Writers come in all shapes and sizes, at least western writers do. I can attest to that, having just returned from the 2015 convention of the Western Writers of America in Lubbock, TX. It was my first attendance at their convention having joined the organization only last year. I've got to tell you, it was one of the most rewarding weeks I have ever spent. My badge read: "First time attendee; new member" and I was welcomed by everyone there. I was assigned a mentor, an established member who showed me the ropes and gave me advice and counsel. I met a member called Cowboy Mike who handed out wooden nickel calling cards and who has a laugh as big as all outdoors. I met a lady who writes children's westerns named Rockey who was on the welcoming committee and who, every time she saw me, called across the room: "BOB!!!" and had me calling back: "ROCKEY!!!" And I met a young man named Nathan who is many things. He's a writer of children's stories with a western flavor; a father; has worked with wayward youth as far away as Long Island, NY and is currently managing a boy's ranch there in Lubbock. This is a man who has a great future before him and I wish him well. He and I hit it off right away and he took it upon himself to show me around Lubbock. Now, I don't know if all writers are like this, but the western writers I met in Lubbock are some of the most inclusive and encouraging people I have ever met. I learned so much in that week - about writing. about research, about truth, but, most of all, about people. And I took away advice that may change the entire direction of my new found career.
I've had to do a ton of research for the book I'm working on right now which is why I've been silent of late. I decided to tell Cason Macara's back story which was mentioned briefly in the first Macarastor novel. It covers his early life in Ireland in the late 1850's and relates his journey at sea which ultimately brought him to the United States. This was virgin territory for me, involving research regarding the conditions in Ireland at the time, as well as having to learn all about sailing ships and life at sea. One of the things that I wanted to get particularly correct was the firearms that were used in that period in that part of the world. So, I decided on a road trip to Fairfax, VA to the National Firearms Museum that is maintained there by the National Rifle Association. I corresponded with them indicating my intention and my need. They couldn't have been nicer. I was met by a senior curator who gave me a personal tour of the facility and answered all my questions, even making suggestions for the use of several particular guns to fit scenarios I related to him. Then, after lunch in the executive dining room and a peek inside the prep room where new additions to the museum come to be examined and verified before taking their places in the exhibits, I was able to use the NRA Range and fire Doug's vintage Browning Hi-Power 9 mm, which is an absolute joy to shoot. I can't say enough about the facility and the fine, dedicated people who run it. What I will say is that if you have even a passing interest in firearms, make the trip to Fairfax and go through the exhibits. You can feel the history reaching out to you as you view some of the most iconic guns the world has ever known. I'm glad I went and, honestly, I can't wait to go back. What with concentrating on my research, I'm sure I missed a lot.
On the day designated to honor the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I decided to exercise my right to keep and bear arms by taking my Ruger Vaquero to the range. Apparently, I was not alone in that regard because, for the first time since my association with the range began, I had to take a number and wait for a port. After forty minutes, my name was called and I proceeded to my port and readied myself. Not sure what the reason, perhaps the wait, but, to my estimation, I was not having a very accurate session. About half way through the hour, a young man who was waiting his turn at the port next to me was standing in a position giving him a view of my target downrange. When I stepped back to change targets, he mentioned to me that I was a pretty good shot. My reaction was appreciation but that I was actually having a bad day and was capable of doing much better. So, I put up the fresh target and sent it downrange. My next two shots were dead center in the ten ring. Go figure!
I was going through some of my stuff about a month ago and I came across something I wrote way back when I was sixteen. Not only did I write it, but I typed each page in the approximate size of a paperback novel, bound the pages into a book and fashioned the cover by tracing the depiction of a fist fight and filling in the background to coincide with a scene in the book. Do you think, even back then, I wanted to be a writer? I found the writing itself to be, well, let just say it was rudimentary. Remember, I was sixteen at the time. But, as I leafed through the yellowed pages, I was kind of impressed that the storyline was not that bad. Not blowing my own horn or anything like that, but it had possibilities. There was enough there to convince me that this would be my next endeavor. So, I'm rewriting this story, changing it a bit and adding a few touches that should make it more engrossing. It's almost finished and I'm hoping that it's my best effort yet. I hope you agree. Watch for "The Silent Weapon", coming soon. Until next time, all the best of this holiday season to everyone.
I'm excited about the opening of my website. I want to welcome everyone. Thanks go out to my beautiful daughter, Jessica Grassi, for all the work she has put into it. It occurs to me as this all comes together that this is not the only new experience currently in my life. Anyone who has read any of the Macarastor books will be aware that one of my main characters, Tom Cord, carries as his side arm an 1870 Smith and Wesson Schofield revolver, one of the first cartridge firing hand guns ever made. Originally intended for cavalry troopers, it broke apart and ejected its empty shell casings all at once instead of one at a time, and could be reloaded while riding. Well, just about a week ago, I picked up my own Schofield, a .38 caliber nickel plated, pearl handled (simulated) reproduction manufactured in Italy by A. Uberti. I'm just as excited about my new acquisition as I am about the website and I can't wait to get it to the range and test it out. Until next time, I hope you enjoy the website and the books it showcases.