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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Story Giveaway Results

The Great Giveaway
Last week I tried, for the first time, an Amazon giveaway. Today's post is a follow up from last weeks on that giveaway. For five days I offered one of my short stories, Interview with a Gunfighter, free on Amazon. I had no idea what to expect, five or six downloads or hundreds. Well, it ended up to be a bit over 60, not sure if that is good or not, but I was satisfied. I am not very active on social media other than a bit of Google + and Twitter. I do use Facebook but so far have not set up an author site or have I tried to advertise my books on the site.

Getting a few more book sales  - Take a look here

New Fans
Not sure if the giveaway will create any new fans, but I have had a slight upturn in sales, since the giveaway, so it might be working. I am still in between as to self-publishing and taking two of my books to small houses that have expressed interest in what I am doing.  Both are true small house publishers, no cost to me, and a little upfront money from them.  The problem is that I would still be doing most, if not all the promotion and as I stated earlier, it is a long way from being a strong suite. Some writers say that any type of traditional publishing will help an author’s brand. I am not sure what that means, other than name recognition, but once again, I will give it a maybe, as in maybe that would be good.

I Really Like to Write
When I started writing it was for one reason – I liked to write. I never gave any thought to selling. Guess I never planned to sell many. But other good things have come from the publishing of my books, mainly two very nice writing jobs. Possibly more good will come from the giveaway short story, I have always wanted to be part of an anthology of some sort.

Seems to me if I don't get with the program, these guys will start circling.

Reading News
I seldom mention on this site what I am reading, but thought today that I would. Last week I finished C.J. Box’s latest book, Off The Grid, it was terrific. This evening I will finish one of Lee Child’s earlier Jack Reacher books, Echo Burning. This, like all of his books, was quite good. I read lots of nonfiction as I research for my fiction and nonfiction books, but it is with fiction that I find an escape. I read western’s, historical fiction, murder mysteries, cozy mysteries and who done it’s, mostly, but read the occasional fantasy or horror. I am not a fan of horror but love the way Stephen King writes, so if I am reading something from the genre of horror, King will have written it. I normally read more than one book at a time and always have a book of short stories going. Most of the time I am also reading a book that would fall into the area of the classics, reading a collection of Robert Frost poetry right now.

Keep reading and keep on writing!

Enjoy the first day of fall

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Marketing and the Dead Western

Book Marketing
Like all writers I have found that marketing is most difficult. How much is too much? I commonly cut off people I follow on twitter who post too many times a day promotions for themselves or other authors. Not sure how some people have time for anything else. One I quit following must have tweeted two dozen times a day about their book. Another I cut loose seemed to retweet each and every tweet they could find.

This might be the last chance to download a free copy of my short story click the link and read the short western.

I ran a free book (actually a short story) promotion over the weekend. I limited my promotions to once on each of my blogs and three tweets over three days. Some will tell me that is not enough – maybe not. I did get several dozen downloads but have no idea if that is a good number, or terrible. Nevertheless, this week it will be back to work writing and probably no promotions, other than links on posts like this one. One thing I did notice during the five-day free short story promotion, I sold a few of my other books as the promotion was running.

Is the Western Dead?
I am constantly told that I write in a genre that is dead, or nearly so. Most of what I write could be classified as historical fiction, and I think that is alive and well. The westerns I write may not be doing as well; there are still fans and readers, but not many. So how do the two differ? Historical fiction has real events, real people, and real locations mixed in with fictional happenings, people, and places. Westerns may have a real setting but most, if not all of the story, comes from the active imagination of the author.

Might be a setting for a good story

Making a Living Writing

Mysteries are still popular as part of many genres. Most of my historicals and westerns are also mysteries, something I hope sets my stories apart from many others. Nevertheless, all books, by unknown or nearly unknown authors, have a tough time finding a market. Once in a while, I have a good day or week of sales, but then they often fall off to nothing. Good thing I do not have to rely on my stories to make a living, but along with some writing work for others, I am getting closer.

Here I am heading up the mountain for inspiration - or for the view

One last note 
This could be either good or bad. My wife and I are heading back to Nebraska this week for our class reunion. That wonderful class of 1966. Yep, 50 years and a few of us are still kicking. Should be a lot of fun.

Out for a cool morning hike, and then off to a 50-year reunion

Friday, September 9, 2016

Western Short Story Give a Way

FREE – Download a free copy today & all weekend.
My western short
Interview With A Gunfighter
More than a quarter of a century after the end of the old west a legendary gunfighter submits to an interview. The one and only time he talks about living his life with a gun.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My New Book Climbs Into Top 50

It is most gratifying to see my new novel – Ghost of the Fawn, released yesterday, have enough sales to already be in the top 50 in its best category on Amazon. It was written as a young adult but has been very well received by adult readers. Terrific news, my first cross-over book.

Ghost of the Fawn is set in 2015 but flashbacks to the 1800s through the protagonist, a 17-year-old from Chicago, Jimmy Bison-Man’s, family and tribe. The extended Bison-Man family and his tribe the Arapaho, he knows nothing about, but this summer in Wyoming Jimmy intends to find out and maybe live the life of his heritage. From Hell’s Half Acre to Casper, The Wind River Reservation, the Medicine Wheel and Hole in the Wall it is quite a Wyoming adventure.  

Click on the link to read the full sample or get it free with Kindle Unlimited or buy the eBook for $1.99. It is also available in soft cover for $9.99. 

If, like me, you don’t always click links, here is a tiny preview. To set up this clip, it is from page 78 of the 211-page book. I picked it randomly and hope you enjoy.

   Two men sky-lined, walking the ridge, could be arrowhead hunters he thought, but they were wearing yellow hats. Looked like workers hard hats, odd for arrowhead hunters. Jimmy watched them until they disappeared down a small rise. After a few minutes when they did not reappear, Jimmy stood up, brushed off the back of his jeans, and turned back north, it was time to wake Robert.
   The bullet sizzled past, inches above his head before he heard the shot. Jimmy hit the ground rolling and in seconds was in the safety of the opening under the arch. The area underneath was nearly invisible from all sides, and a small rise completely blocked it from the west. The shooters were on the west bank, maybe five or six hundred yards away. They were a few feet higher than Jimmy but now hidden from view. It had to be the two he had watched sky-lining on the western bank, but he could not, for any reason, understand why they would shot at him.
Hell's Half Acre Where Most of the Novel
and the Above Clip Takes Place

Thanks for reading now back to work – not really, I was up way too late last night watching the Wyoming Cowboy football game – a big win. Now, I am sitting in my easy chair with my laptop and watching Rockies baseball, later Texas & Notre Dame.
Here They Are - All Six Of My Books