Sunday, June 29, 2008

Man About Town

What do hemorrhoids and procrastination have in common? ... Both will get you in the end.

That is my way of saying there will be no My Town Monday post about Amarillo from me this week. *** EDIT*** After reading Debra's comment I thought I'd better add something to the original post and say there will be no MTM entry do to my procrastination, not the other aforementioned infliction.*** I will still maintain a list of other's My Town posts, so check back here for the updated list of this week's participants.

Meanwhile, please hop over to the Criminal Brief blogsite, where they have graciously allowed me to guest blog for the day. I would love to see you there, so if you get a chance drop a comment over there to let me know you stopped by.

And a special thanks to Leigh Lundin for sacrificing his spot in the rotation and for encouraging me to vent a bit.

Remember, check back here for a full list of My Town Mondayers and in the meanwhile, see you over at Criminal Brief.


Debra -- Peninsula, Ohio

Patti Abbott -- Detroit Michigan

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Linda McLaughlin -- Camp Pendleton, California

Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California

Laura Curtis (Women of Mystery) -- From an Airport near you.

Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan

Lana Gramlich -- Abita Springs, Louisiana

WordVixen -- Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

PreTzel -- Garden Grove, Iowa

Alyssa Goodnight -- Houston, Texas

Packsaddle -- Uhland, Texas

DebbieLou -- Bishop Stortford, England

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Papa Hemingway

This morning on NPR I heard an interesting interview with Patrick Hemingway, the son of Ernest. He talked about his dad and what it feels like to be turning eighty. Today is Patrick's birthday. The whole interview can be heard here, but I wanted to share a quote from Patrick that made me laugh. I'm doing this by memory so it's more of a paraphrase than an actual quote but he said something close to this ...

"Literature is what intelligent people use for dope."

Come on admit it. How many of you are addicted to books? I know I am and I like to think that does make me somewhat more intelligent than the average guy, especially if his dope of choice is crack.

Anyway check out the interview if you get the chance.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A to Z

It had been a long while since I did a meme and Janna Qualman tagged me with this A to Z one so I thought what the heck. Be sure and check out her blog, she has an interesting post up now about Marilyn Monroe's reading habits.

A to Z All About Me

A-Attached or Single? Married for nearly 11 years ans yes, she is up for sainthood.

B-Best Friend? See above, but actually I'm blessed to have many good friends. As far as defining what makes a best friend I like the old story about ... A best friend is not someone who will bail you out a jail, a best friends is sitting int he cell right beside you.

C-Cake or Pie? Coconut Cream Pie

D-Day of Choice? Any I don't have to go to work, but really a day is what you make it and I don't have any preference for one of another.

E-Essential Items? For what? Depends what I'm doing. For life in general I'd say a loving supporting spouse, a good fishing pole, a steady supply of reading material, and plenty of tasty meat to eat.

F-Favorite Color? Black. It does away with all that pesky color coordinating required when you get dressed.

G-Gummy Bears or Worms? Worms. But don't get them confused with the plastic scent impregnated ones in your tackle back. Those things taste horrible.

H-Hometown? Amarillo, Texas. Unless this is your first time here you should know that since I've been doing the My Town Monday thing for months now.

I-Indulgence? Gambling. If I ever end up living under an overpass or holding up a cardboard sign for sustenance it will be because I wagered one too many times.

J-January or July? I'm more of a January guy. You can always put more clothes on but you can only take so much off.

K-Kids? Two boys. 5 and 7

L-Life isn’t complete without… Laughter

M-Marriage Date? October 25, 1997

N-Number of Siblings? One brother.

O-Oranges or Apples? I tend to shun all fruits and vegetables but I can eat an apple if it's covered in caramel, especially if you add pinon nuts.

P-Phobias or Fears? I'm not big on caves. I'm afraid they'll write a sequel to Bog John titled Big Trav

Q-Quote? If we're not supposed to eat animals, how come they're made of meat? ~ Tom Snyder

R-Reason to Smile? My theory is smile all the time, that way no one realizes when you are plotting against them.

S-Superman or Wonder Woman? Those are my only choices?

T-Tag 5 people. I tried to do this but I'm not all that agile and every time I ran after someone they took off and locked the doors. one lady even called the police, but through her screen door she did say, "Aren't you a little too old to be playing tag?"

U- Umbrella or poncho? Poncho. You can't catch fish while holding an umbrella in one hand.

V-Vegetables? Keep the devils away from me.

W-Worst Habit? I'll answer this later ... no seriously it is Procrastination

X-Ray or Ultrasound? I've had both and either is okay. I just can't do the MRI thing since the giant magnet would rip out the metal plate in my leg.

Y-Your Favorite Food? Marinated Elk tenderloin

Z-Zodiac Sign? Sagittarius

Play along if you wish.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Shoe in My Mouth

You know what I haven't done on this blog in a while?

Simply told a story.

When I first started this blog I thought I would talk exclusively about the writing life, the craft of fiction, and the pursuit of publication, but I soon got bored with that. And to tell the truth not many people read this blog when I tried to make every post a how-to article. It wasn't until I began sharing anecdotes of my crazy life that I built up much of a readership. I will always consider myself a storyteller first and a writer second.

I've told you about my days working for Earl at the Feedstore, my flight on Sasquatch Airlines, my first set of swats at school, and of course my days as a second rate mall Santa Claus. There are others but not lately so I thought today I'd don my storytelling hat and share a humorous tale about one of just many times my wife has contemplated murder. Hey, it ain't easy being hitched to me.

