Thursday, August 31, 2017

It's All About the Plot

Sometime along the way in most of our education travels we learn that there are but seven topics for stories. The list put together by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) has been taught for years and seem as appropriate today as they did many years ago.
Quiller-Couch’s list
1.  Man against man
2.  Man against nature
3.  Man against himself
4.  Man against God
5.  Man against society
6.  Man caught in the middle
7.  Man and woman
Interesting to note that Quiller-Couch wrote under the pen name of Q. I like it. Quiller-Couch also is credited with this, something every writer has heard.
If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.

In 2004 Christopher Booker, an Englishman like Quiller-Couch published his – The Seven Basic Plots and has a new, maybe more modern look, at story plot possibilities. Reportedly Booker worked on his list for more than 30 years.
Booker’s List
1.  Overcoming the Monster
2.  Rags to riches
3.  The Quest
4.  Voyage and return
5.  Comedy
6.  Tragedy
7.  Rebirth

Might be easy to place everything I have written or read into one of the two lists. So what about those that write westerns or historical fiction? Famed western author and screenwriter Frank Gruber listed, again, seven plot lines for westerns.
Gruber’s List
1.  Union Pacific Story
2.  Ranch Story
3.  Empire story
4.  Revenge story
5.  Cavalry and Indian story
6.  Outlaw story
7.  Marshal story
Gruber also said that dialogue should be used to move the plot through the story.

I find it both interesting and gratifying to know that everything does not change too fast. Long live the western, after all, it follows the same plot lines as every other kind of fiction.

-Today's photos from our backyard gardens.-

Keep on reading and keep on writing and remember the weekend is not too far away.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Novel Setting

Choosing the setting for a story is never easy unless you follow the old writer's adage of write what you know. That is exactly what I do, or try to do.  I set my stories in places I have been, typically many times or places where I live or have lived.

All three of my children’s books are set in my hometown in Southeast Nebraska. My historical fiction all starts in Wyoming, where I live, but often wanders into nearby states.

 Recently I read a book, supposedly set in the area where I was born and where I spent many years. I was excited to get the book and start reading. It was a pretty good story but could have been set anywhere as the story used no descriptions of the area.  At the end I got the feeling that the author might use other titles for this same book, change a few words and re-release it. When I read I like to feel like I am there, and like stories that take me away. I have never visited Hogwarts. But felt like it when I read the Harry Potter series. I also like Lee Child books, often set in big cities that I have not visited, but I feel like I know them when reading.

I live in Wyoming, grew up in Nebraska, spend time each year in Colorado, South Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri and like to write about those places. We have also spent a good bit of time in Australia and Hawaii, places I someday hope to use as settings.

Take me away with a story and I love it.

Today’s photos from hikes in the nearby Guernsey State Park the past few evenings.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Signing Books - The Eclipse & A Feel Good Day

I had a terrific time yesterday talking with so many people, selling and signing books in Sunrise, Wyoming. Sunrise, once a thriving Iron Ore mining town has been a ghost town and out of operation for more than three and a half decades, but thanks to Mr. John Voight, who now owns the town and old mine site, it has been revitalized.
In the old YMCA, Sunrise, Wyoming

The occasion for this celebration was the eclipse, full totality in Sunrise and surrounding areas. The ghost town of Sunrise has now become history lovers must see. A major find of Palo-Indian artifacts has been discovered on the property. Now the 100 years plus history of copper and Iron ore mining added to ancient civilizations and Sunrise is once again becoming a place to visit. Several of the old buildings are being restored, yesterday we spent our four hours in the old YMCA building. On the expansive porch outside where we sat were a flint knapper and a grinding demonstration using authentic metates. Across the street atlatl throwing and other kids and adult activities. Upstairs, lectures, and demonstrations dealing with the eclipse. Not sure of the crowds but I believe there were hundreds, more likely a thousand or more, people on the grounds for the middle day of the three-day event.
During the time of Totality

Sunrise YMCA
Fun times for all, and I sold a few books and am happy to report that several said they had downloaded or read with KDP one or more of my books – certainly a feel-good day.

Click here to see all my books on Amazon - The book cover above is a book coming soon.

I hope that all of you enjoyed the eclipse, we watched from our back deck – spectacular. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Writing and Sales - My Life

Last week Estes Park Colorado, now we are back from the Black Hills of South Dakota. Love taking these short trips, Mount Rushmore is a bit under three hours away. 

