Thursday, September 10, 2009

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Calling all State Agencies

Are you looking for a way to get your information out there? Consider being a vendor at the Wyoming Book Festival. The festival is offering special deals for any state agency or non-profit interested in having a table at this year's festival. How often do you get a great crowd to showcase all the great thing your organization is doing--for free?
Let the Wyoming State Library know if you're interested in distributing information at the festival. Don't forget, the Greek Festival will be going on next door. Talk about two audiences for the price of one.
Contact Lesley Lipska at 777-7283 or Tina Lackey at 777-6338 for more information. Remember the festival is only about a week away!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Peg Sundberg: Living her dream

Featured in the Winter 2008 issue of the Wyoming Library Roundup
It was Peggy Sundberg’s life-long dream to write children’s stories, and after 20 years she reached that goal. Now she is helping children realize their own dreams.
Sundberg knew at a young age that she wanted to publish children’s books, but she wanted to make sure that her books had a positive message.
“I would read stories to my children and wonder ‘why did anyone publish this story. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a bunch of words,’” Sundberg says.
She wanted to ensure her books weren’t just words, making sure they taught children life lessons such as responsibility, respect and individuality.
Although Sundberg knew the kind of books she wanted to publish, she had yet to find the perfect story. That was until she took in a lost horse that became the inspiration for her first book Lonesome the Little Horse—His Mountain Adventure.
“The sheriff in our county knew I took in rescued horses, so when he called me,
I was more than happy to take in the horse,” she says.
The horse was lost and Sundberg planned to take care of it until they found the owner. Once, they found her, she told Sundberg of how the other horses had really picked on this horse. The horse was smaller and had a bit of a limp.
“He finally went through the fence and got away. It was then he got lost and ended up getting into loco weed.”
Loco weed for horses is much like drugs for humans. It’s very addictive and because of this the horse was in pretty rough shape once he got to Sundberg.
“If someone wouldn’t have found him, he probably would have died,” she says. Sundberg used the horse’s story to create a book for children about not being a bully and the importance of staying away from drugs.
“In the story, I talk about this grass the horse keeps seeing and how his mother keeps telling him to stay away from it. He decides to go ahead and try it anyway making himself very sick,” she says.
“There’s one line in the book where he says, ‘I should have listened to my mother.’ Parents love that.”
The difference between Sundberg and many other writers is that she’s self-published. Because she’s selfpublished, she has to fight an idea that self-published books are not as good as books with publishers. Sundberg says she knew her books would resonate well with schools, so she used the school systems to market her book.
“It started by my telling a few teachers about this book I had written and wanted to know if I could come in and sign some books and speak in the classrooms. From there it grew as teachers told other teachers. Now I’ve traveled across the country sharing my stories,” she says.
While traveling, Sundberg developed another skill she didn’t know she had, a knack for public speaking.
“I’ve never used cards or notes,” she says.
“I’ve always spoken from the heart.” Sundberg made a cameo in her first book and once she released her second book her series became aptly titled “The Cowgirl Peg Series,” because not only are the animals in her stories real, but so is the Cowgirl behind them.
“The horses are real even if sometimes the stories are not. Cowgirl Peg is real and students have made that connection,” she says.
At the end of her books she features real photographs on the horses.
Maybe the book that is the most real to Sundberg, and by far the hardest to write was Jazmine’s Incredible Story, a book about her beloved German Shepherd, Jazmine.
“We got Jazmine for me to travel with because I drive all over the country and I’m by myself—sometimes in inner cities where it’s not safe for me to travel alone. We got her from a shelter and it became obvious very quickly that she had been abused.”
The dog was scared of people and rather skittish. As time went on, Jazmine had a heart murmur and her veterinarian decided it would be best to run an X-ray to see if her heart was ok.
“We were shocked because we actually found a bullet in her rib. That’s how bad her life was,” she says.
