Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Who Do I Like To Read?

Favorite Author

Someone asked me this week who my favorite authors were. Not a tough question, but I stumbled around a bit before coming up with a short list. I often smile when I see famous people list their favorite books or authors. Most are nothing more than a politically correct list of who the polls must say are the books and authors they should read. In modern days, it is tough for me to believe that books like, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, 1984,  Ulysses, or Moby Dick, are anyone's favorites. (I am not saying these are bad books, only one’s that many people list as favorites because it seems like they should have read them – I have read all but Ulysses)

Wyoming Traffic Jam - Just for fun

Some Books are Hard to Read

I checked out Stephen Hawkins book, A Brief History of Time, at a librarian's suggestion, when it first was published and on many readers to read list, in the late 1980s. Well, I read it, or most of it, some parts, I actually understood. Yet a reported ten million copies have been sold. Who could read it? I am not a believer in statistics, but as Mark Twain once said, although he always attributed it to others,  "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.  Well, at this point in the post I will make up a statistic, less than ten percent of the ten million who bought it read more than a chapter or two. Of course, this statistic does not take into account all of us who checked it out at the local library and pretended to read it.
I just keep rotating books from here to the garage

Genre Fiction

Seems that reading genre fiction is not politically correct, even though millions and millions of fiction titles are sold each year.

My Reading

Recently I have finished reading a couple of mysteries. The first was C.J Box’s, Endangered, and I must say, this is a fantastic read. I also finished re-reading two of Lawrence Block’s, Bernie Rohdenbaug, mysteries, both fast paced, fun and, excellent as always, from Mr. Block. I am now reading, Fort Laramie by Douglas C. McChristian, nonfiction, for research purposes, but am finding it to be a good read. I am also reading Terry C. Johnston’s Sioux Dawn.
Sometimes I am reading, sometimes writing, and here selling books - Fun

My favorites?

Here is a short list of authors I have been reading the past few years, almost all mysteries or westerns. By the way, I took this list from my Kindel, simply scrolled down and listed who I was reading.
·        C.J. Box – Modern day westerns
·        Craig Johnson - Longmire
·        Lawrence Block – Many types of mysteries
·        Richard S. Wheeler – Love his mountain man books
·        Terry Johnston – Great research into his writing
·      William W. Johnston ( early books) Mountain man characters are unforgettable
·        Lee Child – Jack Reacher
·        Elmer Kelton – Cowboys, real life stories
·        Tony Hillerman – Navaho mysteries, terrific
·        Louis L’Amour – how can 100 million buyers be wrong?

My list of old time authors I like to read, and still do

·        James Fennimore Cooper – Leatherstocking Tales
·        Author Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes
·        Charles Dickens –  My all time favorite
·        Ernest Hemingway – My wife wonders how I can read his stuff
·        Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – From many years of teaching European history

There you have it! Who do you like?
Looking for a good book

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Wonder About Many Things

If you are one who reads, way too many writing blogs, like me, do you ever wonder?

I wonder

1.   Who are these writers and what have they written? I do and often find some interesting things. I like to look at their books on Amazon first, and if it interests me, I go to their full blog or website.

2.   Why do people trash particular blogging platforms and rave on about others? I have read two recent posts about how bad Blogger is, and why everyone should use . . . . . . . . . .  I like blogger and have tried others. I seem to get better readership here but I am certainly not about to tell others this is the only one that is any good. Heck, I started blogging on AOL, remember them?

3.   Why, it seems, is more money being spent on covers than on editing? (please do not point out my mistakes here, these are self, and not well-edited posts)

4.   Have you noticed it is hard to find many genre bloggers who write westerns or historical fiction?
There are a few, but not many, let me know if any readers know of good sites I may be missing.

5.   What is the reason for giving a one or two-star review and then stating, I didn’t read the book or I only read the sample and that was enough. I never have rated a book unless I have read it, all of it. If I read a book that I do not feel deserves a four or five-star rating, not often, I will not leave a review. The reason I give the four or five is that if I kept reading it must have had something I liked. I quit on about half the books I start reading, just not my thing, but I do not believe everyone will feel as I do.

