Sunday, 28 June 2009


Hi I'm going out on a limb here.
This is the opening chapter of a book that I'm writing. I would appreciate some constructive criticism please. Good or bad - OK?

Peter Averillo

The sun was a huge orange ball that was, slowly, sinking into the distant horizon. Diffused light painted the town purple with stretched black pools of shadow.
Against the sun both the stationary horse and rider were a black silhouette that cast a long deep shadow down the hard packed, purple rutted, sun reddened earth that formed the main street.
The rider sat still, moving only to pull a roll of paper from a black leather boot. With a flick of the wrist the poster unfurled enough for the rider to study the artist’s impression of the wanted man. Another wrist movement allowed the paper to curl back again before it was replaced.
Shaded eyes looked down the street where some shopkeepers, unaware of the rider’s presence, commenced shutting down their stores. Blinds were pulled shutting away the day before some retired to their backrooms to count their takings.
None of which was of interest to the rider who gently nudged the horse into a slow trot down the street towards the town’s only saloon. Here the rider dismounted and tied the reins to the hitch rail before climbing the two steps to the boardwalk. There was no hesitation as the rider swung through the batwing doors and stepped up to the bar.
The saloon was like any other. The bar ran the length of the saloon; the floor was covered in sawdust and circular tables were scattered around a potbelly stove. A couple of men sat at one table, their beers forgotten, as they played a game of chequers. In the far corner were four men playing poker – a couple of cowboys, a salesman and Aaron Park. Park’s was the face that adorned the poster that had interested the rider.
“Hey, feller,” a painted, buxom lady greeted as she approached the stranger. “Name’s Marie. Buy me a drink and maybe – just maybe, I’ll show you a good time.”
A pair of ice-cold green eyes swung in her direction and froze the smile to her face.
“I don’t -,” Marie spluttered, backing away.
“Nor do I,” the stranger replied, the voice soft and husky.
Marie gave the stranger a good looking over.
The stranger couldn’t be more than five foot five nor weigh much more than one hundred and thirty pounds – if that – with a slim, compact figure. Dressed in a black denim waist length jacket that matched the black jeans tucked into knee high black leather boots.
Around the waist was a black leather gun belt with a silver eagle buckle and rigged for a left-handed draw. Close to the butt of the pistol rested a black leather gloved hand; the moleskin leather stretched tight like a second layer of skin.
The only change to the colour scheme was the grey shirt unbuttoned to mid chest and exposed a smooth expanse of lightly tanned skin.
The face beneath the wide brimmed, low crowned black hat and framed by a mane of black hair, was triangular in shape – but it was the eyes, shaded by the hat brim, above high cheekbones that held Marie’s attention.
“Park winning or losing?” The stranger asked of Marie.
“Winnin’,” Marie replied with a smirk, finding it amusing that this kid was hunting a known killer of men. “Then he always does.”
“Has to lose sometime,” the stranger shrugged with eyes watching Park as he scooped a fistful of dollars from the pot and stacked them in front of him.
“Kid,” Marie advised, earnestly. “You ain’t gonna fool him. You look the part but he’ll be wise to you. He’ll cut you down while uppin’ the ante with them.”
A slight smile touched the stranger’s lips.
“Touched by your concern, Marie,” the stranger said, genuinely, eyes swinging towards the intended target. “But I guess he’s made his last bid.”
“Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Marie sighed with resignation. “Aaron Park’s planted too many kids like you. Still, you look like your minds made up; so don’t know why I’m botherin’. You’re funeral, kid.”
“Wrong,” the soft voice was as cold as those green eyes. “It’s his.”
The stranger bent down to slide the poster from the boot before striding across the room to where Park was dealing a fresh hand.
“Let’s up the ante,” Park suggested, thumbing his grubby, grey felt hat, further back to reveal a balding pate. “Five dollars?”
“Five hundred sounds better,” the soft voice interrupted, as the stranger tossed the wanted poster onto Park’s stake. “Either way I win.”
Park unrolled the poster, then grinned: “Dead or alive, now, huh?”
“Which way’s it going to be?” the stranger asked, the eyes watchful.
“Neither,” Park sighed as he looked up at the stranger. “And this is one bet you’re going to lose.”
The other three card players were quick to scrape back their chairs and get clear of this sudden arena. The stranger did not bat an eye but did step back a pace or two in anticipation. Nor was that move made too soon for Park upended the table scattering cards, money and beer glasses across the floor. At the same time he went for his gun, only to stand there open mouthed as the gun in the black-leathered hand erupted twice. Two bullets, one to the chest and the other to the head slammed him back into the wall. For a moment or two the body leaned there before sliding down, leaving twin trails of blood, to slump in a sitting position. With his head lolling to one side and his unfired gun resting in his lap it looked as though Aaron Park had fallen asleep.
The stranger whirled around but there was no threat from the other card players for they all had flung their hands in the air the moment the gun barrel arced in their direction.
“Anyone else want to play?” they were asked.
All three shook their heads.
“Then best you take your money back,” the stranger suggested – head nodding to indicate the dead man. “Feller, there, was dealing from the bottom of the pack. Guess tonight he was the one got fleeced.”
“Man,” the salesman gasped, as he rushed over to crouch down and help himself to a wad of cash. “Never seen anything like that. Been in many places but never seen a fast draw – not like that.”
This as the batwings crashed open and the law and its deputy rushed in.
“What was all that shootin’ about?” the law demanded, as his deputy raked the room with his rifle held at waist level.
“That kid just took down Aaron Park,” Marie offered, pointing towards the stranger.
The law glanced at the stranger and burst out laughing: “You gotta be kiddin’ me. That kid?” then looked towards the dead man. “Get up Park you ain’t foolin’ no one.”
The law stomped over to where Park lay and studied the blood trail before beginning to believe that he was staring at a corpse. While he was taking this all in the stranger rolled a cigarette and had just lit it when the law looked up.
“What you have to go and do this for?” the law demanded.
“The money,” came the soft, disinterested voice. “What other reason could there be?”
“The money?” the law repeated, as his eyes located the poster.
“Five hundred dollars,” the stranger pointed out through a haze of smoke. “Just like it says there.”
The law climbed to his feet and looked over to the deputy.
“Joe, go get the ‘Taker,” he suggested, before turning back to the stranger. “You’d best foller me. But I’ll say this you’d better spend that money quick. Park had a few friends and they’re goin’ to come lookin’ for you.”
“And I’ll be waiting,” the stranger assured him.
“Not here you won’t,” the law replied, grimly. “You take your money and git.”
“Don’t intend hanging around,” the stranger shrugged. “Just tell anyone who’s looking that I’ll be in a little town called Clementine.”
“And who should they look for?” the law wondered out loud.
“The name’s Darke,” the stranger supplied, with an impish grin. “Morgana Darke.”

