Monday, November 28, 2016

Put Me In The Book and I Will Keep Reading

“Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” Louis L’Amour
Speaking of things I have seen - watched this doe and twins today as we headed out Eagle watching

I have always liked that quote. I guess because it can be taken so many different ways. Until a few years ago I had only read one L’Amour book then I read his, Education of a Wandering Man, and I was hooked. The next year I read twenty or so of his books. Some I liked, some not so much. But he was pretty good at putting the reader inside the book through his description of place.

Seems as I get older I want to slow down and take a look around. I like it when stories do that. I don’t need a description of everyone's clothes, looks, or everything they ate, but I need to feel like I am inside the pages of the book. It seems like each month I will start 10 or so books and finish half that at best. The one thing I find in common with the ones I finish is that I can feel part of it.

 I have been a long time fan of western writers, Tony Hillerman, Elmer Kelton, and Richard S. Wheeler. In the past few years, I have added Lee Child, C. J. Box and Craig Johnson to my list of writers I cannot wait for their next book. I read many other writers as I continue my quest to find more writers that make me feel like I am a character in their story.

Today's photos I snapped late this morning. The last days of November and early December is a great time of the year for eagle watching. They are very wary creatures and require a lot of patience to take a few decent photos. But, because I do not travel too many miles, instead I take my time and stop to look around, I often get lucky. Thankfully I have a patient wife who is willing to go as slow as I am.
Mom showing the little ones how to hunt or maybe fish

Meanwhile keep on reading and keep on writing. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Help For Writers and Other Fairy Tales

Help for Writers - Seems to me that more and more websites and blogs are tossing around books I classify as, writer helpers. Kind of like hamburger helper but for writers. When I see a new add for plotting, finishing, starting, editing, character development or one of many other writers helps, I look them up. Not what they are offering but them, what have they written and did it sell, often not, or not so much. Makes me think there may be more money in writing books helping others to write books than there is in any other genre. Just an observation.

Dusting off an old book - Years ago I started writing a book on failing in small business. It was a tongue in cheek look at how difficult it is to be one of the lucky ones that work on to make money in a small business. Think I might drag it out, it was fun. But don’t expect me ever to come out with a book on writing, well maybe, if I sell a few million, which seems unlikely. Several years ago vanity presses were all the rage, pay upfront and got your book published. Today buy the book and self-publish, at least the new way is easier. In all likelihood, few books will be sold, but at least by self-publishing, the writer will not finish in the hole.
First Snow of the Year

NANO Writers - As so many writers plug away trying to get sixteen hundred words a day in a quest to reach 50,000 words during November, the National Write a Novel Month, I have been taking it easy.  I could blame my lack of production on hand pain, and swelling brought on by arthritis, but it’s getting better, and I can type again. I don’t believe I have ever written much more than 30,000 words in any given month, guess that is good for me. Each year I think about attempting NANO, but each year I pass. Considering I was out of state the first week of the month and spend three days last week at a school board convention guess November is a bad month for me, writing production wise. Hey, maybe next year.
Too Much Hiking and Not Enough Writing - but that will end when the cold sets in

Progress Report – The books I had hoped to have ready for Christmas are going nowhere, I have done a bit of work on two of them but now hoping for February. Lazy strikes again, I guess.

Christmas Stories – I am considering some type of promotion for my book of western Christmas stories. Take a look here and read the first one, or most of it at least for free. The book, Under Western Skies, sold well last year and I hope to find some new readers this holiday season. 

Meanwhile, put your feet up grab a hot cup of cocoa and read or write a good book. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Back In The Saddle Again

The End of a Vacation - After a bit over two weeks on the road, we are home. Vacations are always great, and then it is wonderful to be back home. Meanwhile, my writing has been nearly nonexistent. Over the 15 days we were away, I tweeted twice, posted no blogs and wrote only about 1,200 words – not much. The good news is we had fun, a most enjoyable trip. Today's photos are all from our time in Dodge City Kansas where we spent an enjoyable day.
 Part of the Original Boot Hill
Old Town Recreation in Dodge City

A Month of Writing - Last month I wrote a few words less than 10,000 words, even short for me during my slacker writing times. Now here I sit writing my first words in November and it is the 11th.  Seems time to get started. Recently I read that 70% of published books lose money and that cover designers and editors often are the only one’s to profit from a majority of self-published books – something to think about. I have been able to make a profit, albeit a small one on each of my books. To do this, I limit my expenses. Not preaching to the choir just reminding everyone that spending thousands on a book that will be self-published might not be the best idea.
Watching Gunsmoke on 60+ Year Old TV in the Museum at Dodge City
I  kept my feet off the table, just liked the cool effect. I find it funny.  

