Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It’s That Writing Time of Year


Winter time seems to be the best time for me to write. A few years ago, okay, a long time ago, I liked winter, looked forward to it. Once upon a time I skied, ice fished a bit, enjoyed winter. Now my favorite place in winter is in my recliner or at my desk with my laptop. Guess that means winter is my best writing time.

What about the other seasons. Fall – football games can be distracting, but I seem to get quite a bit done in fall. Spring, I like to get outside, garden, lawn, golf course, and warmer weather. Summer, well, summer is tough for all writers. Too many distractions.


So here I am in the middle of winter, and it seems like I am getting quite a bit of writing done. No real distractions now that Christmas has come and gone and it’s 2017. Oh, there is a handful of meaningless, pro football games left, a new guy taking over as President, spring training around the corner, and of course it’s that time of year to get ready for April tax paying day.

It’s still winter, as I look out the window, so, back to one of my works in progress.


So, how about you? What time of year is your writing time?

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.

- Robert Benchley-
If it's cold in your part of the world today, read a great book, or write a few terrific lines.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Writing Short

Books seem to be getting smaller, at least that is what I have been reading. Many traditional publishers, in their author note sections, are still listing word count by genre the same as they did many years ago, but they may be a bit out of touch by doing this. I recently looked at a book series on Amazon where each book was less than 30 pages. I am not sure that would be considered a book, not in my world anyway. It does seem to me that the new book may be closer to 200 pages than the 400 in the past. Looks like 100-page books are also doing well. Now when buying an eBook, I check the page count. I don’t mind paying .99 cents for a good short story, but am against paying several dollars for a book that is less than 30 pages.


Are We Still Reading? - Maybe the scientists who tell us all the texting and instant gratification of video games are on to something. Kids do not sit around and read, not much anymore. Many parents still require kids to read 20-30 minutes each evening, kind of like the music practice in my growing up days.


My new western novel, is complete at 237 pages, with a few pages of front matter and some author stuff and a pitch for my other books, in the back, this would make the actual book around 230 pages. I tend to write shorter chapters, which is the new wave in fiction, and this one has 50 chapters. That would make each chapter four or five pages long. As a reader I like to quit at the end of a chapter, short chapters make it easy.
By the way, for my format, I use a 6 X 9 book layout and size 12 font. This lets my book come in at just under, 50,000 words. Many authors suggest 11 as a better font size, but I use what is easy for me to read, and I like it slightly larger. I also use 1.15 spacing, for ease of reading. It costs a bit more this way, as it adds pages, but I like the look and feel of books printed this way.


Trying for a short - Not sure if I can do it, but I am going to try to do some shorter books, we used to call them novellas. I will shoot for 20,000 to 25,000 words, might be fun. I already have an idea, although it may be lame, as are many of my early ideas, I like it so far.

Enjoy the week and keep reading and keep writing, only keep it short.


Today’s photos from two great hikes over the weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Edit or Write?

I read many author blog sites, likely too many. One thing interested me a couple of years ago, and that was keeping better track of what I was writing. So, in 2016, I kept track, noted the number of words and where I wrote them, blog, book, contract work, etc. I did a good job, for me, faithfully writing down numbers each day, adding them up each month, and totaling at the end of the year.

Did it Help? I’m not sure, for some, it might, but I think it may also hurt. I worried about the days I didn't write, and on the days my word count was low. At one point I reassessed my goal and adjusted it down a bit. The problem I had was editing. I would spend hours and days, editing for the second, third and yes, fourth time and those days the word count was low or nonexistent. One day I spent six hours working and wrote 17 words, which I duly noted in my journal. Some days, as is often the norm in editing, I subtracted words, maybe hundreds. No, I didn’t subtract words from my count for those days, but I had no new words either – entered zero.
Prarie Dog Enjoying the Snow

The Problem – Often on editing days I would quit and go to work on a WIP just to get my word count up. If my words for the week were short, I would quit editing to make sure I got my thousand words for the day or whatever goal I had set in my mind. Why is this a problem? Because I can't publish anything if I never complete the edit.

New in 2017 – I am still keeping track of words, but only to note them, not on what project and instead of keeping a running total I may, or may not, add them up at the end of the month.
Travelers on the Trail Called this Stream, in the Laramie Range, the Bitter Cottonwood

Meanwhile – As you may have guessed I am spending most of my days lately editing. Today is a cold, 14 right now, and snowy day, a good day for writing, or editing.


Keep Reading, Keep Writing, and if you live in four season country, stay warm.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Reading Through the Boring Pages

I often pick up a book I think will be a great read then find it gets off to a slow start. At times I will keep reading with hopes the story will get better.  Sometimes I will put the book away for another day and never pick it up again. I have liked several of Elmore Leonard’s books over the years and have always been a fan of his 10 Rules for good Writing, especially his last one – “Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.”

As you may have guessed by now, I started an Elmore Leonard book and found most of the first chapter boring, went to the second, and then skipped ahead to see when a good Elmore Leonard story would break out. One last thought on this, what is boring and what is not, is up to the reader, other readers may find fascinating what I find boring. The old, “In the eye of the beholder,” thing.
Too Cold for much Outside Time - Good Inside Writing Day's

Although Jack Kerouac is considered a genius by some writers and readers, others find him a bit too mystical to understand, count me as one of the latter. I do find much of what he wrote entertaining, just a little hard to understand such as – “It ain’t watcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” I get it but am not sure it deserves an A+ for great use of the English language.

