Life Has A Habit Of Moving On

A one-page Word.doc with the pretentious title of “Personal and Production Company Scheduling (date)” is open on my computer at all times. One of its heavy lifting burdens is to remind me of what is important as well as to give me a way to schedule my day. As a result, the third line is “Blog – every week”, and blog is bold faced for importance and every week is followed by a date for seriousness. So, my bold-faced “Blog – every week” is saying 8/5 and this is 8/26. There is a lot to account for.

Somewhere in the past couple of months, I have mentioned my plan to create a production company to turn the books into all the media forms I can sell, and my commitment to Five Star to write a book of nine short stories, three per Sheriff, to cap off, maybe continue, the High Mountain Sheriff series, and to write a new book, Rube, and finish and find a publisher for an old book, The Path Taken. I mention them all because there was so much to do that I had to create that “Personal and Production Company Scheduling” file to fight the confusion.  

Missing my 8/5 schedule for this blog did not seem like such an omission that I couldn’t easily solve it on Monday, 8/8. That is, until 8/8 rolled around and I received “A Letter to Our Five Star Authors.”

Thorndike Press has made the difficult decision to cease publication of Five Star titles, effective April 1, 2023.

Confusion rapidly boiled into discombobulation. Fortunately, I had written the short story for the Western Fictioneers’ anthology, “On Western Trails” as a separate story. It had been accepted and the anthology will come out in time for Christmas; the book of nine short stories won’t come out – at least not with the old Five Star. My two current “new” books are not Westerns and needed a publisher, so nothing really changed there. (It doesn’t feel that way.) My trilogy had been completed and the Forever Sheriff sales were suggesting legs for both the book and the trilogy. Exactly the legs that were cut out. My production company plans were in infancy, so surviving to adulthood will be more difficult than the already impossible task from the outset.

I believe in the “Happy Warrior” pursuit of life (read Wordsworth’s poem), so I look for the positive in this turn of events. As I find it, I will relate it to you. So far, the only unalloyed benefit I see is that it does give me a steady diet of topic to write about, perhaps not weekly, until this tumult is all resolved (for me and the fifty-sixty authors Thorndike dumped on the ground.)

A Good Week

Even at my advanced age, I continue to measure a good week in terms of results. Years of study and, more importantly, hundreds of hours of conversation with friends and mentors (including Anne who qualifies on both counts, though some mentors don’t qualify as friends) have taught me and convinced me that if you must judge a week as good or bad, the only measure is how you use it.

So, here I am returned last Friday from five and half weeks at Drakes Island (ME) with Anne and struggling to find my bearings. Any direction, any organizing principle would do in the effort to sort out way too much to do and way too little time or money to do it. I don’t even recall how I used the week. I sort of did half my level of exercise, half my level of work, half my planned tasks to clean-up and sort out for an orderly re-entry from the weeks away. I ate dinner with Anne every night, and we watched David Whyte and Sleeping Beauty (La Scala ballet, choreographed by Nureyev) and there is no better use of my time than that. Ever.

With one use of my time, I finished a short story I had committed to send to Western Fictioneers by August 1for their Christmas anthology. I worked on it in Maine, and I even wrote about it here on this blog. Slow progress and gulleys and other hazards plagued me. When I took it up at my desk here on Saturday, the trail looked as straight and clear as the one I travelled in 1849. Finished on Sunday. Submitted on Monday. Accepted on Tuesday. Contract signed on Wednesday. Now that makes a week feel good! But it’s a result.

Reflecting something I had used my time, a lot of my time, on a while ago, the Kirkus Review of Forever Sheriff arrived.  Being the judge of a review of my own book is a biased effort. Nevertheless. It is a good review. Kirkus, an industry staple and major source of reviews for Indie bookstores, has specific, written rules for attribution. Believe me, we rushed to observe them and you can see the post here.

Sometimes, when you can’t figure out how to make the best use of your time, two good results come your way. I’ll take it. It was a good week.


Sweetwater

I am sitting in Drakes Island, Maine, writing a short story I promised Western Fictioneers for the bi-annual anthology edited by Richard Prosch. It’s due August 1, and the anthology will be out in time for Christmas gifts. The 2020 anthology, Under Western Stars, carried my favorite short story. I hope this one can top it. If it comes in a close second, I will be happy.

