To 2022 and You

We all said good riddance to 2020, and 2021 lived up to the hopes we placed in it. A long year made up of starts and stops, generally improving from a fearful start to a not-another-variant end that is currently looking as pervasive and dangerous to our health as long-term inflation.  Once called pathologically optimistic, I am confident we will bring these threats under control, left to act as prudent, responsible individuals without excessive oversight from our betters.

My purpose in this post is not argument, but to wish that all of you will take the action you need to take to live a full life in 2022 while protecting yourself, as much as is within your power, from the ravages of our known threats, inflation and omicron or whatever new variant we face by year’s end. Keep your list of to-dos long and do them. The puropose of this post is to ask you/invite you to share with us your plans for 2022. Post them here with the contact form or send them directly to me on my e-mail, edward@edwardmasseybooks.com.

2d Chronicles, 15:7, inspired the theme of this post: Be ye strong therefore and let not your hands be slack for your work will be rewarded. The Massey version: Have faith. And do the work. So, please, share with us your plans for 2022, large or small.

Here are mine. To write four hours every day and exercise some. To have an extraordinary 85th (my sister)/80th (me) birthday with her family in Santa Fe. To create, plan, and experience a massive book launch for Forever Sheriff (May 18), the third novel in the High Mountain Sheriffs series. To focus and succeed at brand building.  To have faith and do the work in my newly appointed role as Chair of our 55th Reunion at Harvard Business School (already remarkable  responsiveness from classmates willing to pull the oars to a stunning victory.) To write a book of short stories for Five Star. To live our summer lives with the Western Writers of America convention in Great Falls and five weeks at Drakes Island, Maine. To celebrate my remarkable wife’s birthday and then on to the holidays. There are some other little buds peeking through the snow. Maybe at year’s end, this blog will mention a few grand experiences I didn’t see coming.

So, to 22 and you. Post away. Like this one, send a photo.

Portrait of High Mountain Sheriff series author Edward Massey wearing felt cowboy hat, leather jacket and blue shirt

Another beautiful morning at Pineview Farm

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and let’s all look forward to a wonderful 2022.

Dawn light touches a wooden wheel and gate at the snow-dusted valley of Pineview Farm

When I set out to write this little message for the holidays, my intent was to spread holiday cheer, without pushing book sales. That still is my intent, but this morning my cousin posted “Another beautiful morning at Pineview Farm.”

I am not meaning to make a book pitch, but this magnificent photo prompts me to tell you that Cousin Kay gave me permission to use her life’s tragedy in 1995 on Pineview Farm and set it back to 1865 as the central story in Founding Sheriff. My message today was to be one of joy and gratitude, amd this photo makes it ever so much more tangible to have gratitude for a cousin like Kay in our lives and appreciate the joy of living on a farm, in a place, on the earth of so much austere beauty. The holidays are many things to many people but one thing they should be to all is a moment to experience and reflect on austere beauty.

Back to where I started: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and let us all celebrate gratitude and joy as we look to a wonderful 2022.

–Edward

Just Released: Cover Art for Forever Sheriff

Having a book published takes a lot of time first filled with intense research and writing and rewriting. After submission to the publisher, a second lot of time is filled with uncertainty and anxiety (even when your published has already published two of your books). To great surprise, an e-mail arrives from the editor with lots of work outlined to do. Deadline pressure builds up because the last thing you want is to delay the publication date. Finished, a final third lot of time goes to waiting for the days, weeks, and months to unfold to publication. Once more—and last week—a great surprise lifts your spirits and gives you what this is all about. Thrills. Last week, the cover treatment for the ARC (advance reader’s copies, for proofreading and reviews) arrived for approval. Wow! It’s real. The day after sending approval comes the news the ARCS will be in hand in two weeks. They really do have it in production. It’s time to start promoting the book. Like magic, that beautiful cover arrives the next day for promotional purposes. And they got it exactly right. Deputy Mark Simms has his swearing-in interrupted by rustlers. While he is riding out to the rustler’s ranch, old veteran Deputy Woodside gives him his first lesson in how to be the third Sheriff Simms of Summit County.