NANO Writers - Many years I have thought about joining the NANO writers in trying to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Guess that is not me, can't or won't push myself that hard. A good month of writing for me seems to be around 20,000 words, but most months fall in the ten or twelve thousand area. Maybe some day.
Thought this old time printing operation fit here nicely.

Works In Progress – My biggest writing problem seems to be that I have too many stories and not enough time. When I complete the first draft, I put it away and often write another novel and several short stories before I go back to finish the first novel. As all of my loyal readers know I have three books completed and in various states of edit and completion. What do I do, you guessed it, start another. Glad novels and short stories are only part, and not my entire writing income.
Black Smith Shop

Keep on reading and keep on writing.
A few days after leaving Dodge City we were in Louisiana

Oh – almost forgot, while away on vacation I was elected to the local school board. Looking forward to serving. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Here We Go Again

Here we go again – off on our annual fall trip. This trip will make four of the past five years that we have taken a break and got out of Dodge in late October. It is not because of the weather, which has been unbelievable, just time to do what us old people do – travel a bit. And speaking of Dodge, this will be our second day stop, the old town in Dodge City for the third time. Many think it is over the top touristy, but it is still, fun, interesting, educational and helps with writing inspiration.

We will be spending time in Oklahoma, on Route 66 in Texas and then a week in Lousiana. We will also make a trip over to Vicksburg, Mississippi to tour, for the second time, the Civil War Battle Site. Then two or three days to take in some of the shows in Branson, Missouri, followed by a day with family in Nebraska and we will head back home to Wyoming.  Looks like we will be gone two weeks, maybe a few days more. Depending on how much fun we are having and how much money we have left.

I am not sure if I will post anything while we are on the trip, other than a few photos here or on Twitter, but I will get some writing done. We have a few days of rest scheduled where I will sit in the sun, or shade and write, edit, format and all the other things I am behind on.

No Place Like Home

 We schedule our trips well in advance and always have a few things we wish we could be home for. My son coaching his football team in the playoffs, and what looks to be a good Wyoming game Vs. Boise State, this weekend, but I will follow the updates and enjoy the trip south. Speaking of enjoying, I can hardly wait to get into southern Oklahoma or Northern Texas where many eating places feature fried pies. Not the best thing for my diet, but it only happens once each year.

Meanwhile enjoy the terrific fall weather, winter is not far away.

                               Pick your own caption here                               

 #1. Me, after too many fried pies                               #2. Winter is not far away

Keep on reading and for all of you that are writers, get in the chair and get busy writing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Great To Be Back

It is always great to get away, but for me, it’s better to get back home. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get away but when it is time to come home, and I’m ready to come home, nothing is better.
Ahh - less than a half hour from home

We enjoyed a great four day getaway in Breckenridge Colorado, still a lot of Aspen gold, great weather and crisp, clean air at 10,000 feet.
When I say we, this is my travel partner/wife for the past 48 years
This photo is in the Laramie Range, west of home, a week ago

The summer crowds were gone, and it’s too early for the skiers. Still, there were quite a number of tourists in the area.
From the overlook west of Breckenridge

Now we have two weeks at home and then off to the south for a couple of weeks plus a few days. So how much writing do I get done when we are away? Not much, some, but not much. I will get a bit more done when we go on our longer trip, a few more days in hotels/motels and some days with family in Louisiana.
The light area is a parking lot - not snow - yet

I have some work to do, some new covers for some older books and three new books coming soon. One has been edited, the other two are my usual, behind schedule. What I like most about writing full time and being my own publisher is that I set my own schedule, if I fall behind – oops!

I read today that James Joyce only averaged about 90 words a day during his writing career. Even with my so-so writing routine, I will easily write more than 90 words a day on average. As a matter of fact, I will end the year averaging about 620 words per day. Not a huge input, but for me – hey, good enough.