When I read the above, I may have said, “hummmm,” then scratched my head.


Meanwhile keep on reading and keep on writing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Favorite Reads from 2016

Every year starts off with new hope and new life, wonder how many have already faded back to 2016? One of my goals, I try not to call them resolutions, was to walk more this year. Guess what? High-temperature today of 9 and seven inches of new snow. Well, guess I will continue my, walk more, goal, next week.
Wyoming

I did go back through my 2016 book sales, and they were better than 2015 and better than I expected. Still not quite a bestseller, but if the sales get better each year I will be happy.
Albino Mule Deer Doe

I didn't read as much this year as normal, I did do more research and will use that as an excuse. Of the books, I read here were my five favorites for the year – okay seven.

In No Particular order
1.  Off the Grid by  C. J. Box
2.  The Mammoth Book of Westerns (Thanks Oscar for putting me on to this one)\
3.  Jim Bridger Mountain Man by Stanley Vestal
4.  The Story of the Outlaw by Emerson Hough
5.  Postcards by Annie Proulx
6.  Echo Burning by Lee Child (Thought I had read all of Child’s, Jack Reacher books, not sure how I missed this one)
7.  Cabin Fever by B. M. Bower
I love to watch these guys fish

Reading in 2017 - I have already finished reading one entertaining nonfiction book I got as a Christmas gift. I am presently reading an excellent collection of western short stories, Western Stories,  by Oscar Case. It might be hard to believe, but I am also reading and enjoying, a book on punctuation, called, Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.


The photos are four of my favorites from 2016.
I spent as much time as I can in my garden - can't wait for spring

Monday, January 2, 2017

Here We Go Again

It’s 2017 day number 2. So, how are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Funny how so many people set goals on only one day of the year. I recently set a goal for the month of December, and it worked. Goal setting for writers needs to be an ongoing process. I have several books to publish this year and am sure I will get at least three published, more I hope. I am not afraid to adjust goals as I go that I do try to not soften them too much.
Beautiful Winter Look the Last Few Weeks

I am waiting to publish two books that are ready to go as I decide what to do with ISBN numbers. In the past, I have used the $10.00 option from Amazon. That is no longer available, and now I am looking at purchasing ten numbers for $250.00. Twenty-five dollars each is still not bad, it is the initial $250.00 I am holding back on. For me, that is a lot of money at one time. Create Space/Amazon does offer a free ISBN number option, but then I would need to give up my own publishing company, Old Trails Publishing, which I want to keep using.

At present, I have decided to get the three books that are close, finished, then decide what to do about a number. I have also thought about publishing some of my work, only as eBooks, but there is just nothing better than leafing through a book that a writer can call his own.
Stark - But I Like It



Meanwhile, keep on writing and keep on reading.
No Looking Back Now - It's 2017       Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Writing In a New Year

Christmas is over, and now we are counting down to the New Year. Each year I make a few resolutions, and each year they seem to go quickly by the wayside. Last year I decided, for the first time, to keep track of how many words I wrote and published. I did it, but am not sure I will keep track this year, seemed to put too much pressure on me, and I started worrying about the days I didn’t write. Sometimes that causes a bit, or a whole bunch of bad writing, not worth saving. (Oh, for the record, I wrote a tad less than a quarter of a million words this year. Quite a bit for me but partly because I wrote a lot recently, trying to finish up last year's goals)
Geese on the ice

This year my goals are simple - 2017

1.     Publish the third of my kid's books – This book is finished but is yet to have a cover. I am sure to get this one out. The first two of the Mike, Moose, and Me series were fun and sold a good number of copies, I hope this one does as well.  
2.     Publish the second, in what I hope will be a series of five, western mysteries, with Marshall Blade Holmes as the protagonist.  This one is 90% written, but has some things I need to clean up. Then editing.
3.     Finish my modern day mystery, set in a Wyoming small town with murder on a golf course. This is to be a novella, and I am about the halfway point. Fun, especially for golfers and mystery lovers. (still in the western genre)
4.     Publish a book for gardeners, yep gardeners. This one started on a whim and now is about 2/3 complete. Gardening tips in the western high country with every fourth chapter a murder mystery.
5.     Continue research and writing of my second nonfiction book. I hope to add another 20,000 words to this one before the years is out.
6.     Keep on blogging, for the past few years I have written more than 100 blog posts each year, twice over 200, this year about 10-12 each month on my various blogs should do.
A few minutes before sunset

2016 - This year I published one book and one short story. I also ran a five-day reduced price, promotion on my Christmas book, which was well received. I also did a giveaway of a short story, that story is still doing well, selling for .99 cents. My newest book, Ghost of the Fawn, has enjoyed a good run on Amazon, staying in the top 200, where it still is, for several weeks.
We hiked this trail a few days ago - wonderful

Will I Make This Year’s Goals? - Maybe I will do more than my stated resolutions in the New Year, I hope not to do less, it often depends on our travel and my love of photography and golf. Several things I am sure of. I will run a couple more promotions for my books, I will take lots of photos, I will write and edit, and put some time in at far away, but not too far, destinations.  

Winter ski from the trail