"What was that?"
I wanted to ignore the question and drift back to sleep but my wife's elbow jabbing my rib cage made that impossible.
"Wake up. Do you hear that?"
Wind driven rain lashed at the window and thunder rumbled the panes of glass."
"Yeah, it's raining." I rolled over out of elbow reach.
"The tornado sirens are going off!" Panic filled her voice, but being that she was about five months pregnant I didn't put too much store in that. Only a few night before she'd woken me up in a panic because she smelled ketchup. I had to get up and turn on the lights to show her no evil band of home invaders had stormed our house and began painting the walls with ketchup at three in the morning.

I listened half heartily for a few seconds and then said, "That's not the sirens. it's just a dog howling somewhere."

She flung the covers off and with a sigh headed for the living room. To tell the truth I was just glad that her pointy little elbows were now out of reach.

I heard the TV come on and the first words out of the weatherman's lips, "Their is a possible tornado over the Lake Tanglewood area."

Our property is about a hundred yards from Lake Tanglewood so I knew my night of peaceful slumber was over.

My wife had never been a worrier until our first son was born, but she has made up for that ever since. He was twenty months at the time and she immediately ran to his room at the opposite end of the house. All the while shrieking that there was a tornado and that I needed to get up.

We do not have a cellar but our neighbors across the road do so I swing my feet to the floor and began searching for a pair of pants since I didn't figure they wanted to see me in my boxers. At this point my wife flew into our room with my son in her arms. She barked a few more orders my direction and then grabbed the phone to dial the people across the dirt road to let them know we were headed their way.

As I was dressing the hail began to fall from the sky. The sound of the ice chicks striking the roof drowned out even the thunder, but not my wife when she noticed me lacing up my shoes.

"WE DON"T HAVE TIME TO PUT ON SHOES!" And she ran from our bedroom.

I found her a few seconds later in the living room. She was trying to tie one of the throw pillows from the couch onto our son's head.

"What are you doing?"
Wide-eyed she looked at me, "It's hailing. I don't want him to get hurt."
"Give him to me," I said. Stuffing him inside the flap of the raincoat I'd just put on I turned to my wife. "Follow me. We're gonna have to run hard."

The rain and wind swirled when I opened the door and I leaned forward in an awkward stance to run so that the trunk of my body would shield my son from the rain and hail. By this point the hail as only pea sized.

I slogged through my front door and the ankle deep river of mud that was the road between out house and the safety of the a cellar. My neighbor's wife was on their front porch when I made the fifty yard dash. I handed her my son and turned back to help my wife, but she was no where to be seen. I started across the yard calling her name and then I spotted her on her back in the mud and muck of the dirt road.

As lighting crashed all around I helped her to her feet and we scramble for their house. They brought her a towel and a change of clothes as she explained that her feet had slipped because of her flip-flops.

I shouldn't have, but I did say, "You should have taken time to put on real shoes like I did."

Yep, I was met with an icy glare.

We stayed at the neighbor's for several hours as the storm passed. A tornado never did touch down and as dawn broke the rain had let up to the point that I was more than ready to head home. So our little family started back for home in a slight sprinkle.

My wife took one step onto the muddy road and .. You guessed it fell again.

And of course I said, "Bet you wish you'd have put on real shoes now." She wouldn't even take the hand I offered to help her get up."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Tuneful Tuesday

It's Tuesday which means I'm supposed to post two lines from something I've read and two from my own work. But I've been reading an unpublished novel from one of my critique partners and since I don't have her permission to post her lines, I'm going to do something else. I'm going to post two lines I heard this week.

My favorite band is releasing a new CD today called Bulletproof. Their name is Reckless Kelly and I urge all of you to give them a listen. You can hear snippets of the new songs via the link to Amazon. I've only heard two of the songs in their entirety, and I like them both, but my favorite takes a hard look at the current war in Iraq. The song is titled American Blood and here are the opening lines as best as I can remember them. There may be a word or two off.

Johnny can't drink 'cause johnny ain't twenty-one, but he's eighteen and pretty handy with a gun. They shipped him off to a foreign land, gave him a new pair of boots and thirteen grand and he came back home with American blood on his hands.


If you'd like to hear a sample of their music check out my MySpace page which has a song from the new CD titled Ragged as the Road. And be sure to friend my while you are there.

And now a couple of sentences I wrote, or at least edited this week. From my novel Plundered Booty ...

Leaning against the right front fender of my truck, he smiled as if nothing had changed. When I didn't return the gesture, the grin slid off his face like eggs from a greasy plate.

Be sure and and check out the gals over at Women of Mystery who originated to Two Line Tuesday idea.

So have you ever heard of Reckless Kelly? Got any other music recommendations? Or if nothing else drop a line and tell me who your favorite singers and bands are.

Monday, June 23, 2008

No Matter Where You're From -- A My Town Monday Post

Grace ... glamor ... timeless beauty.

Those words are not normally associated with Amarillo, but in the case of one of the city's native daughters they fit perfectly.

Tula Ellis Finklea entered the word on March 8th, 1922 in Amarillo, Texas. Her father was a jeweler here in town and he was also an ardent fan of ballet. His daughter was sickly child so after a bout of polio weakened her, Mr. Finklea enrolled her in a ballet class to help build back her strength.

It wasn't long until Tula, who actually went by Sid (a nickname one of her siblings bestowed on her by trying to pronounce sis) found herself studying under a pair of famous Russian teachers in Los Angeles. By fourteen she was touring Europe as a member of a famous Russian ballet troupe.

