Friday, February 26, 2016

Getting to know Bob.

The latest issue of RANGE magazine has been out for a while, but I am still thumbing through it and enjoying the photos and stories.
Of particular note (to me) is a short profile in the magazine’s “Red Meat Survivors” section I wrote about one of the best men I’ve met—Bob Schild. If you haven’t had the good fortune to meet Bob, let this profile in RANGE serve as an introduction.
When I set out on a quest to become a poet, Bob’s poetry was an inspiration, partly because he wrote a lot about rodeo, which I can relate to, and partly because his poems are so well-made, with terrific turns of phrase. Some of his poems are serious and deeply emotional, and I don’t mean shallow sentiment. Some of his poems are humorous, and I mean funny stories, not cheap and easy joke poems. All his poems are authentic.
I hunted Bob up one afternoon many years ago at a rodeo arena and introduced myself (a thing I seldom do, being somewhat shy). He was cordial and kind, and a friendship grew from there and continues all these years later.
You can read about Bob (and many other things Western) in RANGE by subscribing here:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Find yourself Write Here in Ephraim.

April 22 and 23 will find the eyes of the literary world on Utah’s Sanpete Valley for the Write Here in Ephraim writing conference on the campus of Snow College in the town of Ephraim.
This is the sixth annual conference, but it’s my first and I appreciate the invitation. I will be hosting a “Writer’s Camp” group on Friday to read and discuss the writing of selected conference participants. Then, on Saturday, I will present a pair of workshops—“Where Cowboys and Poetry Meet” in the morning and “More than L’Amour: Writing the West in the 21st Century” in the afternoon.
The morning workshop will talk about poetry and poetic techniques in general, with emphasis on the folk and literary art of cowboy poetry in particular. In the afternoon, we’ll talk about misconceptions about the limitations of Western writing and explore the many possibilities for writing and publishing, from fiction to nonfiction, historical to contemporary.
And there are several other workshops by other experienced writers on a variety of topics.
Write Here in Ephraim is shaping up to be an outstanding opportunity for writers of all levels to improve their art and craft. Come on down and join the fun.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Doris Daley is up in the night.

After reading Canadian poet extraordinaire Doris Daley’s new book, Poems from the Million Star Resort, I sent her this brief “review”:

Poems from the Million Star Resort
Is a treasure, I'm pleased to report.
Every poem, every page is a treat
Providing much pleasure en-suite.

The poem from which the book draws its title is based on the author’s love of wide-open Western night skies, and the other poems in the collection cover the ground from prairies to peaks and ranch life to rodeo.
Doris is a fine writer with a clever grasp of language and a remarkable ability to turn a phrase while telling an engaging story. And she is equally adept with humorous and serious verse, looking beyond the easy laugh or cheap sentiment to achieve true humor and deep emotion. The book also includes thoughts about poetry from several poets of Doris’s acquaintance.
Visit Doris’s web site to obtain a copy. It’s a book that deserves a slot on your bookshelf—or kept where it’s conveniently at hand en-suite. (Unless you’re Canadian, you may have to look that up.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 24: Awards Matter.

Winning awards is nice. Getting a certificate in the mail can be satisfying. Hanging a plaque on the wall is gratifying. Standing up in a crowded banquet hall to give an acceptance speech can be downright uplifting.
But does it matter?
Most everyone in the book business thinks so. We fill out entry forms and enter awards competitions and hope the judges recognize the brilliance of our work. We herald our accomplishments in press releases and author bios and on book covers.
Trouble is, there are too many awards.
You’re hard pressed nowadays to find a writer who’s not billed as an “award-winning author.” As a result, awards are good for the ego, but you have to wonder if they’re good for much else.
I have been honored by winning the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Everyone who’s anyone in the world of Western literature will tell you Spur Awards—along with the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum—are as good as it gets; the most prestigious recognition there is.
But beyond those in the know, it would be difficult to find a reader who knows the difference between a hard-to-get award like a Spur or a Wrangler and the kind they pass out by the pallet load for doing little more than getting your name on a book cover—including books you publish yourself.
Given this state of affairs, is there any value to winning an award?
I don’t know. I’ll think about it.
But for now, you’ll have to excuse me—I’ve got to fill out the entry forms for another award competition.