Monday, March 21, 2022

GOAT – Writers & Books

 GOAT – Writers & Books

I often see lists, lots of lists. Most are a top ten or bottom ten of something. America's ten best or ten worst fast food items or places. The best football or basketball player of all time. The greatest writer or book of all time. Fortunately, all of these lists are fantasy. Can we compare Mickey Mantle to Babe Ruth or players in modern-day – different times and circumstances?

One of my favorites (favorites to be irritated by) is the ranking of Presidents of the United States by IQ. These are often drawn up by someone pushing a particular political party. And what IQ test did all of them take?

Lately, we have invented the acronym GOAT, or greatest of all time. Who knows? You get the point: Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, John Lennon, Joan of Arc, Catherine II., Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Twain.



But, what we can do is say who our favorites are, and here are a few of the writers that got me started reading westerns, and to this day, I still love reading and writing them.  

1. Elmer Kelton – I have read almost all of his westerns. Not sure I may have read them all. My two favorites – The Time It Never Rained and The Good Old Boys

2. Louis L'Amour – Some love him, others can't stand him. Some of his books seem a bit formulaic and flat, but others are some of my favorites. The Quick and the Dead, Hondo,  and Silver Canyon are favorites of mine. L'Amour sold over 200 million books, and they are still selling, leading me to believe there must be a lot of good reads among his works.

3. William W Johnstone – Johnstone wrote in many genres, but I have read only his westerns. I enjoyed his early works, with Preacher and Smoke Jensen, two of my all-time favorite fictional characters. The Last Mountain Man is my favorite of all the mountain men books I have read.

4. James Michener – Not everyone considers Michener a western writer, but he is one of the best to me. Centennial might be my favorite piece of fiction, and his novels Alaska and Journey are beautiful reads.  

5. Noel Gerson – This might seem an odd pick as Gerson wrote under nine different pseudonyms, including Donald Clayton Porter (the White Indian Series) and Dana Fuller Ross (The Wagons West series. When I read those two series many years ago, they were most enjoyable. The Wagons West series was continued by another terrific writer James Reasoner.

 


There you have it. A few writers and books to add to your reading list.

Here is a link to my books on Amazon – take a look and enjoy!

Keep on reading and keep on writing.

Photos – From our recent trip to warmer weather. 😊



 

 

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Time to Regroup

 Two weeks of Covid, a week or more of recovery, and then what we felt like was a well-deserved vacation. And that, my friends and readers, is what we have been up to lately.

I didn't get much writing done during the past month. It seems I spent two weeks sleeping or trying to, and then two weeks regaining my strength and enjoying a trip through New Mexico and Arizona. 

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico

I did see sites and hear some stories that could find their way into my writing at some time in the future. I wanted to spend time hiking, photographing, and experiencing the desert near Tucson.

Flicker on a Saguaro Cactus

It was all we hoped it would be – loved it. 

We spent several terrific days hiking in Saguaro National Park


Sometimes taking time away is a good thing – I hope that is my case.

 

A man working the river in the Gila Wilderness New Mexico

"It is a good thing for everyone who can possibly do so to get away at least once a year for a change of scene. I do not want to get into the position of not being able to see the forest because of the thickness of the trees."    Franklin Roosevelt

Monday, February 7, 2022

Best Books of 2021

 Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

February 7, 2022

It’s that time of year again. Oh, and what time is that? When politicians, actors, and other famous people list all their favorite books of the year. I often take these lists with a grain of salt, as in, I doubt they read many if any of the books listed. Lucky for all you readers, I am not going to glean from their lists and come up with a must-read list of my own. Today, I will mention a few of my favorite reads from this past year.

Instead of listing everything I read or the number of books I read in 2021 (I have no idea if I could make an accurate list). Here is my favorite, fiction, nonfiction, just for fun, and writing book of the year.

 


My favorite fiction read of the year was C.J. Box’s Dark Sky,

another in his best-selling Joe Pickett series. I have read them all, and if you have not read any, take a look. All of them are terrific reads. These books are modern-day western mysteries all set mainly in Wyoming.

My favorite nonfiction read of the year is now on my list of all-time favorite nonfiction books. This book, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, written by Timothy Eagan, has been out since 2013. Surprised I had not gotten around to it until last year. This one feeds my love of history and photography and gives readers a look at one man’s passion for a lifelong project. This book is a terrific read that includes many famous Curtis photos.

