Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For good reading – and good writing – visit our website at and check out This Cursed Valley and All Plucked Up – two vastly different novels that are the first to be published by Raspberry Creek Books, Ltd.)

A few years ago I was selected by the Denver Post to be among those called "Colorado Voices" and was asked to write several columns that appeared over the course of a year.  Following is one of the pieces that I especially liked.  Interestingly enough, the Post editor (obviously a city person) changed the title to "Defined by Road Apples."  Well, shoot, every self-respecting Western Coloradan knows that road apples are left by horses and not by cattle.  A few folks raised the issue and I had to place the blame on the editor (and I also wrote her about it).  I think the issues raised in the piece are relevant today and thought you might enjoy it.


By Larry K. Meredith


            Drivers on Western Slope roads in the spring and fall often encounter herds of cattle being driven to or from the high country.

            Inevitably, the residue of their passing is readily apparent.

            Not long ago a newspaper published a letter from a resident who complained about the resulting smell and the mess it left on her car.

            Of course the smell doesn't linger, and vehicles can be washed.

            The odor has the smell of history in it.  The complaining letter's scent reflects some of today's reality on the West Slope. 

            Neither is especially bad.

            Traffic jams near the small towns over here are often the result of those herds of cattle being patiently prodded by cowboys and cowgirls from summer range to winter feeding, and back again in the spring. 

            They are who we used to be. 

            They represent the ranchers, miners, farmers and merchants of the West Slope of the recent past. 

            Today's ranchers follow many time-honored methods of raising cattle with an added touch of technology that helps them with business plans and keeping cattle healthy.  But it's a difficult, thankless, smelly, cold-in-winter, hot-in-summer kind of job that doesn't pay well and has as many ups and downs as the West Elk Mountains..

            Still, they see a lot of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, they live in some of the finest country on earth, and most of them seem pretty happy with who and where they are.

            And, now and then they have to crowd their cattle to the side of the road so a line of cars can get past.  Give 'em a wave and they'll wave pleasantly back.

            Many of the drivers of those vehicles represent who we've become.

            We're transplants from cities and an awful lot of us are in a doggone big hurry.

            Thanks to technology, the world's business can often be as easily transacted from Gunnison as from Denver.  That fact alone has transformed the West Slope from a secluded, snow-covered headwaters region into an accessible snow-covered headquarters for business and commerce of all kinds.

            Consider, for example, that at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison every state in the nation is represented among her 2,500 students, and that from Crested Butte, 30 miles to the north, million dollar deals are made over cell phones, the facts cemented via email and the contract faxed for a signature.     

            Oh, the ranchers and a few miners are still here, thank God, and the merchants still work hard to meet their needs.  Other working people keep the economy moving by providing goods and services, meeting health care needs and educating our kids. 

            But many main street shops serve another clientele. 

            Yesterday's carriage shop has become a trendy coffee shop or a boutique store stocked with exotic and rare perfumes and a gaggle of doodahs that appeal of all of us.

            Nothing wrong with that.  Businesses emerge to meet demands.

            The point is that Colorado's West Slope (like most of the interior West) has become an engaging and wonderful mix of people representing a world of cultures, lifestyles, personalities and aspirations.

            The ranchers recognize this and they love their cell phones and digital satellite television as much as the rest of us.

            The changes that have overtaken this part of the world may have affected them and their approach to life more than anyone.  To survive, many are having to sell part of their land to be divided into 35-acre ranchettes.

            But cattle can move only so fast and there are few routes from the high country to river bottom pastureland that don't require some time on a highway.

            And if there's some cow poop on the road after they've passed by, some of us like the smell because it helps us define who we used to be and takes us away, for a moment, from who we've become. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


(For good reading – and good writing – visit our website at and
check out This Cursed Valley and All Plucked Up – two vastly different novels that are the first to be published by Raspberry Creek Books, Ltd.)




            One’s reading choices vary from time to time and, for writers, it’s often difficult to avoid the influence of a style of writing that is considerably different from their own.

            Even when working on a writing project of my own I constantly read the work of others. 

            I can’t help it.

            Sometimes I even read on a Kindle.  There, I’ve admitted it.

            But I do it where no one can see me.  I can’t help that, either.

            But let’s move on.

