Monday, February 27, 2017

Reading - Writing - and Wintering

Seems I am suffering through the writing blues of late. Not stuck, just don’t feel like writing much. Oh, I do some, but not many words, not sure why. Guess I will blame it on the weather, seems as good as anything. Wait maybe I could blame it on politics, naw, just not feeling it.

Typically in the winter, I get out and do quite a bit of hiking, this winter, not so much. I think I need the exercise to get my mind going and the old creative juices flowing. At present, I’m waiting for the review copies of my most recent kid’s book – the third in a series. Shipped on Friday, shouldn’t be long now.
Nice herd of Mule Deer with Laramie Peak in the distance

As always, I am reading several books at the same time, presently reading books by, Richard Wheeler, Elmer Kelton, and Hank Haney. The books are different enough that it is not a problem reading all three at various times of the day or week. What are they? Wheeler’s, Accidental Novelist, a story of his life from editor to writer of western novels,  Kelton’s, Ranger’s Trail, a western novel, and Hank Haney’s golf book, The Big Miss, about working with Tiger Woods.

When working I am re-editing my second Blade Holmes, Western novel, and finishing up my gardening book. I am also in the planning stages of the fourth of my kid’s books. Soon, when the inspiration strikes, I will get back to research and writing of my second nonfiction book. I have found nonfiction to be both rewarding and challenging, but, someday I will finish.
Nice setting for a Mountain Man book

Keep on reading – keep on writing, and keep on thinking SPRING!

Photos were taken yesterday on a snowy drive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Story Idea's

Seems to me that recently I see a post or Tweet every day that starts with something like this – “Are you stuck, can’t find anything to write about?” Odd.

Are there actually writers who cannot come up with anything to write about? My problem is the opposite. I have too many ideas, too many stories, and I have to pick and choose which ones I might have time to write. 
At times, a single photo can bring on a good story

I hope no one would be serious about buying a book with ideas to write about. Might be a better idea to read more widely, travel, work and experience life, then come up with what you like to write. If you are lucky enough to make your dreams of writing turn out, and the story falls into a classification of Children’s Fiction, or Fantasy, congratulations, they are the two best-selling fiction genres.

Westerns, the old style shoot-um-ups are, for the most part, or for all parts, dead. On the other hand, historical fiction is alive and well, selling about three percent of all books. Children’s fiction is still far above all other genres selling nearly 40% of all books. Children's fiction is still riding the wave of the Harry Potter books, and the numbers may be a bit high because of J.K. Rowling. (By the way, I have read all of the Potter books and enjoyed them).

For writers at all levels, first bookers or author’s that have written several books, the key is finding an audience. Find enough readers who like what a writer is doing and the books will sell, even westerns.

I read an interesting blog recently that suggested writing in several genres instead of only one. This advice is opposite of what has normally been preached to new writers.  I was sure that I would never sell a book as I have written in so many genres

So far I have dabbled in Children’s, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Short Stories, and nonfiction-historical. And have been lucky enough to sell books in all genres, not best seller sales, but enough to take a nice trip or two.
Where else would a western writer vacation? Dodge City last October

Friday, February 17, 2017

Books, Selling, Writing & Publishing

We try to take off for a few days each month. Today we are off to see brothers and sisters in Nebraska. It is about a ten-hour drive, so as always, we have a book to listen to on the way. Sometimes I talk on and on, and we don’t listen much to the book, other times we listen more and I talk less.
CCC built Water Station at Guernsey State Park

In other news, I am following, as are most who have used Create Space, what is happening at Kindle Direct Publishing. I have six books and a short story (wow – it won an award), on KDP. Now KDP is in the print book business also. It looks like, down the road, the two will be merged into one, Kindle Direct Publishing. Right now, they do not offer author proof copies, or a chance for writers to buy books closer to cost so they can resell to booksellers. Unlike many writers that have published independently, I sell quite a few hard copy books. I have books in several bookstores and libraries, because of this I need to be able to purchase books at a good author price. Guess I will wait and see what happens.
Evening in Wyoming

Every few months I look at publishing something in a traditional market. Because these chances have always come from small and medium-sized publishers, I have passed. Now, it looks like I may go the traditional route with my next nonfiction book, not sure why, but there are a few advantages.

