Sunday, May 30, 2010

Visitors and the etc.


I'm running behind this week. Not enough time in the day to do everything you want to, so I missed the Thursday post. We had company from Missouri for a couple of days and it was enough to throw us off schedule with the running around and visiting the tourist spots, etc., not to mention all the talking that had to be done.

One of the places was the Mystery Castle, which is getting to be a regular destination to take our visitors to see. But, each time we go it's harder to get to with all the new housing developments springing up around it and the changing of the streets, or additions to the street layout. It is located at the base of South Mountain in Phoenix and I wouldn't be surprised that someone will build a house on the mountainside that is higher than the older one and it'll start a rush to see who can put their facilities above that one, and pretty soon, the whole damn  mountain will be covered with houses. One thing that will prevent this from happening is the park, at least it will delay it while they argue over building codes and safety considerations and zoning and all those extracurricular things. And the next thing you know there won't be any park. Right now South Mountain Park is one of the biggest in the County, but don't be surprised when the payoffs start. As they say, money talks, in fact, it screams when the price is right.

We hit a couple of antique emporiums, too, that offered oodles of items for sale, not all antiquey, either. I latched onto a novel, The Owlhoot Trail, by Bennett Foster, for a mere pittance and there were others which were a little high for my pocket book at this time, that I wouldn't mind having and may go back for sometime, not including the usual Zane Grey sets or parts of sets. And there were a stack of Louis L'Amour novels all tied up which would have been a good deal, but I had to leave them for later.

I will post a report on The Owlhoot Trail when I get around to reading it. The pages look like they spent a lot of time in the sun, they are so faded. Oh well, beggars can't be choosy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Cominbation of Great Talent

When I purchased those few books at Quartzite, I didn't take any time making the choices. I went strictly by the covers and titles, and when I grabbed Legend, it appeared at a glance to be a book of short stories from all the names on the cover and I thought I would be getting a variety of reading in one book. But as many of you know it is the story of Lyle Speaks and Sam November written by Elmer Kelton, Judy Alter, Loren D. Estleman, James Reasoner, Jane Candia Coleman, Ed Gorman, and Robert J. Randisi. Each wrote one part in the lives of the two characters in a seamless effort with Mr. Randisi writing the transitions.

The main character is Lyle Speaks, Sam November being his partner and backup from the day the Speaks family were slaughtered by the Comanches to their "retirement" in Montana. A journalist named Fellows was sent from back east to write the story of the Legend and Speaks and November tell him relevant parts of their history as the three go looking for some horses stolen from them. Speaks and November, being well-aged, creaky and stiff in the muscles and joints when they begin the search for the thieves soon find out that being back in the saddle is just like old times, practically, and the life stories progress from one escapade to another with girls and love and romance thrown in until they catch up with the horse thieves in a tight little valley somewhere in the northwest that is vaguely familiar to them.

Fellows, the greenhorn journalist, is given a gun and told that he must do his part when the time comes to round up the dastardly men who stole their horses, and reluctantly sticks the gun down his pants behind his belt and gets awful saddle sore, and he writes it all down in his notebook. The ending came as a surprise and I won't divulge it here; you'll just have to find a copy and give it a read.

Once I began reading the story, I had a hard time putting it down. It is full of excitement, action, romance, and all the good things associated with the Western, and also the bad, the killing, the fears of the men, the tortuous deeds of the Indians and the bad guys. Legend is a fine Western written by great writers in an unusual project of combining talents to make one story.

Legend is a Leisure Book published by Dorchester Publishing in March 1999.

(NOTE; No gift or money was received for this post.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comments on first novel

I haven't put in a plug for my book, "The Stranger from the Valley," for awhile, so today will be the day I throw up a few notes regarding it. Sales have been going about as I expected, slow, pretty damn slow, but it's the same old story - marketing. If you don't publicize it yourself, no one else will on a self-published novel. I use only this blog to do most of the advertising, and word of mouth for the rest of it. So that's why sales are slow.

In this first attempt at a book-length story, I know that it doesn't meet the requirements of each individual Western fan as they search for the story that meets their psychological desires on that particular day, but the comments I have received from family and friends have been positive with several asking when is the next one coming out. The fact that some people liked it buoyed my spirits, even though I haven't asked, or paid anyone to tout it. I can't tell you exactly how many have been sold. I have received one royalty check, not very big, but enough to put in my savings account and use later.

I think as more people become aware of it and actually buy it, it will sell itself. I know this is no way to become a world-wide recognized writer, which I don't care about one way or another, but just wait until the next one hits the streets. I write to satisfy my own needs and desires.