6.   Lastly, what book promotions actually work? Seems like from time to time all writers blog about marketing and promotions. So what works? Who knows. I have tried a few, not many, and have no idea, but I sure do read a lot of articles about how too. I sometimes go a week with little or no sales, then sell several in one day. Not sure why, but if I figure it out, I will be blogging about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Writing My Way

Scrivener for Writers

I really admire writers who are in the now, and using Scrivener. I gave it a look, but decided I was an old dog, and not up to learning any new tricks. It appears to be a terrific program. Anything that helps a writer do what many find, including me, most difficult, organization. It is a word processing program with an outline feature that many authors rave about. It also reportedly offers templates for different types of writing.
Keeping track of the action - chapter and page

My, Most Old Fashioned Way

So why am I blogging about something I don’t use? I thought it might be interesting to some of my Younger followers to see how this old guy does it. My way works, and makes sense to me, but it is a long, long, way from new age.
This notebook keeps track of my day to day writing


The point? There are many ways to write, it is the final product, the story, not the way one reaches it that is important.
References used for my nonfiction

Every Blog Post Needs a Humorous Analogy

I remember hearing a story, years ago, about a professional golfer who was upset with his caddy because he put his bosses clubs into his bag in order. The pro wanted them stuck in randomly, said it gave him time to think about the next shot as he rummaged through the clubs looking for the one he wanted. Maybe that’s why I use my way, I like rifling through my multiple notebooks looking for the one I need.
Random notes to keep track of, well, stuff

And On That Note
Writing, for me, is a seven step process

ü Planning the story and characters

ü Writing the first draft, quickly with not too much backtracking

ü Checking and polishing the first draft for gaps, of people, or places and for obvious mistakes – I call this shaping the story, checking and modifying back story to make sure it agrees with the narrative of the main story.

ü The hated revision, or in my case revisions – go through the book page by page, rewriting cumbersome or odd sounding sentences. I also check voice here and rewrite, were needed, passive voice

ü Self-editing, a take your time, and do it write process. I use an extra grammar editing program here. I will talk more about it in another post. The program is called Grammarly and suggests changes, some I make, others I do not.

ü Proofreading, I self-publish and order two books for this step, one for myself and one for a reader, usually my wife. They are generally passed on, along with a different color of ink to additional readers.

ü Finally polishing it all up, getting it ready to sell, the old, make it the best it can be here.  If you have the money, and I recommend it if you do, this is also the time to send it to a professional editor.

There you have it – write on! Oh, and do not use too many exclamation points.
When the work gets to be too much or I am lost as to what comes next
I head out to one of my favorite places, only a few minutes away and a
wonderful place to contemplate life and writing.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Went Away and Now I'm Back

A Bit of a Break

Sometimes I take a break. The last few days was one of those times. We took a short trip, depending on how one defines a short trip. We drove about 1200 miles, got to see some family and friends, all in all, quite a good time. Unlike many writers and bloggers, I did not take my computer or my tablet. Too tired I guess, didn’t feel like writing, but did finish reading a good book.

Americas First Homestead and Wild Bill Hickok

I did take a nice trip to the Homestead National Monument, where Daniel Freeman filed for the first homestead in America and also took a trip to Rock Creek Station, where Wild Bill Hickok shot up the McCanles bunch.
Cabin at Homestead National Monument near Beatrice Nebraska
At times, I enjoy my non-writing days as much as I enjoy the writing. Today, a day short of a week later, I am ready to get back to work.

The First Page

Today I thought that I would share another excerpt from my forthcoming book, a book that was originally meant for young adults, but now will likely be released simply as a modern day western mystery for all ages.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think of the beginning of, Ghost of the Fawn
One of the settings for, Ghost of the Fawn - Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming

Ghost of the Fawn – Page 1

            Jimmy Bison-Man and Robert Lincoln sat shivering near the back of a small, crumbling sandstone cave tucked away on the west side of the canyons of Hell’s Half-Acre Wyoming. They shivered from both the early morning summer cold, and what they did not want to admit, fear.  Fear of what, of things they did not know?  Oowoo, oowoo, oowoo, “that’s spooky?”  Oowoo, oowoo, “What is that, sure sounds like more than just the wind?” Robert said, before turning to look for something warmer than the t-shirt he had on. He pulled on a bright red hoodie, emblazoned with the word Hoosiers.
            Neither Robert nor Jimmy was afraid in the sense that most would see it.  The cave didn’t scare them, nor did, the darkness, bats, or the eerie, howling winds, nothing to do with their current living accommodations was scary. It was about who they were, where they were going, and where they were from, for these two big city Indian teenagers. They did not know it, not yet, but maybe, just maybe, this cave, this canyon, and their lives were supposed to be together here, tied by fate through their elders generations ago.
            A hawk cried far overhead Jimmy looked up, “I think we are getting a sign,” he said. Then added, “Wish I knew what it meant.