Within a few years she married, a man named Nico Charisse. The marriage didn't last long but she kept the last name for the remainder of her years. When WWII broke up her ballet troupe, Sid returned to LA and soon found herself dancing in the movies. Sid became Cyd under the suggestion of an MGM executive and the rest is as they say history.

Cyd Charisse passed away this past week, but what a life she led.

One of the few who ever danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly she appeared in more than forty movies over the years. Including Singing In The Rain, Brigadoon, Silk Stocking, and Meet Me in Las Vegas. Asked who was the better dancer, Astaire or Kelly, Cyd said this ...

“It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They’re both delicious."

Fred Astaire was quoted as saying this about Cyd,

“When you’ve danced with her, you stay danced with."


The video is of her and Gene Kelly from Singing in the Rain.

My Fellow My Town Mondayers

Pattie Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan

Debra -- Peninsula, Ohio

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden, City, England

Linda McLaughlin -- Orange County, California

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Barrie Summy -- San Diego, California

Gina Black (Title Wave) -- Westwood Village in Los Angeles, California

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Stephen Parrish -- Bad Kreuznach, Germany

Samantha Winston -- Montchauvet, France

Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

DebbieLou -- Bishops Stortford, England

Alyssa Goodnight -- Houston, Texas

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Smell Smoke

Karma -- Divine Intervention -- Pure Ass Luck. Pick which ever fits your life philosophy more and keep it in mind as I tell you a little story.

I'm made several mentions about how dry it has been here in the Texas Panhandle. heck I got excited about 3/10 on an inch of moisture over a two day period. But even with that tiny bit of rain the ground at my house was covered with dry, brittle buffalo, the mesquite trees were nothing more than kindling with roots, and the whole canyon where I live was a tinderbox.

Then last night the skies opened up and unleashed a downpour like we haven't had in at least a year. Nearly two inches of rain fell overnight. Granted we had high winds, a bit of hail and lots of thunder and lightning but we finally got the good soaking we needed.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. here's where the karma,/divine intervention/pure ass luck comes in.

This morning I woke to the sound of sirens and that is not a common sound out in the boonies where I live. I was a bit groggy after a night filled with puppy whines and trips out the the yard at dark thirty so it took a while for me to realize the sirens were close. REAL CLOSE!

I was getting dressed to investigate when my wife yelled, "There's huge fire right behind the house!"

I'm not a morning person but nothing gets the lead out like the a screaming wife yelling about a fire.

I made my way out through the mud and standing water in my yard. The smell of fire hung in the air.

There about a seventy yards away was a huge ball of flame. Not on my property but the one adjacent to the back of my three acres. The property HAD two structures. A large four bedroom house and a smaller half underground dwelling that was the original home on the site. The smaller structure had flames a good thirty feet into the air though they didn't last long as the firemen extinguished the blaze.

All in all the excitement didn't last long, but had we not had that rain the fire would have spread quickly and who knows what would have happened. Here's another tidbit that could be karma at work.

One of my other neighbors believes the resident at the burned location is none other than our neighborhood gas thief. I have no clue if this is true but it does make one stop and think.

Speaking of fires, y'all all need to pop over to Christine Eldin's new blog, Book Roast. The blog is going to be happening place where readers will have a chance to interact and ask published authors questions,s o if you are a reader, a writers, or just a curious blogger stop by this next week and check it out. And while you are blog hopping, check out Chris's regular blog here.


In the comments of my last post fellow blogger Packsaddle wrote a little ode in regards to the new puppy. I pasted it here in case you missed it in the comments. His words certainly made me smile

Hi my name is Sharky
But y'all can just call me Shark
I would say Hi back to you
But I don't know how to bark
I'd like to thank the Erwin family
For saving me from an untimely death
I will always remember their kindness
Every time I take a breath
I really hope the boys like me
I will learn to fetch, heel, and roll
And I hope Uncle Travis doesn't get mad
When I pee on his fishing pole
Yes I'll do some bad things
Like digging under the fence barrier
I just hope they don't get any crazy ideas
Like trading me for a freakin' Terrier.
I'm ready for a life of fun
But it's important that we all agree
There will never be mention of the word

Stop by his blog and give him kudos for his mad poetry skills.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Swim

There we were at the local animal shelter. The kill facility I mentioned yesterday.

My five-year-old fell in love with little white Jack Russel terrier mix. He was a bit older than what we were looking for, but he was a calm little dog that had already been neutered, and seemed to click really well with both my boys. So I went up to the desk to get some more information and they informed me he'd already been adopted. Now we'd been there only the day before and this particular dog had not been there so he'd came in and been claimed in record time.

I trudged back out to the kennels to deliver the bad news. No tragic news. Tears ensued and I felt horrible for both of my boys. After all the looking we finally find a dog we like and we are too late.

The tears continued to flow as we drove away. Feeling bad I promised we'd look even harder. So I got on th phone and starting calling animal shelters in surrounding towns. All the calls led to one lead. We looked at a picture on the internet, decided to go see the puppy for ourselves and took off for Borger, Texas which is about 45 miles northeast of Amarillo. This is what we found ...

Per a decree from my five-year-old son his name is Sharky. He's a ten week old dachshund mix and the newest member of the Erwin family.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dog Days

Random things and random pictures.

My five year old son has been begging for a puppy for some time. We have a dog already but she is a rather large and at times hyper Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Gypsy and her rambunctiousness is often more than my youngest son can handle.


