Having won three awards for my High Mountain Sheriff series, while not even making it to the finals in four attempts, and currently awaiting word in four more, perhaps you can see why. I don’t have a settled opinion about awards.

As usual with writing profession questions, I ask John Nesbitt. John’s Wikipedia bio lists his awards (I think it’s a short list). I asked him this question regarding awards. You can see how his opinion really counts.

“I can’t say they have increased my sales,” he said in a conversation I am reconstructing, “but I have committed to this profession, and it is worthwhile to have the respect of my colleagues.” As usual, John does not ask more of a situation than it will give.

So, I don’t dwell on awards not given. It’s like not making the varsity. I’ll still go out for the team next year.

Here’s what’s up this year: for works published in 2022, contention for the Spur Award (Western Writers of America) and contention for the Peacemaker Award (Western Fictioneers) both for my novel, Forever Sheriff, published May 18, 2022, the third volume in the High Mountain Sheriffs trilogy (Founding Sheriff, Fugitive Sheriff, and Forever Sheriff) and contention for my short story, “Sweetwater” published October 3, 2022, in the Western Fictioneers anthology Over Western Trails.

Recognizing awards won has its place as the final note. Gratitude alone requires that I mention them. In 2014, Every Soul Is Free, (published by Pen-L Publishing) was voted Grand Prize Winner in the novel by The League of Utah Writers and awarded the Gold Quill. In 2020, the League of Utah Writers awarded Founding Sheriff (published by Five-Star Publishing) the Gold Quill, and in 2022 LUW’s Silver Quill went to Forever Sheriff (Five-Star Publishing).

I am sorry to say that Fugitive Sheriff won no awards but, ironically, it has had the greatest sales of the novels in the trilogy. Perhaps that result owes to the Covid year when Founding won; perhaps to the announced suspension of Five-Star operations three months after Forever was published. And, of course, it could have resulted from Fugitive’s theme of loyalty to family against all odds, even if polygamous. My gut tells me it had a better run of better marketing, pre-covid.

So, you win some, you lose some, and your winners don’t turn out to be your best sellers. About the only thing to do is try out for the team next year.

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.)

Publication Day

Forever Sheriff was published on May 18, 2022.

We knew it, my publisher, my readers (I hesitate to call you fans), and I. Amazon didn’t. Despite having “Publication May 18, 2022” on the book’s page for almost a year, and on that date also, it omitted to drop the pre-order and pre-order price guarantee language on May 18.

By 9:30 a.m., to use language of the latter half of Forever Sheriff, my switchboard lit up.  Ah, I admit to the sin of looking forward to the congratulatory calls.

“There’s no place to post a review.”  “It’s still on pre-order.” “When will it be published?”

To each I explained it was published and they must have accessed a wrong page. Then I went to Amazon.

OMG. True. All true. I found a way to get to a page that would accept a review, but even that small victory was still marred by pre-order calls on the book page. I wrote an anguished and hasty e-mail to my publisher.

Tiffany wrote back almost immediately. “I think your best strategy is to ask all your friends to place orders and swamp them with orders. We don’t know what they are doing.”

Creating a career of building readers for your books is a lot like selling insurance. Once you have worked through family and friends, you are given the opportunity to find out how professional you really are. So, here goes, calling all family and friends.

I was not consciously watching hour by hour, but it started to change. By Thursday morning, all the pre-order language was gone and customers/readers were informed of a ten-day backlog. Pretty good for turning a supply snafu into the appearance of a smashing sell-out. By Friday morning, the first review was up and posted with 5 stars.

So, let’s say “Publication Day” was “Days” and now it is here completing the trilogy of the three Sheriffs Simms. Founding Sheriff, delayed by COVID-19, marched into the emptiness of our times, and a high mountain desert, to bring justice and a system of justice where none had existed before. Fugitive Sheriff avenged his father and remained true to vows he had taken twenty years before. He had the best publication day. A fitting reward. Forever Sheriff proved true to his calling and his heritage, paying no attention to the publication day anxieties. He simply told me to take care of it.

Having a trilogy out is exciting, but that’s a future blog. Read them all. Tell me what you think.

Just Released: Cover Art for Forever Sheriff

Forever Sheriff by Edward Massey 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.

Order Forever Sheriff 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:


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


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.


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

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.


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.)