A Story of Dad: Western Writer’s Conference

In late June, Dad went off to the Western Writers of America Conference in Las Vegas with pneumonia, 9 books to pitch, and chock-full of determination. When I left him the Sunday prior to his trip, he looked tired and thin, and I worried.

Chet Cunningham, June 2011
Chet Cunningham, June 2011

So it was with some hesitation that I called him (after giving him time to recover from the trip) to see how the conference went.

The phone rings. Gooood evening, he says, sounding sprightly. Hey Daddy. How are you? I say. He sounds good. No, he sounds wonderful. I start to smile into the phone.

Heey, Chrissy, he says. I’m doing grrreat.  Let me tell you about the conference. And he was off and running. He sounded great, better than he has in a very long time.

So, he says, my first day there, I ran into the gal that has been publishing all my big print books. Who’s that, I say. Oh, you know, he says, the big print folks. Oh shoot. Five Star. They’re a part of Five Star Publishing.

I had sent her a couple new books, he says, a few months back and hadn’t heard from her, but she said they might be on a bookcase somewhere, and to re-send. We got to talking and she told me they buy Frontier Fiction, and mysteries. I told her what I have, and she said to send them to her. That’s six books, right there, that they might like.

The closet where dad stores copies of his books. Yes, those are all his.
The closet where dad stores copies of his books. Yes, those are all his. Not all of them are digital – yet.

That’s great, daddy, I say. Your first day. Yep, he says, my first day. So I’ve been working on those, getting them ready to send to her.

And then I saw Kat Martin, he says. You know Kat, I’ve got some photos with her and your mother from previous conferences. Yes, I say. I remember Kat Martin. (She’s only written a ton of romances, lol.)

Well, he says, I was talking to her husband, Larry Jay Martin, also a long-time friend of mine. He’s a western writer, and he’s putting his  up stuff on Amazon. We were talking and he asked if I had anything that hadn’t gone digital yet, and if I did to send it to him.

What did you end up sending? I ask. He laughs. Says, well, what I thought I would send him, I no longer have any computer files for. So I emailed him on Sunday night when I got home, said I didn’t have what I thought I had, but I have these other three that are digital, he says.

By now, I’m so excited for him I can barely stand it.  What did he say? I ask. Well, he says, Monday morning I got an email back from him with a three book contract. And all I have to do is send him the digital files. So I did, and a day later I got a look at three possible covers for the books. I could get used to this, he says.

The jubilation in his voice was music to my ears.

Not only that, he says, but I ran into Dusty Richards, hadn’t seen him in a long time. Oh, and I talked to Cherry, he says. She is passing on my Jesse James novel, but is willing to shop around a partial of mine. Then I met another agent who also said he was intrigued by this partial idea, and he’d be happy to shop it as well.

Two agents shopping the same book? I ask.  Oh no, he says. I’m sticking with Cherry, and if she doesn’t think she can do anything with it, then I’ll talk to this other guy.

It sounds like you had a wonderful time, I say. My cheeks are hurting because I’m smiling so big. And you sound healthy.

I’m doing pretty good, he says. I’m enthused, and working hard, and I made a lot of contacts at the conference so I’m really glad I went. Gotta go get back at it. You still working on that book?

Yes Daddy, still working, I say. After mutual assurances of love and missing the other, we hang up.

I wipe away a few happy tears. As much as I wanted him to stay home and recuperate, obviously going to a conference with pneumonia was the exact right thing for him.  The energy and joy in his voice comes back to me, makes me smile.

I’m really glad I went, he said.

So am I, Daddy. So am I.

~oOo~

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14 Responses to A Story of Dad: Western Writer’s Conference

  1. Emma says:

    Sounds like he a great time with old friends.
    And that bookshelf – wow.

  2. Christine says:

    Emma, he had a marvelous time. And that bookshelf – yeah, intimidating, lol!

  3. LOL, So glad he had a good time, and this is so encouraging for me. You just never know who you will meet, or what will come of that meeting – even years down the road.

    Wishing him all the luck. And yes, that’s an impressive bookshelf!

    • Dolores, he knows how to work a conference! I wish I could have been a fly sitting on his shoulder and taking notes. He’s never burned a bridge in his life. I’m doing my best to emulate him on that score…

  4. You just never know, eh, Christine? Truth is, if the trip had made him worse, there was still no other place he wanted to be. Just goes to show the power of positive attitude on health and heart, right?
    I’m so glad your daddy had a great conference.

  5. So glad you followed up on this! Makes you want to mimic his determination!

  6. Your daddy is a gem Christine! I loved hearing his voice shine through in your writing. Nothing like that bookshelf for peer pressure, huh?! He is an example of the saying that if you believe you can do something, then you CAN do something. Congrats on a commemorating a great man and even better memories.

    • Christine says:

      Aw, thanks Susan! Yeah, he’s the best. I doubt I’ll ever match his productivity, but I do believe in myself and he’s why.

  7. I LOVE your father. Is he up for adoption? Seriously. 🙂

  8. dleo61 says:

    Thanks Christine – Although I don’t attend his writer’s group very much any more, your dad is always an inspiration to me. He’s amazing and I wish I had half of his determination. His is the story of an unsung American hero. He kick started my writing career and I hope I never fail to sing his praises.
    Every time I make it over his place he jumps up and down like a little kid. I wish I had the courage to show my joy at seeing him the way he does for me. Your dad rocks!

    • Christine says:

      Leo! THanks so much for dropping by – love to have you here. And yeah – my dad RockS!!!

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