Monday, July 24, 2017

Writing Westerns - What? Writers Block!

There is no such thing as writer's block, anyway, that is what seems to be a hot topic for bloggers lately. Maybe so. Might not be such a thing. I always have ideas but sometimes life gets in the way of my writing. I am not blocked right now but my time seems to be. Summer time, lots of visitors, and outside activities, that might not be writer's block but it does slow me down a bit. I am back to work on several of my projects, working some here and there as time and my mood allows.
 My Office - Everything I Need and Ready to Go

Goals - This time of year is the perfect time to set some goals for fall and winter. I hope to complete three of my projects/books by Christmas. Most of my writing each year takes place in the fall and winter anyway so there may be a chance I will make that goal.

Selling Books - I also hope to continue to market my books keeping my sales on a steady rise. Sales since May have been the best for me since I started selling on Amazon more than two years ago.

Books by Neil A. Waring – my books
My two historical fiction books with Marshall Blade Holmes, Commitment, and The Ghost Dance are doing particularly well. My book of short Christmas stories, Under Western Skies, continues to sell despite Christmas being half a year away. My newest book, Beginning Gardening and Other Entertaining Lies, with real tips and lighthearted stories, is selling surprisingly well. Not because it is not a good read, actually I am quite proud of it, a book that is both a good garden resource and some smiles, along with a handful of murder mystery short stories.
Front Yard Visitors a Few Days Ago

My other five books also continue to sell a few copies each month despite all the things potential readers have to do in the summer.

Meanwhile – Keep on reading and keep on writing

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Coming Soon - My Tenth Book

After doing little writing the past several weeks, something happened – I started again. Not too fast mind you, but I am spending some time at it. Two days in a row with over a thousand words. Those two-thousand plus words are more than I wrote the entire month of June. Guess I was on vacation and didn’t know it.

Seems lately I have been reading quite a lot and some of it about writing and editing, maybe that is starting to sink in. Now it’s time for some goals. First, actually my only goal so far, is to publish my next book, it will be my tenth, before September first. If I keep working, I might make it.

Lawrence Block, who created one of my all-time favorite fictional characters Bernie Rhodenbarr, might have said it best when it comes to taking time off from writing.

"I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing — writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”

Lawrence Block in Writer’s Digest

Blue Herron - Looking for a snack in the mud

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Man From Hanksville - Terrific Western Read

A couple of weeks ago I finished Oscar Case’s excellent western – The Man From Hanksville. I planned on reviewing it earlier but spent too much time watching Little League Baseball. Just kidding, no Grandpa can spend too much time watching a grandson play baseball, and the kid is pretty darn good.

The Man From Hanksville is another fine read from Arizona Western Author Oscar Case, this is one I enjoyed as much as any western I have read this year. Written in the traditional western style but without the over the top violence, this is a book I am sure all western readers will enjoy. The story follows Jimmy Snyder the sheriff that cleaned up Hanksville as he attempts to start a career as a writer. From that point everything, well almost everything, except for the girl goes south.

This one is my kind of story, a western but a good mystery also, who are the bad guys? Who is in the grave? Why does nothing seem normal? All the parts for an entertaining read, and a couple of good horses too.

Can't seem to post without a photo or two - I took these in my front yard about an hour ago. In case your are wondering, we live in a small town in beautiful eastern Wyoming.

Thought for a minute they wanted to borrow my pickup

I took this photo standing on our front porch about 30 feet from these Mule Deer
As an old guy, I should have hollered at them

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Neil A. Waring - Writing Update

Update time
As seems to be my M-O, when it turns to summer my writing becomes sporadic at best. I have done a bit of work on a few smaller projects and posted a handful of blogs, but, otherwise, have been pretty silent when it comes to writing. I have finished one short story I like and another is nearly finished. I spent a few hours in research for my next nonfiction and wrote less than a thousand words on my novel in progress, the third of my Blade Holmes novels.

So – What have I been up too?
Just returned from the state Cal Ripken League, (11 and 12-year-olds), state tournament. Not much that beats watching a grandson play baseball on a hot summer day. We watched four games the past two days.
I have also been out and about with my camera watching wildlife

and watching where I step.
Question - Why was the Rattlesnake crossing the road
Answer - To see how far, and how high, and old guy could jump
The garden is doing well, picked our first tomato on July third. We are picking many raspberries and harvesting some very nice onions, peas, radishes, and soon, it looks like Bell Peppers.

