Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Porter Rockwell pulls the trigger in True West.

The latest issue of True West magazine (May 2017) is on newsstands. Most fans of the Old West are familiar with this colorful, lively publication that chronicles all kinds of people and events from our history.
In this issue you’ll find “Utah Bloodbath,” an article I wrote about Porter Rockwell’s pursuit and shooting of Lot Huntington, and the suspicious deaths of Huntington’s partners in crime after Rockwell turned them over to the Salt Lake City police. Robbery, horse stealing, and the brutal beating of Utah’s governor all led up to the shootout and are reported in the story. As is usually the case with history, many details are sketchy and accounts differ. But the article attempts to present events as recorded in contemporary sources. 
Porter Rockwell was one of the Western frontier’s most feared and respected gunmen, but his place in history in no way reflects his fame and infamy in his day. Perhaps this article in this influential magazine will help bolster his memory.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“Spring into Books” 2017.

Book lovers who live along the Wasatch Front here in Utah are in for a treat. The Salt Lake County Library System’s “Spring into Books” event is on the horizon.
Dozens of authors (including yours truly) will be on hand, offering reading for all ages and all interests. There will also be workshops, readings, fun and games, and other activities. If you’re in the area, join us Saturday, May 20 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan.
Otherwise, find my books online at for good reading this spring, summer, or any season.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Was Mark Twain right?

There’s a quotation (that comes in several versions) attributed (without supporting evidence) to the great Western writer Mark Twain: “I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.”
It seems that attitude is becoming popular among American writers.
As a sometimes book reviewer and writing contest judge, I read a lot of books. And more and more, I find a lot of editing errors. Punctuation is often sloppy. Sentence construction is sometimes unfathomable. Word choice questionable.
And correct spelling overlooked.
Letters in a word might be inverted. A related—but wrong—word form might be used. A homonym might be used in place of the correct word. Occasionally I come across a word that is correctly spelled but is the altogether wrong word—not a homonym, exactly, but sometimes it’s a word close enough to what the author intended that I can figure out what it should be.
I find such easy-to-correct errors in traditionally published books, but rarely. They appear more often in books from small publishers. But they appear most often in self-published books. Sometimes, in self-published books in which the author acknowledges an editor or proofreader or both. They should ask for a refund.
But, really, they should fix these things themselves. Everybody makes mistakes, and errors have a way of slipping through. There is no excuse, however, for outright sloppiness. Spell checkers help, but can’t flag a correctly spelled word used incorrectly. Use a dictionary if you’re not absolutely sure. It only takes a minute. Simple spelling errors should be as rare as hen’s teeth in a published book.
Truth be told, out of respect for readers they should be just as rare in online postings, emails, letters, and everything we write—but that may be too much to ask. Especially in a time when pointing out online mistakes creates furor and derision.
If you believe the aforementioned quotation attributed to Mark Twain, he would be delighted with the current state of affairs when it comes to spelling.
But I doubt it.