Copyright: Chantel Foster 2009

Saturday, 27 June 2009


A Black Horse Western published by Robert Hale Ltd of London.
June 2009
Sam Bowden is one spoilt brat and his dad, Clem Bowden, is always bailing him out of one bit of bother after another. Now he's gone that step to far and killed a saloon girl something where a fine or a night in the cells can't solve.
Sheriff Cole Masters has no choice but to see Sam Bowden stand trial for his crime.
But Clem Bowden is not a man to stand aside and watch his son hang or rot in prison. Oh, no he has a plan to set his son free and frame the lawman for the killing.
Knowing that he has the town in the palm of his hand Clem knows that no one will be idiot enough to stand with the lawman so Cole Masters has no choice but to handle things on his own.
And with Masters' fiance and best friend held hostage there is not much that he can do.
So Cole loses his badge and his self respect. There is only one thing that he can do and that is get to the Judge before anyone else does and explain everything.
Sam Bowden, who his father has made sheriff heads a posse that is joined by two professional guns Boyd and Quill. I loved the interplay between these characters and Sam Bowden who really throws a tantrum as he's supposed to be the one in charge and, therefore, thinks he knows better.
This book is full of real people that I could relate to. As a straight western this is a good read.
I got something more for there is another level in this book and this comes to the surface when Jessie, the schoolteacher fiance of Cole Masters, tackles Clem Bowden head on and discovers the man's weakness and the reader is left in no doubt that he knows that he is in the wrong but he loves his son and must do whatever it takes to protect him. It's a magic moment.
I like writers who can take modern issues and take them back in time. It goes to show that some problems are not as new as people imagine.
This one goes on my list for the new proposed western section at the school library (proving that the Wild West Monday idea can work).

