Friday, December 18, 2009

The 99 Word Western

I could see a body less than a hundred feet away. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get closer or farther away. I decided on closer but was going to be darn sure that this was a dead body, not a live one.
Fort Laramie had been abandoned for three years and I hadn’t been there in fifteen, I thought I might meet up with a few ghosts from my past, hadn’t expected a fresh one with a body attached. I dismounted and pulled my Winchester from the saddle scabbard and started toward the body. It was gone.

Some stories, even very short ones can be fun.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How About Western Fantasy?

Well, I did it. I got out of my comfort zone and read two—not just one—of Terry Brooks fantasy fiction books. It started when I read his book on writing. I can’t remember the name, (it is only twenty feet away on a bookshelves, but I am sitting in my easy chair and much too lazy to get up) It is a good read. I am now back to reading my typical, mysteries and westerns but I must say, I learned something. A good story is good regardless of the genre. Not sure if I will venture this far out of my comfort reading zone again but I liked Mr. Brooks work and can certainly understand why he has sold millions of books. Just in case anyone wants to know, I read, Magic Kingdom for sale—Sold and The Black Unicorn.
One caution—Terry Brooks tells a great story but he really likes adverbs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A good book may be hard to find

Seems to me like every book I have read recently is tooooo long. I see suggested word counts for novels are anywhere from seventy-five thousand words up to well over one hundred thousand words. I think there should be a new word count rule for authors—use just the ones you need. (Words that is) Too many pages of descriptions of meaningless places or things and too many pages looking for someone or something leave me wanting for a new book. The one good thing I have learned as I get just a tad bit older is that I do not need to finish every book I start, but usually I still do. Although most of my reading centers on historical fiction, westerns and murder mysteries in the novel category and historical journals and political pieces in non-fiction, I like everyone else, still prefer a real page turner. (Go ahead and keep me up late reading)
Long is not always better.
But a good read—I hope to never be without it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why I hate editing and other horror stories

I understand that there are writers that enjoy editing. Somewhere there are probably people that enjoy flat tires, painting the fence and swatting mosquitoes, but I am not familiar with any of those folks. I do not like editing, I try anything to get out of it and it always works—trouble is the material stays the same. Yep, you guessed it, needs editing.
I have a completed manuscript and have edited seventeen pages (of nearly 300) in the last fourteen months. Instead of editing I have spent my time writing stories. Writing is more fun and more rewarding than editing. So I chose to write not edit.
Do you know why people blog—I do, no editing. Not here anyway.
Well back to editing and my unending search for the extra adjective and the hated adverb.
Now I am too tired to tell other horror stories—good night!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Elmer Kelton

Remembering Elmer Kelton

Don’t know how I missed it but just found out that Elmer Kelton passed away a few days ago. He wrote many great Texas stories and two of my favorite western novels. My favorite of the ten or so Kelton novels I have read were, The Wolf and the Buffalo and The Day the Cowboys Quit. If you have not read Mr. Kelton it is time, lots of fun and great stories plus you will learn a little Texas history.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Still Working--Very Slow

I am still working on my modern day western mystery. I have a tough time writing this one. Not sure if I do not like the story or the time period. I still want to finish it, as I have already written about 40,000 words and it is a good story. I think the problem is the story flashes back over a hundred years every twenty or thirty pages. It is becoming more of a task than I thought to tie these flashbacks to modern times. And, if that’s not enough the story revolves around two mysteries, one, a murder in present day and the second, a lost treasure from the 1800’s. I am hoping to finish by the first of July but other things keep holding me back. Lately I have been doing some research on the role of the Buffalo soldiers during Wyoming’s, Johnson County War and hope to write a sequel to a western that I have yet to shop—but one I really like.

Excerpts from the above work—presently titled “Mystery at Hell’s Half Acre”

Present Day-- Jimmy took a hand from the wheel and rubbed his eyes, either a truck was upside down in the road just ahead or he had a vision of one. He twisted the knuckle of his right hand in one eye then the other, blinked and looked up through watering eyes. It was gone, good, and then he saw it again. “Robert, is there something ahead, a wreck, in the road?”
“Just pavement man, Indian sidewalk, you know, so Indians can walk back to the rez after the car breaks down.” Robert chuckled at his own joke then continued to eat his chicken nuggets.
Jimmy pulled over to the side and then off the pavement, got out of the car and looked ahead. He stood looking for at least a full minute and Robert helped himself to Jimmy’s fries. Jimmy opened the door to get in and heard a tremendous crash. They both looked up the road as a semi exploded into flame as it skidded on its side past the Ghost Town truck stop. It was easy to see, from their quarter mile away vantage point what had happened. The burning semi had pulled out onto the highway in the path of another truck that had not seen him or was going too fast to stop. Jimmy got back into the thunderbird and looked at his friend. Robert too dumbfounded to even speak finally blurted out, “you saw it, before it happened; you saw it, some kind of vision, didn’t you?”

