Thursday, June 30, 2011

ebook should be available next week

My galleys are off to the publisher. I am now formatting my book for Smashwords anticipating an ebook available next week. My publisher will handle placing NO MORE BULL on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and others I’m not familiar with. I’ll be making an announcement and releasing a press release, so you’ll know where you can get it if you are an ebook reader.


I was asked the other day, “How do you come up with ideas for the plot?” Having spent years around the livestock industry has given me a treasure trove of ideas and stories. Probably more than I’ll ever use.

When I do use them I sometimes have to change the names and places to protect the innocent - or guilty - as the case may be. Take the story of Darner Thompkins who you’ll meet about midway into NO MORE BULL. His story is based on a real incident that was told to me by a veterinarian. It didn’t take place in Pryor and the guys name isn’t Darner Thompkins. And I have exaggerated the size and capacity of the junk yard. But I think it’s a great story and wanted to tell it. Unfortunately much of it hit the cutting room floor. Darner’s tale was designed to show a day in the life of a veterinarian and doesn’t really help drive the plot. Plus I needed to cut my initial draft from 120,000 words to 95,000 words to meet requirements of a publisher.

However, having Gil go to Darner’s does feed the plot by placing Gil in a position to get in trouble. Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out how.

But I thought my faithful followers might get a kick out of Darner’s complete story, so I have included it in this post.

Have a good week. I’ll talk with you next Thursday. I’m skipping Monday to not watch the fireworks. Dry around here you know.

“You’re in for a treat,” Janey told Gil.

“How’s that? 

“You get to visit Darner Thompkins.”  She said this like Ed McMahon introducing Johnny Carson.

“I’ll bite, who’s Darner Thompkins?” Gil asked.

“Darner Thompkins is one of Huerfano County’s premiere dairy owners.  His herd consists of one Holstein that he keeps at his junk yard south of Walsenburg.  It seems that his cow, who he lovingly calls Sally, is sick.  And so is Darner.  She’s the love of his life.”

Janey went on to fill in the saga of Darner Thompkins.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How I met Dr. Gil Tailor

I think most every fiction writer is asked at one time or another, “Where do your characters come from? Do you make them up? Are they people you know? Do you just change their names?”

Truth is, the characters in NO MORE BULL are a combination of the above. Dr. Gil Tailor for instance. He’s the protagonist in the three book mystery series that starts with NO MORE BULL. I have wanted to write mysteries most of my adult life. But, like most folks there was this thing called “life” that kept getting in the way. You know, little things like making a living.

I did, however, have time to read. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. I knew that I wanted to write mysteries. Many of the writers I enjoyed wrote series. Robert B. Parker’s Spencer and Jesse Stone series, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee, Loren Estleman’s Amos Walker and Page Murdock to name a few.

I started thinking about developing a character that could sustain a series. I wanted him to have something to do with the livestock business. He needed to have a reason to be involved in situations that could allow bad guys and murder to flourish. For quite a while I thought he might be a brand inspector. But that put him IN law enforcement. I wanted him to be someone forced by circumstances to solve crimes.

And I wanted him to be a character.  Luckily I’ve been blessed with the kind of life that put me face to face with a bunch of Characters. (Notice the capital C.) Growing up in Cripple Creek, Colorado was a start. That town draws Characters like posys draw bees. Living in Wyoming and Texas helped too. Some of the Characters I have met are melted down and remolded into the folks in my stories. Some are pure imagination. But it wasn’t until one night at the Golden Bee Tavern, a part of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, that I met Dr. Gil Tailor.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Galleys arrived. And Chapter four

I'm a happy camper. My Galleys arrived. For the uninitiated, Galleys are a trial print run designed to give publisher and author a solid idea on how the book will look when printed. It also gives me one last time to cure errors and screw-ups. So this week I'll be going over No More Bull one more time. Then it's off to be printed. I still don't have a solid date of publication, but soon covers it.

Thursday I'll reveal how Dr. Gil Tailor was conceived. For now let's just say that Jack Daniels is the godfather.

Now to keep your interest up, here's Chapter Four of No More Bull.

Chapter Four

            He followed Janey to the office. When he walked in Janey was holding the phone at arm’s length and pinching her nose as if smelling a skunk.

 “Mr. Oren Hansen.”