Friday, 26 June 2009


After the success of Red Dead Revolver the makers of Grand Theft Auto are due to release another western themed computer console game. Red Dead Redemption has notorious outlaw, John Marston, hired by 'The Bureau' to police the untamed wild west.
I enjoyed the first in the series and it is a great way to introduce people to westerns.
Another new game coming out is Star Ocean: The Last Hope. I thought that you might find the main hero's name amusing. It is Edge Maverick. Is this a game created by a western fan, I wonder?
Sorry for the lack of new posts but I'm taking time off in Wales. Went to the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff but couldn't find Captain Jack. I'm a great fan of Torchwood and it was fun to stand where some of the scenes are shot.
A new series of Torchwood starts on Monday 6th July on BBC 1. Five episodes will be shown on consecutive nights. A few nights in then.

Friday, 19 June 2009

FURY by Jim Austin

The moment John Fury spots a wagon train at a standstill in Pawnee country he knows that something is wrong. What has happened is that the wagonmaster, Leander Crofton, has been unseated from his horse that had been spooked by a rattler. Not only had he been stomped on by his own horse but run over by the oxen of the lead wagon.
Fury promises the dying man to lead the wagon train to Colorado Territory.
The scout for the train is a negro freedman called Joe Brackett. Through references to the difference between freedmen and runaway slaves the author manages to convey that the story is set before the American Civil War.
The book is full of characters like the veteren Amos Duggan who senses that age is overtaking him that he has decided that it is time to settle. And the level headed Doctor Gerald Lonigan who is the voice of reason when things get a bit tense.
Against these are Carson Thorn who is a gambler out for his own gain and backed by the shady Kreeg. Always feigning innocence when accused of cheating.
The character that I liked was the Polish tailor, Leo Sidowky, who had left New York to build a new life. He was driving the lead wagon that had run over the wagonmaster. It was a great piece of story telling that tells of this man's growth in character.
And there is love interest with the schoolteacher, Bess Jackson, who seems to be playing Fury against the foreman of the hands driving a bunch of cattle behind the wagon train.
For me life on a wagon train was an eye opener as I did not know that that a wagon train barely made a dozen miles a day, if that.
While there is danger from attack by the Pawnees the biggest problems that these people face come from nature itself.
An really marvellous book and I am looking for more by this writer.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


GCSEs done and just the results to come.
No more school. Education's done.
Taking time out
To get about.

Not really sure what to do next. Most off my life so far has been stuck behind a school desk and college doesn't appeal right now. Maybe, I'll take a gap year and find my own level and try a few things out.
I have to admire my mum, though, she's off to Uni in Wales to study law.
She said she couldn't do it. Not at her age.
A couple of days later Granddad gave her the train fare and told her to meet some chap at the Royal Courts of Justice. Three months later she passed an exam and got a certificate. Now she's going to Uni.