One of our friends has a nice calm dachshund and my son has fallen in love with her and her good nature, so he wants a weenie dog, but my wife have decided to shy away from an expensive purebred puppy and instead look at the shelters for a pup to rescue. We don't think he'll mind so long as the critter is of a smallish nature.

There are three shelters in our town. Two that are no-kill facilities and one that follows the death row philosophy of business. Here's the interesting thing. The dogs seem to know they are on borrowed time. We've been checking nearly everyday and the dogs at the "short-term facility bark some but mostly they stand at the door of their cage looking anxious and needy.

At the other two places where there is no ticking timeclock, the vast majority of the docks bark, and growl, and jump about like idiots. Could be coincidence but it dos make one wonder how much they know.

Guess what it rained here the last two nights. We've only gotten a grand total of 3 tenths of an inch out of those rains, but I'll take it since it has been drier than a popcorn fart around here.

Doesn't the leading edge of this storm look like a face screaming and struggling to push onward? You might have to click to enlarge, but that is what I saw.

This next shot is the east view from the back porch of one of my critique partner's house. This is about a half hour before sunset. My house is about a mile and a half away at the bottom of that canyon.

And a shot facing south from the same vantage point.

At the local conference I was told that my posts tend to be too long and time consuming to read. That is probably true but it's hard to get me to shutup once I get cranked up, so here are some more addition to the renovated blogroll.

Katrina Kimble is one of many talented authors that lives in my area. She blogs over at Texas Tawk and she recently started a series detailing the places that have inspired various famous writers. The first was on Louis May Alcott and can be read here. And this week's was on Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Alex Keto is another blogger that I personally know. I met him in February of 2007 at a week long writer's workshop in Arizona. He's a talented writer and a former journalist who has been the world over. Alex and I had some interesting conversations in Arizona as we stayed up late into each night and sipped daintily of our adult beverages. Alex blogs here but he has been absent of late so stop in and demand he start posting again. Or go here to read one of his older but better posts.

And one more addition to the blogroll. I met Cicily Janus at the same workshop as I did Alex. Cicily has one of the most imaginative mind I've ever encountered. Her plot ideas are spectacular and luckily she is one of the few writers talented enough to pull of such ambitious projects. She hasn't been blogging much as she is trying to get her writer's retreats going. Cicily has put together a great lineup of agents , editors, and published authors. The first retreat is scheduled for October in Vail, Colorado. Click here for more info.

Time to go puppy hunting once again as we are heading out to look at the pounds in a few surrounding panhandle towns.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things Ain't What They Seem

Ever win by losing? Actually that was the theme of one of my early novels that now sits idly by in a forgotten spot on my computer. Someday I might dig it out and give it the working over it needs to be viable, but right now let me give you an example of winning by losing.

You're on the way to the airport to catch a flight for that dream vacation to Siberia. But you run over a dead raccoon on the way and it's vertebrae sticks in the tread of your brand new set of Goodyear's. The resulting flat makes you miss the only direct flight to Serbia.

AT THAT POINT YOU ARE A LOSER. A victim of bad luck, but if upon landing that said plane skids off the frozen Serbian runway and crashes headfirst into an icy river with everyone on board losing some limb or appendage to hypothermia then you bad luck just turned good.

Here's another one for you guys. You spot a beautiful woman across the smoky environs of your favorite bar. You whisper to your buddy I'm moving, but you decide to stop off at the bathroom on the way to seducing this object of your desire. After taking care of the pressing matter regarding your bladder and checking the gap between your teeth in the mirror you head out only to find your buddy chatting up your dream girl. They go home together shortly thereafter.

AGAIN, YOU HAVE FALLEN INTO LOSER STATUS. But when that same buddy wakes up three weeks alter with a strange burning sensation and his own appendage stuck to his inner thigh ... well you won by not winning.

After listening to my critique groups take on the ending chapters of Plundered Booty, yes I have finished though I am still tweaking, I realize that same theme is present in my latest novel as well. Not to the same degree and not because of a conscious effort on my part, but winning by losing is one of the underbellies.

Then I starting dissecting my other works of fiction and I think to some degree that element is present in 95% of the stories I've created albeit more subtle in some that others. I'm still trying to decide what that means.

And guess what? I myself have recently won by losing. I have submitted a few time to the literary journal called, The First Line. The premise is easy. Every three months the print journal takes submissions based on the same first line. Check out their website to see upcoming deadlines as well as the opening sentences you must use to create your story.

Anyway I have submitted, but never gotten on though I have gotten some really encouraging words and feedback from the editors in my rejections. I guess that alone could be enough to justify saying I won by losing but a few weeks back I got an email from the team at First Line and they informed me I had won a random drawing for their anthology collection titled, The Best of TFL Editors Picks 2002-2006. And I gotta say there are some great stories inside. Check it out if you get the chance.

Again I'm not going to do a Two Line Tuesday since I'm busier than one toothed beaver, but pop over to see what going on at the Women Of Mystery site anyway.

And tell me ... Have you ever won by losing?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adobe Walls -- A My Town Monday Post

Some forty odd miles Northeast of Amarillo, sits the meager ruins of an old trading post. Simply by looking at the pile of crumbling adobe, one would never realize the history of the place.

The Adobe Walls trading post started life as a Spanish trading post and fort in 1845 but was abandoned and most of it town down after the original settlers grew tired of Indian attacks. Then in 1 864 the famed and fabled Kit Carson led a group of 300 volunteers from New Mexico against a thousand Indian who were camped near the old structure. That battle ranks as the largest to ever take place between whites and Indian on the Great Plains, but the battle that took place at the site in late June of 1874 has become the stuff of legend.

