I just took a short trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado; one of many that I have taken in search of the truth about Doc Holliday; a curiosity that began while doing research for Delilah back in 2016. At the time, I found evidence connecting Doc Holliday with the mining camp of Leadville, where that story ends up, and I used that in my story line to give it authenticity. I learned a lot about John Henry (Doc) Holliday, but I also found a lot of facts which are conflicting, and those conflicts have tickled at my brain ever since.
Many of the facts which are not to be disputed are John Henry Holliday’s birthplace and date: Griffin, Georgia on August 14, 1851. In addition it is known that he attended the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, but before he could get his practice well established, he was diagnosed with consumption, what we know of today as tuberculosis, ruining a promising career when no one wanted to be treated by “a lunger”, so headed out west to be a gambler, which was considered a legitimate way to earn a living in those days, similar to that of a professional poker player today, as differentiated from a gambler.
But it wasn’t until the 1881 events in Tombstone Arizona and the “shoot-out at the O.K. Corral”, involving Doc Holliday and the infamous Earp brothers that his noteriaty grew into legendary proportions. months to seek relief from the reported health benefits of the natural mineral hot springs and vapor caves located there. In those days there were close to fifty hot springs running up and down the banks of the Grand River (now known as the Colorado River), as this was before Walter Devereaux purchased the townsite of Glenwood Springs and secured funding to build The Hotel Colorado and The Hot Springs Pool, as well as the city’s first power plant in 1892.
Glenwood Springs is where Doc died in 1887. It is there that he was supposedly buried, although there are claims that the hillside cemetary was flooded and several graves were washed out into the streets below and bodies scattered, so that no one really knew whose bodies were reburied where, leaving the exact location of Doc’s final resting place a bit of a mystery. A more recent addition to the cemetary is a sign suggesting that because he was destitute and could no longer hold a job as a dealer in one of the saloons, that he may have been buried further up the hillside in the pauper’s graveyard where many were buried with no headstone. I find this assertion to be highly unlikely, and assume this sign was made in an attempt to deter vandalism.
Sign at the bottom of the trailhead to the hillside Linwood Cemetary in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
When talking to the locals, I learned that vandalism has been a problem for the cemetary and particularly for the grave of the infamous dentist, gambler and gunman, and the headstone which currently marks Holliday’s alleged gravesite in the Linwood Cemetary is the third headstone to mark the spot. The one prior to this one is displayed in Bullock’s Store, where the basement houses The Doc Holliday Museum with an interesting collection said to be connected to the man, as well as the only surviving pieces of the original building, which was destroyed in a fire in a 1945 fire. The building is in the loction where The Hotel Glenwood stood, Doc spent the last six months of his life, in a room on the third floor, destitute and dying of consumption. It is rumored that, broke and unable to work due to his failing health, and according to Bill Kight of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society, it is rumored that a friend, Walter Devereaux and his longtime companion, Mary Katherine Horony-Cummings, also known as Big Nose Kate, cared for him during his last days and were at his side when he died. (Glenwood Springs: The Official Insider’s Guide 2021-22, “Get to Know Doc Holliday”, by Bill Kight)
These are pictures of the older headstones that have since been removed from the Linwood Pioneer Cemetary. You can tell how old they are because of the grainy quality of the photos. The one on the right is now on display at Bullock’s Store. There was too much snow to make the trek up to the hillside cemetary on this trip, so I wasn’t able to get a picture of the current headstone.
A few doors down on the block from Bullock’s is Doc Holliday’s Saloon. I couldn’t find any evidence that there was any real connection to Doc here, but they serve good food and historical atmosphere make it a favorite of mine whenever I visit Glenwood Springs. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a rib-eye sandwich and a game or two of billiards. Nobody said a research trip has to be all work and no play.
It seems a little bit ironic that Glenwood plays up the association with Doc and Leadville doesn’t, knowing that he spent much more time in Leadville than Glenwood Springs, where Doc visited in hopes of improving his health to make his last days a bit more comfortable. Another irony of this move was that the moisture of the waters and the steam, as well as the altitude, would have actually been detrimental to his failing health, which is why Doc did better in the desert atmosphere of Arizona, but he was forced to flee and seek sanctuary in Colorado, due to being wanted for murder after the Tombstone affair. (Gary L. Roberts, True West Magazine, “Doc Holliday’s Lost Colorado Years”, June 2013)
The story of Delilah takes place during the time when Doc would have been in Arizona, but Doc had visited Leadville prior to that and so he received a mention in my book, although he wasn’t present in the story. Delilah takes place in a very small time in Colorado’s vast history which I used bits and pieces of in my story, but there is much more history that the story didn’t cover, so don’t be surprised if Doc Holliday shows up in person in one of the books in the Women of the West Adventure Series, which Delilah may soon become a part of, now that I’ve spent all this time down a research rabbit hole.
