Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thoughts on a Beautiful Day

Oh What A Day

I love it when we have January days like today - mid-40s sunshine, no wind. They don't come often, but when they do - wonderful.

On Writing On A Beautiful Day

I do most of my work on days like this in the evening, by then I am too tired for physical stuff, but hopefully, the mind is still working.
Fort Laramie

Best Tip I Have Found on Writing Motivation

Write something on the work in progress every day. I am trying that now and one day only wrote 62 words after getting home late. I believe this looks like it will work.

Do Words Per Day Goals Work?

Not for me, but it seems to be a great way for some to stay motivated. I have a general goal of averaging around 1,000 words each day I write. So far this month I have written 25 out of 26 days with a total word count of 23,758, This count includes blog posts and any work I do on books. 

On days when I am doing editing my word counts are low as I often lose words in this process. By the way I do not record this as minus words, instead just zero on that project for the day.

Stress Relief

If I were to sit in a chair and write all day, every day I would probably need some type of regular stress relief. I don't so for me this is not needed. But, I do it anyway. For me easing off on stress means, long walks, more strenuous hikes, playing golf and pursuing my passion for photography.

Sunsets are terrific stress relievers, especially if it is along a favorite hiking trail

Writing Quote of the Day

Either write something worth reading or do something worth 

writing.   -Ben Franklin-

Photo of the Day

Monday, January 25, 2016

Now How Is This Supposed To End?

I see so many posts lately about writers block. Writers who get stuck and cannot seem to go on. Seems like I have so many projects going on that this is not a problem. If I get stuck, I just put it away and work on something else. Seems I always have several projects going and others shoved, temporally, to the back burner. But, the blocks do come.
Talking to High School Kids About Writing
Someone asked me recently how I could write, and why I do, in so many different genres? Well, the answer is I don’t. I write westerns or about the West. I do expand the area, maybe more than most, but at the heart, still westerns. Some of my writing’s lean more toward historical fiction, like my book, Commitment, because I use some actual people in real settings, but in a fictional story.  UnderWestern Skies, my book of Christmas stories meets every requirement of today’s Westerns. Except they are not all set in the old west, some are modern day and others are set in the 1950s or 60s. This book of western tales falls into several sub-genres, romance, a bit of sci-fi and in one case, just for fun, fantasy, but all westerns, not doubt about it.

 My chapter books for young readers are not in their truest sense westerns, but they fall into the fringes of my take on westerns. The books were set 60 years ago and in small town Nebraska, I call them growing up adventure westerns. They are high-interest fiction and written, in part, because of my love of reading and trying to encourage kids to read in today’s society, where we have a new culture dominated by two-minute YouTube videos.  The books titled, Melvin the E Street Ghost and, Then Mike Said There’s A Zombie in MyBasement, are fun, and I hope, catchy for the eight, nine and ten-year-olds they are meant for.

I also write nonfiction, but they are books about the west. The only one I have published is about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Building of Guernsey State Park, is set in Wyoming and deals with the CCC created by FDRs New Deal. My works in progress, and I have two, (the ones I am not writers blocked from), are both about Wyoming, one dealing with Fort Laramie and another, a general look at the Indians and forts of early Wyoming. I think that makes these pretty much western.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned writer’s blog which brings me to this. I have a novel I cannot finish. I have got it out and put it away, at least, a dozen times. It is a favorite of mine, I like the characters, the setting, and I even like the murder the book tries to solve. This one has a modern day setting and much of it takes place on a golf course of all places. Is it a western, absolutely, an unfinished one. Why is it unfinished? A bad novel writing mistake, I didn’t decide on who did it and why before I started writing, and now I don’t know. Someday I will figure it out – probably not today.
My Amazon Author Page
One last note, my new book, Ghost of the Fawn, is still on track to be released before the end of February, wish me luck.
Beautiful Winter Day Here

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reading the Old Writers

Reading is easy, writing, not so much. My reading is forever getting in the way of my writing. That and research, research gets in the way also. I keep plugging along, reading, writing and enjoying life.

Recently I have enjoyed some, well known in their day, writers. Writers whose names may not ring a bell with modern readers, but writers I found most entertaining. The first is an English writer, although he moved and wrote for years in the United States, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse - P. G. Wodehouse. He wrote great stories with a lot of good humor. Wodehouse created two iconic characters, Reginald Jeeves, the wise valet and the man he worked for, London Lawyer, Bertie Wooster. Jeeves and Wooster are two of the longest running characters in fiction, lasting 59 years in various Wodehouse novels and short stories. These books are not westerns, not even close, but fun, fantastic reads.

