Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Event from the past

Everyone on my route got a soggy paper that day. Yes, like many boys when they got old enough to count good, I had a paper route of about four miles length with at most 75 customers, at least only 14-20. When it hit 14, my manager chewed me out and then he built it up to 75. That was a lot of papers to fold and throw. One afternoon, having stuffed my bag full and draped it over the handlebars of my bike, I hopped on and set off.....went about 30 yards when the bag slipped to one side of the front wheel, pulling it over and into the creek that ran alongside the sidewalk. Thank God the water wasn't running very deep when I stood up laughing at the clumsiness, but the banks of the creek were steep and came to shoulder level. I climbed out and pulled the bike after me and retrieved all the papers that were still in the water. The bag was soaked, I was soaked, and about all the papers were soaked. I thought it was funny and had a great laugh, since I didn't get hurt in the tumble. It was a wet paper day in the old town that afternoon; however, no one complained.

How does this relate to writing about cowboys and Indians and such you might ask. Well, in those days I read a bundle, including that newspaper, the "Deseret News", having free time, and enjoyed my hours in the library. I was on top of all the best-sellers and thumbed through many old time westerns and other novels, reading such as "Rock Candy Mountain" of Wallace Stegner, the Hornblower novels of the sea, Zane Grey, although I thought "Riders of the Purple Sage" was a little boring from all the descriptive writing. Zane Grey's cabin where he wrote a lot of them burned down a few years ago from a lightning strike, but it has been rebuilt in the same location, near Payson, AZ. Louis L'Amour was not found among the books in the library for some reason or other. I don't remember seeing his books until later on.

About the only reading material around our house was the Bible, of course, the Book of Mormon, and a church magazine, "The Improvement Era". Those first two were seldom opened, but often quoted. And occasionally there were a pulp western magazine or two brought home by an older brother, one being "Texas Rangers". When I was six or seven, I wrote a short story (awful short) similar to one of the characters in the "Rangers". It was about a lawman rounding up an outlaw and went all of a half page handwritten. And that is the only attempt made until I decided to try my hand at it again seven or eight years ago.

Never had enough time to spend on thinking about a plot, location, characters, action, etc., until I did some writing on family history, and then I concocted a long novel of around 525 pages, the first part being the story of my great-great-grandfather, and the following two parts made up from thin air. I then veered off into the Western genre and have been trying to write something publishable for the last six or seven years. I will get it perfected one of these days.

It's a dog's life

So, back to the blogging after all the parties and merriment, and a HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE! I started to write this on a daily basis, but I find it more challenging than I thought it would be, so the articles will not appear as often, only when I think I have something to say or might be entertaining, but at least once a week or more.

I usually start my day off with a cup of coffee, followed by a glass of water, then another cup of coffee, and mixed in there will be a 12-oz glass filled thumb-high with water and filled up with cranberry juice to keep the water flowing through the corpus vivi. So to make up for a possible H2O deficiency, I drink more water, causing more trips to the bathroom, which takes me away from the computer and enables a tiny little bit of exercise.

My doctor is always telling me to get more exercise, it'll do me good. Well, I try to squeeze in a walk of a mile or two every day. That was no problem when I had my dog to go along with me. No, make it I went along with the dog. Every dog owner will tell you they have to walk the dog, but that's not true. It's more like the dog walks the owner, sometimes at inconvenient hours, like after midnight or early, real early, in the morning. But, you can't blame the dog, although, at times I think the dog was just using me to get a bit of fresh air, like, or he heard a noise outside and wanted to check it out. We have coyotes running through the yard once in awhile, and I think he used to hear them and just had to see what it was. I told him to stay inside when he sees a coyote. He wasn't a very large animal, and a coyote would take him in a minute, but he didn't care, that's why he had me along to protect him, just in case. But, the coyotes left us alone, and he lived a good long dog's life.

I told my wife, no more dogs. They are great for companionship, etc., but a lot of trouble when you have to leave them, or even take them along, even if they are well-behaved.

Speaking of dogs, I think there is plenty of room for improvement in cowboy stories for a dog or two. I don't recall reading a novel that included a cowboy's dog, unless it was totally written about the dog. I'm guilty of this. I could have easily added a dog in my stories somewhere, but I'm sorry to say it has happened only once in a minor diversionary role at the beginning of the story. A pet could really come in handy, especially if it was more intelligent than the cowboy. Of course, Lassie would set the standard for that, but again, Lassie was the story.

Practically everybody in the town where I was born owned a dog or two. But these dogs didn't live in the house like they do today. No sir, they all worked to pay for their board and room in jobs like herding sheep or cows, guarding the house, duck hunting, etc. A dog in a story is practically a human, thinking like a human, doing like a human, but a little bit smarter than his owner, first on the scene, etc.

Maybe I can find a spot in a future story to put a smart dog, if I could just think of way to do it without it taking over the story. Hm-m.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's that time

Oh, puh-shaw! I hit the wrong key again and got published before I had even started. So, now, I'm editing the post that wasn't.

As the title says, "It's that time," again, to shut her down for a week or two or maybe even three to pass through the holiday season. It's been fairly un-busy around here up until now on the whole, but I can see where there just won't be enough time in a 24-hour day to squeeze in a blog post. Not that I'm skipping the country or anything. No. It's more like busy will be picking up, not all at once, but just enough to interfere with the normal routine. There will be no posting from now until January something, unless it becomes absolutely necessary to write about something that can't wait.

If you have enjoyed reading the posts so far, post a comment saying so, please, please, please. However, if you don't, I won't be discouraged in the least, because I plan to continue blogging no matter. And if anyone else has a blog, let me know, and I'll put the name on mine, if so desired.

Whew! With that out of the way, I'll just say "HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I had to visit a physician a couple months ago, and his advice for me was to drink a glass of wine, or beer, or a shot of whiskey, anything every day. Just one!