Pre-order Forever Sheriff here.

If you are interested in reviewing Forever Sheriff, please sign up here.

 


Gold Quill Awards

Over the past decade, I’m proud to have received Gold Quill Awards for my novels Founding Sheriff and Every Soul Is Freeby the League of Utah Writers. You can find those awards listed below:

2020

My award for Founding Sheriff, titled the best novel of the year on August 15:

2019

In 2014, the League of Utah Writers awarded Every Soul Is Free the Gold Quill award (see below). Tempting the Gods, Sheriff Simms’s father, Sheriff Simms, has entered the 2019 competition. The award will be made at the League of Utah Writers Quill Conference in August, 2019. We’re hoping and we hope you are, too.

2014

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, during the Gold Quill Awards Dinner, I had prepared myself for a shutout, when:


Western Fictioneers Author Interview

 

On Feb. 13, Western Fictioneers, Doris McGaw, published an author interview in association with the Feb. 17, release of Founding Sheriff.  I am working on uploading it in a permanent, suitable format. Until then, please click here


Book Launch

Publication Date!

Hooray!!

February 17, 2021


The publisher, Five Star, deferred all 2020 publication dates from May, 2020, for six months. August became February. And now we’re here. Zoom is our new partner. Book Readings and Book Clubs will be the format through May, with great hopes that face to face events can start in June.

Book readings will contain four short readings (five minutes) followed by rousing discussion (ten minutes.) You do not have to buy the book to attend or to enjoy the readings.

Book clubs will assume reading the book and the study guide before the book club meeting. There’s no requirement to read the book  or the study guide beforehand. The sheriff won’t be at the door to check up on you, but you’ll have a lot more fun if you do.

Sign up is easy

In about two weeks, I will post the schedule of book clubs (with study guide) and readings through the end of May. Send an e-mail to edward@edwardmasseybooks.com with the date you want. A week before the event, your reminder will be a Zoom invitation and link. Simple. To those  who asked, yes. You may sign up for both. Use the Book Reading to get a preview or a leg up on the Book Club discussion.


Cybil – Under Western Stars

While my novel, Founding Sheriff, languishes in covid lockdown until February 21, 2021, Western Fictioneers has accepted my favorite short story of all I have ever written, “Cybil.” Notwithstanding it is my favorite, it has seen a dozen rejections in the past seven years, so I am particularly happy. As a matter of interest, all authors listed devote their share of sales proceeds to Western Fictioneers to pay for keeping it fee free for its members. The stories, like Cybil, are great, and all are 2,500 – 5,000 words, so, bite-size. It is a perfect gift for the coming holiday season and is available on Amazon both Kindle and trade paperback.


Disappointment

Five Star, publisher of Fugitive Sheriff, told me last week they had deferred their entire remaining 2020 publication schedule for six months. May became November, June – December, and alas, Founding Sheriff‘s August became February 2021.

While I agree with their observation that scheduling publication date events has become impossible (I subscribed to Zoom and started learning in hopes of creating virtual book events), it doesn’t work perfectly to set everyone back six months. Perhaps it is impossible for the publisher to publish six months’ worth of good novels in the eight weeks from Halloween to Christmas, but the loss of Christmas sales is the loss of 60% of all sales.

I know, there’s always next year, but there is another book next year, too. So, I am trying to finish Forever Sheriff, and I pray it will be published in November 2021. From disappointment comes hope, and I hope to sell twice as many books next Christmas.


Setting a Course Correction

Since the two-week lockdown from mid-March, I have been convinced the country, meaning our national government, has been on the wrong course. The disastrous because it was wrong decision to extend this ill-considered course for 30 days on April 1 sickened me. My wife encouraged me to write to our Senator, but that struck me as a waste of the time even to compose it. The pressure increased in me like a pressure cooker, until I did finally write what I thought and searched the internet to discover that Fox News has a site that accepts efforts to communicate with their shows. I wrote my thoughts, sent them with the request to forward to Tucker Carlson Tonight, and received an acknowledgment with no promises on Sunday April 5.