In the spring of 1874 a scout named Billy Dixon led a group of entrepreneurs to Adobe Walls so they could set up shop and capitalize on the buffalo hunters in the area. Meaning they bought hides or traded the hunters for rotgut from the saloon or for blacksmith services.

As they had thirty years before, the Native American tribes in the area took offense to the white man infiltrating their land and stealing their buffalo.. By that time bands of warriors were feeling the pinch and were desperate to stay off the reservations of Oklahoma and drive the white man from the area.

Quanah Parker, whom I blogged about a few weeks back was one of these restless leaders. As was a Comanche medicine man named Isa-tai. Legend has it that Isa-tai translates to "coyote droppings," but regardless of his name the shaman did what few ever could. He convinced various tribes into banding together to attack Adobe Walls as a single force. Isa-Tai (the man in the photo to the right) told the desperate Plains Indians that his medicine could make the braves bullet proof and that he could create ammo for their guns from his very bowels. It's a persuasive man that convince other he has the ability to shit bullets.

Nevertheless, on June 27th 1874, 700 Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Comanche warriors surrounded the fort in the pre-dawn darkness.

Inside the adobe and sod structure was 28 men and 1 woman. Most were buffalo hunters, but among the inhabitants were a 20 year old Bat Masterson and the scout Billy Dixon.

The Native American warriors nearly took the battle in the initial siege, but despite being outnumbered nearly 30 to 1 the hunters held their attackers off mostly due to superior weaponry.

Even though they hunters had fast firing revolvers they also had luck on their side. They would have been asleep and thusly ill prepared for battle had a lodgepole not have snapped and gotten them up earlier than normal. A hunter stepped outside to take a leak noticed the Indians on the horizon.

After the initial charge the men counted 15 dead braves that had fallen so close to the structures that their fellow warriors could not retrieve the bodies. Incredibly only two inhabitants of the community died in that first charge. A pair of brothers that had fallen asleep in the back of a wagon.

The warriors encircled the encampment and laid siege all through that day and night. occasionally a small skirmish would break out as the braves tested the men inside.

Day two the men inside were growing nervous and as they knew the odds were not on their side despite the early success of defending their position. They watched a group of warriors gathered on a ridge line early a mile away.

Billy Dixon was already noted as a crack shot and the men urged him to take aim at the group of warriors. Getting out his "Big Fifty" Sharps he took aim and dropped a warrior at what some claim as better than fifteen hundred yards.

The various tribes took this as a sign that Isa-tai's medicine was bad and broke off the campaign. a few warriors stayed and there were more skirmishes over the next two days but Billy Dixon's miraculous shot tilted the odds and bought the men inside time until reinforcements arrived a few days later.

Billy Dixon himself never claimed the shot as anything but luck. he didn't even devote a full paragraph the story in his memoirs. Isa-Tai tried to claim his medicine was weakened when a group of warriors killed a sacred skunk just before the battle but he was beaten, dishonored, and discredited after the failed siege.

For more versions or info on Adobe Walls here are a links I drew my research from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.


Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City England

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Shauna Roberts -- Southern California

Linda McLaughlin -- San Clemente, California

Barrie Summy -- Malibu, California

Patti Abbott -- Motown - Detroit, Michigan

Clair Dickson -- Livingston County, Michigan

Clare2E (Women of Mystery) -- Anytown, USA

Mary Nix -- Olmsted, Ohio

WordVixen -- Lititz, Pennsylvania

Debra -- Cleveland, Ohio

Friday, June 13, 2008

Howdy From Conference

Just checking in while I have a few minutes of downtime here at the conference. I've already learned some good info. Bob Mayer is a really informative guy and a personable fellow, though I gotta admit I was worried at first. He seemed a bit quiet when I first met him, but that is probably because he'd started the day at 4 AM and had taken a car, ferry, shuttle bus, and place to arrive late afternoon at Rick Husband International Airport here in Amarillo.

It's called an international airport, but I'm pretty sure the term International is only applicable because they serve French fries in the cafe. Ninety-five percent of all incoming and outgoing flights go to or come from Dallas.

Anyway like I said Bob seemed a bit quiet, but anyone who knows me realizes I'm gonna flap my soup coolers regardless, so either Bob is one of those guys that takes a bit to crank up, or he got sick of hearing me spout useless facts about Amarillo and decided, I better talk or this guy will never shut up. Then again there is the off chance he wanted to speak more earlier and couldn't get a word in, but it ain't everyday I get to hang with a former Green Beret whose published 38 books. After only one session I can already tell you he's also a great teacher.

Check out his online store where you can order a copy of his book, The Novel Writers Toolkit.
I've been lax in adding names to me new blog roll so today I'm going to add author Erica Orloff. Erica does a great job of correlating everyday life and experiences to the writing world. She is also a published author of several books in a variety of genres. Click here to find several listed on Amazon. Or you can check out the bibliography on her website here.

In the wrods of Tigger ... Ta Ta for now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Wishes & GoodTimes

Today is Stephen Parrish's fiftieth birthday. A good many of you read Stephen's blog but if you don't -- you should start. I don't recall how a first found his blog, but probably a followed a link from a comment he left on someone else's site or one of the bloggers I enjoy recommended him. However I came across him, I knew I'd found a like minded soul when I read these words in his profile ... I write novels. I seek publishers. Everything else is conversation.