This may startle some friends, but I decided to take his advice. I've been on the wagon since early 1991, not a drop to drink, and didn't miss it. Follow doctor's orders, they say. My first purchase was a medium expensive jug of merlot, a standard fifth, I think it is. I began looking around for bargains, since there is only four glasses in a bottle. The next one I picked up at the grocery store, in fact, this time I procured three more bottles so I wouldn't have to be trotting to the liquor store so often. Two bottles of merlot, one French, and a cabernet sauvignon for what I thought was a reasonble price, about five or six dollars each. I said, as I drank my daily glass, that that was the end of the foreign stuff. I've never been a great reader of labels, but the time I spent in France showed me there was better wines than that somewhere.

Everybody says a glass of red wine is the best for you, so I'm sticking to merlot for now. Being a cheapskate, I started reading ads and checking sales and bought three more different labels, two of them cost about five bucks and one a little above two bucks. The two-dollar priced tasted about as good as the others, so the next time, and last for now, I purchased ten bottles for less than two dollars each of that label for Christmas and New Year's festivities, thinking I might have a relative or two paying a visit. And on top of that, I still have one large bottle of something I never heard of before waiting to be consumed. I don't how many glasses that contains, maybe six or eight, but the price was right. I should probably drink that next, I don't know how long cheap wine will hold it's flavor.

Along the way, there was a bottle of shiraz from Australia mixed in, which I thought was not quite to my taste as much as the merlot, but it will suffice if I have a bottle mixed up in there.

They say confession is good for the soul, but I don't believe there is any absolution necessary for a sin that is practically prescribed by the doctor, if it is a sin. How could something that makes you feel good and doesn't leave a hangover be a mortal sin? That's for the religious ones to decide, for now I'll just drink and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Reading

I guess I'll continue with more books on the shelf:

59. Civilisation by Kenneth Clark (This was a book club edition as I remember)

60. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (I read his "V" a few years ago and liked it so I picked this one up. It's a little far out in some parts, but explains the Line fine.)

61. Will Rogers, The Man And His Time by Richard M. Ketchum

62. The Day The Cowboys Quit by Elmer Kelton

63. The No Spin Zone by Bill O'Reilly (I forgot I had this. Haven't read it yet, but I've been reading his "Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity".)

64. Stars in the Water, The Story Of The Erie Canal, by George E. Condon

65. Across The Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto

66. I Married Wyatt Earp, The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, collected and edited by Glenn G. Boyer

67. Prisons of the Mind by Kaziah May Hancock (This is autobiographical of a polygamist's wife.)

68. Wild Bill Sullivan, King of the Hollow, by Ann R. Hammons

69. The Virginian Exiles by Elizabeth Gray Vining

70. Polecat Bench by Allen G. Richardson

71. Hoofprints on Forest Ranges by Paul H. Roberts

72. A Treasury of Mississippi Folklore, Edited by B. A. Botkin

73. The Journals of Lewis And Clark, Edited by Bernard DeVoto

74. Roy Bean, Law West Of The Pecos, by C. L. Sonnichsen

75. They Broke The Prairie by Earnest Elmo Calkins

76. On The Border With Crook by John G. Bourke

77. My Sixty Years On The Plains by William Thomas Hamilton

78. Mountains And Molehills by Frank Maryat

79. Captivity Of The Oatman Girls by Royal R. Stratton

80. The Adventures of Big-Foot Wallace by John C. Duval

81. "Uncle Dick" Wootton by Harold L. Conard

Numbers 76 through 81 are part of the Classics of Old West series of Time-Life Books.

I don't recall the details of some of these, but, I'll tell you, there's a bunch of good reading right there, mostly non-fiction, covering a lot of territory from the Erie Canal to the Mexican border and the West coast of Oregon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All right, here's another excerpt

From WIP "Upamona Gold":

Colleen was in a dither ever since she heard that Mr. Toller had been shot. She just knew that her new beau [Red Skene] was involved in it, and she ws worried sick. She refused to come out of her room, except to grab something to eat at mealtimes after everyone else had eaten.

"Colleen! You got to stop acting like a child," her mother said. "What's bothering you? Is it something to do with that outlaw feller? What's his name, Skene?"

Her mother had caught her sneaking into the kitchen for food again and wanted to know what was going on with her.

"You been acting like this ever since Tim [her brother] went to Roosevelt and got held up by those awful men. Tell me what is it that's got you in such a mess?"

"Oh, mother, I don't want to talk about it, but my world's coming apart," Colleen wailed.

"It's that Mr. Skene, isn't it? You think he's in cahoots with those bad men, don't you? And he seemed like such a nice gentleman, too, even though he just got out of prison and the papers called him the most famous outlaw in Utah. Just what did he do, anyway, to get such a bad reputation?"

"Nothing, mother. He said he didn't do anything, and I know he can't be mixed up in that store business, like people were talking at the funeral." She couldn't bring herself to say "killing."

"Didn't Tim tell you it was Graves who shot Mr. Toller?"

"I know, but folks at the funeral were saying it had to be Red, er-uh, Mr. Skene, that done it."

"That's just talk, Colleen. You know how gossip goes. It gets a story all twisted the more folks talk about it. And, before you know it, it ain't nothing like what acually happpened. You're beginning to like that feller too much, Colleen. With all the nice young men her in Upamona, you're falling for that outlaw, and you shouldn't be. The next thing you know, you'll be looking to run off somewhere with him and we'll never see you again. You got to stop this nonsense, Colleen. There's someone knocking at the door. Go get yourself presentable."

"Oh, mother, I don't want to see anybody!" and she went back to her room, as her mother went to see who was knocking.

Well, there it is, just a bit of it. That is the beginning of Chapter 14. There's two or three more chapters to bring it to some sort of dramatic conclusion.

Now that it's Monday morning and about everyone has to be at work or somewhere or going Christmas shopping maybe, the least that I can do is forewarn you to be careful on the slick roads, as if you hadn't already heard that a thousand times before. There were a plethora of accidents in the mountains yesterday during the first "good" snowstorm of the season, about 150 of one kind or another in and around Flagstaff, AZ, that the TV news had to tell everyone about.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cuss a blue streak!

