Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring is Here and the Writing is Easy

Spring is here, and I say, it is about time. We, my wife and I, had a bit of a tough winter, flu, colds, and too much ice and bad weather. Now we are back walking and enjoying time outside.

Writing and Researching - My writing, or at least my researching is picking up. I always have trouble getting sidetracked when doing historical research – too much good stuff. The problem is I find stuff I will never use, at least on my current work in progress, but it is much too interesting to put down. Oh well, it can lead to several hours of enjoyable reading. I am managing to write, at least a few hundred words each day, not bad, when writing nonfiction.

Reading – Finished The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse, terrific nonfiction read, now I am back to fiction, reading Elmer Kelton’s, Texas Vendetta, Kelton’s western fiction is always enjoyable.

I have also pulled up some of the works I was stuck on and hoping that after a break I can get going again.

Spring Fever - Should have mentioned I am also reading several new seed catalogs, kind of a gardeners spring fever thing. I have started planting my early seed flats, with a little luck, the new plants will be ready for the garden in the middle of May.

My Gardening Book & my Newest Release – Last year I released my gardening book, Beginning Gardening and Other Entertaining Lies, the book has garden information and includes four garden Murder Mystery short stories. With spring approaching it is starting to sell again, thankfully, as March is a traditionally slow sales month, at least for me. My newest release, On Turing 70, a humorous and reflective look at my new age is off to a good start. If you fall into my age group or hope to reach it someday give it a look.

Today’s photos are from our Monday hike in Wyoming's Guernsey State Park

Want to take a look at all my books? Click to See my Amazon Author Site - here

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Writing - Reading and Birthdays

Well, I made it through my birthday, and am now, officially a septuagenarian. For all of the younger than me readers that fancy word means I am now 70, and yes, it is hard to believe.

Is it Spring Yet? - The weather, at last, seems to be warming and we have begun hiking in the local state park (Guernsey State Park – Wyoming) again. Feels good to get out of my chair and feel sunshine and outside air.

Writing - I am still spending most of my writing time working on my nonfiction book about Fort Laramie and all of its great stories. I also find a bit of time, every day or two and before my head explodes, to work on some of my fiction.

Reading –  Nonfiction - The Killing of Chief Crazy Horse. Good read so far, started today, and I am about a third of the way through. The book is pretty hard for me to put down.

Garden Time – I will soon be starting my garden seed flats: flowers, tomatoes, and onions, mostly. With spring I seem to get up a bit earlier, and if everything goes well, I should get more done. Then I am reminded that Day Light Savings Time, is just around the corner.

From one of my favorite writers -
You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.
Annie Proulx

Today's photos from outings the past two days.

Keep on reading and keep on writing.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Writing, Walking, Laughing, and Selling Books

The sun is shining, and maybe, just maybe, some of the snow will melt this afternoon. One thing about an extended cold snap – lots of time to write, and I have been taking advantage of it. I am working mostly on my non-fiction Fort Laramie book, but thinking about digging out one of my work in progress fiction books to change it up a little bit. Maybe fiction in the morning and nonfiction in the afternoon?

On Turning 70 - My Newest book, a look at turning 70, a combination of tongue in cheek humor and reminisces is available and has started to sell a few copies – only .99 as an ebook. Click to see.

A Smile on a Cool February Day
Have you heard that Wrangler and Levi Strauss started manufacturing electric jeans!

We had to chop up the piano for firewood - but we only got two chords. (Sorry for that one)

Two old cowboys, wearing every stitch of warm clothes they could find, walked toward the barn attempting to talk about the weather. It was not working, their words were freezing in the air. At last, exasperated, the two each grabbed a handful of the frozen sentences and took them back to the bunkhouse, sat by the fire and waited for the words to thaw by the fire before they knew what they were talking about.
Watched these two young ladies Tuesday afternoon

Book Sales – Not as strong as last month but still doing fine – thank you, it is rewarding to see books sold online every day. If it has been a while since you checked my author site on Amazon – click here and take a look at my ten books, and one short story. Each book has a click to read a free sample – pretty cool!
Super Sunset last week

Exercise in Expectation of Warm Days to Come - Once we have a few nice days I will start thinking about playing golf again. I played a few times in December, not at all in January and have got out once for nine holes this month. My wife and I are on a new quest, to walk 100 miles, exercise-extra walking, by the first of May. Should be able to make it, only an average of a mile and a half a day. Not a lot, but pretty good for an old codger like me.

Meanwhile, keep on reading and keep on writing.
Our view from a hike in the park

Saturday, February 17, 2018

New Book and a Wyoming Drive

Feeling better and back to work – that’s me this week. Took nearly five weeks to get back to whatever is normal for me. The first battle with the flu I have had in many years, and the flu won this fight. But now, thankfully, looks like that is all behind me.

Reading - Spending much more time than normal sitting in my recliner had one positive outcome, I did a lot of reading. I spent quite a lot of time reading blogs and free sample pages of books I thought interesting. I found several books I added to my, to read, list.   Speaking of free pages, I love the, Look Inside, feature on Amazon, as it gives me a chance to see if it might be something I will like. I purchased half a dozen eBooks and two physical books over the last two weeks.

