Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cowboy Up Short Story Contest to Resume

Moonlight Mesa's first western anthology
Surprise! Moonlight Mesa Associates publisher, Becky Coffield, announced earlier this week that the Cowboy Up Short Story Contest will resume in 2017.

"Since we aren't publishing a western in 2017, we will have the time and resources to resume the short story contest," Coffield said. "It just came to me that this is what I'd enjoy doing."

Information, rules, and deadlines will be forthcoming, according to Coffield. "The important thing," the publisher said, "is for people to start writing. Because of our 2017 schedule, entries can be submitted between January 1, 2017 and May 1, 2017. Winners will be announced some time in the fall. My job at this point is to line up some qualified judges and get the whole thing set up as soon as possible...before I leave town for the summer., which is pretty darn soon."

Coffield went on to say that she didn't know if there would be another short story anthology published or not. "There probably will be, but likely not the first year," she said.

The publisher's first anthology, Award-Winning Tales, is a compilation of top stories from the first two Cowboy Up contests.

"At this point I'm thinking we'll go with fiction and nonfiction western material this time around. I firmly believe that good nonfiction can easily compete with fiction," Coffield said.

Coffield has also given much thought to a novella contest. "I've been thinking about a novella contest for a long spell," the publisher said. "It's something I'd love to do, but the technicalities of distributing royalties, etc. is just too much. Some authors might really promote the book, others not so much. It wouldn't be fair to pay the authors equally. It just gets to be messy, and I avoid messy nowadays."

Contest information will be on Moonlight Mesa Associates website sometime in the next week. For now, writers need to know the submissions may be fiction or nonfiction western, 3000+/-  words in length. $25 entry fee. Cash prizes and certificates will be awarded. The fee charged pays for postage,  judging, and certificates...plus any margaritas needed for judges' meetings to hash things out..

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The End of a Great Run: No More Hardbound Copies of Casey Tibbs

After a long run, and thousands of books sold, the decision has been made not to have any more hardbound copies of Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride printed. According to publisher Becky Coffield, there are still some hardbounds out there, but she sent the last copies she had to the author, Rusty Richards. "The book is six years old now. It's pretty much had its time in the limelight. Ordering thousands of more copies is expensive, and since sales have slowed in the last year  it's just not a sound financial decision," Coffield said.

"I think that Dakota West Books in South Dakota may have some books in stock, however," Coffield said. "The owner bought maybe 15 or 20 cases of the book from us two years ago. The hardbound edition is no longer available on Amazon, but the trade paperback is still in print as is the ebook. The problem with the ebook, quite frankly, is there are no photos," Coffield said. "The file was just too big to include photos, and the photos that go with the book are absolutely magnificent."

Rusty Richards has been one of the most wonderful people to work with, according to Coffield. "Rusty personally sold probably 2,000 copies of his book at the various events he attends and performs in." The author, a former Hollywood stuntman for westerns and bull rider, is also a poet and songwriter who used to sing with the Sons of the Pioneers. "He is a true gentleman and has been a real pleasure to do business with," Coffield said. Richards recently won the Chester A Reynolds Award. "I was devastated not to be there," Coffield said. "I was having my bout with shingles at that time. Had the dang things been anywhere but on my face I most certainly would have attended! Rusty is truly worthy of that award."


Moonlight Mesa will be closed this summer for August and September. There will be no staff available, so book orders will have to go through Amazon. "Well, I will have some copies with me," Coffield said, "but since I'll be on the water, getting to a post office will be very difficult."

Instead of "Rowing the West," Coffield has decided she'd rather "Row the Inside," and will be taking her wherry to Puget Sound and rowing in the San Juan Islands, Canadian Gulf Islands, and hopefully further north. "So much depends on the weather. We have a boat we can travel on that can transport the wherry (awkwardly) wherever we want to go, but still, we'll need fairly calm seas for much rowing. I think we'll get in plenty of rowing time, though."