Well, I’m not actually writing the short story, I am writing this blog, and with good reason. As I wrote about the four-year-old girl who collected buffalo chips in her apron and insisted on giving them personally to the Trail Captain, I marveled at how Ben Franklin’s discovery put to good use by some geeks in a garage could make it possible for me to sit here surrounded by good, fresh water (we have a house on a fresh water marsh near the not fresh water ocean) and yet live in 1849 on the trail between Kanesville, Iowa, and Sweetwater, Wyoming, where bullies steal water from the weak and leave them to cholera from the unsanitary water that is all they have left to drink.

I am sitting around the campfire with the other families in the company, and I watch that little girl walk in with determination and purpose. She drops her apron and the buffalo chips fall on the ground in front of the Trail Captain. Her job done, she looks up at him and says, “I think you should know there are bullies.” “Where?” asks the captain. “Right here. On the trail.”

“How do you know they are bullies?” asks the captain.

“Because they take the good water the constable gave the sick people in a barrel.”

“I’ll tell the Constable. He’ll take care of them.”

And her mother reaches into the bonfire and pulls out a lobster….oh, we’re back here in Maine again.

Maybe you’ll order the anthology when it’s ready and see what happens. I promise to tell you when it is available for pre-order.

ENDING

Three trails in one. One trail became three, and settled the West. That little girl’s daughter married the Constable’s grandson. That little girl celebrated her 100th birthday on VE Day, the end of World War II in 1945.

Where Have I Been?

A good author, Sue Monk Kidd, once wrote that a serious artist knows to spend an amount of time devoted to having her (in my case, his) works read or heard equal to the time in creating the work.

Well, I am a serious writer, and this blog is, for the moment, my primary tool to find and encourage people to read and enjoy my books. So, where have I been for several months?

I have been Chairing the production of my 55th reunion at Harvard Business School.  I took it on under the rubric that it will help sell books. Blame Sue Monk Kidd. That possible self-deception has yet to play out, but it has created a big, creative, exciting, intellectual and personal party for eighty-year-olds.

In a special appearance embedded in our schedule, Professor David Moss, of “Democracy: A Case Study,” has agreed to share his expertise in Is American Democracy in Trouble? For the bulk of the program classmates will lead afternoon discussions about global financial systems, climate warming, migration, wisdom, how to be happy, and writing and publishing.

It is the latter two that may have justified my abandoning this blog for so long.

Leaving out other Harvard events, here are the June 6-8 Class events:Harvard Business School Class of '67 55th Reunion logo

Monday, June 6
6:30: Class Drinks and Section Dinners at the Faculty Club and The Harvard Club of Boston

Tuesday, June 7
2:00 – 2:40:  Welcome. Review of 1965-1967: The Years That Started Not All Of It But A lot Of It. Presentation of Class Survey: What We Learned About Ourselves. A Poem
2:45 – 3:25: Can Capitalism be Sustained?
3:25 – 4:05: Thriving in the Time of Global Warming
4:05 – 4:45:  Bringing Wisdom to Government and Society
6:30 – 10:30: Class Dinner at the Boston Public Library – 1960’s Music, Food and Chat

Wednesday, June 8
1:00 – 1:45: Is American Democracy in Trouble?
2:00 – 2:40: Happiness and Well-Being at Any Age
2:45 – 3:30: Refugees – Their Problem becomes our Problem
2:45 – 3:30: In the Pit: Classmates Discuss their Work, Published and Planned
3:30 – 4:30: Who Ever Told You That You Could Write? You Did!
3:30 – 5:00: Social time

In the Pit comes from my three semesters at the Gotham Writers Workshop. Everyone twice distributed 2500-word segments of their novel to the class. The next week they stood in the pit in front of the class listening to the criticism. No comment, disagreement, or interruption until all classmates had finished. Then. Ten minutes. These men (I tried for a woman out of the thirteen in our class) will be tested. The line-up: self-published 28 works; 24 plays and 5 novels; a book of advice to children starting their career; a book of poetry, a book by a professor of entrepreneurship, The Idea Isn’t Enough, a collection of privately published photos, and me with a minute on each of my five published novels.

