Emil Franzi won the Lariat Award from Western Writers of America in June, 2014, largely for his dedication to western literature and movies. He has a great program out of Tucson, Arizona, every Saturday afternoon. On October 11, I was his guest and we had a great time ranging from the genealogy of Horatio Hornblower as traced by C. Northcote Parkinson to the organizational genius of Brigham Young. Enjoy the entire interview here:
October’s mail brought the gratifying recognition, in the Rocky Mountain Writer, of the Gold Quill award given to Every Soul Is Free. The Rocky Mountain Writer is the monthly newsletter of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and educating writers seeking publication in commercial fiction
for his book of poetry, Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series, published by Penguin Random House’s Perigee imprint.
I lamented to a friend that his publisher appeared to be unable to see Mr. Gregson’s value and contribution until he had 259,000 followers on Tumblr and 184,000 on Instagram — not to mention his 31,000 Twitter fans. Proudly, the book’s editor was quoted “If we hadn’t had that, I don’t know if we would have pursued it.” According to published reports, this representative of a publishing company that last published a book of poetry four decades ago went on to say, “We definitely look for authors to bring as much of a ready audience to the table as possible when we publish.”
My friend chided me for naiveté, pointing out that I am more a trained businessman than a trained writer and should respect that it is only the profit that counts. Well, I do respect the profit motive, but I think the business model would be greatly improved if it embraced independent judgment, good taste, and leadership.
Mr. Gregson’s example appears to make the case that authors are meant not only to do the author’s job of creating the work, in his case, poetry, but also of inventing and implementing the path to the marketplace. One hears the wail that publishing is dying because of the internet. Fortunately, authors, like Gregson, and including me, have access to the marketplace and the public because of the internet. Publishing companies are dying because of the attitudes exposed by the Perigee quote. Publishing is not dying. It is transforming. In Sheriff Simms’s world, “We don’t give a damn what the other people think, we know what is right.”
Innovation in business starts with, well, the innovation. A vision of what the market needs or wants drives the innovation, but the invention comes before the market. A publisher who views the job as not bringing new products to market (no Apple there) but riding the products that have already found their market may plead profit maximization. Whatever the reason, it is a short-term strategy, a me-too strategy. It is not the long-term path to pre-eminence.
Of course, I laud Mr. Gregson’s avenue to success. I recognize my own path will require much the same attention to proving I have a market before an established NY publisher will decide what I am writing should be brought to the marketplace because it will achieve sales above breakeven. That will happen. Whether it happens before or after the world learns I have 31,000 Twitter fans I cannot say.
Emil Franzi, the voice of Voices of the West, and winner of the Lariat Award (to recognize the individual who has shown exceptional support for WWA and for the literature of the West) at the 2014 Western Writers of America convention in Sacramento, will interview Edward on October 11. His show airs in Tucson, AZ, and the interview will be via telephone. A recording of the interview will be posted here on October 12. Tune in.
The Nexus of History and Fiction
Providence Art Club is said to be the oldest art club in the nation after the Salmagundi Club in New York. It is a great honor to be asked to discuss the nexus of history and fiction in Every Soul Is Free. The novel is fiction but it is true in every detail, even when describing events that were created entirely for the purpose of telling a good story. Providence, R.I., Thursday, October 2, 2014.
At the League of Utah Writers awards dinner, Saturday, September 13, I had prepared myself for a shutout, when:
It is called the Gold Quill award. The League of Utah Writers gave me a gold quill pin and stickers for my books.
My “Posse” — to use the modern hip vernacular — tells me that a blog should be cutting edge and snarky. Well, this one is simply a warm record of a great evening, at “Read Between the Wines,” a book club, in Stamford, CT.
As I should have expected, the very first question was, “Have you done any book clubs before?” Isn’t it amazing how an honest answer breeds doubt. And the honest answer was, “No,” but then a hurried recitation of all the plans and events coming up. So, there had to be a first and what a wonderful first to face: seven professional women, all accomplished in their own right, and all participating in a book club where the ground rule is one had to read the book as the price of attendance.
I had a planned reading and discussion, along these guidelines:
- Setting the standards and how to teach them
- Tough love: Reading from Chapters 1 and 5
- Setting the standard by living the example: Reading from Chapter 14, “Icy Springs”
- Teach the lessons now: Reading from Chapter 56, “Skates”
- General discussion: How stories inform the standards and values of our lives
We set right into the evening: discussion, questions, and the guidelines became an afterthought, spiced with a little reading here and there. Of all the questions, the one that was the most interesting to me, and unexpected, was “How did you get the language like that. Did you have to study it? Did you write the story and then go back and fix the dialogue?”
Two and a half hours later, after dessert, I thanked them all for a wonderful and probing discussion of Every Soul Is Free. And I thank those wonderful ladies, here. My “Posse” tells me blogs should have photos. Next time, I hope I’ll remember to take a shot of the blueberry pie!
I’m not sure that rants are a good way to sell novels, but I am sure that most political writers don’t come anywhere near as close to the truth as a good novelist. Why is that a surprise? Shouldn’t be. After all, every novelist I know pledges to himself to write the truth. Don’t personally know any political writers, but I wonder if that is their pledge. Based on what I read, I doubt it. Back to my original point. The new conservatism is an oxymoron. If it is respectful of conservative principles, it is not new. If it is new, it is not conservative. Yes, new 100 years ago may be conservative today, but that is just the point. A new conservative is just as phony as a new antique.
Over the weekend, 8/23-24/14, the WSJ published an article that tried to present a strategy for Grandparents providing 529 plans to their grandchildren and then hiding them from the colleges to which those children applied.
To take just two quotes: “Grandparents increasingly are opening such (529) accounts to help cover their grandchildren’s college costs. But their well-intentioned efforts could hurt students’ chances for getting financial aid…[and seven paragraphs later] The problem is most acute when students would otherwise qualify for financial aid based on their parents’ finances.”
Sheriff Simms is extremely concerned about how he passes on lessons to his grandson. I am extremely concerned about how we establish, support, and transmit solid values to our next generation. I am also a willing participant in supporting education costs for grandchildren.
Taken in total, the premise of the article offends me. In short, it is an article that encourages everybody to cheat. I know it’s tough and I know people scramble for every advantage they can cadge and I witness a daily assault on society’s belief in honest self-reliance, but sometimes I just cannot take it anymore. It is like recommending that I — of grandparent age — put all of my assets in a trust the beneficiary of which is my children so that I will qualify for Medicaid when they put me in the nursing home.
Parents often need help in financing the college education of their children (last I checked, the need amounted to 87% of all families). That they have received help is something to report honestly, not hide and obfuscate so that the money that is provided in help can be saved to spend on some purpose the WSJ writer did not explore.
Perhaps there is a more valuable place to spend your money than on helping your grandchildren get educated. Well, one such place is to provide for your old age. So, what you cannot give them, you cannot give them. But, let another few voices scream with me, what you can give them, do not lie about.