Well, I'll be a...a....a....monkey's uncle, a blathering idiot, a stupid jerk, or something very sinister, and if I was a person who cussed a lot, I would have drummed up a blue streak the like of which hasn't been heard in a coon's age, since that hurricane we dodged in the Caribbean or was it the night the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm ran smack dab into each other? Oh, well, it would be a blue streak for sure. I just lost another entry for my blog. This is getting to be a bad habit, not hitting "Save" before "Publish Post," and it disappeared into the blue.

I had written about blogs giving advice, and there are plenty of them, and how they may influence a person, if one was to follow all the advice given. And I said you have to take the bull by the horns, straddle the cow manure, and set sail in your own vessel. And that was my advice.

And then I copied an excerpt from my WIP, "Upamona Gold," which I'm not going to repeat here due to time restrictions. Yes, even on Sunday it can squeeze into time available for other things, and I won't fall prey to that, today anway.

Y'all go out, go to church, enjoy the day!

(And I'm going to hit the "Save Now" button first, right now.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reading or not reading

I have a copy of "A Century of Great Western Stories, An Anthology of Western Fiction," edited and introduced by John Jakes, which has been lying around since the summer untouched. It has an excellent selection of authors from Max Brand to John Jakes, including Ernest Haycox, Elmer Kelton, Luke Short, Zane Grey, etc., and I plan to start reading it one of these first days.

I plan to enter a short-story contest soon. I have it already to go, since it is a chapter out of another novel I'm working on in the rewrite phase. Don't know what I'm waiting for, maybe a new idea from up above that would make it better.

Having done that before, wait awhile before submitting, I never get a story in on time or never get it sent, although one got passed that phase and actually reached its destination on time, but I'm sorry to say it didn't even win an honorable mention. The judges must not have read it or they didn't like my version of "poetry" that was in it. So, I guess I'll try again. I'll send that one to another contest one of these days. Right now, I'm just thinking about it and waiting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Oh, well

My computer was messing up this morning due to some automatic updates, and by the time it cleared up, I forgot what I was going to blog about. Oh, well. Or Oh, Hell.

I've been taking writing classes off and on for a couple years or more, and have joined a couple of writing groups, and hope the hell it is helping, or will help, somewhere along the line to get published before I kick the bucket a long time from now, I hope. A few years ago, about eight or nine, the first formal class was on Writing Your Family History, or something, and that's what got me interested in writing about genealogy and such. And when I had exhausted that avenue as far as I was concerned, began another class on writing about anything with the aim of finishing a book or two. My attitude about writing changed, and I began in earnest to write something that would sell. That was the wrong way to look at it, and now I just write for enjoyment and kill some free time.

I still have some work to do on "The Gold Claim" book before it's sent off, even though I've made progress. The way it's going it may be next year sometime when it gets finished, but it will definitely get finished. This part of it gets in the way of production and delays any new stuff. Oh, well.

TGIF! Enjoy the rest of it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I saw somewhere a recent ad for flights to Iceland and Scandinavia at great-deal pricing, and then I began to wonder, who would want to go to Iceland in the middle of winter, or even Norway or Sweden?

Then I recalled a trip I made ONE time from Paris to Oslo in winter. Due to bad weather we were forced to land at Aalborg, Denmark. Damn! What a revolting development. Aalborg, never heard of the place, since Copenhagen gets all the publicity, but we were just going to be overnight. Aalborg was a great town, good food, good people, but only ONE night to see and do everything. We climbed back on the plane hung over, tired and sleepy, but not hungry, and continued to Oslo, where we would be two nights, or was it one? The snow was about a foot-and-a-half deep and cold, and I remember waiting in line, half-starved, for a night club to open for the night. One thing about the Norwegians, they made you order some food before you could start drinking, and the food was great, although I don't remember what I had, but I think it was something like viener schnitzel or flat-iron steak. And for breakfast at the hotel, there was a regular smorgasbord, all laid out in the dining room, and it was one of the best breakfast meals I've consumed. Maybe that's why I remember it. The whole trip was great fun after all with a smidgen of sight-seeing mixed in to the clubbing and drinking. I even dropped in to a book store or two, but don't remember seeing any Westerns, although I'm sure they had them. Just wasn't into it then.

So, if you want to get away, I'd say hop on a flight to Iceland and Scandinavia any time of the year and plan to have a good time, although I've never been to Iceland, but if you have to stop there, too, oh, well, what the hell.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Going West

Well, this is the second time I began this article. The first time as I was finishing up I had to check something in a previous blog and clicked on "view blog." A-A-A-R-G-H! I forgot to click on "Save now" and lost the whole thing. That's what happens when you get ahead of yourself. So, let's start over.

I finished reading D. B. Newton's "Disaster Creek," and decided that it was very entertaining, action-wise, and kept me on my toes throughout. Will give it an "A," which won't mean anything to anybody else. Oh, well, it was a good read.

And speaking of good reading, here are some more from my bookshelf:

47. Hartford An Illustrated History of Connecticut's Capital by Glenn Weaver (My old John lived there for awhile, as purportedly shown on a map of 1640 inside the book. I couldn't find it, but he did own some property for a couple of years way back then.)

48. History of Norfolk Connecticut, 1744-1900, opening chapters by Rev. Joseph Elderedge, D.D., compiled by Theron Wilmot Crissey, L.L.B. (Going west now! My great-great-great-great grandfather, Asahel, appears in this one as one of the first settlers. He was in the Revolutionary War, and he and Dorothy had thirteen children, most of them are mentioned therein. One son, Aaron, was quite the fellow, and Asahel had a sense of humor as described.)

