Sunday, January 31, 2010

Short Story and Novel Update and Tax Time

I've been working on a short story for the past couple of weeks about a fictional episode in the fictional town of Upamona. I just about get it completed when something else enters my mind that should've been said, and it's getting to be a perpetual thing. I've finished it about five times and upon re-reading it, it just lacks something. Maybe it will be ready to submit somewhere one of these days.

Other than that, my life has been pretty dull since the holidays with the completion of my latest novel, "Murder Under the Cliffs." I will be sending it off to one of the great publishers in the sky one of these first days and hope for the best. It's the story of ex-lawman Jimmy Snyder, who has decided to take up the writing of histories of small  towns and starts his new life in Bluff, Utah. He is soon arrested and thrown in jail for the murder of an old gent known only as Grady with whom he had been conversing earlier in the day.  Jimmy is released for lack of evidence and sets out to find Grady's killer. Set around the early 1900's, it is a traditional western tale of good vs. bad in a small town.

And the other thing that weighs heavy this time of year is taxes. Yup! It's tax time again already and you have until April 15 to finish it up. It'll probably take until then, because I'm notorious for procastinating on taxes. For some reason I just can't generate much enthusiasm for filling out these lengthy and nosy government forms. Maybe I should put in for an extension just to make sure I'll have enough time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Books of the West - 10

TOMBSTONE, Gun-Toting, Cattle Rustling Days in Old Arizona, by the Author of "The Sage of Billy the Kid," Walter Noble Burns, is the dust-jacket printing. Inside, the title page reads in part: Tombstone, An Iliad of the Southwest, by Walter Noble Burns. This book was published in New York by Grosset and Dunlap. The copyright page reads Copyright 1929, by Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., Copyright 1927 by Doubleday, Page and Company. The parts remaining of the dust jacket is the front, which has stuck to the book cover, the front inside flap, and the back inside flap, which is an advertisement for another book, Coronado's Children, by J. Frank Dobie, and is a loose piece of paper.

It has illustrations by Will James and Photographs supplied through the courtesy of N. H. Rose of San Antonio, Texas.

The front inside flap states, "As history it is an accurate picture; as a story it holds you spellbound from the first page to the last." It is a detailed history of Tombstone with all the characters who played a part in it from the discovery of silver by Ed Schifflein to the shootout at the corral and the events following. There are 388 pages of excitement waiting for the lovers and followers of this part of the country called the West.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Books of the West - 9

A novel of the Texas cowboys is The Day the Cowboys Quit by Elmer Kelton, Copyright1972 by Mr. Kelton, and published by Doubleday and Co., Inc., in hardback. It's a story of the cowboy strike in 1883 in the Texas panhandle and the confrontation between the old ways and the new ways of doing things with the fencing of the open spaces and restrictions placed on the old-time cowboy. The old-timers had to change their ways of doing things and some just plain wouldn't do it, preferring the old ways.

The novel starts off with an argument over a branding question on one cow, and ends up with big prairie fire that looks like it will put a rancher out of business, a settlement of a debt in the eyes of the man who set the fire. But there was no stopping the advance of modern ways.

I don't know exactly where this novel falls in the late Mr. Kelton's list of works, but it looks like it would be somewhere in the middle of his very productive life as a writer.  I liked this book, but I like all his books, even the ones I haven't read yet, because I know they will be well-written, interesting, and reflect the cowboy life and life in the West. As they say, "He 'brang' the West to the readers."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Books of the West - 8

The next book in this series chosen from my bookshelf, is Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos, by C. L. Sonnichsen, The Devin-Adair Company, published by MacMillan Company in 1943.

Everybody has heard of the Law West of the Pecos in the name of Judge Roy Bean, that is, except for a few non-readers or non-movie goers who wouldn't take the time to read anything concerning Texas or the West or watch a Western movie. But the Judge is one of those characters that make life interesting, not for the outlaws, but for the rest of us who do like stories of the West. There is a picture of Roy and his family, Zulema, Little Roy, Roy, and Laura in the book, along with other photos, and you can tell by the photo that the Judge is different, naming his boys Little Roy and Roy.

This book explains the man with all his faults, humor, judicial wittiness, and common sense. It relates how he became the Law West of the Pecos and outlines several cases the Judge disposed of one way or another, and how the heavyweight championship fight between Fizimmons and Peter Maher was arranged to be held in Langtry, the little settlement where Bean lived, held court and had his saloon, the Jersey Lily. And what about Lily Langtry, the famous actress? Was she ever in Texas? All that is explained, too, in this book that is exciting and interesting to read.

