectwireless.us

Bernard Parker said...

Hello Steve,
Having grew up in north central Idaho (Orofino), I know just what you mean with the term "canyon." The canyon country of Idaho contains the real thing. Both Hells Canyon, which is shared with Oregon, and the Salmon River canyon are both deeper than the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. As you know, Salmon River is also known as the River of No Return. Some people may think of Canyon, as a gorge, gully, gulch, or ravine, but I like to think of the word canyon as something more.
Bernard Parker

Stephen Bly said...

Bernard: thanks much for the comments. We know the river town of Orofino, of course. Love to visit there.

Debbie Rempel said...

canyon means a beautiful sight of Gods creation walls so High and awesome wow
Debbie Rempel