As for me. He just says give it time. Let's see what results you get.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

COYOTE DEADLY by Lance Howard

Brint, Marcus and Billy Chullo are brothers who ride into a small town called Thanody. The people there have sworn off violence which means that they will do nothing to stop the Chullo brothers from doing whatever they want.
They are welcomed by a well meaning townsman who Marcus beats up and the tone of the first part of the book is set. Knowing that the townspeople will do nothing to stop them the brothers do what they like during which a girl is raped, killed and hung from the branch of a tree.
Meanwhile, Josh Dellin, a friend of the lawman in Dark Springs is asked a favour which is to bring in the three Chullo brothers for the rape and murder of another woman in another town.
He is warned that there could be a problem with the father Miguel Chullo who is a powerful landowner with friends in high places.
Josh then heads to Thanody but the people are close lipped about what happened there. Except for Melissa who saw everything and volunteers to go with Josh. The town elder is not happy about this and tells her to go home as she has not been given permission to speak. If she does not the elder threatens to punish her. Josh gives Melissa a bit of support and though he does not want her tagging along she leaves town with him.
In this book the author, Lance Howard, returns to the similar theme of the effects of child abuse that lay behind his previous book 'The Devil's Rider' but does not tread over old ground. Instead he tackles the issue from another angle. Because of the abuse dished out by Miguel Chullo on his sons they think that they can do the same to others. Just the same as the way they saw their mother treated so they, in turn, treat women the same way. Just so long as they don't do it in Coyote Creek which is Miguel's home turf.
And then there is the so called God fearing Mr Herridge the elder in Thanody who is not much better than a bully who rules by fear.
Of course, this is fiction and everything is tied up neatly but not always the case in real life. In this book and the previous book 'The Devil's Rider' Lance Howard has tackled and brought real life issues to the front and should be read by people of all ages.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

D-DAY: 6th June 1944

65 years ago the British, Canadians and Americans landed on the French Coast at Normandy.
They landed on Gold, Sword, Juno, Utah and Omaha beaches against harsh German defences.
The men pictured above all played their part. My great granddad in the RAF uniform to the right seated. His brothers Eddie and Alan were in the Army and Peter Thompson in the Navy.
They survived World War 2 but I never knew them as by the time I was born they had died.
What I do know is that because of men like them who lived and died fighting for what they believed in that I live the life that I do now.

Friday, 5 June 2009


This 1971 movie was directed by Mario Gariazzo who also wrote the screenplay with Ferndinando Poggi.
Run time: 94 mins
Lincoln Tate as Acquasanta Joe
Ty Hardin as Colonel Donovan
Richard Harrison as Charlie Bennett
Silvia Monelli as Estella
The American Civil War has just ended when Confederate Colonel Donovan and his gang capture a cannon and take up bank robbery.
Acquasanta Joe is a bounty hunter who has managed to earn $50,000 plus interest all of which he has put in a bank. A bank that Donovan robs and Joe goes off to get his money back.
Of course, the Army want their cannon back and put an end to Donovan and his gang.
So all the makings of a good film we thought.
For some unexplained reason Acquasanta Joe is hired by Donovan to bring in Charlie Bennett who ran off with the proceeds of the bank robbery. After some water torture Bennett admits that the money was buried in his mother's grave. The grave is empty though as Acquasanta Joe has taken the money and made a deal with the army to trap the outlaws. And we found ourselves wondering how this piece of the storyline worked as Joe couldn't have got the money from the coffin without Bennett knowing.
Anyway to cut a long story short Donovan and his gang find an empty coffin, ambush the cavalry who are about to hang Bennett who hangs anyway. The gang fall out and Acquasanta Joe teams up with Donovan to dispose of the rest of the gang. Joe takes on a cannon with a bow and arrow. Donovan escapes and Joe finishes up with the girl.
And the cavalry never turn up in the nick of time.
Most of the actors are a bit cardboardy and wooden and only Ty Hardin looked as though he was enjoying himself.
Some of the scenes go on for too long as though the actors are waiting to find out what they have to do next.
The film is also irritating for bad voice synch.
Marcello Giombini's music doesn't help either.
Not the best advert for spaghetti westerns but it only cost a £1 from a charity shop.
Not on our recommended list.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Written and directed by Joel Hershman this 2000 movie stars:
Clive Owen as Colin Briggs
Helen Mirren as Georgina Woodhouse
David Kelly as Fergus Wilks
Warren Clarke as Governor Hodge
Danny Dyer as Tony
Adam Fogarty as Raw
Paterson Joseph as Jimmy
Natasha Little as Primrose Woodhouse
Okay so it's not a western but a film about gardening. Not kidding this film is about plants and gardening.
It is based on the real story about the inmates of Her Majesty's Prison Leyhill.
Colin Briggs is sent to a minimum security prison to finish his sentence for murder and be put up for parole. He shares a cell with the elderly but wise Fergus Wilks who is in for killing three of his wives but knows that he will never leave prison as he has cancer.
For Christmas Fergus gives Colin a packet of Viola seeds that Colin plants close to the football pitch. Come the spring they have grown and the Governor is so impressed because plants like that have never grown in the prison grounds before.
As a result the prisoners become gardeners and their garden comes to the notice of the prominent garden expert Georgina Woodhouse. She employs the prisoners as a gardening team for one of her own projects.
Colin is given parole but breaks it so that he can get back into prison to lead a team that enters a display at the Hampton Court Garden Show. Their entry wins them an audience with the Queen because she thought that 'they had been robbed.'
This is really a wonderful film and should be better known. Clive Owen who we knew from 'Sin City' and 'Shoot 'Em Up' shows another side to his acting and impressed.
None of us could believe that we could enjoy a film so much about gardening but we did. It was shown on BBC One last night but I've had to order the dvd as I want it in my collection.
In the following years the prison did exhibit again winning silver and gold medals before winning the prestigious Tudor Rose Award.

