DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!

Walter’s blog is about the joys and frustrations experienced in becoming a full-time fiction writer, and some observations of people and life along the way.

For reason I won’t bore you with here, I moved to Boerne, Texas a bit more than 3 years ago, Leaving Southern California’s Laguna Beach for the parched plains of South Texas. This move was made somewhat easier with the knowledge that I would reconnect with my brother, Robert Danley. Before retiring to Boerne, Bobby was a building contractor in Hawaii. We had seen each other only four times in 40 years. He came to Los Angeles twice, to attend two of my weddings, and I went to Hawaii twice, on two different honeymoons.

The decision should have been harder than it was. I wanted to move here and be a Texan. I didn’t want horses−had several in California over the years− and I didn’t want to wear cowboy boots− been doing that with jeans and three piece suites for more than twenty-five years. What I did want, besides connecting with Bobby and Mary, was the attitude. Texans have attitude; about independence, about personal rights, about property rights, and most assuredly about state’s rights.

Some parts of California had that, a long time ago. Orange County, a non-rush hour drive south of Los Angeles, was considered a conservative bastion of free thinkers when my family moved to Anaheim in the pre Disneyland days. It changed. By the time I got out of the Navy/Marine Corp (I was a medic and served in both services) Disneyland and the money it brought had changed Anaheim forever. My high school Latin teacher, “Wild” Bill Daley, was elected Mayor while I was away. His son Tom served several Mayoral terms following in Bill’s footsteps, but Anaheim was no longer a small town. The power brokers from Sacramento sent minions to take advantage and changed the attitude. I moved to the beach.

I’m talken’ here ‘bout ATTITUDE!  I love history, and God knows, Texas has some of the best around. No other state had six different flags flown over her lands. In fact, few other states have had her boarders changed so often by so many. Did that have something to do with the Texas attitude? Maybe. But most likely it was what the people endured between being a territory of Spain and reconstruction after the Civil War that had greater impact on the attitude of those who lovingly call themselves Texans.

It sounds like a US History lesson is coming. NOT! I want to share some things that I have made note of. Things I’ve discovered about becoming a Texan. I hope that you will enjoy the reminiscence, whether you are a reader from Texas or from anywhere else. And that is the essence of a Texas Attitude. It’s Texas and everywhere else!

Next time,

BOOK REVIEW: German Settlement Of The Texas Hill Country By Jefferson Morgenthaler

German Settlement of the Texas Hill Country by our own Jefferson Morgenthaler is a work of exceptional importance to those who live in the Hill Country, the sweet spot of Texas. Jeff’s non-fiction account of the story of the founders begins in 1845 with the first wave of German immigrants. These émigrés founded New Braunfels, with subsequent settlers moving on to establish Fredericksburg and the other towns of the Hill Country.

Morgenthaler makes history come alive in his telling of the individuals who struggled to build these communities. He examines, in fascinating detail, each element of their world; from the German fatherland’s politics and economy that instigated migration, the trials of travel, the hardships overcome of disease and weather, the faith, and traditions kept sacred by those who came. Morgenthaler explores the conflicts with native Indians, the reasons they left everything and risked coming to these shores, and in the telling, Jeff puts a human face on those pioneers. He does this in such a way that each character becomes a person you may have known.

Much in the style of historian David McCullough, Morgenthaler’s writing is personal and insightful. Making that history live and be significant for today, marking the path that those earlier men and woman fashioned which leads to our doorsteps; this is a talent that only a few great authors demonstrate. Morgenthaler tells this sweeping, fascinating story with power and intimacy, bringing us into the lives of remarkable men and woman.

Morgenthaler’s epic – it is a 9 hour read – follows are forefathers through the significant history of Texas and that of her component counties. Throughout the book Morgenthaler draws comparisons to cause and effect that we live with today. He ends the tale with a report of the last days and demise of the central characters, putting each in their final identified resting place.

