Episode 108 – Major Mitchell has written 10 western novels and two children’s chapter books.
- Major Mitchell’s first western book, Manhunter, was written as a gift to his wife. As a child he liked telling stories and made up a lot of stories. As a youth he read Zane Grey, which peaked his interest in eventually writing westerns. Major loves writing and has 10 western novels published, along with two children’s chapter books. He started Shalako Press, which has published close to 20 other authors. Many of his books are part of a series built around a character. Major takes us through building characters, doing research for 1850 to 1890, and then we talk about his books for children. He share a lot of valuable information on writing westerns and on writing in general.
- Fiction westerns and fiction children’s books.
- The Dona
- Where the Green Grass Grows
- The Witch on Oak Street and other Adventures with Debbie Folino
- More of Major’s books can be found on his website and his Amazon Author’s page.
My Writing Obstacles
- The company that was going to publish his first book went bankrupt and it took several years to get everything back so he could find another publisher.
My Writing Motivation
- Writing is fun. It’s enjoyable. It’s a lot more enjoyable than promoting a book.
My Most Rewarding Moment as an Author
- It’s rewarding when someone complements something you’ve written. For instance my wife, who is my editor, told me she really “knew” the characters in one of my books she had been editing.
My Most Difficult Writing Challenge
- It’s keeping people out of my office, Ignoring the telephone. It’s finding the time to be quiet and write.
Tips for Writing Westerns
- Find the oldest history books you can find. Check out used book stores for old books. I’ve also gone online into library’s historical sections of universities. In other words, know what you are writing about.
The Best Advice on Writing I Ever Received
- When you finish your book, it needs to be gone through at least four more times. You need to read through it again and again before sending it to an editor. And never try to edit your own stuff.
My Best Advice for Struggling Writers
- Be patient with yourself and other people. And never, ever be rude. You may burn a bridge that someday you are going to have to cross.
What Writing Success Means to Me
- When people complement you on what you’ve written – when people truly like what you’ve written – that’s success.
My Favorite Book on Writing
- The Truth About Fiction Writing by William Appel and Denise Sterrs.
The Author That Inspires Me
How To Find Me
About Major from His Amazon Author’s page
- The lad who would become Major Leonard Mitchell was born on March 28, 1945, the last of eight children in the family of Clarence Madison and Zula Alberta Mitchell. His home for the first eleven years of his life was Brawley, California, a small farming and cattle community situated in the Imperial Valley. It was here, amid the annual Cattle Call, rodeo and old west festivals, where he would soon discover a love for cowboys and all things western. It was not unusual for the youngster to meet a working cowboy in boots and spurs during their daily activities.
- Respect for native American culture was learned from his mother, who was one quarter Cherokee. “She had dark hair that touched the floor when she sat in a chair to brush it in the morning. Then, she would carefully braid and pile it back and forth across her head. Mama also had the most beautiful olive complexion with high prominent cheek bones, giving her the true look of an Indian.”
- The family lived not too far from the Seeley Naval Air Station, where his father was employed as a painter. Many of the servicemen attended Sunday morning worship at the same tiny Baptist church as the family. Major suspects their main interest in the church came from the rather large membership of teenage girls. Regardless of their reason, it was not unusual to have a houseful of sailors eating dinner at their table. Eventually, all four of his sisters married sailors. He would sit in rapture, listening to the harrowing tales of sea battles his brothers-in-law and their shipmates brought into the home.
- Tragedy struck with the death of their father, Clarence, on the thirteenth of December, 1952. Several years of financial difficulty followed as the family struggled to make ends meet. Relief came as the older siblings began graduating from high school and entering the work force. Their mother never remarried, although she had received several offers. “When you’ve had the best, then why settle for second-best,” she once said, when asked about her reasons. She lived a widow until her eventual death on the 22nd of June, 1967.
- The Mitchell household had a modest collection of books, mostly poetry and a collection of Zane Grey novels their father loved to read. Major spent countless hours listening, as two of his sisters, Dallas Rebecca and Nora Ethel, read poetry aloud. It didn’t take long until he was reading the Zane Grey collection, and , which developed his own passion for books. It was a short walk to the local library, where a whole world of adventure began developing with books like Treasure Island and Shane, and of course, Louis L’Amour novels.
- Although Major had spent many an hour, and countless reams of paper, creating his own comic books (mostly westerns) as a child, it wasn’t until he entered college that he began to think of writing as a serious pastime. He remembers being held after class on his second day in English 1-B, and listening with fear as professor Hillhouse cautioned several others that they were not prepared for her class and should transfer out. She then proceeded to encourage Major and one other student, to enroll in a creative writing class, as they had a true talent with words. Since that day, he has enrolled in several classes and writing organizations that have helped develop in him the talent you will find in his published novels and his children’s picture books. Major is currently working on a modern day screenplay about a wounded female war veteran. We are confident that, after reading his historical novels, The Doña, Mokelumne Gold, Poverty Flat, Dusty Boots, Joker’s Play, Refugio’s Gold, Canyon Wind, Manhunter and Where The Green Grass Grows, as well as his children’s books, Charlie Shepherd and The Witch On Oak Street, and modern day rodeo novel, A reason to Believe, you will also become a member of his ever growing fan base.
- “I like using opposites, things most people would not consider putting together. It is easy to think of Cinderella as being the nice, mistreated, poor girl with a heart of gold being rescued by Prince Charming. But what if Cinderella has some spice, and is willing to get into Prince Charming’s face. What if she is anything but what Prince Charming expected, and he turns out to be the opposite of what she expected. Then, add some outside conflict and see what happens. This always make for a good story, especially when based around historical events.”
From My Perspective
- The From My Perspective segment of the show looks at an article What Makes a $100K Author: 8 Findings Every Author Should Know and how it pertains to writers and authors today.
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