Guest Post: My Half-Century as a Writer by Verne R. Albright

Today’s guest is Verne R. Albright to talk about his writing and his latest book, Horseback Across Three Americas, and Playing Chess with God and the sequel, The Wrath of God.

Before we hear from Verne, I wanted to share a brief synopsis of his books.

Synopsis of Horseback Across Three Americas:

Travel with Verne Albright on his famous Peru-to-California ride. Cringe as he encounters vampire bats. Feel apprehension as he’s chased by bandits, and when he rides into Nicaragua days after a violent revolution. Be there when a road grader driver tries to run him and his horses down. Experience the tension of facing malaria, typhoid, cholera, and bubonic plague. Come with him across the Peak of Death, where travelers have frozen to death standing. Feel his anxiety when he becomes a fugitive from the law in Mexico. And meet countless fascinating people including a witch doctor, bandits, a smuggler, a bullying sheriff, and a beautiful American girl named Emily.

Synopsis of Playing Chess with God:

VOTED ONLINE BOOK CLUB’S 2019 BOOK OF THE YEAR! Henning Dietzel, at the urging of a Chilean prostitute named Encinas, investigates rumors of gold in California prior to the 1849 rush. Intrigued he heads to the Gold Country to stake his claim. When others flee a brutal winter, Henning perseveres, and by the time the Forty-Niners arrive, he’s already a wealthy young man. His saga is a sweeping tale of fortune and misfortune, discovery and tragedy, love and loss. From the backwaters and boardrooms of early San Francisco to malaria infested jungles and a guano island off the coast of Peru, Henning’s search for meaning and purpose eventually brings him to realize that all that glitters is not necessarily gold.

Synopsis of The Wrath of God:

Henning Dietzel’s attempt to rebuild his businesses—destroyed by a massive tidal wave—is complicated by a desire to also enjoy a satisfying personal life. Quick to recognize opportunity, he amasses an agricultural empire the size of a small country. But his fortunes rise and fall during three disastrous wars followed by struggles with an unscrupulous competitor, a crooked judge, and a slave trader.All the while he doggedly courts Martine Prado, a feisty, beautiful, seemingly unattainable Peruvian aristocrat whose liberation is a century ahead of its time. Henning accepts her proposal of a mutually advantageous marriage, which combines their haciendas. Rocky at first, the relationship improves until an astonishing, out-of-nowhere answer to Henning’s prayers threatens to destroy it.

Please give Verne a warm welcome:

When my third grade teacher announced a compulsory writing contest for fictional stories, a boy spoke for everyone but me when he protested, “How will we ever write two whole pages?”

I wrote twenty pages and won. It was the first such success of my young life, and from that day on I loved writing.

My advice to anyone thinking of becoming a writer is to plan on working long and hard while creating your first draft and then to edit, polish, and rewrite—no matter how long it takes—until you’re happy with it. That will take months if not years, and it’s just the beginning.

Unless you are an exception to the general rule, numerous publishers and agents will reject your early submissions. But you must not tell yourself they don’t know what they’re talking about. Instead polish and improve your manuscript until it’s the best it can be.

You will need the input of a first class editor. There are many who correct your grammar and spelling while trying to write your book for you. But the really good ones reach inside you and bring out your best.

“I feel like a failure if I see myself in your finished story,” my editor told me. “What I’m supposed to see is you.”

My talent for writing served me well when I began publicizing the little-known Peruvian Paso horse breed worldwide. I also promoted these horses by riding two from Peru to California and writing a book about my adventures during that unusual tour of Latin America and the Andes Mountains.

During my sixty-five trips to Peru, that country’s culture, history, and colorful characters have provided much material for my books.

My latest effort, Horseback Across Three Americas, is the true story of my 1960’s ride from Peru to the United States. I’ve had twelve books published, three of which were Best Sellers. I consider this the most thoughtful of all.

The following is an excerpt from Horseback Across Three Americas. Enjoy:

As I rode Hamaca and led Ima through a hamlet, a man on a mule reversed course to follow us. This often happened with people on foot and usually meant the person wanted to talk. But this was different. Five men joined him, all riding small scrawny mules, wearing dirty suits, and inebriated. Instead of simply tagging along, they crowded close behind us.

In vain I looked for an army post or police station. Uneasy with riders pushing them, Hamaca and Ima sped up. At the edge of town the group’s leader put his mule in a fast trot and came alongside me.

“I’m the Law,” he declared, staring at my Bowie knife. “I have to see your passport and inspect your bags.”

“Do you have anything to show your authority?” I asked without slowing.

“I’m not making a request,” he replied sternly. “I’m giving an order.”

“How do I know you have that right?”

“Señor, you must stop immediately.”

“As soon as I see proof you’re the Law.”

We’d reached a stalemate. Obviously he couldn’t prove his authority, and I wasn’t about to be talked down off Hamaca.

Besides, I had a feeling the other five would soon give up and go away. The one beside me, however, was another matter. His determination made me wonder if he might indeed be the Law.

But in nearly eight hundred miles, only border guards had asked to see my papers and even they hadn’t inspected my duffel bags. Furthermore I’d slept in police stations without one such request. I was certain I’d regret letting these men go through my belongings.

Incessantly the Law droned on about international law and American imperialism.

When he referred to me as an Americano, I pointed out that most South Americans insisted I was a Norteamericano. He ignored my feeble attempt to sidetrack him.

“Stop and dismount,” he ordered.

I kept Hamaca a few steps ahead, hoping he’d give up. Abruptly he spurred his mule, and it jumped between my mares. He grabbed Ima’s lead rope and started to dismount, intent on searching my bags. By then his companions were surrounding me. I turned Hamaca to face him and untied Ima from my saddle.

“Show me proof of your authority now,” I demanded, hoping he’d produce a convincing badge.

He didn’t.

“Be careful,” I shouted, jumping Hamaca toward him.

He recoiled, still holding the rope. I put slack in it by riding closer, then spun Hamaca and charged in the other direction.

Rather than be jerked off his mule, he let go.

“Halt or be shot,” he ordered.

Thank you, Verne, for sharing your love of writing with us and the excerpt to your latest book.