Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 20: Don’t Read Your Reviews.

Many a time I’ve heard writers—including some well-known and best-selling authors—say they don’t read reviews of their books. And they discourage fledgling writers to likewise ignore them.
I suppose there’s wisdom in that. After all, book reviews are nothing more than opinions.  And opinions, the old saying goes, are like certain parts of the anatomy—everybody has them, and they all stink.
That’s truer than ever nowadays. Thanks to online sites that allow everyone and anyone to post a review, their value has diminished, if not disappeared.
Many writers—and I know some of them—game the system, enlisting friends to post positive reviews, which are worse than useless and a disservice to prospective readers. There are even companies that will, for a price, post as many positive—but phony—reviews as you can afford.  
Then there are reviewers, cantankerous by nature, who seem to derive some perverse pleasure out of panning books and writers, and offer no basis (or have none) for their dislike.
So, it may well be best for writers to leave reviews unread. I confess, however, to reading them. Here’s a dandy, for my poetry collection Things a Cowboy Sees and Other Poems:

“Hated it. The poems are filled with all the righteous indignation of a white, Christian male who feels persecuted by society.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have read that. But you must admit it’s entertaining.
Besides, travel can be broadening, and I just can’t pass up the pleasure of taking the occasional quantum leap into the peculiar parallel universe where reviewers like that one must reside.
She’s entitled to her opinion, I suppose. But I’m not sure that particular opinion is about that particular book.
Read the book, and see what you think. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Going places.

For reasons I have never discerned, there are people who want to sit and listen to what I have to say. I’m glad they do, as I enjoy talking about writing, the West, and history.
Not long ago I had the privilege of speaking to the “Think Again” discussion and study group in Salt Lake City. I suspect everyone in the room was smarter than me—but it’s possible that, owing to experience, I know more about cowboy poetry, which was the subject of our get-together. I enjoyed it, and I hope they did.
Sunrise Senior Living in Holladay, Utah, has invited me to visit from time to time. This time, we talked about the making of history and how some important events and people get lost in the shuffle. My latest book, The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed served as the springboard for the discussion.
Upcoming are a few events of a more public nature.
On October 23 and 24 I will make a return appearance at the Kanab Writers Conference to present a couple of workshops. It’s an outstanding conference, and Kanab is always an enjoyable place to be. Information is here:
On November 7 the Salt Lake County Library System is hosting “Local Authors & You” at their fancy Veridian Event Center in West Jordan, and I will be among those meeting and greeting readers. More information will be found here: #ReadLocalSLC.
See you somewhere, I hope.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

They’ve got me covered.

Pen-L Publishing has designed what I think is a damn good looking cover for my forthcoming collection of short stories. The title of the book is (as you can plainly see) The Death of Delgado and Other Stories.
“The Death of Delgado” won a Spur Award for Best Western Short Story in 2012. The “Other Stories” in the book include “A Border Affair,” which was a Finalist for the same award back in 2006. Most of the stories in the collection have appeared in various anthologies over the years; some are seeing print for the first time in this collection.
As was the case with my collection of poetry, Goodnight Goes Riding and Other Poems, (winner of the Westerners International Award for Best Poetry Book, by the way) the folks at Pen-L Publishing have been a pleasure to work with.
The Death of Delgado and Other Stories will be released in the not-too-distant future. We’ll keep you informed.
Meanwhile, that handsome cover should keep your anticipation simmering—at least it will for me. Don’t forget that Christmas is coming, and that books make the best gifts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Recommended reading in True West.

The November issue of True West magazine is now on newsstands everywhere. For this issue, Senior Editor Stuart Rosebrook asked me to recommend some “must read” books for the “Building Your Western Library” feature.
So I did.
The books aren’t the normal fare for many readers of Westerns. But every one is a remarkable read and well worth a place on any bookshelf. There’s a novel, a work of “creative nonfiction,” a collection of poetry, a nonfiction book, and a dictionary.
No, I’m not going to tell you what they are.
If you don’t subscribe to True West ( ) run down to the nearest newsstand and pick up a copy. There’s lots of good reading in the magazine—as well as in the books I recommend.