Now Reading
Thomas McGuane’s, Nobody’s Angel and Tony Hillerman’s, Talking God, very different but both good reads. We are also listening to a pretty good thriller as we travel, might need to look at the title so that I can mention it here.

June Book Sales
June was a pretty good sales month, as my softcover books and my, KENP, (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read), were up significantly, my Kindle pages read was my best ever month! My E-Books continued an upward trend started a few months ago for which I am most thankful. All in all, a nice month.

Why Do We Like Summer?
That is the question my neighbor often poses. We spent time working on the lawn, working in the garden, traveling, visiting and hosting visitors, relatives, and friends. We also have to put on sunscreen, mosquito repellent and take constant showers to wash away sweat from the hot summer days.
A pool of clear water in a mountain rock crevice

My neighbor lady suggests we should embrace winter rather than summer as it is the time for relaxing. A time for sitting around reading books, watching movies, and complaining about the cold as we happily sit by the fire sipping a favorite hot beverage. I think she may be on to something.
Maybe not!


Keep on reading and for all you writers, keep on writing, even if it is hot and time for summer at the lake, pool or on the golf course.  
Not many know that all the horses and mules from Rocky Mountain National Park are taken to Fort Laramie for the winter. Old animals from the park are also retired there.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Selling Books

Not sure why, but this month is shaping up as my best ever sales month. KDP pages are up by nearly four times the norm, and my e-Book sales have been brisk. I have also sold some soft cover books online and wholesaled another 15 of my CCC book to a local museum. Wish every month would be like this.

Here is the Amazon link to all of my books - thanks for looking.

Meanwhile, I am back to work on another collection of short stories and am well into my fourth children's chapter book, about 1/3 finished and have finished the introductory material and first chapter of the third in the series of Blade Holmes novels.

Still taking quite a few summer day trips and enjoying it!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Editors and Selling Books

Editor Advertising
Be careful what you pay for. Recently I have been seeing more and more ads for editing services on Twitter, Facebook and in eMails sent my way. I have no problem with those who solicit work but would like to mention that if trying to find customers for an editing service,  it would be best to have a clean copy for potential customers to read. Last night I read through an ad on Google + with two errors in the first sentence. Another had so many errors I was not sure if the potential editor was trying humor, in showing things he would correct, or that far from being able to write clean copy. Don’t take this post in a negative way, good editors can be a great help to writers, but a bad editor helps no one, and hurt the entire image of the Indy author-industry. Much like paying for book covers, before you pay up, make sure you are getting what you want.
Great time of the year for hiking - we are enjoying the great wildflowers 

Selling Books
I am still experimenting with different ways of advertising my books and looking at how each influences sales. So far, I have found some eye-openers. First I have noticed that advertising has boosted my KDP pages read. Second I have found that sometimes the cost of advertising can be as much as the revenue added through additional sales. I will stay the course for another two months and then decide to continue or try something else.  
Click here to see my Amazon Author Page – did you know that Amazon keeps authors books in order by how they are selling at the present time?

Big Weekend Coming
Looking forward to a big weekend, Saturday, Fur Trade Days, at Fort Laramie and Sunday in Denver for Rockies vs. Giants.
2016 Fur Trade Days

Keep on reading and keep on writing.
Osprey sitting on a fence post

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Books and Kindle Unlimited

Things are looking up. Sales I mean, and my KDP pages read is now looking better than ever at nearly a thousand pages each day.

Whether or not to put books in the Kindle Select or in the Unlimited program is a decision many self-publishers are having to make. Basically, self–pub authors have two choices, go with the Select or Unlimited program on Amazon, or go wide and publish on many platforms. There are certainly good points and bad to each, so why did I choose to go with the Amazon only, Select program? Easy, I’m pretty lazy, much-preferring writing, taking photos, working in the garden, traveling and playing golf to trying to sell books. 

All this and a great short - free on Kindle Unlimited

Don’t get me wrong, I love selling books, just not crazy about all the time it takes to do promotions. I still do some and will continue but only on Amazon. Over the past two years, my sales have been mostly through Amazon or with the soft cover books I sell myself or that are sold in bookstores. I don’t believe it will harm my sales to be exclusively on Amazon, so far it is helping.

Relaxing at the Guernsey Dam Spillway with a nice rainbow

I am researching, time-lining, and rough outlining the third in the series of my Marshall Blade Holmes western mysteries. Still early, but I like the way the story is shaping up. Also, I am still working on my nonfiction Fort Laramie book.