Each year I read a fair number of, what I call, just for fun books. My favorite in 2021 was Steve Hockensmith’s – Holmes on the Range. This one is just what it sounds like, a lover of Sherlock Holmes solving cases in the old-west like Holme’s did in far-off London.

Lastly, my favorite writing book of the year was – Ta-da! Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King. This one has been around for almost twenty years. Not sure how much earlier the first edition came out. I see this book as a must-have for all writers, whether traditional or self-published.

There you have it- my list of favorite books I read in 2021.

 


Reading – Still working my way through a couple of books I started two weeks ago. I did read through Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co’s spring 2022 seed catalog. That is a sure sign that I am now officially anxious for spring.

Writing Tip – “The very best thing you can do for good dialogue is never, ever to explain it.” (from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers)  Oddly if I were to edit the above line, I would take out very and ever to. Neither makes the sentence stronger. Now that’s pretty strange. Still a good tip. 😊

Weather – Another great week here in east-central Wyoming. A few days in the 50s are coming soon. I Might get out on the golf course sometime this week. It definitely will be an excellent week to go out with one of my cameras.

Quote of the day It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway

 

Today’s Photos – From my walks over the past few days

 

 Click the link to see all of my books on Amazon

 

Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing!

 

 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Reading Lawrence Block & A Finished Book

 Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

January 31, 2022

Most of the time, life can be good, even at 73. It's the last day of January, and it's 51 degrees. Right now, I'm sitting in the bright sunshine of our enclosed on three sides deck. I'm not sure what the temperature is as I type away facing the southeast direction, but it is hot. Guessing it might be above ninety here in my little favorite writing spot.

I had a pretty productive writing week, putting down about 4,000 words. I also managed to finish editing my next Senior Citizen book, which, God willing, I will publish in February. This week I plan to complete the second edit of the third book in my Blade Holmes, western mystery series. I had to move some things around in this one and had a couple of gaps I had to fix. Besides changing how I wrote the ending, everything seems to be rolling smoothly along.

I also spent some time shooting photos and videos this week, which always seems to make my life more fun. I also got in five good walks, down from the typical six or seven I shoot for each week.

Since I finished one book this past week, I am also in the planning note-making stage of the fourth of my series for seniors. Maybe this week will be when I get some writing done on the fifth in the series of my children's chapter books.

 


ReadingTelling Lies for Fun & Profit – A Manual for Fiction Writers by Lawrence Block

There is lots of fun and information in this writing, how-to, book. Block is a master storyteller, and it shows through in this terrific collection of writing advice essays. Every chapter is timeless and told in the unique, down-to-earth, and often humorous way that only Block can do. A fine read for anyone who has hope of one day becoming a writer or better writer.  


Writing Tip – "Write to please yourself." Lawrence Block

That is always good advice, and if it just happens also to please a broad audience – even better. 😊



Weather – Another great week here in east-central Wyoming. It looks like snow is coming in the middle of the week, that's ok by me, we can use it, plus I have nowhere to go.


Quote of the day "The more you look, the more you find." John E. McIntyre – from, The Old Editor Says

 

Today's Photos – Are from a drive through our local state park (Guernsey State Park) this past weekend.

 Click the link to see all of my books on Amazon



Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing!

 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Oh What a Week

Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

 January 24, 2022 


What a week. My wife, Jan, had some outpatient surgery on Monday. Anything, at our age, with the word surgery in it, is troubling even when it is outpatient. I had a crown placement (no, not that kind - this one was on a tooth). Now that, usually, is not much of a dental appointment – in and out, no shots, no discomfort. The problem was I had been having a painful time with another tooth – yep, another broken tooth. Another crown is coming, and still not one for my head. Then the dentist said, "Might as well fill this small cavity we've been watching." Not sure who we are, but I never watch my cavities. The good news is my mouth does not hurt anymore. At least for a few days, weeks, or hopefully years. Disclaimer - My dentist, is the greatest ever, he is so good I sometimes even like going to see him. Oh - I forgot to mention, he is also my son.
But the past week was not all bad. We took a trip to Colorado to watch one of our grandkids play basketball. Now that was fun. I also got in several pleasant walks. All and all, I didn't get much writing done, nor did I do much editing. But some weeks are like that. Hopefully, this week will be better.

Reading – Slowed down here also, but I am trying to finish up a couple of previously mentioned, on this site, books. I did go back to re-read some pages from two different favorite writing books. For me, those old writing books are relaxing. 

