Monday, April 27, 2009

Reading blogs

I haven't been keeping current with the blogs I follow, due to all the other things going on, but I still read them when I get the time. Like today, I'll be otherwise occupied almost all day on something else, the new AC unit one of them. The technician said he would be back today or Wednesday, so I have to be here when he shows up, which means my concentration is down the drain. There is just no way I can keep my mind on writing when something else keeps interfering. You know how Monday mornings go, some are better than others.

When I have time, I read other blogs in addition to the ones I follow. Once in awhile I run across a really interesting piece, one that holds my attention and gets the brain cells to popping. Of course, then, I have to spend some time on that. It usually turns out to be an exercise in futility, though.

I try to stay a blog or two ahead of my own postings, but I feel I'm falling behind. I'm finding that it's taking more time than I had planned on, but will keep posting as time permits. I do find the time to spend on writing, almost every day. which is suposed to keep a person in practice they say. I've reached nearly page 50 on "The Bloody Gulch." Some days it goes really well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Status of my world today

It's been a terrible couple of weeks when it comes to writing anything serious. Last week we had a garage sale, and that meant getting things together for it, which meant interrupt, interrupt, interrupt, leaving little time to think and compose. It went off pretty good, the garage sale, and we sold a few things. Two other people brought a few things to sell, so we weren't alone in pushing our goods. After it was all over, the remains were taken to the thrift store. Maybe they'll have better luck disposing of them.

We bought a new chair, one that turns on a swivel and reclines, from La-z-Boy. We need to have it looked at, it doesn't sit right, having a forward tilt that makes the front part of the seat too low.

We bought a new Heat Pump and Cooling Unit. The old one was on it's last legs. After it was installed, we need to have it looked at. It's making too much noise. What do I do now? Send it back or get it fixed? The technician is supposed to be out next week with a solution. It seems the engineering of parts was not perfect and the company is working on a solution. I don't understand companies that install faulty devices, so do I send it back or keep it? The warranties and guarantees provide good coverage, which were included in the expensive package, so I may just let them work it out, as long as it doesn't get to be untenable. A replacement may have to be made. And so life goes on. Nobody can do anything right anymore.

But on to writing. I've tentatively given the book I'm writing now a title, "The Bloody Gulch." It's turning out to be pretty bloody after only 20-30 pages. It's funny and amazing how these things evolve. I bring a character to life, and he practically writes his own story, with a little embellishment along the way. The big problem is, making it last enough words to fill a book. It could be as short as, "He lived, he died." But, when you throw in all the facts that supposedly happened to him, it could be as long as a Tolstoy novel, and just as boring too. That's the catch, it has to be interesting and maintain a heightened interest throughout, especially in this genre. Readers don't expect much, but action, action, and more action, with suspense and drama thrown in. Heck, anybody can do it. At least, that's what I keep telling myself. But will it be good enough to get published? Depends on what type of day the publisher is having and the mood he is in. Oh well, I'll keep working on it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on Wild Bunch

I thought I had mentioned this before, but a quick glance through the few old blogs, showed that I hadn't. Anyway, it's not any earth-shaking gossip, or anything like that, but I will mention it now for the record.

I just posted a fictional piece about my run-in with Butch Cassidy, and in that appears one Oscar Beebe, Deputy Sheriff, as helping round up some of the Cassidy's gang. I thought I would throw that in as an extra tidbit. Oscar Beebe was an actual deputy in the town of Price and he did assist in the matter, and he had a rifle hanging on his wall that he received as an award. Being the husband of my mother's sister, Amanda Foote, I can vouch for this first hand, having once been threatened by that very same rifle.