49. Ashtabula County Ohio, History of Ashtabula County, Ohio, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers and Most Prominent Men by William W. Williams (Capt. Asahel's son, Capt. Joseph, was a pioneer there, being one of the first settlers and my great-great-great-grandfather. He and wife Lydia decided to GO WEST and ended up with ten children, including James, my great-great-grandfather, mentioned previously, calling him "John" but which I will correct toot-de-suite. His name was James, the son that lived with the Pawnees in Nebraska. Now we're on the move WEST.)

50. Journey to Zion, by Carol Cornwall Madsen, (in which is a short account of my maternal great-grandfather, Warren, who travelled WEST to Utah in 1850 as the Captain of the Wagon Train.)

51. "Old Put" The Patriot by Frederick Ober (I ran across this one in a Phoenix Antique Store and had to have it. It is a biography of General Israel Putnam of Revolutionary War fame. There was a battle at Horse Neck, now called "Putnam's Hill" at which an ancestral relative was killed or perished from the frigid weather after crossing the Potomac with Washington. The relative was named Nathaniel. I think this is the same Nathaniel that has a log cabin preserved by the DAR. It was the first one built wherever it was.)

52. Dr. Chase's Family Physician, Farrier, Bee-Keeper, Second Receipt Book by Dr. A. W. Chase (which is still in print, although in updated editions. This one was printed in 1873 and is not in too good a condition. Nevertheless, it is a handy reference to have on hand.)

53. The Real America in Romance, An Authentic History of America From...etc. edited by Edwin Markham. (This is the Art Edition Complete In Thirteen Volumes, although I have only Seven of them, and I'll probably never run across the other six in this printing. I ran across it at a swap meet. I wonder where the vendor found it.)

54. Henry Ward Beecher, An American Portrait by Paxton Hibben (I found this interesting since Henry and Harriet Beecher Stowe are the children of Lyman and Roxanna. Roxanna is an ancestral relative from the maternal side. Henry was famous for, among other things, his Plymouth Church in Brooklyn and his adulterous affair with the wife of a prominent New Yorker. And Harriet for "Uncle Tom's Cabin.")

55. The Founding of Utah by Levi Edgar Young (No comment.)

56. The World of Washington Irving by Van Wyck Brooks

57. Religion in the Development of American Culture by William Warren Sweet

58. Sanpete Tales, Humorous Folklore From Central Utah by William Jenson Adams (Hilarious!)

It looks like these are all non-fiction, too, except for number 58. I guess its fiction partly.

Have a great hump day!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Some years ago I was sitting on a bit near the fantail, no I was standing with my forearms leaning against the rail, and just looking out over the water while take a break as we were underway between Karachi and the Persian Gulf. It was a quiet moment in the early afternoon with the sun beating down as usual and the seas were fairly calm as the sleek cruiser made its way north. Gazing at the dark blue water, I saw a sea snake, then another one, as we passed them up. With nothing else to do, I wondered how many there were in this secton of the ocean, so I began to count, that was two, three......four.........five. I heard that these little critters were very poisonous, and were warned to be on the lookout for them if I was ever in the ocean. I didn't plan to jump overboard, so I couldn't see how I would ever come in contact with one. I was also told that their mouths are not very large and if you leave them alone they won't bother you. The ship sailed past another one.....that's
eleven....twelve. I turned and looked to see if somebody was coming to bother me, but the deck was clear. I looked up at the missile launchers and the blue sky beyond, returned my attention to the water, and soon I had reached 50 or sixty snakes, all headed in the same direction we were going it appeared. Maybe they were looking forward to a hajj or something. I continued counting, but stopped when I reached one hundred. I had better things to do than count sea snakes. It was unusual also in that somebody could stand out on deck for almost an hour on a nice day and not have another swabbie come along and ask what you were doing, wanting to tell a sea story or two. I went back into the superstructure looking for someone to tell about all the damn snakes I'd seen. What a great life it was! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed every bit of it, except for a few mishaps along the way.

I wish I could remember all the sea stories I've heard, I'd have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. It was a great pastime and still is, probably. There is one that comes to mind that was started on some damn subject, most of them had a sexual reference or two, but every time I ran into the guy, he would pick it up from where he left off and away we went again. It went on and on until I was transferred to another ship. If he could have written it down and put it in book form, he might have a best-seller on his hands.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another excerpt

This is a short bit from a book I wrote a few years ago entitled "The Long-Time Posse":

"We better go see what's going on," I said, grabbing my hat and slapping it on my brown-haired head.

When we arrived at the beer joint, which didn't take long since we just had to walk up the road about a quarter-mile, everything was quiet. The bartender, Mickey Nevin, was leaning on the bar with one hand and wiping up some spots with an old piece of towel with the other.

"What happened, Mick?" I asked.

"Nothing. We just had a altercation, was all," the Irishman answered.

I looked into his filmy green eyes under the bushy gray eyebrows. There was a red tint around the lids of both, like he hadn't been getting enough sleep. His face was pudgy, but he wasn't fat at all, even if he was approaching 60 years in age.

"Was that Wilson kid drinking too much again?"

"Nah, it wasn't him this time. Just a couple of them young farmers fighting over the pool table until I kicked them out. It was no big deal, they were just yelling at each other for about five minutes before I asked them to leave. I don't think neither one wanted to do any fighting."

"What were there names?"

"I don't know, but one was called Rusty and the other one Dusty. They looked like twins, but I ain't never seen them before. You know how these people are always coming and going, passing
through town and stopping for a beer or two on the way to or from the Green River to go fishing or such."

"Well, it's pretty near closing time and we wanted to make sure nobody was trying to hold up the place."

"Thanks, Sheriff and you, too, Hank, for taking a look. You want something to drink?"

"Not tonight."

On the way back to our small office, which sat on a side road behind the County official's house, Hank was telling me, "It must've been them I saw getting on their horses just before I came and got you. I ain't never heard of no twin boys from around here, nor anyone named Rusty or Dusty."

"No. Nor me either. But they're out pretty late for being strangers here. Where do you think they're heading tonight?"

