Thursday, April 28, 2016

Writing and A Bit of a Trip

When it is nice outside I do not get much writing done. Nope, I’m  too busy working in the yard and garden, playing golf and hiking with my camera. That’s what I say anyway. Looks like instead that I am just procrastinating. I have discovered this because the last few days have not been nice for any of my outdoor hobbies, but I still didn’t get much writing done. Then I figured it out, it’s not procrastination it is because – I’m tired. Poor sleep seems to do that to me. Poor sleep brought on by self-imposing too many deadlines and for me, at my age, working too much.

Not Yet But Soon

Tried kills creativity

 I find it impossible to do much other than a few random blog posts, like this one, when I am in a period of time when I am not sleeping well. Not going to do any subbing at the school for a couple of weeks, time to kick back and relax and I hope write. That should help. We also will take a few days to visit brothers and sisters in Nebraska, I always enjoy that and come back refreshed.

Love Taking Photos Of Old Barns As We Drive Across Nebraska

When I am rested and feeling the juices flowing, I spent several hours each day writing and normally end the day playing harmonica for an hour or so. I have been playing for several years and in the harmonica ranking’s of beginner, player and accomplished, I am a player. I stick mostly to the old tunes, mostly western and gospel music, it is relaxing and helps clear my head.

I Have 5 Special 20s By Hohner - Love Playing Them

So there you have it, less work and less worry will help me write more. Here goes.

Keep writing my friends

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The First Line

Great Opening Lines

Much has been written about how important the first line of a novel is. Google it, and there are several pages about famous first lines. I read through a list of well-known books and the first line from each. These were taken from a survey of some sort and titled the best first lines from 100 famous novels, or something similar to that. Most were okay, some were terrific and some, well, I didn’t get why they made the list of great lines. I scratched my head and decided to check out the first lines of my five books. I changed it to four decided to skip my nonfiction book that opens with a very nice quote from President Roosevelt (FDR). I had to check mine out who knows, maybe, some were terrific.

My Opening Lines

I came up with six using a second, first line, (hey I like the sound of that)  from my collection of Christmas Tales. I also used one from an unpublished novella with a great title. So, here they are.

  If the young cowboy had but one wish, it would be to live. 
From my western mystery, Commitment. Not bad, I like it.

.The old mountain man was starving, but not for food. 
This one is taken from a story in my Christmas book, nice hook. What was he starving from? Sorry, no spoiler here.

The street I lived on was red brick, and our house was white. 
Not sure why but I really like this one. It is from the first of my two children’s chapter books, Melvin the E Street Ghost. 

Moose and I laid in the shade of a bright summer sun under an apple tree in my backyard. 
My second chapter book, soon to be the second of three with publication hopes for late May of the third in this series. This one is titled, 

Hardy Galloway pulled up rein, placed one knurled hand over the other on top his saddle horn and pushed back in an attempt to straighten his back.
 The opening line from my book of Christmas shorts. 
Under Western Skies, 14 Tales of Christmas. At my age, I am partial to stories that have someone as old as me, so I like it. 

    The old man thought about the question then nodded yes, he shook his head no at the next. Simple but interesting. This is from my yet to be published novella of about 20,000 words. 

 There you have it my opening lines. Good luck with yours and keep writing.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Writing a Perfect Paragraph

Stalled – that’s where I am right now. I have written on this blog a few times in the last three months about having a finished book that I am editing. Well, I still am. I don’t like the first chapter and despite many fixings, it still does not seem to work. I like the story, think it’s a good one, but doesn’t every author think their story is a good one?

Something Just Does Not Seem to be Correct

The Problem 

This novel is set in modern times but has several flashback chapter to the 1800s. I wanted to write the first two chapters, one in the present and one in flashback. Chapter one started as the flashback with chapter two taking readers to the present. That didn’t seem to work, so I switched them. Now chapter one is in the present and chapter two sets the modern day story from an event in the past. This seems to work. The problem is that the first chapter is still not very strong. I am afraid readers will put it away before getting to the meat of the tale. That and the fact that readers looking at the free preview of the book will see this chapter, not great for sales.

Chapter one describes the two main characters, the setting and why they are there. To me, it reads like the age old, bad writing chapter - laundry list, of too many facts and not enough story.

Oh, What Should I Do?

The way I see it, I have three options, maybe four.

1.  Start the book with a scene that I now have later in the story. Might work, but this means a different type of flashback, and I am not sure I want that.
2.  Flip chapters one and two again – not happening.
3.  This will probably be it – rewrite adding a new action scene to drive the reader forward to the story.
4.  Who knows? Trash the chapter and let the reader figure out what is happening as they go. Not a bad idea, but seems confusing when I read it this way. Not likely I will use this one.

Number three is the option I will most likely take. I don’t like it because I have no idea how, or what, I will do with this. I will write it as soon as I am struck with some type of magical inspiration.

How Do I Choose One From So Many Options?

But I Do Have Another Project

On another note, I am well into my second Blade Holmes, Western Mystery, tentatively titled, Ghost Dance Moon. Presently the novel is 32,000 words, looks like about 60% complete. Yesterday I wrote a few lines and had to find my wife so that I could read the part to her, yes, I thought it was that good. Not sure if she agreed, but either she did or at least pretended that she thought it to be the beautiful literary, masterful writing, I believed it to be. 

