Sunday, June 26, 2016

What Makes a Good Edit?

It’s not often that I edit something and am satisfied with the result. This one was pretty good. I am working on a novel with an opening chapter of 3,200 words and not very good ones at that. It is a story I like, but the first chapter has me putting it on the back shelf, time after time. What did I do? I gutted it, streamlined it back to 1,800 words, and now it works.
Thought I might need the Military to blast out parts of this book!
Took this photo on a recent walk - nice fly over

Novels do not need fillers - I should have known better, I tried to explain everything in the first chapter, even things the reader would discover later. It not only had laundry lists of facts that were not needed, it had too many things that had no relation to the rest of the story. It reminded me of the parts in newspapers and magazines that we used to call, fillers or interesting tidbits, whatever that is. For me, it was useless added information that would not become part of the story later.
Now this is pretty good filler and will make a great novel scene someday

One last comment - I like a shorter, not a longer opening chapter. Maybe that is what bothered me, a 12-page opening chapter, I like the all-new look of the now seven-page chapter. Now off to the press, not really, but I always wanted to say that.

A note on the book with the new first chapter – here is the cover (shot moments ago with my cell phone).
The Photo is Centered on the Actual Book
Not So Much Here On My Cell Photo
The book should be available in the middle of July. It has already been proofed and edited, I just did not like it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Editing – I love reading Emerson, and in my historical fiction book, Commitment, the protagonist, Blade Holmes quotes him, as he will in my upcoming, book two, of the Blade Holmes trilogy.
  Emerson said, “Let the reader find that he cannot afford any line of your writing because you have omitted every word that he can spare.”
Not sure he was always that sparse but he often was.

 Meanwhile - Have a great week - keep on reading, and keep on writing, and sadly we must all keep on editing and rewriting. 
My Wyoming Garden is doing fine, and thanks for asking!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Too Hot to Fish and Too Hot To Write :-)

Remember the country song of a few years ago with the catch line, “too hot to fish?” The idea being it’s never really that hot. But it can be too hot to write, especially when waiting for new central air and furnace to be installed. It was well over 100 today. Right now it is seven o’clock in the evening, and the temperature outside is 100, inside with our lack of air it is a chilly 89.
Maybe This Will Help Everyone Cool Off

Oh well, must not be too hot anymore, as I am getting ready to go to work on my newest novel. I am 36,000 words in, so far, and looking for fifty to fifty-five thousand. Not as long as some of my previous works but lately I have been following some who are, in the know, that say shorter is in. Originally I planned on 70,000 words, a size I like, but will see what readers think of a slightly shorter novel.  The good news, it will also cost readers a bit less. At present, I’m thinking of a buck 99 for the eBook and a cent under ten bucks for the softcover.
Ahh - That's Better

These are the prices that I sold my Christmas book for when I published it in November. Speaking of that Christmas collection of short stories, I am thinking about a new cover for it before pushing it again next Christmas season. I am hoping for a new collection of Christmas stories, but it may not be this next Christmas. This first collection sold well, and I had some nice compliments on it. This year I will also have it in some area bookstores before Thanksgiving. When it is hot outside sure is nice to talk about happenings in November and December.

Terrific Way to Pass the Time on a Hot Summer Day

Fun times at the writing desk.

Keep Writing & Keep Reading!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Edit, At Last, Is Finished - For Now

Edit, edit, edit. It seems like I will never get time to write again, well maybe. I am done with my initial part of the edit – at last. After a read through, making simple corrections and making sure the flow of the story made sense, I ran a grammar checker. After I am satisfied with that part, I take my list of 12 words I tend to use too much, this part takes a few hours, or sometimes days.
Sometimes When I Am Not Editing, I Give Historical Talks at Really Neat Places
  With Some Really Great People

12 Overused Words

Here is my list, the list I make sure that I am not using too much.

- Just, stuff, things, got, went, every, feel, almost, each, there, you, and because- 

There they are, the 12 words I check each time, and I have used several in this post. Some writers overuse the word very, not me. In this novel I used it twice, I can live with that, especially if it is in conversation, which it was.

My Rules
1.  Be careful taking any words out of conversations, you know the, he said, she said parts, the ones in, “quotes.”
2.  I don’t worry if a word is used only once on a page, I will look at it but not with my, “this has to change, red pen.”
3.  If the same word, one of the 12 above is used more than once in a sentence, make sure to change one – always.
4.  Try to reduce by at least 10 percent, I shot for 20% and changed 23% this time.
5.  Don’t change words integral to the story, even if it seems overused. If the tale is about a horse race – don’t try to change the word horse or race, it will sound stiff and like the writer is trying too hard.

How to Make the Changes

It’s easy and fast, use the find and replace buttons on the home section of MS/Word. It will highlight the chosen word each time it was used. Take it from there, change, erase, or leave it be.