"They must be camping out somewhere."

The main road to Colorado through the northern part of the Territory brought all kinds of people to the town. There were only a couple hundred residents scattered around, if even that many, about half of which lived in the town proper among the small number of business establishments, Mickey's being the only saloon. A general store, bank, church, school, and post office with blacksmith shop adjacent, were about it.


This is only a smidgen of it, but the town is fictitiously named High Bench. Hank, the deputy, gets killed later that night and some days later the bank is blown up and robbed just before dawn, and a posse is formed to chase the robbers. It takes longer than usual for the posse to catch up with them, a woman member of the posse is taken hostage along the way, and one them gets shot, not fatally, before they finally round up the bank robbers, Rusty, Dusty, and a couple more outlaws. It's written with humor, crisis, and romance, and when it is published it'll sell thousands. Here's hoping.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A note about the photo and "Abe the Newsboy"

The photo, which appeared out of nowhere yesterday, is not really me, but a caricature of a typical Western redneck, maybe, that somebody cut out of a piece of metal and looks a little like one or more of my relatives as they advance in age. Or maybe it could be Mortimer Snerd. I hope they don't take offense. The hat seems to be oversized, more like 15- or 20-gallon size or larger than the usual 10-gal.

If I posted my actual photo in a similar pose, it may appear too much like that, at least to some, but others have said that I am a handsome dude. Of course, I believe the latter.

Here's another book that's on my bookshelf, "Abe the Newsboy, Hero of a Thousand Fights With U. S. Navy," by Abe Hollandersky, originally published in 1930, but this edition is 1943. Abe was quite a character. I think he made his money by selling these books to the Navy recruits. They let him on base to do this, and he would talk to all the incoming recruits after a couple of weeks of indoctrination and organizing into companies, and he would corner two or three and wouldn't stop talking until you forked over some money for a book, usually $3, $4, or $5 bucks, whatever he could worm out of you.

Like he said, he was a hero of a thousand fights and he fought anybody he could. He knew all the Presidents from Teddy "Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick" Roosevelt to Franklin D., and collected their autographs and pictures. His best friends were Navy, and he sold his newspapers on the ships from the "19 oughts through the 1950's." He worshipped anyone and everyone in the Navy, and he would fight volunteers, usually the toughest and biggest of the crew, for entertainment of the crew. No matter that he was only a welterweight, limit 149 lbs., he would take on the biggest heavyweights and do it for entertainment for the sailors, although he was the Welterweight Champion of Panama and South America. He was noted by Ripley's "Believe it or Not", was in the movies, and fought bouts all over the world.

A character not to be forgotten, and he wasn't afraid to tell everybody about it, talking a mile a minute. A more patriotic person there never was. Oh yes, he never served in the Navy, being rejected for bad eyesight.

The book is his autobiography, and I ran across this autographed copy a few years ago in a bookshop in a small town in Arizona, and had to read it. Very entertaining.

I finished the Western I've been working on, just have to pepare a query letter and synopsis and then I can ship it off. In fact I have two books waiting for the same thing, they've both been rejected once, but I'll give them another chance. One rejection is not enough to throw in the towel, especialy after reworking them.

More books

Continuing along with the bookshelf, here are some more:

31. Quill and Brush, Catalog 93, First Editions, prepared by Elizabeth Jones
32. Holy Bible, King James Version, The World Publishing Co.
33. Find it Fast in the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers
34. Lamy of Santa Fe by Paul Horgan (I found this one interesting even though I'm not Catholic.)
35. Saints in Exile, Vol I, II & III, by David R. Crockett
36. The Gathering of Zion by Wallace Stegner
37. Holy Bible, King James Version, The World Syndicate Publishing Co.
38. Old Mormon Kirtland and Missouri by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and T. Jeffrey Cottle
39. Trail of Tears by John Ehle
40. We'll Find the Place by Richard E. Bennett
41. Nothing Like It In The World by Stephen Ambrose
42. The Columbia Desk Encyclopedia in Two Volumes, William Bridgwater, Editor-in-Chief
43. Cherokee Trail Diaries, Vol I and II, by Patricia K. A. Fletcher, Dr. Jack Earl Fletcher, and Lee Whitely
44. Cherokee Trail Diaries, Vol III, by Dr. Jack E. Fletcher and Patricia K. A. Fletcher
45. Life of Kit Carson by Charles Burdett, published around the 1870's by John E. Potter & Co.
46. Indian Agent by A. H. Kneale

You may have noticed that these are all non-fiction. Number 37 is the Bible an older brother was given by (?) during World War II. He volunteered for the Army in December 1941 and spent those years in Australia and the campaigns of New Guinea. He eventually retired from the Army after getting out a couple of times to try civilian life. He passed away in 1972 at age 58.

There's more to come, but I keep handy some reference books on writing, e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style, Guides to this and that, a Dictionary, a Thesaraus, Book of Quotations, computer info, etc. It sounds better when I put it it down on paper, but some I haven't had occasion to look at in some time. I've always been a good speller.

Most of them I picked up at swap marts or in used book stores, some by mail order, having to pay full price, some in regular bookstores, and were purchased in pursuit of family history and genealogy.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I've spent the last couple-three weeks going through my novel, "The Upamona Gold Claim Wrangle", and correcting all the dialect to the proper English, after being called on it by a publisher saying that it made for difficult reading. And somewhere else I have read that dialect should be limited in its use, but I had to prove them wrong and used it extensively to my regret.

I still have some corrections to make in that regard and will not use it again, except in rare circumstances. And after re-reading some of it, I have to agree with them, cut the "goldarn" dialect! If I had had an inkling that it was going to make that much difference, I might've never used it in the first place. Writing that stuff, it "jist" came natural, since where I grew up about everybody talked that way. We people from the West are "jist" plain absurd, at least this one people. Lesson learned.

With the weekend coming up maybe I can take a break and do something else for a change, get my mind off it. But that never works for very long, as my mind keeps twirling around, thinking about different ways to describe, add, subtract, from what's already there to make it better.