Monday, 1 June 2009


I hold my hands up and admit that I have never read a Jack Giles book.
Until the other day that is.
When it's revision time it's not that easy to take out time to read but by the end of half-term I thought that I should take a break.
'Poseidon Smith:Vengeance Is Mine' was Jack Giles first book published in 1984 by Robert Hale.
The first few chapters follows three violent men who are released from prison after a ten year prison sentence. I got to know these three so well that I disliked them. All they want to do is kill the man who ran off with the proceeds of a robbery and left them to rot in the prison.
The book moves from them to the quiet town of Ruskin, Texas and the happy event that is taking place. The preacher's sister, Andromeda, is about to get engaged to the local rancher - except that the rancher is not all that he makes out to be.
The Sunday School children are to be given a treat and are being shown how a big ranch works.
All arranged by the preacher, Poseidon Smith, who manages to bring people around to doing things that he suggests by making them think that they thought of the idea in the first place.
And Poseidon Smith talks like a preacher and, I think, is what attracted me to this character.
The mood of the book changes and it disturbed me.
The outlaws arrive and a shoot out comes about as they try to escape and caught in the middle are the Sunday School children. There are casualties on all sides and that included the children. I didn't expect that and I don't know if anyone has done that before.
Stung by the tragedy Poseidon Smith struggles with his faith and blames himself. Armed with an ancient pepper pot pistol he hunts the killers down but he does not know until the end just who he is going to face.
The book reads like a film and I could 'see' it all happening.
I asked the author why he included the scene that disturbed me.
"Reality. Back at the time when when Texas was fighting to be free of Mexican rule there was an incident in Missouri. The Mormons had populated an area called Haun's Mill and most people resented the presence of these 'Chosen People' so they took matters into their own hands. They didn't care who they killed in that massacre - men, women and children were fair game. In 'Poseidon Smith' the attitude of the outlaws is 'if it moves kill it' and, in real life, as you see on the news children are the casualties of war.
I don't know what was in my mind when I wrote the book but I would guess that I was thinking something like that at the time. Couple that with this thought - what would have broken Poseidon Smith's faith?"
Despite it all I found this book to be, well, things stick in my mind. That has to be a good thing.