Ghost of the Fawn

Ghost of the Fawn is the novel I have been editing. It is a novel of present and Wyoming's historic past. It is pointed toward young adults, although I think it will be enjoyed by adults as well. It is complete at a  bit over 53, 500 words and with the font size, and book size I use will be 227 pages give or take a few.

Here is a Short Excerpt 

Chapter 1

June 2015, Hell’s Half Acre Wyoming

  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. Shivering 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 wore.
    He pulled out a bright red hoodie, emblazoned with the word Hoosiers, pulled it over his head then crossed his arms and patted himself in an attempt to either warm-up or rid himself of the many self-doubts occupying his mind.
   Neither Robert nor Jimmy was afraid in the sense that most would see fear.  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 didn’t 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 Arapaho elder's generations ago.
       A hawk cried far overhead Jimmy looked up, “I think we may be getting a sign,” he said. Then added, “Wish I knew what it meant.
Robert, who was more often the talkative one, didn’t answer. He looked up at the hawk, shrugged and tried to get comfortable on the rock outcropping where he perched.
   Today the two sat, mostly in silence, looking at each other across a tiny smokeless sage wood fire. Both seemed to be lost in thought, perhaps thinking the same thing, some form of, “What are we doing here?” 
Surprised Look I had When I Realized I Was Finished With My Part of the Book

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good Guys and Bad Guys

Can a character be too good, or does everyone need a flaw? Those thoughts came to me this week when I read a post with several readers in agreement, that no matter how good the good guy is, he needs to be flawed. Why?

I am told the modern reader does not identify with perfect. Why?

A character needs to be flawed, most often deeply flawed. Why?

As a kid growing up in the 50s, I watched many television programs with hero’s who had no flaws, or none that I could see.  I write westerns, historical fiction, and young reader novels, all with a bit of suspense. Some of my protagonists have flaws, others do not, or not of the usual type. I would hate to think, as many supposedly believe, that every protagonist should be flawed, often highly flawed. 

No Flaws

Don’t take this to mean that a protagonist should never be flawed, not at all. Some of my favorite fictional characteries were highly flawed: Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher, Smoke Jensen, Barnaby Skye, Joe Leaphorn and Bernie Rhodenbarr, to name a few. But, I also enjoyed, as a youth: Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Sky King and Captain Kangaroo, no flaws there, okay a few small glitches. As an adult reader, I have enjoyed characters with few or no flaws also, fictional characters such as Jim Chee, Joe Picket, Hewey Calloway and my own creation Blade Holmes.

OK - We Are All Somewhat Flawed

Then I realized that all characters are flawed, even the best of characters struggle with emotions and choosing what to do. Not always as big as right from wrong, but, no one makes the correct choice the first time, every time. Maybe, I was looking for flaws that were deeper, emotional or criminal flaws or risky lifestyle choices. 

I have heard that all of us makes thousands of choices every day. So when writing a protagonist or other fictional characters, flaws do not have to be great, but remember, no one does it correctly the first time every time.
Now Here is a Really Good Guy Campaigning for President -
Not Really, Just Me
 at Fort Laramie Last Year 4th of July and it's not Far Away

Take a Chance - Write About Some Good People

I hope that most writers are not afraid to write characters that are genuinely good people and try to do the right thing, each and every time. Readers and society as a whole, need it. Especially in the genres I write,  truly good men and women never go out of style.

Sales Recovering

After a small downturn and disappointment in sales, it looks like my books are, once again, starting to sell.  –  Thanks, readers!

Look At My Books Here

Take a look here and see my westerns, Commitment and Under Western Skies. Commitment is a western mystery, and Under Western Skies is an uplifting and often romantic look at Christmas miracles.

Need a good summer read for the kids or grandkids? Check out, Melvin the E Street Ghost and, Then Mike Said, “There’s a Zombie in My Basement. All about growing up in the 1950s with a supernatural twist – fun for kids and those of us who grew up in the 50s.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

May Has Come and Gone

My summer writing decline continues, May was my least productive month in recent memory, with only 11 blog posts and 8130 words of writing. Not much. I did make three trips out of state which does slow down the writing. I also am working on a couple of paid projects.  It seems the research took up more time than I thought, or at least that is the excuse I will hang my hat on.

The Famous Register Cliff on the Oregon Trail
Fun Taking Visitors Here as We Did Last Week

I have mentioned before that I follow two writers that do as much in two or three months as I do in a year, but that is all right with me. I seem to write in spurts; hope one comes soon so that I can complete my new Blade Holmes novel. I did make it through the first edit run of my young adult western and am a third of the way through my second go through. After that, I will do another read through and then off to a beta reader, maybe two before publication.

Tending the Gardens Does Have its Rewards

Building a new fence and gate has been fun, but tiring, I just might post a photo when I complete the project. Today seems like a good outside day, time to work on the fence and work in the garden.

Why Did The Old Guy Climb The Tree? Getting Down Was Tough Work

Keep reading and keep writing.