Sunday, April 26, 2015

Remembering the Man Who Was Two of My Favorite Authors

I remember, years ago, reading the Wagons West series by Dana Fuller Ross and the White Indian series by Donald Clayton Porter. I loved both series, although I think I quit after ten or so books in the Wagons West series. My wife wanted to give up after her Dana Fuller Ross hero, Whip Holt died, but continued to read them all. The White Indian series I couldn’t put down.

It was years later before I found out that Dana Fuller Ross and Donald Clayton Porter were one in the same – the prolific Noel Bertram Gerson (1913-1988). Why prolific? He wrote 325 books including best-sellers and two books made into movies. Although I read him as a historical novelist he actually wrote in many areas and under 10 different pseudonyms.

These two series have lived on with the Wagons West, I believe, now in re-release. If you haven’t tried them, they really are great reads. Think I will figure out where I left off in the Wagons West series and read the rest of them.
Mountain Valley in my part of the west

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Publishing Experience

For my long time readers, all of you well know, from past blog posts, that I have written several books. (Five complete, four others nearly so) After much urging to, “just put them out there,” I decided to publish three of my books on Create Space and Kindle and see what it is like.

 I have read so much about dedicating a full day to load a book on both, especially if you are a first timer like me. Well, they weren’t wrong. It is a chore, and it does take time. I started the process Friday and worked many hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Here it is Monday and I am still working. But I am getting there.

Now I am back to editing, again. How could I miss some of that stuff? I also had a very good first reader look them over and mark them up. And we both missed a few things, small but significant.  
What have I learned so far? A book with many photos takes a lot of work. My soon to be released, The Civilian Conservation Corps & the Building of Guernsey State Park, has 200 photos. The Kindle edition is especially difficult as the site takes quite a long time to load. They do warn you it will take a while and it does. The problem with all these photos is that they appear different in different readers and are different with each text size the reader chooses. Still came out pretty good even if an occasional caption comes up on the top of the next page. Not odd with electronic readers.

As far as the Create Space books, I am waiting for my review copies but they looked great in the reviewer. Overall I enjoyed working with both Create Space and Kindle Publishing. Good sites and most helpful step by step guides.
After a hard day of work we went out for a drive
This is a view of the historic gatehouse at Guernsey State Park

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Takes a Bit of Luck

Takes a Bit of Luck

I am rereading Terry Brooks terrific writing book, Sometimes the Magic Works. 

When I first came across this book I was not a fantasy fan, not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t read it. I had read the Harry Potter Books that were in print at the time, the first three. I had students tell me how great Brooks writing was and that I just had to read, The Sword of Shannara.  I did read it after being impressed with his writing book, and then read his trilogy, Magic Kingdom for Sale.
View from the Castle in my Magic Kingdom - very nice

So what is this post all about? Luck! Yes, luck. Brooks relates that author Elizabeth Engstrom gave a talk where she says the number one factor as to whether an aspiring writer will get published is luck.

I might add that it needs to be good also. I often come across books that I think are very good but they don’t sell. Are my tastes that different than everyone else reading in that genre? I don’t think so. But luck may have played a role. We all have read stories telling how persistence, query, and query some more, can be important to getting published.

To go the traditional route in publishing today is slow and tough. But a few will make it, make it if they get just a bit of luck to get started.
One of my favorite spots in the park

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hey - What're Ya Reading

Seems I run into more and more people who say, “I don’t watch much TV. Then they tell me they would rather spend their time reading, but that’s it.

I am forever telling people what I am reading, and I read a lot. By the way, I also like to watch TV, even if it is politically incorrect to admit. There are several shows along with multiple sporting events that I enjoy very much on TV.  

My question is why do so many people say they spend their time reading but never talk about what or why or how good it is?

So here is what I am reading and I love to talk about it.

Tony Hillerman – A Memoir -- Just finished, super read.
Collection of Nebraska Pioneer Reminiscences -- Compiled by the DAR in the 1930s, Wonderful to anyone with ties to the Cornhusker state
Endangered, by C.J. Box, he is as good as there is for modern day western mysteries

The above is my normal M-O reading both a fiction and a nonfiction at the same time. Sometimes I throw in a collection of short stories along with the two books. I also read several samples each week looking for what I will take on next. And if we are off on one of our many two, three or four day trips we always take a book on CD.

There you have it, my reading and I love to talk about it. Oh, in the fall I also do a book club event where we go through several books and parts of others over a three month period.

*I do not count books I read to edit, or for books I am asked to review. I consider this part of my writing/work time.

Read on!
And sometimes I read here, one of my favorite places

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Writing Can Be Fun

I read and often post many quotes about writing. They are mostly from established and famous authors. Thought it might be fun today to post some quotes from a non-writer. I think these are pretty funny. Both are from one of my all-time favorite comedians. 
"I’m writing a book. I have the page numbers done; now I just have to fill in the rest."
 "I've written several children's books ... Not on purpose."
Steven Wright

Well, after that post - guess it's time for me to get out of here

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bill Barrow and his Sagebrush Philosophy

I have made several posts in the last few years about Edgar Wilson (Bill) Nye. Nye was one of the most famous newspaper columnists of the late 1800s. So famous he went on humorous lecture tours and shared billing with Mark Twain. His Laramie Boomerang writings appeared in papers throughout America and overseas. Seems unlikely that a state as small as Wyoming could have a newspaperman of such prominence, but they did, and they also had another.

Merris C. (Bill) Barrow was nearly as well-known as Bill Nye. He came to Wyoming in 1878 and after a few months was working for Bill Nye who was then the editor of the Boomerang. He worked in an entry-level job in the papers make-up department but in a few years he was running the Douglas Budget.

Barrow wrote two segments for the paper that were widely circulated and appreciated. Authoring both, Sagebrush Philosophy (once a month) and his weekly column, Bill Barrow’s Budget. Barrow’s folksy cowboy philosophy was a hit. He advertised his newspaper as, “five the chunk”, (five cents each) or, “two plunks per” ($2.00 a year) and reported it was printed on, “prickly pear papyrus.”
He reported his sagebrush philosophy, was “pungent yes, but palatable.” The paper did well, for a small town paper, but it was Bill Barrow and his words that were sent around the country.

I am not sure today if newspapers present the type of vehicle a writer needs to become known worldwide. A few columnist writing for papers with circulations in the hundreds of thousands are well known but not the superstar writers of the old days. Today we reserve that status for our favorite novel writers.
Sunset in the Park

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Unique Read

Not often can I find a unique book. When I do I frequently cannot put it down. Like many readers, I read mostly formula fiction, mysteries and westerns. But formula reads are not as much fun as a truly unique read. Every writer has heard that publishers hate the word unique and when querying an agent or publisher never say, “this book or story is unique.” Too bad.

If you look back on books that are some of your all-time favorites, are they unique? Most likely they are. That’s why Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey took off. They were something new and exciting, different or as I said above unique. What happens afterwards, dozens of copycat books, formula reads are published. They're not all bad either, some are pretty good. From this we create an odd scenario, to be a great book it should be unique, but it is nearly impossible to find someone wanting to publish a unique book.

Deep down every writer wants to do something unique, something great but over the years many settled for a paycheck and formula books especially in the western genre. But today formula westerns do not sell, at least not very well.

So what do I consider a unique read in the western genre? Here is my top five - Little Big Man, The Virginian, The Time it Never Rained, Hondo and Andy Adams’s, Log of a Cowboy. Those are my top five, not saying these are my picks as the top five westerns ever, just my pick as great unique reads.

Think I may have set a record for use of the word unique (12 times) in one post. Below see two of my photos that I think are very unique (13) and might make a great story.