I am reasonably sure that the many people between me and Tucker Carlson view their role as keeping me from him when my view of business would suggest their role is to bring me to him. Nevertheless, I did not and do not expect to hear from him. The disastrous direction continued and nobody was discussing the right course of action. Then I remembered, I have a website (that I have attended poorly to these past five years) and I have my own blog. So even with no expectation of anyone who might read what I write, I realized I could articulate my concerns and policy proposals and I didn’t need to wait for anyone.

What follows is the note I sent to Tucker Carlson on Sunday, April 5th. As with anything done in realtime, facts I have subsequently learned would have brought a slightly different treatment of certain points, but I will write about those facts in subsequent posts. It is perilously close to Monday Morning quarterbacking to publish this post, I am not going to change it to incorporate subsequent facts learned.

Dear Tucker (I know I should call you Mr. Carlson, but you are the age of one of my sons),

First, I am one of those people you, so correctly, scoff at: Yale, Harvard, McKinsey. I am not, however, in charge of the world. I am simply a seventy-eight-year-old man who writes novels. Given the country’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic, I should be in charge of the world. Hence, I write you.

I am a Trump supporter from the moment he took the escalator because our country needs someone who harks back to the Cincinnatus model. I continue to support him today when we simply have no alternative that measures up.

Nevertheless, he has not provided the kind of leadership that I expected from him and that we need in this crisis. To keep it short and minimize the political points of view, we need a Churchillian vision and devotion to mission that define his call to action and his action

President Trump should announce immediately that we are adopting a World-War II-style full-employment economy assault on the virus. While I would prefer that he announce he will have the policies, programs, and steps in place by April 15, if he insists on maintaining this ill-considered shutdown until April 30th, I can live with that so long as he announces immediately and definitively that leadership is taking charge of leading our nation. To those who persist in criticizing him for not having all the answers or all the magic wands, he should simply repeat: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

He should have one vision and one mission to ensure that we are all working to conquer this virus: Both the productive work of producing goods and services and the emotional work of pulling together and supporting the goal. Nothing in this mission ignores science, scientists, or current insufficiencies. What it does require is that they are all turned to achieving the goal, not describing nor decrying our predicament. Every single person who has ever actually worked has made a mistake. While we want to do better with each passing day, we will not dwell on mistakes but use them to foster improvement. To do this and deal with the fear of death, we will implement three core, programmatic thrusts:

First, every single person is responsible for their own health. The government will use its enormous resources to educate and encourage individuals to take care of themselves.  Visualize Uncle Sam Wants You To Protect Yourself posters with the top ten self-protective steps itemized.  Every single policy and program for individuals to protect their own health should be explored and put out to the public. If stay at home is the most powerful tool the CDC can recommend, individuals should be allowed to judge for themselves and decide.

Second, every single person is responsible not to harm the health of another: Again the government uses its resources to educate and encourage people not to take personal actions that harm or may harm others: Uncle Sam Says No to: itemize the top ten causes of spread. No one should go trivial on this point. This includes such concepts as no mass meetings (no Armistice parades in Philadelphia in 1918) right down to meetings of ten or even five.

Third, the government should use its powers to enforce and protect. State and Local government action that does not violate the Constitution should be encouraged and supported, but in this note my focus is on the national government. It has enormous police powers and it has enormous production and logistical powers. They should all be focused on supporting the work toward a full-employment CV-19 contained, and best, free day. Again, I go to the WWII model; we did not urge our citizens to flee inland because the enemy would tire trying to cross the oceans to invade our shores, AND we did not shirk from a goal of Total Victory. Unconditional Surrender may be the vaccine, but it took us forty-five months to achieve that goal during which time we waged total war and, yes, we sacrificed many lives.

