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2016 Wrap

2016 was good for P.R. efforts. Made new friends. Even sold a few books. Now I'm ready to start a new writing project. I have one award-winning nonfiction book & two award-winning novels. Which way to go--more historical nonfiction or another novel? Any reactions out there?
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The "Counterfeit" Man: 25 Years Later

2016 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of THE "COUNTERFEIT" MAN. That has prompted me to think about what, if any, changes I would make in my treatment of the Boorn-Colvin mystery. One new angle on the case that came to my attention recently is the work of Rob Warden, the executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. When Rob first contacted me, he believed that Stephen Boorn's confession in 1819 to having killed Russell Colvin was the earliest-known American example of a false confession made under duress. Although Rob subsequently discovered an earlier case of coerced confession, he included the Boorn-Colvin case in TRUE STORIES OF FALSE CONFESSION, an anthology he edited with Steven A. Drizen in 2009. Rob's use of the case is an example of its continued relevance despite the passage of two centuries.

I agree with Rob's view that Stephen Boorn's acknowledgement of guilt was made under duress. Many elements of his confession reveal that he tailored it to conform to the theory his accusers had developed, and that he did so in hopes of getting off with a charge of manslaughter rather than murder, a capital crime.

But to say that Stephen's confession was coerced and contrived does not by itself prove beyond a shadow of doubt that he was innocent of killing Colvin. That evidence seemingly surfaced in 1819. After Stephen had been declared guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged, a man claiming to be Russell Colvin was located in New Jersey and brought to Manchester for a brief stay, during which he convinced town authorities that he was who he said he was. Stephen and Jesse Boorn were pardoned and their much-earlier assertions that Russell had simply wandered off into the woods, never to be seen again after the fight, seemed borne out. Case closed.

Fair enough, but how to explain what Stephen stated to family members in 1812: that he knew Russell was dead because he and Jesse "had put him where potatoes would not freeze?" Read More 
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October-early November.

One event is following close on others: a reading at Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield, MA, a lecture to the UMass Retired Faculty Association, a talk at Applewood Community, and a reading at South Hadley Public Library. Very different audiences: some 7th cousins at Westfield, old friends at the RFA meeting, vibrant retirees at Applewood, and (wait & see) in South Hadley. Read More 
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Where did September go?

This month I gave a reading in Westfield, Massachusetts and spent many hours setting up future readings. P.R and even a modest amount of networking are full-time jobs. But the BIG NEWS is that THE LAST OF OUR KIND, THIRD IN THE BUENAVENTURA SERIES is a finalist in the 2016 NM-AZ Book Awards competition.
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Long, hot days.

Lots of hot weather over the past few weeks. The best part of the day is early morning, but no excuses! Turn on the air conditioner and start writing. Had a good trip with my Kansas cousins to the NY/MA border near Albany. Lots of fun to visit family history sites mentioned in A SCATTERED PEOPLE. Read More 
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Westfield, MA reading.

Nearly every day I devote some time to promoting my books. The latest development on that front is a reading scheduled for September 10, 11am-12:30pm, at the Book Club Bookstore & More, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA (413) 579-5383. Come support this newly opened independent bookstore!
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Agawam Library Authors Event

Monday I joined ten other authors at a READLocal author's event put on by Agawam Public Library. Since I've never joined a writer's group, this is the best way for me to get to know other authors. The event drew quite a variety of authors who work in various genres. I even sold a few books. "A Scattered People" seemed to have the most appeal, in part because several of the families launched their cross-country migrations from nearby towns. The New Mexico novels drew less interest. Typically, when I asked one person who was looking over my table whether she had any interest in the Southwest, she said, "Not much."
Many thanks to Wendy McAnanama and the other staffers who organized the event. They did a great job! Read More 
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Summertime Musings

A couple of things: I'm just beginning to speculate on the focus of a Book Four, should I write it. What would Carlos's response be to being nearly 100? Then, there's a little revival of interest in A Scattered People; 30 years in print and still going!
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The True New Year

A mild spring meant that signs of the real start to a new year -- the early varieties of bulbs putting up green shoots, the sap rising in the maple trees, the lack of snow cover on the back lawn, and frogs vocalizing in the swamp -- came early this year. No complaints from us!
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Collected Works Bookstore

I'm looking forward to my April 10 reading at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's a classy place that plays an invaluable role in the culture of Santa Fe and beyond. I urge everyone to check out their website and to buy books from them or from an independent bookstore in your area.
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