Coffield went on to say, "You know, I hate to admit it, but I've become
Tom Coffield in rowing wherry he built
a softy. After my two days camping in 100* heat at Lake Havasu with no shade, I just couldn't see myself spending a month or two in a tent traveling the West rowing on lakes. It's just too hot for me. My husband came up with this great idea. I jumped on it the moment it came out of his mouth!"

Coffield insists the book, The Old Folks in the Boat, will be in print by the end of the year. "I'm taking a computer and can write as we go," she said.


Coffield said she and staff will definitely be doing  more events in 2016-17. "We've all slacked off. Events are very tiring and stressful, but we have no choice. As Jere James likes to say, 'A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...and so does a woman.'" Coffield plans to start up in October once back in the office. Events will be posted here.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

No Western for Moonlight Mesa in 2017

For the first time in seven years, Moonlight Mesa Associates, primarily a western book publisher, will NOT be publishing a western in 2016.

Even though publisher Becky Coffield had planned on gravitating toward other genres, she was surprised when Jere D. James, Moonlight Mesa's best-selling western author, announced there would be no book in 2016. "I can understand if Jere needs a break," Coffield said. "The author has produced seven books in seven years. Jere does not have another writer helping out like so many of the multi-book authors."

Nevertheless, Coffield was disappointed when the decision was made. She'd already cancelled a forthcoming mule book, and the rowing book Coffield had planned on completing is behind schedule, although she insists it will be ready by the end of the year.

"Right now I'm not sure where we're headed," Coffield said recently. "I think there will be another western in 2017, but no guarantees. I'm concerned that Jere's following may fall by the wayside if another book isn't forthcoming soon. I suppose we can pick up another western writer but I'm not overly enthused about that. I guess we'll see in due time."

Meanwhile, pre-publication orders for The Old Folks in the Boat  keep coming in. "We've had slow but steady orders on this title," Coffield said. "Offhand, I think we've taken orders for just under 200 copies."

The boat, a tandem wherry, was built  by rower Tom Coffield. A wherry is slightly wider than a rowing shell, so it's much more stable. The wherry isn't as fast as a shell, but it's roomier and very distinctive. "We're trying to teach our dog, a Chespeake Bay Retriever, to sit calmly in the boat and not leap overboard in pursuit of ducks, sticks, or other enticing items. It's quite a challenge," Coffield said.

The cover is being designed by Vin Libassi of spiralpath.net. The cover photo will be taken by Meredith Comfort of Two Comforts Photography. The book will OFFICIALLY be released at the Seattle Boat Show in January, 2017. It will be available a bit earlier, however.

This is Moonlight Mesa Associates' second boating book. The first, Life Was A Cabaret: A Tale of Two Fools, A Boat, and a Big-A** Ocean, published in 2005, is still available in trade paperback and ebook, although the ebook format does not have photos. Coffield reissued the book with photos after the first publisher would not do so.

"Maybe we'll have to become a boating-book publisher," Coffield mused. "There's not a big audience for boating books in Arizona, but we sell a lot of them in the northwest. I kind of like this idea!"

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Publisher Contract Cancellations

The long-awaited mule book that we've been promising for 2016 will indeed be long-awaited...as in never. Although I was looking forward to having two nonfiction titles out in 2016, we have cancelled the mule book. The author was not meeting our deadlines, and although the book was well written, it was not what we expected. This is a very good reason why everyone needs a "get out of contract clause" in their contract. In point of fact, the author asked to be let out of the contract. We were quite happy to oblige. No harm. No foul.

So how often has this contract cancellation business happened? With Moonlight Mesa Associates, this is a first as far as I can recall. However, with every author we sign, we would willingly let someone out of a contract unless we had already committed a lot of time and money to the project, in which case we would need to be reimbursed. I can't think of anything worse than publishing a book from an unwilling author. Doesn't make much sense, especially because we depend on our authors to help sell and promote their work. However, if we had time and money in the project, I doubt I'd be so easy-going about the idea.

