Sunday, January 29, 2012
Y'all'll hev ta wait 'til next post ta see one of thim pritty gals, podnuh. Rat now ah've got more important thangs to do lak write sum'thin' today.
While browsing through Project Gutenberg Catalog, I came across this dedication in a book entitled, Romance of California Life by John Habberton, 1877:
"To: Frank Leslie
"Who, while other publishers were advising the writer of these sketches to write, supplied the author with encouragement in the shape of a publishing medium and the lucre which all literary men despise but long for, this volume is respectfully dedicated by
Now that's a nice dedication, but I didn't know that "literary men despise" money and long for it at the same time. Is it anything like hating sex and longing for it, too? It seems to me that they are similar attractions, although one is physical and fleeting and the other material and fleeting. Times were different in 1877, one being that S E X was never mentioned, although they could talk all they wanted to about money as long as they didn't disclose their own income. Men (and women?) who had money could talk about it, but the cowboy didn't say much in that regard. Everyone knew he didn't make much money punching cows and he never had much to brag about, anyway. I assume that's why so many stage coaches, trains, and banks were robbed - need of money. And someone had to tell those stories in the hopes of making money that a literary man hates. Oh, well, we're right back where we started from.
And a big welcome to a new follower, Trinity. Read the blog at http://www.trinity4h.blogspot.com
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Above pic was taken in the early 1900's in Idaho, probably. The man on the left is my father and the other one is his brother-in-law from the first marriage. You can see where I get my Western leanings from. It was part of life back then and continues on. NO, THEY WEREN'T OUTLAWS! I can't get over my Pa with a cheroot in his paw. He always smoked Bull Durham.
Upcoming events in Arizona. It will be 100 on Feb 12:
Jan 29 - Wickenburg. The Phoenix Symphony and the Music of John Williams
Feb 2-14 - Ajo. Centennial Celebration with old timey stuff.
Feb 3-5 - Sierra Vista. The Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering.
Feb 4 - Phoenix. DogEaredPages Bookstore. Lecture and Book Signing, Reforming the Prisons with Arizona Authors Sue Ellen Allen and Bob Kaplan.
Feb 9-19 - Phoenix. Statehood Days. Big celebration at the Pioneer Living History Museum.
Feb 11 - Phoenix. Centennial Ball.
Feb 11 - Prescott. Trappings of a Horse Culture at the Phippen Museum.
Feb 11 - Scottsdale. Parada del Sol Parade. World famous horse drawn parade.
The Centennial events go on and on throughout the State. Pack a bag, climb on your saddle, and trot on down and help us celebrate long and hard. None of us will be here for the next one. Well, maybe a few hardy souls will survive.
A big, hearty welcome to Diane Fordham, a new follower, and check out her blog at
Sunday, January 22, 2012
(Click on cartoon to enlarge.)
It's time for some more info about Saloons of the Old West. My progress has not been very fast reading this book by Richard Erdoes, but haven't had the time for much reading.
Chapter 11 covered the gambling that took place in the saloons and parlors; the most well-known gamblers like Doc Holliday; the games played, e.g., poker and faro the most popular, and monte, roulette, 21, etc.; the largest and smallest pots; and the demise of public gambling.
Chapter 12 delineates the use of the saloons as places of grand entertainment to draw in the customers. They tried about everything in the way of shows, like dogs vs. dogs, dogs vs. rats, bull vs. bear, etc., to draw a crowd. Then someone got the idea of building theaters and opera houses as annexes to the saloons to show that the West had culture. These people brought in the likes of Sarah Bernhard, Adah Menken, Lola Montez, and even Helen Modjeska to dance and warble there way into the hearts of the cowboys, miners, ranchers, gamblers and what have you. I like the opera, but can't stand all the interruptions for singing.
Chapter 13 - Women in the Saloons. There were the hurdy gurdy's, pretty waiter saloons, honky tonks, concert saloons, fandango saloons and no matter what it was called, it was a place where women workers sold drinks at high prices and the cowboys, miners, and etc., spent their payday money on drinks for the girls and themselves.
There are a few more chapters not read yet, but it is getting toward the end. What am I going to use for emergencies after that when I come up short and need a blog subject? Darn, (he says) another problem to add to my list, but I have just the tome for this, Entrepreneurs of the Old West, by David Dary. Now that sounds like it may just fit the bill.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
This blog was nominated by the Arizona Authors Association for The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Visit that blog at:
I thank you for this nomination, and also Vijaya Schartz, Webmistress at http://www.azauthors.com. Visit her blog at:
Blasters, Guns, Swords, Romance with a Kick, http://www.vijayaschartz.com and on Amazon at:
Now I have to nominate ten other blogs for this award and tell my readers seven things they might not know about me.
Here are my blog nominations:
Levitt E. Valance's blog: http://mistervalanceporch.blogspot.com
James D. Best's blog: http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky Coffield's blog: http://moonlightmesa.blogspot.com
Houston A. W. Knight's blog: http://houstonawknight.blogspot.com
Ron Scheer's blog: http://buddiesinthesaddle.blogspot.com
Evan Lewis' blog: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com
Sandra Seamans' blog: http://sandraseamans.blogspot.com
Charles Gramlich's blog: http://charlesgramlich.blogspot.com
Gary Dobbs' blog: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com
Patsy Collins' blog: http://patsy-collins.blogspot.com
Congratulations! Best of luck in 2012.
Here are the seven things you might not know about me:
1. I have lived in Arizona since March 1971.
2. I retired from the U. S. Navy in January 1971 after 21 years service.
3. I began writing when I was about 70 years old.
4. I attended the University of Utah but never graduated. I tried out for UofU's basketball team, but was too old, too slow, bad shot, couldn't dribble, and threw the ball away. And this year it looks like they are having the same problems.