After long deliberation I have come to a rather painful decision. After April 2022, Delilah will no longer be available through any book outlet. Delilah has been on the virtual shelves for five years now, and really hasn’t had many sales, even after adding forwards from authors Robert Hanlon and Paul L. Thompson, and a new cover and new back cover matter, so I’ve decided not to renew my contract with Dusty Saddle Publishing.
Originally, the story I wrote for Delilah was very different. I made major changes to the plot after the first draft was complete, based on feedback from a beta reader, which at the time I felt was valid, so I basically rewrote more than half of the story. The Delilah that I published, was not the same story that I originally conceived. Upon re-reading to see if I could determine why it might not be selling, I discovered several places where the story feels forced, where I was trying to make the events fit into the amended plot line and it was like trying to fit a round peg into a square whole. One of things authors must strive to accomplish is to write a good story that draws readers in and then provides a satisfying ending, so as not to disappoint readers, delivering on the promise. I think I’ve failed to do that with Delilah, leading to sales not being as good as I had hoped.
The good news is, although Delilah will be disappearing from the virtual shelves for now, I’m going to go back to that original story, at least as much as I can, as I resurrect her and revise this tale into the one I originally wanted to tell. Before the end of 2022 I plan to re-release Delilah in a revised edition complete with new cover (above) and ‘blurbage’. If you already read Delilah and liked it, the revised edition will be even better. It will be a story that is true to character and creator; the story that originally should have been and almost was, will be again. So watch for this new and improved western adventure to be released in June.
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This is the time of year when we count our blessings and give thanks for the people and things that enhance our lives. There are many things for which I am thankful for, which I’d like to share with you here.
My flash fiction story, “The Haunting of Carol’s Woods” came out in Dan Alatorre’s horror anthology, Nightmareland. This anthology is book three in Dan’s The Box Under the Bed series and it is a #1 bestseller! This book is a must for horror fans with 23 stories from 14 different authors, and I am thankful to be one of them.
Another short story, “The Woman in the Water” appears in the first ever WordCrafter paranormal anthology, Whispers of the Past. This anthology includes eight paranormal stories from six seasoned authors, including the winning story from the 2019 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest, “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known”, by Jeff Bowles. I am thankful for WordCrafter‘s success in publishing its first book, and I’m looking forward to next year’s short fiction contest. I’ll be announcing the theme and guidelines for the 2020 contest next month, so watch for it.
Dusty Saddle Publishing has graciously offered to republish a re-edited edition of Delilah with new front and back matter, including recommendations from noted western authors. I’m told that the re-release date is January 13th, so about that I’m both thankful and excited.
Of course, there is the launching of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services to be thankful for, as well. It’s off to a slow start, but honestly, with all the life events and obligations that have been keeping me busy lately, perhaps that is a good thing. You may be aware that I lost two lifetime canine companions this past summer, and now, the unexpected death of a loved brother-in-law. These events have knocked me off course more than once, but I have no doubt that WordCrafter will take off at full speed in 2020. Drop by and check out WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services to see what WordCrafter can do for you.
I am extremely thankful for the Writing to be Read team members and the contributions that they make to WtbR, and all the Writing to be Read authors who have so graciously shared with my readers this past year. (The “Chatting with the Pros” series has been quite successful and in October we even had two segments. My “CwtP” author guests included women’s fiction author Barbara Chapaitis, non-fiction author Mark Shaw, western author Scott Harris, thriller author John Nicholl, crime fiction author Jenifer Ruff, mystery author Gilly Macmillan, Christian fiction author Angela Hunt, horror and dark fiction authors Paul Kane and Jeffrey J. Mariott, and young adult author Carol Riggs. (There were at least as many authors who offered supporting interviews, too.) And one more thing which I am thankful for is you, my readers. Without you all, and all of those mentioned or alluded to above, Writing to be Read wouldn’t be what it is today. So, my gratitude goes out to all of you.
It’s been a pretty great year and I am indeed thankful. Now you know some of the things that I am thankful for as this holiday season comes round. So, now I invite you to share what you are thankful for in the comments.
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Not all authors can be prolific, turning out one, two, or even three books a year. To be sure, there are prolific authors out there. If you’d like examples, think Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, or take a look at my interview with the most prolific writer I personally know, Kevin J. Anderson. The words just seem to flow onto their manuscript pages with the right words, settling in just the right order, to say exactly what the author intended to say, requiring minimal editing and revision, churning out quality stories in mind boggling volume.
