Wednesday, January 10, 2024

2024 - Writing/Edits and a Book Excerpt

And Off We Go We are off and running now - it's already the second week of January. For us, that means cold, and it's coming. Nighttime lows down to -20 this weekend, and right now, we are waiting for the furnace man to show up. We have good space heaters and a gas fireplace, so we are not in any danger, but that makes for some hot and some cold rooms. Oh, how I like my creature comforts.

Edits Never End - have been spending about two hours a day editing, for the final time, my third book for older readers. This one follows On Turning 70 and Elderly. Titled Morning Walk, it is a physical and mental well-being book. As usual in this series, I try to add as many antidotes, stories, and jokes as I believe my readers can stand. Getting old is many things, even, at times, funny. I have put this one away so many times, but now it is starting to grow on me, looks like a go. 

Morning Walk -  an excerpt from chapter 2. 

Walking is as close to the perfect exercise as will ever be found. We can do it anywhere and at any time of the day - other than a good pair of shoes, no special equipment is needed.  I walk in blue jeans or khakis with a t-shirt or a hoodie in cooler weather.  In warm weather, it’s shorts and a tee shirt.  I see people dressed like me, and I see people dressed to the nines in the latest fashion for runners and walkers.  For younger readers, dressed to the nines is something from my childhood and teen years. Not sure why it made a comeback in the 50s and 60s, as the term goes back about 200 years.  My favorite explanation of this saying is that tailors, at one time, used nine yards of material to make their best suits.  Thus, dressed in the best the tailor could sew together, they would be dressed to the nines. That’s a pretty long-winded explanation of people who dress in nice running/walking gear when I see them on the trail.


Photos - Today's photos are from my walks and drives over the past few days/weeks.

Quote of the Day - “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case you fail by default." -  J. K. Rowling


That’s it for today - stay warm and enjoy winter as much as possible.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024

With New Year's Come New Beginnings

I hope everyone is off to a great start in the new year. My 2023 was a bit of a loss, so I am happy to put it behind me. 

Starting Over - again

I have started and stopped so many projects in the past two years that I could not, even if I wanted to, count them. Now feeling much better, maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I will publish one or two, or all three of my finished first drafts.

Last year, after having a neck fusion in mid-December, I was determined to walk an extra 1,000 miles in 2023. I kept track and made it with three weeks to spare. This was an accomplishment I was proud of since I was still using a walker to get around on January 1, 2023. Now thirty pounds lighter, I am back, mowing the grass, playing golf, traipsing around the countryside with one of my cameras, and enjoying life as a somewhat older person. 

Writing - For many years, I wrote around 300,000. In the past two years combined, I have written about 50,000. Not so good! This year, with some good luck, I hope to get at least 10,000 per month - I will keep you posted.

Maybe this will be one of many writing posts in the new year. I sure hope so.

Photos from in and around our little place in the world.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”    Eleanor Roosevelt

Thanks for reading - in 2024, keep writing, and keep reading. 

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Me Vs. AI

 Like many writers, I have read much, in recent weeks, about AI vs. Human-generated writing. Before I say anything else, my main conclusion is that AI-generated material might work for technical writing. But, in the world where I live, fiction and creative nonfiction writing, I do not see AI becoming a go-to way to accomplish a project.

In my years teaching high school kids, it was easy to tell when someone got too much help. AI stands out like that. I have not read thousands or hundreds of pages written with an AI program. But, I have read several dozen pages, mainly in the form of short historical articles.

Comparison - Here is a short historical story about Wyoming legend Jacques La Ramee. The writing prompt I used was – Write a story about why  Jacques La Ramee was famous in Wyoming.

My, written in less than 10-minute report.

Mine - Jacques La Ramee is more of an enigma than a real person to most Wyoming people. Fort Laramie is only a few miles from where we live. The Laramie River, Laramie Range, and Laramie Peak are all nearby. I retired from my teaching job in 2012 at Laramie High School in the city of Laramie. Interestingly, Laramie is in Albany County, not Laramie County, which borders Albany and is the home to Cheyenne, our state capital.

