Friday, July 29, 2016

Reading on a Lazy Summer Day

I am going through a lazy time as a writer. Presently spending more time in the garden and more time reading than I am writing.

I call what I do, working in the garden, but my dad used to call it,
puttering around in the garden - he is closer to what I do.
Finished rereading Conan Doyle’s, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes last week. Some readers see theses stories, and Doyle’s writing as too old fashioned, I like both. This particular book is a collection of 12 short tales, all fun, and easy, quick reads.

Yesterday I started Chuck Tyrell’s short story, Origin of White Deer, from another collection of 8 short stories, although I have not yet read much of it, I loved the first three chapters, and it looks to me like a good one.  This book titled, Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Vol. II - should be an enjoyable read. I will post more when I finish in a couple of days.

Speaking of white deer, I was able to get this, and about two
dozen more photos, of this albino Mule Deer last Christmas Day

We spent an enjoyable day, yesterday, in Rocky Mountain National Park. As always the scenery was spectacular. I was a bit surprised at the crowds, looks like a bumper year for tourists.
Always special

Meanwhile keep on reading and keep on writing.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Good Old West Resource

I have spent most of today researching and reading, and that’s not a bad thing on a 100-degree day. It all started with, what was to be, a thorough cleaning of my desk and writing area. Something I have been putting off for quite some time.

One of my first tasks was to decide which books to keep on my desk and which to move back to the family room bookcase. Seems when I move a book to my desk it stays well past its needed time.

Mr. Blevins Fine Dictionary

As often happens I ran across a book, that was a favorite, picked it up and gave up cleaning for reading. The book – Winfred Blevins, Dictionary of the American West. The book, now more than twenty years since its first publication, can make for really nice thumbing through reading. Some of us call that killing time.

Mountain Man Tales

For years I have enjoyed reading westerns that featured Mountain Men. I would guess that everyone who writes about these early day explorers, trappers and traders have read Winfred Blevins, fine tribute to, and history of, the Mountain Men in his wonderful, Give Your Heart to the Hawks.

By that time I had reached a non-cleaning/organizing state of being. I sat back in my office chair, now free of boxes and a ream of paper, and tried to remember some other of my favorite mountain men books.

My Favorites

I believe that I have read all of the William Johnstone and Richard S. Wheeler mountain man novels and enjoyed James Michener's mountain men in his massive novel, Centennial. I still give a try to most new mountain man books I find. Right now I am rereading Mr. Wheeler’s terrific books and the adventures of his character Barnaby Skye.

The Livin’ Was Easy

I have posted a few times on my Wyoming blog, stories of how tough life was for mountain men when the weather turned bad, wonder about hot. Yesterday we took a drive up into the mountains and even though we didn’t reach much over 8,000 feet the temperatures dropped 15 degrees.
As we headed to the high country yesterday

Now with my feet up and my office chair tipped back I can almost see those mountain men of old on a hot summer day. There they are, picking raspberries and currents, fishing and swapping tall tales in the shade of mountain aspen grove. Not bad.
I can usually find a nice cool spot to spend some time on a hot day

Back To Work

Well, it’s time to go back to work, but maybe to the freezer for an Ice Cream sandwich first – then back to work. Maybe!

Meanwhile, the gardens are looking fine

Friday, July 15, 2016

Write What You Know or Write Romance

Write what you know. The old cliché, so often seen on writing sites but now I am reading that is not necessary to know what you write.  Instead, it has become a world of write what people want to read. You know, the jump on the bandwagon, as soon as something makes a big splash, write three or four similar books as quickly as you can and become rich and famous. Some authors are making a living at it, but I wonder if other than financial, how happy they are with their creativity and writing life.

So, if a writer can write and wants to write only for the money – here it is Romance. Romance books make up 40% of Amazon’s eBook sales. There it is, if you are in it for the money, write romance. Oh, and no need to write steamy erotica books, they are a tiny portion of the romance books for sale on Amazon.
Speaking of Romance, this lovely couple is heading for
Anniversary number 48 in a few months.
Some say high school sweethearts never last
Jan and I beg to differ.