It so happened that we walked through the pastures of Altonah, Utah, when I was just old enough to give my mom and dad alot of grief, like five or six years old, and my brother almost two years older, when my father, mother, brother and I paid that visit to Uncle Oscar and Aunt Mandy's house. I thought we were all going over for a friendly visit, since my mother wanted to see her sister about something. But, one of the first things my Pa did when we were comfortably seated was tell us about the rifle on the wall and asked Uncle Oscar to take it down and give us a closer look. As I remember, it was a fancy engraved barrel with a small plaque on it telling about the award. And after we had a good look at it, my Pa says, "Deputy Sheriff Beebe is going to shoot you with it, if you don't start behaving and quit making wild animals of yourselves, ain't you Oscar?" Of course, he played along with it, and said, "You damn right I will just the minute your Pa asks me to. I don't take any nonsense from anybody!" and he lifted the barrel. The gun wasn't loaded, but we didn't know that, and Oscar was dead serious about it.

My father said, "Now, sit down and behave yourselves, or I'll have him teach you a lesson."

We never made a peep all the time we were there. I was too scared to do anything.

Well, my dad was a practical joker all his life, and he was always pulling stuff like that, but that's the only time he was going to have us shot.

And that's the only time I saw Mr. Beebe. Aunt Mandy would come calling once in awhile, but always alone.

Mr. Beebe's part in the capture of a couple of the gang is related in "The Wild Bunch at Robber's Roost", by Pearl Baker.

A couple-three years after that, another uncle was telling me about the time he was in the barn helping his father milk or some such thing, feed, etc., when Butch Cassidy and Sundance stopped at their place for the night. They were hungry and tired, and heading back to Brown's Hole. Anyway this uncle told me that Butch's pistol was about a foot long and he kept his hand near the butt all the time they sat there on their horses waiting for an invite. His father finally told them to get down and take a load off and he'd bring them something to eat, but they would have to sleep out here in the barn, we don't have any extra beds with my son's family here. Butch said that would be fine, and they wouldn't bother anybody in the house and would leave early in the morning. The uncle told us that nobody mentioned the men in the barn and they past a restful night and knew nothing about it. Nobody saw them leave in the night.Later I got to thinking about this one, curious about the year that this happened. My uncle said he was a teenager then, so I looked up his birthdate. What do you know, he was born in 1910 and would have not even been around if and when Butch would have stopped in. I think he either had visions of grandeur, or he was talking about HIS father's experience. Whatever. I just figured he was pulling our legs.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Ran Into Butch Cassidy

Decided to put in a short, short story, which I wrote as my donation to a Lesson for the Writer's Roundtable, a group headed by Greta Bishop of the Bishop Literary Agency. The piece is entitled, "I Ran Into Butch Cassidy," and here it is:

It was a rainy, foggy, cold, wet night when I stopped into the Lost Boot Saloon for a quick belly-warmer. It was a slow night in the whiskey business. At least in the Lost Boot, it was slow, and no wonder. It sat at the bottom of Clay Hill all by itself. The town was on the top of the hill, and when the road gets wet like tonight, nobody was going to venture down the hill on a horse or in a wagon. The wet clay would stick to everything, and it was about eighteen inches deep. And that was not the only reason. The town was the only habitation around for miles at the edge of the Uintah Mountains. So, I found myself to be the lone customer.

I removed my slicker and threw it over a stool to drain, shook the water off my Stetson, took one of the four remaining stools of the bar, and ordered a shot of 100-proof rotgut and a glass of beer from the bartender. He had been quietly watching my entrance from his position behind the bar, resting one elbow on it, his blue eyes alert.

"Howdy, stranger, here's your liquor. Bad night tonight, ain't it?"the saloonkeeper said.

"'Tis that, all right, lousy weather, but the rain's always good," I said, downing the shot and sipping on the beer. "When did this place open up?"

""Hasn't been open long, and if it had been me, I would've picked another spot for it," answered the barman.

"Are you new to the territory? I haven't seen you before around here?"

He gave me a funny look, like I had asked a dumb question.

"Not exactly. Been around for awhile, checking things out for myself. Why?"

"Just making conversation. What did you do before taking up bartending."

"I was an outlaw, they say. Name's Cassidy, Butch Cassidy. Ever hear of me?"

"BUTCH CASSIDY? I can't believe it. He was reported dead a few years ago in South America!" I said, startled. "You're not sprading some manure, are you, trying to pull my leg?" I looked at him closer, but the only likeness I've seen was that picture in Texas with the Sundance Kid and some woman, and there was a light resemblance to that.