Fort Laramie

What am I reading?
Fort Laramie by Donald Clayton Porter

I am nearly finished with both and will write a full review. I have read much of Donald Clayton Porter’s work and always like it, but at the moment I am really enjoying Mr. Case’s book. My Kindle says I am at 71% of the read (I do miss page numbers when I read on my Kindle) and am sure I will wish for more when it is finished. I started the Hanksville book a few weeks ago but put in on the backburner as I was off on some speaking engagements and heavy into the research part of my Fort Laramie book, now it is my go to each day. Click the link above and take a look at Oscar Case’s Man From Hanksville.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer Writing

At last, it looks as if summer is here.

My writing normally slows down a bit when warm weather arrives. For me, summer means lots of vacation days, short trips, golf, long walks, and hikes, gardening, a little fishing, and more time with my cameras taking wildlife and landscape photos. I also spend time watching Little League baseball and my favorite big league team the Rockies who are off to a great start.

One of our favorite places to relax and only a few minutes away

I will continue working on my new nonfiction book and hope to finish the 4th  kid's chapter book from my Mike and Moose & Me series. Here is the link to the first of the series.

I am doing a few small promotions for my newest book – here is my latest post on it.

Just in time for summer. Beginning Gardening and Other Entertaining Lies. Everything from how to read labels on a bag of fertilizer to building backyard raised beds. Great for beginners along with terrific reminders and how to’s, for long time gardeners also.  Complete with humor and four short stories, each starting with a body in the garden.

Other than that I will do lots of soaking in the sun and relaxing in the warmth of summer. How about You?
Last evening - sunset over Guernsey State Park 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Using Kindle Unlimited and New Book Covers

Thursday at our house - Today, Saturday, I worked in short sleeves in the garden

Now You Can download all of my Books for Free with Kindle Unlimited - Like many writers that self-publish I am constantly looking for more revenue. With that in mind, I decided to move all of my books to Kindle Unlimited. I have always had a few there, but decided I would give it a try with all nine of my books and my one published short story. Not sure what will happen but if nothing else, it will give me something to check every day.

So what is Kindle Unlimited? - For those of you not familiar with Kindle Unlimited, it is a subscription with Amazon that allows members who pay $9.99 a month to download an unlimited number of books each month. Readers can have up to ten books at any one time but must return books to go past ten in a month. Not a bad deal, some readers return books as soon as they finish or if they decide it is not what they want and order another. Some readers report downloading dozens each month. It also looks like a good place to sell old-fashioned genres such as Westerns and Historical Fiction.
Take a look and read the free sample.
Take a look at The Ghost Dance Here

Author Pay – Authors are paid by how many pages are read from each downloaded book, works out to a bit over a half cent per page, which for a 300-page book would work out to $1.50, or a little more depending on the month as the payment does vary. Considering that the same book, sold as an eBook for $2.99 would pay the author about $2.00 it is not much different.
   I have not tried it yet myself but believe when late fall comes around again I will give it a try. My old bones do not like the cold weather of winter, and a good book is always a nice companion.

My Garden Book is now .99 cents as an eBook – I also reduced the price of my latest book, Beginning Gardening & Other Entertaining Lies to under a buck. (As I write this late Saturday afternoon the price change has not appeared yet but should change soon)
   This one is a bit shorter, 130 pages in soft cover and 80+ as an eBook, not sure why the big difference, as it takes a pretty small font to knock off 50 pages. This one also contains four short stories that all start with a dead body in the garden. Fun stuff. The actual gardening advice is solid and time tested, a terrific way for gardeners to get going. Take a look at the sample here.

New Covers - My kid's book series – I am starting to put new, and better, covers on my three book, so far, kid’s series. Here is the new cover and the link to the first.

Monday, May 15, 2017

My New Book is Out

My new book is out and much different than all of my others. 

This one tackles my love of gardening along with short murder mysteries.

Here is the book blurb 

A book for everyone who gardens or wants to garden. Gardening tips from a Master Gardener who has tried it all, over more than half a century of digging in the soil. With, just for fun, four Garden Murder Mysteries from a Master Story Teller.

All the information needed to start your own gardens, flower beds to do a complete landscape makeover. Tips on everything from fertilizer and seeds to bushes and trees. Raised beds, locating your garden and more. Want to start a garden and not sure what to do? Read it here. Check to see if you are doing it right, it’s all in the book. Tired from all that hard work in the garden?

