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, westerns 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.

Although 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.img_2964

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.

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.5 horses

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Published in: on February 4, 2017 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Writing – 2016

Christmas is over, and now we are counting down to the New Year. Each year I make a few resolutions, and each year they seem to go quickly by the wayside. Last year I decided, for the first time, to keep track of how many words I wrote and published. I did it, but am not sure I will keep track this year, seemed to put too much pressure on me, and I started worrying about the days I didn’t write. Sometimes that causes a bit, or a whole bunch of bad writing, not worth saving. (Oh, for the record, I wrote a tad less than a quarter of a million words this year. Quite a bit for me but partly because I wrote a lot recently, trying to finish up last year’s goals)

This year my goals are simple – 2017

  1. Publish the third of my kid’s books – This book is finished but is yet to have a cover. I am sure to get this one out. The first two of the Mike, Moose, and Me series were fun and sold a good number of copies, I hope this one does as well.
  2. Publish the second, in what I hope will be a series of five, western mysteries, with Marshall Blade Holmes as the protagonist. This one is 90% written, but has some things I need to clean up. Then editing.
  3. Finish my modern day mystery, set in a Wyoming small town with murder on a golf course. This is to be a novella, and I am about the halfway Fun, especially for golfers and mystery lovers. (still in the western genre)
  4. Publish a book for gardeners, yep gardeners. This one started on a whim and now is about 2/3 complete. Gardening tips in the western high country with every fourth chapter a murder mystery.
  5. Continue research and writing of my second nonfiction book. I hope to add another 20,000 words to this one before the years is out.
  6. Keep on blogging, for the past few years I have written more than 100 blog posts each year, twice over 200, this year about 10-12 each month on my various blogs should do.

2016 – This year I published one book and one short story. I also ran a five-day reduced price, promotion on my Christmas book, which was well received. I also did a giveaway of a short story, that story is still doing well, selling for .99 cents. My newest book, Ghost of the Fawn, has enjoyed a good run on Amazon, staying in the top 200 for several weeks.

Will I Make This Year’s Goals? – Maybe I will do more than my stated resolutions in the New Year, I hope not to do less, it often depends on our travel and my love of photography and golf. Several things I am sure of. I will run a couple more promotions for my books, I will take lots of photos, I will write and edit, and put some time in at far away, but not too far, destinations.

See all of my books and my Amazon author site by clicking the link    https://www.amazon.com/Neil-Waring/e/B00XV26KLC

Published in: on December 28, 2016 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Cowboy’s Christmas Tail

