The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When I'm writing, I'm happy...

Boy howdy, it's been awhile since I randomly nattered, but I get that way when I'm writing novels. I should apologize, but there's no point. When I'm writing, I get pretty focused on the manuscript, and that's not going to change.

First, some housekeeping: On Saturday, June 4, from 2-6 p.m., I'll be signing books at BYU, as part of the Utah Festival of Books. Should be fun. As far as I know, that's about it for booksignings anytime soon. I think I'll be back at BYU for Education Week in August.

Something high-larious happened about six weeks ago. First, a little backstory. Several years ago, I was contacted by a publisher in Japan who wanted to translate two of my Regency romances into Japanese: Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand, and Reforming Lord Ragsdale.  I agreed, because it's aways fun to get another check for something written years ago (I call that free money). The publisher did a fine job, and sent me six copies of each book. H'mm. One would have been enough, considering that my entire repertory in Japanese is Ohayo gosimasu. End of story.

Or so I thought. Six weeks ago, I heard from the same publisher. Here's the deal this time: another publisher wants to turn those two books into manga! As far as I could figure out, manga is the equivalent of what we now call graphic novels (which I have always called comic books). Regencies as comic books??

To say I was skeptical would be to understate the matter. I e-mail Kyoko Sagoda and told her I'd think about it. That evening, I mentioned to my daughter, Liz, about the potential comic books of two of my Regencies. My word. Her eyes got big and she grabbed me and said, "Mom! Do you have any idea how big that is in Japan?"  Well, obviously, Mom didn't, because Mom just gave her a fishy-eyed stare. I called another of my savvy daughters and told her about the manga deal, and she got equally excited.

With those unsolicited reactions, I figured I was on to something, so I did the deal. My daughters assure me that manga are (is?) a huge deal in Japan. And you know, the more I think about it, the more curious I am to see what Regency ladies and gentlemen look like in Japanese comic books.

But back to writing. I'm on chapter 14 of Enduring Light, my sequel to Borrowed Light. If anything, it's even more fun than the first book, because I know these folks pretty well now. I figure I'm close to halfway through now, and should have it to my editor by the end of July. Writing takes up a great deal of my time, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Mr. Otto and Julia Darling have become friends of mine.

Onward. Back to chapter 14.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Medicine Bow, Wyoming

First, the housekeeping:  What will be coming out this Christmas are Marian's Christmas Wish and four of my moldy oldie Christmas stories, but only in ebook format. The editor says that if the demand is good, they'll be issued in paperback sometimes next year. Works for me. The cost will be around $2.99, we think, which seems reasonable.

Now, back to last week. After I left the Indian Wars conference (excellent, as always, except gee, we Indian Wars scholars are getting older and older), I visited friends, then spent Sunday night in the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. Now that's a hotel. Built in 1911, the current owner, a nice chap named Scott, is staging a centenary event in June. James Drury of the old Virginian TV series will be special guest of honor. (James Drury has got to be getting long in the tooth.) Scott says all the rooms are taken, plus the motels he owns in Medicine Bow, and the old bank that's been converted to hotel rooms.

When I checked in, Scott warned me that the heat hadn't been turned on upstairs yet (not many late spring visitors), and I'd be the only one staying in the hotel proper that night. I said I didn't mind, and I didn't. I was given one of the suites, which is a separate bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room. It was like staying in a museum. The brass bed was comfortable in all the right places, and there was a teeny bit of heat coming out of the radiator in the sitting room. I've enclosed a photo of the room, and the Owen Wister dining room downstairs. (If there had been any ghosts roaming about, I'd have been fair pickin's, but I slept quite soundly. Nice to know the Virginian is not as haunted as the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico.

While in The Virginian, I reminisced about something my friend, Laura Lee Wilkinson, had told me, when I saw her that day in Torrington, Wyoming. Laura Lee comes from a ranching family. Her sister and husband still ranch on the old property, which is located near Laramie Peak. It was, and remains, an isolated ranch. When Laura Lee and her two sisters were high school age, they moved into town (Laramie) for high school. When Laura Lee eventually graduated from the U of Wyoming and returned home to teach at a one-room school, she rode her horse to work. (She had a blizzard story that made my hair curl.) When they lived on the ranch, they only went into town twice a year for supplies. And I don't believe there was any phone service.

Laura Lee told me about an experience her father had as a 12-year-old boy on a trip to rootin' tootin' Medicine Bow from the ranch. This must have been in the 1910s or '20s, as near as I can figure. He was told by his father to hitch up four horses to the wagon, tie his saddle horse on behind, and ride to Medicine Bow for salt blocks for the cattle. Before he left, his father told him, all calm-like, to be careful when he drove the team across the railroad tracks there in Medicine Bow.

"If that near horse hears the train whistle, he'll spook," the rancher told his 12-year-old son. "What you do then is keep tugging on that inside line. The team will go in a circle, and you can get them quieted down."

It was a two-day trip. He spent the first night on the trail. The next day he got into Medicine Bow and filled the order at the feed store. Sure enough, as he started across the railroad tracks, there was a train coming and it tooted.

"Dad told me that the team took off running," Laura Lee told me. "He tugged and tugged on that inside line, and the team, the wagon, and the saddle horse tied on behind went around and around in circles until the one skittish horse settled down."

When everyone was straightened out, he pointed to team toward the ranch and started home. After one more night on the trail, he got there. His dad helped him unload the supplies, and when he was done, asked him, all casual-like: "Have any trouble, son?"


"You're sure?"


And that was it: a kid growing from boy to man because he had to, in a great state with people just like him. I love Wyoming.

Good news and work

I'm a failure as a blogger right now. I visited with Jennifer Fielding, my Cedar Fort editor, on Friday, and the word is go ahead right away on a sequel to Borrowed Light. So that's what's starting today, which means writing comes first. If I hit my mark - preface and far into Chapter One today - I'll blog tonight.

Jennifer also said that BL is in its second printing, and Cedar Fort will be  issuing my Signet traditional regencies in both a paperback and ebook format. They're starting with Marian's Christmas Wish for Christmas, and I think a collection of my Christmas short stories. I think they're talking two reprints a year, to alternate with my new novels.

Had a really good booksigning at the Seagull Book at 1720 Redwood Road in Salt Lake City: lots of semi-bewildered husbands with small kids, looking for something for Mom on Mother's Day. Nice folks.

Cheerio, folks.