Friday, February 26, 2016

Writing Short Stories

What is a short story? If you take the time to look it up, most suggest a short story is 1,000 or 1,500 to 7,500 words. Some writers enjoy doing shorts, others think it is a waste of time. Many modern writers skip short stories because they do not sell very well – too bad. I love reading short story collections and most of the time I have a book of shorts I am reading. Guess there are not many readers like me.
Another book and another day finished. Photo 2-24-2016
I just finished reading a small collection of O. Henry stories, loved them. And he, above all other writing, enjoyed writing them. He liked writing them so much he even gave away his short story writing secret. “I’ll give you the whole secret to short story writing. Here it is. Rule 1: Write stories that please yourself. There is no Rule 2.”

Junot Diaz, who won a Pulitzer for his terrific novel, The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, had this to say about writing shorts.  “We get so many people saying short fiction is not economical, that it doesn’t sell; but there are so many of us enjoying writing it and reading it. So it’s wonderful to be around people who love short fiction too – it’s like hanging around with my tribe.”
In November, I published a collection of short stories, Under Western Skies, a book of short stories of Christmas. I loved writing them, but it is not easy. I found it to be quite a challenge to write a beginning, middle and end in a couple thousand words. I have read that after poetry, short stories are the most difficult to write and in many ways, I think that is true.

If nothing else, I believe Ray Bradbury had the correct idea about writing shorts. “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
Meanwhile, if anyone has read any great short story collections lately, let me know.
My favorite photo this week - I call it, Do You Think They See Me?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Spring Fever? - Might Be!

This is my third post tracking my writing progress this year. For those of you who have not been lucky enough to read the other two fantastic posts – here is a synopsis. This year I am keeping a journal of my daily writing, the number of words and what I was writing. Not too hard. The goal was to write almost every day. I know, I know, big time writing blogs keep telling us to write every day, no exceptions. Well, that’s too hard. I can't’ t do it, but I am not doing badly.
Maybe I will get my writing flying along again soon

We are on day 52 of the year and I have written 49, pretty good for me. On big days, I go 2,000 words and more and on slow days, I go two or three hundred. This week was tough, just didn’t get it going. I skipped writing on Friday and Saturday, two days with zero words. Friday we were out of town shopping, ugg, and Saturday looking at Golf Carts and then playing golf, now that was a nice day.
Some days are good writing days, others are good hiking days - like today

Even with the days off I am averaging a bit over 1,000 words a day, about right for my goal of 350,000 words this year. If I could write in the morning, it would help, but I cannot. I read and work outside, but unlike most writers just can't get going in the morning. Maybe someday. On a good morning, I will get in an hour or more of research on one of the two nonfiction books I am working on.
My nonfiction books take a great amount of research
Research on guys like William Scott Ketchum
at one time the commander of nearby Fort Laramie

Took time today for a nice hike in beautiful Guernsey State Park.
The difference between a good hike and a great one might be  the view

Keep writing.
Getting in some camping before he needs a reservation - Smart Turkey

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Edit or Write - I Will Take Writing - Every Time

Nothing to do with the post but I saw this yearling and she wanted her photo taken
Trying to edit and rewrite something seven years old is difficult work. I have never tried anything like this before and am glad that I have not. Seems that my writing is better now, or, at least, I like it better, and I am changing everything as I go. I liked the story, still do, but it seems like it is taking more time than writing a new one. I had a goal of completing this by the end of the month, not sure I can make it now.

The following is an excerpt from the book, my first attempt at a young adult western mystery.

Russ Duke stood chomping the stub of a cigar on the balcony of his third story room at the downtown Casper Motor Inn, watching traffic crawl past the oldest hotel in town. The room was awful, the location was terrible, the bed was the worst he ever attempted to sleep in, but the rates were good, and that was the way Russ Duke liked it.

Duke had kept Medina’s room the past two days, and that was long enough.  He walked up the road to the Platte River, stopped and threw the key to his former partner’s second floor room from the bridge. He was pretty sure the cops had not yet found the body if they had it would have been on the news by now. He was safe. He smiled at how easy it had been. Then he started to laugh, he used to hate Medina, hated all pretty boy’s like him, now he didn’t care, Medina was dead. Duke laughed, tried to whistle a tune, but started coughing instead. He flipped the inch long stub of his cigar into the river, started laughing again as he walked toward a row of fast food restaurants.

“Ha dead, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy,” Duke laughed at his joke, life was good.

Duke ordered the #3 breakfast, grabbed a newspaper and sat down to eat. The headline in the Casper paper said what he had been waiting for. Man Found Dead at Hell’s Half Acre – Cause of Death Under Investigation. Duke could not help himself; he started to laugh, again.

