The Birth of THE EAGLE’S CLAW

As I believe I mention in my About page, I’ve written for most of my life. A tubercular child, I grew up believing I couldn’t participate in sports, so I turned inward. I used library books to write themes on subjects that claimed my attention. As likely as not, it was something about Native American cultures. Early on, I was fascinated by the Iroquois Confederacy, likely prompted by James Fenimore Cooper’s  Leatherstocking Tales. Hats off to Mr. Cooper. He provided a sickly child countless hours of enjoyment.

From these themes, I began to write short fanciful stories without realizing I was creating fiction. I was simply enjoying myself. At any rate, as I grew older, I exercised my creative impulse in another direction. I began to draw and paint. I liked oils and got to where I could produce a credible still-life. Landscape, however, was my goal. But before I got there, I started noticing something. On top of my job pressures (I was a workaholic) and the press of everyday life with a wife and two sons, I found that as I worked on a painting, I got more tense. By the finish of each piece, I was a wreck. Fear of messing it up, I suppose. This got so bad that painting was no longer a recreation allowing me to relieve the stress of my life. It contributed to the stress.

So forty years ago, I put away the brushes and took up the pen again. (Actually, it was a Corona portable typewriter.) I decided to tackle a novel. But I couldn’t just do any novel…no, it had to be on a grand scale. So I bean writing “The Eagle’s Claw.” My wife and children put up with me shutting myself up in my home office after a long day’s work. When I finally pronounced the novel completed, was 288,000 words. Mr. Ben Ames Williams might be able to get “House Divided,” a marvelous 1,000-page historical novel, published, but Donald T. Morgan didn’t have a prayer. Nonetheless, I couldn’t bear to cut great patches out of the manuscript. So I put it away and began writing other things, finding a modicum of success under two pseudonyms.

This past year, I decided I had learned enough about writing to tackle my pet project again. After not having looked at the manuscript in decades, I hauled out “The Eagle’s Claw,” and had another gander at it. The writing was atrocious; the story was good. At least, that was my judgment. From this perspective, it wasn’t difficult at all to start cutting the book down to size. When I finished, I found it to be a better book at 145,000 words. Alas, that was still too long, about half again the size of the normal book on today’s market. One of my publishers, Robert Brown of Martin Brown Publishers, sent me an entire treatise on why it was not economically feasible for a publisher to take on the book. And his arguments made sense…economic sense. Nonetheless, I wanted “Claw” published.

A very good Albuquerque author, Sarah Baker, who is a friend and fellow SouthWest Writers member, teaches a class on self-publishing on Amazon, and as this appeared the only avenue for getting my baby (I was terribly involved emotionally with the book and its characters) published, I enrolled in the class. When another friend, Dr. Joseph Bridwell, (who happens to be a world-class photographer) agreed to help create the cover, I decided to take the step. The result is the Kindle ebook whose Prologue and first Chapter are available on this website.

By the way, Dr. Joe did the banner for this blog. Kind of eye-catching, isn’t it. The dramatic rock formation is one of many in the Bisti-De Na Zin Wilderness area in Northwest New Mexico. We have a beautiful state.

Hope this was of interest. I’ll try to do better about posting in the future.

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