December 29, 2011


Stephen Bly

Here I am on a winter’s day looking out of my office window. Our precipitation dial can’t decide whether it’s rain or snow. Either way, it’s a nice day to stay indoors and oil the saddles, clean the Winchesters or write a novel.

I did a little research this week and discovered a great new poison. Can’t wait to use it in a scene. Strange the things that make a fiction writer happy.

Speaking of the crazy mind of a writer, when I’ve got a plot developing, it’s like a recipe that I put together . . . a little of this, a bit of that, a pinch of spice, a touch of herbs and a whole lot of random stuff pulled out of the frig and cupboards stirred in . . . and then simmered slow in a crock-pot for weeks, even months. The kitchen in my mind fills up with a sweet smelling aroma. Or if not, I start tossing ingredients out and begin again.

The old cowboys out on the trail did the same. They had lots of time to mull over their tales, to create all the nuances. To toss around and tamp down their philosophies of life. When they told their stories, they spun them different every time. That’s the beauty of oral history. It’s not a photograph of the past. It’s a monologue filtered through the memory and heart of the one who lived it over and over again.

On the internet you can go to a web-cam that transmits 24/7 from the golf course at Pebble Beach, California. The picture’s scenic, but a bit boring. Nothing happens. Every once in a while you catch someone on the green, but you don’t know how they got there. No hint at all of what it means to them. How much more exciting to listen to your brother-in-law describe the course after he finished a round. Will he be as detailed accurate as the video or photo?


Pebble Beach Golf Course

But he can give you a visceral feel for the course that's almost vicarious. You can imagine playing there yourself.

That’s what stories do for us. They provide almost personal experience of places we’ve never been, times we’ve never lived . . . like the Old West. What a privilege, a pleasure it has been for me all these years to enter into that long ago world through the venue, the gift of writing.


What world have you encountered in recent days through the imagination of fiction? What about the story helped you to feel like you’d been there?


Paperback Writer
Paperback Writer . . . Paul James Watson lives a humdrum life but escapes now & then through his craft of writing. He becomes so absorbed in his novels that his character, Toby McKenna, a highly successful detective, becomes a daily companion. It’s not long before the lines of reality, fiction and imagination become so entwined that the real Watson threatens to become lost.

Throw The Devil Off The Train

Throw The Devil Off The Train . . . The trip to CA took 3 days by train. Was that enough time to prevent Catherine from throwing away her heart ... again?

Stuart Brannon: The Final Shot
Stuart Brannon: The Final Shot . . . It's 1905. Two orphans flee Oregon's Tillamook Head. One of them's branded a hero. Do they tell what really happened & risk a dangerous man's wrath? Meanwhile, Brannon searches for his missing U.S. Marshal friend & grapples with the game of golf on behalf of a charity celebrity tournament.

Available on, ebooks, or


For His Glory said...

stephen put it well in this post, helping to understand why writing and/or reading is so special for me. to be transported to another era or place or both is comforting in a lot of ways. i've enjoyed reading for pretty much all of my life and have a large collection of bly books. i look forward to the final one due out in march.

the post also reminded me of being transported through the word of God; how good of Him to allow us to know and experience Him in such a personal way through others' experiences.

csthankful said...

I would surmise that we are all a bit like this in our lives....taking a little of everything that comes our way and use it as we need it. Love hearing how writers get from point A to "The End"...thanks for sharing.