(No money or gifts were received for mentioning this book.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Books of the West - 7

They Broke the Prairie, Being some account of the settlement of the Upper Mississippi Valley by religious and educational pioneers, told in terms of one city, Galesburg, and of one college, Knox, by Earnest Elmo Calkins, Charles Scribne'rs Sons, l939, is a non-fiction book.

I've never considered Illinois as being part of the West since it's back East, but it took awhile for white pioneers to reach there, and nowadays they call it the mid-West. That's another term that I've never really understood, but maybe I'll get into that some other time.

Galesburg, Illinois, is (or was at that time, 1937) the mule capital of the country, the book states in its opening chapter, but the volume covers the history and founding of the city from the time of the first turn of the olde sod up to the Twentieth Century, which is the title of the last chapter. The town is named after George Washington Gale, born in 1789, who became a man of religion and went west with a plan to build a college on the prairies. In Chapter 3 entitled Log City, there is an explanation of the Hoosiers, Suckers, and Pukes that I found interesting. In the chapter entitled Schism, Edward Beecher, son of Lyman, brother of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe became a preacher in Galesburg and was "a favorite topic of conversation" because of his eccentricities. Abraham Lincoln came to Galesburg, too, for one of the debates with Douglas.

For a volume on history, being true and all, I found it to be interesting throughout, easy to read and understand, and adds a perspective on religion, slavery (Galesburg was anti-slavery), and politics that I enjoyed digging into.

(No money or gifts were received for this book description.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some things are becoming extinct

One of the things that's supposed to be phasing out is the home phone connected to wires. A recent e-mail stated that one in six homes now have cell phones only. That doesn't come as much of a surprise to me, in fact, if they had never invented the phone, it would be all right with me. All the phone did was speed up life, get rid of writing letters, and interrupt you when you didn't want to be interrupted. And now that cell phones are becoming the only way to go, life is again speeded up, interrupting you in the middle of something important, like where to turn to find someplace un....woops! Even that's included on cell phones, the GPS instructions that tell you where to go and where not to go in some cases. All sold as a convenience to users, but I never found it inconvenient to write a letter, look up an address and a location on a map, or not talk to someone for a couple of weeks or more or not at all. All the telephone used to do was bring bad news like somebody died, was sick, or got kicked by a cow or threw off the horse.

I was just wondering what it would have been like if cell phones were prevalent in the old west. A cowboy herding his herd across the prairie is interrupted by the ringing, buzzing, or singing, or just plain music of his new-fangled gadget. I can hear him cussing now, "What the Hell? Whatcha calling me now fer, I'm in the middle of the Dirty Angus River. Can'tcha wait 'til I get acrost this treacherous water?" or "Damn it! I can't talk to you now, ole so-an-so is shootin' at me, and I gotta bring him in for cattle rustlin'." Bang-bang-bang! "Migod, that was close, almost got me. Look, honeybunch, I gotta hang up on ya. I'll call you back as soon as I get free, if he don't shoot me. Wha-a-at? Hold on there! Don't put in for a divorce 'til I talk to ya!" 

Another thing that's becoming extinct according to the e-mail is wild horses. BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is seeking to reduce the number to 27,000. Most of them are located in Nevada now. I don't know why they just can't leave them alone. I haven't heard of any wild horses getting into someone's back yard like the bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and what have you do and giving some people heart attacks, requiring the local constabulary, fire department and animal control employees to come out and take a shot at them. LEAVE THE HORSES ALONE! is my personal opinion in the matter, at least until they start causing excessive damage to private property, etc. There seems to me to be plenty of room to roam in Nevada once you're out of Las Vegas. The O'Reilly Factor had a piece on this last night with Bo Derek, who said that BLM never did anything right and the original 19,000,000 acres set aside for the horses were being taken over by cattle.

P.S. Bo Derek still looks GREAT!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Header/Quartzite Bookstore

The header picture is a cliff bordering Saguaro Lake west of the Phoenix metro area taken by me about fifteen years ago. Manipulating the photo so it would fit resulted in cutting off part of it. One of these years I'll get it right. The lake is one of the water recreation areas along the Salt River where the locals go to get wet during the hot summers. They enjoy tubing down the river below the lake also. We were taking the Dolly steamboat tour that day. The Dolly has since been relocated to the Lake Havasu area on the Colorado.

