Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keeping Tabs on Numero Uno

You know how, when the class picture comes around, the person you always look for first is yourself? That's the way writers are. They've got their little Google Alert Antennae out, checking for cybervibes that might sound like their names.

My antenna picked up some fun information this week that I thought I'd share.

The first is from someone who took one of the classes I taught at the Western Reserve Writers Conference last September. She was venturing out of her comfort zone and blogging, and she mentioned that she had taken my class on Raising Your Internet Profile 101. She wrote a great blog on how to avoid procrastination. (You go, Alanna! Great job.) It has to do with eating a frog--a powerful image that gets the point across. Click here if you'd like to check it out.

Next, Jennie Hansen, author and book reviewer, who had already reviewed Counting the Cost on Meridian Magazine , wrote another mini-review on her personal blog. Here's what she said:

There's a great Western included in the Whitney's Best Romance category this year. I'm not sure why it was put in the Romance Category, possibly because there isn't a Western category and the General category was already pretty full. There's a relationship between a cowboy and some other dude's wife, but I wouldn't call it a romance; they're both in love with the same person--her.

But forget the romance elements, Counting the Cost by Liz Adair is the best Western I've read in a long time and as I've said before I'm a Western fan. This one is gritty, but not profane. There's an illicit relationship, but it's not in our face and the cowboy is painfully aware it's not right. The life and actions of the cowboy are heartbreakingly realistic. And though I didn't care much for the woman in the story, I could still sympathize with the hardships her cowboy's life inflicted on her.

I think most readers, Western fans or not, will agree Liz Adair is a particularly talented writer and I personally think her understanding of the early twentieth century cowboy is one of the best I've run across

Well, that made me feel pretty good. And then, I got word of another review. This was from Rick Huff's Best Of The West Reviews. Here's what Rick Huff wrote:

He is Heck Benham, a striking handsome young cowboy with barely more than his saddle and his Levis to his name. She is Ruth Reynolds, a lovely and free-spirited woman, caught in an abusive loveless marriage with the "bean counter" hired by Heck's respected rancher boss. Maybe the passion that builds between them was never meant to be, but certainly it was never allowed to be in the straight-laced, southern New Mexico ranching society of the 1930s depicted in Liz Adair's Western romance novel, Counting The Cost. Will they decide to throw caution to the whistling Western wind? And could they weather the consequences...

Westerner Liz Adair is the best-selling author of the Spider Latham mystery series. In her first Western novel, the plot moves at sort of a Bridges Of Madison County pace. Mostly the inevitable is played out against the leisurely, but with the staccato points of a lightning strike, a bucking horse or a fist to the face. You nearly feel the remote silence, the single bird off in a field, or a distant slamming door.

Moreover, Adair displays an intimate knowledge of the cowboys' work, gear and lives. It's revealed in the details. For instance, there's a description of Heck and the hands working the remuda by forming a living corral with their ropes stretched between them that I don't recall ever before seeing in print or alluded to in song.

So there you go. You can see why I'm grinning today. Not only that, but reading Rick Huff's review made me remember sitting with my Uncle Clay--it wasn't long before he died--and having him tell me how the cowboys would make that living corral when the wrangler brought in the remuda. That was a sweet afternoon. Thanks, Rick, for reminding me.

That's my Uncle Clay in the picture above, taken when he was a young cowboy working cattle on the Jornada in southern New Mexico.

Follow this blog! Did I promise you a healthy fried egg? Dang. Every morning when I cook them I don't have my camera. I'll try to get it done this week. It's so quick and easy and good for you.

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