One school let Sundberg bring Jazmine inside and Sundberg would tell Jazmine’s triumphant story. The more schools she went to and the more times she told Jazmine’s story, the more people requested a book about Jazmine’s adventures.
“One thing I always teach students is that to develop stories you have to paint pictures with words. But this was hard because it was all true. I wanted to teach kids that animals have feelings and to respect animals.”
Sundberg says there’s only one sad page, when they find the bullet, and she made the next page funny, so children wouldn’t dwell on what just happened.
“I wanted to send a message but not in a preachy way. If you’re shooting a dog with a BB-gun, the dog does hurt and feel pain.”
Jazmine has since semi-retired after working with Sundberg for about four years. Sundberg shows no sign of retiring soon. She has released a book every year since she started selfpublishing and only plans to slow that down so she can focus on her school visits.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve work for in my life. I’m living out my life-long dream and I’m getting to have a positive effect on kids. That’s what makes it all worth it.”

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cindy Keen Reynders: Spends her days as author and marketing professional

Story featured in the Fall/Winter 2009 Edition of the Wyoming Libraries Roundup
She often wonders if the stories she’s written so far are “all the gods will allow.” Lucky for her readers, author Cindy Keen Reynders has more than a few ideas left to write.
During Reynders’ day job as a marketing specialist for Laramie County
School District No. 1 in Cheyenne, she says she’s constantly coming up with ideas for her writing whether it’s a name someone says that sticks out or an idea for another book.
“I sit down for two or three hours in the morning for my writing, then I switch over to my other life, but my writing is always a part of me,” Reynders says.
Reynders says has always had an interest in writing but became serious about it in the early 1990s. She began writing romance novels and joined a writing group while she lived in
Colorado Springs.
“Before, I had always written romance, but I never really sat down and took the time to go through different drafts,” she says.
But once Reynders joined the writing group she began taking more classes to learn as much as she could about her craft. She also started going to conferences and seminars.
“It just grew from there and now I continue to do whatever I can to keep writing. I take some breaks and sometimes life gets in the way.”
Once Reynders moved to Wyoming and remarried she started shifting the direction of her writing career away from romance.
“I thought romance just isn’t working for me. I still want to write, but I needed to find a new story and a new genre.”
So she started with an idea and it grew and grew, eventually becoming two books, The Saucy Lucy Murders and Paws-itively Guilty.
“When I finished the first book, I did a couple of drafts and thought, ‘Hey, this might be worthy of publishing,’” Reynders says.
The book was going to be published, even if Reynders had to do it herself. She decided to save up money to self-publish the book if her querying to different publishers went nowhere.
Fortunately for Reynders, she didn’t have to worry about self-publishing.
“It took a lot of hard work, but this one happened and they signed on for both books,” she says.
The two books tell the stories of two sisters and the situations they find themselves in, trying to help solve murders. Reynders’ own sister helped her with the books.
“I had always used my writing groups to bounce ideas around, but with these books I was able to work with my sister. We would sit and talk and laugh thinking of the different situations the characters got into.”
Reynders calls the two books a lighthearted, fun read as she describes the characters as “larger than life.”
“When you sit down and read it, it’s just like a roller coaster ride. They’re lots of fun,” she says.
Cheyenne has really become home for Reynders—who says she and her husband plan to retire here. As a child, Reynders says she and her family traveled everywhere and in her first marriage her husband was in the Air Force.
After all it is her home in Cheyenne where Reynders really gets into her writing. She goes to bed early and is an early riser—spending two to three hours every morning working on her writing.
“I get up at four, grab a cup of coffee, get dressed and go downstairs to my dungeon, an unfinished basement with writing posters on the walls. It’s all mine. It’s my territory.”
Her schedule allows her to split her passion of writing and her regular day job. Reynders says there are lots of writers who can’t or don’t want to do both, but Reynders prefers it.
