Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing Break and the Great Crain Migration

So where have I been the last week? Well, I have been on vacation. We went to Grand Island, Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crain migration.
Crains & Cows

Spectacular there were more than 200,000 birds, I would guess we saw three or four thousand.
Dancing for the Ladies

We also went to the south-east corner of Nebraska to see family. I got to spend some time with brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-laws and various others and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Now I am back home writing and editing.
Always Great Nebraska Barns to Photograph and Edit

I am also excited about being part of a documentary for the Wyoming State Parks, Historical Sites and Cultural Resources. I have finished my book, still with a reader/editor, on the Civilian Conservation Corps and this is the subject of the new documentary. The CCC not my book.
The CCC Worker Statue and the Museum - also the cover of my new book

And, by the way, 85 degrees here in my part of Wyoming today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Write the Story but Speak the Conservation

Write the story, speak the conversations

Great advice, write the story but when a writer comes to conversation, you know, anything tagged with he said, she said. Write like you are talking not like you are writing.

Writers are often criticized for writing the way they speak and reminded that speaking and writing are two different things. But not always. Many writers say that writing dialogue is the toughest thing to do when writing a novel. Think of it as talking, being careful to make sure that it is age, gender and time and place appropriate. 

There that should make it easy. Or, at least easier.

The photo below is all about the age old writers challenge.  Show don't tell.  Here I show how to relax in the evening, no words needed.

Sitting by the Fire in Guernsey State Park's North Bluff Castle

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why We all Hate Commas

 Using commas, oh my.

I read today that writers do not use nearly as many commas as were used in 1900. I remember being taught that if you forgot all the rules, which most of us have, to place a comma whenever you hear a pause. Today this seems to be a little used and mostly forgotten comma lesson. Why? Because that leaves too many of the dreaded comma’s. There is a relationship between pauses and commas, but it is not strong enough to always use a comma for a pause.

Best advice I read on commas is that if you are not sure leave it out. Now that’s pretty good.

I am reading a new grammar book taking a look at how comma use has changed. Hope it helps. My undergraduate minor was in American Literature nowadays I wish it would have been in English.

 Not really.

My photo of the day
Relaxing this evening in the beautiful North Bluff Castle at Guernsey State Park

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Photo Time or Edit Time

Someone asked me last week if I was a professional photographer, I said, “nope but I am a professional photo taker.” I took about 9,000 shots last year and was lucky enough to have a few picked up for use by organizations or other media outlets. I am always glad to oblige when people ask for some of my photos.  Looks like I may have a couple of book covers this year.
15 Minutes from town on a photo quest

I spend a lot of time out in the country looking for photo opportunities, some days are good, some not much to shoot. But every day is enjoyable. This takes up part of my writing time but it also clears my mind when I get outside. I especially enjoy going out when I am editing because editing hurts my brain. But I am just about done, three books, two young reader and one nonfiction. And yes, these are the same projects I have been blogging about since January. But I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is an end in sight.
Mountains on a frosty morning - but not too early

Editing is hard work. I enjoy writing but when I am done with something I want to write something else, but then the old editing red pen creeps in.
Think I will go look for some wild turkey tomorrow they are starting to move around, maybe a few other shoots, only a hundred or so.
The river the wagons west followed - The North Platte

Then back to editing.
If old houses could talk - what a tail they would tell
Bull Elk in the warming sun

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rewrite or Leave as Is

I've been doing some editing the past two weeks, everything I do keeps bringing me back to this quote.
“I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence…. In the afternoon I put it back again.” ~Oscar Wilde
Sometimes it might be best to walk away

I am surprised at how many times I have rewrote something in the margin and later scratch that out and write in bold red  - LEAVE AS IS

The good news is the weather is great in Wyoming and my golf game is already getting to mid-season form. Almost time to plant the garden and do some more editing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Anton Chekhov and Reviews

I read quite a few writing/writer blogs and very often will buy at least one book by the blogger. Before I purchase I take a look at the reviews on Amazon and most often it is the same, everything from one star to five. Several one star reviews I read recently were about the delivery of the book, not being in a timely matter. Not sure that helps or hurts the author. As far as reviewer’s go it seems there are two types, people like me, that do not post a review unless I can give it four or five stars and the dreaded reviewers that love handing out one star. Like many people, I’m sure, I often click on one star reviewers to look at some of their other reviews, and more often than not they are all negative.

I like real reviews and look for blogs or web pages that review books with some real thought and insight into both the book and the author. I know that many writers are downcast when someone writes a negative review, but remember when our old high school teachers told us too - consider the source?

I have three books that I will release within the next few weeks and already worry about getting a bad review – if and when I get any reviews at all. Every writer that has ever worried about a review would do well to remember one of my favorites, Anton Chekhov and what he thought of book reviews.

 “I’ve been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can’t remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice.”
—Anton Chekhov
My Place to Relax

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One of My Favorite Writers - and a Writing Update

Elmer Kelton is one of my all-time favorite authors. Not sure if I have read all of his books but believe that I have.

I often think of this quote on writing by Kelton when I decide to start writing something at an odd time such as, eleven o’clock at night.

“I just write whenever I can.”

That sums it up for me, whenever is when I write, that’s my schedule. I believed for many years that when I retired from my full time job I would write most of the day, every day, NOPE!
That just isn't me, I, like Mr. Kelton, write whenever I can, not really, for me it’s more I write when I feel like it. I still managed to write about a quarter of a million words most years, but who’s counting?

(I wrote 28,629 words in February – Finishing my second children’s book –Then Mike Said, “There’s a Zombie in My Basement” – I am also in the final stages of finishing up with my non-fiction work, The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park. Both will be published in print and e-reader formats by the first of April)

Back to Elmer Kelton as I close today. A favorite line from one of his best novels. The Time It Never Rained
 “A bad habit or two is good for a man or a beast. Did you ever know a man who didn't have any bad habits? I have, and I always hated the son of a bitch."

 Charlie Flagg  
Wow - Looks like the sun just came out, think I will go outside for awhile!