            Lately, my reading choices have focused on several books that have to do – specifically or peripherally – with the Holocaust, Jewish people and the creation and continuing existence of Israel.

            Kind of surprising for a Midwestern Methodist boy.

            Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating topic and some of the books I’ve read include: The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Mitla Pass and Mila 18 by Leon Uris, War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk, some of Bernard Malamud’s early writing, bits and pieces of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, and other various material.

            I don’t know why.  It just happened.

            It also just happened that much of what I’ve been working on is set in the Midwest and in Hollywood.  Quite a stretch.

            But I believe the obvious “distance” between these reading and writing topics has not been distracting.  In fact, because the subjects are so dissimilar I can completely detach one from the other and not let my reading interfere with my writing, or the other way around.

            Still, reading good writing on any subject has to have some kind of influence on how I write.  The subject can be cannibalism for all I care.  If the writing is good there are probably some kernels of insight that will prove valuable in a sentence or two of my own (not plagiarism, mind you, but phrasing or technique).    

            The point?  I will continue reading while I’m writing and damn the subject.  If it’s interesting and the writing is excellent, I’m into it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

 On starting a book publishing company
even though e-books are going crazy!
            Get your Kindle today!  According to Discover magazine the sales of ebooks grew by 34% in 2012.  Even though that was a slower rate than the year before, a 34% rate is still indeed healthy.  Razib Khan, the author of the piece, says he believes that rate is “a sign…that the explosive phase is giving way to robust and expansionary growth as the market slouches toward maturation.”

            Still, if you don’t have an e-reader of some sort you’re “up the creek.”

            If you can’t say to the plane passenger in the seat next to you “I just love my Kindle (or Nook or whatever)” you’re “up the creek.”

            That’s what a great number of really, really sophisticated people seem to think these days.1

            While I do occasionally enjoy reading a book in digital form, and have a number of books on my Kindle, I guess I’m not yet “really, really” sophisticated.  

            However, I find that I am “above average” in terms of books read in a year’s time.

            Recent surveys show that 25% of Americans admitted reading no books in a year, while the median number of books read was 6.5.

            Khan (in Discover) says “this I think gets at the heart of why e-books aren’t as popular as you might expect: books aren’t that popular!”

            That’s a disturbing thought to serious readers, to book publishers, book sellers, libraries and authors everywhere.

            But wait!  If books in general aren’t “that popular,” as Khan suggests, why have 88,562 books already been published world-wide in these first few of weeks of 2013?

            Those numbers come from statistics published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

            UNESCO reports that in 2010 (the last full year for which numbers are available) 2.2 million books were published throughout the world (the report does not distinguish between print books and ebooks).

            The U.S. leads the way with 328,259 new titles, followed by the United Kingdom with 206,000.

            According to Pew Research Center nearly 90% of ebook readers continue to read physical volumes.  Pew Research is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that “having survived 500 years of technological upheaval, Gutenberg’s invention may withstand the digital onslaught as well.  There’s something about a crisply printed, tightly bound book that we don’t seem eager to let go of.”

But Kahn has a different take.  Reading has always been subject to periodic revolution,” he writes.  I am dismayed by the fixation of some on the physical medium of the book, as opposed to the information content of the book.”            

Raspberry Creek Books will continue to publish books in print.  And we’ll offer them in ebook form as well. 

The idea is to get fine reading content out there to those who want it. 

We believe there are plenty of folks like you who appreciate books in general and who like to see important and enjoyable books on their shelves (or on their e-readers).

Stay tuned to “Up the Creek” and let us know what you think.

(Thanks to Mark Todd, co-author (with wife Kym O’Connell-Todd) of “All Plucked Up,” book two of the Silverville Saga, published by Raspberry Creek Books, for sending me a link to the Discover magazine article).      


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This BlogSpot is called "Up the Creek" for a couple of reasons.

First, because my publishing company is called Raspberry Creek Books, Ltd.  You can check us out in some detail at  Please take a look and let me know what you think.

And secondly, like many others I assume, I now and then feel like I'm up that proverbial creek without the accepted means of motivation (a paddle, for the cliché challenged).  On the other hand, once in a while, also like many others I assume, I have a feeling that I'm in the flow of the current and that, heck, I'm cruising along so well I don't even need a paddle.

Please check back now and then to see what's on my mind and to tell me what's on yours.  This could be fun.  Right?