SUMMER NEWSLETTER, AUGUST 2014
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
We might have stepped thirty years back in time given Wyoming’s delightfully cool and wet spring. This July, however, has no equal in our memory with temperatures in the low eighties and patterns of rain every three or four days. Our high steppe environment is lush, bursting with greenery and seeds. We have birds, rabbits, packrats, and mice like we haven’t seen in years. The land seems to sigh, whispering, “Yes! This is the way it is supposed to be!”
Given the wonderful grass, the Red Canyon Ranch bison herd is looking sleek and sassy, the cows and calves covered with a healthy layer of fat and muscle. Our bulls, Tiber and Bow, are striding into breeding season with that masculine arrogance that only a male bison can project. Young Storm, our beloved Pia’s last bull calf, looks more like a coming two-year-old than a yearling. He, along with his sister Sage, remains Pia’s legacy to Red Canyon and ties us to her beautiful memory every time we see either of them.
As wet and wonderful as this year has been, we should have a high percentage of bull calves conceived this year. Bison are interesting that way. Drought and stress-filled years produce a preponderance of heifer calves, good times lead to more bulls, the sex-ratios apparently adjusting to whichever sex benefits the species in a given environment.
And on the writing front...
We’re working harder than we have in thirty years, consistently working twelve-hour days, seven days a week. This, of course, is not where we figured we’d be at this stage in our careers, but the ever evolving (and some say declining) publishing industry now demands such commitment. Authors are now responsible for an ever larger percentage of their marketing and publicity, and being the old dogs we are, we’re having to learn new tricks as well as produce pages for existing contracts at the same time we branch off into new writing fields.
Fortunately Tor/Forge has chosen us as “guinea pigs” for a new marketing push to see if we can all learn how to use social media more effectively. For example, please check out our http://www.gear-books.com site. In addition to Tumblr, we’re reworking our presence on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The plan, and hope, is that we can cut the four hours a day we currently devote to social media to an hour and a half, which will allow us to shift that time to writing novels.
As a reminder, PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR is currently out in hardback and e-format. We’ve been delighted with the reviews and book sales are up. We invite everyone to share their experience with Old Blue Heron, Fire Cat, and Seven Skull Shield, and answer the question: Is the Morning Star really a reincarnated god, or just a clever, if delusional human being?
We have contracts for two more novels in the MORNING STAR series, and hopefully many more in the future. The second book will be delivered to Tor/Forge in February, 2015.
The next “People” book will be PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL, a novel about Norse contact in the Canadian maritime provinces. Set at one thousand, C.E., the novel deals with early Viking intervention in the Dorset and Paleo-eskimo cultures. In many ways, this was one of the toughest books we’ve written. The struggle was to balance historical Norse records with the actual archaeology and depict the political and religious struggles in Iceland, Denmark, and England that drove the Vikings westward in search of religious freedom. Additionally, Norse “Seidur” religious beliefs form the basis for most modern fantasy novels from Tolkien to George R.R. Martin. How, then, do we write this without sounding cliché? Hopefully, we’ve succeeded.
Note: Readers of the previously published PEOPLE OF THE MASKS will be specially rewarded. PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL is currently scheduled for a May 2015 release in hardback and e-format. Expect another novella tie-in sometime next March.
This has been a busy spring and summer with signings in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, but we were honored to be able to give a public lecture, tour, and book signing at the Cahokia Mounds Historical Site just outside of St. Louis in Collinsville, Illinois on the 31st of May. We left the Museum Gift Shop with a pile of extra signed copies of PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR which is set at Cahokia. If you are in the neighborhood, the site is just minutes off I-55/70 at Exit 6. Bill Iseminger and his remarkable staff went out of their way to assist and make the experience memorable for people who drove in from seven states.
Western Bison Association:
Our next adventure took us to the Western Bison Association board meeting at Bridger Valley Buffalo Company outside Lyman, Wyoming. Rex and Ronda, at Snyder Land and Development threw one remarkable weekend at their lakeside facility. And the buffalo were pretty spectacular, as well.
People of the Earth Days:
From June 27th to the 29th, we hosted the first annual Thermopolis, Wyoming PEOPLE OF THE EARTH DAYS, which celebrated our thirty-year anniversary as full-time authors. The event included a Friday night reception where we told stories about the ups and downs of our career. On Saturday we toured the Legend Rock State Park petroglyphs north of Thermopolis, hosted an ice cream social, were given a marvelous tour of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, delivered a lecture on the Wyoming State buffalo herd, and capped it all with a buffalo burger feed. On Sunday we joined a geological tour of the 2.9 billion-year history of Wind River Canyon, hosted a book signing for PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR, and taught a writers’ workshop on crafting the bestselling novel.
The event proved so successful, the Thermopolis Chamber of Commerce is going to do it again in 2015. If you missed it this go around, set your calendar for the last weekend in June. Contact thermopolischamber.org for registration information.
The second week of July is always dedicated to ThrillerFest. This is the only professional writers’ conference we attend these days. We flew out on Sunday, over-nighted in Minneapolis, and landed around noon on Monday. Publisher meetings took up the first part of the week, with Michael teaching a course on research at CraftFest. More editor and agent meetings followed, with Michael participating on a Saturday panel called, “Sick Sick Sick: Do you Have to be a Closet Sadist to Write Good Thrillers?” On Sunday morning, after the banquet, we were feeling a little singed around the edges. But what ThrillerFest does for us? It’s our opportunity to connect with our publishers, reintegrate into the business of publishing, learn new skills, rub elbows in camaraderie with other professional writers and reinforce the fact that we are not alone. Every year we leave with the creative well replenished, and enjoy a new commitment to writing the finest fiction we can.
The Gilcrease Museum:
On September 6th at 4:00 pm and again on the 7th at 3:00 pm we will be lecturing at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our topic will be “Thirty Years of Writing America’s Cultural Heritage. For more information, contact the Gilcrease at http://www.gilcrease.utulsa.edu for more information. The lectures are free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book signing for PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR and selected backlist titles.
The Gilcrease isn’t just a museum, it’s one of the great museums of the world when it comes to the Native American and Western Americana collections. It is located at 1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74127, phone: 918-596-2700. We hope to see you there!
Until next time, we wish you all a cool summer with soothing rains. For our part, we’re diving into new books in the hope of providing you with the best reading possible! Take care, and read in health!
Mike and Kathy
Post Script: We offer out congratulations to first-time novelist Karen Jones for selling her depression era novel SHADOW OF THE HAWK to Astraea Press. We wish her the best of luck!