“There are a lot of us who would like to get big, but it just isn’t necessary. It is just another facet of our lives. Some can fit in full-time work and others cannot, depending on your choices,” she says.
It is the work environment that
Reynders says helps broaden and improve her writing. Although she switches from writing to work during the day, she is always thinking an dalways listening.
“The voices won’t stop. The plots keep coming,” she says.
Reynders has written down and saved several potential story plots. Some day she says she may write all of them, or she may not write any.
“A part of me does want to work full-time at writing, but a larger part of me realizes the richness of working a ‘day job.’ The people I meet and know is all brought into my books.
I’m not writing in my own little bubble. All these experiences broaden my writing.”
Most people say you have to be determined to be a writer, but Reynders jokes you have to be more obsessive compulsive than anything else.
“Even with the acceptance you get, there is still a lot of rejection. I continue to wrestle with the rejection, but I write because I love it,” she says.
And the rejection does not keep her down either. Recently, Reynders has returned to writing romance novels, after some previous rejection in the genre.
“I now feel that my skills are much better. I was told ‘no’ so many times and had the door shut in my face, I decided I’m gonna do this. I have no reason not to,” she says.
Writers should continue to challenge themselves, according to Reynders. Her next book is a romance novel set in 12th Century Ireland.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zachary Pullen: Making a story one page at a time

Featured in the Winter 2008 Edition of the Wyoming Libraries Roundup
On a typical Wyoming street lined with cottagestyle homes and white picket fences sits a green house. Not a neutral green or a green found in the landscapes of the West, but a vibrant, alive green. And inside this house is exactly what you would expect to find — an artist.
“When we looked at this house I was plain white and the trees were so overgrown that the house was hidden.
So we cut back all the trees and started painting it. When I did, all my neighbors, and even my parents, asked if I was sure I wanted to paint it that color. But it’s fun. It fits our personality,” says Wyoming artist and author Zachary Pullen.
Pullen lives in Casper with his wife Renate and four-year-old son Hudson.
Not only is Pullen a storyteller through his art, but now he’s a storyteller through his words. He recently wrote and illustrated his first book, Friday My Radio Flyer Flew, which will be released in May.
The title came to him one night when he was trying to get to sleep.
“I told my editor that when I was trying to go to sleep I kept getting a flash of a title. And all I had was a title, Friday My Radio Flyer Flew. My editor said it sounded like a great book.”
“It’s about a little boy who tries to get his dad’s old radio fl yer airborne and his week of trying. He has good days and bad days, so every day has its mark,” Pullen says.
And that’s where it began. Pullen says it took more than a year and a half to have his title on the Simon and Schuster schedule.
It was a waiting game, but Pullen couldn’t imagine handing it over to anyone else to write.
He met the challenge of writing his first book with a little apprehension. Although Pullen was a storyteller by nature, he had never used words to tell a story, it had always been through his paintings.
“Storytelling is the base of everything I do, but I was a horrible writer in high school and got horrible grades in writing class,” Pullen told his editor.
Instead, Pullen used his illustrations to tell the story and wove words within that story. Time spent with his son inspired some of the book.
“Kids can inspire anything if you let them. That is, as long as you’re open to it and not frustrated by what they’re doing.”
There are some shared traits between the boy in the book and Pullen’s son, Hudson.
“I think the main trait is that stickto-it-ness. He’s just gonna do it no matter what.”
Pullen says he and Hudson are both in the book.
The dad in Friday My Radio Flyer Flew plays a secondary role, similar to the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. Pullen says he likes to think of himself as that kind of father.
“I think it’s not as much inspired as it is just day dreamy-ness about what would it be like, or how would I act in this situation? Would I be the cool dad who let him wreck or would I be
the one to wrap him up in foam so he didn’t get hurt?”
“I just kind of let him do his own thing, call it spoiled if you want. But it’s my job to observe and let him do his own thing. Let him be a kid. There are no leashes around here.”