Flash Back Time-- August 1775, the canyons of Hell’s Half Acre Wyoming
Runs-With-Ghosts and Snow Bear sat in the shade of the natural earthen shelter eating choke cherries, talking and resting. Theirs had been a long journey. Throughout their young lives both had many visions of the visit to the medicine wheel in the north, the visit, now complete. But they did not know when they left the village on the flat river that it would be nearly two snows before they returned home.
For many sleeps they had traveled and then wandered trying to find the great wheel, the wheel of the stories passed to them from their grandfathers who learned the stories from their grandfathers. When they found the great Medicine Wheel, it was more than they could have ever imagined much greater than the stories and dreams. The two young warriors spent many days there praying and dreaming. After leaving they traveled to the west and then south until they found the perfect hillside. The perfect hillside to build the perfect sign, the sign that was their destiny to build. They called it the site of the arrow; later the Shoshone would call this place, the meeting place.
Snow Bear and Runs-With-Ghosts spent many days in this place because it was a place where they felt the medicine, the same medicine they felt praying at the Medicine Wheel in the north. Runs-With-Ghost especially felt like they were in a place of great mystery the first day they stood on this windswept hillside. The young warriors, now both eighteen summers, stayed through two new moons, finding and moving rocks into place. When they completed building the great arrow of rocks on the hillside they rested and prayed, and the prayers were prayers of thanksgiving, giving thanks for the many days of successful labor. The great arrow they, had completed, would last as long as the wheel itself, pointed to the north and to the east—to the Medicine Wheel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reading and Writing

I have been reading a lot and only writing a little lately. This is the time of year I write the most. I will be posting some chapters soon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

For the over 40 crowd

If you love old westerns go to this site, you will love it.

Sorry, but if you are less than 40 years old this might not bring back the memories it does to us older types.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Good Guys and Bad Guys

What makes a good read? I am on the final pages of my second western novel and just realized that after two books and a hundred thousand plus words there have been no: draw downs on main street, bar fights, serious injures from getting thrown from a horse, drinking red-eye till they can’t see scenes and no fat rich guys ruling the west like the mob. But they do have good guys and bad guys, romance and card playing, some shooting and second guessing about life and what I believe are really good stories.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Reading & Writing

It is often hard to balance reading with writing. I try to read as much as I write. Most writers I know write a lot and read a little. This usually happens when an author fears he/she will start sounding too much like the novels they are reading. This might not be all bad. I read about a book a week, light by Stephen King standards, but quite a bit by the standards of most writers, or for that matter most readers. I just finished another of the late Tony Hillerman’s great Navajo mysteries. If someone told me I wrote or sounded a little like him I would take it as a complement.

I spent only a few hours writing this week—three hours on my YA mystery and four hours on my nonfiction work on early Indian tribes in the west. About the same seven or eight hours I spent reading. If I could get away from the TV I might get more done. But working nine to eleven hour days at a regular job plus working Saturdays keeps me starved for some time to relax.

I enjoy the process of writing but find if I am too tired it soon turns to crap. Then it is time to read, relax or sleep.

Reading and Writing since 1954 and Mrs. Brandenburg’s first grade class at Central Ward elementary.

Comming soon a new page from my nonfiction work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No Cowboy Stuff Today

Today we have a new president number 44. I watched the inauguration and much of the additional coverage and was highly impressed with everything. If we could keep that same feeling of patriotism, togetherness and usefulness all year long everyone on earth would think—wow, they really are the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
Good Luck President Obama and God speed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

John G Neihardt

Today it the birthday of the great John G Neihardt, I have read “Black Elk Speaks,” at least a half dozen times. As a kid growing up in rural Nebraska we were fed a steady diet of Neihardt and I am sure that, at the time, I did not appreciate him as I do today. If you have never experienced any of his stuff, take a look, what a great writer he was. He was first published at 16 and last published at 90, a remarkable career.

He is a word sender. This world is like a garden and over it go his words like rain, and where they go they leave everything greener. After his words have passed, the memory of them shall stand long in the West like a flaming rainbow. —Black Elk

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to work

Well it’s a new year and I am back to work. It was great to have 2 weeks to sleep-in, nearly overdose on food and football and just to relax. One of the few real perks of being a public school teacher. Next year will be my 40th in front of the class, wow. With a New Year comes New Year’s resolutions—mine, to write more. I have a tendency to get in and out of the writing groove and looks like right now, I am in. My YA modern western mystery is once again moving along. I am hoping for 40 to 50 thousand words and am closing in on 30 thousand right now and writing, at a pace of, nearly a thousand a day.

Just a little excerpt from the chapter I am presently working on. (First Draft)

Jimmy heard the shot, flattened out in the sand of the dry creek and tried to quickly scoot backwards down the washed out canyon. He had not made it the twenty feet to the bend in the old creek bed when a startling reality came to him, he had not heard a slug hit and there was only one shot, again. Were they trying to scare him off, again? Or had someone shot at something else, maybe not him at all. His mind started to clear as he rethought the last thirty or so seconds. He slowly crept back to the spot where he had watched for the past hour or more. What he saw was strange or as Robert would say, “there is some weird stuff going on—supernatural---wo-oow-wo?”
The older, stockier, of the two men he had been watching was hitching the pick-up to the back of his Suburban. In what seemed like only seconds he brushed his hands on the back of his blue jeans, lit a new cigar and appeared to be laughing out loud. He flipped his match stick into the canyon, climbed into the Suburban and headed down the trail, but this time north, not south.
Jimmy sat back down, to rest or maybe to think. Possibly he needed to do both.

Can not wait to see what happens next--I will have to keep on writing.