Relax with four cozy, murder in the garden tales


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oh - What a Couple of Weeks

To say the last two weeks have been a bummer would be the ultimate understatement. 
  1. Tooth Extraction
  2. Root Canal
  3. Flu
  4. Arthritis Flair up
There you have it, and a fun ride it has not been - but, the good news is I am on the mend. Seems as I get older bad things seems to come in groups, I only hope this group of ailments has ended for a few years - not fun. Finally up and around - some - the past few days, even managed a half hour speaking engagement yesterday. 
A few weeks ago standing behind the - one of a kind - CCC Cap House in
Guernsey State Park

All of the above means that I have not got around to much writing or editing. I did get a second proof copy for my newest book. I wasn't happy with some of my headings and spacing in the first. After a bit, okay quite a bit, of editing,  Happy Days, at first look, this one seems to be fine and should be available soon, but I will need to take a more careful look first - Just to be sure.
My light-hearted look at gardening - available in a few days.

The first Iris are starting to open - always look great

On the good news side, my yard and garden look quite nice for this time of year, and with no frost, in the two-week forecast, it looks like I will be able to continue planting in our gardens the next few days.

I am continuing the research and rough draft, on what I have found to be both a challenging and energizing new nonfiction book. This one I cannot wait to publish but it will be winter at best before it is ready for the big edit. 
On the grounds of Fort Laramie
 Setting for the new nonfiction book I am working on

Meanwhile, keep on writing and keep on reading.

The famous Iron Bridge at Fort Laramie - What stories it could tell

Monday, May 1, 2017

Well - Looks Like I Survived April

Looks to me like I almost took the month of April off. I made a measly nine blog posts, and although I no longer keep a word count, I suspect it was not high. I do have the proof of my ninth book and will have it up and for sale in a few days. This one – Beginning Gardening and Other Entertaining Lies, has gardening tips, four short stories, all related to gardening and some humor. It is pretty light hearted and only comes in a bit over 100 pages, but it was fun.  Those who have followed me for a while know that I am almost as passionate about gardening as I am about writing and photography.

So what’s next? I am back to work on my nonfiction book, yep the one I have talked about on here before. I am also toying with the idea of a new murder mystery, or I might go back to the one I got stuck on and never completed. Funny, I really liked that story, great location, and a couple of characters I felt were fun, had a murderer, had a body, and just could not come up with a motive – oh well, some day.

Nice to see spring trying to arrive here in Wyoming. Spring seems to make me feel younger and ready to get out and do something. Or maybe its because I am feeling better after a root canal and extraction of a cracked wisdom tooth. Ahh - the Golden Years.

Keep on reading and keep on writing. Good advice for me seems everytime we are out hiking these ol' boys are watching - maybe attempting to tell us something. Yep, better get to work before they catch up with me. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Edit or Self-Edit and Book Covers Too

I have been spending more hours than I want to count this week updating two of my book covers. I like the new ones, probably because I may have a better understanding now than I did when I built my first ones two years ago.  I am not going to re-do all of them, right now, but likely will do one or two more soon.

I am also back working on my nonfiction book. I took five months off to finish up some other projects and am now enjoying the research and writing of nonfiction once again.

At one time in my life, I spent a lot of time, often too much, editing other writers works. I don’t do much of that any longer as I mostly worked with historical nonfiction although I did take on a few fiction projects. Now I mostly edit my own. What am I getting to here? All the advertisements I get in the form of tweets or email offering, book doctor or editing services. Often the promo starts with a line telling all who read that there are so many, maybe millions, of books and eBooks for sale that are chalk full of errors. And, it’s possible there are, but I would rather read a book with a handful of errors than one that is perfect but without a good story.

 I have downloaded, read and enjoyed, self-edited books by several authors. All were people I follow online or on Twitter, and most were pretty good reads. I did not notice a multitude of errors in any of them and the things I noticed can sometimes be found in mainstream novels. As I said above, if the story is a good one, I will read it.

My point is not that books do not need a good edit, but that some self-edited books come out pretty clean. If you are writing a book and hope to sell a thousand copies, which is what you will need to sell to pay for a middle of the road priced editor. I mentioned book covers above, and good ones will help sell books if the book can be found among the 8,000,000 or so on Amazon. Once again writers like myself, who sell books, steadily but not spectacularly, need to be weary of not spending too much for the creation of a cover. I am not crazy about many of the new covers that seem to be black no matter what the subject, they all look the same to my old eyes.

Today’s photos are from my backyard.

Meanwhile, keep on reading and keep on writing.
Oh - one of the redone covers, this for my first kid's chapter book