Pullen previously illustrated The Toughest Cowboy and The Greatest Game Ever Played in addition to several cover illustrations for other children’s books.
The Toughest Cowboy was the first book Pullen illustrated. After doing a number of covers, his editor from Simon and Schuster called to say they’d been looking for an illustrator for this book for four years and asked if he’d be interested.
“I was trying to act all cool and said, ‘yeah, send me the manuscript and I’ll take a look.’ Inside I thought ‘yeah of course I’ll do it, I don’t care what it is,’” he says.
The book just so happened to be The Toughest Cowboy. Pullen was a perfect fit for the story, especially since he was from Wyoming. But the funny thing about illustrating this book was his editor didn’t even know he was from Wyoming. He just knew Pullen lived in Upstate New York. The book was never expected to sell as well as it did. It is currently in its fourteenth printing and will be available in paperback soon.
“To work on The Toughest Cowboy, I bought a plane ticket and went to Wyoming. I shot something like 27 rolls of film of landscapes. I had a road trip in a convertible. It was the dream job. I got to see my family and come back here.” Pullen says.
Pullen grew up in Casper and attended Casper College. He later received a scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design. It was there, Pullen found, he could make a living by being an illustrator. After graduating from college in 1998 he moved back to Casper, got married and headed to New York.
“I knew I couldn’t get started here, not at where I wanted to be.”
In addition to book illustrations, Pullen also works as a freelance illustrator for newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and magazines like Esquire. He made several of these contacts while living in New York. “I would go once or twice a week into the city, troupe my portfolio around and get some really harsh criticism. Some people said ‘oh, we like your stuff, we’ll give you a call.’
After a while, you learn to take those comments with a grain of salt,” he says.
But his big break came during a meeting with New York Times Art Director Steven Heller. Heller was one of his harshest critics.
“When looking at my portfolio— which I had slaved over—he asked me to put my portfolio together and find the door. At that point I had no idea I’d end up working for him,” Pullen says.
As Heller left, he told Pullen if he didn’t hear from him within the week to give him a call.
“By the time I got home, I already had a message from him.”
Pullen says it’s difficult sometimes to work so far from the Big Apple.
“I really like the get-in-your-face approach. It’s much easier to say no to someone on the phone, but when I was in New York City I could meet with people face-to-face,” he says.
Living in Wyoming has been difficult, especially working as an illustrator in the publishing business.
“Everything works so slowly and I can’t go to the city, go to their offices and say ‘OK let’s move on this now.’
I depend a lot on their secretaries or assistants to pick up the phone and call me back.”
But Pullen says there have been a lot of positives in returning to Wyoming. For one, he gets to spend more time helping and contributing to the community he grew up in. He especially enjoys speaking with elementary students.
“There’s always a few kids who really stand out,” Pullen says. His own son played a role in the Pullens returning to their home state. Pullen and his wife want their own son to go through the Wyoming school system, the same system and community that he’s trying to give back to now.
For information on Zachary Pullen’s school or library visits, go to www.zacharypullen.com/.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dreams do come true for children's author Eugene Gagliano

Featured in the Fall 2006 issue of the Wyoming Library Roundup
If there is one thing author Eugene Gagliano likes to see, it’s that glint in children’s eyes when they begin to believe in themselves.
Gagliano (pronounces Gall-iano) is best known for his picture books, C is for Cowboy and Four Wheels West, although he also has three young adult and middle grade fiction books in print. Now retired, he earned the nickname “the teacher who dances on his desk” in his 34 years in elementary school classrooms.
He really did physically dance on desks. “Always!” he said. “I had no problem with jumping on the desk in the middle of the winter, especially when things were dull – just jump on a desk and start dancing or singing.”
Gagliano still works in classrooms, but now it’s as a guest author who can teach and entertain without having to give tests. He has presented at more than 50 schools around the state in the last three years.