Just The Kind of Guy He Was
The old cowboy rode along at a slow walk, he’d owned cars and trucks for more than 20 years, maybe time passed him by, he didn’t care, it was 1952 and he remembered a time before automobiles , a slower, gentler time and then the wars, two big ones, changed everything. Something in the wind moved him back to 1952 again. He tipped his nose toward the sky and sniffed. It was wood smoke. A half hour back, before the wind freshened, he thought he smelled smoke but passed it off, thinking if old people could start seeing things and hearing things maybe he started smelling things that were not there. But now he was sure, it was smoke.
But that couldn’t be, not in December, matter of fact it’s the 24th, Christmas Eve. Good memories started to fill his head but he pushed them away as quickly as they had come on. Christmas was just another day in December, nothing special, at least to him, not anymore.
People didn’t camp this high up in December, hunting season was long past and the only house, except for his five miles away, was the old Godfrey place. It was maybe three quarters of a mile over the ridge to the north. The smell of burning wood was coming with the north wind, but that place had been vacant for what, 20 years, at least 15?
Clark Banks pulled up to think, but only for a moment, he had to know, that was the kind of guy he was. The sun was setting, it would be late, long past dark, when he got home, but he tapped his heels in his gray gelding and loped north picking his way though flat rocks and yucca.
He always liked the old Godfrey place, isolated, but picture perfect, like a bank calendar picture. The place set in a natural mountain park surrounded by junipers and berry bushes. Years ago when he and Bette last visited the Godfrey’s they were old and frail and the place had been falling apart. Couldn’t be much of anything left now.
Another minute and Clark Banks reached the crest of the hill overlooking the long deserted place. Only three times in his 65 years had something left him speechless, the day he got married, when their only child was born and now as he looked down on the old Godfrey place.
It was spectacular, the Junipers were sparkling with thousands of multi-colored lights. The cabin he remembered in complete disrepair was larger, much larger, than he remembered. It was old but perfect, looked sound, complete with light showing through the windows and the smoke he’d smelled was wind angling north from the chimney in great black and white puffs. There was a large barn that hadn’t been there 20 years ago along with half a dozen out buildings and four large corrals.
Banks had not taken a drink of alcohol for years, right now he needed a drink, but he settled for a thorough rubbing of his eyes and another look at the scene below, a scene that did not change. He let the gray pick his way down the steep hillside, he had to see, he had to know, that’s just the kind of guy he was.
A thought crossed his mind as he neared the twinkling cabin, what if this place is full of outlaws, escaped convicts or crazy people. This could be his last minute on earth, then he smiled at the lights twinkling as dollar sized snowflakes started to fall. If this is his last minute to live it would not be too bad. He warmed as the snowflakes splattered his face, chuckled to himself, and then laughed aloud, “don’t think bad people decorate for Christmas,” he said to no one or to the snowflakes and cold.
The old cowboy tied his horse to the rail in front of the cabin, stepped on the porch and the door opened as if he were expected. A white bearded gentlemen in a red vest smiled and motioned him in. Banks felt rather young looking at the old fellow, thinking,“This guy has me by at least 20 years.”
“Can I get you something to warm ya up, Tea, Arbuckles’, whis”
“You have Arbuckles, real Arbuckles, haven’t tasted that since before I went off to France in the first war, love some.”
Banks watched the old man take a one pound bag of Arbuckles Ariosa Blend from the cabinet and make coffee on the massive wood stove in the kitchen part of the cabin. It was good, better than anything the old cowboy had tasted in years, but how did he do it, Arbuckles’ hadn’t made coffee, let alone Ariosa Blend for years.
The two men sat and talked for hours, talking about everything and chatting about nothing, like two old friends they talked into the dark of night.
When the old cowboy woke up he could not remember falling asleep. Now he was stretched out on the couch, his boots beside him on the floor. He was toasty warm as he rolled back the red and green feather comforter and turned to get up. He was all alone. He thought the old man must be outside. Slipping on his boots he walked out on the porch, half a foot of snow covered everything in sight, his horse was gone, but he knew it was in the barn. He also knew he was all alone, he could feel things, just the kind of guy he was.
Banks went back into the house, he was hungry and he wanted to taste that Arbuckles one more time. A skillet of bacon sat on the stove, beside a pot of mush and a fresh pot of coffee, and of course it would be Arbuckles, he thought. Funny but he was sure there was nothing on the stove when he stepped outside, must have failing vision along with everything else in his old age. Then he felt it, or didn’t feel it, he had no aches and pains, the ones that had been with him since his army days. The coffee was good but he wasn’t sure it had magical healing powers.
It was time to go home, he wished he could say goodbye to the old timer, thought he might ride back up here in the spring. But now it was time to leave, he had things to do, and he felt different, happy and healthy. Walking to the barn it seemed almost warm, Banks felt like he had stumbled upon the fountain of youth.
Tracks near the barn stopped him, some kind of sleigh tracks, but the animals pulling it were not horses, smaller like deer tracks, but larger, really big deer. He saddled the gelding and rode out of the barn right into the bright sunlight of his own place. How it happened he did not know, but he was home.
Was it a dream, did he have a stroke and die, was he in heaven now? Nope, he was pretty sure his place would not do for heaven. Didn’t matter, he had things to get done.
Clark Banks rode to town in a gallop; it was early, old man Tatum would open the store for him, especially after he told him he intended to buy a present for every kid in town.
He wasn’t sure why he had so much Christmas spirit, maybe it was just the kind of guy he was.

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 12:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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