Monday, November 28, 2011

Cartoon Time/Author Signings

And a bunch of other things, too, but life is too dern short to dwell on it.

Upcoming author signings at the Barnaby Street Shoppes in Surprise, AZ, 114th Ave and Bell Road:

Friday and Saturday, December 2 and 3, 11:30-2:30:  Michael Murphy, author of Scorpion Bay and several other mystery books.

Friday and Saturday, December 9 and 10, 11:30 til ?:  Conrad Storad, author of the award winning Rattlesnake Rules, a children's fiction book.

Y'all come out and support these great authors by buying a book or two or three.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The West

For the next few posts, I'll be adding some of my hand-drawn cartoons and hope it livens up the narrative a bit.

Here's another one to scratch your funnybone:

HAHAHAHAHAHA!! On to more serious items. A-hem....

I received another one of those standard rejection letters wishing me luck in getting The Bloody Gulch published. The more I learn about publishing, the more interested I become in self-publishing. Anyway, those letters don't discourage me anymore, and I'm busy rewriting the novel. When it's ready again, I may give them one more shot at it, but the number of publishers seem to be dwindling or being more selective due to the pressure of e-books.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Final Bed Covers of the West

Here are the final few pics of my wife's handmade quilts:

There's that darn dog again. He never missed many photo ops.

And there's my cat, Guinevere. She took a liking to those clown teddy bears. She has passed on to the spiritual cat world.

Some of the pics were duplicated here, but I had to fill up the page. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Bed Covers

Now that the West has modernized and gotten past using bearskins and other hides and buffalo robes, at least most people have, here's some more pics of my wife's handmade quilts:

The first one is a basket design.

And there are a few Christmas colors mixed in these:

My step-daughter and wife are holding up that one, above,  that's still in  the frame.

And that darn show-off dog had to get on that one.

It looks like I still have to post another group next time. (You can let go of my arm now, Mary.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bed Covers of the West

The title of this post may be considered a trifle exaggerated, although the West certainly made their own bed covers in most cases in the last half of the 19th century. And this tradition still goes on as exhibited in these photos of some of my wife's quilts. I think she did a FANTASTIC job and would like to show off a few of them. The small town where I was born had its own "quilting bees" where  the women would get together in the church and put together  quilts, most of which were made for the beds of the poor and were more useful in the design than artistic. I've seen quilts these days that are designed by electronics and are really complicated, but these are all done by hand from patterns in the old-fashioned way.

This first one is shown hanging on the wall of our 'umble abode, partially covered by an old sewing machine table and my old-fashioned chair. The small painting on the wall to the right shows the White Dove of the Desert Church complex south of Tucson done by moi when I was into painting. It looks a lot better in the photo.

In this one the quilt is thrown over the couch and our dog, Bonaparte, now departed, had to jump on it and get his picture taken. Big showoff.

The next quilt is thrown over our bed and is made from a Hawaiian pattern .

Another one thrown over the bed.

This one was photographed in the backyard, being held by the wife.

Will add a few more next post. (Quit twisting my arm, Mary, you're goin' to break my shoulder.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More things to do out West in Arizona

First off, a big welcome to James D. Best to my group of followers. BUY MR. BEST'S BOOKS TODAY at, a fine writer of Westerns and Mysteries and an all-around nice guy. You can visit his blog and order books from there . Read his latest blog post about his stay at a dude ranch, interesting.

Second off, if you are not in Phoenix this weekend you will miss the racing at Phoenix International Raceway with all the NASCAR drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, the Cope Twins, and many others. It's a sellout crowd, tickets are still available for the hillside, though. Good luck and don't have too many accidents, just one or two spectacular crashes to keep the crowd excited on the way to the track. I will not be there this year or next year or the year after that, nor did I go last year, the year before, the year before that, etc.