“I go in there and hopefully entertain them in an informative way, talking about writing,” he said,
“Give them some tips. And inspire them.”
The inspiration part is especially important to him. “I talk about believing in yourself, working hard at it, and making those dreams come true, whether it’s becoming a writer or whatever,” he said.
“And I tell them, don’t let people tell you you can’t. You can. Most of the time you can. You have to believe that you can, and you just have to work at it. Because so many kids today give up. They’re told, oh, you can’t do this, you can’t do that.”
What he wants to see is that look in their eyes that says they can. One of the props he brings to the classroom to show the power of persistence is a giant tub of all his rejection letters from 20 years of writing.
“I usually ask them, ‘What do you think’s in this container?’” he said.
“And the kids will usually say, ‘Fan mail!!’ And I go ahhhh…..no. Some kids will say, ‘Bills!’ And I’ll say ahhhhh…could be.
“Then someone usually picks up that they’re letters from publishers and then we get into the rejection thing. I tell kids, it’s kind of like looking at rejection letters as the ladders to success. The more you get, the higher you get, you’re getting closer to where you’re going, which is kind of true.”
Gagliano was born in Niagara Falls, New York. Always good with plants, he started out in horticulture. While working on his associate applied science degree in ornamental horticulture, he started dating a girl who was studying to be a preschool teacher. Through her, he came into closer contact with young children, and he felt a powerful pull.
“I just liked being around kids,” he said. “It was fun. Kids were full of life.”
His college counselor encouraged him to finish his horticulture degree, and then to find a job at a summer camp to see if teaching was truly for him.
“I went to camp,” he said. “Loved it. Decided that was where I belonged. No regrets, except for the pay scale.
The rewards have been wonderful.”
Summer camps persuaded him to earn his B.S. in Elementary Education. They also persuaded him to move to Wyoming. He fell in love with the West while working with a traveling camp. He took his wife, Carol, out West the next summer for a six-week trip, and they both decided they wanted to live there.
“I wanted to get away from the pollution, the population,” he said. He felt “stuck” in New York.
“My family was like, OK, get a job at Hooker Chemical,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that. I just didn’t want to live there. After seeing what was out here, there was just no way I could.”
It took him three years, but he landed a job in a one-room country schoolhouse in Johnson County and moved to Wyoming with Carol and their thirteen-month-old daughter, Gina, in
1973. In 1977, he began teaching in town, first fourth grade, and then later, second grade.
“I liked them both, but especially the second grade because they’re so open to learning and so excited and everything’s new and wonderful,” he said. “That’s another reason I like to be around children, because life is new and beautiful for the most part.”
Gagliano loved to write, primarily poetry, from about sixth grade on. He had the good fortune to have teachers who encouraged his writing and encouraged him to submit his poetry, some of which was published. After he married, had children and started teaching, his time was limited. He still wrote and submitted poetry, but intermittently.
At the same time, he saw children’s literature taking a real turn. “It was really becoming something substantial. I enjoyed reading the young adult, the middle grade fiction and the picture books. They were wonderful.”
He had an inkling he wanted to write for children. Then, Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows, visited his school and the inkling grew into determination.
He thought, “I want to do this. Somewhere down the road, I want to write books that will move children and that they’ll get excited about.”
Money was tight. Carol had taught for one year when they were first married, but then “in those days you had to quit when you were pregnant back in New York,” he said. Their daughter was followed by three boys – all supported on one teacher’s salary.
Nevertheless, Carol insisted that he take a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature, even though they really couldn’t afford it. “My wife was very supportive of me,” he said “and she said we’ll do it on a payment plan, and we’ll just do it. This is what you really want.”
Their house was small: three boys in one little room, their daughter in “sort of a closet we put her in.”
In their slightly-less-small main bedroom, Gagliano set up his manual typewriter on a treasured desk that his wife bought him for an anniversary present and began writing his stories.