So who was this man that so much was named after? He was a French-Canadian mountain man and trapper born in Montreal in the early 1780s who lived, worked, and died in Wyoming. His travels, adventures, and life have been passed on, primarily through oral history, and may be as much fiction as fact.

La Ramee was undoubtedly well acquainted with eastern Wyoming, where so much is named after him. He may have also traveled west through South Pass, where he could have been the first or certainly one of the first non-native people to enter the Yellowstone area. He led a life that was likely as eventful, surprising, and scary as the legends portray.


AI-generated report – after I typed the prompt, it was up in a few seconds.

AI - Jacques La Ramee was a name that was synonymous with Wyoming. He was famous for being a trapper, trader, and mountain man in the early 1800s. His exploits in the Rocky Mountains were legendary, and his adventures were the stuff of folklore.

Jacques was a French Canadian who was born in Montreal in 1784. He arrived in the Rocky Mountains in the early 1800s and started trading with the Native American tribes in the region. He quickly became an expert in the ways of the wilderness and was soon known for his incredible hunting and trapping skills.

Jacques was not just a trapper and trader; he was also an adventurer. He explored the Rocky Mountains extensively and was the first white man to cross the Continental Divide by way of South Pass. He was also one of the first white men to see Yellowstone National Park, which he described as "the place where the hot water came out of the earth."

Jacques was known for his toughness and resilience. He survived numerous attacks by hostile Native American tribes and even survived a grizzly bear attack that left him badly injured. Despite these setbacks, he continued to explore the Rocky Mountains and trade with the Native American tribes. Jacques La Ramee's legacy lives on in Wyoming. He is remembered as a legendary figure in the history of the American West and a true pioneer of the Rocky Mountains. His name is synonymous with adventure, exploration, and the spirit of the American frontier.

My Thoughts – AI sounds more like a Wikipedia article, factual but not fulfilling to read. The article also seems to have mixed in some information from other mountain men. Unfortunately, this one sounds like most history textbooks. Textbooks are probably more responsible for kids not liking history than anything else. On the other hand, although written quickly and without research or editing, mine has some personal touches that make it a bit more interesting, at least to me.

What do you think?


Today's Photos – All from places named Laramie

Sunday, July 30, 2023

July Writing Update

 Elmore Leonard once said, “I never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people.” 

So What About the Weather? -  July has been pleasant here in our little part of the world. We have had some warm days, mostly offset by cool nights. Overall, the summer has been a bit cooler than the 30-year average. The fine weather has allowed for more flowers and more vegetables than last year. Two small hail storms were the only downside of this summer’s weather. The second one was short-lived, but nickel-sized hail took out most of our raspberries and the higher-on-the-vine tomatoes. Update - tomatoes are looking good and tasting even better!

Finishing a Book – I was asked this week if I had ever started but not finished a book. They should have asked me how many books have you started but not finished. My answer – too many. I have written nearly 200 pages with 200+ footnotes on one nonfiction project, now dead for five years. Add a kid’s book or two, a memoir, and two series books I abandoned. I nearly forgot to mention a history storybook and a historical highlights book. Maybe some days, I will go back and look at one or more of these books, but not soon.

Edits – The first long and slow edit of the third of my Blade Holmes western mysteries is complete. Now I will lay it aside for a week or two, then listen to the computer read it. Then a third go through. In the meantime, I am editing the third of my nonfiction books for older readers. It is a shorter book; I should finish this edit in a week or so.


Writing Quote of the Week – “A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” Sidney Sheldon

Photos – Today’s photos are from this week’s wanderings, walks, and strolls.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

As I write this, July is just around the corner. Since my last post, we have spent time in the mountains west of town and a few most enjoyable days with an old friend in the Wyoming and South Dakota Black Hills.



As always, I find myself writing new material when I should be finishing the editing process on several other works. Oh, well! I'm enjoying it. Most of my writing  I now do on the deck during the day. Nothing beats sitting outside and enjoying nature and the sounds of a small town when I am creating – or, as I am now, drinking iced tea and eating a muffin.