A second author and one I have recently discovered is B. M Bower. B. M. for, Bertha Muzzy, was the first American women to make a big splash writing westerns. Because, both she and her publisher feared no one would read western fiction by a female, she used her initials. I am sure with the first name of Bertha, it would have given her away as a woman and as her publisher feared, drive away readers. I just finished her, Cabin Fever, an enjoyable read about two, thrown together men, searching for gold in the early days of the automobile. It is more a story of lost love and relationships than an old fashioned western. The story features no six-guns and no real action, but it still works. Not sure why.
B. M. Bower

A third writer I have enjoyed this winter is a continuation of my reading of a real old timer, James Fenimore Cooper, and his, Leatherstocking Tales. I have just started reading the fourth of these stories, The Pioneers. Can’t say that I love his writing, it seems too old-fashioned for me, but the stories are good, but I can’t read many pages at any one sitting.  If we can believe the story, Cooper became a writer after telling his wife he could write a better book than the one she was reading – and dare I say, the rest is history.

Tonight, no reading, yet, the night is still young. I’m watching my Wyoming Cowboys basketball team play Nevada as I write this. This week I went back to work, well for two and a half days anyway. Talk about slowing down my reading and writing. 
I did take the time for a quick drive in Guernsey State Park late this afternoon

Friday, January 15, 2016

Know Your Weapons

Seems like I see lots of author advertising lately for services offering expertise in areas that modern writers need. Two particular standout, one a guide to firearms and then yesterday a guide to bow and arrows. I grew up shooting both and it seems to me that if one is not familiar with a weapon they should, head out to a range and try it out, or leave it out of the story.  Or in my case, drive out in the country and shoot away at a target on BLM land. 
It reminds me of the old author advice, write what you know. If a writer does not know anything about guns or bows, write it simply. “the bad guy raised the gun or bow and shot him.” In many cases it depends on the reader, will they need to know the caliber, model, and manufacture of the gun? As a reader, I have never found it to be something I could not live without. As an avid target shooter, I don’t mind reading stories that go into some detail about weapons, but if the story is good, the word gun is okay, as far as the weapon, for me.

In my own writings, over the years, I have referred to both Army and Navy Colts,  made a simple reference to handguns of .38, .22 and .45 caliber and rifles of .306 and 30/30 caliber. All simple stuff, and all guns that I own and shoot. I also own several shotguns but have not, as yet, hey, I’m getting an idea here, worked one into a story.  In some cases like my Historical Fiction novel, Commitment, I get a bit more specific, but it’s not a required, must know, for the story, but it will be fun for gun buffs and those knowledgeable of historical weapons. 

Tell a great story, use details in things you know, write the rest of the story in a simple and straightforward manner and let the story carry the day.

Just my thoughts. Write on!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Well - It's A New Year

I mentioned here last week, on my first 2016 post, that I was going to attempt to keep track of both my writing,  the number of words, and reading, name and number of books. 
Watching the Bison - Research and Photo Ops
 Something I can do even when it's cold outside
At the end of yesterday, eleven days into the new year, I had written, 14,815 words, an average of 1,347 per day. That number seems to work out close for my goal of a half million words this year – hope I can keep it up. My reading, about the same pace as always is not bad. I have set a goal to read three books a month or 50 books this year. My biggest problem with reading is that I continually read more than one book at a time. Here is what I am reading now.
Time to read when the lights come on in our little town
1.   Fort Laramie – Military Bastion of the High Plains ( one-third through this one) by Douglas C. McChristian
2.   Cabin Fever – by B. M Bower (half way)
3.   Cowmen and Rustlers -  A story of the Wyoming Cattle Ranges – By Edward S. Ellis
4.   Force of Nature – by C. J. Box (Travel book on CDs listening, I have read it but I like the narrator and enjoy this as our present car book)

These books are different enough that I do not have any trouble keeping them separated in my mind, cluttered that it might be.

I should be able to finish all of these before the end of the month. I have stacked three books, as my next ones on my bookshelf, and will probably add at least one EBook.
Speaking of Books - Here is the Link to my Western

I am in my second edit of my YA modern western/mystery, and am through the first draft of an introduction to my new nonfiction book and working on the first chapter. Still not finished with the first phase of research for the second half of the book, which also keeps me busy.
Getting my ducks - er- a - deer all in a row

I am keeping busy and with the weather turning mild for the next ten days it looks like I will be able to continue walking. I have been out with my camera, as usual, and have taken a bit over two hundred shots so far this year. I will keep 70-80 percent of these in folders on my computer.  The random photos on today's post are 2016 shots. 
Nice color at sunset yesterday
 sun setting behind a post -- patching together an old fence

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Books and EBooks

Looks like January has flat lined my book sales. I remember when television medical and murder mysteries used to show a machine beeping and flashing and then a solid beep and solid red line when the patient/victim died. That is what my KDP sales look like right now. Flatlined for nine days. Looks like the New Year is off to a slow start.
Sales are as slow as this old bull in the January snow