The current approach is governed by two damning characteristics: first, an unabating commitment to 15-minutes of fame. There never should have been a discussion of we could have had 1.7 million deaths if we had done nothing because by the time that self-proclaiming declaration was put in the air, we already had taken numerous steps that mitigated against ever having that outcome. In turn, we should not be discussing 100,00 to 240,000 deaths based on our current models. The measure that is relevant is the increase in total deaths in society and the comparison that is relevant is that number with the current lockdown v. that number with a full-employment economy attack. If it is already 100,000 to 240,000 what if the full-employment attack were 105,000 – 250, 000.  (I use those numbers for illustrative purposes because my suspicion is the true comparison of a full-employment attack would show fewer deaths, not more.). Second, I recognize this is a bit political, but note that the fear-mongers and policy influencers who are pushing this lockdown are all among the 10% who either have the wealth or the private sector job that protects them for life or the 30% employed by government. The 60% who are vulnerable have no voice.

I fully recognize that nothing in this note has the gravitas that a 10,000-word exploration of the available facts and models would have, but it provides the correct policy approach. With the resources available to your program, assuming you can find the objective and open-minded people of competence, you can prove it.

Edward (and I included my full mailing address and telephone number.)

 

New Year’s in the West in 1880s

My “First Monday of the Month Blog” for Western Fictioneers was published today. Here it is.

The irony of writing about the stresses and tensions brought on by the holidays — 1883 through 1887 — does not escape me. Last month’s blog, I tried to understand Christmas at that time. It was not my direct intention to follow that up with New Year’s at this blog, but, here I am.

You see, my Fugitive Sheriff  ends up telling someone, “Getting caught isn’t my problem, at least not till New Year‘s Eve. I’ll have to work over in Park City on New Year’s Eve. Snow or no, you can bet the Federal Authorities will do their duty in Park City’s saloons on New Year’s Eve.”

So, I realized I pretty much had the problem of trying to know how people celebrated New Year’s in the 1880s. It turned out to be a lot bigger problem that I expected. Like with Christmas, I found few direct references to New Year’s in the West. With two exceptions. There are no end of opportunities to celebrate New Year’s in the West today, but that doesn’t tell you much about how it was celebrated then. And New Year’s Resolutions (about more below) are dutifully recorded in diaries and journals all over the West.

 Champagne

Without a doubt, the place to start is with champagne.  The name has been around since the 1600s, although its protection as the sparkling wine from a certain region did not occur until 1891. Long before then, Dom Perignon added two features to the wine he pretty much invented, thicker glass and a rope snare to keep corks in place. The stage was set for shipping and a wine that began as a luxury with the Kings of France became industrially produced in the early 1800s and, yes, shipped to the West in the 1880s. While you did not have to be a King of France to buy it, you did have to find a way to make more money than you could working in the mines or poking cattle.

It might be noted that a quarter of the population of the west was British born (or about two-thirds of the non-American born emigrants) and whisky remained the favored New Year’s Eve drink in the UK until the 1980s.  It would not be much of a stretch to guess it was so in the West in the 1880s.

Celebration

It seems that before football games, there was another game:  calling on ladies.

In the 1880s, New Year’s day, rather than New Year’s eve, was the time for gala entertaining and Open Houses, usually held from noon until six p.m. Tradition held that all the ladies of a family, and all boys under the age of ten, stayed at home to receive callers while the gentlemen went out to pay visits. Newspapers would even print lists of the homes that would be open and the hours they were receiving visitors. The only requirement for admission was a calling card.

“A general and cordial reception of gentlemen guests upon the first day of the year, by the ladies of almost every household, also by clergymen, and by gentlemen upon the first New-Year’s Day after marriage, was a Knickerbocker custom which prevailed in New York. It was once a day when all gentlemen offered congratulations to each of their lady acquaintances, and even employees of a gentleman were permitted to pay their respects, and to eat and drink with the ladies of the household. Hospitalities were then lavishly offered and as lavishly received.

