Monday, December 5, 2011

When It All Comes Together by Earl Staggs

Hey, Earl, I'm glad you braved the icy roads and foot of snow to visit us here on the mountain. I just finished reading your  book of short stories and enjoyed them very much. Have a  seat by the fire and a cup of coffee to warm you. Then you can tell us about your work. 

Sometimes the planets align and all is right with the world. Sometimes your gravy and your biscuit end up at the same time for one last mouthful. Sometimes, for writers, a story idea comes along, you write it, and it all comes together perfectly at the end. That happened to me with a story called “Where Billy Died.”

The story idea came when my wife and I took a day trip with friends to the tiny town of Hico, Texas. There I learned a local legend. They have convincing evidence that one of the most famous outlaws of the old west did not die at the wrong end of a gun as the history books claim.  

Nope, they insist, he lived out his final years in Hico and died there in 1950, a month after his 90th birthday. I visited the museum devoted to him and stood on the exact spot where they say he dropped dead of a heart attack. Whether the legend is true or not didn’t matter. I was fascinated and knew I had to use it in a story someday. 

But, I reminded myself, I don’t write westerns.

So I came up with a contemporary story about a modern day bounty hunter named Jack who travels to Hico to bring back a young bail jumper named Billy Joe Raynor. Piece of cake, thinks Jack, until he discovers he has a tail. The chief bonebreaker for a New Jersey mobster has followed Jack to Hico.  Is it because Jack beat up the mobster’s brother, or because of something young Billy did before he skipped town? Jack only knows he’s tangled with the hulking bruiser before and will have to again. Jack doesn’t know he’ll also get tangled up in Hico’s legend about another young outlaw named Billy and that the past and present will merge in a surprising conclusion.

I’m sure all writers feel the same when a story comes together as well as this one did for me. I hope it happens again someday.

“Where Billy Died” was published by Untreed Reads and is available for $1.99 at:

Now, to everyone who read all the way to here, you’re invited to drop by my Blog/Website at: visit with my special guest for the day. While you're there, you can read Chapter One of Memory of a Murder, my first mystery novel, which earned thirteen Five Star reviews. Also while you’re there, don't forget to sign up for the drawing on December 9. The first name drawn from those who leave a comment will receive a print copy of Memory of a Murder.  The second name drawn will have a choice of an ebook or print copy of Short Stories by Earl Staggs, a collection of sixteen of my best short stories.

Derringer Award winning author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. His novel Memory of a Murder earned thirteen Five Star reviews online at Amazon and B&N. His column “Write Tight” appears in the online magazine Apollo’s Lyre. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery. He hosts workshops for the Muse Online Writers Conferences and the Catholic Writers Conference Online and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups.

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  1. Welcome to my mountaintop, Earl. It's great to have you visit here.

  2. Earl, I smiled all the way through your post, as usual.

  3. I've never had your experience of the planets aligning like they did for you with Where Billy Died, a great title by the way. But sounds like a wonderful experience--and a wonderful story. Enjoyed reading your post!


  4. I often feel as if the planets are on a collision course when I'm writing, Earl. Mind if I come over to your place? The axis or whatever it is must be better there!