Tag: dime novels

Dime Novels – The birth of the paperback

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Dime Novel - MalaeskaRight around the start of the Civil War, Erastus and Irwin Beadle published a new series of cheap paperbacks entitled Beadle’s Dime Novels. Thanks to increased literacy rates among the American people during this time, and the inexpensive price (yes, they truly did cost a dime), these thin, paper-bound books met with huge success. The debut novel – Malaeska, the Indian Wife of the White Hunter, by Ann Stephens (a woman – hooray!) sold more than 65,000 copies within the first few months of its publication. Those are the kind of numbers even today’s authors would get excited about – believe me! The book released on June 9, 1860 and was basically a reprint of a serialized story that had appeared in the Ladies’ Companion magazine back in 1839.

Dime novels varied in size and thickness, but the tended to be about 100 pages in length, about the equivalent to today’s novella. At first, dime novel covers had no cover art beyond the fancy title script. But it didn’t take long for the Beadles to move to illustrated covers, better designed to grab a browsing customer’s attention.

If you saw a homicidal squaw about to tomahawk a frontiersman, wouldn’t that grab your attention?  The next one is slightly less blatant with the rifleman helping a young woman escape danger, but there is certainly still an element of adventure and the breathless question of “What will happen next?”

Dime novels were famous for lurid, often melodramatic tales of the frontier. Heroes were larger than life and typically had exaggerated strength and skill. Not that the readers cared. The more jaw-dropping the story, the more fun it was to read. Hence the birth of genre paperback fiction.

In my latest release, A Worthy Pursuit, I have a lot of fun playing with these dime novel ideals. Young Lily is an avid, and rather bloodthirsty, fan of dime novels – her favorites being the tales of Dead-Eye Dan and his winsome companion Hammer Rockwell, who just happens to bear a striking similarity to Stone Hammond, our hero.

Here’s a sneak peak from one of the scenes where Stone and Lily are reading dime novels together:

Taking Dead-Eye Dan in hand, Stone fanned the pages to a random spot in the middle. “‘Dan dove behind a fallen tree as a hailstorm of bullets rained down around him. The Gatling Gang had come by their moniker honestly, laying down rapid fire that mimicked the output of the famed war gun. Unruffled by the deadly flurry, however, Dan flipped onto his back behind the log and reloaded his Henry repeater with methodical precision. The six-gun at his hip sported full chambers. The knife on his belt was razor-sharp and ready for action.'” Stone’s voice trailed off, cueing Lily.

She grinned, taking up the challenge like a seasoned gamester.

“‘Bullets blasted shards of bark all around Dan, but he just brushed the pieces off his chest with a flick of his wrist. Billy’s gang couldn’t aim worth a hill of beans. That’s why they always sprayed so much lead. It was the only way they ever hit anything. Too often, innocent civilians. Dan scowled, his jaw tightening as he rolled onto his side to steal a peek over the top of the log. One against seven were lousy odds, but Billy Cavanaugh and his crew were vermin that needed e-rad-i-cation.'” She stumbled slightly over the large word, but it didn’t stop her. She passed right over it and forged ahead. “‘He’d just wait for them to reload, then take them out one by one.'”

Stone closed the book and set it in his lap. “You do know this story is hugely exaggerated, right?” He tossed the dime novel to Lily and winked at her. “There were only five men in the Gatling Gang, not seven. And Daniel Barrett didn’t bring them all in on his own. He had help.”

A Worthy Pursuit

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Lily’s blue eyes glimmered as she rose up on her knees, bringing her face level with his. “Do you mean to tell me that you know Dead-Eye Dan?”

Stone blew a self-deprecating breath out of the side of his mouth. “Know him? Shoot. He and I were partners back in the day. ‘Course no one actually calls him Dead-Eye Dan. He’s a rancher now, foreman at a place called Hawk’s Haven up north a piece. Gave up chasin’ criminals in order to chase cows. He is a crack shot, though. Saved my sorry hide more than once.” He nudged Lily with his shoulder, nearly toppling her back onto the cushions. “‘Course I saved his hide a time or two, myself.”

“Wait a minute.” Lily drew in a breath so large, he expected her head to start swelling. “You’re . . . You’re . . . Hammer Rockwell. The man who shows up in the nick of time and takes the Gatling Gang by surprise by climbing down the box canyon wall with his knife clenched in his teeth!”