That’s what writers live for, ahhh, the perfect sentence or paragraph, doesn’t happen often, but when it does – glorious!

A great scene should read like this photo - perfection

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

That is a Lot of Words - Post # 1064

Read an interesting blog today as the writer was making post number 1,000.  Of course, now I cannot find it and do not remember who wrote it - sorry or I would post a link.

This reading made me wonder how many posts I have made – 1,064 over ten years of blogging. I guessed it to be four or five hundred before I checked.  Not bad with nearly 70,000-page openings.  Nothing to rave about or enough to drive up my book sales. Still that means  65+ reads of each post. I’ll take it. I sometimes post additional things on Google Plus, along with reposting my regular blog posts, but don’t see much interaction from the additional posts. Most of my posts fall into the 250-500 word area which means my thousand plus posts add up to somewhere between a quarter and a half million words. Humm- doesn’t seem like that much.

Speaking of sales, it is always fun and exciting to see sales in other countries. In the past few days I have sold books in the UK, and earlier sold copies in Australia. Fun times!

I have been told that I blog on too many subjects and spread my audience too thin, not sure what that means. I do blog in several areas and here they are.

By far my most popular blog – Wyoming History. I love writing this blog after 42 years as a classroom history teacher.
Looks a lot like Wyoming

My favorite park and only a five-minute drive away. Also the basis for my only nonfiction book about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the building of the park.
The incredible Castle on the North Bluff at Guernsey State Park

My writing blog. I try not to give too much advice as I don’t really know that much about writing. I share some of what I do and a few things that other writers do. I also post excerpts from my writing and quite often posts on how I go about the process of writing.
Horses and Mules at Fort Laramie

This is my gardening blog, gardeners like fisherman, like to boast about how good they are or how large the tomatoes grew this season.
Backyard in July

This blog is still pretty popular but I ran out of things I knew how to cook/bake. It is mostly a humorous look at cooking and grilling but all the recipes are the real deal.
This is the time of day to fire up the grill

This one started as a hodgepodge of stuff but now is mostly about golf, senior golf. I only post a few time a year on this one. Not much effort although occasionally I come up with something that I need to say about my nearly 200 rounds each year.
Little chip shot

My newest blog. This one is for my self-publishing company. Here I mostly share my books and links but eventually hope to post on the process of getting a Microsoft document into book form.
My 5 books on Amazon - Take a look today

Monday, April 4, 2016

Finding a Great Book and Writing for the Month

A few years ago I was able to purchase a copy of Charles A. Guernsey’s book, Wyoming Cowboy Days. It is hard to find and I suspect never sold too many copies. The copy I have is a first addition, there are modern day reprints, published in 1936. I love to buy used books that have a name inside, they seem to tell a story all their own. This one say’s, “To Taylor, 12/25/ 1938.  Underneath the date, Sacramento Calif. I thought that was pretty neat, a Christmas Present 78 years ago. I bought the book for research purposes because the little town in Wyoming where I live was named after him, along with a nearby State Park and a reservoir.
The view from Powell Mountain in Guernsey State Park
March was not a good month for me, word number wise. I was down about 10,000 words from where I want to be. In January, I set what I thought was a modest goal of writing 350,000 words in 2016. For non-writers that may seem like a lot, but I am a regular reader of two blogs where writers go over the one million mark each year –WOW! I thought if they could write a million I should be able to do a third of a million, then I rounded up to and even 350,000. January and February I was able to be right at 30,000 each month, not bad, I was on track, then came March.  I am not much of a mathematician, actually not one at all, but, 20,829, is a long way from 30,000. Guess I better buckle down in April, so far so good, four days and have passed 6,000 words.
The Castle in Guernsey State Park - one of America's great picnic shelter's

If anyone reading is crazy enough to start keeping track, I count my work on books and blog posts. This is pretty standard, although some count everything, replies on blogs, tweets, and anything else they write. I didn’t want to go overboard, so for me blogs and books – hey, catchy.  
Taking a break, sitting in the world famous Oregon Trail Ruts, a 15 min. walk from our house

In case anyone wonders, yes my wife now believes I am completely crazy. I am sure that she has suspected it for years but know she is sure.
Good Luck and keep writing.   
My hiking partner, and wife, near the scratch boulders on Knight Mountain Trail in the park

Friday, April 1, 2016

Need a Good Western Read?

Must be that time of the year to read a western. I have done zero promotions for several weeks and all of the sudden my two westerns are selling pretty well. I am happy in a scratching my head kind of way. I’m especially surprised that my book of short Christmas stories, Under Western Skies,

featuring 14 short stories in all, is still selling three months after Christmas. It sold very well the weeks before Christmas staying in the top 100 for a few days and just under that for weeks, but it is April 1. I enjoy reading short stories, and there must be others out there.

My western mystery Commitment

has experienced strong sales off and on since it came out. Book two of the series will be ready, hopefully, by June 1. These books have a terrific character in Marshall Blade Holmes, a man who has the world by the tail but must still fight off a few shortcomings.

Give one or both of these a look today, hit the link and read a sample, I think you will enjoy.