I am not a prolific writer. This is an epiphiny which came to me only recently. I know it can be done, but it’s just not me. Realizing this actually explains a lot about me. Now I know why I never could complete a NaNoWriMo. While it is true that I did once write a 35,000 word novel in nine days, it wasn’t the quality writing that I am capable of. It was a draft that was nowhere close to publication. I have to struggle through the plotting, and work things out in my head with my characters until I get it just right.
With Delilah, the first book in my western frontier saga, I completed the first draft and put it through a first read and revised, and ended up rewriting at least a third of the book because I changed one scene that impacted and changed everything that had come after, but the book came out better for it after two years.
The problem is that I’m a perfectionist, so anything that is less than as perfect as I can make it be isn’t good enough to go out there with my name on it. I don’t want to pump out a huge volume of sub-par writing just to bring in the green. My readers deserve more than that, and I won’t settle for less than the quality writing and well crafted stories that I long to create.
With the second book in the saga, Delilah: The Homecoming, I didn’t even get the first draft completed before the first rewrite. Around 40,000 words into the first draft, Delilah told me that the story was all wrong. Somewhere along the line, my plot had taken a wrong turn, and the story wasn’t going in the intended direction. (Yes, I talk with my characters with the stories in this saga.) When I reread what I had, I realized the truth of it. I had no idea where to take the story from the point it was at.
I tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer. I get an idea and I have to get it down, so I just start writing. With short fiction, that’s not a bad thing, but when it comes to novels it can be. I could see a couple of places where I thought the story should go in a different direction, but the enormity of the task weighed on me and there were spots where I couldn’t see around what was already written. I set it aside for a month while I pondered the possibilities until I realized what needed to be done.
I may not be prolific, but I am obsessive/compulsive about writing, always having two or more WIPs in different stages of completion. While writing Delilah, I was also working on my thesis novel, which has now become book one of my Playground of the Gods science fantasy series, The Great Primordial Battle, along with completing several short stories during that time. Currently, along with crafting the first draft of The Homecoming, I’m working on two anthologies, preparing The Great Primordial Battle for publication, and working through the snags I’ve hit with my memoir, Losing Michael. It’s no wonder my books take years to write. Yet, I have the satisfaction of knowing that when I’m finished, they will be well crafted stories.
The soil of my mind is fertile and can produce an abundant harvest of stories. The children of my creativity just require longer gestation and growth periods. Stories don’t just spew out of my brain, ready made. They must be honed and crafted until they become the works of quality writing that my readers have already come to expect. But another thing that I’ve realized, with as many projects as I have going, when they all are finally published, and they are all lined up across my author pages and my website, it will appear that I am prolific to anyone who doesn’t know better.
The point is, as authors, we’re all heading toward the same goals, quality crafted stories. The path we chose to get there, they way that we approach the writing process, isn’t nearly as important as the fact that we complete the job. And we can all do that. What kind of writer are you?
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Every year at this time I look back and so a review of what was published on Writing to be Read and my writing life. 2017 has been pretty eventful for both me and Writing to be Read, so this year I’m particularly excited about this look back. But, I’m also excited to get out my crystal ball and warm up my psychic abilities as we take a look forward that comes as we start the new year, because I think there may be some exciting things in store.
There were so many things that happened for me in 2017. In April, my western novel, Delilah was published by Dusty Saddle Publishing, which of course, is exciting. Delilah hasn’t done too bad on sales, but it didn’t make the best seller list. It has received some really excellent reviews, and is rated with four stars on Amazon. Although it may not be a huge success, for me it was a hard earned accomplishment, but the reward came the day I received my first royalty check. Yep, I’ve got royalties. Isn’t that the final proof that I’m a writer, at last?
I do have folks inquiring about a second novel, and for those who are wondering, Book 2 is in the working. My crystal ball tells me that it will be published sometime in the coming year, only this book, I may publish myself and skip the publisher as middle man. I’m having a time getting the sales data, and what I do have makes it appears as if what sales I do have, have been the results of my own marketing efforts, so I’m not seeing the benefit of sharing my royalties with a publisher, when I can do about everything they have done for me. In addition, mid-year the rather generic cover the publisher provided for the book was replaced by a cover that fits the story better, done for me by Sonoran Dawn Studios, which I am much happier with.