Whoever told you you could write? opens a session devoted to publishing, traditional and indie; writing, and the writing process. The phrase summarizes the 350-word critique letter I received from the evaluation editor upon my effort to find a publisher for Fugitive Sheriff.  All classmates will share learn-the-hard-way stories and all attendees will be invited to question. Note, social time runs parallel to this session. It might be difficult to sneak drinks into a Harvard classroom, but for sure, they will be needed.

In shepherding this reunion and putting together these sessions, I perceived that we have many authors who have published and writers who plan to write and want to publish. I asked Harvard to give us a website. That was a no go. So, I created an HBS ’67 Authors, Writers group on Facebook. It’s up and will survive the reunion to give classmates a permanent location for conversation as well as posting news of recent publications or fresh aspirations.

So, that’s where I have been. Will it sell books? Who knows, but you will as soon as I do. Forever Sheriff was published last week. A great review was posted right away and I look forward to seeing yours.

To 2022 and You

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

Another beautiful morning at Pineview Farm

Dawn light touches a wooden wheel and gate at the snow-dusted valley of Pineview FarmHappy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and let’s all look forward to a wonderful 2022.

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, and 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

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.


Some Christmas Traditions in the West in the 1880s

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

I wrote about amnesties and pardons because my sheriff was concerned the governor would use his annual Christmas amnesty to pardon a murderer who faced the firing squad. Fugitive Sheriff lived through four years of Christmas. What was Christmas like in the West in the 1880s?

Whatever it was like, if anyone at the time wrote about it, their words have proved more elusive than my googling skills have retrieved. I found a lot of interesting stuff, including a remarkable number of places and persons named Christmas, but what follows is a triangulation, a guess at what might have and must have been the celebrations of Christmas, using the 1880s as the ending point for traditions by then begun and now taken for granted.

Right off the bat, I discovered a controversy I did not know existed. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” was believed until 2000 (and until last week by me) to have been written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore for his two daughters and later published anonymously in Troy, New York on December 23, 1823. In 2000, Don Foster published a book, Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous, in which he demonstrated that Moore could not have been the author and concluded it must have been written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

Already a well established tradition during the 1880s, many people certainly knew or read “Account of a Visit From St. Nicholas” (the poem’s subtitle) to their children in the West. (And now we Western Fictioneers know that for 177 years Clement Clarke Moore took credit for publishing something he didn’t write.)

The history of mince pies

Now on to tastier, though no less spicy, fare. Like most of our Christmas traditions, mince pies came to us from the UK, dating back to Stuart times. They were a status symbol.  Having pies meant you were rich. You could afford both meat and the best and most expensive pastry cooks. With their main purpose to show off, they were originally made in various shapes like stars, crescents, hearts, and flowers, the most intricate constructed like jigsaw puzzles to fit together. Some sources report they were filled with meat, such as lamb, rather than the dried fruit mix of today. Both notions are anathema to me.

Our Western forebears never filled a mince pie with lamb when venison was available. For damn sure, mine went out and shot their deer and brought it back for the making of the mincemeat.

And I am certain of that still today. My wife makes mincemeat and she calls up her brother and he goes out and gets a deer and ships the venison to us. Her preference is neck meat, but any will do.  Anne and her brother aren’t Westerners, they’re Mainers, of French descent, but I can personally vouch for the authenticity and richness of her mincemeat. So much so, that I share with you her recipe.

recipe

Christmas Day

Though eating mince pie was a Christmas Eve tradition, I doubt anyone in the West of our interest asked why Christmas Day was celebrated on December 25.

The first record of Christmas celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (the first Christian Roman Emperor). Bringing his Christian army to conquer the Goths, he discovered a pagan rite at the beginning of Winter and took it for his own. He told the Goths they were celebrating Christmas, thereby conquering the Goths with spirit and spirits. Second only to the English, emigrants to the West were German.

A second tradition starts with the day Mary was told she would have a very special baby (the Annunciation), on March 25th. Nine months after the 25th March is the 25th December! How many Western settlers celebrated the Annunciation showed up on no record I could find.

Finally, among early westerners were a smattering of wandering Jews. Hanukkah, starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs about the same time as December. Hanukkah celebrates when the Jews were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion. There is ample evidence of Temples being dedicated in the West in the 1880s.

Christmas

Not being Catholic, I did not know that the ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day). People had it at midnight!