Sounds tough for someone like me and old guy that writes historicals and western fiction. But as one of my all-time favorite TV characters, Colombo used to say, “One more question.” Only, in this case, it’s one more thing, and pretty exciting at that. Westerns were on the rise last year. Yes, more westerns selling. Up as much as 7% and a few good western movies came out as well.

Now if I can just figure out how to write a bit of romance into my westerns. Never mind, I already have. Here is a cut from my western, Commitment.

    Blade’s dream flashed ahead and the couple walked hand in hand under a canopy of overhanging elms, the heavy branches filtering the silver glimmer of a half moon. An eerie yellow circle of light cast from one of the new city gas lights illuminated each street corner.  The two walked as if no one and nothing else mattered. And nothing and no one did. They walked, they smiled, and they talked about everything and then talked of nothing at all. The couple passed from the filtered moonlight to the yellow of the street corners, watched buggies and saddle horses pass and held hands letting the troubles of the world find others on this perfect night.
    Blade had never been in love before, didn’t know what it felt like and wasn’t sure what it should be. But he knew it that night, and it scared him worse than he had ever been scared in his life. They had kissed for the first time on their fifth date several weeks before. The first kiss extended Blade’s stay in Kansas City from one month to six months and as the time had worn on their relationship deepened, growing stronger and stronger by the day.

Not too steamy, but it works, at least in my world, because I write what I know.
Sometimes a great western setting is all the Romance needed

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Last Page

While working on an idea for a short story and thinking about endings, I decided there are only three endings in most all fiction. Happy, Sad or Book #2 coming soon, that’s about it. Within the three an author can do a limited number of things. I have never been a fan of sad or unhappy endings, but overly happy can be a bit much also. As I contemplated, while weeding the garden, I came up with this.  No matter if a book ends happy, or sad, there needs to be something to the last few pages. Writers talk so much about a great first page or great start, not so much the last few pages. This is what I have found.

Not Too Many Weeds In This Part Of The Garden

Book Endings

A fiction writer can end a book after the big event the book pointed at throughout and leave it at that. (Most books fall into this category).

An Author can finish the story and then tell the reader what became of the people afterward. (Romance and some historical fiction like this type of ending, with much of my reading I like this one also).

The book can end mysteriously, with readers screaming - WHAT Kind OF AN ENDING WAS THAT!!! (I see a few of these, drives me crazy).

One type of ending I do not care for is one I call the, I am out of words, ending. This one has the reader reading on and on and then in one or two pages the author tries to bring it all together, and it just ends.

What do you think? What kind of ending do you like or see most often?
A Book, Like A Day, Deserves A Great Ending

My Next Book

Maybe I will write a book on how to write a great last page. Probably not, but one thing I have found is that writing the end, for me, is easier than writing the start of a book. 

Keep reading and keep writing.

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Month of Writing

June has ended, and it is time for a break 4th of July – Independence Day. Food, Family, Fun & Fireworks and in our case we will visit a huge flea market and maybe a few antique stores.
Last Year Fort Laramie on the 4th of July

The end of the month also means a look back at my June writing. Once again it was not enough, seems like an ongoing theme. My goal for the year is a quarter of a million words, but I have never been close and looks like I will not be again this year. Oh well! All of my goals are sketchy at best, but I still would like to write at the 20,000 words per month pace, less than 700 per day.

So how did I do? 12,843 words, better than the past two months but still woefully short of my goal. For the year I am just under 122,000 words, if I pick it up, I might make the 250,000, but I am not betting on it not yet. I still continue working on a final edit, from the book proof and the finishing touches on, the first draft, of another novel.
Looks like about half of this month’s writing was in the form of blog posts as I made 20 total this month. Not bad and about what I expect each month.
Grandson Fireworks 

What’s holding me back? Lots and lots of visitors and lots of time with kids and grandkids. Typically I blame my lack of production on too much time with my camera, but I have not spent much time taking photos the past month. Must be the garden and maybe a bit too much golf. Oh and it was too hot to write, but now with an all new central air and furnace system it is terrific inside, but much poorer.
Maybe Not That Cool

Keep reading and keep writing and have a safe and memorable Independence Day.