"Not a whit, here I am standing hee looking you in the eye. I don't have my gun, so I'm not going to be holding you up. Want another shot?" he said and laughed.

"Sure, sure, give me another one and we'll talk some more, since there ain't no one else around to interrupt us. How many banks and how many cattle have you rustled over the years anyway, if you're really that Mr. Cassidy?"

"Well, the Sundance Kid and some of the Hole in the Wall gang did our share of robbing, all right. I don't rightly recall the exact number and I don't dwell on it. That was something, that big shootout in Brown's Hole with the Wild Bunch, wasn't it?"

"It sure was, and you lost a couple of members over in Nine Mile Canyon, picked up by Oscar Beebe and the law from Price, as I recollect."

"Oh, yeah. Those things happened from time to time."

"Well, since we're just talking between us, let me ask you, Butch, if you don't mind. Did you ever have any moral qualms about the people on the other end of your justice? I mean all the damages and disruptions you and the gang caused, it made it pretty bad for some of them. And the law was after you until you were reported dead, as I recall."

"Sundance and I would talk about it once in awhile, but I've been in it for so long I didn't think too much about it. Why? Are you some kind of preacher or something going to give me a nice long lecture on the morality of taking other peoples money? A lot of them people deserved what they go, and I always tried not to have to shoot too many people, but I can't say that for Sundance. He was just too rambunctious. And we did help out a number of desperate folks, too, so it wasn't all killing and robbing for our entertainment."

"I'm not a preacher, if that's what you're thinking, but I wonder if you could to back, would just do it all over again?"

"Of course, some of it. Like I said, some of it was for good reason."

"I don't think I could've done anything like that. My bringing up never let me consider doing anything along that line. Like I said though, I can see some of the good you did and that's noteworthy, but the other stuff, uh-uh."

"Some people have told me that. We have a different row to hoe in life, and mine just took me down that path."

We talked about this and that for awhile longer and the rain let up, so I told him so long and that I had to find a way up that hill tonight.

He watched me pick up my slicker and toss it over a shoulder, and said, "Just go another mile west, there, and there's an old trail up the hillside out of the clay. You can't miss it, if you follow the hill around there to about where the cedars start. There's a huge boulder at the bottom, and you just cut up the hill there. It's the old outlaw trail I used to use occasionally. Good luck to you."

I found the trail with no problem and made it into town in good shape, but kept the meeting with Butch Cassidy to myself. The next afternoon, after visiting my friends, I headed back home, taking the same trail. When I came near the saloon, I looked and looked for it, but it was nowhere to be found. It must have been a mirage or dream. Darn! I sure would have pursued that conversation a little further. I bet I could have changed his mind about the whole matter, but I really didn't have a chance. I must be losing my mind. THE END

Any comments anyone has about this or anything else, please have at it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sequel finished almost and new one in works

I've finished the changes to "Red Returns to Upamona" and the title has been changed to "Blood and Blazes in Upamona" as better fitting. This is the sequel to "The Upamona Gold Claim Wrangle." It'll be ready to go upon news about the "Wrangle", i.e., published(?), not published(?). Well, it will be ready when I print out a copy and go through the editing process, but I'm in no particular hurry as I'm not expecting news on the "Wrangle" for another couple months.

I have set about to begin on the start of the commencement of a new story. This one will be set in the town of Roosevelt around the time of its first being settled, the tale of Sheriff Bill Little, a minor character in "Wrangle", being only mentioned once or twice or thrice therein. There will be quite a bit of action, suspense, and a little history thrown in of some sort, not necessarily based on facts, of course. Am looking forward to see what develops and how it's going to come out.