Still not getting much writing done, but some. Also played in a weekend golf tournament, seems to be a pattern here of doing a lot of other than writing things.
This photo of me is from the old Civilian Conservation Corps Golf Course at Guernsey State Park
 I talked about this course in my CCC and the building of Guernsey State Park, book.

But, my eBook sales are steady to up, and my KDP pages read has (half way through  August) become my best ever month - thanks!

My two western mysteries, Commitment, and The Ghost Dance are being read and enjoyed by many, and I could not be more happy with that.

Now if I can just get the rest of my books to take off like the two historical fiction books I refer to as western mysteries. 

I am getting some writing done on my third Blade Holmes western mystery and continue to work on the humerus nonfiction book I spoke of last week. Next week the grandkids will be back in school, and our lives will return to more normal - then, more writing, hopefully much more.

Meanwhile, keep on reading and keep on writing. As for me tomorrow some reading sitting in a camp chair from one of my favorite places in Guernsey State Park.

Not far from here

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Writing Update as Summer Cools Down

We spent some time in Rocky Mountain National Park this week, always a great place to visit.  I love being able to drive up above the timberline and a chance to see some stunning views of the Rockies.
Lots of Elk in the Park

Writing Update
Writing wise I remain a bit on the slow side. I am getting some things, ok, a few things accomplished. Most days I am able to write 250 to 400, or so, words. That’s not much output for me but not bad this time of year. Seems in winter I really crank it up getting quite a few days in the 2,000 range, but not now and this is not a call for an early winter.
Raven on a cloudy and cool day
What I’m Working On
Most of my work seems to be on my new, tongue in cheek, nonfiction book, the one I have not yet talked about here – soon, I hope. I also finished a few more pages in the fourth of my children’s chapter books. These books don’t sell as well as my others but are getting some nice comments from parents who have kids reading them or who have read them to their children. One thing I have learned, children’s books do not do as well as eBooks, should have known it, kids like books, seems they have enough electronics in their lives without books too.  I guess there is a bit of a consolation prize in that I do sell a few of these in softcover each month.
Me and my 12-year-old Grandson taking a look at a huge Elk herd.
By the way, I like this view of me :-)

What’s Next?

The great eclipse is only a couple of weeks away and we are right in the middle of it. I am doing a book signing at an event the weekend before the eclipse and then expect to stay home on the big day and watch the sun disappear from my deck. 
Snapped this one a few days ago - looks like he wants me to go away.'
So I did.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Neil A. Waring - My Life, Writing and Selling Books

What a day, with a high of 71 and it only stayed that warm for about an hour. Feels like fall, my favorite season, but then that reminds me that winter follows fall, so I am ready to bring back the heat.

Speeding Up My Slow Down
I have been writing but at quite a slow pace all summer, even the number of my blog posts fell off to only ten in July, about half my usual output. I decided to start, another, new project to see if that would help me get going. So far I am off to a pretty good start with about 4,000 words. Must be working as I have written nearly three thousand words on two of my other projects. Writing at an average of one thousand words a day ranks with my best weeks each year. Maybe the cooler weather will keep me writing.
Chester doesn't care how much I write as long as
 I toss him a few snacks.

Selling Books
I have been trying to do, once again, some book marketing. Right now I am going to concentrate on a book that I really like, but it has not found a market yet. I thought this one (Ghost of the Fawn), had it all, mystery, intrigue, Native Indian mysticism, murder, romance a good chase and lots of fun. I am considering changing the title as this one was set in 2015 but I’m afraid readers may think it is historical fiction instead of the mystery it is. The book does have three flashback chapters, which give it some history and more mystery.

Here is an excerpt, taken from chapter 4, from Ghost of the Fawn.