Writing Tip – Find a great spot to do your writing. "I wish one time in my life I could do what other writers do . . . get me a villa in Spain and go there to write a book." Lewis Grizzard Sounds good to me. 😊
Weather – Pretty nice January week - We had a couple of inches of snow this week. That new snow brings us to 36 inches for the season. I hope we get another two or three feet, just not all at the same time.

Quote of the day – "In truly good writing, no matter how many times you read it, you do not know how it is done. That is because there is a mystery in all great writing and that mystery does not dis-sect out. It continues, and it is always valid. Each time you re-read, you see or learn something new." Ernest Hemingway.
Today's Photos – From one of our many trips west of town. We love that drive and make it about twice a month. 


Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Write Fast Edit Slow & Zane Grey Too

 Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

January 17, 2022

We are back from a short trip to see family in southeast Nebraska. Always nice to catch up and, for us, an excellent time to refresh. I didn’t get much written during our short trip, but as always – some good ideas.

Editing westerns can be tricky, especially when using old west slang or vernacular of the day. I am often asked about editing. Most wannabe writers are as worried about this as they are writing. Today I want to talk a bit about it. First, it is hard. Second, find some great, before publication readers.


Zane Grey

Zane Grey, often credited as writing the first western – The Virginian – started as a somewhat stiff and grammatically poor writer who told great tales. His wife Dolly was his manager and first and often only editor. Like most editors, she made it better. Some historians believe she made his writing more stiff and proper, but it was likely the other way.

Dolly Grey worked much like many writers of today’s first readers. Let them read it and make suggestions. Most importantly, listen to what they tell you.

Before letting it out to my first readers, I also use two, yes two, and sometimes three, grammar, spell, and proper-use software programs.

 

Flicker puffed up in the cold.

ReadingThe Old Editor Says, by John E. McIntyre. Yep, that is where I got the idea to write a bit on editing today. It is a tiny little book of 76 pages packed with wisdom from the long-time editor. My best takeaway from the book? Take your time when editing – like the adage. Write fast, edit slow.

Noticed – It is always nice to be seen and appreciated, and last week I received word that this blog is now listed in FeedSpot as one of the Top 25 Western Fiction Blogs & Websites. Click the link to see the list. I read several of these sites – good stuff.  

 


Weather – Almost spring-like today. Lovely, but it is January and will not last. We are enjoying it! Yesterday we were in the 40s. Today we are in the mid-fifties.

Quote of the day “Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.” T.S. Eliot

 
Buddies

Today’s Photos – January photos along the North Platte River ¼ mile from our home in Wyoming.

 

Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing.  

Monday, January 10, 2022

Writing Places and Edward S. Curtis

 Confessions of a Writer of Westerns

January 10, 2022 

I am off to a pretty good start this year. I have not written too much, but I am picking it up. Last week around 3,000 words, this week almost 5,000, and I have edited through nearly 20,000 words of my new western mystery book. This is the first and longest of the three edits I usually do. After those edits, it will be off to beta readers – hopefully sometime in February.

Often writers, especially Indy and small house published writers like myself, have no set deadlines, leaving us open to changing gears, or directions, when we probably should not. By that, I mean we tend to stop what we are working on and start something else before finishing. I did this twice this week, had a great idea, and had to write it down. Most of the time, I write a few pages – in the case of these two book ideas, I wrote about three-thousand words. Now, I will leave both alone until inspiration strikes. If it does, I will let you know here.

My office, I did pick up a little before snapping this one. 

Reading – More looking at photos than reading, and very much enjoying – The North American Indian – The Complete Portfolios. This is the one-book compilation of Edward S. Curtis's thirty-year, twenty-volume work on the American Indian. Some day I hope to get a chance to look through one of the original books; sadly, not many around any longer.  

Reading Bookcase - constantly changing.

Weather – After the freezing temperatures of a week ago, this week has turned relatively mild. Most days start cool, low twenties or below, but reach around forty by mid-afternoon. Quite comfortable.

Quote of the day "For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time." Louis L'Amour

Beside my recliner in the family room - lots of writing gets done here.

Today's Photos – Self-explanatory – But I have an admission here. I bought another camera this week. Guess I thought six was not quite enough. Sigh – it's only money, they say - yikes!

Running in the snow

Have a great week. Keep on reading, and keep on writing.