This week’s weather has been incredible. I have spent some time playing golf, hiking and taking photos. Hope it keeps up, and lets me get some yard work completed next week, not that I want too.
Oh – one last thing, I am still getting in some writing and editing, it is just more difficult when the temperature is 70, and the sun is shining, and it's still February.
Mule Deer Doe checking out the guy with the camera

Keep on writing and keep on reading. Have a great weekend.
Photos are from my outings this week.
Sunset splashed Red Cloud Shelter, built by the CCC at Guernsey State Park

Friday, February 10, 2017

Writing to the End

Seems like my book sales always tail off in the first part of each month. I am not sure why, but there might be a reason. I am not much of a self-promoter and usually see an uptick after I do some type of live presentation. I do not have thousands of follows on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or all the other social media sites like many writers do. My numbers have grown the past few years slowly, as I usually hand select which one’s I want to refollow.
Six Books Down - Two More Coming Soon

It is embarrassing how slow I have been in getting new books published. I get down to the last few edit, revising and first reader steps and then start something else, or stall out on a book cover. I have always enjoyed writing the words, not so much with selecting or building book covers.

The last few weeks have been full of meetings, travel, Dr. appointments and bad weather for us. Those seem to be pretty good excuses for my slow down.
And, at times, heavy cross traffic slows me down

I read an excellent post recently about plotting or not plotting when writing a novel. It always interests me when I see how others go about putting a story together. I start with an idea, usually an event. In the two books that I am working on covers for, here are the ideas I start with. With my children's book, book three of a series, It was easy, the entire series has a theme. In my newest, my three protagonist kids meet up with a vampire. This follows the theme of the first two where they met up with a ghost and a zombie.

My historical fiction is a bit more complicated. In the first of what will be four or more novels with protagonist Blade Holmes, he gets involved in a real mystery following bad guys back and forth from Laramie City to Fort Laramie Wyoming. The second book, also partially set at Fort Laramie ends with the Ghost Dance in the Black Hills.

After I have an idea, with nothing else to go on, I write the first chapter, letting my mind take it where it may. After that, I put together a few notes on where I want the story to go. With these notes, I will often write down scenes and places I want to include. Then I start writing. I never pick an ending at the start, often half way through I know how it will end, sometimes I end in a place and with an event that surprises me.

Love to hear from others as to how you put a tale together.

Meanwhile - keep on writing and keep on writing. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Thoughts on Writing

Seems like western movies are here to stay. Every year or two a couple of new ones are fairly well received, at least well enough for someone to make another. I still see quite a few new, western books that look and read a lot like the pulp westerns of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Not sure there is much of an audience for these and all are self-published. On the other hand, historical fiction, historical mysteries, and historical romance seem to still have quite a large audience. It also appears that writers of historicals are finding success with both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

Confessions of a Writer of WesternsAlthough I call this site, Confessions of a Writer of Westerns, I actually write, in most cases, historical fiction. MY definition of historical fiction is a work where the story is fiction, but the setting, events and some of the characters are real to the time and place.
Often settings like this - a trapper and trader camp at Fort Laramie
are used for historical fiction. Take the setting and form the story.

Work in Process - My present novel, which I am still in the process of editing is a fictitious look at the Ghost Dance in the weeks before the terrible massacre at Wounded Knee.  In the work I use six main characters to carry the tale, and of the six, three are mine, and three are real people from the period and place. I enjoy writing this type of fiction, but to keep it authentic, it takes many hours of research. The research material becomes part of the story and adds to the history lesson that many historical fiction works carry. I hope that after reading my historical fiction, readers will do some research, finding out more about the events, people, and places in the story.
Much of my new novel is set in the Black Hills
Of course, this was not there at that time.
Note - I took this one with the Wyoming flag, along the row of flags

At Last - Before finishing, I always run my stuff through a readability check. I like to make sure my works fall into an area where they are readable and understandable but not too hard. My kids’ books I try to get to a fourth-grade level my regular books around a low high school level. This lower high school level is above what is allowed on most government regulations that are to be read by all of us, ordinary people. By the way, this post comes in at 9.8 or just under, 10th-grade reading level, pretty normal for most novels today. 
Many stories have been written about scenes like this