Stephen is many things. A wine connoisseur, an Army veteran, a talented writer and storyteller, an advocate, a My Town Monday Marauder, a proud father, and a good FRIEND to not only me but to all writers out and about in the blogosphere (published or not). Stephen is always quick to promote another's novel or to offer an encouraging word to those of us trying to achieve that goal. Never one to shy away from a controversial topic or to state his view Stephen's posts spark some great debate in the comment trail. Check him out and wish him a Ha
ppy Fiftieth Birthday today.


So this weekend is the annual Frontiers In Writing Conference here in Amarillo. As part of that I will be hosting author extraordinaire -- Bob Mayer who is the keynote speaker this year. As his host I will be picking him up at the airport tomorrow, introducing him before his workshops and keynote speech, and generally being his guide while here in Amarillo. I look forward to meeting him and I'm especially hoping for the chance to discuss the novels he co-wrote with Jennifer Crusie. As a man writing women's fiction I'm always eager to talk to another man who has ventured into that realm. Also, I have read the two novels they penned together and enjoyed them both.

And if you missed it back when the two of them blogged together go back and check it out. They shared some great stuff. You can also read Bob's regular blog here, or Jennifer's here.

So is there anything y'all would like me to ask Mr. Mayer? If so, drop your question in the comments and I'll do my best to work it in, but in the meantime check out his site and pick up one of his books. You won't be disappointed.

P.S. -- I'll try to pop in and do a post or two using the conference hotel's Wireless, but don't hold me to it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Floating By

Busy, busy, busy -- so here are a few pics I took the other night of an approaching thunderstorm. You can click on any of them for a larger image.

And this one is my favorite. Looks like a horse rearing back on its hind legs.

We got a lot of wind some small pea size hail and .20 inches of rain but the majority of this storm passed to my south where it spawned a few tornadoes and larger hail, but most of that happened over barren country. I'll try to get a real post up tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

OUt and About The Panhandle - A My Town Monday Post

I don't want to turn My Town Monday into a weekly lesson on western heritage, but that is the history of my area so I will have to regale tales of Cowboys and Indians fairly often or I will run out of material. Still I'm going to try and break things up so the posts don't get tiresome. Next week, I'll tell ya'll about the Battle Of Adobe Walls, but for this rendition of My Town Monday I'm gonna do a few capsule size looks at four area towns. One each direction.

Dumas, Texas lies about 50 miles north of Amarillo. That might seem like a long way between towns to some of you but the two are only separated by the mostly dry Canadian River and no other towns. Dumas is pronounced Do-Muss not the giggle producing Dumb Ass, though we called them the DumbAss Demons when we battled their high school in sporting events. The song Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas is said to have been written about the town though Dumas, Arkansas makes the same claim. Here is a video clip of that song.

JWW and the Prospectors - Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas

Happy, Texas lies 35 miles to the South of Amarillo. A few years back their was a movie titled Happy, Texas though it was not filmed in the town and the loclas all seemed to hate the movie. About the only thing accurate in the film was the sing on the outskirts of town that reads ... WELCOME TO HAPPY, TEXAS -- THE TOWN WITHOUT A FROWN. Happy is also the default location on google weather.

To the east almost to the Oklahoma border lies the tiny town of Twitty, Texas. Six miles off of I-40 the place had a population of 100 in 1930. In 1980, its population had remained fairly stable with an estimate of 116, but by 1990 the number of residents fell to sixty. The population dropped to 12 in the 2000 census. It's claim to fame? Once upon a time there was a singer who was told he needed a name change. He couldn't think of anything so he reached for a map and founf the names of Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Tx. Conway Twitty recorded many a country song before his death in 1993.

Now we go 23 miles to the west of Amarillo to the town of Wildorado,Texas. Actually, there are only three towns in Texas that are what I'd consider due west of Amarillo. I picked the middle one mostly because I like the name. I always thought a song should be written about the wild west of Wildorado though that description might me stretching it especially these days. Though in the dist bowl era the bank was robbed several times. Actually, a more accurate song would be called Windy Wildorado as nearby is the Wildorado Wind Farm which is the home of 70 wind turbine generators and here are a few facts from an article written prior to the wind farm's completion.

The Wildorado Wind Ranch will be the largest single wind power facility yet to be built in the Southwest Power Pool serving parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

If you'd like to participate in My Town Mondays just write up piece about your current or former hometown, or even about somewhere you just happen know an interesting fact about. Then let me know and I'll link you up. to read my collection of my town monday psots click on the my town label at the bottom of this post.

To Visit Other My Town Monday Bloggers Check Back Here For The Updated List of This Weeks Players

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England

Patti Abbott -- Detroit, Michigan

Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan

Lois Karlin (Women of Mystery) -- Warwick, New York

DebbieLou -- The rudest places in England.

Samantha Winston -- Houdan, France

Barrie Summy -- San Diego,California

Linda McLaughlin -- San Clemente, California

Mary Nix -- Olmstead Falls, Ohio

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Friday, June 6, 2008

Listen very Carefully

Found this in my email and it made me smile so thought I'd share.

Who knows if it is real, but that gal sure looks ticked off.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Friday Book and Another Blog I Read

This post is another book recommendation and part of Pattie Abbott's Forgotten Book Friday. But I'm taking the premise one step farther and talk about what is fast becoming a forgotten form of fiction ... the short story. My friend Debbie blogged about this very thing in two recent posts over at the criminal brief site.