The Christmas Tree

Northern Europe gets credit for this with documented evidence of the first Christmas tree in Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 1510 and the emergence of Yule logs in Scandinavia soon after. Martin Luther was the first to take the Christmas tree into his home, in the 16th century. The Christmas tree basically came to America via Britain when the drawing of “The Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle” (set up by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s German husband,) was republished in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Philadelphia in December 1850 (without the Queen’s crown and Prince Albert’s moustache to make it look ‘American’!).

Christmas trees were prevalent in our west – and not too difficult (well, except for the work involved) to go out and cut down an evergreen.

Christmas cards

Christmas cards began in Victorian England, as many of Christmas traditions do, in the early 1840s when Sir Henry Cole had the idea for sending his friends a greeting wishing them a Happy Christmas (printed by John Colcott Horsley.)

The idea took off in Europe but lagged in America, until the Civil War was over – and Christmas was declared a holiday in 1870. The transcontinental railroad completed in 1869 made faster mail service possible and the ground breaking printing capabilities of printer Louis Prang transformed the postcard-size European Christmas card to gifts of art sent through the mail.

Prang learned the art of chromolithography, a technology that allowed him to make duplicates of fine art to bring fine art to the masses inexpensively. In 1873 in Vienna he was presented with the idea of making an artful Christmas card. He liked the idea and by Christmas 1874 Prang’s designs started to catch on – not as Christmas cards, but as art. Costing as much as 25 dollars, the Prang holiday designs were sent by many as gifts.

Unique to Prang’s Christmas art was new verse written by well-known poets of the time, such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

During the 1880s Prang’s factories put out more than 5 million Christmas cards a year and were noted for offering stable, suitable employment especially for women, a real rarity of the times. By the 1890s, cheap knock-offs were imported and Prang’s popularity began to diminish, but the Christmas card was established.

Recognition of Christmas Day

Alabama was the first state to grant legal recognition to Christmas in 1836. By 1890 all states and territories had done so, including DC in 1870. Christmas is the only annual religious holiday to receive official religious and secular sanction. The following list of Western states and the year they recognized Christmas is taken from Having a Wonderful Christmas Time Film Guide by Terry Rowan. By end of 1887: California, 1851; Colorado, Nevada, 1861; Oregon, 1862; Idaho, North Dakota, 1863; Montana, 1865; Kansas,1868; New Mexico, 1876; South Dakota, 1877; Texas,1879; Arizona, 1881; Utah, 1882; Wyoming, 1886.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago — pagan songs, sung at the winter solstice as people danced round stone circles. (The word carol originally meant to dance to something.) So, what did today’s most famous source of Christmas carols do in the 1880s?

Named after the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is credited with being founded in 1847, although the Tabernacle was not completed until 1867, the first recorded choir conductor was not appointed until in 1869, and the choir held its first concert at the Tabernacle on July 4, 1873. I could not find any documented Christmas pageants during the 1880s. We all know they existed by the time of the first-ever recording on September 1, 1910. Given the tradition of music and theater, my bet is the Tabernacle Choir was performing, I simply could not find the evidence.

What I found most certainly did not come from the 1880s, but works for me as an ending to this blog. The Christmas story from Luke Chapter 2 told by John Rhys-Davies with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: http://mymerrychristmas.com/a-masterful-telling-of-luke-2/


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


Give an Edward Massey Book 2015

Xmas graphic

Last year, to encourage reading, support bookstores, and buy books, I offered to send a second book for one dollar.

This year, I expected to have another book to offer you. Alas, Fugitive Sheriff has not yet surmounted all his trials and tribulations, but still Christmas and Holidays roll around. And again, I encourage you to give the gift of books. (My books, to be sure.) So this year, the price of a signed and mailed book goes down – and a second book still costs one dollar.

Order now and have the book(s) inscribed by the author. Enter the desired inscription in the field below. If you want the book(s) sent to a third party, enter that information when you get to the order summary page by clicking on “Add special instructions to the seller.”

  • Every Soul Is Free, $15.00, price includes mailing
  • Telluride Promise, $10.00, price includes mailing
  • Gift set, both books, $16.00, price includes mailing

Go to Amazon.com for twenty-three terrific reviews and, of course, if you prefer, buy the books on Kindle.

Happy Holidays.