“Many gentlemen, even among those who take wine ordinarily, refuse it upon this day, because they do not like to accept it at the hand of one lady and refuse it from that of another. Again, many ladies, from whose daily tables the glitter of wine-glasses is never absent, do not supply this drink to their guests upon this day, because it is dangerous for their acquaintances to partake of varied vintages, the more specially while passing in and out of over-heated drawing rooms.”

At these calling events, a New Year’s Dinner and New Year’s table was presented (as published in Minnesota in 1880):

New Year’s Dinners–Raw oysters; mock turtle soup; boiled turkey with oyster sauce; roast haunch of venison; currant jelly; deviled crabs; potato souffle, baked turnips, stuffed cabbage, beets, lima beans, dried corn, and canned peas; biscuit, French rolls, rye and Indian bread; chicken salad, cold sliced ham; celery, cold slaw garnished with fried oysters, pickled walnuts, variety pickles; sweet pickled cucumbers, peaches, and plums, spiced currants and gooseberries canned pears or strawberries; English plum pudding; chess pie, potato pie, mince pie; orange souffle, pyramid pound cake, black cake, Phil Sheridan cake; Bohemian cream; oranges, raisins, figs, nuts; tea, coffee, chocolate.

New Year’s Table–When receiving calls on New Years’ Day, the table should be handsomely arranged and decorated, and provided with rather substantial dishes, such as would suit the taste of gentlemen. Too great profusion, especially of cakes, confectionery, and ices, is out of taste. Selections may be made from the following: Escalloped oysters; cold tongue, turkey, chicken, and ham, pressed meats, boned turkey, jellied chicken; salads, cold slaw garnished with fried oysters; bottled pickles, French or Spanish pickles; jellies; charlotte-russe, ice-creams, ices; two large handsome cakes for decoration of table, and one or two baskets of minced cake, fruit, layer, and sponge cake predominating; fruits; nuts; coffee, chocolate with whipped cream, lemonade.

Oysters

I also note that oysters made an appearance at a gathering of early Dakota Territory settlers on New Year’s Day in 1880. Not merely traced back to Ancient Greeks and Romans, American Indians on both coasts considered them a staple in their diet. Abraham Lincoln also served them to guests at parties at his Illinois home.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.: “There were oysters and honey and sauce [from] home dried fruit the Boasts had brought with them. We told stories and joked and had a happy New Year’s day.”

Chinese

The mention of Chinese New Year’s occurs frequently and one notable reference even identified that the 1880 census listed more than 100 Chinese in Evanston.  …. The Chinese staged lavish New Year’s celebrations at the end of winter on the traditional Chinese calendar, including a dragon parade through downtown and fireworks.

 New Years Eve

Perhaps the greatest way to bring in the new year occurred on New Year’s Eve of 1879.  Edison gave a public demonstration of his new light bulb, lighting up his laboratory and a half mile of streets in Menlo Park before of thousands of spectators. By 1881, Edison’s Pearl Street station in New York was supplying about 400 outlets for eighty-five customers.  Cities in the West first became lit with electricity in the 1880s.

The closest to us Western Fictioneers Google hit on search string “New Year’s Eve” came up on page 7, Meg Mims’s blog:  “Toss these babies in the oven and save ’em for your New Year’s Eve party. Mmm! Very easy to make.”

Resolutions

It is said the ancient Babylonians were the first, but the Romans took it up and then the Christians.  In fact, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.  It turns out all over the West, people made resolutions.  They not only made them, they wrote them down in their journals and diaries.  Mostly, they resolved to make a better life for themselves and their families.  They not only resolved, they made better lives for themselves and their families — Us.

Happy and Prolific New Year to All Western Fictioneers. 


E-mail Edward Massey with comments, author of 2014 Gold Quill winner, Every Soul Is Free and Amazon ABNA 2009 Quarter-finalist, Telluride Promise.