In the spirit of her posts I am recommending a fine short story collection. Davis Grubb is best known for his suspenseful novel, The Night of the Hunter, but I've never read it. I did however, read a collection of his short stories that was released after his death in 1980.

You Never Believe Me:And Other Stories is chocked full of dark tales. From the weird, to the ironic to the finely woven plots filled with murder and vengeance. The collection houses eighteen tales and while some are better than others they all have their merits and at least a dozen classify as pure classics. One was made into a segment on the old Twilight Zone series. Also included are personl noted from the author which adds to the stories.

Now for another addition to the blogroll ...

Welcome to The Patti-O is the outlet for fellow Texan and Shiner Bock drinker Patti. She very well could be the closet thing to a female version of me out there. Today's post is a good one and she is search for a wedding dress for her son's upcoming wedding so if any of you are fashion designers or just savvy in that department stop in and offer her some advice. Otherwise, stop in and get ready to smile. It's hard not to when reading her wit.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tidying Up

Let me give ya'll a bit of update on my last post since that seems easier than replying to the questions I've received via the comments and emails.

No, I didn't write the lyrics with any particular song in mind and I certainly couldn't write any music for it. I can barley play the radio much less an instrument. As far as singers I'd have to say it might fit Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, or on of those other Nashvillers than are prone to sing those kitschy cornball songs that mainstream radio seems to love.

Yes, it really was 106 here on Monday and actually the thermometer at my house said 109, but while the AC was out it was a mere 97 inside according to my digital thermostat. It cooled off yesterday and the mercury topped pout at a mere 102 but my AC kept the house nice and cool. I got off for only two hundred bucks because myself and a friend did the labor. That price was for parts alone.

And yes, The gas story is true. My neighbor across the road actually caught the guy in the act I guess after he hit my house. My neighbor actually raised a gun and was meaning to shoot at the guy until he caught sight of my house beyond the thief. But he did yell and tell the guy he was about to shoot.

The man fled on foot so he can't live far. There is a cluster of about 15 homes in my immediate area and he has to live in one of them. The police came and wrote a report and confiscated the gas can the guy dropped so maybe he got scared straight. If not, he will get shot eventually.

Here in Texas, most of us who live in the country do own guns. We also know how to use them. Now I am not going to start taking potshots at people for sucking the thirty bucks of gas out of my tank but I would if I though my family was in danger. However there are many who need much less to provoke them into squeezing the trigger. And yes my nearest neighbor is one of them.


I mentioned a while back that I ws going to reorganize my blogroll. Well, I started today. I deleted everything but the links to agents and editors and started a new category called, THE BLOGS I READ. Yeah, I know that title isn't very imaginative but it's what I'm going with for now. Instead of simply sticking a bunch of links up at once I'm going to introduce them one by one and mention why I like that particular blog and link to one or two of my favorite posts. The order will be random and in now way does it reflect my level of admiration for that particular blog. Actually I'm lazy and whoever posted recent enough to show up on my google reader list will be next. All of these are blogs i subscribe to. And they will be listed in reverse alphabetical order just because I do lots of things ass-backward. Today I'm going to post three just to get things started, but most of the time I'll do these one at a time.

Today's first addition is, ATTACK OF THE REDNECK MOMMY. Redneck Mommy is hilarious, she has a sweet looking blog and you never know what she might say. Nothing is sacred or taboo in her view. Today's post is pretty indicative of her style so check it out here.

Numero two for today, FRAZZLED BUT LOVING IT. Monnik is a blogger that I can relate to on many levels. We are the same age, We're both parents and we both seem to have a million irons in the fire at all times. But she is slightly crazy because she likes to run even if nothing is chasing her. Her blog is about her life and like my lyrics yesterday there are ups and downs and she tells them all in an enjoyable style. Here is a happy one for you to check out.

And rounding out today's trio is WATCH YOUR STEPH. She's a fishing loving writer who also is an editor for the ODDVILLE PRESS. I've only recently discovered her blog, but I've enjoyed what I've read thus far. Here is a sample of a recent post from her.

I'm sure many of you already read these bloggers but if not, give them a read and tell them I sent you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Since Saturday evening my life has turned into the lyrics of a bad country and western song ...

It's been said that life is sweet,
That's true enough, 'cept when things turn sour
The bad times, the rough days, well, they ain't no treat
It's raining, it's pouring, it's a steady shower

The heats on the rise and it got to a hundred and six
the AC done quit and the sweat is starting to roll
Spent two hundred dollars to get the damn thing fixed
I keep trying to climb, but somebody greased the pole

Sweet and sour like chicken at that Oriental joint
sweet and sour, Life -- what's the point?

Went to start my car and head down the road
What the hells this, someone stole my gas
siphoned my tank, the dirty thieving toad
if I catch him I'll kick his criminal ass

Sweet and sour, my life is a Chinese sauce
sweet and sour two sides of a coin toss

Oh but that's not the end of my sad tale
yesterday my dial tone decided to bale
got no phone nor internet
cause I live in the sticks and can't get high speed just yet

Yeah life is sweet most of the time
Except when fate serves you a lime
Still haven't finished my danged novel
But I'll stop whining before I begin to grovel

Monday, June 2, 2008

Quanah Parker - A My Town Monday Post

A few weeks back I did a My Town Monday post about legendary cattleman and Panhandle founding father Charles Goodnight. Goodnight established a ranch in Palo Duro Canyon and is regarded as a pioneer for doing so, yet the second largest canyon in the United States was home to native Americans for centuries before the first white men ever set foot in the area. (Palo Duro Canyon lies south east of Amarillo. There is a state park which I've linked to above, but a good portion of the land is private property and I actually live in a small finger at he head of the canyon.)
This week, I'm going to discuss the last of the native people to call the canyon home and specifically their leader Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker.

