Thursday, August 30, 2018

Ranching and rodeo with the Wrights.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of writing about the Wright family of Milford, Utah. You know the ones—the family with more saddle bronc riding success in rodeo than any other tribe has equaled, or even approached—or ever will.
There’s a new book about the Wrights, written by New York Times journalist John Branch. It’s titled The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West. Over the course of a few years, Branch spent a good deal of time with members of the Wright family at home, at the family ranch on Smith Mesa, at grazing permits above Beaver, Utah, and goin’ down the road with the best batch of bronc riders in rodeo.
It’s a well-written book that lays bare all the triumphs and tragedies in the family, and there are plenty of both. In a family of thirteen kids raised by a pair of hard-working parents, there is never a shortage of domestic dynamics.
For one unfamiliar with ranch and rodeo life, the author does a pretty good job of capturing the ins and outs of the West; only a few odd expressions and descriptions betray his inexperience.
Evelyn Wright, matriarch of the clan, a friend, and one of the finest women I know, tells me it is strange to read about your life and your family, and that she and her husband, Bill, found a few errors but nothing significant. After reading the book, you’ll be impressed with their bravery in allowing the reporter into their lives, knowing what would be revealed.
The Last Cowboys is a fine book about a fine family surviving broken dreams, broken hearts, and broken bones.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 46: This would make a great movie!

If you’ve published a novel, chances are someone (perhaps yourself) has said it would make a great movie. Maybe it would. Yours, and probably hundreds of others.
The thing is, there are a lot more books published than there are movies produced. A lot. Especially since digital publishing made it possible for anyone and everyone to get a book in print. The same is not true for movies. But while digital technology has changed movie making as much as it has publishing, it is still an expensive proposition, involving lots of talented people on both sides of the camera. And still, it is the people who have the money to make a movie who decide which movies get made, and it seldom has anything to do with the quality of the script.
Even if someone decides to make a movie of your book, you may not recognize it when it’s finished. I once heard it equated to selling a house with a view. Someone with money likes it and buys it. Then they tear down your house and build their own house. It turns out it was the view—the idea, maybe, a character, or the plot—they liked, not your writing.
But, it can happen. Your book just might become a major motion picture. It happened to my friend Thomas Cobb. Many years ago, he wrote a novel called Crazy Heart. Movie makers liked it. In fact, it was optioned about a dozen times, but nothing ever happened.
Finally, another production company picked it up and Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his starring role.
Thomas has written several novels since, some of them are likely better than Crazy Heart. He’s not expecting to see any of them on the big screen. He describes his experience with Crazy Heart as “being struck by benevolent lightning.”
And you know the old saying: lightning seldom strikes the same place twice.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The birth of Father unto Many Sons.

Those who read this stuff regularly know that Father unto Many Sons is a novel. It was conceived on my computer. Gestated in the inner workings of Five Star Publishing. And now its birth is imminent.
The delivery takes place Friday, August 24, at 7:00 p.m. at The Printed Garden, 9445 South Union Square, Suite A, in Sandy, Utah. It’s a fine bookshop, just a mile or two from where the book originated. If you’re within driving distance you are invited—nay, entreated, encouraged, urged—to attend the blessed event.
It will be a multiple birth, and while it is difficult to say how many copies of Father unto Many Sons the stork will drop off, there will surely be enough for you to adopt and take one home for your own. Many of the new novel’s siblings will also be there looking for good homes.
Put it on your calendar. Saddle up the horse. Hitch up the buggy. Gas up the car. Bring your friends and neighbors. See you at The Printed Garden, Friday, August 24, to welcome Father unto Many Sons into the world.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Really Stupid Words, Chapter Three

American English is a rich language. It’s always changing and evolving. New words and usages come and go. Many that come along are helpful. They clarify, they improve, they enhance and enrich.
But some are just plain stupid.
They obfuscate, they complicate, they confuse. They reveal a lack of understanding.
One of my favorites is “readjust.”
Now there’s a word (if it is a word) with absolutely no reason for being. If something needs to be adjusted, you adjust it. If it needs doing again, you simply adjust it. You can adjust it again. Then you can adjust it some more, as often as need be.
Adjust is somewhat related to “change.” You can change things repeatedly, but no one ever calls it “rechange.” Same with move. You can move things over and over. But if you “remove” them, that’s something else altogether.
I am firmly against the use of “readjust.” And I will remain that way, unless or until I readjust my thinking.