Monday, December 30, 2019

Ding Dong.

It’s the end of the year. Time to ring out 2019 and ring in 2020. Time to look back and time to look ahead. Time to take stock of our lives—or, in my case here, the writing life.
 No new books with my name on the spine were released in 2019, save the large-print edition of my November 2018 novel Father unto Many Sons.
I am tempted to defend myself by saying I haven’t spent the year just sitting on my butt. Then it occurred to me that sitting on their butts is exactly what writers do. A lot.
During all that sitting on my butt in 2019, I worked with Five Star Publishing to get Pinebox Collins ready for April 2020 release, and working on getting a second novel, A Thousand Dead Horses, ready for November release.  
A third novel, And the River Ran Red, is awaiting publication, most likely in 2021. A fourth novel, All My Sins Remembered, is also in Five Star’s hands.
Late in 2019, Five Star released an anthology, Hobnail and Other Frontier Stories, which includes my short story, “The Times of a Sign.” And I worked with editors Nancy Plain and Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons on a chapter for Go West: Seldom-Told Stories from History, a nonfiction anthology for young readers that Two Dot will publish in 2021. My piece is titled “Earl Bascom and His Bronc-Bustin’ Brothers: Fathers of Modern Rodeo.”
I also managed to write a magazine article for Cowboys & Indians; another for Range magazine; a feature article, a column, and a poem for Saddlebag Dispatches; and a book review for True West magazine. And, Grits McMorrow reprinted several of my essays on writing poetry in his Minnekahta eMessenger.
If I weren’t so lazy, I would get more done. Maybe in 2020….
But for now, back to sitting on my butt.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Lies they tell writers, Part 52: No more lies.

Ever since I started posting things here, I have, with some regularity, posted “lies” writers tell other writers—and themselves—about writing. The point being that writers have to find their own way. Advice, counsel, instruction, guidelines, decrees—all those things can be helpful. But, in the end, there are no commandments from on high, no hard-and-fast, dyed-in-the-wool rules about how to become a writer.
Had I posted these thoughts weekly, this entry would finish out a year’s worth. That ought to be enough. I suspect I have covered the subject as well as I know how, and then some.
So, while I will continue to write about any and all aspects of the West, literature, poetry, art, and anything else that strikes my fancy, there will be no more “Lies they tell writers.”
Enough is enough. And that’s the truth.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Playing the slots.

Southern Utah is a red rock wonderland. Soaring cliffs. Plunging gorges. Pinnacles and buttes and mesas and canyons. There are more places that can take your breath away than you can possibly see in a lifetime—let alone a couple of days.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of once again teaching at the Kanab Writers Conference. While I have been fortunate to be a part of several conferences in several places, Kanab is always a favorite.
After the conference, we made our way across the Arizona Strip, dropped off the mesa back into Utah and St. George, then drove north of town a few miles to Snow Canyon State Park. We had been there before, and it was time for another visit. An unforgettable recollection, Jenny’s Canyon, surpassed the memory.
A short, easy path off the road leads to a red rock cliff and into a small slot canyon. The photo above shows the entrance. The canyon walls, that can be spanned with both hands in places, reach skyward, limiting light to a narrow strip of sky. Much of the rock is “honeycombed” with fissures and holes and clefts and crevices that inspire wonder.
It’s a small wonder, as wonders go in this part of the West. But it is still wonderful.