Why don't you buy a copy and send me your opinion, good or bad, about liking it or not. You can even comment on how badly it is written and what it lacks and any other stuff. Maybe I'll take it to heart and try to improve things or maybe not.

Ah, yes, The Stranger from the Valley, I enjoyed writing and reading it.

By the way, The Upamona Gold Claim Wrangle will be forthcoming within a couple of months!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Querying Again!

Here we are again, querying do's and don'ts. It seems the more people blog about it, the more there is to blog. What can you say in a one- or two-paragraph letter that has the world in a discussion about what and how to write the paragraphs? Crimany, you write a book and then write a letter to some publishing company asking them to consider it for publication. If they reject your book, you blame it on the forwarding letter. What's not right about this picture? If a company accepts the book, nothing is said about the letter.

 There are writers who write a "better" query letter than others, for sure, but what's in the letter shouldn't have any "better" effect on the manuscript. If it's a real dog like bad English, bad spelling, bad grammar, bad paragraphing, bad punctuation, I would be the first to send the manuscript back for something like that, since it's a demonstration of what the book is probably like. If a person can't spell or punctuate or grammar-tize, what the heck, send it back.

I knew a feller once who had a college education, that is, he received a B.A. degree in something or other, but couldn't write a simple sentence let alone make something half-way complicated understandable. There is no doubt his manuscript, if he submitted one, wouldn't make sense either.

Don't get me wrong, I've never worked at a publishing house, so I don't really know what they consider good or bad, I'm talking about all this blogging on a simple question, "Would you please consider my manuscript for publication?" Duh! Just the facts, ma'am (or sir), thank you. Agents and pubreps put too much weight on the letter. 

Or, maybe they are like me, needing something to blog about today.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Author Frank Harris

Regarding my posted short story with a villain named Frank Harris, the name just popped into my head as I pondered what to name the villain and there is no connection with that villain and the author, Frank Harris, to be clear about that. While I was writing the story, I remembered that I had read some of Harris' writings at some time and considered them to be worth another look.

Frank Harris (from Wikipedia) was born in Ireland  in 1856 and died in 1931 in France, and became a naturalized American citizen in 1921. He is remembered for the infamous My Life and Loves autobiography in four volumes, and this is the book I remembered reading, at least part(s) of it, and I recall it because it was mainlyto me an exposition of his sexuual escapades, although he did write about other parts of his life. The book was finished in 1922 and caused quite a stir when it was published due to its scandalous nature. He wrote other things, too, like Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions and a novel titled The Bomb. I wonder what that was about.

But the main reason I bring this up is the movie Cowboy which was adapted from his My Reminiscences as a Cowboy, and starring Jack Lemmon as Harris, released in 1958 but very limited. I saw the movie at some time, but for the life of me, I cannot remember anything about it. However, it is well described on Wikipedia and is available on a DVD which I will pick up the next time I visit Fry's Electronics and eventually get around to eyeballing. The plot centers around a cattle drive and a woman. Also starring is Glenn Ford as the "bad" guy and Anna Kashfi as the desired female. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing. It may be of interest to fans of of the Western genre.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

East of the Border by Johnny D. Boggs

It is a rollicking good story, this one by Johnny D. Boggs, East of the Border, published by Leisure Books in 2006. Relating the story of the Buffalo Bill Cody Combination, which included "Texas" Jack Omohundro and Wild Bill Hickok, it takes them through their experiences on the stages of various theaters in the eastern part of the country. The heroes portray themselves in basically two plays written by Ned Buntline and John Burke or Colonel Judson or Frederick G. Maeder. The Scouts of the Prairie and Buffalo Bill! King of the Border Men!.

The trio fail to memorize their lines, shoot their way through the "Indians" by the hundreds, and drink everything in sight. And, oh yes, fight their way through, too, among themselves and others, being very physical and set in their ways. A little slight is the same as a big slight to these gentlemen and must be avenged. Partially based on true happenings, the story follows them through the 1873-74 theater season with all their faults, loves, and whiskey drinking.

Not having read anything by this author, I picked up this one at the Naked Man's Bookstore on that trip to Quartzite earlier in the year and didn't jump right into the reading of it. Finally getting into it, I enjoyed the antics as the characters travel from one city to another and ad-lib through the scripts sending the customers into paroxysms of laughter and shouting. It was wild times in the theater. I will be obtaining more of the writings of Johnny D. Boggs.

(NOTE: No money or gift was received for mentioning this book.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Frank Harris and the Law (A short story)

"I, Brock Gunslinger, do hereby declare I won't shoot nobody again, after I take care of that dirty skunk, Frank Harris."