I've finished reading "Flee the Devil" by Will Cade last night. I had a little difficulty dropping off, so I sat in my Lazy Boy and read for awhile. I liked it. It was chock full of suspense and ended in a bit of bloody irony, which for me, rounded it off fittingly. All the bad guys and girls were demolished, but there were no good fellers around either. It is full of the Devil.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

New (old) fiction to read

I attended the annual "Daily News-Sun" annual used book sale Saturday morning and picked up four more pocket books and a hardback at fire-sale prices. One of the books was "Hour of the Gun " by Robert Krepps. It's the story of Ike Clanton after the O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone. Clanton sets out for vengeance against the Earp brothers and Doc Halliday and as the cover brief says "There were more dead men than living." It was made into a movie with the same title starring James Garner, Jason Robards and Roberty Ryan, which I think I've seen, but it's been so long ago, it escapes me.

Another book was "By the Gun" by Richard Matheson, about a rancher going blind, but is preparing for a gunfight with a senseless killer holding a saloon hostage.

Picked up Luke Short's "Gunman's Chance", about a man taking on the Blockhouse ranch gang.

And one was "The Return of Zach Stuart" by Will C. Knott, a man against his father, "the meanest rancher in the territory."

And the hardback was Louis L-Amour's "Rivers West". It takes place in 1821, and concerns the overtaking of the Louisiana Territory by a gang of cutthroats.

At the speed I read, it's going to take me a couple of months to even start on these, since I'm still reading the last ones I purchased, so it'll be a year or so, maybe, to finish them. But it sounds like another batch of great reading with lots of guns blasting away and a little swashbuckling thrown in. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Bookshelf

Here's another list of books on my shelf, I think the last one, but you never know:

140. The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller. The story of a modern-day oil rig worker in Wyoming and I enjoyed reading it.
141,. The Hours by Michael P. Cunningham. One of my wife's books.
142. Hoyles Rules of Games, Edited by Albert H. Morehead and Geoffrey Mott-Smith. I play a lot of penny-ante poker, that is, I used to. Now, it's more an occasional thing.
143. The Cattlemen by Maria Sandoz
144. The Bathroom Sports Quote Book by Jack Krelsman
145. The Devil in Massachusetts by Marion L. Starkey
146. My Life on the Plains by General George Armstrong Custer
147. Dakota Cowboy, My Life in the Old Days, by Ike Blasingame
148. Entrepreneurs of the Old West by David Dary
149. The All-True Tavels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley
150. Great Gunfighters of the Kansas Cowtowns, 1867-1886, by Nyle H. Miller and Joseph Snell
151. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
152. The Old Time Cowhand by Ramon F. Adams
155. In Our Strange Garden by Michael Quint
156. The Cattle Kings by Lewis Atherton
157. The Sea of Grass by Conrad Richter
158. We Pointed Them North, Recollections of a Cowpuncher, by E. C. Abbott ("Teddy Blue") and Helena Huntington Smith
159. Exploration of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake by Howard Stansbury
160. Mormon Country by Wallace Stegner
161. Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary
162. The Dalton Brothers and Their Astounding Career of Crime by an Eye-Witness by Laird Lee, A Facisimile Edition, James Horan
163. The Earp Brothers of Tombstone by Frank Waters
164. The Book of Acts by Oscar Case
165. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
166. The American Cowboy, The Myth and The Reality, by Joe B. Frantz and Julian Ernest Choate, Jr.
167. Old Age is Always 15 Years Older Than I Am by Randy Voorhees
168. The Wild Bunch at Robber's Roost by Pearl Baker
169. Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller
170. Memories of the Old Plantation Home and a Creole Family Album by Laurel Locoul Gore, Commentary by Norman and Sand Macmillion
180. Hondo by Louis L'Amour
181. Where the Wagon Led by R. D. Symon. One Man's Memories of the Cowboy Life in the Old West
182. Boss Cowman, Recollections of Ed Lemmon, 1857-1948, Edited by Millie Snyder Yost
183. Jim Beckwourth, Black Mountain Man and War Chief of the Crows, by Elinor Wilson
184. From St. Louis to Sutter's Fort, 1846, Translated by Erwin G. and Elizabeth K. Gudde

These are mostly non-fiction with a couple of humor books and novels thrown in for good measure. I've enjoyed everyone I've read, and that's most of them.