The latest issue of The Land Report features a long excerpt from Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut: The San Antonio Viejo Ranch of Texas. Of course Wyman Meinzer's photos make the thing read a hell of a lot better. My thanks and compliments to editor Eric O'Keefe and his staff at TLR.
If you'll be in the Cleburne, Texas area this coming Thursday, I'd love to see you. I've got your talk, your books, and, most importantly, a bunch of Wyman Meinzer's photos to show you. I'll always have a soft spot for small town libraries. My thanks to Tina Dunham, Amy Graham, and the other great folks with the Cleburne Public Library.
Wyman and I enjoyed two great events yesterday at the King Ranch Saddle Shop in Kingsville, Texas. Signed a pile of books and made new friends and caught up with old friends. It's always good to get back to the legendary ranch. The Saddle Shop folks put on a wonderful signing. We couldn't have asked for better hosts. The long, shared history of the King Ranch and San Antonio Viejo Ranch made this trip special.
Dan Talbot is very kind to Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut in the February 2017 issue of Lone Star Horse Report:
"Twelve years after collaborating on a book about the famous Four Sixes Ranch, Texas State Photographer Wyman Meinzer of Benjamin and award-winning novelist/journalist Henry Chappell of Parker have published a monumental portrait of one of the state's largest but least known cattle empires.
"Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut is a meticulously researched and engagingly written history of the 300-year-old San Antonio Viejo Ranch of South Texas and the East Family, who has owned and operated it for more than a century."
Wyman and I enjoyed another packed house this past Thursday night at the beautiful Museum of South Texas History. Great staff, great food, and enthusiastic, engaging readers. If you ever find yourself in the Edinburgh vicinity, do yourself a favor and stop by the museum for a couple hours - at least.
Wyman and I had a great time signing books at a packed event sponsored by the East Foundation and hosted at the beautiful Witte Museum. Books moved as fast as we could sign them. Our thanks to Neal Wilkins and the other great folks at the East Foundation and the Witte, and of course to all of the readers who came out to support us.
"Though its fortunes waned during the tumultuous decade following the U.S. war with Mexico, the community at San Antonio Viejo remained largely intact, maintaining continuity with traditional Spanish-Mexican culture of the rancho. Yet the upheaval of revolution and war, and the uncertainty of the Bourland Commission’s adjudication, would soon seem transient compared to the changes about to be wrought by newly freed economic forces, specifically raw capitalism.
In 1852, those forces appeared incarnate seventy-five miles northeast of the San Antonio Wells, in Nueces County, where a Corpus Christi businessman and part-time Texas Ranger named Gideon “Legs” Lewis and his new partner, a young riverboat captain named Richard King, established a rough cow camp above a spring feeding Santa Gertrudis Creek."
"On April 29, 1862, at Rancho Santa Gertrudis,
Richard and Henrietta King welcomed their fourth
child, a daughter named Alice Gertrudis. Her
name seems fitting. She was born on ground she
served the rest of her life. And through her eventual
marriage to Robert Justus Kleberg the King
Ranch empire would continue and grow. From
that King-Kleberg union came another baby girl,
one who would grow rooted in another place in the
Wild Horse Desert: San Antonio Viejo."
Day before yesterday, after a one last email on a proposed word change, we brought the design/editorial phase of Horses to Ride, Cattle to Cut: The San Antonio Viejo Ranch of Texas to a close. By now, the files should've gone out to the printer. The book will be available in October. This afternoon, after two years of work, I gathered up the mess of folders, drafts, and proofs from my desk and the floor and piled them into a big file box. I have one or more of these boxes for all nine of my books. You can accumulate a lot of material over the course of a long project.
The last item to go in, a worn Moleskine notebook, contains all of my notes and the first draft of the book, written in fragments of a few paragraphs or pages at a time among the notes. When I felt I had the makings of a book, I typed and organized these fragments, polishing as I went, into a pretty good second draft. After another four drafts, the manuscript was ready for submission.
Although I usually do magazine articles and columns entirely on my laptop, I've always written first drafts of my most challenging works - long essays and books - longhand. Friends and family obsessed with efficiency find this appalling, but I've found it far easier to finish a first draft longhand because I'm less likely to stop and re-read my own scrawl and therefore less likely to lose confidence, which builds as the pages accumulate.
Just before I put the lid on the box, I opened the notebook at random to the beginning of a section entitled "La Madama." It's dated 10/31/15. Amazing. It feels like I wrote those paragraphs a couple weeks ago.
I always expect to feel relief if not euphoria at this point, but I never do. Mostly I'm tired, unfocused and loathe to think about that next magazine deadline.
Here's the likely cover. Layout is nearly done. Wyman and I are about to start a photo captioning marathon. Wyman shot some 33,000 photos for this project. We're down to a couple hundred plus my 20,000-word essay.