I enjoy reading blogs about writing, the questions asked, answers, etc., and find them educational and helpful. Right now, I have only one that I read just about daily, but I do read others, not the same ones all the time, but a mix hoping to learn more that way. I couldn't tell you the names of them, since I have trouble getting back to the same ones, not writing them down or memorizing any, or many. It seems everybody has a blog of one type or another, and you spend all your time going from one to the other and not doing anything yourself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Here's a short excerpt from "The Altaveel Chronicle," which is now called something else, my first novel, or was it the second?

"Why you.....," Milt took a step closer and let loose a long right that would have caught my jaw for sure, if I hadn't ducked under it and threw a powerful right of my own into the shortribs on his right side as he continued on around from the force of his blow. My punch knocked the wind out of his sails and bent him over hitting his head on the bar and effectively putting him out of action.

Cranky came around the bar with his arm held high holding his shilaleigh ready to crack my skull, saying, "What'd you do that for? He's my best customer!"

"Hold on there, Cranky! And put that club down. He's the one started this. I was just making polite conversation, when he took a swing at me."

He slowly lowered the club, but said, "You better get out of here, because when he wakes up, he'll be gunning for you."

"He wouldn't shoot an unarmed man, would he?"

"He ain't too ethical, he don't care if you got a gun or not."

He was going to continue talking, but the door swung open and Jim and Oakley entered the tavern. Seeing Milt lying on the floor, Jim asked, "What happened to Milt?"

"I guess he drank too much, too fast. He fell and hit his head on the bar," I answered.

Cranky gave me a nonchalant stare and went back behind the bar with his club. "Why don't you boys take Milt on home. You, Too, Chappie, better make tracks before he comes around. He might not remember what happened, and take it out on you."

"That's all right. I want to parley with you in private as soon as they clear out," I replied.

Oakley drew his gun, pointing it in my direction, saying, "You heard him. Better clear out of here before he gets awake. Milt's meaner than a grizzly, if he thinks he's been tricked or something."

Jim broke in, "Put that thing away, Oakley, before you get hurt, too. You heard Chappie say he wants to talk to Cranky, and I'm sure he will. Let's take Milt home. Grab his feet, and I'll get him under the arms."

So much for that, it's just to show that I do write something other than the blog.

Since I haven't ran across any perfect way to write a synopsis, the ones I have submitted have done the job, at least like the queries, I haven't received any direct reference to them in the rejections. I find it difficult to explain 50,000 words in no more than two or three pages like a lot of writers, and tell everything that goes on. But, if that's what they want, that's what they'll get, imperfect or whatever.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Rejection letters

I thought I would post a few excerpts from the rejections I've received to let people know, if they haven't received a couple, what one looks like.

"......but are sorry to say the work would not be suitable for us. ....while we have no criticism of the writing......the story itself has insufficient action....Regretfully ....we must return (it)...thank you for having offered it to us."

That was one of the more informative ones, and I sent them a thank you for reading it.

"We have decided not to publish your manuscript at ths time.......We enjoyed reading your work, but we do not feel that it fits our publishing needs. However, we think that this is a good concept, and we commend you for your work.....feel free to submit any other suitable manuscripts you might have."

Another good one, but not much to make it better.

"......After careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it is not something that fits our publishing needs.......Best wishes in your future writing endeavors."

This publisher was taken over by another one.

".........I am sorry to inform you that we are not in a position to pursue this project with you at this time. Unfortunately, .......workload prevents us from sending detailed comments about your work."

Darn! Darn! Darn!

Those four were for the same long novel, about 550 pages, that I've since torn down and made it into two. And here's another one:

"....We apologize for taking so long to review your work......the results were good. However, .......(we've) determined that this particular genere does not meet our .....needs at this time. ..... Thank you for submitting ......and we wish you the very best......"

Just one more for another book:

".......We are sorry to report that the story is not quite right.....plot moved slowly...... The technique resulted in some repetition and did not allow for the drama...... to unfold early enough. .......the implications regarding the widow's behavior were too racy for our press."

This is one about a man falling in love with a widow who had a reputation as a woman of ill-repute, i.e., she was known as the town whore, but actually she was not that kind of person. She did have a baby out of wedlock for a couple that couldn't have children, though, and received financial support from the rich old geezer unbeknownst to anybody in the town. I was sorry to hear they thought it was "too racy," since there was very little light swearing and nothing in the way of any overt sexual contact between any of the parties. Oh well racy to one is good, to another, not fit to print. Partly my fault for not reading between the lines of their submission guidelines, but who knew?

I have a couple of other rejections for other novels, but will continue to "enjoy" the beginning writer's sad life of rejectionitis and move on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Maybe about queries, maybe not

I've sent off maybe 10 queries to agents and publishers combined, and have no feedback on the actual query letter from a publisher, and the agents have all responded negative to respresentation, but also made no comment about the content of the queries. Most agents wished me luck in finding an agent, if they took time to prepare a separate response. One returned the letter with a terse "Thanks, will pass," handwritten in the upper right corner, and after the passing of some time, I don't blame him for not wanting to do the job. I've since broken up that long novel into two others, using only the last two parts of it and sent them off to different publishers, receiving a notice of rejection from each. But I'm not discouraged in the least, since I'm just getting underway. In any event, the publishers seem to have a more lenient attitude about the queries than the few agents I've queried. Most of them have responded with encouragement, at least that's what it appears to be in my estimation, and since it's not outright nasty rejection, I'll keep trying. Don't sweat the small stuff!