Third off, other things that are coming up:

1. The Arizona Wind Symphony, Nov 2, DARN, you'll have to wait 'til next year. It was a real windy blast this year, a regular "haboob" without the dust, just the wind whistling through the cactus and creosote bushes. Just joking. This is an 80-member concert band that put on a Latin Music Extravaganza this year in the Tempe Arts Center.

2. The Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival, Nov 12-13, The fiddle-on-fire-that-turns-the-grass-blue event 30 miles NW of Phoenix with some of the best fiddlers around.

3. 2012 Trappings of the American West, Prescott, AZ. Ninety artists from the West painting, bronzing, photographing things Western, Nov 12. Don't stand still or they will take your picture and paint a portrait and sculpt something in bronze about it, a record forever sacred in stone, er, that was bronze, I think.

And so forth, and so forth, and...... the beat goes on. So much to do, so little time.

(Thanks to the AAA mag Highroads again.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things to do Out West in Arizona

Coming up is the Arizona Centennial Celebration and it has already started in some places. It is officially the Fourteenth of February Twenty-Twelve. Prescott, Arizona, is where it all began and it is still a lively place to visit and have a centennial good time.

If that doesn't appeal to you, try stomping grapes with your bare feet on the last weekend in July in Sonoita in southeastern Arizona. With all the wine-tasting and what-have-you it'll be a rip-roaring toot.

To listen to some soothing music try the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks festival, held every damn year. Next year's event will be announced sometime next May. Sedona recieved an inch of snow this week, but it will all be melted off by the next festival. Cool listening among the rocky vortexes.

And for all the old birds who have spent a lifetime wishing they lived in Arizona, its the Annual Buzzard Days, almost like the swallows returning to Capistrano, except the turkey buzzards are uglier than a 20-day drunken blackout. We all gather at the Boyce Arboretum on the road to Globe from Apache Junction to watch their arrival in March, and we do practically the same thing when they leave in September. What a hoot!

For the horse-watchers, bull-watchers, goat-riders, and calf-wrestlers there is the Payson Rodeo, one of the oldest in the West having been held for 127 years coming again the third weekend in August.  The broken-bone fiesta! Yahoo!

After that we can set out on the old Salsa Trail, eating our way through the towns of Safford, Pima, Thatcher, Solomon, Clifton, Duncan, Wilcox, and York. York?? Did the Duke of York ever visit the little town of York? Or is it named after NEW York? It might be, since I haven't heard of an OLD York. Or is that the sound you make after finishing the Salsa Trail? I sure hope not, cause I love the salsa, hot salsa, cold salsa, intermediate salsa-consuming training, you name it, it's the best covering sauce around.

If you survive that, you must visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and see all the rocks for sale. These aren't the throwing kind, but if you haggle too long over the price you might get hit with one. Rates high in the rock world for something to do in the middle of winter and it's practically summer in February in Tucson.

If that isn't enough, there's always the peach-pit spitting contest in Queen Creek in May, the ostrich festival in Chandler in March, the Prescott Bluegrass Festival in June, and the exciting sport of the Blooms at Picacho Peak in the spring as they make their thunderous noise opening up in a display of a million colors and hues beginning in March and ending in May. What a cracking display!

And that's just for starters! Next post we'll have some more wonderful things to do! Maybe.

(Thanks to the AAA Travel Magazine, Highroads, Nov-Dec 2011 ed.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How I Began Writing Novels

I began writing as a time-killer after moving into this retirement community with nothing much to do. I finished up my family history and genealogy books and decided I'd try writing a Western. I trotted (trod) ran, went to B & N and picked out a book on writing novels, The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall of the Evan Marshall Literary Agency it says in "About the Author." I had some preconceived ideas about some stories lingering around inside my brain and this was the book that was going to tell me what I should do about it. Clutching it tightly in my grubby little hands, I returned home and began reading. If anyone could tell me how to go about it, this was the man. I read the intro, preface, prologue, what the book was about, and most of Chapter l, Part of Chapter 2, skimmed through Chapter 3 and to the end, put the book in my crowded bookcase and sat down at my computer my mind abuzz with all the do's, don'ts, and what-if's. Pushing all that aside, I whipped out about seven, eight, nine novels and rested with complete satisfaction, all done, finished, kaput. Easy as cutting into a cream pie (coconut) and shoving it into  the appropriate orifice.