End of the Day

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentines, Prompts, and WIP

Seems like every day I see someone posting a writing prompt. Do people read, or for that matter need a prompt to write? Tough for me to understand how anyone would want to write but needed a prompt to figure out a subject. I know I have posted about this before but it seems odd, at least, to me. Oh well, as kids said a decade ago Whatever!
One of my writing spaces - the one where I need to spend more time

Not sure why but with two works in progress I went off track and have been working on a short story these past two evenings. Where do storytellers get their ideas? Well, this one I was trying to go to sleep and I started thinking about a story for Valentines Day. Pretty odd for me, I never have thought much about, good or bad, Valentines Day. It always seemed a bit too commercial and contrived to me. Could be that after having some success selling my book of Christmas short stories I couldn’t resist writing one more short, but in February.
Where I spend more time writing - what a mess, but it works
Meanwhile, I am getting some work on my novel and some on my nonfiction. At this point, I am seriously thinking about getting the app with the graphs to show where I am with each of the books I am working on. Without the graphics, I will do it the old fashioned way.

Fiction Book – The Night of the Buffalo Moon 12,521 of 60,000 and, my yet unnamed nonfiction book 4,659 of 60,000. I am also still editing my, young adult, historical fiction novel. I’m 2/3 through with my first edit, which leaves me two more go-throughs before I decide to publish, send to readers or to an editor.
My Ideas start here place
Oh, one last thing, the Valentines Day tale, stands at 2,653 of 3,200 words.

Keep writing my friends. 
Today is a great day to be outdoors - not a good writing day

Saturday, February 6, 2016

To Write or Not to Write - Is That a Question?

Do I write every day? Nope! Why not? Because, well, some days I don’t feel it. 
Some days I just like to drive down the hill
Recently I have followed comments on two different blogs that talked about writing every day. Here is what I learned, some do, and others do not. About what I thought. 
Some days a Turkey just tries to hide behind a stick
 At present, I am on a pretty good streak, writing 35 of the past 36 days. And, since I am writing this blog today I will be 36 of 37. On the track, I am on now I will write about a quarter of a million words on works in progress and another ninety thousand, or so, in blog posts. Speaking of blogging last month was the first time ever that I posted more than thirty times, (31). Most months 22-25 posts seem about the norm. 
When I get in the flow (North Platte River Yesterday) writing seems easy
I follow, way too many writing blogs. Most posts seem to feature the same things over and over, mostly stuff I have no interest in. What is blogged about the most, appears to be, writers block and new software for authors? I know nothing of either.  I always have plenty to write, but have, on occasion, written myself into a corner. You know, where I got the protagonist into something I did not know how I was going to get him out. When that happen, I move over to one of my other projects as I always have several going. Not sure if that is really writers block but am pretty sure that no software will write me out.
One way in and often only one way out

One last comment on writing blogs. I will never understand the posts with writing prompts. Prompts, like the ones our high school teachers, used to get us to write something. Not sure why any writer would need or want, writing prompts unless they were meant for a contest. If a writer needs practice might be good to come up with their own ideas, and maybe like here, blog about it.
Writing prompt of the day - If Robins really are harbingers of spring why is he here now?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Marketing and Writing

Selling Books

Lately, it seems like I have been reading quite a few blogs on book marketing, Not sure why, as I don’t do any of the suggested things anyway.  But, there are some good ideas. I think I will continue to wait for one of my books to be picked up by a movie maker. Then the money will start rolling in and I will purchase a winter home in Arizona and drive there in my new RV. While I wait for the big money from the movie makers to come in, think I will keep writing. That seems to be a problem with other writers also, not just me. We like to write and don’t care enough about marketing our stuff. Too bad, I have read some great tales that only sold a few copies. Marketing is something I know I should work on ------maybe someday.
See all five of my books here on Amazon

How Much Did Writers Earn Last Year?

Good question and I have seen it addressed several times in the past few days. One very nice graph published by,, shows nearly 80% of self-published authors made less than $1,000 from their books last year. The graph also shows more than 50% of traditionally published authors fall into that same group of making.  What did I learn, well, only some feel good stuff? I fall, according to the graph, into the top third of all author earnings. Great news, but not enough to give up my other income. Averaging a couple of hundred dollars a month from my books doesn’t quite make me a full timer yet, but it is nice.
 -See the Author Earnings graph here
It is snowing hard here today, so I decided to post an anti-snow photo from last summer

How Long Does It Take To Write a Book?

I had that question asked of me a few days ago. The answer depends on the writer and the book. I average, and I kept track in January, a bit less than a thousand words a day, and that counts posts like this one. That means I am only writing around four thousand words, on my works in progress, per day at the present. Not great but if I keep it up I will finish a rough draft in about four months, another month of self-edit and I am ready to publish or send off for additional editing, depending on the book, my cash flow, and mood at the time. 

Good luck, and keep writing, oh, and reading too.
Meanwhile in my backyard - looks like a good writing day