First off, I finished the book I was writing in collaboration with Warren Murphy. It took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would, and I'm not sure what the problem was other than I haven't had much energy this past year. I think that's been the result of working the graveyard shift. Seems I did most of my sleeping in fits and starts and every weekend I'd return to a day schedule and have to revert to nights again when the work week started. Frankly, I've been a zombie and haven't done much of anything during this time. The extra money for graves was nice, though.
This will all be moot in another week. The powers that be decided I was making too much money and changed my hours. I'm not sure working from 4:30 in the morning until one in the afternoon will be an improvement, but other than quitting in protest there's not much I can do about it.
Reading has been sparse this past month. I had a rush job to line edit a manuscript for a lady in my critique group and that, along with my own writing, took away from my reading time. One book I did finish is VALLEY OF HATE, by Clay Burnham (Black Horse Western). Clay is actually Oregonian Steve Kaye, an fellow member of OWLHOOT, the world's only western apa, and a fellow I've met a couple of times when I visited Powell's City of Books. Nice chap.
He'd posted the first chapter of VOH on line and I read it. Alas, I thought, there's enough purple prose here to create a new Zane Gray book. Luckily, the descriptive passages that led off the novel gave way to a well-told and engaging yarn about two friends who set up adjacent cattle ranches in an unclaimed valley. Eventually one falls prey to his darker instincts and the other tries to protect and reform his friend before the locals host him a necktie party. There's also a comely young girl whom each of the cowboys desires. All of the elements dovetail into a satisfying conclusion and I'll shortly begin the next book in the series, SADDLED FOR VENGEANCE.
A word about Black Horse. It's an English publisher and not distributed in the US, although copies can be had on Amazon UK (much as I hate to plug Amazon). They're slightly undersized hardcovers with slick illustrated covers, somewhat pulpish in appearance. I paid $20 each from the author, who kindly inscribed them to me even though I only wanted autographs. Ah well, it's a very nice inscription.
I went to a concert at my younger daughter's middle school last night. Kristine started the flute when she was in the 6th grade and now, as an eighth grader, is becoming quite accomplished. She's also had five years of piano--though she stopped this year--and has been learning guitar for the last few months. She's always had a capacity for the performing arts and takes to music rather well. She says she wants to be an actress although she's never acted in anything yet. I can only hope she'll be a big star and let me knock around in her Beverly Hills mansion when I'm in my dotage, which isn't that far away.
Alas, she's on hiatus from her horseback riding lessons. I suppose I should be glad, what with the hit my income will take when I go to days, but I'd rather she stayed with it. I shudder to think what I've shelled out for lessons, shows, habits, and tack over the past four years to have it just stop. Then again, she may continue. I think she likes to ride, just isn't please with taking lessons right now.
I've scapped up a number of the dollar DVDs of old TV shows from Dollar Tree and last week I watched three episodes of Robin Hood, starring Richard Green. A lot of these old shows creak and groan, but Robin held up surprisingly well. The shows were from 1955, a couple or three years before they reached our shores I'd wager, and times out at over 28 minutes each. Since most shows back then ean only 22-24 minutes, they were shortened for US broadcast.
The first show deals with Robin's return to England from the Crusades and the events that made him a wanted man. Then, in the next shows, he joins the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, becomes their leader, initiates the give-to-the-poor policy, and recruits Little John. The theme song I knew as a kid is absent. A medieval ballad is sung instead.
One of the pleasures of watching old shows is seeing actors when they were starting out, or at least when they were not landing starring roles. One of these in an episode of Robin Hood was Leo McKern, who went on to lasting fame as Rumpole. Even then he didn't look very young.