Mary Bison-Man sipped from her tea, asked if the boys wanted their glasses refilled, both shook their head no, and she began her story. The story of the Arapaho from a time long past and a legend that was one of the greatest in their history.
“It was in the years when the great Sioux Warrior Chief Shunke Witko (Crazy Horse), was trying to gather all the people to push the whites away from Indian lands.  It was only eight moons from when the tribes would kill Yellow Hair on the Greasy Grass River, the one the whites would call, Little Big Horn up in Montana. The tribe was moving closer to Fort Brown for the winter but wanted to take a longer trip for supplies, a trip to Fort Casper about 100 miles east of here. Casper was much larger than Fort Brown or the small village of Riverton and the tribe thought it a better place to trade for winter supplies. In those first years on the Reservation, it was good to get off the Rez whenever the chance came.
The railroad had already reached Casper but didn’t go on from there, just stopped. Small freighters carried supplies to Lander and Riverton, but not near the variety the tribe could purchase in Casper. The Indian, like the white man, had learned that wherever the railroad went the supplies were abundant. Only the most basic of supplies came on west by wagon.  The few wagons that came did not make it far past the towns, and none found their way to the outlying areas, like to the Rez. This would be the third year the tribe would make the journey to Casper for winter provisions.  Most that made the trip were young but a few of the old people, because of their status as elders in the tribe, also made the journey. Ghost-of-the-Fawn, who at nearly eighty summers, was still strong and spry for her age, traveled with the group over the silent objections of Iron Cloud, the chief, and two of the sub-chiefs who were to lead the group to Casper and back.
“Ghost-of-the-Fawn was the most powerful medicine woman in the history of the tribe and had done much good for all the tribe. That is why she was allowed to go.  No one knows what she carried in her medicine pack that day or any day, but I guess you boys are hoping to find out, am I right?” Before Jimmy or Robert could say a word, she added.            
“What makes the two of you so much smarter than all those others who have looked for that pack all these years? No one has ever found a thing.”
Jimmy and Robert turned at the same moment and looked at each other. Jimmy nodded, and Robert began. “We’re hoping for luck, the others didn’t have, and the last two summers have been the wettest in years, lots of snow and more rain than usual, people are starting to find old relics out there again like arrowheads and bones, stuff that’s been washed up by the rains.” Before Robert could finish the screen door swung open and banged shut. 
She was the most beautiful girl Jimmy had ever seen. After taking a long puzzled look at Jimmy and Robert, she sat down, cross-legged on the floor next to Mary Bison-Man and asked, “Who are our visitor’s, grandmother?”
“These are treasure hunters from Indiana, child, only they won’t find nothin’.”
Jimmy could not take his eyes off the teenage Indian goddess who had only now entered his already complicated life. His mind wandered as Mary took over the conversation from Robert and continued her story.
 Jimmy had forgotten all about the treasure, now it was this girl, a girl that had just moments ago entered his life, that he wanted to know about. This girl sitting, Indian-style, on the floor, wearing red Addis sweat pants, sandals and a gray tee shirt that said Lady Chiefs across the front. She had eyes the color of sparkling green jade, not the brown that Jimmy had believed all Indians had.  Her hair was also different, it had an almost magical look, a shiny coal black with a bright white stripe down the side, Jimmy wondered how she put it there, and if other Indian girls on the reservation wore their hair like this. She looked about as tall as Robert, her skin was a golden honey color, and she was, well she was breathtaking, the most beautiful girl Jimmy had ever seen.
“Jimmy, oh Jimmy,” Robert whispered, then whispered again, “Jimmy,” louder the second time. 
“What, what?’ Jimmy answered.
“Where are you? You look like you’re in some kind of a zone man.” Robert said with more than a bit of irritation creeping into his voice.
“Oh, sorry, just daydreaming about the treasure I guess,”  Jimmy murmured, as he lowered his eyes, after taking yet another quick peek at the young goddess, then pretended to be thinking deeply.
Mary continued the story and then suddenly stopped and said, “Forgive me and my poor manners, I was so caught up in my own story that I didn’t introduce you to Echo, boys this is Echo-of-the-Fawn, Echo this is Jimmy and Robert. From Indiana and hunting, as I told you, for treasure, hey, you boys aren’t related to that Indiana Jones are you?” She chuckled, again, at her own joke, Robert smiled, and Jimmy felt his face flush red with embarrassment.
“No, no relation,” Robert answered.
“Echo has lived with me since she was eleven days old. She is the last of a line, a line of the most powerful medicine clan in the history of the Arapaho nation.”
“Grandmother, you know what I think of those old legends and stories, if they were true I wouldn’t be the last of the line, someone would have healed themselves or one of the others if they really could. Wouldn’t, they?
She looked at the two newcomers and said, “Besides, if I were some powerful medicine woman wouldn’t I have powers like Spiderman or Batman or, at least, Wonder-Woman?” Then she turned to her grandmother, winked at her, shrugged and sat quietly. It was nearly dark when the boys crawled into the red Thunderbird and turned east toward Hell’s Half Acre. 
Jimmy and Robert built a small fire in the cave, tossing in a few sticks of firewood they bought at the 7-11 in Riverton  It was late, but they no longer worried about being caught by someone seeing the fire.  So many people were in and out of the canyons each day that Robert lettered a sign for the cave. ‘PLEASE—WE ARE CAMPING—DO NOT MESS WITH OUR STUFF!!!’

I spend time, every day, on the deck reading and writing and watching little ones like this.