In Other Writing News

I am still working on multiple projects and, as I did last year, hope to release more than one book soon. As long as too much golf, and photography, do not get in my way, I should make it. Also have a few more short trips on the agenda.
We love the rolling hills and cornfields of southeast Nebraska
where we grew up. But, there just never is any place like home,
even when we were only away for a few days

Write on!

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Many Facts in Historical Fiction?

How much is too much? Well, now that could depend on what I am talking about. In this post, I am talking about placing facts into fiction writing. I am finishing my third historical novel, some call them westerns, but mine has real events, people and places in them. Not sure but I believe that makes these books historical fiction. I actually classify mine as historical mystery and then add, set in the old west. I also like westerns that are pure fiction, where every person, place and event is made up, they are usually not terribly long and make fun fast reads.
My new book will have a bit of Fort Laramie

I spent more than 40 years teaching history and a big part of my job involved historical research. Over the years, I published a few nonfiction pieces on various aspects of Wyoming and the old west. I started blogging ten years ago, mostly western topics and enjoy the research that some of the posts take. I guess that is the reasons my writing falls into the genre of historical.
Some days writing can be a real bear

Which leads me to the original question, how much is too much? This time, I am talking about real events, people, and places. I have read of writers that make a list of up to 25 facts they want to include in a novel. I don’t go that far, but I like the idea. My newest WIP is about one-third complete and I have included, and I had to check this and count, eight historically significant people, events or places that play important roles in the story. How many more will there be? At least four, not sure if I will include more than that.

 Working on my current novel has been fun. A few nights ago I was writing and hollered at my wife, “This is really good, the part I just wrote, I love it.”
Then like a bad husband and good writer I refused to read it to her. She just laughed, knowing that sometimes I read excerpts to her and sometimes I do not.
Who doesn't love a great read that includes a terrific horse

Writing something I like this much doesn’t often happen, but when I really like something I wrote, it is a genuine feel good moment for an author.
Write on my friends.
My part of the west, on a drive last week, 20 miles west of town

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Month of Writing

Each month an online author friend, Greg Strandberg, posts what he completed for the month, he covers both writing progress and sales. He is a prolific writer and his writing posts are always interesting and entertaining. I thought that because, for the first time, I am keeping track of my writing progress, that I would see what I accomplished this month. In February, I wrote 21 blog posts. I write several blogs and for the month had an average of 655 openings, from my various posts, per day. Pretty good readership for me.

Link to my books on Amazon

 During the month of February, I wrote 30,425 words, including my works in progress (WIP) and blog posts. Not much, by many writers standards, but, not bad for me. That’s 1049 words per day – about what I am averaging for the year.
Sometimes I need a break - now this is the way to take it easy
For my yearly goals, I hope to write 200 blog posts and 350,000 words. I would like to be closer to 500,000 but when the weather turns nice, like it already has, golf, gardening, kids, grandkids, hiking, taking photos, and travel, get in the way, so I will stick with the more modest goal. 
I have not written much about my WIP, possibly because I have four, two fiction and two nonfiction. I cannot concentrate long enough to work on only one thing, so I work on what I feel like. Below you can see where I am with each of those projects.
ü 7,500 words written, about 11% of goal, on my new nonfiction, lots of research and many sources to site, hope to finish by Christmas.
ü 19,400 words written, about 38% of goal, on the second of my Blade Holmes western mysteries. This one is true, historical fiction, I like it a lot. If you haven’t read the first of the series, you can find it here.
ü 23,000 words or 75% of goal. This is an old one that I have not worked on for some time, it is a quick look at early Wyoming History. I am editing and adding right now so do not know where it will end up. This one is kind of fun as it is mostly from my teaching notes, notes I used for my, History of the American West and Wyoming History classes over the years.
ü 49,300 words or 98+%, and in the first edit. This is my young adult mystery. I hoped to have it out today, but got bored and started working on other projects. It is easy for me to lose interest when I start doing one of the three edits I do. Now I have high hopes of an April 1 release. I think I need to make that one.
Here I am at Fort Laramie, the setting for two of my WIP
I am the one that looks like I do not belong but still looking good
I have also started notes, and a rough outline on the third of my young reader, chapter book series, the Mike and Moose and Me Adventures.
That’s about it, for February, getting ready for a trip of a few days this month. So will have to stay busy on the days I am home and working.
By the way, specular, early spring-like, walk this morning. Beautiful clear skies, no wind and a nice warm sun. Right now, I am heading to the golf course.
Looking back to town from our favorite hiking place
A really nice way to spend an hour or two