“With kids, it was hard,” he said. “Because I’d only get a chance to write once in a while – the weekends, if I could. I’d try to get an hour in in the evenings, and I just started writing.
Gagliano worked in a flower shop on weekends and holidays to bring in extra income, and at one point he and Carol cleaned the phone company offices three nights a week.
One of his sons, Darin, would help him collect aluminum cans to cash in: he used the money from them to buy postage for his manuscripts.
“It may sound funny, but this is true,” Gagliano said.
“Whenever Darin had extra change, he’d give it to me. He’d say, ‘Here, Dad – go mail something.’”
As he became more serious, he joined Wyoming Writers, a statewide writers’ group.
“I looked forward every year to going to those conferences and being with people, because I was isolated, especially as a children’s writer, back then.”
He moved up to an electric typewriter and a bigger house where he told two of the boys to share a bedroom so he could have his own writing office. He joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). With the encouragement of fellow SCBWI member and well-known children’s author Bruce Coville, Gagliano got his first story published in an anthology and enough cash from the sale to buy a kitchen table.
“With that, my wife was thrilled of course,” he said. “It was like, it’s maybe starting to pay off.”
Writing for publication is a waiting game: you send and wait, send and wait and hope. Finally, The Secret of the Black Widow, was accepted and published in 2001 after 24 rejections.
The book is historical fiction, set in Wyoming in 1890, just as it was becoming a state.
“There came a point where I really kind of didn’t believe it myself,” he said. “That year before this book came out, I just thought, I’m going to give it one more shot. If I can do it, great. If I don’t, it’s not meant to be.
And I wasn’t going to put any more time, money or energy into it.”
Through his SCBWI membership, he learned that Sleeping Bear Press was looking for an author to write a Wyoming alphabet book. He applied and got the contract for C is for Cowboy. He was told Susan Guy, also from Wyoming, would be his illustrator. Talking with his fellow teachers he discovered that she was also from Buffalo, and she sat seven seats away from him in a community choir they both sang in.
The Gagliano and Guy families have become friends through C is for Cowboy and the subsequent collaboration on Four Wheels West: A Wyoming Number Book. Guy even included two of Gagliano’s grandchildren in Four Wheels West.
Gagliano doesn’t see the illustrations until the book is completed. “I don’t want to influence her,” he said. “I want to see her interpretation.”
In part, it’s professional distance and courtesy. He wouldn’t want someone watching over him as he drafted the text: “It’s bad enough the editors say, eh… oh gee, we’re thinking maybe for this number we should do this.
Like in the beginning with C is for Cowboy: ‘We decided not to use methane for M because it’s a little hard to illustrate.’”
Gagliano often tackles tough subjects in his middle grade fiction. Inside the Clown, published in 2003, dealt with a teenager’s depression and suicide attempt. Falling Stars explored the difficulties of Alzheimer’s disease.
He wrote both to give young readers hope and to help them understand other people’s struggles.
When C is for Cowboy came out, Gagliano retired from teaching, freeing him to write more and to speak to schools where he dresses up in 1890s garb, brings hats and other props and makes children laugh while teaching them about characterization, stories and how to write – and how to believe in themselves.
Gagliano exudes a sense of wideeyed wonder that his dream of writing books for children came true.
That he could be invited to speak at conferences and “talk shop” with authors he admires. That he could show up at a school and see kids with their faces pressed to the fence, saying excitedly, “That’s the arthor! That’s the arthor!”
He’s met so many authors that he admires not just for their writing, but for how kind they are, how down to earth and how respectful of children. He tries to emulate that in his own life. At the Equality State Book Festival in Casper in October, a little boy approached Gagliano,
“And I could tell he just wanted to talk. I said, ‘You wanted to say something?’ He goes, ‘Well…’ He looked around. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘what do you do when kids make fun of your writing?’
“‘You have to remember, son,’ I said, ‘Not everybody’s going to like your work, but if you like it, that’s all that really matters. You keep writing.’”
