Graybyrd: Blog


An early Wyoming story

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When I was a kid our family fell between jobs in Wyoming. Stepdad, who mostly worked high iron on construction jobs, had landed us in Casper and worked for a few months as a roughneck in the oil fields. That ended. How, I don't know. He either got mad or got fired, but anyway, next thing I knew, we were moving into a dirt-roofed one-room log bunkhouse on a ranch somewhere in the middle of... I think it was the Red Desert region. I was eight years old at the time.

Anyway, the old rancher was reputed to be the oldest living pioneer resident of the state at that time. "Pete" Fisher agreed to pay the family $200 a month plus quarters (the bunkhouse) and meals at the main house table. He said Stepdad got $75 as a wrangler, and mom got $125 as a cook. Stepdad pissed & moaned and got pretty hot, but Pete shut him down, saying "Help like you I can get in any Casper bar, but a good cook is damned hard to find. So shut up or pack up."

So one day Pete and Stepdad are out checking line fences when a big sedan pulls up on the dirt road that parallels the fence. When the dust settles, two guys get out. One of them holds out a fifth of whiskey to Pete, who uncaps it and takes a slug, then passes it to Stepdad. After the round, the dude sets the bottle back in the car and asks Pete: "We heard there was some great fishing in these parts, somewhere up the canyons."

"Sure is, " Pete offered. "Just stay on this road until you come to the second canyon, and a branch road that goes off to your left. It will look a little rough, but go slow and you'll be alright. Go up that canyon half a dozen miles or so, and you'll come to a fork. Stay to the right for another mile or so, and you'll come to some beaver dams on a creek. Now that creek don't follow the road you been driving, cuz it forks off down another draw... but stick with it till you see them beaver dams and a bunch of quakin' aspens beside 'em. That's some of the best fishin' in Wyoming!"

The two dudes thanked Pete, shook his hand, and piled into their car, taking off in another cloud of dust.

"You damned ol' rattlesnake-bit sumbitch!" Stepdad swore at Pete. "You just sent those two guys off on a dry run. They'll probably get up there, get high-centered or stuck, and they'll be a whole day walking out! What the hell got into you?"

"Serves 'em right," Pete snarled. "They kept the bottle!"

(The year was 1948; we spent a year on that ranch 'till Stepdad got another burr up his butt and we moved on. We were construction camp gypsies for the next several years until mom rebelled and she moved us kids to a mountain valley homestead.)

If you choose to get older, know that it's a wretched condition

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They say (whoever they are,) that getting older beats the alternative. Lately, I begin to wonder. No, I don't worry about stickin' myself out on a limb here, because I can look out there at the rest of you and laugh. You'll all be here soon enough!

I spent much of last evening, and all of today, searching my drives and archives for a "lost" chapter. I couldn't begin to understand how I'd lost it, or misplaced it. I'm disorganized, I admit, but I'm also very careful about keeping zipped backup copies and spread them over a couple different drives. So... I even whined to the wife: "I remember writing it, and I found the follow-on chapter for it, but I can't find it! Whine, snivel, moan." She agreed, actually. We both suffer 'senior moments' that we'd rather not, but sharing seems to help.

Okay, I'll get to the point. I finally found an archived text file in markdown-coding, and there it was! The lengthy, carefully researched, brilliantly written chapter! And at that moment, horror dawned! It was in the middle of another chapter!

Somehow during a sleepless or brain-dead moment, it got dropped into the concluding chapter of a story, and it got posted! And its been there all this time! Unseen. Unnoticed. Unremarked!

So I've made cuts, pastes, revisions, and a reposting, and all is well with the world. But, as Hercule Poirot has so frequently said: "Sometimes in the quiet moments, I hear the little grey cells. They make tiny screams as they die!"

So, if you choose to grow old, this is what waits for you. Beware.

Please excuse my oversights

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It seems I've neglected a couple of things concerning "Fine Stories" site (which I admire greatly and I do try to support as much as possible!)

I was just notified by a friend that I'd neglected to enable the "feedback" button on my account; which means folks couldn't email me from the story pages. That's been fixed. (At least I clicked the button. We'll see if that does it.)