It wasn't that I didn't follow the Marshall Plan, I didn't. I followed Oscar's Plan: Write a story and get it published. The first story was a 185,000-word novel, biographical in nature, and I sent it off to someplace. The someplace sent it back saying nice attempt, but we're not interested in this type. I was overcome with dejection, sadness, it just can't be, what were these folks thinking anyway, the Great American Novel rejected! Boo-hoo-hoo! I sent those letters to agencies, queries, I think they call 'em, telling them do something about this biggest mistake in writing history, take me on as a client. They got a good laugh out of that and sent them back, too busy, no action, too long, too short, not literary, try again.

Well, I'll show them, I'll break that novel up into three books, make the stories shorter, tighter, more action, and what-have-you, and sent them off again to different publishers. Of course, all three were sent back tout de suite with those honey-sweet rejection letters, we don't print this genre, thanks, needs more action, thanks, sorry, thanks, etc.

What's a feller to do?

I walked four feet to my bookcase, pulled out The Marshall Plan, read the complete Chapter 2, skimmed through Chapter 3, closed it, and walked back to the bookcase and shoved it in there somehow. AHA! I said to my wife, who wasn't listening and didn't give a damn anyway, and sat back down at my PC.

Five or six years later, I'm still sitting here. I arose from my chair, went those few steps to the bookcase, pulled out The Marshall Plan, laid it down in front of the monitor where I could see it as I type, and taking a good look at the nice pretty blue cover  said to myself, "One of these days, I'm going to have to actually read it - all the way through to the very end. It's such a nice book and lays it all out for me to follow. It has great advice, easy, how-to-do-it, instructions, simple definitions, great writing, easy-to-understand terms, a nice index. Whew! Just too easy."

And that's how I began writing. Now, if we can just move on to the second phase (I say with fingers crossed while praying to the Great Publisher in the Sky).
Thanks to Mr. Marshall for writing this fine and interesting book and I recommend it to all beginners with one caveat, you have to actually READ IT and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Avondale Writer's Conference

The Second Annual Writer's Conference in Avondale, Arizona, took place last Saturday, and there was a nice turnout.
I would have taken some pictures, but not having a camera pretty well prevented that. My personal involvement was attending some of the lectures and eating lunch.

The first class was on "How to get your book published - No Nonsense Advice" by James Best, a local author. I enjoyed listening to Mr. Best tell us how to do this and came away with my head buzzing with ideas. I'll have to see if any of them work out. Mr. Best has written fiction and non-fiction and his fiction books are Westerns and Mysteries and sounded very readable. His titles include The Shopkeeper, Leadville, Tempest at Dawn, Murder at Thumb Butte, and The Shutmouth Society in fiction. The one non-fiction book is The Digital Organization. 

The Second seminar was "How to Develop Believable Characters" by Laura Brown. I found this class interesting and hope that I absorbed enough to put her ideas to good use.

Number three was "3 Deadly Sins that will Keep you from getting published," by Betty J. Webb, a local mystery writer and former Arizona Republic journalist. I appreciated Mrs. Webb's advice and will keep it handy in my mind when I get back to working on my novels.

And the fourth was "Starting a Web site" by Signe Nichols. I didn't get too much out of this one, since most of the items covered I had already known about, but it was still worth my time.

There was one more, but I decided to go home. That one was "E-pubication. What you need to know," with Carol Webb.

Oh, yes, there were several agents in attendance to pitch to, but none that promoted Westerns according to the pre-conference literature, so I passed up that chance. Maybe next time.

All in all, I would say that the day was well spent. Just have to put my new info to work.