By the way, does anyone know what they mean by small stuff? In the Navy, it's any cordage that is small stuff, being designated as either by the number of threads that it contains such as "12-thread stuff," "15 thread-stuff," or as "ratline stuff," "seizing stuff" or "marline." 15-thread is 1-and-a-quarter-inch diameter and a 21-thread is one-and-half-inch diameter but not classed as small stuff. So about anything under one-and-a-half inches is small stuff. So now you know. That's why I always think of rope when they say don't sweat the small stuff. I copied the definition from the Bluejackets' Manual, which was first published in 1938. Everybody knew what small stuff was up until 1938, I guess, but after that, they thought they better explain it in a book for the succeeding generations. And it's a good thing they did, because World War II was on the horizon with all the new draftees, young-age kids, and illiterates that were put on ships and other equipment. But once you see it, you know if it's small stuff, especially compared to a 6-inch hawser.

So, most of the "ropes" that were used in the West are generally "small stuff," although I did see a play one time where they had a small dog, mixed breed, of course, being pulled across the stage with a 3-inch hawser, a western comedy. PETA would probably raise hell about it now. If they ever get their hands around ranching or farming, they might find something to complain about and take off their clothes and walk around naked, giving the cowboys a good show and a good laugh. "Lookee thair, they ain't got any clothes on! Wowee, ain' that somethin'? Bare nekkid! Why, I ain't never seen the likes of this! Get a load of the fat one, there, carryin' that big sign! What does it say? Whoo-ee! Keep momma in the house!"

Monday, December 1, 2008


This will be a short one because of other things to do.

My education is lacking in comparison to a number of well-educated people. I don't have a PH.D. nor an M.A., nor even a B.A. of some kind or other, but I did finish H.S. and attended a U. for a short while, long enough to know at the time that I would never finish it the way I was going. So I rejoined the Navy and saw the world, at least quite a bit of it and gained experience and furthered my edu informally and occasionally formally. With no regrets, I might add. Well, maybe one regret.

At times, it seems, I do have a side of me that deserves a B.S. in B.S.-ing, but I'm not even good at that. I just naturally tell the truth as I see it, in most cases. Others may view it a little differently, though. But at this stage, who cares?

I am finding out at least one thing about writing, and that is, to throw your goals and dreams out the door and start all over. You have to clear the slate of all the thoughts that started you in this line of endeavor, rethink it, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and reset your goals to one step at a time. Not everyone sees the world as you do, and you have to write in a way that will win 'em over. And good luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More bookshelf

Here are some more items from my bookshelf. No. 15 has a caboodle of my ancestral relatives listed in it. Henry was the brother of my first ancestor, John, to find America on the Dover in 1635, along with his father and brothers Richard, Thomas and William. That Thomas was a Quaker rabble-rouser, causing disturbances at the meetings, etc. John, William, and Thomas lived on Long Island at one time or another, but Henry was there the longest. I was really excited to find this book and since have collected some others along the way. John and Richard settled in Connecticut. My first writing began with the Genealogy of my ancestors, and has now moved on to Westerns.

Most of the books on the list are non-fiction, except for the McMurtry novels, which I haven't got around to reading yet, but are targeted.

14. Fort Gibson - Termination of the Trail of Tears by Brad Agnew
15. The Descendants of Thomas Hutchinson of Southold, N.Y., 1666-1982, by Jane Errickson Hutchinson
16. Geography of Nebraska by George Evert Condra
17. The Nation 1800-1845 by Charles M. Wiltse
18. Presbyterian Missionary Attitudes Toward the American Indian, 1837-1893 by Michael C. Coleman
19. Where to Find Gold in the Desert by James Klein (I confess I haven't been looking, but may have to start with the markets going kerplop.)
20. History's Timeline by Jean Cooke, Ann Kramer, Theodore Rowland Entwistle
21. Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, by William Bradford, Sometime Governor Thereof, Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison (Shucks, he didn't even mention Old John.)
22. Fort Worth Stockyards by Horace Craig
23. The Savage Years by Brian Connell
24. Spanish for Beginners by Charles Duff (This one was picked up in Spain while I was there, but I'm still a beginner in that lingo.)
25. Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
26. The Wandering Hill by Larry McMurtry
27. Sin Killer by Larry McMurtry
28. Boone's Lick by Larry McMurtry (I'm in the process of reading this one.)
29. Journal of George Fox edited by John L. Nickalls (George Fox was one of the earliest Quakers. I don't know why I have this one. I've never been a Quaker nor do I plan to become one, but the book is interesting to a degree.)
30. Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers (Will get to this one of these days. They tell me it is inspirational.)

I have another list coming, since I've barely touched the surface so far. You are probably wondering, (if anybody is following this) how do I find time to read all this stuff. For the most part, I spent maybe ten years going to bookstores, swap meets, thrift stores, etc, finding books about the West and early America hoping to run across something that explained my family's forefathering and mothering, even volunteering for a couple years at the Genealogy Library and going through book after book. I might say I had some success but hardly enough. One thing I found interesting and exciting was in the Federal Records Archives on microfilm. I was going through some of those one day and ran across my great-great-grandfather James, who was working for the Indian Agent for the Pawnees and Otos in Nebraska, he and his two sons, Aaron and Solomon, from around 1837 to 1847. James was hired as the Farmer for the Agency and was supposed to teach the Indians how the Whites farmed. Aaron was the Blacksmith, and Solomon, age 16 or 17 was the Interpreter. Believe me, I thought I had hit the jackpot! I purchased a copy of the films from the Federal Records Archives and later passed it on to the GenLib so I know where it is if I want to go through it again. Well, back to James for a second. He lost his farmer's job but still resided on the Pawnee Reservation when the Mormons first hit Nebraska and he joined up with them, them making him a Captain of Ten Wagons in the first party with Brigham Young and he traveled to Utah. Aaron, Solomon and his mother remained behind for a couple of months then followed him in 1847. Aaron stayed in Nebraska as far as I can determine and was never heard from again on record.

And after composing four or five books for family use only on family history, etc., I decided to try my hand at a Western. So, that's the short story.