I did sell a couple of books yesterday, books not EBooks. The sale of EBooks brings on something that still bothers me. Why are so many traditional publish houses charging so much for EBooks? I wanted to read one yesterday and it was $12.99 – too much for me. I put my name on the list at the Library and should get it next week. FREE to read.
My books are all available as EBooks or softcover books - check them our today

Often I look for older books to read as EBooks, but if they are with a big publishing house, the price is still at the original, usually over $10.00. The same book, after a couple of years, can be bought from dozens of online used book dealers for a few cents. These sellers always tack on $3.99 for shipping, which is how they make their money. I send books out for less than $3.00. Seems to me if the big publishing houses would lower their client’s EBooks to three or four dollars, after a year or two, they and the author would continue to make money. 
Hoping my sales take off soon

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Writing For The Brand

With a new year, nearly a week old. I thought it might be time to take a look at what is selling in the world of books. First, and something that all of the experts I studied agreed upon, was that fiction far outsells nonfiction.  Eight of every ten books sold in America last year was fiction. But, I don’t think that is a surprise to anyone.
Surprised and Away they Go
What I found, as far as bestselling genres, surprised me. Not so much in the lists, but in how much they varied. Seems people are not using the same data to come up with their facts as to what sells best.

I thought the following list was interesting because it uses only one factor, money made, for this list. This list, and I am not sure why, left out the bestselling fiction category, children’s books. It is likely they were only writing this for authors and readers of adult literature.

List 1 –  By how much money was taken in -

1.             Romance / Erotica
2.             Crime /Mystery/Thriller
3.             Religious/Inspirational
4.             Science Fiction/Fantasy
5.             Horror

When I write fiction, (of my five books four are fiction one is nonfiction) it falls into two distinct categories, Children’s Chapter Books and Historical Fiction/Western. Does not look to me like I will fit very well into the above list. With that in mind, I believe I will attempt to write a book in each of the top five categories this year. I am started to picture the money $$$$ coming in already.

My Five Books 

Here are my working titles, all westerns, aligned with the list of 5 above.

1.   50 Breeds of Horses (Romance/Erotica)
2. Who Was That Cowboy That Broke Prison and Disappeared (Crime/Mystery/Fantasy)
3.   The Parson Draws Two (this one I am working on, so far I like it)
4.   When Dragons Ruled the West (Science Fiction/Fantasy)
5.   Dripping Blood and Silver Rowels (Horror)

Well maybe not, but it was a thought.

Another blog post made a list of all genres of fiction. This list was based on numbers sold, and it looked like this

1.   Children’s
2.   Fantasy
3.   Mystery
4.   Classic Literary fiction – up to the 1950s
5.   Modern Literary fiction – after the 1950s
6.   Magic realism
7.   Historical fiction
8.   YA fiction

Still doesn’t look like I fit very well, but I will forge on.

I am 50,000 words into my newest western, it is my first that could be classified as Young Adult. I plan to market it as a western/mystery and as a young adult western/mystery. I think it fits both areas. The book is set in modern times in Wyoming with two Arapaho teenagers trying to discover their past and themselves.

It has been my experience that there are two kinds of writers. Those who write for the market, and those who write for the genre. Guess my love of reading and writing westerns and historicals makes me one who writes for the brand.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Off to a Good Start

I have always thought of myself as an avid reader. Now with the end of another year I am reading more and more posts of what others read last year. I read 30-50 books a year, some of the posters read 100 plus. Now that is reading. All good writers read a lot, but I think, reading two books a week is exceptional.  I have always believed that good writing went hand in hand with reading, looks to be true.
Maybe it helps to have a terrific reading room
This year, for the first time, I will attempt to keep track of my reading. Might not be as much as I want or believed, but I will keep track. I often spend hours in research for my nonfiction work, and that takes time so I will need to find more time – somewhere.
Seems that quite a few writers also keep track of words wrote for the year. Something else I do not do, but I have tried. This year I will give it another shot.

There they are, two ideas for the New Year, not really resolutions, but I will give it a go. Looking at it maybe they are resolutions – oh well!

We had a great start to the year joining in the national state parks, first-day hike activities. We took the three mile plus hike in Guernsey State Park with about 50 others. We started with temperatures in the teens, but with the bright sun and lack of wind, it was a near perfect day. It was a good way to start the year, now I need to get reading and writing – hey, that’s a pretty good way to go.

Need a good read? Click on the photo of  my five books?

 Need a good read?

I have a new mystery coming in February to be followed by, I hope, two other books this year.
I hope you are off to a great start by a warm fire in 2016
Photo from the Castle the mid-way point of our first day hike