Since my last post, I have written about 2,000 words (new words,  not edited rewrites). I consider that not too bad, considering the amount of running we have been doing.


Is Writing Hard?

That was a question once asked by a fifth grader. My answer – "No, not if you have something you are passionate about, then it can seem easy."

So many young or beginning writers attempt to write for the market. Find the best-selling genre and write like the top pros. That is a bad idea in so many ways. Write what you want and about what you want – happiness, not cash. If you are great and the book is terrific, success and money will find you.


Book Sales

I have not done anything other than what I always do, advertising-wise, but for some reason, my book sales are pretty brisk, at least for me. Thanks, everyone!


Health Update

I did show up for my six months after the surgery appointment. Exrays show significant new bone growth from C3 to C7 – that's good. The new bone helps tighten all the new titanium and makes my neck more stable and safe. I can start playing golf again in three months, although I can hit half shots now. That will be a nice milestone.



Writing Quote of the Day

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."

Ernest Hemingway


Today's Photos are from our trip to the Black Hills  Lots of forest road travel – lovely!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Back in the Saddle - Writing Update

 We are nearing the middle of June. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the warmer weather.


I have been hard at work gardening, writing, and walking.



Most of my writing time is spent on three separate projects, two non-fiction for senior readers and the other a historical mystery. (For Western lovers)

I managed to write over 3,000 words in the past ten days. That may seem slow for many writers, but it is pretty fast for me. The Western mystery is finished, but why not one last go-over? The other two, one finished and one about 70%, still have a way to go – fun times.



I love writing first drafts. Often the time seems to fly by with the creative juices flowing. Edits are another matter. Like many writers, I am not a fan of editing, but it needs to be done, so we all do it. I usually limit myself to about an hour and a half for a session for editing.


Health Update

The neck is feeling great, and I am gradually gaining more and more movement, left, right, up, and down. Six-month post-surgery appointment tomorrow, If all goes well, I may be playing golf again. I could also see an easing of many of my restrictions. Fingers crossed on this.


Writing Quote of the Day

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”     Louis L’Amour



From some of our June walks

Enjoy the week! And, keep on writing. 


Saturday, May 13, 2023

A Busy Writing Week

 This has been a busy week of writing - Here is what kept me busy, edits on two finished books and two new essays in my soon-to-be-finished fourth book for seniors. Interesting that I’m working on a fourth, and one of the two books I am still editing is the third. Oh Boy!


Let’s See – I believe those three books will put me at 16. At my age (rather advanced), I still see 20 or so.


Hey Mr. Older Adult - Speaking of advanced years, Grammarly did not like me using the term old man as I edited my latest Blade Holmes western mystery. It suggested I use older adult or older man instead. I don’t know, but to me, it is not disrespectful or culturally inappropriate to use old man. I have always disliked the saying, “It is what it is,” but I’m 75 – an old man. It doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit. I am happy to be alive and in good health well (mostly) and an old man at three-quarters of a century.  


It feels so good to be back writing - I don’t want to belabor the point, but when I was unable to write due to health issues (see previous posts), it felt like a new beginning as I, once again, tapped away on my laptop.


Word Count – Page Count – An excellent week of writing and rewrites pushed me to almost 2,500 words, which is not bad for me. I also edited 60+ pages.


More on Word Count – I never wrote the number of words many writers do, but most years, I wrote and published over 200,000. Some writers go a million words a year – now that’s a lot of seat time. Because of my photography and gardening habits, ok, along with walking/hiking, jeeping, and watching the backyard birds, I'm one busy guy. 😊


Writing Quote of the Day – Every year, there’s a few more things I’m not sure of. I’ve decided that a wide-ranging uncertainty is the mark of the true maturity of man.”     Lawrence Block


That’s It for today - I will be back soon. Have a great day and a super week.


Today's Photos – Were all shot this week, one in our backyard and two in the Laramie Range west of town.