It’s a good bet that Gagliano will keep writing as long as his fingers can move on the keyboard. “I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I dreamed about it for a long time.”
Visit Gene Gagliano’s web site at www.gargene.com.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Craig Johnson: Wyoming author uses sense of humor when promoting Wyoming Libraries

Featured in the Summer 2007 issue of the Wyoming Libraries Roundup
It’s unclear whether or not author Craig Johnson is a cheap date, but the good news is he has a pretty cheap honorarium for libraries—a six-pack of Rainier Beer, cans preferred. “A lot of libraries go ‘wow, just give a six-pack, hmmm, maybe we should give that guy a call,’” the author laughs.
“I think you can judge a society by its libraries, and with that in mind, Wyoming comes out ahead. We’ve got a wonderful library system in the state, and anything I can do to promote them and literacy is a done deal.”
The story of his honorarium began with the Meeteetse library that wanted to bring him in to do an event but were unsure whether they’d have enough money.
“I wrote and said that once you reach a certain level or literary notoriety; you can’t really negotiate your honorarium; mine is the same as it’s always been: a six pack of Rainier Beer,” jokes Johnson.
But jokes aside, Johnson is a serious writer with some serious attention. His books have received high praise. Before his writing success, Johnson spent a long time in what he calls his “bum years.” Johnson says he did everything from being a cowboy to a police officer. “A lot of times, I look back and think thank goodness I became a writer or else all of this would have been for nothing. I would have just been a bum.”
In addition to running the gamut of jobs, life for him was scattered through much of the country. He eventually found and built his ranch in Ucross, Wyoming—population 25. And it’s this place and Wyoming as a whole that have had significant roles in his writing. “To ignore the place is to do something at your own risk as a writer, because it informs everything.
Location informs your characters—who they are and where they’re from. To ignore that would just be a criminal act, as far as I’m concerned,” Johnson says.
He also decided to put an emphasis on the seasons in his books. The Cold Dish starts with fall, followed by Death Without Company in winter and Kindness Goes Unpunished in spring. His next book, Another
Man’s Moccasins, is a summer book.
“I decided I would take into consideration one of the things that has the most impact on us out here in the West—the weather and the seasons.”
Setting his books in Wyoming, in the romantic beauty and epic quality of the West, may have even been one of the reasons his books were published.
“It’s nice to be reminded of the beauty here. Whenever I walk out to feed the horses in the morning and the sun is hitting the hills just right; the dynamic is gold and beautiful, it just reminds you. It reminds you that we live in a wonderful place—a special place.”
Johnson says he shies away from telling people what a Cinderella story his writing career has been. His book earned positive reviews in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post and Denver Post.
But, after all the national attention his books receive, he’s most happy that his stories resonate with readers in Wyoming.
“There’s the biblical phrase that the prophet hath no honor in his own country.
You worry about that type of thing, but the responses the books receive nationally, internationally, and particularly here in Wyoming are very important to me.”
At the opening of Johnson’s web site www.craigallenjohnson.com it reads,
“People wonder where I get my eccentric characters, but if they lived in Wyoming they wouldn’t ask me that question.”
Johnson’s Walt Longmire novels The Cold Dish, Death Without Company and Kindness Goes Unpunished, received starred reviews in Kirkus and Booklist and with Booksense and Killer picks. The Cold Dish was a DILYS award finalist and Death Without Company won the 2006 Wyoming Historical Society’s Best Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Mountain & Plains Book of the Year. Kindness Goes Unpunished was 38 on the ABA Hardback Best Sellers List. His short story, Old Indian Trick, won the Hillerman Award, and the fourth in the Walt Longmire series, Another Man’s Moccasins, was published by Viking in
March 2008.When asked if he still did his in-state honorariums for a six-pack, Johnson replied. “Yep, but these days they usually overpay me with an eighteen-pack.”