Friday, we took a jaunt out to Quartzite, the snowbird magnet town in the western Arizona desert , and it was crowded with all the "birds," passers through and gawkers like us. Quartzite is not far from the California border on I-10, about 125 miles west of Phoenix.  The reason for the trip was an article in the local paper about a bookstore that was offering book signings to authors, so we checked it out. The name of the bookstore is Readers Oasis Books and Paul, the bearded owner, was there IN HIS THONG and coat helping out the customers. He has an informal author's fair in January and February. When I talked to him, he pointed out the area where authors could sign their books and said there was no charge for it, just come out anytime between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM, bring your books, table and chair, and wait for customers any day of the week.

The store has a large number of books, the paper said over 180,000, including music and audiobooks, mostly used, it appeared to me, and all wrapped tightly in clear paper. Going through some of the westerns, I picked out  Johnny D. Boggs' East of the Border,  and a short story collection Legend containing stories by Elmer Kelton, James Reasoner, Ed Gorman, and others, and Jack M. Bickham's The Apple Dumpling Gang (the most expensive of the three, cost $5.00). Apple Dumpling is a hard-back, the other two, pocket books. There was a good selection of westerns available. If you live anywhere near Palms Springs, CA, you could buzz over there in a couple of hours and check it out. I'm still undecided about giving it a try, but I might go out there for a day and see how my book sells against the stiff competition inside.

I didn't spend too much time in the store as my wife was waiting in the car, She had no interest in it until we were pulling out and I told her she missed the naked man. That got her attention and she had to take a look at the owner as we left, but couldn't see much except for a glance at his well-tanned legs. A picture of Paul Winer, owner, is below from an ad in the Quartzite Nugget. An article in the Nugget gives a nice bio of him. He spent 25 years as a boogie and blues piano player going by the name "Sweet Pie." He was a member of the Vermont Poet Society and taught poetics and writing at Mark Hopkins College. Paul had owned and managed the Vermont Stoveside Press in Cabot, Vermont, and published many regional poets in handcrafted small press editions. There is a more dignified photo of him in a red jacket and black turtleneck sweater, but the article said he was a lifelong nudist and it provides a more detailed biography.   

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Books of the West - 6

For Christmas I received one book only this year, but it looks like it will be a good one, Outlaw Tales of Arizona, The Stories of Arizona's Most Famous Robbers, Rustlers, and Bandits, by  Jan Cleere. who is a member of the Arizona Authors Association and has two other non-fiction, historical books published, More Than Petticoats and Amazing Girls of Arizona.

I ran across a couple more westerns and had to purchase them, The Gunsmith #58, The Deadly Healer, by J. R. Roberts, a Charter Book by the Berkley Publishing Group, and Stagecoach Station #12: Tucson, by Hank Mitchum, a Bantam Book published by arrangement with Book Creations, Inc., of the UK. I found these two pocket-size books in a thrift store while my wife was shopping in Tuesday Mornings for Christmas presents, and I am embarrassed to tell what the price was, so I'll keep it to myself. I'm not a fan of series-type novels yet, but I would have been remiss if I hadn't procured them, and maybe they will make me into a fan. Stranger things have happened.

I've added all three to my stack of books waiting to be read and hope to get to them sometime in the near future.

(NOTE; No money or gifts were received for mentioning these books.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I wrapped up the first draft of Murder Under the Cliffs a few days ago and passed it on to my editor-wife, who will pick out all (or most) of the errors and give it back one of these days. I thought when I finished it, it was a little disjointed, but I'll wait and see what she says about it. She says I'm commatose (too many commas). I hope she didn't mean comatose, but the past ten days I felt a little like that from all the heavy thinking and overuse of my limited brainpower. Not about the contents of that novel, but with Christmas and New Year being so close together, and throw in my wife's birthday, my ganddaughter's birthday, the great-grandson's birthday, and shopping for this and that present has lead to mental fatigue, if not dysphasia (the impairment of the power of speech, writing, or signs, etc.).

Dysphasia hasn't really got a foothold yet, but maybe a toehold, since I've noticed that my speechpower has diminished somewhat in the last week or two, that is, I don't seem to be able to get a word in edgewise about much of anything with all the talking going on. I'm going to have to put my foot down and demand that someone listen to me. Maybe I can corner my five-year-old great grandson and  talk to him about a few things that're important to me, like the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the rise of Hitler and Stalin, and the love- life of Charlie Chaplin or Tiger Woods. On second thought, cross off Tiger because I don't know anything about golf. But, my great-grandson is probably too busy playing with his new Wii to give me the time of day.

Well, I see the New Year is off to a great start.