The other is that I've not posted to this blog as near as much as I should'a done. I could'a done... but good intentions and Hell's highway and all that... no excuse.

So: "Gold Mountain" is writ, and more'n half posted. And big news, the entire thing is for sale on Bookapy now. $2.99 per ebook copy. Also "Pasayten Pete" is there, same deal: $2.99. Some have sold already, only being up for one day now, and I'm totally surprised. Thanks, people!

As for keepin' my gnarly butt in the chair for finishing the long-promised 3rd book of the Masi'shen series, yeh. I'm totally ashamed but that don't fix nothin'. So I'm now working on it. It's a slog, I confess, but I'm making progress.

When will it be done & posted? I have committed myself to having it done this fall, before the Day of National Insanity & Forlorn Hopes occurs. Which means by end of October at latest. I kinda have to keep that deadline, because I swear by all that's unholy that on November 1 I'm gonna pull the main breaker switch on the house, and go into hibernation for three (maybe six!) months until the dust settles.

May you all be well, and dodge that damnable virus, please!


Progress, of sorts.

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My apologies... and to the several who wrote emails, one in particular very flattering and probably undeserved... which were tragically lost when my email program puked and spewed all my saved messages before I could answer them.

In short, "Masi'shen Resolution" (the third in the series, 'Stranded,' 'Evolution,' 'Resolution') has proven extremely frustrating and although I've written a great deal of material, most of it will need severe pruning and reworking.

Quite frankly, the primary problem is two-fold: 1) the prohibition against killing which, sadly, a great many savagely insane people deserve, and 2) the idiotic concept that it might be possible to prevent humanity from incinerating itself, even with intervention and the threat of a 1,000-year quarantine. It appears that national self-interest precludes any rational thought that turning the planet into a radioactive cinder to force one's will upon others is a bit self-defeating.

I've lain awake struggling with those thoughts and I will--ultimately--resolve the conundrums and finish the story. I have high hopes that it will be a suitable end for the trilogy.

Meanwhile, I've been engaged in a late-winter, early-spring Fiction Writers' Seminar locally, and it has been extraordinarily beneficial. It led to an epiphany of sorts: there's a huge gulf between good writing, and good story-telling. (Yes, Virginia, there IS a difference.) With that project underway, I've been working hard on the second book of my original 'Pasayten Pete' saga, called "Gold Mountain." This will publish on Fine Stories when finished. Never again will I try to write to keep up with an on-going serial posting schedule. The entire story must be crafted, cooled, re-read, edited, reworked, its nose wiped, its little bottom wiped, and made suitably presentable before its public appearance.

I will get back to 'Resolution' in good time, and it will benefit hugely from what I'm currently learning. Thank you for your patience.

Meanwhile: if you're a writer, get a copy of David Morrell's "Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing."

This is a book about how to tell a good story. Lots and lots of happy fools can 'write good' but damned few really know what is involved in telling a good story that a reader won't put down. I wish I'd stumbled on this book years ago. I and a superbly-good new writer friend are devouring this book, and we'll be revising our work to suit.

Thanks for your patience. Please pass the fish.

Oh... David Morrell: his first novel, published in 1972, became a global best-seller. The manuscript of "First Blood" sat in his desk for several years; he almost abandoned it. He reworked it, reshaped it, agonized over the first page to give it a good beginning, and it was finally published.

Perhaps you'll recall the character that book presented to the world: "Rambo." The book is one helluva lot better than the movie.

The story continues...

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Yes, it's been awhile. The story is proceeding nicely, again. Muse returned and it's fun, actually. I sincerely hope as you read about the Masi'shen and their dedication to peace and humanitarian relief, that some thought to working toward the same goals in real life might seem a little more attainable. All it takes, really, is unity of thought and purpose.

Here's a profound 'thank you' to the many kind comments, positive votes of approval, and support you've all shown. And here's a tip of the hat to Tenderloin, our tireless editor and proofreader, and a big welcome to Ian, ilox from the Land of Oz, for his invaluable counsel and advice on 'the rest of the story' which has gotten insanely complex, convoluted, and maybe a touch too ambitious. Thanks, guys. This work would be much less polished without you, and I'd still be stuck in a plot hole somewhere.