Choose book(s)




Plowing and Sowing

My monthly blog with Western Fictioneers was published last Monday. Here it is:

Plowing:

Cheryl Pierson kindly gave me a list of seven publishers who are in Western Fictioneers.  I wrote each of them, asking one question: “If a writer could do nothing else, what is the one thing you would tell a writer to do to sell his or her books?”

So far, five have written back.  If the others come in later, I will post them next month.

Rebecca J. Vickery (Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery, Victory Tales Press)

“Tough question and I’ll answer in general.  For me and our authors at PbRJV, the one thing I advise is get on social media such as Facebook on a regular basis and be “sociable” while providing links to your website and books. It works.”

Dusty Richards

… was very generous and I have edited his response some…

“There is not any one answer on how to sell your books or some of us would have discovered it.  …  I have a professional web site. Anywhere I can I post that address for them to go look. I pay to have it up and it isn’t cheap but gets some results.  I have a page on Amazon and I have to scream to get it kept up to date.  People like a book you wrote they will go look for them at that site.  I have books on the WWA button.  …

I always write a letter to my readers in every book and give them my email.  If you write me or email me you get a list of my books in return and a copy of our magazine  www.saddlebagdispatches.com.  … I try to get the book reviewed. I write blurbs for other authors to get my name out there. A western reader reads my blurb he may go look for my books. That is  better than all the e business you can get into. I answer interviews like this to get my name out there.  ….

 I have a column in a tri-state farm magazine–no get rich deal but it brings me readers. I have column in StoryTeller magazine.  She shows my books on back cover in trade.  I have book signings at events, library, shows. In the right place I make several sales and new fans.

My first e-book/printed was with a small publisher.  It had been out for five years.  He gave it away one weekend . …  We handed out 10,000 copies.  Neither of us could not believe it. I had never gotten a 10 whatever for the IRS in income on it.  In the next 18 months the total sales reached what a good New York book publisher paid out for a western.  I plan to try that again on another project in the future.

I am disappointed in so many western books being published that no one edited and are a mess.  They give us a bad name.  ..”

James Reasoner (Rough Edges Press)

Maybe the most important thing a writer can do today to sell books–whether they’re traditionally published, self-published, or come from a small press–is to maintain an active presence on social media. That can be overwhelming and too time-consuming, so it’s probably best to limit those activities to a few of the available platforms. I use my blog, Facebook, and Twitter for the most part, but a writer should do whatever feels comfortable. Just get your name and info about the books out there!

Livia Reasoner (Livia J Washburn) (Prairie Rose Publications)

Other than writing good books to start with (always the first step), I think the key to selling is to keep writing. Each book’s sales builds on the last, and when you have enough work out there it’s easier to run special sales and promotions with the earlier titles. So when you finish a book, it’s fine to pat yourself on the back–but then start thinking about the next one!

Cheryl Pierson Prairie Rose Publications

When you submit your work, be sure you have had it professionally edited AT LEAST for grammar, tense agreement, and punctuation. Most editors have at least three different price lists, dependent upon how much editing is required or asked for. This would be the cheapest for some–mid-level for others on their pricing. When you send your work to a publisher with poor grammar or punctuation, the publisher sees that you really don’t know what you’re doing–or care. If you don’t care about your own work, why should a publisher, or a reader?

Sowing:

I had an exchange with Vonn McKee about my idea to use Westerns (and fiction in general) as a means to promote corporate goals (goods, values, and services.)  She thinks it’s a tough sell and I share with you:

 “I have some experience in commercial advertising and my sense is that corporations trying to promote an image by drawing on artistic works or examples prefer to use something their audience will recognize. If the western fiction quoted was by a well-known author or a quote from, say, a character like John Wayne or a Clint Eastwood, that known image or emotion would be communicated onto the firm’s brand. …but getting a firm to use just any character or literary excerpt from an unknown author would seem a hard sell. …the exception would be if you happened to have a killer slogan you could lift from your work and pitch…”

One final note on Sowing.  I told you about Writer’s Relief.  Well, I subscribed.  True to their word 29 my initial queries are out doing their work for me.  Well, 25 are still at work, I have already received four “unfortunately, this one doesn’t sound like it’s right for us.” I was pleased with their efficiency and helpfulness in the first cycle, so I am risking a second.  I’ll keep you posted.

E-mail Edward Massey with comments. Buy
Every Soul Is Free here,
or buy Telluride Promise here.