I highly recommend German Settlement of the Texas Hill Country for the joy of entertainment in addition to the knowledge of our past which it intelligently delivers. You will be glad that you experienced this brilliant work of literature.

 

Until then, keep on reading and learning!

 

*German Settlement of the Texas Hill Country by Jefferson Morgenthaler – Kindle edition, Published 2011 by Mockingbird Books

BOOK REVIEW: Walking Hill Country Towns By Diane Capito

Since I am new to Boerne (and to Texas, for that matter) I stay on high alert for any book that will educate me about the history of my new home. I found two gems that are well worth sharing with my Boerne neighbors!

Walking Hill Country Towns by Diane Capito is a pocket-guide for the casual explorer. Its audience is the person that wants to take an interesting stroll through 41 of the Hill Country’s small towns from Antioch to Wimberly. A few have no walks−there just isn’t anywhere interesting to walk in Anholt. Others have more, like the five walks charted for New Braunfels. Readers of Explorer will be pleased that Boerne lists four walks out of the 196 described in the book.

After a delightful historical introduction to Boerne, Capito describes the walks for our town. Walk 3 was fascinating to me. Many, many years ago, a high school teacher told our class that the best way to study the history of an area was to visit the graveyards. Ms. Capito has done this for us, with a brief walk through our own Texas Historical Cemetery on School Street. Don’t think a stroll through a graveyard is exciting? Read the book!

A road map begins Walking Hill Country Towns, allowing the opportunity to “jump-in” at any point on the compass. Towns are listed alphabetically so moving from the map to the description of town walks is effortless. It is a very user-friendly structure.

The reader will capture a lot of Capito’s personality in reading her Preface, in which she writes;

I especially like to meander. Sometimes I turn onto a road just to see where it leads. Or I set out with no destination in mind. I might turn off on the first side road that looks inviting and keep turning onto whatever road next catches my fancy. Since I am directionally challenged, I eventually have no idea where I am. Fortunately, I don’t care where I am. I never fail to have a good time meandering.

Each town walk features a map with turn-by-turn directions. Many have photos of significant structures, and historical information of the locale.

I am a writer of fiction and gained insightful benefit from the two books reviewed here. While the intended audience for each book is very different, both authors did extensive historical research, and their bibliographies are a road map of Hill Country history. I am currently writing an historical western with a fantasy twist, for publication in 2014, and will refer to these indexes diligently. For that novel I owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Capito’s and Mr. Morgenthaler’s hard work. Thank you, Jeff and Diane!

*Walking Hill Country Towns by Diane Capito – Second edition, Published 2010 by Maverick Publishing Company, and

WELCOME TO MY FIRST BLOG!

I’ve read many blogs; most from authors who like me do their own blogging. I’ve also subscribed to blogs from my favorite authors, especially that group I lovingly refer to as the double letters guys (DLG). You know them better as Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, Patricia Cornwell, Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, and the never to be forgotten, Dean Koontz. It makes me a little uncomfortable about my writing career since Walter Danley contains no double letters.

Now when you sell as many books as the DLG, have as many fans as they, you can’t expect that any of the DLG write their own blogs, and they don’t. Well, may be Koontz does sometimes. His blogs don’t come often, but when they do, it is pure Koontz sense of humor, and I love it! When you read a Koontz thriller, there are three things you can absolutely count on; there will a Golden Retriever in the story, you will be scared to death, and there will always be a happy conclusion. That is the type of reputation I’d like as a writer!

Speaking of my favorite authors (yes, there are many in addition to the DLG), I have wondered, which of their many talents brings a handful to the best seller lists? What do they have in common that binds them to the success in a complicated and changing publishing industry? I will share those thoughts in a later blog here, as I recently did in a column for the Explore.

I have been privileged to write a column for Explore, the very classy monthly magazine distributed every month in South Texas. From time-to-time I will include one of those articles here. They are fun to write (as I have to include the books on my TBR list) and share my impressions with the upscale readership of Explore. Let me share the current article from Explore from this month’s edition.