I suspect the idea of "getting out of a contract" is fairly rare. Most authors seem to be thrilled to have a publisher, and usually publishers just drop authors whose books don't sell. When we cancel a book because of lack of sales, which we have done, all rights revert to the author. We have cancelled only two books that I can recall. We have, however, removed books from the Ingram electronic catalog, which effectively makes a title unavailable to vendors, but even then we usually keep the removed titles in print and sell them ourselves. There is a $12 yearly fee to keep a book listed in the Ingram electronic catalog. If the book doesn't sell online for two years running, we simply drop it from the catalog. Most publishers don't wait anywhere near as long as we do. We keep a poor-performing book available in the catalog only if the author is actively engaged in promoting and selling it.

So, why would an author not work at promoting or selling his/her book? The problem lies in temperament. Most authors make terrible salespeople. I don't know if this is because writing is a"solitary" activity which attracts people who aren't gregarious or extroverts or what. This may not be the case at all, but it is a rare author who sells with as much gusto as they write.

Several of our authors do superb jobs at both writing and selling. A prime example is Lee Anderson, author of Developing the Art of Equine Communication. Lee is an outgoing, extroverted guy if there ever was one. Rusty Richards, author of Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride, is another natural at selling. What both of these people have in common is that they are both showmen: Lee appears at numerous western shows and events in Arizona; Rusty is a western singer and performer. 

Robert Walton, Dawn Drums, is another author who is successful at selling his work. Again, Robert is an active, outgoing personality and very much a showman. J.R. Sanders, author of Some Gave All and The Littlest Wrangler, is a more sedate, quiet person, but he has been quite successful at promoting his books because he knows his audience! And finally, Jere D. James, author of the seven-book Jake Silver Series, is a salesperson.

Our other authors either run out of steam, get distracted, or find the work of selling books too difficult and often depressing. Nothing is worse than having an event and selling only one or two books. It smarts, but it happens to everyone one time or another. The truly committed don't throw in the towel. My opinion for what it's worth!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Great Buys on Ebooks with COUPONS!

Currently Moonlight Mesa is offering five titles available as ebooks at a greatly reduced price. The offer has been on for some time, but somehow I didn't realize I had to actually INFORM people about this. I guess I figured people would find out by osmosis or whatever.

So, if you have an e-reader, currently there are discounts on five of our titles. These titles are available via Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, and literally a host of other e-reader providers. The Kindle discounts are coming soon.

For P.A. Arnold's Getting a Handle on Herpes,  the coupon code is TL29P

Award-winning suspense 
Robert Walton's Dawn Drums has a code of EC94S

Steamy western romance
Paula Silici's A Way in the Wilderness (western romance), has a code of LQ99G

For Northern Escape, R.L. Coffield's novel,  the code is HF46X

And the wildly popular Saving Tom Black  by Jere D. James has a code of GP78V

Some of these coupons expire April 1; others expire April 30.


Happily the annual mule ride sponsored by us went off extremely well. Shingles and all. So, moving on....


Gold Rush and the Mule Ride behind us, once I finish getting tax crapola ready for the CPA, work will resume on our forthcoming publications. Serious work. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Publisher Woes...and Success

Good grief. All my carefully made plans have fallen to the wayside. It seems, folks, that I should have gotten the shingles shot! I regret to say that events I've been carefully planning have been put on hold, or are being  cancelled altogether, due to my having an outbreak of shingles. Had the outbreak occurred anywhere but my face, I might have been able to forge on,  Unfortunately it is on my face. Nothing more appetizing than a face covered in creepy blisters, right?

I'll be laying low for a few weeks; however, maybe I'll get some work done on the two books that are supposed to be out this fall! Oh yes, and taxes! Maybe I won't have to ask for an extension this year.


At least I can report that the annual Gold Rush Festival which Moonlight Mesa has participated in for 9 years now, was a success. We actually sold out of a few copies of our books, and came perilously close to selling out on several others. Jere D. James, with seven books to the author's name, was our best selling author. Lee Anderson, author of Developing the Art of Equine Communication showed up to sign books with his horse Concho after the parade and sold some too. And happily, the four-time award-winning Dawn Drums, by Robert Walton, sold very well. Our short story anthology, Award-Winning Tales sold out largely because I didn't order enough copies. Grrrr.


