Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Writing Year

There Goes 2018 – Like so many people, as the year comes to an end, it is time to do a bit of looking back. This year seemed to be a slow down year for me. We didn’t travel as much, I took a few thousand fewer photographs, and I did not write as much as I have in the past.

Writing Year – I have written 250,000+ words each year since 2012 – this year about half of that. I posted on this site 43 times down from 59 last year. The other sites I post quite a lot on really took a dive. My Wyoming history blog went from 27 posts a year ago to seven this year. My Guernsey State Park blog went from 21 posts down to three. I did manage to publish a couple of books this year, although much of the writing on one was completed in 2017.

2019 Goals? – Looks like I could use some goals for the next year. Like most Americans, I would like to lose a few pounds and get in better shape. That being said, what about writing goals?

Writing Goals – I would like to get, at least, back to my quarter million words a year mark. I would also like to publish another book in my kid's chapter books series and another of my Blade Holmes western mysteries. I also hope to finish at least one other novel and work on my nonfiction book and continue writing short stories. Wow – that’s a lot of writing, hope I can do it.

From the Old West When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice.

Photo of the Week –
From the Narrows at Guernsey State Park

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Keep on Reading and keep on Writing
Have a wonderful New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Writing Days

Another Christmas has passed, and life will soon be back to normal. For me, normal means back to writing, taking photos and attempting to lose a few holiday pounds. I enjoy the holidays, but no matter how laid back we attempt to make them, there is always a certain amount of stress.

Today it’s cold, with an occasional flake or two of snow. Looks more like winter than it has for weeks.

 I have one short story to finish, then it will be back to one of two novels I have been working on.

New Year Resolutions – Not sure yet, I often try a few and fail miserably, but I do find them fun.

Have a terrific rest of the week!

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Twitter  - @wyohistoryguy

Friday, December 21, 2018

Writers Block in the Movies

Merry Christmas

Our Special DayToday is our 50th Anniversary. We spent the afternoon in one of our favorite places – up in the Laramie Range. All of today's photos are from today's four-hour outing. Except for the one above, which was taken on a  summer trip to the Blackhills, another of our favorite places. 

20 Miles west of town and going uphill - usual traffic

Not So Deep Thoughts On Writing
- This time of year my wife and I try to watch a Christmas movie every night. We also love listening to Christmas music. I know that some people bash these movies and the music, but not us. Are all of the movies and songs good? Nope. But we still watch and listen. Might be the older we get, the more nostalgia takes over.
I am surprised each year at how many of the movies are about writers and some type of writer's block they are afflicted with. Seems to me that, according to the movies, getting over writer's block is easy. Writers need to simply move back home and find a new boyfriend or girlfriend – problem solved and best seller on the way.

Writing Quote There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
Terry Pratchett
Six Bulls far away from the herd

What Am I Working On? Finished the fourth book in my kid's chapter books series. I am waiting on copies to send to my beta readers. Now a restart on the third of my Blade Holmes western mysteries.

From the Old West –  Be thankful for fools. Without them, none of us would amount to a damn.    

Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and keep on Writing
Merry Christmas Everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Writing & Publishing

One thing I have learned is that when I am not feeling well, it is hard to write. Other than a handful of blog post, like this one, and a bit on social media I am nearly down for the count. A bad cold is whipping me, every day I think it will be better but, so far, not much. Enough about how I feel – read on.

Writing QuoteWrite while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.
Henry David Thoreau

What Am I Working On? Two weeks ago I had a book nearly ready to go to my first reader – it is still there. Hopefully, who knows, maybe today, I will feel like working on it again.

Christmas Books – Don’t forget about my newest book, a book of Christmas short stories – G rated and fun. This one follows volume one that I published a few years ago. Both books, each containing 14 stories, are available on Amazon. Brighten your Christmas season and read a few short Christmas tales, all with happy endings.

Reading - I am doing some reading, presently enjoying C. J. Box’s Trophy Hunt. I thought that I had read all of the books in the series, then discovered I had missed one from several years ago. Like all of Box’s books, this one is an excellent read.

From the Old West When a cowboy's too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice.

 Photo of the Week – Like my writing, photo opportunities have been few the last ten days. I did get out this week for two sunsets and found some interesting opportunities.

Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and keep on Writing
Have a terrific week.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writing Week

Quote of the Day - An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place. Tony Hillerman
Dinner Time

Writing & Sleeping (My Life) – Writing has been a bit of a tough go for me the past five or six days. At my age, writing when I do not feel good is not easy. Seems like I am trying to set a record with a bad December cold now three years in a row. The bad cold keeps me asleep for more hours each day than I am awake. But, at last, today I may have turned the corner, at least long enough to write this post. Hopefully, later today I will get in some work on my final run through edit, of my kid's chapter book. I have been stalled, for two weeks and really need to finish. Good luck to me on this! (-:

How to Sell More Books – Know who reads your stuff, and publish a couple of books each year. Those are the two things I try to follow with my writing. Most of my writing is geared to older readers, and I keep that in mind as I write. I also need to work on my author page on Facebook and maybe upgrade this site. Actually, I definitely need to upgrade this site. I do about one-hundred dollars worth of Amazon adds each month, it helps but does not make me a best seller.

From the Old West Outlaws and martyrs are greatly improved by death.

Photo of the Week - 

My Christmas Books – One more mention of my two volumes of Christmas stories. Each book, of 14 stories - Under Western Skies and Under Christmas Skies, are available as eBooks or as fine looking books to place on your coffee table.

Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and Keep on Writing
Enjoy the weekend along with the shopping we all need to finish.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Writing and Editing - Christmas Stories Too

One Afternoon in My Life  Yesterday I spent an hour and a half taking out and installing a new(er) radio and CD player in my wife's Explorer. As always, it took about as long to find the proper two tools I needed as it did to complete the project. It works great, not bad for a 70-year-old word-scribbling curmudgeon.

Selling Books –  Both book sales and KDP pages read continue to be healthy - interesting that I do spend some money on Amazon adds and the more I make, the more I seem to spend. I am not good at the spend little and make a lot. I seem to be more of the spend and take in about the same. Oh well, I will keep experimenting and continue enjoying the strong sales. 

From the Old West Damn fool mistakes are always made by the other guy.

Christmas Books - I have two books of Christmas stories for sale on Amazon and other online retailers. Each book has 14 short stories. The first has been out for a couple of years is titled - Under Western Skies. My newest, out now for about a month, is titled Under Christmas Skies. Take a look and read a few free tales of Christmas by clicking on the Amazon link. Thanks!

My Photo of the Week

Writing – I am back at it, revising, for the last time, in one book, and reading through the first 20,000 pages of another WIP. 

My Best Selling Book - My western mystery (Commitment)continues strong sales, take a look at it here and read the first chapter for free. 

Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and Keep on Writing
Have a wonderful weekend

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Writing Communities

Writing CommunitiesI have been seeing a considerable increase in tweets and blog posts about writing communities. For the most part, they seem to be people trolling for followers using a writing community hash-tag. I am always looking for good writing people or groups to follow, but have not found much by following the links from hash-tag, writing communities or anything similar.

Mixed Messages – Lately I am starting to wonder why so many who try to sell books or services on social media make so many political posts. Most political posts are very one-sided, which is fine, but won’t this turn away half of your customers?  This type of marketing seems odd to me when anyone could simply create another profile, for political posts, and not offend half of their potential customers. My readers will see nothing political on my posts, other than a rare comment, or like, I keep that world to myself. 

Photo of the Week - 

Selling Books – I enjoyed a fantastic last two weeks of November selling quite a few books and seeing my KDP pages zoom upward. I am not sure what December will bring, but with my two Christmas books, I expect it will be good.

From the Old West There are two sides to any man’s argument, his and the wrong one.

Snow Today – Days like this are nice for old people like me. I am sitting in my easy chair, snacking, drinking tea and watching football on TV.  A few minutes ago, a squirrel made a sneak attack on the bird feeder in our backyard. Right now, light snow is falling turning my view out our family room windows into a Hallmark Movie scene.

As always, you can find all my books here on Amazon
Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and Keep on Writing
Enjoy the coming of a new workweek.
We have reached December, creeping toward 2019


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Christmas Short Stories - New Book

My second book of Christmas short stories is out. I expected to have this out over a year ago, but other things got in the way. 

This one - Under Christmas Skies - differs a bit from the first with more of the stories set in modern times. 

Take a look and use the - Look Inside - feature to read the first story and a bit more for free.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Writing Westerns and a Holiday Slow Down

The Holiday Slow DownThanksgiving and Black Friday, 2018 have passed into history, and now it is time to get back to work for most folks. I managed, at last, to not overeat and did zero shopping on Black Friday, hope that is not un-American.

