Thursday, October 26, 2017

Re-Ride Stories.

When rodeo cowboys hang out, conversations often turn to “re-ride stories.” Sometimes true, often embellished, occasionally fabricated, and usually humorous, re-ride stories recount rodeo adventures. Actual re-rides, wrecks, bad luck, great performances, road adventures…the subjects are many and varied. 
But one thing’s for sure—rodeo folks like a good story, even if they themselves come off looking foolish in the telling. And rodeo folks are not immune to the “The older I get the better I was” phenomenon among humans, so the stories, over time, sometimes take on lives of their own.
As the years pass, many rodeo folks drift away from the arenas of their youth as lives travel different paths. But the memories linger. And so does the longing to, and enjoyment of, recounting that life and telling those stories, especially to an appreciative and understanding audience.
That’s why I’m looking forward to the Re-Ride Reunion. On November 3, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., all rodeo folks from ’60s, ’70s, and ‘80s are invited to gather at the Zermatt Resort Hotel in Midway, Utah. We’ll re-connect with long-lost friends, renew old acquaintances, and, mostly, revisit days gone by.
Afterward, most will probably make the short drive down the road to Heber City for the Friday night performance of the PRCA Wilderness Circuit Finals to witness the birth of another go-round of re-ride stories.
I know there are some in the Intermountain West who read this stuff who would love to hear some re-ride stories, and have some of their own to tell. Learn more on Facebook.  
See you there.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Where have you been?

My travels of late can’t begin to match country singer Hank Snow’s list of stopovers in the classic 1962 hit, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
Still, I haven’t been sitting still.
In late September I spent an enjoyable couple of days spouting off about creative nonfiction, poetry, historical fiction, and Western writing at the Idaho Writers League annual conference. I have presented at several IWL conferences over the years, and it’s always a pleasure. LaDean Messenger, president of the Pocatello chapter, ramrodded the event and made it a success, just as she has in years past when it’s been Pocatello’s turn.
In early October, I made my way across the Salt Lake Valley (not always easy) to the Salt Lake Community College main campus for the two-day League of Utah Writers annual conference. Not quite as intimate as the Idaho event (with more than 400 attendees), but I still enjoyed speaking to aspiring and accomplished writers on improving prose by employing poetic techniques, writing opening lines that grab readers, and writing poetry.
The following weekend found me 100 or so miles from home at the west campus of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, for the Write Here in Ephraim conference. Another enjoyable event, where I got to hang out with writers and teach a workshop on using humor in fiction as well as one based on the popular “Lies They Tell Writers” posts that appear here from time to time.
I haven’t been everywhere, but that’s some of the places I’ve been lately. Like my old Daddy always used to say sometimes, “Everybody’s got to be someplace, so you might as well be somewhere.”
And here I am.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 41: Plan on Rejection.

You hear the stories all the time: How famous author so-and-so’s first novel, which went on to become a best seller and a classic, received forty-eleven-hundred rejection letters from publishers before finally getting published.
Don’t plan on it happening to you.
Your book may go on to be a classic, but it’s unlikely you’ll get many rejection letters along the way.
That’s because what once was true is seldom the case anymore. In days gone by, publishers routinely sent rejection letters to aspiring authors. Some were boilerplate one-size-fits-all form letters, others offered actual criticism of the book, reasons why it was not a good fit for that publisher, even encouragement and advice.
But, except on rare occasions, those days are gone.
Queries and submissions today are met, more often than not, with silence.
Most large publishing houses are staffed by a fraction of the number of people they were in the past, and those still on the job don’t have—or won’t take—the time to respond to—reject—your work. Smaller publishers are often shoestring operations and the owner-publisher-editor-designer-distributor-chief cook and bottle washer has too many pies and not enough fingers to reject every (or any) submission that comes along.
This is true for unsolicited queries and submissions, but also, in many cases, applies when you’ve been invited during an interview at a conference or workshop to submit. You’ll get much the same treatment from literary agents. Unanswered queries are also the norm nowadays at periodicals.
Still, if you don’t submit or query, you’ll never get anywhere so you’ve got to do it. Just don’t bother steeling yourself for the heartbreak of being rejected. More likely, you’ll simply be ignored. Which I find even more disheartening.