On Turning 70 – My newest book and my shortest is out. It is a story of reflection on turning 70 years of age. The book is not only reflective but full of humor and nostalgia. If you are getting, as we used to hear, “up there in years,” give it a try, it’s a quick hour or hour and a half read. This one, like all of my books, is available in soft cover or as an eBook. Here is the link to the $1.99 eBook.

Photo Trip – Thursday we made the hundred mile trip to Rock River, Wyoming to watch our grandson’s basketball game. For readers who do not live in Wyoming – no, a trip of 100 miles for Jr. High sports is not unusual here in the Cowboy state. The trip gave me a chance to drive through some rugged areas great for wildlife photos. All of today's photos are from that trip. You will see some snow coming down in a few of the photos, another, its that time of year, fact.

Meanwhile – Keep on reading, and for my writing friends, keep on writing.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Reading, Writing & A Winter Day in Wyoming

I follow quite a few writers on various social media platforms. Most of the time I enjoy what they have to say. Why only most of the time? I like authors who post about their work, works in progress, what they are reading, or how to write articles.

Posting Off Subject - When writers post political stuff, I don’t mind some, but if it becomes the norm, I usually quit on them. I have my own political views, which I keep to myself, except for one post which I still regret. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good political conversation or read, I do, but for that, I keep to political bloggers. As far as politics, I follow people on both sides, liberal, and conservative, and sometimes enjoy what they have to say.
Off subject photo of Bison in Winter

Sites I Read - Like most everyone who writes, I follow/read many writing sites. Some are fun, some helpful, and some simply have so many followers I figure something must be going on. Here are five, in no particular order, that I look at several times a week, and often find good stuff, usable stuff, or inspiration to keep on working.

On a Windy and Cold Day

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.  Harper Lee

I love that quote, and how true it is. No matter how hard we try, those of us who write are still going to be hurt, at times, by what others think about our hard work. I am still hoping for a five-star review to cover the single one-star I got for my novel, The Ghost Dance, on Amazon. 
Winter Sunset

It’s a good story and still sells pretty well, but the one-star review keeps it from being as popular as some of my other books. Why the one-star? I let my spell checker replace Marshal with Marshall, and sole instead of soul, (I might have done that one myself). Not grievous, most never noticed, but still wrong. The words were long ago replaced, but the one-star, sadly the books only review, lives on. Someday a kind reader, or two, will leave some four or five-star reviews and the book will sell better, and I will feel better. Meanwhile, I try to remember Harper Lee’s words about developing a thick hide.
Talking About My Book on the Civilian Conservation Corps 
What I am Reading Now – Elmer Kelton’s, Ranger’s Trail
Geese Flying Over in the Heavy Snow This Morning

Have a great week and keep on reading and writing

Coming Soon - Sring & Summer

Monday, January 22, 2018

Buried by Research - Who was Who

Research can, at times, be more than I can take. I spent two days working on one obscure commander at Fort Laramie. Not only was there not much about him but there were two of him. Not really two of him, but another with the same name. Both men held the same rank, captain, achieved six-weeks apart and both were with the same group of Kansas Volunteers. After a few more hours I was able to separate them as one went east to fight in the War Between the States, and the other, the one I was looking for, came west to Fort Laramie. 

Thought I had it all figured out, except now when my man coming west should have been listed as the fort commander, he is not. Now I have another dilemma to work through. So goes the life of a researcher.

At some point I will go down to Fort Laramie and see if I can find answers in their files, actually looking forward to it. As of now, I am swallowed up in books, military records, and online research sites. Fun, but it can be exasperating.

Oh, I didn’t mention when doing the research I ran across a murder at the fort and another of a past Fort Laramie Commander in Texas, a few years after he left Laramie. Two stories I will likely use in my book.

Hard work, but highly interesting and entertaining. 

All photos are from Fort Laramie - I took them on an April visit. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Writing Westerns and the Dreaded Contraction

The Use of Contractions in the Old West

To use, or not to use, contractions in a western that is. I ran across a review of a new western movie with the reviewer trashing it as not authentic to the old west period. The reason it was not authentic, according to the reviewer, was that the characters used contractions when speaking, which were not used in the old west.

Long story short, this is not true, the use of contractions in speaking the English language has been around for years, some can be found in English writings from centuries ago.  Mark Twain used hundreds of contractions in his works from the late 1800s.

It was all about the rhythm and cadence of the time that made the speech patterns different, not the lack of contractions.  Oh, and the absence of modern swear words that seem to have been fit into much of today's, old west literature and movies.

Some version of the old phrase, “If you got-um, smoke-um,” seems to fit here. If you have a place for a contraction and it is set in the old west, use it.  I find myself, along with many of the authors I read, using contractions more in dialogue than in the normal telling of the story – and I think that is the better place, and sometimes the only use for them.

Just my thoughts. Enjoy winter and all the time it affords to read and write. 

Now recovering, sort of - Day five of the flu, most unpleasant few days, stay healthy everyone.