5. I had one brother who retired from the Army and another retired from the Marine Corps, and two others who were in the Army in WWII.
6. So far I have collected 20 rejections.
7. I like Mexican food, German food, fried taters and gravy, Southern cooking, French cooking, Kansas cooking, Spanish cooking, my Mom's (may she rest in peace) homemade bread with butter and honey, and the Riverside Restaurant on the island of Mauritius.
Good luck and have a fabulous 2012.
Oscar Case, Member of the Arizona Authors Association
Sunday, January 15, 2012
If you are just a beginner in the writing world, you will face perhaps insurmountable obstacles according to James Michener's essay in The Writer's Book. For one thing, in the essay Michener shows the average number of books submitted to a publisher and the number the company will actually publish, and the odds are terrifying. The essay was written in 1966 or thereabouts, a long time ago, but I doubt whether the odds have become more beneficial to the writer now. In 1966, they didn't have the e-book publishers, and they may not have known what an e-book was then, so what he was talking about was traditional publishing. You are not considered to be an author until you have a book published by a traditional publisher according to some. I can't blame them for thinking that, because it means that the book has gone through the process of professional editing, layout, cover design, etc., which are not required for most non-traditional publications. And these books have been looked on as sloppy, full of errors, and not well designed, which a lot of them are, maybe even most of them. But the e-book world has leveled the playing field and it is much easier now to get published or publish your own.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that there are maybe ten million people who are trying their hand at writing, double what Mr. Michener used in his essay, and all, or most, are trying to get published in the traditional manner, which overloads the companies considering them, and with the advent of the e-publishers, the traditional ones are cutting back, making it even harder for us to get something published by them. And this ups the rejection rate and forces writers to use the alternatives - ebooks, vanity presses, POD, etc., with the result being the "slush pile."
The only solution to this is to keep on writing and learning and eventually the "slush pile" will become the main product and will drown out the traditionalists. The people in the younger generation don't read anyway unless its connected somehow to technical gadgetry, which means everything will be electronic or digital or wireless.
Now. all I need is good rewriter to make sense of it all. If only Mr. Michener were still alive.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
A man goes out into the desert west of Phoenix like he has done many times before to commune with nature, absorb the solitude, enjoy the vegetation, watch the wildlife, e.g., snakes, gophers, coyotoes, lizards, etc., and pray to the Lord above. The day was bright and sunny with a little chill in the air. He decides to build a small fire to warm his hands and feet and finds an open spot among the creosote bushes and cactus that is suitable for such a project. Pretty soon he has gathered enough small stuff, dry branches from palo verdes and juniper trees, small bush sticks and leaves scraped together and gets a little bonfire blazing. He relaxes by the fire and contemplates the world's problems and discusses them with the Man above. Enjoying the heat, he puts on another stick and. . . . blam! . . . gets shot in the right eye.
He knows he is completely alone and considers the situation with one hand holding the right side of his face where the bullet entered, blood dripping onto his hand and flowing over his cheek. He kicks the dirt around the fire and finds a half-dozen live .22 cartridges and lets loose with a stream of epithets, cussing all the stupid people who come into the desert there and take target practice and leave live ammunition all over the place.
And that's the new old west as reported on a recent TV news show here in Phoenix with more color and description added by me for a more dramatic presentation. The man tells the TV station about what happened to him, trying to get a little publicity going and hopefully stop the crazy shooters from shooting up the desert and littering with live ammo. The reporter and camera man take a trip with the man to the spot where he was injured and they find more live ammo in the dirt. WISE UP you people! If you pack it in, pack it out!
Friday, January 6, 2012
I've been reading an old pocket book I picked up cheap at an estate sale, entitled The Writer's Book, published as an Everyday Handbooks by Barnes & Noble, Ninth printing 1966. It's a book of essays on writing by different authors. It says on the front cover "Practical advice by experts in every field of writing," and "Presented by the Author's Guild, Edited by Helen Hull."
So far, I have read the advice from Pearl S. Buck, Ira Wolfert, Thomas Mann, John Hersey, Ann Petry, Francis Steegmuller, Richard Lockridge, Rex Stout, Arthur Koestler, Faith Baldwin, and Jacques Barzun. I've read just enough of it to get lost in the mire of how-to's. All good advice, but as I've heard before,"It's easier to teach than do." I do find the book enlightening and entertaining, although it is a dull subject to some of the authors who are picking up a couple of bucks for providing the information, I presume. I've read books by some of the authors noted above, like Faith Baldwin, John Hersey, Rex Stout, and I think F. Steegmuller and maybe Jacques Barzun, R. Lockridge, and A. Koestler. Rex Stout was a popular one with the Nero Wolfe character, Pearl Buck on China, John Hersey's Hiroshima book, and Steegmuller's New Yorker stories. I was first introduced to the New Yorker in high school and went to the library and read a couple of issues from cover to cover. Now, I look at it for the cartoons mainly.
I just hope my old, partially decomposed brain cells will let me retain half of the info contained in those essays. If not a half, maybe a quarter, or just enough to provide me with the tools to improve my writing to the point where it will become less of a chore to read it after the first draft.
What's all this have to do with writing Western fiction? Well, from a practical standpoint, it has everything to do with it, although none of those authors listed above ever wrote anything like a traditional cowboy story, not that I'm aware of anyway. The advice they hand out is applicable to all genre writing or all writing in general. I may be able to apply this knowledge to my next novel, in fact, I had better start applying it while it is still fresh in my mind. All these facts have a tendency to float away in the ozone before I can make good use of it.
Let's see, the next essayist will be W. H. Auden. Is that pronouced AW-den or OW-den, or Oh-den?
I would like to welcome a new follower, Prashant C. Trikannad. Welcome aboard, Prashant!