Meet Robert Yoho!
R.G. Yoho is a West Virginia native with a passion for history and tales of the American West. A member of the Western Writers of America, Yoho is the author of the four-book Kellen Malone Western series, as well as other Westerns and works of historical fiction and non-fiction.
He will give three presentations at the Pennwriters Annual Conference, May 18-20, 2018. https://pennwriters.org/31st-annual-conference/. In “Robert’s Rules of Order” he will explain his approach to good writing, fiction or nonfiction. In “Western Writing,” he will share with you his ideas and insights on writing and publishing a successful Western, a genre that can also be incorporated in works of fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, romance, and thrillers. And in “What NOT to do as an author,” he will share a number of his 30 years of mistakes and pitfalls in the writing business and give you the means and knowledge to avoid them. Visit Robert at http://www.rgyoho.com/ and https://www.amazon.com/R.G.-Yoho/e/B003T2BWTO .
Pennwriters: What do you think is special about the genre you write in?
Robert: Perhaps more than any other genre, the Western is uniquely American. Arguably, it could be stated that the Western is the first and only form of literature to have its birthplace right here in the United States. In addition, it is also the only type of writing which has largely defined a nation, in the minds and eyes of the world.
As someone who grew up on a cattle farm, I suppose I understand that cows and cowboys are so intertwined and crucial to the culture and imagery of the American West, and to the nation as a whole. They are a part of the mythology, the symbolism, the rugged individualism, and the heroism, for which our country has often been known. Those ideals and images appeal to me. And I am proud to be a part of it.
It is also my opinion that there are only two kinds of writers in this world: Western writers and those who long to be one.
PW: What do you find to be the most difficult part of writing? Did you ever encounter a serious roadblock and how did you overcome it?
Robert: The most difficult part of writing for me are the pages from about 10-100. That is the place where writing, something which I love, suddenly becomes hard work and I often desire to quit and move on to the next, and, momentarily, more interesting project.
But once I’m past 100 pages, I’m like a shark that can smell blood in the water. I can’t wait to get at it. I have difficulty sleeping at night, because I can’t wait to return to my story in the morning. My wife must remind me that I have other responsibilities, such as her, which require at least some of my attention. And my largest difficulty isn’t finishing the book; it’s keeping my lovely wife from killing me while I sleep.
It was that way when I used to run half-marathons. I always wanted to quit somewhere between miles three and four. However, by the time I got to ten miles, I could run the last 3.1 miles and finish strong in the race with two broken legs, gall stones, and a major heart attack.
In short, I’m much better at finishing projects than I am at starting them.
As to the question about a serious roadblock, I experienced that in my book, THE EVIL DAY.
The book was coming along fine, but then I reached an impasse. It wasn’t what you might call writer’s block, a condition which, by the way, I don’t believe truly exists. But unsure of just exactly where to go with the plot, I finally decided to follow my own advice, and move on to writing the ending of the book.
It worked like a charm.
I call it Building Roads or Building Bridges. It’s a personal philosophy I have, something I’ve often shared with others. And it may be something I will discuss further in the upcoming conference in Lancaster. How’s that for a hook?
PW: What’s individual or unique about your writing space? Do you have a memento or good luck charm on your desk?
Robert: I love talking about or showing off my office to others. After purchasing a storage building and having it delivered to my house, I spent the better part of a year and a half working on it. Since she obviously knows me well, my wife came up with a rustic style of design that would appeal to me, a sort of do-it-yourself shiplap.
From there, I took her idea and ran with it. I insulated the building, ran the electric, framed out and plumbed a small restroom. I tiled the floor, installed the lights, and did the interior. Perhaps the greatest thing in my office are the sliding barn doors, which I’m proud to say I designed and built myself. Now that it’s done, I love it. It might very well be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s truly unique, just the sort of thing you might expect for a Western author.
I don’t have any good luck charms or anything such as that, but there are Wanted Posters for Jesse James and Billy the Kid, hanging on one of the walls. And I love the pictures there, remembrances of my horseback rides into Palo Duro Canyon in Texas or Cedar Mountain, in Cody, Wyoming.
Perhaps most of all, I long to hang a Western Writers’ Spur Award on those walls some day!
PW: What has been the most satisfying or significant project of your literary career?
Robert: It would be two things. As a favor for a friend of mine. I specifically wrote a non-fiction book. It has a history and patriotic reading, 365 of them, one for every day of the year. They read one of them on his radio station daily, throughout the course of the year. I’m quite proud of that book.
Also, the first book I published, which is currently not in print, was a series of biographies of World War II veterans. While writing the manuscript, I became acquainted with some extraordinary men. Moreover, it allowed me to meet and interview Hershel “Woody” Williams, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, decorated for his conspicuous gallantry on Iwo Jima.
Along with the honor of meeting Mr. Williams, I’ve also held his Medal in my own hands, a rare and humbling experience for any American, or any person who truly knows what the MOH symbolizes.
And because of this rare opportunity, one of my buddies, who writes military history, is supremely jealous.
PW: What is your favorite tip or advice for writers?
Robert: Books, like our children, are often conceived through inspiration, but they are born only through labor.
PW: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
Robert: I’m not sure if you can call my wife an “item,” but we have certainly been an item for nearly forty years now. As for the other two items? That becomes a little more difficult. I suppose we might eventually get hungry there on the island. For that, I would probably bring along my .30-30 lever action rifle and a hunting knife.
PW: If you had a time machine, where and when would you be right now?
Robert: I must admit that I would want to occasionally visit with Wyatt Earp, James Butler Hickok, Bill Cody, and Butch Cassidy. And I would undoubtedly return to the past and learn more about a man named Charles Everett Lively, a fascinating individual from the coal mine wars, about whom I wish to write a biography.
Finally, I would make multiple visits to the past to spend some time with my dearly-deceased mother, a woman I truly love and continually miss.
However, having said all that, unlike a lot of the guys I have known throughout my life, I don’t believe the best days of my life ended when I left high school or college. The best days of my life? I’m living them right now, with my precious wife, sharing the lives of my wonderful children and grandkids, pursuing a career in Western writing.
For some strange reason, God has obviously chosen to smile down upon me. I really don’t want or need a time machine, because I am truly blessed in the here and now.
To register for The Pennwriters Conference, visit:
Online registration ends May 15th, 2018 at midnight. Onsite registrations taken after that date.
All meal options end May 9th, 2018 at midnight.