Hammer Rockwell? Knife in his teeth? “Of all the ridiculous, made-up, nonsense,” Stone sputtered. “I’ll have you know, all my knives were safely stowed in their sheaths when I made that climb.”

  • Do you like your fictional heroes larger than life? Or do you prefer more realistic story lines?

CELIA YEARY IS OUR GUEST TODAY!

Celia Yeary is with us today with a great post on dime novels. Celia is a dear friend of mine and an excellent writer, with a slew of wonderful books and short stories to her credit.  A fifth-generation Texan, she’s understandably proud of her heritage and most of her stories take place in her home state of Texas.  Now here’s Celia to give us a bit of insight into where western writing all began–the DIME NOVEL. (And y’all be sure and leave a comment with contact info, cause Celia plans to give away two of her “dime novels”!)

 

A “dime novel” was an inexpensive and generally sensational tale of adventure sold as popular entertainment in the 1800s. Dime novels can be considered the paperback books of their day, and they often featured tales of mountain men, explorers, soldiers, detectives, or Indian fighters. Despite their name, the dime novels generally cost less than ten cents, with many actually selling for a nickel. The most popular publisher was the firm of Beadle and Adams of New York City.

 

The heyday of the dime novel was from the 1860s to the 1890s, when their popularity was eclipsed by pulp magazines featuring similar tales of adventure. Later, comic books had a part in the trend.

 

Critics of dime novels often denounced them as immoral, perhaps because of violent content. But the books themselves actually tended to reinforce conventional values of the time, such as patriotism, bravery, self-reliance, and American nationalism.

 

Today, Western Historical novels and Western Historical Romance novels hold to the same standards: Truth, Justice, and The American Way.ie, treat women and children with respect, as well as your neighbor, protect the downtrodden, and carry out justice within the law…if at all possible.

 

Today, Western Historical Romance novels and true Westerns are published as Dime Novels at “Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery” through the imprint Western Trail Blazers. The Dime Novels are shorter stories, perhaps novellas, priced at 99Cents.

 

The idea intrigued me. Since I had nine full-length novels published traditionally, along with two novellas and three anthologies, I found myself writing 22,000 word stories with catchy titles. As of this moment, I have two as WTB Dime Novels:

http://westerntrailblazer.com/dime-novel-store.php

 

ANGEL AND THE COWBOY

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-and-the-Cowboy-ebook/dp/B0058VZTWU/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309546603&sr=1-11

 

He needs a wife…
Because the sheriff summons him, U.S. Marshal Max Garrison rides to town. He resents learning he must supervise a young man just out of prison who will work at his ranch for a time. But when he meets the beautiful young woman who owns the teashop, he knows his trip is not wasted. Max decides she’s the one for him.

She faces more loneliness …
Daniella Sommers lives alone above the book and teashop her English parents left her. When U.S. Marshal Max Garrison walks in and asks for tea, she almost laughs. Soon, her merriment turns to hope. Then Daniella learns a shocking truth about herself. If she reveals her past, will Max still love her?
Is it time for miracles and hope? 

*~*~*~*

ADDIE AND THE GUNSLINGER– 

http://www.amazon.com/Addie-and-the-Gunslinger-ebook/dp/B006LXB6GW/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324161074&sr=1-13

He’s not looking for anything except freedom.

Ex-gunslinger Jude Morgan lands in jail in a far-flung West Texas town. On the fourth day in his cell, the sheriff arrives with a beautiful woman dressed in men’s pants and toting her own six-shooter. Adriana Jones claims he is her worthless husband who married her but never came home.

She need a stand-in for a husband.

The young woman makes a bargain with Jude in front of the sheriff. Jude is to come home where he belongs, and she will have him released. When they’re alone, she explains his job is to pose as her husband to thwart the marriage advances of her neighbor, wealthy rancher Horace Caruthers. The older man wants her ranch to join his, because the Pecos River runs through her property.

To seal the bargain, Jude wants a kiss. During the next few weeks, however, Jude and Addie learn that the kiss meant more than they meant it to be. Then, Addie’s life is in danger.

Will Jude rescue his Addie? Or will Addie save herself and her gunslinger?

~*~*~*~

Future Dime Novel releases are:

Charlotte and the Tenderfoot

Kat and the US Marshal

 Thank you Petticoats! This site has been one of my Favorites since I found it two years ago. I appreciate the opportunity to post among so many successful authors.

Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit ‘o Texas 

You may find me here: 
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com
http://www.celiayeary.com

http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Celia-Yeary-Author/208687145867971              

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