Gil felt like a fifty pound sack of feed had been dumped on his chest. Prominent in state politics and a well known authority on cattle, particularly Longhorns, Hansen owned the Holy Cross ranch where the bull that disappeared with Roscoe was raised. He was a walking example of the Napoleon complex. His pompous, pious attitude had worn on Gil like a twisted cinch. How the hell had Hansen heard already? And how did he know Gil was working here?

“You know him, I take it?” he asked Janey.”

“Oh, yeah.”  She closed her eyes and slowly nodded. “Take it in Dr. Bramlett’s office.”

At Bramlett’s desk in the back office, Gil gathered his wits, breathed deeply and stroked his mustache. He set his hat, crown side down, on the desk and picked up the phone.   “Dr. Tailor here.”

 “Gil, my boy,” boomed the familiar voice. “I lost track of you after you left Brush. How’ve you been?”

 “All right Mr. Hansen.  Taking things kind of one day at a time.”

Hansen lowered his voice. “I imagine. . . Son, I never did get a chance to tell you how sorry I was about your wife.  She was such a beautiful young lady and so full of life. Such a tragic accident.”

“Thanks, Mr. Hansen.”  Gil didn’t know what else to say.  Hansen had always been condescending and demanding to both he and his wife. The phony concern rankled.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting a handle on Road Rage

Road rage pisses me off. But I think I have discovered the reason road rage has proliferated in the last ten years or so. And maybe I have an idea that will help.

A while back I was out on a ranch with a friend of mine. It was winter and he hadn’t been out to see his cows for a few days so we threw a bag of cake in the back of my recently purchased Dodge Dakota and headed out.

Now cows don’t necessarily want to be seen. Sometimes bad things happen to them when they are seen. Like they get run through a squeeze shoot, a hand is shoved up their butt and at the same time someone sticks a needle or three into them. None of that sounds very fun to me and I’m sure the cows agree.

But even if they don’t like to be seen, they do like to eat. That’s why they can be bribed out into the open with a bag of cake. The universal signal that you are bringing cake is to honk your horn. They'll come running. So when we got in the vicinity of Doc’s cows I honked my horn.

beep. . . Nothing happened.

beep . . . Still nothing.

You see, the tiny little horn that came with my thirty-thousand dollar truck wasn’t loud enough to get their attention. Now this is where road rage comes in. (I bet you were wondering how feeding cows relates to road rage.) If you can’t get a cow's attention in the middle of three thousand acres of quiet, how the hell can you get the attention of that jackass that just cut in front of you on a busy freeway? In the days when trucks were trucks and horns were horns, when you honked at someone they heard you. It startled the jackasses and they realized they’d screwed up. That loud HONK gave you some satisfaction. The jackass was properly reminded of his jackassedness and you felt better.

When you beep, who the hell notices? Not the jackass. He goes on down the road to commit jackassedness on some other poor soul. And you just get more frustrated. So you drive up beside him and do what it takes to get his attention - getting madder all the time.

That, my friend is road rage.

So my solution? Put real horns on all vehicles. Let’s get the HONK back on the road. When I got home I immediately cranked up the computer and ordered a horn with some HONK. I feel better and Doc’s cows can now get seen – whether they like it or not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chapter Three and my inner curmudgeon

Howdy, all. I will be adding a second post each week so that you can get twice the bull for your buck. Sometimes the post will come from my inner curmudgeon. For instance, this week I’ll give my take on road rage and how it can be stopped. No, no firearms involved. My curmudgeon has moved beyond brute force.

Next week I’ll be writing about how the character Dr. Gil Tailor came about. I found him at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

For now here is Chapter Three of No More Bull for your perusal.  I’d love your comments.

Chapter Three

            Gil wasn’t aware of his drive back to the Spanish Peaks Veterinary Clinic.  He kept replaying the scene at Rough Mountain. Was Roscoe in that truck? How did it get there? Was this his fault somehow? Why had he abandoned his search for Roscoe and spent two years drunk? Why the hell did he think he could be a veterinarian? Hell, he couldn’t even take care of his friends.

The jolt when he bumped across the cattle guard into the veterinary clinic parking lot brought him back. He didn’t get out of the truck right away. He knew what he ought to do. He ought to stay out of it and let Jarmillo sort out what happened to Roscoe.  That’s what he ought to do.

“Shit, shit shit.” He rubbed his temples and rolled his neck. Trouble was, he was never very good at ought-to’s.