I passed on to my nephew a book, The Texas Cattle Drivers, I think it was, which is a compilation of memoirs by the people concerned with driving cattle to Kansas or other places. I should have kept it for reference, besides being expensive. It was very interesting and informative and recommended reading for those interested in what really happened.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What it's about

The western I've been trying to finish up is the story of a sheepherding outlaw who hired a couple of gunslingers to help him do some claim-jumping in the Uintahs of Utah. Red Skene, a Marshal is assigned to catch the two gunslingers. He planned to keep his business secret and join up with the gang so he could round up the outlaws. But his scheme is thrown askew at the outset by the head claim-jumper and he has to take a different tack. He gets the job done and along the way meets a pretty girl and falls in love, etc., etc., after nearly being arrested by some of the town's citizens, who think he is in cahoots with the gang.

I'll be sending it to a publisher before long and hope they look on it as favorably as I do, but won't be thrown back to the Stone Age if they issue another rejection.

I have some other stories that I'm also working on, a couple of which have been rejected, but I'm an optimist and know that someone will eventually like one of them or maybe all. I try to see the bright side in everything, and don't "sweat the small stuff."

I tried to post a picture for my profile yesterday, but had a little trouble with finding it on the computer to send it. Well, that's not entirely true, I went right to it, but it's a little big for the space allowed even though I reduced it a couple of times. One of these days it'll appear in the appropriate part of the blog, sure as the dickens, it will, I just have to keep at it.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I was going through my bookshelf yesterday after chowing down on the turkey with all the trimmings and reviewing some of the books I have on hand. In one bookcase I came across the following:

l. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, a great western by a prolific and great author
2. Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle by Katie Lee
3. Life and Adventures of Buffalo Bill by Colonel Wm F. Cody
4. Flaming Gorge Country by Dick and Vivian Dunham
5. Dictionary of the American Indian by John Stoutenburgh, Jr.
6. Gun Notches by Thomas H. Rynning
7. The Outfit by J. P. S. Brown
8. Life and Adventures of Frank Grouard by Joe DeBarthe
9. I, Tom Horn by Will Henry
10. Memoirs of a Lawman edited by Wilson Rockwell
11. Rocky Mountain Warden by Frank Caulkins
12. Indians and Outlaws by Albert A. Lyman
13. Ferron Creek by Wanda Snow Peterson

Except for the first in the list, everything else is non-fiction, some of which bring back memories of my first ten years growing up in a place that is no longer in existence as a town. I think I've read and passed on more books like this than I can show in a listing, some of which I'm sorry I didn't keep, but space limits, and my beautiful better half tells me I have to get rid of all that stuff in the garage, it's too hot out there to keep paper things. But I still have two or three big boxes of baseball cards, etc., which will be passed on to descendants some time or other. There for awhile I was attending card shows and getting autographs on occasion at the urging of a friend who kept telling me it was good deal. Hah! Maybe in a hundred years one or two of them will amount to something.

I had an aunt who lived in Ferron we visited with off and on a few times when we could catch a ride there and back, so when I spotted number 13 above in a used book store somewhere, I had to buy it and read it to see if my relatives were mentioned. They weren't, but I certainly enjoyed reading about the area and the creek that caused so much trouble. My cousin, same age, and I had great entertainment running around the hills looking at things near his house. One time there was an incident with a calf in the barn that was hilarious, but my cousin's life was cut short one day at work later on in his 20's or maybe 30's by an accident. He hadn't been home long from the Korean War zone, and phfffft! it was all over. And the same think happened to another cousin a few years' later. Hell, they went through the battles in Korea and come home only to get blown away in industrial accidents. Life isn't pretty for some people.

But there I go again, wandering on about everything in the world except Westerns, and I've used up about all the time I have to spend on this this morning. I made a little progress on my book yesterday before we went to dinner. The whole thing is down on paper, not a very long one, and I'm rewriting some parts as I read it again for the umpteenth time hoping the great ideas, or near great ones, at least good enough ones, come to me from out of nowhere. That's happened once or twice or I wouldn't have written all the things already that's waiting to be put in commercial book form. Another day, another thousand words, is what I say!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not much time

Yesterday, I attended a kindergarten Thanksgiving Day program, which I thought was entertaining, comical, and worth the time. I thought the audience went a little overboard when the curtains were pulled apart with all the ohs, ahs, clapping and "There he/she is, right there in the front row/back row, middle, left side, over there, ain't she/he cute, like they hadn't seen their kids/grandkids for a whole hour-and-a-half when they dropped them off, and the cameras snapping photos and videos of the kids in costumes. The whole production lasted at least 20-25 minutes with a lot of clapping, laughing, and the kids struggling to be on cue for their big moment in the limelight. The curtain came down and the on-lookers hung around gabbing about how good their off-spring looked and did for at least twenty seconds before filing out and back to work.

Of course, this has nothing to do with my main subject, but I was working on one of my novels to polish off and send away to the great publisher in the sky and I don't seem to be spending as much time as I need to prevent another rejection due to all the interruptions and etc. I've finished reading Lee Wells "Tarnished Star", Nelson Nye's "Hideout Mountain", both published in the 50's or 60's, and am reading the new one of D. B. Newton, "Disaster Creek". Am enjoying/enjoyed all three and trying to absorb the different approaches and nuances they use to tell the story, hoping some of it will rub off in better writing of my own.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A new blogger

Being a new blogger, I have a lot to learn setting up, editing, posting, etc. But I think I can get past that and on to the more essential parts of blogging itself. So you can crawl off your high horses and hunker down around the fire. I don't plan to be particular about accepting comments from those who take the time, but a few don'ts first. Make that one don't for now regarding wordage.

Don't use language that's considered offensive, e.g. four-letter words beyond damn and hell, and other epithets that may be considered western dialoguish, like son-of-a-bitch, you dirty bastard, etc. Sexual references using the most popular four-letter words will be deleted without comment. Other than that, your comments will generally be accepted subject to my deletion rights.

I hope to receive posts pertaining to the writing of Western novels in particular, both from published and non-published practitioners of the craft. Feel free to let your blogging instincts loose on the range.