A WRITING LIFE
Teaching and writing proved a happy combination that was both intellectually stimulating and personally satisfying. I retired from teaching a bit earlier than I had always planned so that I could devote full time to writing and traveling, another happy union. To colleagues and friends who asked why I retired somewhat early, knowing that I enjoyed teaching immensely, I paraphrased Thoreau. I have many lives to live, and I had to be about the next one.
Principal fields in my scholarly writing were the American West and California. My research and writing on exploration in the West is illustrated in my article on the origins of the southern overland route to California and the Indian role as guides in western exploration. I discuss my fascination with California in an article titled California Dreaming. My concern for the environment is illustrated in my article, Eden Ravished.
I combine my enthusiasms for writing and travel in freelance travel writing. My travel articles have published in the travel sections of newspapers throughout the United States and in travel magazines. I have put up a number of my travel articles here on my web site.
David J. Langum and I collaborated in writing a biography of Thomas O. Larkin, published by University of Oklahoma Press. The book won the Caroline Bancroft History Prize. An American merchant and United States Consul to Mexican California, Larkin was the chief figure in the American acquisition of California. The paperback and hardback may be purchased online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble and by order from any bookstore. Read a summary of Larkin's life in my article.
My Road to California: The Search for a Southern Overland Route, 1540-1848, originally published by The Arthur H. Clark Company, has been reprinted in paperback. The book is the only volume to bring together the story of the search for an overland route to California by Spaniards, Mexicans and Americans. It may be purchased online at Barnes & Noble and at Amazon and by order at any bookstore. This reprint volume contains an index.
The general reader may prefer the most recent reprint, right, which does not contain the index.
My short novel, Santa Fé mi casa, was released in June 2011. This is a love story set in New Mexico and the Southwest at the opening of the Mexican War. John Henry Harris ,a young soldier in the United States Army of the West, is eager to wave the flag and fight for his country. But John Henry’s world is soon turned upside down. In Santa Fé he meets Morita and falls in love. Finding no enemies in New Mexico, John Henry questions whether he can support this war against a people who have committed no wrong against him or the United States. He is torn between conflicting passions of loyalty, justice, duty and love. The idyll ends when the army leaves Santa Fé to carry the conquest to California. John Henry longs for Morita and a life with her in the little adobe house in Santa Fé. The print book is available at Amazon, also the Kindle eBook edition. Also available at Barnes and Noble and as a Nook Book.
My second love, after writing, is traveling. The two proved a happy combination. I traveled with my family, and I organized and escorted tours. Soft Adventure tours, I called them, since they involved experiences that were a bit different and a bit more challenging than the typical tourist experience. In the course of my travels, I have visited some sixty or seventy countries and dependencies. My travel articles published in newspapers and travel magazines throughout the United States. This was in the salad days when newspapers had budget for freelance writing. A collection of my articles, titled Soft Adventure Travel, was published in June 2011 as an eBook. It is available at Smashwords and at Amazon Kindle.
I reversed the usual path of novel-to-screenplay by writing a novella based on one of my screenplays. Sakura, the book, is based on my screenplay of the same title. This is a story about a good man who loves two women. He lives the good life of a respected professor in a quiet college town on the United States west coast. He loves his wife, his cottage garden and his academic routine. He is content. But when his new Japanese graduate assistant’s mother visits her son from Japan, the professor’s world is turned upside down. Memories that he thought he had forgotten or suppressed flood back, and his tranquility vanishes. The eBook is available at Amazon and Smashwords and other online purveyors. The print volume is available at Amazon, CreateSpace and elsewhere.
Since the trends in recent years have been toward self-publication, the options in the production of covers has proliferated. I have displayed some examples of the various options here.
In recent years, I have turned to writing screenplays and teleplays. What writer does not have a screenplay or two in his head, on disk, or making the rounds? Have a look at a short description of each of my scripts.