In the office Janey Ryan, Dr. Bramlett’s veterinary assistant, sat behind the counter with a phone to her ear.  “Yes, sir, if you can bring her over tomorrow morning, Dr. Tailor will take a look at her.” 

Gil appreciated the professional way she handled the call.  Every veterinary clinic needed someone like her, but seldom found them.  Raised on a ranch with two years of business school, she appeared smart, knowledgeable, hard-working and willing to learn.

Janey did everything - answered the phone, maintained the schedule, ordered the drugs, gave vaccinations, assisted the veterinarian, made sure patients were fed and stalls mucked.

 “Will nine o’clock be all right?” she asked the client while looking at Gil to get his okay. 

Gill nodded and picked up the folder on top of the “Today” tray.  It contained registration papers, breeding charts and the medical history for Three Box Ruby Red, a registered Quarter Horse mare. 

Gil was familiar with the bloodlines of two of the stallions she had been bred to.  They were well known in racing circles.  No question, she was a pampered and valuable animal. Something good to know when making decisions and recommendations to an owner.

Janey hung up the phone.  “Grueling day at Rough Mountain?”

He gruffly replied, “Yeah, personal business.”

“O-o-o-kay.”  Janey’s blue eyes cooled a couple degrees. Pointing to the folder in his hand she said, “That’s next. Robinson’s Ruby.   Has a bruised hoof, I think.  Corn, maybe.  I don’t think it will be anything serious. Want some help?”

“Please,” Gil said, feeling bad about snapping at her.  “First time around a strange horse it helps to have someone hold them.”

“I’ll put a ‘I’m-in-the-barn’ message on the phone and be right with you.”

Gil headed for the barn, fretting over the way he’d treated Janey. He vowed to do better.  He didn’t think he could change his disposition, but he could change his behavior.  There wasn’t anything he could do right now but be a veterinarian. He needed to do that as well as he could.  At the barn he jumped and grabbed the header over the door, hanging by his arms to stretch his tense back and shoulders.  It felt good.

He didn’t hear Janey come up behind him until she said, “You Tarzan, me Jane.”

He slunk to the ground and muttered, “Stretchin’ my back.”

“Uh huh,” she said.

Without acknowledging her teasing, Gil moved to Ruby’s stall.  She was a stunning sorrel with flaxen mane and tail.  The mare nuzzled Janey as she put the lead rope on.

“Been around her before?” Gil asked.

“She’s one of my favorites,” said Janey.  “I’d love one of her foals, but I’m not likely to get into that tax bracket anytime soon.”

“She’s a beauty.” Gil noticed the limp as Janey led her outside for better light.

Janey explained, “The Robinsons paid somewhere around fifty-thousand dollars for her as a yearling.  They ran her as a three-year-old at Ruidoso and then started breeding her.  Every colt she’s had has been a dandy.  Of course they’ve put nothing but top studs on her.  I’ve heard they’ve been offered up to two-hundred thousand for her, but turned it down.”

Gil ran a hand over the mare’s back and patted her rump. “I’d better take good care of you, lady.  You’re high dollar horse flesh.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sorry I haven't written

First I’m sorry I haven’t written. I spent all last week getting the final materials off to the publisher, Outskirts Press. In the hierarchy of priorities I felt that stood above blogging. No book? No need for blog.

Now, I want to mention a couple housekeeping subjects. I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions that you have been sending me. They are mostly coming in emails. I asked one of my faithful why he was always sending emails and didn’t bother to leave a comment on the blog. As of right now, only one person has left a comment. He suggested that maybe people didn’t know how. Maybe I had made the assumption that everyone was familiar with blogging and how it worked and that I was wrong.

That kind of took me by surprise as I am rarely wrong. Even have trouble saying it. But, maybe I was w-w-w-w-r-r-r-rong. Fuu. That was hard.

Okay, in case I was w-w-w-w-r-r-r-rong here’s how to leave a comment. At the end of each day’s entry and you will see a list of how many comments have been left. Simply click on that yellow comments tab and a box will pop up on which you can enter your comment. You can leave your name or just enter the comment anonymously, which ever flips you dripper.

Next week I’ll be offering chapter three of No More Bull. You’ll meet Janey Ryan, the veterinary technician at Spanish Peaks Clinic along with George and Sue, Gil’s gender-bender critters. They all play an important role in the story. You'll want to meet them.

Talk at you next week.