According to a 2013 study, people check their phone 150 times per day, not me, more like five for me. Phones waste a lot of time, as does all social media and internet surfing. These three things are the most listed as things that take away working/writing time. I do spend too much time on Twitter and maybe Goggle+, other than that, my writing time should be mine. I was born long before everyone carried a phone around and computers were needed both at home and work. My twitter, in case any readers want to waste time is - @wyohistoryguy

So that leaves me with this. I could write more except, I love to play golf, work in the garden, outdoor photography, hiking in the mountains, reading, cooking, yep cooking, and woodworking. Guess that’s the reason I only write a quarter of a million words a year instead of a million. Oh, I love football, and the baseball playoffs are on.
Still looked pretty good a few weeks ago - sadly, frost has taken it all away

Meanwhile - Keep writing and Keep on reading. It’s great to be home. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Writing Short Stories and a Walk to Refresh

Sometimes when I should be writing, but it is too nice to stay inside, my wife, and I go for a hike. We planned on two or three miles but went for four, a bit tiring but the day was spectacular.
Clear skies and a day to see for Miles and Miles

We spend as much time as we can outside and constantly marvel at the beauty that can be found in nature.

Whether it is landscape or animals seems there is always something to see. Sometimes even a simple rock can stop me as I walk.
Well Hello There

“The next best thing to being clever is being able to quote someone who is.”  -Mary Pettibone Poole-

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  Rudyard Kipling

Throughout my years of teaching, I was always proud when a colleague said they could never teach like I do because they just were not a story teller. I loved it when a student told me they loved my classes because I was a story teller and they had never been in a class with a storyteller before. I guess that is what turns storytellers into writers.

I seem to have an endless supply of stories, one of the reasons I am a fan of short stories, which brings me to my last point. A few weeks ago I published a short story and gave it away on Amazon for five days, after the giveaway, it continues to sell well at .99 cents, and for that I am grateful.

Here is the .99 cent short

Good enough sales and downloads that I believe I will try another in a few weeks.

Meanwhile keep on reading and keep on writing. My online western writer friend Oscar Case, you can find him here, posted a few reviews from a book of short stories called, The Mammoth Book of Westerns. I could not help myself. I bought it and now cannot put it down.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Words of September

Another month has passed, fall is here, and the colors are terrific.
Fall Color in Wyoming

Writing totals for the Month
I had hoped September would see an uptick in my writing, but instead, I wrote a bit less than last month. This month writing numbers include 17 blog posts and 11,291 words on all of my projects. This brings my word total for the year to just under 167,000. I need to pick it up to reach my goal of a quarter of a million words, right now it looks like I will come in around 200,000. My original goal was 350,000 then lowered to 250,000. I am not sure if I set my goals too high, or if I have become lazy. This year is the first that I have kept exact totals so maybe next year will tell the tale of how many words I write each day, month or year.
Standing in the Oregon Trail Ruts a half mile south of our home

Sales are up
Although my word total was lacking, my book sales were and still are up. I have three new books nearly ready to go and hope to update my Christmas book to a second edition and get it out before Thanksgiving.  If I do all of that, I should have a good writing month in October.
Two Fawns in Fall

What a September
Not much writing in September but it was a great month for everything else. We went back to southeast Nebraska for our 50-year high school class reunion – Class of 1966. I also spend some time in the Laramie Range, visited the old Iron mining town of Sunrise, spent a day at the world famous Spanish Diggings and half a day at one of my favorite places, Fort Laramie. My wife and I also, with the cooler temperatures, started our fall hiking at Guernsey State Park.
Here I am taking a break sitting on a pile of broken stone at the Spanish Diggings
Unbelievable that this stone was worked thousands of years ago - what a great trip

Garden Book 
Oh, and the garden is looking good. Which reminds me, I have not mentioned that one of my works in progress is a gardening book. Tips for beginning gardeners at altitude, and a collection of short murder mysteries that take place in – you guessed it - the garden. It will be a short book, coming in at around 100 pages, but so far I like it. The others will be my second Blade Holms western mystery and the third in my series of children’s books.
Nothing beats a backyard garden

Thanks for keeping, Ghost of the Fawn, and Interview with a Gunfighter, consistently in the top 200 the past month, it is appreciated more than I can ever say.

Keep on reading and keep on writing!

Top of the world view from the area of the Spanish Diggings