Quanah Parker was the last Chief of the Comanches, He never lost a battle to the white men. he was never captured by soldiers, and his followers were the last tribe of the Staked Plains to succumb to the inevitable and surrender to life on the reservation.

The name Quanah translates to fragrant. Quanah was born about 1850. He was the son of Comanche Chief Pete Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white girl that had been captured in 1836 at Parker's Fort, Texas. Cynthia Ann spent 24 years living with the Comanche but was recaptured in 1860 by a group of soldiers who were notified of her whereabouts by Charles Goodnight. Sadly, Cynthia Ann did not re-adapt to "civilized living" well and died a few years later after starving herself to death.

Quanah father died shortly thereafter due to an infected wound leaving him an orphan. One of his father's other wives took him in, but she soon died as well. Quanah became an outcast because of his mixed blood, a fact he only discovered after his mother's recapture. After his step-mother's death Quanah fended for himself. He worked hard to be a proper warrior, and he excelled at hunting, but still could not break the barrier of his mixed blood.

The Comanche Chieftianship was not an inherited right. It was earned through one's war record and his concern for his followers. Quanah excelled as a warrior but after such a tumultuous upbringing he was not always generous with his fellow warriors. As a crossbred warrior, Quanah had many dissenters and did not feel quite at home in any band of the Comanches until he formed his own band called the Quahadi, which means Antelope Eaters.

Quanah fell in love with girl named Weakeah but her father, Ekitaocup, refused to accept the relationship so the the young couple eloped. and spent several years out on the plains with his growing tribe. He was gaining a reputation as a fierce warrior and capable leader. Eventually Weakeah's father accepted the marriage and they were able to return to the Comanche Nation.

Quanah's Quahadi's joined raiding parties in both his father's old band and in his father-in-law's. During one raid the leader, Bear's Ear, was killed by pursuers as they neared the Red River. The warriors had planned to cross the Red River farther west, but with Bear Ear's death the group became confused. Quanah rallied the bands and headed north where they crossed the river safely. His actions saved the remainder of the party and their stolen horses. This led to his being accepted as a true leader and gained him the right to speak openly in tribal council. Something only a few ever obtained.

As leader of his band Quanah, refused to sign the treat at Medicine Lodge in 1867. Most of the Plains Indians accepted the treaty at that time and attempted to settle into a life of farming on the reservation but Quanah's warriors chose to remain on the warpath as he believed the latest treaty to be just another deception in a string of lies from the white men.

He was nearly killed in the battle at Adobe Walls in 1874, (a post I plan for another day) but for a umber of years The Quahadi outsmarted and outmaneuvered the US Army led by Colonol Ronald S MacKenzie, but by late spring of 1875 the band was tired and starving after the Army had decimated their winter camp and killed their horses at the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon.

Colonel MacKenzie dispatched a man named Jacob Sturm who was a doctor and an interpretor to seek Quanah's surrender. After hearing the man's plea, Quanah rode to a mesa, where he spotted a wolf. The animal howled and trotted away to the northeast. As the wold left an eagle flew overhead flapping its wings in the direction of Fort Sill. Quanah took these as signs and on June 2, 1875, he and his band surrendered at Fort Sill in present-day Oklahoma.

But that is not the end of Quanah's story.

The Comanche Chief accepted his fate as a "civilized indian" but he held onto his role as leader just as fiercely as he once fought the settlers who invaded his land. Some members of the reservation called him a sellout for abandoning traditional attire and donning the white man's suit, but Quanah kept his braids, smoked peyote, refused to give up any of his five wives.

In a mix of old tradition and new ways he invested in a railroad, negotiated grazign rights of the new Comanche land with cattlemen including Charles Goodnight whom he now counted as a friend. Quanah also became a reservation judge and lobbied congress on behalf of the Comanche Nation. He was counted as a friend by President Theodore Roosevelt and at one time was considered the richest Native American in the country. His fortunes were depleted however as he took care of many of those who lived on the reservation. It probably didn't help that he fathered 25 kids either.

Quanah also founded the Native American Church which believes in the spiritual use of peyote. He believed that smoking the cactus buttons allowed him to communicate with Jesus. Here is a famous quote from Quanah ...

"The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his Tipi and talks with Jesus."

Quanah Parker died February 23, 1911.

Biographer Bill Neely wrote this about him ...

"Not only did Quanah pass within the span of a single lifetime from a Stone Age warrior to a statesman in the age of the Industrial Revolution, but he accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe on the difficult road toward their new existence."

Here is the inscription on his tombstone ...
Resting Here Until Day Breaks
And Shadows Fall and Darkness
Disappears is
Quanah Parker Last Chief of the Comanches
Born 1852
Died Feb. 23, 1911.
The Texas town of Quanah, near the medicine mound where the Comanche Chief made the decision to surrender, is named in his honor.


Patti Abbott - Detroit, Michigan

Debra -- Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Lyzzydee -- Welwyn Garden City, England

Clair Dickson -- Brighton, Michigan

Clare2E (women of Mystery) -- New York, New York

DebbieLou -- Dunmow, England

Barbara Martin -- Toronto, Canada

Britta Coleman -- On the road to Wisconsin

Mary Nix -- Olmsted Falls, Ohio