Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What is a Dime Novel?

This week marks the release of my Dime Novel: The Legend of Obadiah Wilder--The Glorious Defeat of the Dickenson Gang. This story is a short prequel to my summer 2015 release The Cactus Creek Challenge. I am honored to add my work to the Dime Novel Genre, a distinctly American form of literature.

So, what is a Dime Novel? Here's a bare-bones definition: 

dime nov·el

  1. a cheap, popular novel, typically a melodramatic romance or adventure story.

Dime Novels first emerged in American Literature in 1860, and surprise! The first Dime Novel was penned by a woman! Publishers Erastus and Irwin Beadle published Ann S. Stephens "Maleaska: Indian Wife of the White Hunter" as the first of Beadle's Dime Novels, and thus a genre was born. 

Dime Novels were popular from 1860 up through about 1920, and thousands of stories were published. From the very first, the parameters of the genre were set:

  1. An action-packed and sensational story line
  2. A melodramatic double title
  3. A reasonable price
This was literature for the masses. Customers were meant to read, enjoy, and move on to the next story quickly. Much like early comic books and serialized magazine stories, Dime Novels were 'disposable reading.'


I was surprised to learn that The University of Minnesota is home to one of the world's largest collections of Dime Novels, The Hess Collection. The Hess contains more than 65,000 Dime Novels! You can read more about the collection Here:
Often printed on cheap paper not intended to last much longer than the week or month until the next installment arrived, archiving Dime Novels of that period is difficult. As the acid-rich paper ages, it crumbles into dust, the ink fades, and the glue in the binding hardens and cracks. Preserving Dime Novels is an art form. I hope to someday view the Hess Collection for myself.

As to my own foray into writing Dime Novels, I hope I've covered the basics of the genre:

1. An action-packed and sensational story lineThe Short-story Prequel to The Cactus Creek Challenge--
Get to Know Ben Wilder's Legendary Sheriff Father and Why Ben Has Big Shoes to Fill

The notorious Dickenson Gang had wrecked havoc on Texas in the 1870s, and no lawman had been able to best them until Obadiah Wilder stood his ground on a hot July day in 1874. Here, told in Sheriff Wilder’s own words, is the story of his ultimate defeat of these rugged outlaws, and the true tale of what led to Obadiah becoming a legend in Cactus Creek, Texas, history.

2. A melodramatic double title: We had the most fun kicking around ideas for this one that would give the story the flavor of a true Dime Novel of the era. Words like Legend and Glorious just seemed perfect.

3. An affordable price...well, you can't get any more affordable than free, can ya? 

You can download a copy of The Legend of Obadiah Wilder using this link:

If you don't have a kindle, don't worry! You can download a kindle app for your computer or smartphone for free! Just use this link to get started!

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.

I'll be putting together a 'street team' for Cactus Creek in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned here for how you might join!

Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado 
Find me on PINTEREST
Find me on GOODREADS
Find me on AMAZON.COM
Find me on FACEBOOK


  1. Erica, this article is so interesting. Thanks for posting! I'd also love to see the Hess Collection.

    1. Hi, Kay, I need a day trip or weekend in the Twin Cities to visit the Hess Collection and peruse the archives of the MN State Historical Society, one of my favorite places! You should come with. :D Research is more fun with a buddy! :)

  2. I just picked up my copy of "The Legend of Obadiah Wilder" the other day on Amazon. I have yet to read it but, it sounds great. I loved learning about what dime novels were, how interesting! The Cactus Creek Challenge sounds great, definitely on my to-read list especially since it follows the Obadiah Wilder book. Great post today, thanks for sharing! As for the street team, I'll keep my eyes open :-)

    1. Thanks so much for downloading Obadiah's story! I hope you enjoy it! :D

  3. Thanks for the prequel download, Erica, and for the info on "dime novels" - a new term to me. Interesting!!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Hey friend! Please leave a comment, no lurking allowed ;)