Unfortunately, I will likely be forced to cancel the annual Boyd Ranch Mule Ride. This is a ride Moonlight Mesa has sponsored for the last four years. Because Moonlight Mesa is largely a committee of one, cancellation may be in order. I feel particularly bad about this, as we have riders coming from across the West. Not to mention we've spent a LOT of money just getting ready for the ride. I'll decide for sure by March 4th, but it's not looking good. I'll have to see how things are going. I need to notify people who are coming from a distance, though, if I decide to cancel.

Anyway, if you're in the right age group, PLEASE get the shingles shot. I didn't think it was needed because after all, only 1 in 3 people get shingles, so I figured the odds were in my favor. Also, no one, no one at all, in my family has ever had shingles. And, I know people who have received the shot who still got shingles, so it seemed like an unnecessary medical intervention. The bottom line, though, is that shingles is brought on by stress or compromised immune systems (plus if you've ever had chicken pox). This time of year, what with Gold Rush, Taxes, Mule Ride, and other events, I am on the stressed side, and I've been neglecting my vitamin C. Bummer for me.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Horse Book and Herpes Book are Top International Ebook Titles for Moonlight Mesa Associates

After going through all the 2015 data regarding sales, I was stunned at the number of international sales several Moonlight Mesa titles had.

Lee Anderson's Developing the Art of Equine Communication experienced very good sales in foreign countries in 2015. The book enjoyed sales in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Australia and a few other countries, not to mention many sales in the United States.

The beauty of Lee's book is the friendly, warm tone in which it is written. The other outstanding quality of his work is the clear explanations for why horses do what they do. I can honestly say that when I read Lee's manuscript, I learned more about why my horse did certain unsettling things than I'd learned from riding him for 20+ years. The book is filled with many "Aha!" moments. "So that's why he does that!" And to make matters even better, Lee tells the reader how to handle the situations too.

The book should be required reading for beginners, but even experienced horsemen will find the book helpful and informative.

Pictured with Lee on the cover of his book is Concho, Lee's rescued racetrack horse who is the star of the show when the two do their presentations.

Lee's book is available in trade paperback either from Amazon, Lee, or Moonlight Mesa. The ebook version, which comes in all formats, does not have any of the illustrations or photos. And as soon as I get around to it, we'll be changing the website to reflect a discounted price on this title.

Our other top-selling international ebook for the third year in a row was P.A. Arnold's Getting a Handle on Herpes. Arnold, a woman well into her 70s, wrote this book after contracting herpes while at a resort. The book is only available as an ebook, but comes in all formats.

Arnold's information is jaw-dropping, but the best thing about the book is that she puts things in perspective for those who have contracted this virus. The book is highly informative, upbeat and often humorous despite the sensitivity of the topic. Arnold does an excellent job discussing a difficult issue and offering hope for the one in four women and one in seven men (maybe one in five now) who have herpes.

Rusty Richards' western biography, Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride, continued to be Moonlight Mesa's  top-selling nonfiction book during 2015. It's likely the documentary on Casey Tibbs that was released in 2015 contributed somewhat to the book's continued popularity.

Casey Tibbs - Born to Ride was released in 2010 in all formats (hard cover, trade paperback, and ebook) and has led the nonfiction books in sales.

So, what's trending for 2016? Nonfiction, that's what. It seems that Jere D. James may be taking a year off from writing westerns, so don't look for another James' novel, although with that author one can never be certain.

Instead, we will be publishing two nonfiction books. One is a guide for the beginner mule rider, and the second is a book on rowing (The Old Folks in the Boat). Both books should be available by fall.
I have yet to receive a completed manuscript of either book for editing, etc. however, so this fall looks to be hectic - what's new about that? Since there will be many photos in both books, don't look for these titles to be available in ebook formats.

Until next month then,