Reading for Fun – I have been reading some short mysteries and cozy mysteries the last few days and enjoying the stories. I am also reading, as I am most of the time, a western. I can always tell when a story really grabs me – I stay up too late reading. I will be reporting more, with some mini-reviews soon.

Selling Books – Book sales are going well, not sure, how I got it going so well, but I am most happy for it. I never will call myself a best-selling author, hope I can, but for now, selling a few books every day is quite nice. I hope it continues. My personal best-selling books right now are the two Blade Holmes novels and my two Christmas books.
Waterfall below Guernsey Dam

From the Old West Some men talk ‘cause they have somethin’ to say. Others talk ‘cause they got to say somethin’.

What I Am Working On – I hate to admit I have spent more time watching football than writing or editing the last few days. After coaching high school football for more than three decades, it seems to be in my blood. The good part of this is that some of the teams I was rooting for won. The bad part – I am falling behind, even without specific, word or page goals, I am getting behind. There is always next week.

 Photo of the Week –
The spectacular Gatehouse at Guernsey Dam

As always, you can find all my books here on Amazon
Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and Keep on Writing
Enjoy the coming of a new and more normal week.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Writing & Editing

This is a short week for most American’s – When I was a teacher I always liked Thanksgiving break. It was long enough for me to relax but short enough for the kids not to forget too much before coming back.

Writing can be hard work – Today, I am cleaning up some computer files, as in, changing names so that I actually know what each one is. What a mess.

Selling Books – I went through a downtime a couple of weeks ago but now, for unknown reasons, I am again selling quite a few books and my KDP pages read is also back up.

From the Old West An old-timer is someone who has had a lot of interesting experiences – some of them true.

What I Am Working On – Most of my week has been spent being lazy. The working part of my week (not nearly enough hours) I have been editing (still) my kid's chapter book. I am also spending time reworking the opening of the third of my Blade Holmes western mysteries.
I have great hopes that I will someday get back to a normal writing routine.
“Maybe – someday,” he says, fading away.

 Photo of the Week – 

As always, you can find all my books here on Amazon
Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and keep on Writing
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Great First Lines

The snow is coming down as I write this, looks like four or five inches so far.
The First Line – So much has been written about getting a book or short story getting off to a great start with a first line hook.  I am not sure the hook or great line needs to be in the first line, but it certainly needs to be in the first paragraph. Is a great hook or line necessary, not always? Fiction seems to do best with a great start, but nonfiction and often short stories do not necessarily need a great line to keep readers engaged.  
My all-time favorite is the Charles Dickens start to his classic, A Tale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
In contrast, I have never understood why Herman Melville’s line, “Call me Ishmael,” is so widely considered the greatest opening line in history. You might ask why I don’t like that line, well, I do, but it starts chapter three, not one, and is some eighty paragraphs into the book.  Off the subject a bit, but for all of my author readers, Moby-Dick, now a worldwide classic, sold only a few over 3,000 books before Melville died in 1891, forty years after Moby-Dick was published.

 First Lines from two of my Eleven Books –I spend a lot of time on the openings of my books, often changing the opening a dozen times before I like it. Here is how I started two of my books, the first from book one of my kid's chapter book series, Melvin the E-Street Ghost. “As a kid, I lived on a red brick street in a very big white house. Not unusual considering, everyone I knew lived in a white house on a red brick street.”

From the second of my Blade Holmes western mysteries, The Ghost Dance is this line. "The man riding alone on his horse should have heard the shot, but he was already dead."

First lines never make a decision for me to keep reading or not read on, but a few pages, or a chapter in, will hook me, or send me off looking for another read.

From the Old West A man who ain't got an idea of his own should be mighty careful who he borrows 'em from.
Backyard wildlife

What Am I Working On? Nothing much. What kind of an answer is that?  I just returned from the State School Boards Convention, and this post is the first thing I have written since Monday. But the rest of the day, and tomorrow, I will continue on the edit of my fourth chapter book. I might also do some research for my – in-progress – nonfiction book if I have the time.

 Photo of the Week – 
From a nice warm weather hike earlier this week

Follow me here on twitter at @wyohistoryguy

Keep on Reading and keep on Writing
Have a wonderful weekend.

 My newest book - Under Christmas Skies