Sunday night seems a good time to share good news. This past week I signed contracts with Globe Pequot Publishers for a new book—and five reprints. The new book is a study of one mega-ranching family in North Texas and Fort Worth, with a feminist approach to the subject, looking at the role of the women in the family. It’s interesting stuff, and I’ve been working on it for some time. Slow going but satisfying.
In addition, Globe Pequot will reprint five of my historical novels in 2021 and 2022. I had known for a couple of weeks that they would do four—Jessie, Libbie, Cherokee Rose, and Sundance, Butch and Me. But the surprise was the addition of Mattie to the list. Mattie was my first adult novel—I had written three novels which were marketed to young-adult readers, though I did not sit down and consciously think that I was writing a young-adult story.
With Mattie, I told the story from the viewpoint of an elderly woman looking back on her life. It’s a trope I’ve since used in novels and short stories, a way of telling someone’s story that makes me comfortable. I settle into the character and live her life with her. Mattie is based on the life of Dr. Georgia Arbuckle Fix who was a pioneer physician on the empty plains of western Nebraska in the late nineteenth century. This novel won a Spur Award as the Best Western Novel in 1988 from Western Writers of America.
That Mattie won the award in 1988 shows you that I’ve been writing a long time. But now, with these new contracts, I feel that my career is taking off—at the age of eighty. Certain bit of irony there. I can’t really complain about my career. I’ve written a lot of books and gotten some nice awards for some of them. It’s just that it’s all been sort of hardscrabble, and now, to have all this happen at once, is a bit overwhelming. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the late Debra Winegarten, who asked me to finish her Alamo book when she became ill. That work introduced me to Globe Pequot. I said something to a fellow author about feeling uncomfortable about riding on Debra’s coattails, but she put it nicely: Debra cracked the door for me, but I opened it when I turned in a strong Alamo manuscript. I hope Deb is smiling down at me. She was always one to boost other writers.
The reprints will get new covers (which they need) and will, I think, be hardback. And there’s more: in 1986, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram commissioned me to write a novel about Texas to be serialized in the newspaper in recognition of the Texas Sesquicentennial (Texans will remember how hard it was to learn to pronounce that!). I wrote a novel titled So Far from Paradise, loosely based on the founding of one ranch. Much of my current research retraces material I explored back then. The newspaper has given me permission to reprint the novel in ebook form. It is with an editor now, and an artist is working on a cover. It will come out sometime this fall—wonderful thing about being your own publisher is that the only deadlines are those you set yourself.
Of course, I’ll shout it from the rooftops when So Far from Paradise is available, as well as the other books, but I’m delighted to share my good news with you now. Not sure my feet have touched the ground in several days.