One of the more wonderful aspects of technology is the unleashing of local writing talent.
Local media has been full of reports about the emergence of new books being composed by new authors who would have had little opportunity to publish just a few years ago. But, not only can these people now publish with relative ease and minimal cost, but there is a market urging them to do so.
With the advent of electronic reading and e-books, on gadgets like Kindle, there is a terrific demand for reading material, and on –line book vendors are doing all they can to encourage would-be writers.
After retiring just a few years ago, Grover Howe, Lovell, Wyoming, was looking forward to his life-long plan to take up fiction writing – specifically, that of western novels.
He was somewhat surprised to find so much on-line assistance. The one that worked best for him was "Create Space," sponsored by Amazon.com, but there are many helpful websites and programs, said Howe, who just recently published his fifth book.
"Everybody becomes a publisher who wants to be," says Howe, "Everything is user friendly."
While Howe always knew he would enjoy writing his western novels, he said he is very surprised that people are buying them. "I never thought of them having commercial value, I just do it because it is fun."
Although fiction, the novels of Grover Howe, give readers a glimpse into a past that might otherwise be lost to posterity. They capture "bits and pieces" of local lore, familiar names and descriptions of the area's enduring landscape.
Howe grew up near the town of Kane, Wyoming, a community which was eliminated to make way for Big Horn Lake following the construction of Yellowtail Dam in the early 60s.
The family farm which had been home to three generations of Howes, was just one of many properties bought by the Bureau of Reclamation with the mandate that the families move. The government then razed the small town.
It was about losing the family home and about what was happening to Kane, that Howe wrote his first piece for an English class, which was published in the local newspaper – planting the seed to become a writer.
Howe, actually, went on to became a real estate attorney, building a life and career in California. Practicing law is rigorous and exacting, but once in a while, he would take a break from legal writing to write some fiction. "It's somewhere you can lie and it's okay. It was a change of pace, a much needed break," he says.
During those years, Howe did not lose touch with his family or his roots. When he retired in 2006, he and his wife, Joy, returned to Lovell and farming. Now between chores, herding cattle and irrigating, he writes fiction, drawing upon his memories and experiences, to write western novels that reflect an era long past. "Most of the stories are my dad's stories and stories told to me by my uncles," said Howe, who while growing up quite poor was rich in family.
Howe's first novel was "No Time To Trust," which was published in April 2012 followed by "Dragons of Fire," "Crow Woman on Deadman" and "Short Stories Out of Kane." His most recent release is "Tequila Promises."
Howe's writing has surely been influenced by western writers Max Brand and Louis L'Amour, whose books he read, every one. There wasn't much to do in early-day Kane, so weekly visits to the Kane Library were a coveted treat, which is where Howe also discovered the works of Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. They were incredibly influential of Howe, who advises prospective writers to read the authors to help get them started. "You will get in the rhythm of the conversation," said Howe.
Howe said he doesn't really know where many of his story lines emerge. "I just start with a word, and I take it where that word leads me."
Howe credits Joy, greatly, for her editing prowess and advice.
Howe grew up as brother to Annie Robertson, who may be known to many in Billings as the founder of Salon 10. His books may be purchased at Salon 10, 1001 South 24th Street West, Creekside. Also visit Howe's website, www.emptysaddles.com.