In addition I had two short stories published in 2017 by Zombie Pirates Publishing. The first, “If You’re Happy and You Know It” came out on August 1, in their science fiction anthology The Collapsar Directive. The story is a futuristic dystopian tale with just a touch of humor, in a world where productivity is high, but you’re only allowed to be happy on the weekend.
The second story, “The Devil Made Her Do It”, just came out the 15th of this month in their Crime Romance anthology, Relationship Add Vice. It’s a tale about the crazy things we do for love and a girl, Betty Lou Dutton, who leaves hereself open to be taken advantage of and ends up taking the rap. My fortune telling abilities see Zombie Pirates in my future for the coming year, as well. I submitted a little flash fiction story for consideration in their Full Metal Horror anthology. Wish me luck.
The really big thing that happened for me in 2017, or at least I think it’s big, is a landed an adjunct position teaching ENG102:Academic Writing at Western State Colorado University, my Alma Mater. Let me tell you, it has been a crazy ride. I got the position due to a last minute opening, when a scheduled lecturer was unable to teach for health reasons, which was unfortunate for the scheduled lecturer, but very fortunate for me. We got it all figured out and I was hired five days before classes started, so that’s how long I had to restructure both classes to be hybrid classes and figure out how to teach a method of writing I knew nothing about. It was a rocky start, and to be honest, I think I confused many of my students at first, because I was unsure myself, but as the semester moved forward, I gained more solid footing in the classroom, and the students began to figure it out, too. I have now successfully made it through a whole semester, teaching two hybrid courses and it feels great. I know I can do it and I have some experience teaching in a University setting, so I know there will be more teaching jobs in the coming year. My crystal ball is a little blurry in this area, but I know last minute stuff happens all the time, so who knows? Maybe I’ll end up back at Western.
As for Writing to be Read, I’ve had an exciting year there, too. At the beginning of the year, I my friend Robin Conley helped me do a total overhaul of the site, and in August my friend DL Mullan of Sonoran Dawn Studios helped to redesign it. The results are what you see here now, but they were a long time in coming. I’ve added my website right here on the blog and you can reach the different sections by clicking on the tabs across the top to learn about my published poetry and fiction, my westerns, my Playground for the Gods series, or Write it Right Editing. Writing to be Read also gained some great talent in 2017, Robin Conley with her Weekly and Monthly Writing Memos, and Jeff Bowles with his Pep Talks and his God Complex posts, and I am thankful for benefit of their content for the short time they were with me. Unfortunately, life carries folks in different directions and both of these fine writers are no longer able to share their expertise and wisdom with us and I don’t foresee them rejoining us in 2017.
What my crystal ball does show me, is that Writing to be Read has grown in readership over the past year, and I feel it is due to the great and consistant content posted not only by myself, but by Robin and Jeff, as well. Most recently, the content has been almost non-existant, because I’ve had to focus on the classroom and I’ve discovered grading essays takes a lot of time. I don’t think the drop in content from losing my team members or from my not having the time to devote that I should have hurt my numbers yet, but I do foresee such a possibility if the lack of content continues.
In this realm, my crystal ball shows me something very interesting. I see new members of the Writing to be Read team and really great content in the coming year. In fact, a call for action is going out with this post, right now. If you are a writer who feels you might have something to contribute and you’d like to be on the Writing to be Read team, I want to hear from you. Shoot me an email at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com telling me what type of contribution you would like to make and how often you’d like to make it. I’m pretty flexible, so let’s talk.
In years past, I have given a rundown of all the posts throughout the year and which were viewed the most or which got the highest numbers of comments or likes, however that makes for a very lengthy, boring post, so this year I’m only giving you the most interesting facts. For instance, over the past year Writing to be Read has had viewers from the across the globe. The highest number of views coming from U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, India and Mexico. It’s top referrer is Facebook, which doesn’t really make me happy, since I’m kind of peeved at Facebook at the moment, but I’ll take my viewers wherever I can get them.
The month to receive the most views was July, with my interview with writer, poet and cover designer Dawn Leslie Mullan being the hightest viewed post. Next up was a “Pep Talk” from Jeff Bowles, “I Think We Need a Break”, and third highest was my post, “An Adventure in Social Media Marketing“. The post that received the most viewed over the whole year was my post titled, “How Do You Measure Success?” which I wrote after signing the contract for Delilah. The second highest views overall were received by “Ah! Sweet Rejection“, which I wrote, oddly enough, after recieving a rejection for Delilah. The third highest was Robin Conley’s “Weekly Writing Memo: Word Choice is Everything“.
Looking ahead to 2018, my crystal ball says it’s going to be a good year. I hope it’s right. I guess only time will tell. So until then…
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