I made that statement in the Desert Den Saloon on a Sunday afternoon more than a year ago. I had hung up my guns after almost twenty years as the Sheriff of Rattlesnake County, but now I had to strap them back on and take care of that no-good Harris, who had called me out for being a coward.

"You dirty, cheating. crooked lawman, you coward!" the crumpled-up note from Harris said. "I'll be in the road in front of the saloon at high noon a week from Saturday to settle up accounts and I'm expectin' you to present your cowardly face so I can blast it to Kingdom come, you dirty, low-down, cowardly, sniveling excuse for a used-to-be sheriff!"

I sent him back a short note by Pony Express, saying, "Why you lousy, no-good, lyin', rascal, I'll be a-waitin' to see your ugly, big-nosed face, and this time there won't be any missin' shots. This'll be the last time you ever call me a coward."

Come that Saturday, I was waiting patiently on the boardwalk in front of the Desert Den for him to show his ugly face, when I saw some cowboys ride into the other end of town. It was him, all right, with his crowd of cattle-rustling, back-shootin' cowpunchers. I watched them tie up their broncos down there by the feed-and-grain store and then gather around their boss, Harris. I counted them, slowly, so there wouldn't be any mistaking how many I'd have to face. One......two. Hm-mm. That many, huh? Two of them varmints. Already he's not playing fair, as if he ever did.

I pulled my white ten-gallon down low over my forehead, adjusted the brim to keep the sun out of my eyes, gave it a pat, and stepped boldly into the dusty road, loosening my pistol in its holster. I stood facing both of them, shoulders squared, arms loose at my sides, as they slowly walked toward me. When they were twenty yards away, the cowboy with Harris suddenly broke away afer a short conference and took up a position catty-corner from me on the opposite boardwalk.

"HARRIS!" I yelled. "FRANK HARRIS, ye've come to meet your maker, you dern no-good snake, huh?"

"You're the one going to meet his maker, Gunslinger. I took enough of your abuse when you was the sheriff," he yelled back.

"Fire when ready, Gridley!" I yelled.

"What the Hell does that mean, you double-crossin' skunk?"

I whipped out my pistol and plugged them both while they were still trying to figure it out, a trick I learned from Wild Bill or was it Buffalo Bill?

I walked toward the body lying in the dirty, manure-spotted road. I started to roll Harris over with my boot, when he uttered his death cry, "Gunslinger," he said, "you aint'"


Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Short Story/Art Exhibit

NEWS ALERT! as they say on Fox News. I have a new short story at Duke Pennell was kind enough to publish this story about my g-g-grandpa's journey to the Rocky Mountains in 1847 and I appreciate it and thank him. Take a look and enjoy!

My wife and I found time yesterday to travel to Wickenburg, AZ, through all the construction on U.S. 60 to visit the "Cowgirl Up" art exhibition of women artists. I have to tell you, I was impressed by the beautiful paintings of cowboys and cowgirls, Indians, cattle, horses, the Grand Canyon (a mighty task in itself) and the cabins and ranches and the West depicted in the exhibit. A lady named Louisa McElwain, I think it was, won the first-place prize and received the "Cowgirl Up" decorated boot trophy shown below on the brochure:

Ms. McElwain's painting was a winter scene of a cabin with cattle and horses around, done in heavy globs (excuse me for this description) of oil akin to one of the more famous artist's technique, the name of whom eludes my elderly brain at present. But I certainly don't want to take anything away from Ms. McElwain, who produced a stunning, vibrant picture deserving of the trophy.

The runner up painting was done by Harriet "Rox" Corbett, if my memory serves me right, who's charcoal drawings were so realistic I thought they were photographs until I got real close to them and read they were charcoal. WOW! Fantastic!

In my estimation, which combined with $l.99 will get you a cup of coffee at Village Inn these days, the judges must have had a difficult time with the selections, they were all so professional and beautifully executed. I liked the Grand Canyon and cliff paintings, myself, but they were all well worth the 30 miles travel to see.

This exhibit closes today, but the Desert Caballeros Museum is an interesting site to visit at any time of the year, and the town of Wickenburg is flourishing from the looks of it in these bad economical times. There was the usual travelers, taking a break from their vehicles on the way to and from California and Las Vegas, plus some regular tourists and the museum was having a steady stream of visitors, although it wasn't crowded. And the ice cream parlor was busy as usual. We had lunch there and the sandwiches were tasty and unusual and expensive for cheese steak with chips and dip on the side (??? chips and dip????). It took so long to be served they gave us a free ice cream dessert. We were in no hurry, so we enjoyed it all. Ah, the small towns.